Friday, May 28, 2004

Like, dude, I'm totally freaked

We have a new talk radio station that started up about a month ago. Their big angle is that all of their programming from 5 AM to 9 PM is carried live. No tape delays. So if you want to call in live you can (I don't and I don't). Most of their shows are new to the market: Bill Bennett, Laura Ingraham, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved, Hugh Hewitt, and Michael Savage (the only show that was already on in this market and just switched stations).

I'm driving home from work yesterday and I flip the radio on to the Hugh Hewitt show. (Lileks talks about him all the time so that automatically makes him hip) Hugh is only on for an hour before they drop him to pick up Michael Savage's show. Which means I'll switch stations because I can't stand Savage's schtick - something about his need for sycophantic adulation (which he provides himself if the callers won't) and his vitriolic manner just makes me feel like I need to shower after hearing his voice.

Anyway, so I turn on Hugh Hewitt's show and of course he's on vacation and has a substitute host. A guy from NYC by the name of Kevin McCullough. "Hey!" I think to myself (like who else would I think to?), "I used to know a kid named Kevin McCullough." He was my best friend's cousin's kid. I think the last time I saw him he was 13 or 14 and was a skinny, 'me too' type who always wanted to hang around us cool college kids (like I was ever cool). But this couldn't be the same guy, I mean, the last I heard he had gone to Chicago to attend Moody Bible Institute and was working part-time at a radio...s...t...a...t...i...o...n...

Nah! Couldn't be the same guy. Besides that was probably 10 years ago. There must me a thousand guys named Kevin McCullough.

So what's the first thing he mentions? That he's just moved recently to NYC from the Chicago area. "It's just a coincidence," I tell myself. Besides, this guy is talking about politics and stuff and he sounds like he knows what he's doing. That CERTAINLY can't be the same guy...the little snot-nosed...

Then he starts talking about growing up on the West side of Fort Worth.

Ok, that's just freaky, man. IT IS HIM. Then it hit's me, the last time I saw him IT WAS IN MY HOUSE! Of course, it wasn't MY house then, it was his Great Aunt and Uncle's house (the parents of my best friend), but this guy I'm listening to on the radio was IN MY HOUSE.

(Note to self: You need to start being nicer to dorky kids. You just never know...)

Anyway, it just weirded me out.

So then, Mrs. A and I are talking about the daughter of a friend. She's graduating this year and her mom was hoping the dad (they're both remarried - to other people) would be coughing up for a new computer. "I mean, Jeff DOES work in I.T.," Mrs. A says. "And his dad is in charge of the warehouse."

"WAIT A MINUTE!?! What do you mean his dad is in charge of the warehouse? You mean Jeff's dad is Clarence?!?"

Both of these guys still work for the company I used to work for, and while I knew both of them had the same last name, I NEVER put the two together. When I was in college, I wound up working at the warehouse and Clarence was one of my bosses. Later, Jeff's (new) wife wound up working for me and it only took me six months or so to realized I KNEW the kids in the photos on her desk.

Just goes to show you a) how slow on the uptake I am, and b) it's a small world after all. (Gah!!! The song...make it stop!!!!!)

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    Thursday, May 27, 2004

    Jeudi trois

    Ooo la la! That thar' is French!

    And now, for some Possum-y goodness, if you'll pardon the oxymoron. (Hey! who you callin' a moron, eh?)

    1) Who is the most peculiar person you know personally? Please give a short listing of their particular foibles you find most compellingly peculiar. Obviously, the more peculiar, the more prudent it will be to disguise their identity to some extent--giving their name, address, and aluminum-foil-hat communicator number is probably a bit too much information. You know how those people are.

    Well, other than me...but that's question 2.

    Let's see...there was the employee who became a little unhinged and was convinced that we were all out to get her so she took notes on everything going on and then would leave her notes lying around. "Girl, they KNOW you're good and they're just jealous of you. WATCH YOUR BACK!" "Saw X, Y and Z talking today. They are plotting AGAINST me! Why do they hate me?" When the truth was, all we wanted was for her to do her work. And when the note taking started interfering with her production and we talked to her about it. BAM! Lawsuit. For racial, sexual and age discrimination. Only she couldn't find an attorney to take the case so she did it herself. The first court threw it out because she didn't go to the EEOC before filing. So she went to the EEOC and they assigned a case worker to investigate and she threw a hissy fit because the case worker was a male Hispanic and "he couldn't POSSIBLY know what her situation was like." So, the EEOC said "whatever" and gave her a right-to-sue letter. Back to the courts, where every judge threw it out. In the mean time, she had to go on medical leave for "stress", once she found a doctor who would diagnose her the way she wanted (it took several tries to find one). She appealed the dismissal of her case from the state courts to the federal courts all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States. I used to keep the "we will not review" letter from the office of Justice Souter in my desk drawer and look at it from time to time. She finally had to come back from medical leave and she worked one day then quit. Surprise! What made this so funny/sad is that TWO of her sisters worked for us and THEY just shook their heads when her name was mentioned (by others, of course, since us management types couldn't talk about her...pending litigation and all).

    Then there's the guy who tried to live his life without any outward emotion. Feelings could not be trusted and therefore had no place in his world. And he wondered why he was forty and alone. I was thrown together with him when he was assigned to take over one of the functions I'd been performing and I had to train him. Once you got past the cold, logical side, he really was a pretty nice guy. I think I was the only one in the office who knew it. He had a bifurcated personality. His "work mode" as I called it was completely devoid of any social niceties. He'd walk up to you and say, "I need information about XYZ, when can I expect to get that from you?" If you said, "Hey, how's it going" in response, he'd say, "That's irrelevant. When can I get the information I need?" The guy was like a machine and very focused on the task at hand which is why he got the nicknames "Laser" and "Bullet" (since when he decided to walk somewhere he did it with purpose - rapidly and efficiently). I tried to counsel him that if he would engage in a little "chit chat" once in a while, he'd get the results he needed with less hassle and frustration. "But that doesn't make sense" he'd say, "Why should I have to ask about somebody's kids to get them to do their job?" ::sigh:: His "non-work mode" was a little better, but it still felt stiff and forced. Like he was thinking, "I'm not working, so it is logical to act like I enjoy other people's company." I probably was the closest thing he had to a friend, but I haven't heard from him since I left that job. I can hear him say, "You are no longer able to help me advance in this company. It makes no sense to invest any time with you."

    I said he didn't express emotions, but that's not quite true. He did express one emotion frequently: anger. Directed usually at himself for not being perfect. One of the things you develop over time as you do a job is a "knack" for knowing where the problems are when you hit a snag. But he never developed anything like a knack for the job he took over from me. "Hunches and intuition are not logical." So when he'd come to the end of his rope trying to find where the problem was, he'd come ask me. (more efficient, don't you know) And after hearing the problem, I'd say, "it's probably related to X and I'd look here and here or maybe there to find it." He'd go off and come back about 10 minutes later just livid - not mad at me, but at himself for not being able to figure it out on his own. "How did you KNOW where to look?" he'd say through clenched teeth. "I looked for THREE hours and never thought to look there." "I don't know" I'd say, "it just sounded like one of those things that might be the cause of your problem." Which made him even more frustrated. "I can't learn intuition!"

    2) What characteristic(s) about yourself do you think others might find just a tad bit peculiar?

    I'm introverted. No. Really.

    I am uncomfortable in most social situations, especially those where I don't know most people, and much prefer staying at home to going out. When Mrs. A and I attend a social function, I'm the one who says upon arriving, "Is it time to go yet?"

    The reason most folks who know me can't believe I'm introverted is that I act extroverted around people I know: yakking them up, quipping and joking, being loud and boisterous, never afraid to be the center of attention.

    What they DON'T know is that they guy they are seeing is not the real me. Because I'm introverted, I compartmentalize a lot. And different people get to see different compartments. Did you know that a good number of actors and actresses are introverted? It's because we're so used to hiding and disguising ourselves that acting is easy. And so, introverts tend to have different personas for different situations. Most people know me by my "on" persona. My "on" persona IS me, but it's only a part, not the whole.

    Those of you who are introverted know EXACTLY what I'm talking about. The rest of you are just scratching your heads. See question 2.

    3) Knowing how Peculiar-Americans tend to have rather different ideas when it comes to politics, have you ever voted for a person who was identified as something other than a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, or little-'I' independent?

    No, can't say that I have.

    I'm into clear-cutting and seal clubbing so the Greens won't have anything to do with me.
    I'm a red-blooded money grubber so the Socialists and Communists stay away.
    I'm not good at goose-stepping or Jew-hating so the Nazis are right out.
    And I'm not a dope smoker so the Grassroots party has, shall we say, been 'weeded' out.

    By the way, I found this page to be quite informative about the "other" parties out there. I mean, who KNEW there was a Pansexual Peace Party?

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    Wednesday, May 26, 2004

    School is almost out

    Only one more day after today. Maybe by next week the schedule will slow down a bit. Maybe.

    It's been one thing after another for the past couple of weeks. Two weeks ago it was a talent show - the YAC sang Jessica Andrew's "Who I Am" - quite well from what I hear (I couldn't be there), but then again, "And when the day is done my Momma's still my biggest fan" isn't in that song for nothing. Later that week was the one-act play competition that the YAC was involved in (backstage this time) and then the YAC's band concert. And I think I've forgotten something.

    Last week was the public performance of the one-act play, the EAC's band concert, the EAC's jazz band concert (she played piano), the EAC's birthday dinner, and a friend's high school graduation and the corresponding graduation party.

    This week was the talent show for the EAC (I couldn't be there either). She played a medley of songs from Pirates of the Caribbean on the piano. Of course, she insisted on dressing up like Captain Jack Sparrow (don't dare to forget the Captain part...or you'll hear about it for sure), so much of the weekend was spent getting the costume together. We rented most of it (Gah! What have we become?), but the vest was made by a friend and much of Sunday evening was spent getting the front of her hair braided with the appropriate beadage. She got third place and was pleased with that.

    Last night was the piano recital. Sunday afternoon, the YAC balked at practicing her recital piece. And heaven forbid, we make her play it TWICE!


    Pout. Pout.

    Recital pieces must be memorized. So she finally gets her attitude under control enough to play (which hasn't always been the case) and proceeds to play as if she has two extra thumbs on each hand. I tell her, "You play like that at the recital and not only will YOU be embarrassed, I'll be embarrassed too." More practicing with much improvement (which is also noted).

    She did pretty well, only needing three tries to find an elusive note. Nothing to be ashamed of.

    And then there's the EAC. She is the oldest of her piano teacher's students and so she gets to go last. And of course, as the senior student, she also plays the most difficult pieces. I don't know for sure, but I think the piece she played last night was about eight pages long. She did well until she got to the last transition before the end. And then she just went blank. What do you do when you're playing in front of an audience with no music and you forget what comes next? You stop. Stand. Nod towards the audience and then walk off stage, that's what. And then you cry.

    So she did.

    I actually think that this kind of experience is good for her. She will learn more as a result of this setback. She'll learn that even though things come easily to her, she still has to work hard if she wants to excel. That you can't let failure incapacitate you. That you have to learn to not take yourself too seriously and that it's ok to not always be perfect. The part of the song she did play was beautiful and everyone enjoyed it. Relax. Breath. Smile.

    Everyone was sympathetic to her plight, but being a perfectionist, she demands a higher standard of herself than she expects in others. (I wonder where she picked that up from?) She was better by the time we left the reception, and the ice cream we had later certainly didn't hurt.

    On Saturday we have another friend's high school graduation in the afternoon and our high school graduation ceremony that evening. The EAC has to go because she's in the band and she found out Monday, she's accompanying the choir. On Monday, we travel to San Marcos (I think) for the state ensemble competition. The EAC is part of a French Horn trio that made it to state. I'll let you know how that turns out.

    UPDATE: Oh yeah, and I forgot all about the Youth Lock-In at church on Friday night that Mrs. A and I have somehow gotten ourselves entangled in...Saturday's going to be a loooooooooong day.

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    Late lunch today

    The big boss came by earlier and asked, "Would you be able to have ??? and ??? and ??? ready before our 2 PM meeting with T (one of the owners)?"

    "Why sure," sez I.

    And now that it's done, I can take time for lunch.

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    Tuesday, May 25, 2004

    Nothing much to post today

    On the positive side, my backspace key works great.

    It's gotten plenty of use, seeing as how I've started about three different posts only to erase them and start over.

    In fact, this sentence alone has been rewritten about a dozen times. Trust me, you haven't missed a thing.

    Until tomorrow then...

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    Monday, May 24, 2004

    My big, fat wife ...

    Sweetie Face.

    #1. Every couple has their inside jokes.

    #2. I've been known to make outrageous statements just for the effect.
    (Hard to believe, but true)

    #3. My wife knows this and is sometimes kind enough to play the straight man for me.
    (What a woman!)

    We have a bunch of tapes of old radio broadcasts. Fibber McGee and Molly is one of our favorites. One of the bit characters who shows up from time to time is a guy by the name of Wallace Wimple. If you know who Droopy Dog is, you've heard Wallace Wimple's voice. And much of the comedy of his character was created by the use of dramatic pauses. You never meet his wife, but he talks about her constantly. Usually while looking over his shoulder to make sure she doesn't catch him. She wears the pants in the family and evidently is quite a bit bigger and stronger than Wallace, who is pretty much a wimp.

    Anyway, he usually starts in by telling some horror story of how his wife has recently mistreated him and then he'll stop and say, "You know my wife?" with a long pause and then, "Sweetie Face?" And then he'll finish his story by telling how he escaped whatever torment she was putting him through and how he is waiting until she falls asleep to go back home (or something similar - part of the charm of these shows is their predicability).

    One time when Wallace was telling how much bigger his wife was than he was, he changed things up just a bit. Instead of his usual line, he said, "You know my wife? My big (pause), fat (pause) wife? Sweetie Face?" And the audience just howls, shocked by what he said and by the fact that he had the backbone to say it.

    This phrase has somehow made it into the Aardvark lexicon as a term of endearment. (As have several items from the Bickersons, another old radio program. Like the poem I used for our anniversary, for instance.) At no time has it EVER been used in a derogatory manner, although I know, on the face of it, that seems like an oxymoron.

    So, it came to be, whenever my wife would call me at work and one of the other ladies answered the phone, I would sometimes respond to their, "Your wife's on the phone" by picking up the phone and asking "Is this my big, fat wife, Sweetie Face?" Refer to #1, #2 and #3 above. At which time, they would look at me like I'd just eaten a bug, expecting to hear the explosion over the phone. And then look puzzled when it never came.

    Mrs. A has also been known to ask for me by saying, "Tell him it's his big, fat wife, Sweetie Face" (so that SHE could be the one to shock 'em - no reason to let me have all the fun). Which, come to think of it, is EXACTLY what she did the other day on her blog isn't it?

    Gotta watch that woman!

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    Pretty, talented, smart...and just a pinch of sass

    Obnoxious bragging alert. Don't say you weren't warned.

    The high school had an assembly Friday afternoon to announce the results of the TAKS test - the statewide mandated you-must-pass-to-graduate test. The Junior class as a whole did very well, but there was ONE student who was designated as "exemplary". To be recognized as exemplary, you must pass all four parts with a score of 90 or better.

    As you may have guessed, the EAC was the exemplary student.

    When they called her name, she was thinking, "Great, like some people don't already hate me." ::sigh:: It doesn't change as you get older, sweetie. The reality is that most kids do like her (what's not to like?) and it's only a few of the envious types who don't.

    After the assembly, Keith, who is a very gifted and talented actor, but who also tends to believe his own press (thereby acting like a prima donna), came up to her and said, "You need to slow down a bit and let some of us catch up." (she's also on track to be valedictorian)

    The YAC's response?

    "No, you just need to up your game."

    Boo Yah!

    UPDATE: Oops. Boy am I embarrassed. But it's been one of those days. The last three sentences of this post should read:
    The EAC's response?

    "No, you just need to up your game."

    Boo Yah!
    Sorry for the confusion.

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    Friday, May 21, 2004

    Almost forgot

    what made me laugh out loud this morning.

    There was a fatal train wreck on Wednesday in Gunter, Texas (a little North of Dallas) and no, I don't find that funny.

    But, you know how the radio news blurbs have to get every story down to one sentence?

    This morning's update on the story went something like this
    Investigators have determined that the cause for Wednesdays fatal train wreck is that one of the trains was in the wrong place.
    I couldn't help but laugh. That doesn't make me evil does it?

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    Selective amnesia

    I don't know WHAT she could be talking about...

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    Noticed yesterday afternoon the site meter started giving off a funny grinding sound...kinda like when a bearing is fixin' to go out. Know what I mean?

    Turns out that this blog (Yes, THIS one) made it to the top 40 listing on Daypop yesterday due to a certain couple of bloggers who linked to my anniversary post. Thanks guys!

    (That is, if you really ARE guys and not just a couple of 14 year old girls with too much time on your hands. I'm just sayin', that's all.)

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    Swimming upstream

    Sometimes I think I may be the only guy in the world who didn't go ga-ga over Shrek. Which puts me solidly in the "I won't go see Shrek 2" camp.

    Why, you ask?

    A couple of reasons.

    If you had to describe Shrek in one word, what would it be? I think most people would say "funny".

    I say "clever" and there's a big difference between the two.

    Clever is ok, if it's the right flavor. I found Shrek to be clever, not in the "Heh - that was an interesting twist" kind of way, but more in the "Hey! Look at me. I'm being clever, I am!" kind of way.

    And trust me when I say that I KNOW what the "Hey! Look at me" type of clever looks like.




    Anyway, I thought the movie just worked too hard to be the "Best. Movie. Ever. Or at least better than Disney - those arrogant jerks. We'll show them, those sanctimonious prigs. Who do they think they are anyway. They're full of crap, that's what they are...and Michael Eisner, that @#$@#$..." The gigs at Disney came across more like nasty eye-gouging than good natured arm punching. Like it wasn't enough to merely mock them. They had to be body-slammed to the pavement in order to dance upon their bloody corpse.

    Yes, I found much of the "humor" to be mean-spirited, why do you ask? But it was clever, I'll give them that.

    Secondly, I thought the movie went way overboard with the bodily function gags and, if I recall correctly, sexual innuendo. You know, how did 'Toy Story' or 'Beauty and the Beast' manage to make it without having a fart joke or two thrown in? That's obviously what everybody wants in their cartoons. And don't forget to wipe with your favorite story-book when you're through.

    Between the mean-spirited humor and the scatological humor, this was not the gentle kids movie aimed at a younger crowd that I expected to see (though that's how it was marketed), but a movie better suited for older kids and adults. I was appalled that there were three, four and five year olds in the theater. And then afterwards to realize that everyone else I talked to thought it was great ...

    People still look at me funny when I tell them I didn't like it.



    What are you looking at?

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    Thursday, May 20, 2004


    Or three to the seventh power.

    If Wednesday is Belgium, Thursday must be ... 'Bama?

    1) NASCAR recently sent up a squeal from old-school fans for its decision to move two Nextel Cup (nee Winston Cup) races from Rockingham and Darlington to Texas Motor Speedway and Phoenix International Raceway in Arizona. The move is seen by many as a naked grab for a more mainstream audience and an attempt to walk away from the sport’s redneck past. Is this a good thing?

    I already saw this item and commented thereon over at Jim's place. Here's what I said.

    Personally, I'd much rather see NASCAR ditch the Martinsville short track and keep the Rockville race. Short track bores me.
    On a selfish note, with two events at TMS, there's a higher chance I'll actually get to go.

    So, yeah, I guess I'd have to say it's a good thing. Since it's all about ME.

    2) It has been noted by others that the original 26 episodes of Jonny Quest are now available on DVD. The question: Race Bannon--is he or isn’t he?

    I already saw this item and commented theron over at Spud's place. Here's what I said.

    I loved that show. I always like the aligators on the leash! Oooh, and the giant spiders of course.

    And Race Bannon...THAT'S an adventurer's name for sure.

    So it looks like I have to come down on the side of isn't. (or risk the association ... Eeek!) Of course, one begins to wonder just why this subject came up in the first place ... hmmmm ...

    3) Have you ever participated in any sort of organized footrace--track and field in school, fun runs, marathons, Olympics--and what was your finishing position? (Sprawled on the ground with dry heaves does not count as a position.)

    In high school gym class, I was never last. I was always NEXT to last, somehow managing to beat the guy on crutches. In the last Cowtown 10K I ran (walked actually - dragging the YAC all the way - and SHE'S the one who wanted to do it. Grrr!), my time was 1:35:18. I sweat just thinking about it.

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    To everyone who's left kind words in the comments the last few days.

    You may be entertained to know that Mrs. A did indeed receive an anniversary gift of a can of pork and beans.

    Now, simmer down - it's a long running joke and she took it as such.

    We have yet to plan anything to mark the event as things have been so busy. We might even have to celebrate in June the way things are going.

    And the EAC? Well, I plan on cluing her in on this here blog next year - after she's off to college. So when she reads all the back entries (like she'll have time for that!), she'll be able to see all the birthday wishes you've so graciously sent her way.

    You guys, or as we say 'round these parts - y'all - are the best. Ever.

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    Wednesday, May 19, 2004

    Playing games Aardvark style

    My family has always liked to play games. But for some reason, we're all just a little bit ornery. I know that's a stretch, but trust me, we are. And so we don't always play to least the way the rules SAY you're supposed to. That doesn't mean we cheat. It just means that you sometimes measure winning on a different scale.

    Take the game Aggravation, for instance. The object is to get all your marbles out of your base and around the board into the 'home' spaces. At least that's what the rules say. When the Aardvark's play Aggravation, we take the name literally. This means that if you have a choice between moving one of your marbles into the safety of 'home' or bumping another player's marble back to their base, you always bump the other player. ALWAYS.

    It's a little different style of play when everyone is competing not to win, but to harass the other players as much as possible. Mrs. A has learned to play this way too as a matter of survival. Once, I was not able to attend a Sunday School fellowship, but sent Mrs. A on without me. They played UNO and all I heard the next Sunday was how mean and vicious she played. Heh. Wimps.

    I once thought that a game of Mille Bornes was going to cause TWO divorces: my parents and my next to oldest brother and his wife. Naturally, the play was the boys against the girls. The object of Mille Bornes is for your team to collect mileage cards that add up to 1,000 miles. But before you can play mileage cards, you must first have a green light - or "go" card. The boys figured out that if they held all the "go" cards in their hands, they could control the outcome of the game. And so they started collecting them every chance they got, without even having to talk about it - they just knew what the other one was doing. It didn't take too long before they held every available "go" card and had made the game unwinnable by either team. But they didn't tell the girls what they were doing and so soon, the girls started to get frustrated. They had 950 miles and only needed to play one of the many mileage cards they held in their hands to win the game. But they could never draw a go. The longer it went on, the bigger the boys grinned. Until the girls finally figured it out. The boys won what you might call a Pyrrhic victory. The price was high. The Mille Bornes cards were never touched again after that night.

    So, as you can imagine, one of the things my dad likes to do when he's feeling well is to play games. Dominos sometimes, but usually UNO. We don't keep score, just kind of a running tally in our heads of who's won how many hands. And, of course, we play Aardvark style. Playing UNO Aardvark style usually involves playing the nasty cards every chance you get (naturally), but also means that when you play a wild card and change colors, you ALWAYS call the color you know the other guy is out of, whether or not you hold any of that color yourself. And you talk. A lot. If you've won two or three hands in a row and then lose one, you say, "Well, I thought I should let you win one so you wouldn't start crying." And of course the other guy responds with, "Let me win? Why, I've been in control of every hand we've played so far. I've just been stringing you along, setting you up for the big one." Etc., etc., etc.

    After an extended period of play, my step-mom has been known to ask, from the next room, "Boys! Do I need to separate you?"

    And of course, the last time I was there was no different. Except for an odd realization. My dad had pretty much buzzed all his hair off, and with his wrinkles and his ears that stick out (they always have, but you didn't notice so much when he had hair), I was struck by this


    I'm playing UNO with Yoda!

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    Two years and a day later

    A beautiful baby girl was born.

    We had no idea how she would change our lives. She spoiled us, really, by being such a sweet child: always quick to laugh, tender hearted and smart. And did I mention pretty? Oh, very.

    Not that I'm biased or anything.

    And the young woman she's become just amazes me. I know her mother and I deserve some of the credit, but our influence only goes so far. We've provided a strong foundation and a stable framework, and it's up to her how she builds on that from here on out. At seventeen she's just beginning to realize the world is hers to shape to her will. I pray that she continues to make good choices.

    Happy birthday, sweetie. I love you.

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    Tuesday, May 18, 2004

    A day like no other

    As I recall, it was a sunny day, that Saturday in May. I don't recall eating much the night before, and I certainly wasn't too hungry that morning. All my family, with the exception of my brother and his family (victims of a last minute airline strike) was in town and my college graduation was at 6:30 that evening. But there was still a thing or two to get done before I graduated. Odds and ends to finish up. Minor details. Like getting married.

    You see, a few years back, I met this girl who set my heart to pounding every time I saw her or even thought of her. She was sweet and kind and thoughtful and smart and pretty and for some unknowable reason she saw fit to let me catch her. It's still a mystery how she could put up with the likes of me. We had been dating for less than two months, when sitting in the lobby of her dorm one Sunday afternoon, one of us laughed (I forget which, but I'm sure she can tell you).

    "You'll never guess what I'm thinking" the other one said.


    "I was trying to figure out what color the tuxes should be."

    The rest, as they say, is history. It turns out that wedding bells had been on both our minds. One discussion led to another and before you know it, we were picking out a date. A date several years off. Shortly after that, I started counting down the days inside the front page of my Bible. Every Sunday I would write the new number below the old. It took three columns to complete the countdown. The magic number? 782 days. Our friends said that we'd never make it that long; we'd wind up getting married sooner. We laughed and said "watch us."

    The original plan was to get married on Sunday afternoon in the old chapel of our church. No can do. It was against the church's policy to allow weddings in the chapel on Sunday. But my family, traveling from the West coast, could only afford to come once and so we'd have to do it sometime that weekend. I don't remember why, but Friday was out, which only left the Saturday of graduation. So, Saturday at 1:30 found me standing in my tuxedo at the altar waiting for my bride. I wish I could remember the whole day, but the emotion and stress of the event have conspired to make most things a blur. We planned and paid for the thing ourselves, getting family and friends to help where they could. My brother took the pictures. His wife played the organ. Our good friends sang. The pastor was my old pastor from Washington state who had since moved to Louisiana. The wedding cake and groom's cake were made by a coworker of the bride. The flowers came from I don't know where.

    I remember the thrill and chill I got when she walked down the aisle. I remember being absorbed by her radiance as we stood face to face. I remember being a little nervous about getting the ring on her finger. I remember lighting the unity candle. I remember kissing the bride. Yeah, that I definitely remember.

    Anyway it was nineteen years ago today that my friend became my lover and my wife. Happy anniversary, honey.

    I leave you with the immortal words of John Bickerson
    Happy anniversary to my love,
    My wife, my life, my turtledove.
    Life with you is great, it seems,
    I love you more than...pork and beans!

  • |

    Monday, May 17, 2004

    Yet more proof

    of my anal-retentiveness.

    The Hotels.Com commercial. The one with the tape measure? You know, where their representative walks up the steps of the museum holding the end of the tape measure? Then she lets go and the tape rewinds through town back to the hotel where the doorman is holding the business end of the tape measure.

    The point they're trying to make is that they know the distances to all the major attractions from each of the hotels listed on their site.

    You ever try to measure anything by holding the end of the tape measure their representative was holding?

    Me neither.

    I'm just saying, that's all.

  • |

    Some things just write themselves

    The Eldest Aardvark Child had her first date Friday night. It was a less than auspicious beginning perhaps. But on the other hand, she can only improve from here on out.

    Friday was the annual Band Banquet, where awards are presented and officers elected for the coming year and letters are awarded. If you're a band weenie, it's a pretty big deal, otherwise - not so much. In order to qualify for any leadership positions next year, the kids are expected to have a minimum number of "service" hours. As in working concessions at the TCU football games, basketball games or whatever other form of slave labor (I kid) the adults can come up with as a fund raising activity for the band boosters. The EAC had the most service hours of anyone this year. As an added benefit, your service hours also entitle you to a discount on the Band Banquet ticket. Normally, they're $20, but the EAC got hers for $1.50.

    Her freshman year, she didn't have a 'date' for the banquet and so dad was drafted to fill in. We had a good time, but then again, I'm used to awkward social situations, having spent most of my formative years (I'm not still there, am I?) being socially inept. Last year, she decided she'd just go alone and sit with some of her friends, so I had the privilege of dropping her off and returning several hours later to sit in the parking lot and wait as the banquet went long by about 45 minutes. This year, she was determined to go WITH A BOY. (gasp!) And so, she spent most of this year, winnowing down the list of candidates to a very short list of who she would be seen with, publicly or otherwise. Her first choice would have been the boy she admired from afar last year. However, he inconveniently already HAD a girlfriend and presumably would be taking HER to the Band Banquet (Hmph! Loser!). Which left Michael.

    Michael is a boy the EAC has several classes with and he is not in band but participates in several athletic activities (if you can call golf athletic, that is). The best I can tell, they kind of like each other, but only in the "he/she is ok to talk to" sort of way, not in the "I'd like to date him/her" sort of way. I gather he is somewhat shy as the couple of times I've met him (before Friday) he kind of has that deer in the headlights sort of stare and gets all fidgety and nervous the way teenage boys do around a girls parents. Since Michael isn't a band kid, and since the EAC asked him, it was only right that she paid for his ticket to the Band Banquet. His part of the bargain was that he would have the privilege of picking her up and escorting her to (and from) the banquet.

    Michael lives about three blocks away from us, four at the most - down the hill across the street and over just a ways. The EAC gave him directions several times and even drew him a map. He still had to call TWICE between his house and ours. The last time, he was parked outside the house (still unsure as to which one it was, I guess) and the EAC said, "My dad is opening the front door. Do you see him?" As I waved at Michael sitting in his car (Mitsubishi Galant, in case you wanted to know).

    Not wanting to be too intimidating (yeah, that me...Mr. Intimidation), I didn't wait by the front door for him to come in, but went and sat back down - leaving the door open. I didn't even go the "cleaning the shotgun" route with the kid. (mostly because that would have entailed actually OWNING a shotgun, or at least knowing someone who did so I could borrow it...and then there's the whole tendency to hurt myself with anything more mechanical than a pencil...) So I sat and waited, expecting Michael to come to the door. Any minute now, he'll be at the door. Yes sir, WHERE IS THAT BOY?!? (Not that I minded that much, because I was somewhat nervous myself trying to figure out just what I was going to chit-chat with him about while we waited.) The EAC was still working on getting ready and so it was a good five minutes or more before she came out of the back of the house and looked around. "Where's Michael?" she asked. "That's what I'd like to know" says I. (Steeeerike ONE!)

    She called him on his cell phone and told him he needed to come in. DUH! He sauntered up to the house and endured having his picture made with the EAC. (Parents are so square. Oh, wait a minute, "square" is square now, isn't it?) We told the EAC that she needed to be home by 10:30 and shooed them out the door. (peeking through the curtains, naturally) Michael was gentleman enough to get in and start the car and at least wait until the EAC got herself in before driving away. (Steeeerike TWO!)

    A little after 9:00, the EAC called to tell us they were on their way back. She walked herself to the door. (YOU'RE OUT!) The only saving grace was that she really isn't interested in Michael as a boyfriend, only as a boy friend. We told her we were less than impressed with his chivalrous manner and that anyone who wants to seriously date her is going to have to do better.

    She had a good time, though, coming home in full Chatty Cathy mode. Michael was a little dismayed that they sat at the head table (the EAC was an officer this year - Band Historian) since everyone was going to be looking at him. The EAC didn't make him sit on the end of the dais, though, instead letting him sit beside another one of the guys he knew and taking the end for herself. She got her letter (well, the stripe that indicates three years anyway) and found out that she will be the band VP next year. The band President is one of her buds, so she was pretty happy with that. On the ride back, Michael opened the sun roof and they rolled down the windows (since she didn't care if it messed up her hair anymore) and cranked the stereo. Michael was appalled that she wasn't up on all the rap stuff he listens to (I told her the "C" was silent) - "Dude! I can't believe you don't know Ludacris!" She didn't care much for the music, but interpreting what she said, she liked the whole experience of being out without adult supervision and basically being a normal kid - "Turn it up, dude! Yeah!"

    "I stuck my hands out the moon roof" she said, ducking her head while raising her eyebrows (in that 'Tee hee' sort of way). Mrs. A responded with, "You wild thang, you!" and we all had a good laugh.

  • |

    Friday, May 14, 2004

    Your Mama!

    No, YOURS!

    I got nothin'.

  • |

    Thursday, May 13, 2004

    Thinking in threes

    The Possum uses his Weevil powers of persuasion to once again get us to respond.

    1) Have you ever used an outhouse? And we’re not talking portapotty, but a real, live, honest to goodness, wood-plank-over-a-hole, crescent-moon-door-cutout, infested-with-dirt-daubers privy. Please describe the experience.

    Yep. The first church I remember attending had no indoor plumbing a'tall. It did however have a FOUR SEATER outhouse with a dividing wall down the middle so the ladies had two seats on their side and the gentlemen likewise. It was sometime around 1968 before they got around to plumbing the church building proper. Coincidentally, the cemetary (or graveyard as we always called it) behind this church is where my mother is buried (and where my father will be someday).

    2) Have you ever called livestock for feeding? If so, please describe the type of animal, and a general approximation of the call used.

    Nope. We did have a couple of horses and some cows, but there wasn't much calling done that I recall. Now if you'd have said 'farm animals' instead of 'livestock', I could have included our dog Sam - four short whistles with a "Here Sam!" at the end.

    3) Have you ever driven a tractor upon a public street? Again, if so, please describe any backstory you deem necessary to allow our less well-rounded readers to fully appreciate the experience.

    No again. But I've RIDDEN on a tractor being driven down a street. Does that count? Isn't much to tell as the neck of the woods we were in didn't get much in the way of traffic anyway.

    Sorry for the lack of entertainment. Hopefully everyone else will pick up the slack.

  • |

    How the (corporate) world works

    Discoshaman started a nice discussion in his comments with a post about the recovery of the job numbers. One of the commenters took the tack (and I'm paraphrasing), "Yeah, but they aren't GOOD jobs" and gave an example of Rockford, Illinois losing manufacturing jobs to workers overseas. After further discussion, came this comment
    well if this shift were a natural outgrowth of changes in the market, maybe. But when you have a national policy of rewarding companies that close American plants to open factories overseas, then it seems like a not-so-organic change which could be discouraged, even outlawed. Which is better for the economy at large: to have one CEO and few of his execuative buddies increasing their incomes exponentially by trading in the higher paid American worker for the cheap laborer of China? Or to have 1,000 people still employed at the factories they've worked at for a decade, still buying groceries, still buying school clothes and supplies, still contributing to the tax base, still getting haircuts, still going out to dinner on Sunday afternoons and all the things we spend money on when we have work? I don't care how much more these fat cats spend with their bonuses, they aren't spurring the economy the way the working middle class does - when they have work.
    For what it's worth, I also think that it's a much better thing for 1,000 workers to have money to spend than just a few "fat cats." But that has nothing to do with the real world. And wishing it were so doesn't change a thing.

    There are a couple of things about statistics that need to be understood. The first thing is that whenever you talk about statistics, you have to understand that they are only good for the specific thing they are measuring. The jobs numbers don't pretend to measure the quality of the jobs created, only the quantity. Using this statistic to talk about quality is trying to force it to do something it wasn't designed to do. For example, you can't use the statistic 'Company sales increased by 3% this month' to say 'The company is going to be more profitable than last month.' It might LOOK like a logical leap, but you don't know what happened to the gross margin or the overhead costs. It may very well be that sales are up and profits are down because all of the increase in sales came from items sold below cost. Anyway, the point is, you don't know and it's dangerous to use statistics for anything other than what they are designed to measure.

    The second thing about statistics is that they typically only work on a macro level. In other words, they are good at measuring and predicting trends over large amounts of data, but not so hot with limited data or with specific data points. Sticking with the company sales example, the sales increase of 3% is an overall number. Say the company has 1,000 stores and you look at a specific store. How likely is it that the specific store you're looking at will have a 3% sales increase? Not very. Some stores may have only a 1% increase, or maybe a 15% increase, or if it is a relatively new store, it may have a 50% increase. Others may show a sales loss. There is no way to predict what an individual store's results will be even when you know the overall increase is 3%. The same is true for any statistic, so when you talk about 288,000 jobs being created in March, and you look at a specific location like Rockford, Illinois, there is no direct corollation between the two. Rockford may not reflect any job growth at all, and may in fact have had net job losses. Similarly the specific data for Chicago, Dallas, Atlanta and Seattle will have no direct corollation to the overall statistic. In other words, you can't use an aggregated statistic to argue a specific case.

    So what about those manufacturing jobs in Rockford? I give you LittleA's Corporate Rules.

    Corporate Rule Number 1. Investors are selfish. They expect a reasonable rate of return on their money or they will take it and invest it elsewhere. This is true whether the investor is Joe Richguy with his multi-million dollar brokerage account or Joe Sixpack with the $25 bucks a month he manages to put into a mutual fund. If you don't give him a return, he's going to sell your stock to cut his losses and take his cash and invest it in your competitor. As a result, every corporation is tasked with making a profit on a regular basis. There are no positive results when a company fails to make a profit: purchases are scaled back, hiring is frozen, salaries are frozen, benefits are cut. None of these helps the employee, at least in the short term. It may help him in the long run if the company is successful at returning to profitability and can continue to keep him employed. If not, the next step is usually to start laying people off.

    Corporate Rule Number 2. Management is selfish. They know that investors are a fickle lot and will turn on them at a moments notice. As a result, they like to make their money while the getting is good. And as long as the company is making money, not too many folks complain. To their thinking, they are making all the decisions and taking all the risks and sacrificing their lives on the corporate altar, the least they can do is compensate themselves handsomely in return. I'm not saying it's right, I'm just saying it is. One of the pitfalls of this is that management tends to think in the short-term rather than the long-term. They will sacrifice long-term goals to meet short-term investor expectations. And they justify this by thinking, "Hey, I'm not going to still be here in five years. Let the next guy worry about that."

    Corporate Rule Number 3. Employees are selfish. As a rule (and there are exceptions), most employees don't really care about the company's profitability. The higher up the ladder you are, the less true this becomes - but it is still true to some extent at the most senior levels. Employees are most concerned about their paycheck. How much overtime can I work? What's my next raise going to be? When am I going to get promoted? What additional benefits will the company provide? The company is only important as a vehicle to provide a steady cash flow. That's not to say they don't earn their money or that they don't enjoy their jobs, just that they are definitely in it for the paycheck. I have never heard of an employee turning down a raise because they didn't think it was in the company's best interest. Unions are just an institutionalized form of employee selfishness.

    Corporate Rule Number 4. Customers are selfish. They always want to buy their goods and services at the lowest possible price. There's a reason why Wal-Mart has become so big. And the people who complain about Wal-Mart pushing out the little guys are the same folks who don't seem to like paying more for the same product. "$34.50 for a pair of pants? Why, I can get the exact same thing for $28.75 over at Wal-Mart." And so Wal-Mart gets the business. And the company that sells the $34.50 pair of pants? They either have to change or get out of the pant business. And the company that manufactures the pants? Better start looking at cutting costs so they can offer them for less. Either that or go out of business. If only customers weren't so selfish.

    Acting in your own self-interest with a fair amount of predictability is what makes the Capitalist system work so well. Its strength lies in the fact that it is the system which best aligns itself with human nature. Communism and socialism have never worked because they require that people behave in ways which are fundamentally foreign to their nature.

    Which brings us back to Rockford. Those manufacturing jobs went away because we, the customers, wanted more for less, and the worker wasn't willing to do the same or more work for less compensation, and management had to act or be replaced because the investors were demanding continued profits. Ultimately, to keep those 1,000 jobs, we all would have to be willing to spend larger chunks of our paychecks on goods we could get cheaper somewhere else.

    Let me know if that interests you and I'll start a wholesale business.

  • |

    Wednesday, May 12, 2004

    I'm back

    Sort of.

    (Insert whine about work here)

    I got three new tires on my car since the last time I drove to Missouri. What a difference in gas mileage! I got about 36 mpg this time around. And that's even with the extra drag of bug guts slowing me down. The bugs are thicker this time of year than any other, which makes travelling after sunset a big plus. You still hit just as many, but at least you don't have to look at the multicolored smears. (at least not until the next day) And whatever you do, do NOT run your windshield wipers 'cause that wiper fluid won't take off bug guts and you'll just smear it around and make it worse! (the voice of experience)

    FYI, my dad is about the same. He is still hanging in there with some good days and some bad. He has not lost any weight since last month and that kind of surprised me (In a good way, of course). It's anybody's guess how long he's got. He's ornery enough (I know, I know. How could anybody related to me POSSIBLY be ornery you ask? Strange, but true, my friends. Strange, but true) that he might live another 10 years just to spite the doctors. Not that that's a bad thing, mind you. It'd be fine with me.

    More on the trip later. Now, I have to go back to work.

  • |

    Friday, May 07, 2004

    In re: Congressional hearings

    Charles Dickens, a man before his time.

    "If the law supposes that,” said Mr. Bumble, “the law is a ass, a idiot.” - Oliver Twist

  • |

    When you least suspect ... POW!

    I had lunch with my sweetie today. (Mrs. A not only allow this, she encourages it!)

    I am going out of town to see my dad, leaving this afternoon and returning on Tuesday. I called the missus on Wednesday to see if she wanted to have lunch today, mentioning that the last time I made this trip we had lunch before I left and that, if she liked, we could eat at the same Chinese buffet as before.

    So last night we're sitting on the sofa, and she gives me this sideways glance and says, "So, tell me again, why are we having lunch tomorrow. Is there something I need to be worried about?"

    Huh? I'm thinking on the inside as I say, "Huh?"

    "Well, I was just wondering what prompted this all of a sudden..."

    "What prompted this is that I'm going out of town, and I just thought you might enjoy going to lunch together, and ... you know, spend some quality time together? I told you that when I called you, though, which is why I'm just a little confused."

    "Oh. You did?"


    "So where do you want to go?"

    "I told you THAT too!"

    And sensing my opportunity to reverse rolls (for a change), I throw down the gauntlet.

    "Why don't you ever listen to me?" (ha ha ha ha ha .... I got her good, boy .... tee hee hee ... shoe's on the other foot for a change)

    "Well, normally you never say anything worth listening to!"

    (ha ha ha ha ha ... HEY!)

  • |

    When squirrels attack

    Film at 11.

    UPDATE: A lone squirrel is no match for a man. Even a half-dozen squirrels, while they may make a man sweat a little, have little hope of prevailing in the end. However, a swarm of several dozen squirrels working in a coordinated attack can bring a man to his knees in a few seconds and when they are done, leave nothing but a few scattered bones and bloody tufts of hair.

    I thought today might be trouble when the first squirrel I saw began to lick its lips...

    (and just in case anyone is confused - yes, this is a metaphor)

  • |

    Thursday, May 06, 2004

    Just shows you what those fine arts'll do to ya

    Funny story over at Earth Girls place showing what you get when you cross teenage boys and wisdom literature.

    Not that I *cough* *cough* know anything about that sort of thing, mind you.

  • |

    Tursday Tree

    Q. Why did the Possum cross the road?
    A. Don't know, it's never been done successfully.

    1) What one non-federal officeholder from the South, currently holding office, do you believe is doing an honest day's work?

    Ooh. That's a tough one. Probably have to say, our current Comptroller (and most likely our next Governer) - Carole Keeton Strayhorn. She's never been afraid to call it the way she sees it, and you'd best see it her way. She's done a bang-up job as Comptroller in holding the line on expenses and not letting the legislature pull any fast ones over on the people of Texas.

    2) Have you yourself ever been a holder of any appointed or elected authority, board, agency, office, or position?

    Nope. But I've almost been an election judge - twice. Both times the election has been called, though, due to the fact that everyone running wound up being unopposed.

    3) If you awoke one morning to find that you had been made King of the South, what is the first law would you repeal or decree forthwith for the benefit of your people?

    "If I ... were King ... of the For-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-st!" "Put 'em up, put 'em up!" "Ow! You didn't have to hit me."

    Sorry, what was the question again? Oh, yeah, King of the South ...

    Daylight Savings Time. It's got to go. You want more light after work? Start work an hour earlier. Just leave the stinking clock alone.

  • |

    Mr. Cranky Butt - part II

    I use the online banking at the credit union to move money between accounts (mostly). When you load the page, there is a bunch of graphics and two fields - one for your account number and one for your password. You can't access the banking server until after the graphics finish loading. But you can enter your account number and password into the appropriate fields before the graphics load. The only problem is that the last thing that happens once the graphics load is that the account number and password fields are refreshed, thereby erasing what you've just put in and requiring you to enter them again.

    I know it does this, but I can't seem to remember it until AFTER I've typed in my account number and password - only to see them disappear. Grrr.

  • |

    Once was funny

    Twice was cute. Three times? I'll force a smile.

    But every Thursday for the last year? Fahgetaboudit.

    The Frank Reed show starts at 5:00 AM Monday through Friday. Coincidentally, that's when the alarm clock goes off. About a year or so ago, Frank mistakenly thought it was Friday one Thursday morning, leading to much yukking it up with the rest of the morning crew. He liked the gag so much, he did the same thing the next week. And the next. And the next.

    Maybe I'm just Mr. Cranky Butt, but if I happen to swim up out of sleep into what passes for coherency (at least around here) and catch this shtick, all it does is irritate me. His whole show is just a little too treacly for me, but Mrs. A likes the station, so we put up with Frank in the mornings.

  • |

    Amigos, Compadres, Vatos

    Show finale tonight.


    I've never seen an episode. Couldn't possible care less.

    Other 'big' shows I've never seen: Dallas, Taxi, Miami Vice, L.A. Law, Murphy Brown.

    Just put me down as "culturally challenged."

  • |

    Wednesday, May 05, 2004

    Good to be gone

    I've been gone from my previous job for just a little over five years. As with all ex-jobs, there is always a period of time where you keep up with some of the goings-on and as time passes, it becomes less and less important to you, until one day, you find out you no longer care at all.

    I'm not quite there yet.

    One of my good friends, the Big Dog (BD), got pushed out of the corporate nest about three years ago in yet another "restructuring" move which allowed the company to juggle the numbers sufficiently to meet a short term objective. Doesn't really matter that they hired two people to replace him, only that they could show enough dollars 'below the line' to sufficiently mask the real cost of ongoing operations. And we won't even get into how many VPs they've added since they started cutting jobs.

    But I digress. Even though BD doesn't work there anymore, his wife does. And so he's a good conduit of information on what's happening at the old company. Right before I left, they had a big corporate push to become one of the "Best 100 Companies" to work for. (Which started out as an attempt by one of the VPs to brown-nose the CEO and the CEO took it seriously, so naturally everybody else on the "team" jumped on board) Only one problem with being one of the Best 100, you're going to have to spend some money on your employees to get there. So you'll understand when I tell you that us long-timers were what you might call "skeptical." They even produced a video from the kick-off meeting and I was recruited to give a quote. The best I could come up with is that employees were "cautiously optimistic" about the initiative, not wanting to get their hopes up too high.

    A year or so after I left, the bottom fell out of the stock price. Not long after that the "Best Company" initiatives started falling by the wayside. They were rolled out with much fanfare and died in silence. It is now taboo to even talk about "Best Company" there.

    Yesterday I found out that they had another round of layoffs/retirements and were freezing enrollments in the stock purchase and 401K plans. With no advanced warning. Doesn't sound to me like a move a supposedly financially strong company would make. Unless they're shooting for another short-term goal at the expense of their long-term health. Again.

    I don't know if anyone has a list of the Worst 100, but my old company would probably make a good case study.

  • |

    Tuesday, May 04, 2004

    It's another one of those days

    Y'all probably get tired of hearing about it. Woe is me. I'm busy today. Yada, yada, yada.

    But I feel ... guilty, I guess, if I go a day without at least checking in. Even if it's just to tell you there's nothing to tell you.

    But you can only do that a given number (give me one, would ya?) of times in close succession before it becomes annoying. Are we there yet?

    Anyway, we'll try again tomorrow, although that's not looking real promising at this point.

    [Maynard G. Krebs] WORK! [/Maynard G. Krebs]

    We'll see.

  • |

    Monday, May 03, 2004


    Woke up Saturday morning at 5 in the blessed AM. Oh well, might as well get up and make a pot of weekend coffee. During the week it's a blend of leaded and unleaded Folgers. But on the weekend! A fully leaded pot of whatever flavor caught Mrs. A's eye the last time she bought coffee. It just so happens that she found one she liked as has stuck with it: Chocolate Velvet. Mmmmm. Chocolate coffee with cream and Splenda. It's just this side of drinking hot chocolate.

    And since Mrs. A was out of town, I got to drink the WHOLE POT myself. For some reason, I started feeling odd about halfway through the pot. Not being a bright boy, I went ahead and drank the whole pot anyway. Those gourmet coffees are too expensive to waste, don't you know. Then, a little after 7 AM, when the YAC rolled out of the sack, SHE wanted to play on the computer, forcing ME to save my game and yield. I mean, after all, I'd been playing for a couple of hours already and I DO know how to share (contrary to what you may have heard), even if it IS all about me.

    So what does a brainiac who's feeling a little woozy decide to do, now that the YAC is firmly ensconced in front of the computer? Why break out the forbidden Nintendo game cartridge of course. You know, the one Mrs. A doesn't let me play when the kids are watching 'cause it's too violent? Yeah, that's the one. Bond. James Bond. License to kill. Played the first mission on the easiest setting, not because I can't play the harder settings, but because sometimes you just want to be able to shoot people without thinking too hard. Yeah, I know that's wrong on just about every level, but hey, I'm a complicated guy.

    I successfully infiltrated the dam and then turned the thing off. (Aren't you proud of me for not touching that one?)

    One of the problems I have with first-person shooters is that they tend to make me nauseous. Not in the disgusted kind of way, but in the Garth Algar kind of way. Something about the backgrounds and the movement. Learned this back in the old Wolfenstein days. Probably a big reason I never got into the Doom stuff. Well, that and the fact that Mrs. A is a lot more fussy about it than I am. The only reason I got to play Wolfenstein is that the kids were little and they went to bed early. Anyway, by the time I turned off the Nintendo I was really feeling ooky (if that's not to technical for ya). I figured eating something might help, and it did, but I spent most of the rest of the day with a little big of nagging nausea.

    Got showered and shaved and then drove myself to the haircut store. Told Steve, my barber (stylist just sounds so sissified) that I wanted people to call me "Buzz" when he was through. When it's real short, you can comb it when it's wet by placing both hands on your forehead and moving them straight back (well, and OVER, I mean straight back would be through my skull, and it IS just a wee bit thicker and harder than that). The trick is to get to it while it's still wet. If you take time to Q-Tip the old ears first, it's too late. You're going to have to wet it again to get it to behave.

    While I was getting my hairs cut, the YAC helped out by hand-washing the dishes (there weren't very many). Mostly. Except for the few she left out in plain sight on the counter and claimed she never saw ... kids. Saturday afternoon entailed a trip to Sams, a stop at Eckerds (to pick up candy for the movies), home to unload the goods and put the cold stuff away, and then down to the local Blockbuster to select a couple of movies to waste the rest of the day. And that's just what we did.

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    Sunday it was up early again. Got a phone call Saturday reminding me that I had to Ush (that is the verb, right?) on Sunday. Which means I had to wear a suit. And a white shirt. And a tie.

    There was a time when I wore this get-up every day to work, but it's been years since that was expected or required. Which means that all my old suits and shirts have been relegated to closets in the nether parts of the house. (well, not really NETHER, but I liked the way it sounded) Well, all but ONE anyway. And as is the case with clothes that you don't wear regularly, time has not necessarily been kind. Evidenced by the moth holes in a couple of the suits, making them - well, unsuitable. And I don't normally wear suits to church (a post for a different day) either, so putting one on requires a little more planning than usual.

    So I went to the closet and found a white shirt, the one, at least I believed at the time, that I had worn the last time I had to wear a suit. I don't remember when it was exactly, but it was in the last month or so. This one was hanging a little separate from the others, which I figured made it the one most recently laundered, ergo the one I wore most recently. Definitely needed to be ironed, so it was into the dryer for a few minutes to loosen it up and then onto the ironing board. It's a good thing I've been domesticated, so I know how to do these sorts of tasks. I'm thinking as I'm ironing that I could probably get by by ironing the cuffs, collar and front panels, since I don't plan on taking my jacket off, but I was a good boy and ironed it up right. Back on the hanger to await the robing process.

    Decided I'd better shave, so instead of using the razor in the medicine cabinet, I decided I'd use my old electric. The one with the blades that have never been changed (even though the manufacturer recommends changing them every six months - like THAT'S going to happen). You see, I don't like the blade in the razor in the medicine cabinet. It's my own fault. I decided the last time I bought blades that I would buy the store brand instead of the name brand blades. They're the same blade after all. I mean, it's probably the SAME manufacturer who makes them, right? Wrong. The store brand blades may LOOK the same, but they either used a lower grade of steel, or used their patented NeverSharp® technology in the manufacturing process. If you take the time to soften up your beard really well, you can shave with these blades without TOO much pain. And of course, I'm too cheap to throw them away. Sigh. Fortunately, Mrs. A bought some GOOD blades and I have installed them on the razor I keep in the other bathroom (so that I can shave in the shower). But for some reason, I didn't shave in the shower on Sunday.

    Anyway, not wanting to scrape my face with an inferior blade, I decided to just use my old electric razor. Have I mentioned that the blades have never been changed? My face only burned for about an hour. And I considered this to be the better option!

    Once thoroughly depilated, it was time to don the semi-formal wear. On with the pants. (I found them!) Hey, I think I've lost a couple of pounds since I bought this suit. Then on with the shirt. It fit fine through the torso, but either I've gained a lot of weight in my neck, or the shirt has shrunk because it was a very snug fit around the collar. And the cuffs didn't quit make it to my wrists either. Uh oh. It was then, about five minutes prior to the time I needed to leave the house, that I realized that THIS shirt was not the same one I had worn recently. No that's it there in my closet, next the the one suit I keep there. No time to iron it, I'll just have to make the best of it. Fortunately the tie camouflaged some of the tightness, and as best I could tell, my eyes didn't bulge (at least no more than usual anyway), so I don't think it was too obvious.

    Got to church in time to make the hot water (for tea and such) and coffee before Sunday School. Let everybody go five minutes early so I could get downstairs and get my door assignment. Wound up ushering on the door closest to the other building. It became evident that the EAC had not notified the Sunday School class she plays piano for that she would not be there this week (band trip) when every other SLOL (sweet little old lady) that came through my door asked, "Is the EAC alright?" in that worried sort of way that SLOL's seem to have down pat. I handed out all of my bulletins and headed for the back to await the passing of the plates. Plates passed with success. The gentleman I was paired with has a last name of Pole. His nickname? Why Skinny, of course. And I think he's about 95 or 96, so while we didn't set any land speed records, we did get the job done a-ok.

    Won't have to do that again for another three months, so maybe I can get out of wearing a suit again for at least that long. I hesitate to say this publicly, but I can trust you to keep a secret, right? Even if I had to dress up, I had a good time greeting people and smiling and shaking hands. Don't let that get around, though, or folks might start expecting that every Sunday.

    Sunday afternoon it was up to the high school to pick up the EAC and Mrs. A. The band performed well at their competition and Saturday was spent at the Galleria instead of Astroworld due to the inclement weather. They were exhausted but not too cranky. I'll let Mrs. A tell you about the trip when she gets around to it. Suffice it to say, no one did anything spectacularly stupid this year ... at least that we know of anyway.

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