Friday, April 30, 2004

Just not myself today

The day started out ok. Got the YAC to school on time with the admonition, "Remember, if you see a Bandersnatch, use your vorpal sword." Yeah, I am that weird.

Something changed when I got to work, though. Maybe it was having to explain to one of my employees for the FIFTH time a simple little task I had assigned to her last week. You know when they give you that glazed-over look that you might as well be speaking in Klingon.

Hab SoSlI' Quch!

And even that wouldn't be so bad if her timing were better. You know, I like to at least get my computer turned on before I have to start answering questions ... especially if they are questions I've already answered.

Then it was of to an hour long meeting. It dawned on me that I was funky (in a bad way (and that's bad as in bad (like having embedded parentheticals is bad (at least if you're trying to follow the main idea anyway)), not bad as in good) as opposed to the groovy kind) today when everyone else was laughing at some snippy patois and I was just looking at them like, "Whatever."

Anyway, we're having lunch catered in today (Red, Hot, and Blue), so maybe eating will perk me up. Then again maybe not.

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    Thursday, April 29, 2004

    Band on the run

    The Eldest Aardvark Child and Mrs. A will be wending their way down to Houston this evening as part of the annual pilgramage known as BAND TRIP. Last year they went to Branson, Missouri and the year before that to Washington DC. Somehow Houston doesn't seem near as appealing to me, but I bet they have a good time nonetheless.

    Mrs. A has always gone along as a chaperone, 'cause that's just what she does. So when the trips are announced, it's pretty much a given that she's going to get one of the chaperone spots. (I pity the fool who doesn't know this!) And I have to say, she makes a much better chaperone than I would. But then again, you probably already knew that.

    Anyway, that means that the Youngest Aardvark Child and I are on our own from tonight until Sunday afternoon. Sweet! No adult supervision!

    I mean, uh, we're probably just going to mope around 'cause we miss 'em. And do chores and junk. Yeah, that's the ticket.

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    Thursday Three-for-all

    The Possum strikes again. But I've got to complain just a little. What gives with all these questions where you have to THINK? And that part about requiring us to be CREATIVE too!?! It's just too much, I tell ya. Too. Much. At least for this fluffy brain.

    Ok, I feel better now. So, where were we? Ah, yes, answering the questions.

    1) What one popular movie, show, book, drama, scene, or other such thing, does the best job of capturing an honest portrayal of the South?

    Believe it or not, (your choice) I'm going to say Forrest Gump. Forrest embodies many "Southern" concepts. He's charming, honest, loyal, chivalrous, not defeated by adversity, deeper than most folks give him credit for and has the strength of character to do what's right. All that and he's still naive. Yep, we could use a few more Forrests in this world.

    2) What one popular movie, show, etc. etc., does the worst job of honestly portraying the South?

    Smokey and the Bandit, Cool Hand Luke or Greased Lightning. Take your pick (and pass me that boiled egg, would ya?).

    3) Knowing that you will eventually get around to writing your novel or screenplay (which will, of course, be set in the South), could you go ahead and give us a plotline and the first paragraph?

    A young man comes to value the hometown he once desperately longed to escape.

    It wasn't much of a place to look at. Crabtree that is. Not much more than an old gas station, a hardware and feed store, and a scattered hand-full of houses. Most of them were what you might call fixer-uppers as the folks living there had long ago ceased to care. Old hulks of rusting out cars dotted the yards around the houses. For some reason never fully explained, the people of Crabtree didn't trade-in their old car when they got a new one. They just drove it out to the edge of the yard and parked it. Maybe they figured the youngsters needed a place to play. There wasn't much in the way of playground equipment to be seen. Well, other than the occasional tire swing or 2 X 6 slung through the lower rail of a fence to make an impromptu seesaw. It wasn't unusual to find a kid behind the wheel of an abandoned car, yawing on it with all their strength, making the appropriate engine and tire noises while their minds took them to faraway places.

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    Wednesday, April 28, 2004

    Wednesday workday

    No Aardvark antics today. I have not one, not two, but THREE deadlines to meet today.

    This working for a living is really starting to cut into my play-time.

    See you tomorrow.

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    Tuesday, April 27, 2004

    Registration required

    From the Star-Telegram web site.
    When you register on you will have privileged access to our articles and services, free of charge. By learning a little about you, we are able to provide the kinds of information, offers and services that are of the most interest to you.
    Allow me to tell you the kind of information, offers and services that are of the most interest to me. The ones where you don't ask me for a bunch of personal information to try to sell me something.

    When you start realizing the data you are gathering contains plenty of "" email addresses, will you give the marketing genius who dreamt this up a nice big raise?

    With the quantity of no-hassle news available on the internet, your limited amount of local reporting isn't worth the effort of keeping up with yet ANOTHER log in ID and password. Thanks, but no thanks.

    (It's a good thing I'm not bitter! Remind me someday to tell you what I REALLY think.)

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    Inigo Montoya

    "I do not think that word means what you think it means."

    The police on the West side of Fort Worth have been instructed to make two traffic stops per day or face reassignment. The Chief of Police insists it is not a quota.

    (I refuse to link to the Star-Telegram since they started requiring registration, you'll just have to take my word for it.)

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    Flagrant buzz word violation

    Yesterday's talk of buzz words reminded me of a meeting at my old job with a self-proclaimed marketing "genius". This guy was hired because of a brilliant piece of work he had done at his prior company. Either a) he had already used up his 'good idea' quotient before we hired him, or b) he didn't actually come up with the brilliant concept at his prior company but managed to take credit for it anyway.

    By far, the most likely option is b.

    Anyway, when describing a developing relationship between our company and another, he actually used the phrase, "Open the kimono".

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    The horror!

    Seems that Dick Cheney, when putting together his energy task force to help develop energy policy might have actually had the nerve to TALK TO PEOPLE who are in the energy business.

    How dare he! Everybody knows to develop energy policy you have to talk to dentists and hairdressers!

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    Monday, April 26, 2004

    Dude, I think I have a buzz

    Not nearly as many buzz words as I expected at the manager's meeting today. Every department head gave a presentation. (I got to sit quietly and listen) The only REAL shocker of the day was that the IT guy didn't use even ONE buzz word. Who'd a thunk it?

    Buzz words and phrases used exactly once:

    Go live
    Process improvements
    In the pipeline
    On a go-forward basis
    Oar in the water

    Buzz words and phrases used exactly twice:

    Ahead of the curve
    Skill set
    Skin in the game

    And the daily winner, with five usages:


    (Isn't that a European techno group?)

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    Shameless self-promotion

    The way I figure it, the very fact of having a blog puts me in the category of shameless self-promoters. So what do I have to lose, right?

    Y'all don't know this, but Lee was brave enough (or dumb enough - you make the call) to hand me the keys to See The Donkey last week while he took a short hiatus to finish up his novel. And rather than risk all the equity (cough, cough) I've built up in the LittleA brand, I decided to post under my alter-alter-ego, Dufus McGee.

    If you want to, you can check out my posts here, here, here and here. Or not.

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    All day meeting today

    Rest assured, I'll be tracking the buzz words for you.

    Probably won't post again until tomorrow, but you never know.


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    Friday, April 23, 2004

    Creatures of habit

    I'm under a time crunch today, so I'll just give you the following bits of useless information.

    When I get dressed, the following things ALWAYS go into the pockets of my pants.

    Front left - Money clip (usually with not much money - I like to spend it too much)
    Coins (usually unloaded into the appropriate change holder nightly)
    Leatherman Micro tool (very handy)
    Cheesy Swiss Army knife knock-off (added in the last month)

    Front right - Keys (unless I'm at work, where they are removed and put into my desk drawer)

    Back left - Wallet (tri-fold)
    Pocket comb (rarely used, but you never know when you'll need it)

    Back right - Handkerchief (Yes, I am an old man. Who sneezes. Frequently.)

    What's in your pockets?

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    Blogroll, please

    Well, the blogroll has been static for a while now. About time to add another one or two, don't you think.

    The two blogs that I've been keeping my eye on for some time are

    Paxifist - Run by Lenise, wife of Paul, mother of ... ?


    The Good Earth - Run by Earth Girl (not Honey). Plenty of gardening talk (if you like that sort of thing) and some talk about teenagers (if you like THAT sort of thing).

    Welcome aboard, ladies.

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    Thursday, April 22, 2004

    Well, the Sitemeter

    Has been whirling like a methed-up dervish this week. It should roll over the 10K mark sometime today. Thanks to one and all for stopping by.

    (well, except for the person who came here looking for "aardvark spanking" ... Ewww!)

    UPDATE: Sorry, Terry. You were visitor 9,999. Visitor 10,000 was from the Social Security Administration (your tax dollars at work) and was referred by the Boi from Troy.

    [noisemaker] Whee! [/noisemaker]

    All right, everybody. Back to work.

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    Tertiary Thursday Triad

    Questions from a sleep deprived Possum. (12:24 AM !?! Egads man!)

    1) What three (3) Southern places, towns, or regions (aside from your own, if you currently reside in the South) do you think you would enjoy living in?

    Springfield, Missouri - a big, small town.
    North Carolina - I liked it ok when I was four.
    Alabama - the Oglesby's and the Cornett's make a pretty good chamber of commerce pitch.

    2) What 3 (three) Southern places, towns, or regions (aside from, &c., &c.) have you ever visited and would never want to set foot in again? (I make the special note that you must have actually visited there, mainly because some people have irrational negative opinions about places based entirely upon what they have heard from others. Nothing like first-hand experience.)

    Pasadena, Texas - Unfortunately I have to visit because this is where my Mother-in law lives. Lot's of petrolium processing plants. Unofficial motto: "Where the air is greener."
    Hot Springs, Arkansas - Spent a week there one day. Some folks just rave over the place, but it didn't wow me at all. Maybe it was the high school pictures of young Bill Clinton that turned me off.
    Midland/Odessa, Texas - Hot, flat, dry, dusty, middle-of-nowhere. It's a good place to be from.

    3) Finally, what are the three most distinctly Southern tourist traps you have ever visited?

    Hot Springs, Arkansas - See above. Small town charm at inflated tourist prices.
    The Alamo - People mostly go just to say they've been.
    New Orleans (Sugar Bowl trip on Nokia's ticket) - Been there, done that, got the T-shirt and hat to prove it. Once was enough. Somehow, watching them hose the vomit off Bourbon street in the mornings makes the place lose its charm.

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    Wednesday, April 21, 2004

    Bummer of a birthmark, Hal

    For the "What were you thinking?" file.

    "Thailand's Prime Minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, previously announced that if Thai soldiers came under attack, they would be recalled. 450 Thai soldiers are on duty in Iraq. The Thai Prime Minister said, "If even one dies or is injured, I will not keep them there."

    For those who don't recognize the title.

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    A riddle!

    Why did the MaltaGirl cross the road?

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    Channelling Garth Algar

    Mrs. A was a little under the weather yesterday.

    It's funny that she mentions not being the kid's buddy in this post. As I was driving the YAC back from her oboe lesson last night, I had the radio on, listening to the Gary McNamara show on WBAP. In the course of discussing current events, parenting skills (or the lack thereof) are frequently part of the conversation.

    So last night he says, "The best word you can learn as a parent is 'NO'."

    At which point the YAC pipes up (without looking up from her GameBoy), "You don't have to worry about that, dad. You definitely know that word already."


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    Tuesday, April 20, 2004

    My daughter, Silly

    For some reason, most of the male children of my siblings have at one point or another been called by MY name. At my oldest nephew's wedding, he introduced me to his new bride by saying, "This is my infamous Uncle, LittleA." Infamous! What did I do? Anyway, I find it HIGHLY amusing that I am now able to call the EAC "Silly", for she dispays many of the same characteristics my sister is famous for. "Oh. Huh, huh. I get it!" is routinely heard at our house.


    Dinner time conversations at the Aardvark house can be an esoteric experience. Last night, Mrs. A had a headache, and as she was getting dinner on the table, she had several opportunities to say, "Shhhhh." (not that we're LOUD or anything) So, when it came time to 'pray the food', I asked the EAC to pray, quietly. It's a good thing God has a sense of humor, because we were all giggling as she began to whisper her prayer. "Perhaps it would be ok, if you were a little bit louder," I said as she paused to regain her composure.

    At some point, the YAC began to tell us of her conversation earlier in the day with one of the boys at school.

    YAC: "So then he said, 'You know which Lord of the Rings character you remind me of?'
    And I said, 'Eowyn?'
    And he said, 'Who's that?'
    'The fighter chick who's in love with Aragorn. Like she ever stood a chance with him.'
    'Oh, no that's not who I was going to say.'
    'Well who then?'
    So then he says, 'Galadriel?'
    'I don't think so.'
    'Ok, well how about that other chick?'
    'Yeah, that's her.' Like I would ever be anybody BUT Arwen. Stupid boys.
    And then he says, 'Well who do you like, Aragorn?'
    'No. Duh. Legolas.'
    'Why do all the girls like Legolas, anyway?'
    'Well, let's see, he's tall and blond and has blue eyes and pointy ears and he's cute. It's not just one of those, it's the whole package.'"

    EAC: "Oh yeah! You know I don't understand why the guys all like Arwen and not Eowyn. I mean Eowyn kicks major booty. You'd think guys would like that 'Butt kicking for goodness!' stuff."

    LittleA: "Uh, no sweetie. That's not what most guys are attracted to. They'd rather have the kind of girl like Arwen who they can dream about. You know, major babe-age."

    EAC: "Well, what about Wonder Woman? She was a major babe and still kicked butt."

    Mrs. A: "It wasn't her abilities that men liked."

    LittleA: "Uh. Yeah. Uh. She had OTHER assets, if you know what I mean."

    Mrs. A: "Something to hold up that costume."

    LittleA: "Yeah. Where do you think the Wonder Bra came from?"

    EAC: "Really?"

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    My sister, Silly

    I have three sisters, all older than me. (Which makes sense, since I am the baby) The sister that's closest to me in age is five years older than I am. She's always been one of those people who catches a joke about five minutes after everyone else has laughed and moved on. She has been known to be sitting quietly and then laugh out loud because she just 'got' what somebody said to her days before. To top it off, she is also known for being gullible. "Really?" Which is why we called her Silly - an appropriate derivative of her real name. Even today, when I call her, the first thing I say, even if I know she's the one who answered the phone is, "May I speak to Silly please?"

    Just to give you an example, I was in the seventh grade when Watergate was in full bloom. My sister, Silly, was a senior in high school and was taking the government class required for graduation. On the way home from church one Sunday, she asked my dad, "Daddy, I keep hearing about Watergate. What's that all about anyway?"

    Never one to let such a golden opportunity go by, my father began...

    "Well, they've built this dam in Washington DC, and part of the structure are the water gates. These are the gates they open and close to control the flow of water over the dam. They had a lot of rain one day, and when they went to close the water gates, they discovered they didn't work. As a result of the water gates not working properly, a large portion of Washington DC was flooded. What they're trying to do now is figure out who is responsible for the damage. The contractor claims that it's not their fault because the government didn't break-in the water gates like they were told to, and the government says it's the contractor who's responsible."

    "Oh," my sister said.

    I was able to keep from laughing for about 10 seconds. She still hears that story from time to time.

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    Monday, April 19, 2004

    It was a strange weekend

    Good, but strange. I don't know why it felt so odd, maybe it was because Mrs. A intentionally left most of Saturday free from chores. Well, other than the couple of hours we worked in the yard, anyway. I had time for a nap, then we went out to eat (IHOP) and stopped at Blockbuster on the way home. I don't think we've been to blockbuster in six months. Checked out TWO movies (both adolescent in nature but only one was truly juvenile), went home and watched them both. Definitely not the normal Saturday night routine at the Aardvark burrow.

    Sunday, it was up early (as per usual) and off to bell practice by 8 AM. By the time church was over, I was exhausted. Probably had something to do with only getting a couple hours sleep. My insomnia is returning. I'll eventually break down (not literally, I hope!) and go see the doctor, but I'm still 'a ways' from that.

    So, it was naptime again for me. I woke to the sound of the piano playing. (Practicing must go on...I figure it's fair to let the kids practice when I nap. We never tiptoed around during their naps when they were little) I'm laying there, listening to the piano and when it's done, I hear the Youngest Aardvark Child say "I DID have the whole thing memorized!" (her piece for the upcoming recital) That's when I realized that the excellent piano playing I had heard came not from the Eldest Aardvark Child as I had thought, but from the YAC.

    You have to understand that the EAC is a natural musician. She sits down and plays just about anything she wants with a minimum of fuss. She plays for one of the senior adult Sunday School classes every week before going to the Youth room. The YAC, on the other hand, struggles to conquer every note. She is FINALLY over her frustration of not being her sister, (She's had to talk me into letting her continue taking lessons on more than one occassion. Her mother and I were tired of the constant fight) and has accepted, I think, that she just has to work harder.

    When I came out of the bedroom, I asked her if it was ok if I paid her a compliment that also complemented her sister. Naturally, she said yes. I told the YAC, "When I heard the piano playing a few minutes ago, I thought it was your sister." If her smile was any indication, she liked hearing that.

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    Friday, April 16, 2004

    Kill Bill

    I was wondering on the way to work this morning if some of the same folks who didn't like The Passion of the Christ because it was so voilent would like Kill Bill.

    Sure enough, Kirk Honeycutt from the Hollywood Reporter comes through with flying colors.

    On The Passion of the Christ
    As the film arrives swathed in controversy over its near-pornographic violence and concerns about its potential to incite anti-Semitism, the opening weekend's boxoffice should surpass its reported $25 million cost. (emphasis mine)
    and also
    The spiritual significance of the Crucifixion gets swamped in an orgy of violence visited upon Jesus' body.
    and don't forget
    This, then, is a medieval Passion Play with much better effects. Flesh is flayed in grotesque detail. Body fluids spurt in exquisite patterns. Slow motion captures any action or glance Gibson deems significant.

    On Kill Bill, though, he uses a different standard. For Kill Bill - Volume 1, he had this to say
    Blood is the dominant leitmotif of Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill -- Vol. 1." It oozes, drips, flows, gushes, splatters and geysers in lush crimson to oily black. Scalps, limbs and heads are freely removed from characters' bodies. Since the movie essentially takes place in an Asian action-movie world, we're not to take offense at this torrent of blood and dismembered bodies. In each "chapter," art design, costumes and music are lovingly crafted to pay to homage various "grindhouse" B-movie genres. There is an aesthetic -- a movie-geek obeisance, if you will -- behind every moment of violence.
    He does have some critiques, but the film being to violent and bloody are not among them.

    On Kill Bill - Volume 2, he says
    Now that the entirety of Quentin Tarantino's epic revenge melodrama is on view, "Kill Bill" emerges as a brilliant, invigorating work, one to muse over for years to come.
    Here is a movie that not only pays homage to a host of action-movie styles but rigorously explores its pulp fiction for visceral truths that link culture and cinema. Here's a movie that both academics bundled in film theories and teenagers on hot dates will find supercool.
    Funny, no mention of a near-pornographic orgy of violence.

    I wonder why that is?

    UPDATE: From the "Great minds think alike" file, John Rabe does this much better today.

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    Blue Envelope?

    Several years back, I ordered a gift for my brother and sister-in-law from the folks at Red Envelope. Of course once you get on the mailing list, you keep getting catalogues, whether you ever order anything again or not. The Mother's Day catalogue showed up in yesterday's mail. As I was flipping through it this morning, I noticed something different about this one. It didn't have the normal couple of pages of "sensual" gifts. (One reason this catalogue has a short shelf life at our house. Not quite straight from the mailbox to the recycle bin, but pretty close)

    LittleA: "Huh. The Red Envelope people must be slipping, they left the naughty bits out."

    Mrs A: "That's because it's the Mother's Day catalogue, silly. That stuff will be in the Father's Day catalogue for sure."

    See? I'm not the only one who can be snarky!

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    Large money

    Brian found a new word the other day: winebibber. Those of us old fogies who grew up reading the KJV, are familiar with some of the more obscure words like that.

    I did get a pretty big laugh from one of the verses we looked at in Sunday School last week. Matthew 28:12 in the RSV reads like this
    And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sum of money to the soldiers
    But in King Jimmy it says
    And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers
    Large money. Heh. Like this?

    Of course, as the old folks used to say, they were probably just talking about "foldin' money".

    UPDATE: Well, this would have been funnier if I'd have remembered to include the hyperlink (same as the first time.

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    Thursday, April 15, 2004

    Nunya bidness

    Man, it's good to have Susanna back.

    Like shooting fish in a barrel.

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    Bush lied. Turkeys died.

    Looks like he got the EXACT quantity of mustard gas found on that turkey farm in Libya wrong. It was only 23.6 TONS not 50 tons. Clearly he LIED to the American people. I mean, if he'll lie about this, what else is he lying about?


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    I'm kinda glad I had to work

    The woeful saga of a travelling Aardvark mother and her children is up.

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    Answer me these riddles three

    Well, it's time for the Thursday Three® again. So without further ado...

    1) What three LIVING people from the South would you invite to your meal?

    Clarence Thomas. I've developed an enormous respect for this man over the years. Having him over for some of Mrs. A's good cooking would be an honor of the highest order.

    Billy Graham. Another guy who I would love to know personally. You know he has a million stories that few people have ever heard.

    Dave Barry, Bill Engvall, Jeff Foxworthy (Three way tie) Any one of these three would provide the necessary grease to keep the conversation flowing. Either that or they would be a source of awkward lulls. Priceless either way.

    2) In recognition of Faulkner’s aphorism about the past not being dead and, in fact, not even being past, what three DEAD people from the South (aside from Faulkner) would you invite to your meal? (Assuming, of course, that they would not show up like extras from Dawn of the Dead, but rather would show up in the form they held before leaving their corporeal habitation and advancing to their ultimate reward.)

    Mark Twain. Missouri is South, right? Manners of a gentleman, wit like a knife. The perfect dinner guest.

    Audie Murphy. The ultimate hero for the common man.

    Elvis Presley. He is dead, isn't he? What kind of party would it be without some music? Besides, I'm hoping he'll bring along some jelly doughnuts for dessert.

    3) After the warm conviviality of your feast has been deeply shared by all, what sort of postprandial parlor games would you employ to entertain your guests?

    Outburst. Definitely. Or Scattergories. Maybe Scrabble. (Although Mrs. A would probably like Win, Lose or Draw better)

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    Wednesday, April 14, 2004

    It must pay to advertise

    In the part of the Ozarks where my dad lives, there are an inordinate number of folks with the last names of Rogers and Wheat.

    Coming out of the grocery store, I spotted a pickup truck with one of those tinted bug shields mounted on the hood. Only this one had reflective letters on it saying, "Jim Rogers - no relation to John or James".

    I'd give $10 to hear the story behind that one.

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    Press conference

    Since I know y'all are just holding your breath, wondering what I thought...

    Best moment of the night: Towards the end of the press conference when GWB was speaking about freedom, you could tell it was something that he felt a passion for. He had a fire in his eyes as he spoke about all people deserving to be free. What a refreshing thing to see from the leader of the free world. The reporters and talking heads (Peter Jennings...anyone?) come across as cynical and manipulative by comparison. The only thing they get passionate about is how much smarter they are than the rest of us.

    Worst answer of the night: Non-answer to the question on why he and Dick Cheney are testifying together to the 9/11 commission instead of separately. Worst answer redeemed by the fact that this was the worst question of the night. I mean, who really cares?

    It was pretty obvious that the reporters wanted the president to say something they could club him with in today's papers and in the months to come. It was also pretty obvious that GWB wasn't going to oblige them. I don't recall anyone asking Carter to apologize for the hostage situation, Reagan for the Lebanon bombing or Clinton for the Cole incident. Was Roosevelt expected to apologize to the American people for failing to prevent Pearl Harbor?

    Nobody asked the president what his biggest successes have been. I wonder why? Jerks.

    Biggest question that SHOULD have been asked, but wasn't: Once Iraq has been stabilized, what's the next step in the War On Terror? Too busy playing 'gotcha!' to do any REAL reporting.

    Overall, not the president's best performance, but solid. He came across as genuine and practical; a guy who likes to solve his own problems. Someone who knows that both action and inaction have consequences and so isn't paralyzed when it comes time to make a decision. Compare that with John Kerry, who strikes me as a guy with big ideas but with no idea of how the world works for the rest of us, and who values being popular much more than being right. As we say in Texas, I think I'll dance with the one what brung me.

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    Tuesday, April 13, 2004

    Paying the bills

    I'm going to be more focused on work today than usual. Deadlines have a way of making that happen. So, you'll just have to entertain yourselves today.

    I was entertained this morning by this. (though I don't RECALL giggling like a little schoolgirl, I suppose it IS within the realm of possibility)


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    Monday, April 12, 2004

    What a day

    That will be. Oh, what a day that will be.

    Heard on the radio this morning that Phil Keaggy (and Glass Harp - his old band) will be performing again at the 27th annual Dallas Guitar Show (that's Phil on the top left). He was at the Dallas Guitar Show in 2001 and, though I'm not a guitarist, I made the trip over to the show just to see him perform. I'm not sure if I can describe just how cool it was to see Phil Keaggy playing his guitar in a venue designed to showcase great guitar playing/players. He did do some singing, but mostly just concentrated on playing his guitar. And he did some things that I've never seen anybody do - like playing only using his left hand to strike the notes on the fret boards. What was really cool was having him sample one of his own licks then riff off that. If that doesn't make sense, just trust me. Phil is an awesome musician, and if you ever get a chance to see him at a guitar show, you should do it.

    So I asked Mrs. A, "You wanna go to the guitar show with me next weekend?"

    "Not so much."

    She doesn't know what she's missing.

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    Go West young (wo)man

    The kids are out of school today, so it's a day trip for Mrs A and the two Aardvark children to San Angelo in West Texas to visit the campus of Angelo State University. The campus tour starts at 1:30. They left about 8 AM. It's about a 3 1/2 hour drive (225 miles) and figuring in a stop for lunch and some general "where are we going?" time, that should be about right. I don't expect to see them until at least 7 or maybe even 8, depending on how long the tour is and how much road construction they encounter. The EAC still acts as if UMHB is where she wants to go, but it never hurts to look around.

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    Train crossing

    The hand bells played for church yesterday. Got there at 8:30 and rehearsed our song about a half dozen times. It was mostly not too tough, but there were a couple of spots that had some runs that we worked on. A run is a series of sequential notes, kind of like a scale, but not necessarily containing every note. And with hand bells, when you have a run, it might take four or five (or eight) different people to complete it, so it can present some difficulties, especially if folks aren't counting like they're supposed to and relying on hearing the note before theirs to know when to come in. When you do it by ear, it only works when the previous person plays their note when they're supposed to.

    So, the piece we were doing had a nine measure introduction before actually starting the familiar part of the song. Measure one was a whole note, measure two had quarter notes and measures three through nine had runs of increasing complexity, starting off with just a couple people playing and ending with just about everybody playing. Never had a problem with this part of the song in rehearsal. But...

    I had two notes in measure two and then nothing until the upbeat for measure five (and then I had a bunch of notes). Measure three was a disaster, with only about half the notes being played and some of those in the wrong spots. Measure four was worse. It was almost to the point where we were going to have to stop and try again (the bane of any musician). Oh, well, I thought and just started in where I was supposed to. Somehow, by measure six, enough folks were on track that it didn't sound too bad. And by the time the introduction was over in measure nine, everybody was together for the verse in measure ten. The rest of the song went off without a hitch. Train wreck avoided.

    The director told me afterwards that if I hadn't come in when I did, he was ready to stop and start over. As it was, though, there were probably only a handful of people (other than those playing bells) who had any idea how close we had come to a disaster. (Well, ok, maybe not a DISASTER, but an embarrassing moment nonetheless.)

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    Friday, April 09, 2004

    Things that make you go hmmm

    One of the news bits (and that's all they are is 'bits') on the radio this morning warned of the impending demise of Greenland's ice sheet. Of course, they never have time to tell you that this predicted event is 1,000 years in the future. I don't think I'll spend much time worrying about it.

    But it got me to thinking about the 'save the planet' types out there. In order to take the viewpoint that mankind is destroying the environment, don't you have to start with an underlying assumption that the environment is currently in its best possible state? I mean, you wouldn't want to preserve it in a state that was less than optimal, right? So what is it that makes Greenland's ice sheet the preferred state of nature? What if it was better all around that Greenland didn't have an ice sheet? Wouldn't the global warming activists then be arguing for keeping the earth in a sub-prime state?

    The other logical assumption you have to make to accept the viewpoint that mankind (or wymynkind, if you prefer) is destroying the balance of nature is that mankind is not a part of nature. The very same people who advocate natural selection and survival of the fittest are the ones who advocate the preservation of species. Pick one or the other folks, you can't have it both ways.

    I think it's an easy argument to make that the world will be a DIFFERENT place in another 1,000 years. It's a much more difficult argument to make that the world will be a WORSE place in another 1,000 years. (Physically, I mean. Morally and spiritually is another matter entirely.) So far, most of what I hear is that DIFFERENT=WORSE and that's not necessarily true.

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    Thursday, April 08, 2004


    Setting: The Youngest Aardvark Child is in the kitchen looking at Mrs. A's uplifting thought-of-the-day calendar (which hasn't been changed in a while). LittleA and the missus are sitting on the sofa in the living room, drinking their morning coffee.

    YAC: "What's today?"

    Mrs. A: "The eighth."

    LittleA: "Thursday."

    YAC, flipping calendar pages: "Dad, I KNOW it's Thursday."

    LittleA: "Technically that's the answer to the question you asked. 'Today' generally refers to the day of the week."

    YAC: "How else would I ask it, then, 'What's toDATE?'"

    LittleA: "No, you'd ask 'What's THE date...toDUH.'"

    YAC: "Bon soir, bone-head!"

    LittleA: "Exactly."

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    Thursday Three

    Though not an official member of the Axis of Weevil, here are my answers to the inaugural Thursday Three.

    1) What is your favorite food that is usually available only in the southern United States?

    Wow, this is a toss-up between smoked brisket, Little Debbie's snack cakes and Blue Bell ice cream. How about a favorite meal of brisket, potato salad (mustard), baked beans (with lots of bacon) and Blue Bell Natural Vanilla Bean ice cream for dessert? Then again, batter fried fish with hush puppies is good too. Or chicken fried steak with mashed potatoes, Ranch Style beans, corn and plenty of cream gravy. Or biscuits and cream gravy with sausage in it and fried grits. Ok then, that settles it. All of the above.

    2) What is your least favorite?

    No problem here. Black eyed peas. Because they taste like dirt. You can keep your mustard and collard greens too.

    3) AND FINALLY...what Southern specialty food item do you cook the best?

    If you ask my dad, it's burritos with all the fixin's. I like taking hot dogs and heating them in a mixture of ketchup and Worcestershire sauce (so your eyelids sweat). Just make sure you have extra bread for sopping.

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    Wednesday, April 07, 2004

    Putting the vanity in vanity plates

    I don't have any bumper stickers on my car. For one, I just don't care for the look and for two, I'm from the "be careful what you ask for" school of thought. I particularly am not enthusiastic about attaching religiously themed bumper stickers to cars. "W.W.J.D" and "Christians aren't perfect, just forgiven" and "In case of rapture, this car will be unmanned" stickers are fine if the car is parked. But when it passes you at 90 miles an hour or cuts you off in traffic or doesn't stay in its lane, the uplifting sticker suddenly starts sending a completely different message. Kind of like the folks who put up graffiti saying "Jesus Saves". Vandalizing the bathroom walls is probably not a good way to spread the Good News. Know what I mean?

    Anyway, so I'm driving in Oklahoma, (doing about 73 in a 70 MPH zone), when I'm passed by a late model BMW with vanity plates doing at least 90. So what's on the plates? "I TITHE" Well, that's just good to know, isn't it? I'm sure all those non-tithers he passed were motivated to start tithing immediately. I just wish I could've gotten his thoughts on Matthew 6:3 before he was out of sight.

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    LittleA - Art Critic

    It's more than just a little ironic that I catch up on all the movies I want to see (and some I didn't) when I go to visit my dad. I was never allowed to go to movies when I was a kid. Didn't matter if it was the latest Disney flick or if it was the preacher's kid that invited me, I couldn't go. I never figured out what was so awful about going to the movies (still haven't), but that was one of the first things I did when I got out on my own. (and one of my first movie theater experiences was sitting in a packed house watching a sneak preview of Raiders of the Lost Ark - truly a special memory)

    But now, since they don't get out much, all the kids have started sending the folks tapes. This last time, I watched Catch Me If You Can for the first time. (the time before it was October Sky and the time before that it was The Count of Monte Cristo) I enjoyed the movie, but I also have had the honor (?) of actually meeting the guy the movie was about (Frank Abignale) at one of his fraud seminars. He also took a quick tour of our company and recommended some changes in our check handling process while he was in town. He struck me at the time as an arrogant jerk. He comes across as a little more likeable in the movie, but I stand by my first impression.

    And since I stay in a motel when I visit my dad, I get to catch up on my cable TV viewing as well (no cable at the Aardvark burrow). Caught my first ever episodes of The Sopranos, Six Feet Under and Deadwood. Of those three, by far the most watchable was Six Feet Under and if I never see another episode it'd be perfectly alright. Deadwood was the least palatable of the shows. Maybe it's just me but I'm not used to my western serials sounding like they'd been spliced with the audio from Pulp Fiction. Take out the swearing and the dialogue would be more suited to Mel Brooks' Silent Movie. The story line was just as raw as the language. I kept thinking that if this was HBO's "Groundbreaking" new show, the ground they were breaking was just the thinly disguised crust on top of a cesspit. Perhaps some ground is better left unbroken.

    The other thought that kept going through my head was that people actually pay to have this crap brought into their homes. Now THAT'S a business model. Kind of makes you want to go out and buy a cattle prod and start selling subscriptions - "for $30 a month, we'll come over to your house once a week and give you a jolt. What'd'ya say?"

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    Mid-week Monday

    Bleah. The first day back to work always stinks. And to top it off, I feel yucky.

    Not sure if it's the weather (cloudy), the time change (stupid), being tired from the trip (long), not sleeping well for the past couple of weeks (disturbing), being depressed over my dad (inevitable) or just having to work (period). Probably a little of all that, but mostly the last one, I think.

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    Friday, April 02, 2004

    On the road again

    I'll be checking out early today to make another trip to Missouri. As best I can tell over the phone, my dad's doing about as well as before, but it's hard to gauge without seeing him. I'll be out Monday and Tuesday and back on Wednesday. Y'all keep an eye on the place for me and make sure the possums and such don't come in and make a mess of things (and whatever you do, don't EVER feed 'em).


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    Monitoring the situation

    I mentioned that I was swapping monitors out the other night. The monitor on our "new" PC (three years old) has seemed to be getting darker and darker. Not all of a sudden, but gradually over months. Brightness and contrast are both pegged at 100%, but things just seemed...dim. I realized how bad it had gotten a couple of weeks ago when I tried to play Master of Orion II (yeah, I'm THAT kind of geek). It being set in space and all has a naturally dark background. I popped the CD in and fired 'er up and realized that everything was so dark that I couldn't even find the hot spots for the mouse to exit properly.

    What to do? Well, it could be the monitor (most likely), or it could be the video card (least likely). I hate to go spend money without diagnosing the exact problem (ok, well, maybe that's stretching it a little, but it's USUALLY true) so I figured I would check with the computer guys at work to see if I could borrow a monitor to bring home and swap out - not to keep, just to test. If the new monitor works fine, then it's the monitor that's the problem. If the new monitor is also dim, it's the video card.

    So the guys let me borrow a new Dell 14" flat screen on Wednesday. Those things are SWEET! (and SO much easier to move about too - I carried it around in one hand!) I hooked it up and the living room (which is where the computer is) looked like we lived next door to the Griswold's at Christmas. So it's definitely the monitor which needs replacing.

    So, being the cheap frugal guy I am, it dawned on me...AHA! We still have the old, old monitor from the old computer. Instead of buying a new one (flat screen, honey, think FLAT SCREEN), I can just use it until it dies. No one uses the old PC anyway since it's relegated to the converted garage room (aka Siberia).

    Then it dawns on me. I had a monitor already. I didn't need to bring one home from work.


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    Has a blog. And he's interested in architecture too!

    Of course, now that he's got somebody stalking him with a camera 24/7, he's going to have to clean up his act. No more chain smoking, beer drinking, night clubbing and hot tubbing for our little pink friend.

    Piglet, if you're reading this, it's all for the best, man. All for the best.

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    Fly little bird, fly!

    (I was also going to post this yesterday, but...)

    Well, it was bound to happen sometime. The Eldest Aardvark Child had her first solo driving experience last night. The YAC had homework and the missus was feeling poorly and I was swapping monitors on the computer, so it was decided that the EAC would drive herself to church for the youth activities. Mrs. A was somewhat ambivalent about it, but I said she had to do it sometime and at least this was the route she was most familiar with.

    So with cell phone in hand - to call when she arrived and before she left - off she went.

    She made it there and back with no problems (other than almost getting rear-ended when she stopped for a yellow light).


    My baby's all growed up.

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    April 1

    (I was going to post this yesterday, but...)

    Happy birthday to my Mother-In-Law.




    No. Really.

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    Interruption of service

    Huh, what'd'ya know? It's Friday already. In case you wondered what happened to Thursday, it went something like this.

    Mrs. A is taking some new anti-inflammatory meds for a sore hip (hope that's not TMI, honey) and began experiencing some of the side effects - unexpected weight gain, swelling around the eyes, exhaustion etc. - you know, the ones that indicate you should call your doctor immediately? She called the doctor at 8:30, and as is the case with most doctor's offices these days, she was able to immediately talk to ... an answering machine. Which said that, if the stars aligned just right, they might get back to you today. Maybe.

    When I called to check on her around 10, she still had not heard back from the doctor. In addition she had been laying down when I called. Mrs. A NEVER lays down (unless threatened and bullied into it by a concerned husband). By 10:30 she had heard from one of the nurses (there are two, one is real friendly and concerned, the other is just doing her job. She got the second one) that she should stop taking the new medication and that the nurse would talk to the doctor to see if there was anything else she needed to do and call her back.

    At 10:50 the nurse still hadn't called back and Mrs. A was feeling pretty low. I left work at 11.

    Lunch was prepared, dishes were washed, (computer games were played to fill in the gaps), the unhelpful nurse called back to say there were no other instructions from the doctor, a grudging affirmation that yes, you could take Benedril to make you feel better if you want was obtained, Benedril was purchased and taken, children were picked up from school, errands were run, and dinner was cooked. Mrs. A got a pretty good nap in and sat and read a book. She began to perk up a little last night and this morning, while still not feeling great (more to do with allergy/sinus crud than anything else) she's at least not wiped out. Either that or she fakes it well.

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