Friday, December 30, 2005

Wow! How could I forget this?

I forgot one of the best gifts I got at Christmas. What’s wrong with me? (Of course, I mean that in a purely rhetorical sense. I’m not really looking for a long list of faults. I can provide that on my own.)

I got a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle. The picture is a Charles Wysocki painting. Wysocki is known for his Americana style. Usually late 1800’s to early 1900’s. He usually has at least one American flag in his pictures, often more. We buy the Wysocki calendar every year. It’s the one that hangs in our bathroom and has all the events listed on it. That way you can see where you need to be when you’re getting ready in the mornings. If it’s not on the calendar, it’s bound to be forgotten.

Anyway, this puzzle will fit nicely with the 50+ (could be significantly more…I’m afraid to count) other Wysocki puzzles that have taken over the top of the garage closet and the top of my closet. Every so often, I’ll run across one that hasn’t even been opened ‘cause I didn’t have time to work it right then and it just got stuck in the closet with the rest of them. When that happens, it’s like Christmas all over again.

Most of the time I share the puzzle working fun with whoever else wants to help. Most of the time. Sometimes, when I’m feeling particularly stingy, I’ll “Ehhh! Ehhh!” away anybody who tries to help. “I’m working this one by myself” I say. The sweet people I live with understand. Mostly.

It takes between 3 and 4 hours to work a 1000 piece puzzle by myself. A good 30 minutes of that is turning all the pieces right-side up and sorting out the edge pieces. Once that’s done, things usually move a little faster. The Wysocki puzzles are cut the standard way, four-sided with either a knob or a hole for a knob on each side. No funky shapes or smooth sides. If you have a particularly difficult puzzle, with say mostly one color or very little differentiation in the picture, I usually sort the pieces by their shapes. All three-knob, one-hole pieces here (lined up with the hole facing the same way), all two-knob, two-hole pieces where the knobs are adjacent over there. The two-knob, two-hole pieces where the knobs are opposite (and therefore the holes are opposite too) are the most common, so they need to go wherever you have the most room. Etc. Then, as you use pieces, every so often you have to go back and rearrange the groups so as to consolidate and fill in the gaps. The order of it all just makes me happy.

Can you say OCD?

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    Tuesday, December 27, 2005

    Stinkers win! Stinkers win!

    Some of you may recall that last year I was in a free Yahoo Fantasy Football league set up by one of the guys at my church. The way these leagues work is that you play the first 13 regular season games to determine your playoff position 1 - 8, and then the last 3 regular season games are run as the playoffs. I did so well last year that going into the playoffs, I was in first or second place. I had Peyton as my QB, and he was burning up the NFL in 2004. Then, since the Colts had a playoff spot sewn up, they started benching their starters beginning in, oh, about week 14. Which meant my fantasy team took a sharp nose dive in the playoffs, losing in the first and second round before winning the last game to place 7th instead of 8th. Whoopee.

    This year, I agreed to play again. Since I couldn’t remember what I called my team last year (Rabble Rousers, as I later recalled), I decided on the Stinkers. That way if they did stink, I could at least play the “I told you so” card. I put exactly zero effort into the draft, just taking the random players assigned by the computer. Some of the other folks in the league spent a lot of time on the draft and signing free agents and customizing their line-ups and such. Me, I just tried not to play anybody with a bye that week.

    Through the random luck of the draw, this year I got Drew Brees, Tiki Barber, Antonio Gates and the Giant’s defense. I started those four all year (except for the bye weeks) and wound up with a 9-3 regular season record. Good enough for a tie for 3rd place. Through whatever logic, I was assigned the 3rd seed ahead of the other team with a 9-3 record.

    The Stinkers won in week 14. And then did it again in week 15.

    Huh. Who would have thunk it? The Stinkers were in the championship game. Investing enough time in week 16 to ensure that I wasn’t playing anybody who was in a full-body cast, I once again went with my standard line up.

    And what’d’ya know. Them Stinkers won again.

    Just goes to show ya, life ain’t fair.

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    All present(s) and accounted for

    Napoleon Dynamite talking keychain, bright orange, 1 each (1).

    Sudoku-a-day 2006 desk calendar, 1 each (1).

    Assorted crossword puzzle/word game books, 1 each (7).

    Deluxe edition DVD, Holy Grail, In Search of, Monty Python, 1 each (1).

    Pen, UMHB purple, twist on/twist off, black ink, 1 each (1).

    Window sticker, white letters on clear background, UMHB Dad, 1 each (1).

    Gift Certificate, holographic gingerbread men with disappearing head, JC Penney, $25, 1 each (1).

    T-Shirt, XXL, bright red, “Unwrap me”, 1 each (1).

    Hmmm. No olive drab?

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    Thursday, December 22, 2005

    Pesky whippersnappers!

    I don’t know when it began, but it’s been happening for some time now. Slowly, but surely I’m turning into an Old Fart®. My latest realization of this transition has been on the daily commute.

    I drive 16 miles to work. The first 5 are city streets and the rest is freeway with a speed limit of 60. There was a time, not so long ago, when I would have seen the 60 MPH limit as more of a guideline, maybe a governmental attempt at humor. “Go with the flow” has been my typical excuse to ignore the speed limit signs. “I’m just keeping up with traffic.” I don’t know why, but getting there fast just isn’t as important to me these days.

    I’ve discovered myself, in the far right hand lane – thank you, driving along at 60 MPH, contented to let the rest of the world pass me by. And believe me, they do. And for some reason, I no longer care.

    What’s next, socks with sandals?

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    Wednesday, December 21, 2005

    No amateurs, please.

    I noticed that the Scott toilet paper used in our company restrooms is a Kimberly-Clark Professional product.

    Something about seeing the word “Professional” on a roll of toilet paper amuses me.

    Call me childish.

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    I got better. ::shrug::

    I am pleased to say I feel SOOOOOOOOOOOO much better.

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    Monday, December 19, 2005

    She turned me into a newt!!!

    So, you’ve probably been wondering just what IS going on with that Aardvark guy anyway?

    Me too.

    Truth is, I’ve been sick.

    Body aches, fever, chills, sweats, dehydration, loss of appetite, no energy, sick. And, with my apologies in advance for providing too much information, you know there’s a problem when you drink fluids all day and can only muster up a dribble or two of pee about the color of what’s in cousin Buford’s spit cup.

    Based on how I felt, it was somewhat reminiscent to the pneumonia I had some years back. So, that was my initial self-diagnosis. And, since I don’t have any sick days accrued yet at the new job, not going to work isn’t really a good option. So every morning it was drag myself in and then try to make it through the day without falling over or knocking into people, then drag myself home and collapse on the sofa.

    After about a week of this, I finally decided to miss a day of work and go see the doctor. Wouldn’t you know, that’d be the one day we had some ice and the Dr.’s office was closed. So, it was off to the inaptly named CareNow clinic. Three hours of waiting found me in a room where the nurse practitioner asked a couple of questions, looked in my ears, listened to me breath and said I had bronchitis and ear infections and would I like a $100 breathing treatment? No thanks. But I did go for the $72 steroid shot. Yah. I told the nurse who came in and gave me the shot that she was now in a very select company. Contrary to what you may have heard, I don’t show my tush to just ANYBODY. Ten days of antibiotic (which would also knock out pneumonia…we checked) samples, and $200 later, it was back home to rest.

    The next day (Friday) the steroid shot was in full effect and I didn’t feel to bad. By Saturday, it was back to the couch. Sunday we played handbells at church, and not being one to let the team down, I somehow made it through long enough to play my notes. As a bonus, I even played them in the right spot. Then Mrs. A took me home to wallow some more on the sofa.

    Monday morning was up and off to work. Barely. (Not a reference to my sartorial status) By 10:00 AM, I once again gave in to my better sense and called my REAL doctor for an appointment. I could see the nurse practitioner at 1:15. Fine. I’ll take it.

    Get there by 12:45. Fill out paperwork. Wait. Get called about 1:20, so that’s not so bad. Weigh. Sit. Rattle off list of health related symptoms/complaints. Check to see if I have blood pressure. I do. Get cup to pee into. Shuffle down to bathroom. Pee some 10W-40 into the cup. Return to exam room and wait. Nurse practitioner arrives some time later. “You’re urine was dark!” No duh, lady. Turns out I have high levels of protein and bilirubin in my tinkle. Swell. She listens to me breath, looks in my ears and has me lie down so she can smash all over my abdomen with her fists. Now, to be fair, she wasn’t taking a wind up, just pushing and poking. “That hurt?” Nope. “How about that?” Nuh-uh. “That?” Sorry. No. Says they need to run some blood work and they’re going to do a flu test while they’re at it. Okay, you’re the doc. She says it’s probably something viral, since it hasn’t responded to the antibiotics. But go ahead and finish taking the antibiotics anyway. I need fluids and rest. Brilliant. She leaves and after a couple of minutes the nurse comes back in and sticks a swab up my nose to a depth of approximately 3/8” from the back of my head. She pulls it out and examines it and determines that she got enough of whatever it was she was fishing for. Turns out that was the flu test. The good news is, I don’t have the flu. Next up is drawing blood. I’ve never had a problem with this before, but then again I’ve never had to do it when I was so dehydrated. After cinching and poking and uncinching and tapping and recinching and poking and tapping, she decides to retreat. The next nurse comes in, puts on the tourniquet and hits liquid gold the first time. I should have lab results from the blood in two to three days. My new self-diagnosis is Hepatitis-A.

    $250 later I head home for the safety of my couch.

    Which is where I stay all day Tuesday. By Wednesday, I’m not really feeling much better, but am reluctant to miss more work, so I once again heave my slimy carcass into the car and go to work. I’m not completely coherent, but fortunately that’s not so unusual, so nobody notices. Home. Sofa. Work. Home. Sofa. Thursday afternoon, not having heard from the doctor’s office about my blood results, I call. They call back saying the additional tests they ordered haven’t been completed. They’ll call when they get them. Probably Friday. They don’t call Friday. I’m shocked. Spend as much of Saturday and Sunday as possible on the sofa. Notice Saturday evening that my appetite has begun to return. At least food is starting to SOUND good. Notice Sunday that pee is beginning to look more like, well…pee, instead of furniture polish. What’s this? Am I feeling better?

    Some.

    Today was a pretty good day, though I’m tired now. The Dr.’s office did call today to tell me all my Hep panels came back negative, but that I did have some elevated liver enzymes in my blood. No alcohol and no Tylenol for two weeks (not a problem, believe me) and then back to the doctor’s office for a follow up test. If things are still out of whack, then the next step is a sonogram to see what they can see. I’m hoping for twins.

    No. Wait…

    Anyway, it would be nice if we could do this AFTER my new health insurance kicks in. Yah think?

    That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

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    Wednesday, December 07, 2005

    Excuses

    1. I was called up by the Intergalactic Space Service to squash a rebellion on Zornab III.
    2. I’ve been busy shooting my latest Gangsta Zydeco video.
    3. I got lost in the back yard and just now found the way back to the house.
    4. I built a time machine out of a DeLorean, but forgot the battery for the return readout.
    5. I’ve been testing T-Mobile’s 1,500 Anytime Minutes plan.
    6. I’ve been on hold with the DMV.
    7. I was in DISC training. (In case anyone knows AND cares, I’m an IS, which probably explains the whole Chatty-Kathy thing, not to mention why I get bored so easily, and why I really, REALLY need people to like me, and don’t like to plan and love attention and …)

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    Friday, December 02, 2005

    Oprah and Dave

    I have to say I was a little bit underwhelmed by the big show.

    The best part of the show was Oprah's presentation of an autographed photo of her and Uma.

    I kept waiting for the funny, but it never arrived. Instead what we got was Dave's usual fawning but without any of the bite. Dave never asked an awkward question. As a gag, Dave had Tony Danza in the wings as a guest host stand-in in case things went badly. He should have called him out. It would have been a better show.

    When Dr. Phil came on the first time, he brought a list he had prepared of some of the snide jokes Dave had made at his expense and put Dave on the spot to explain himself. That was funny.

    As many shots as he's taken at Oprah, the autographed picture was the best she could do?

    Feh.

    I'd rather listen to him talk to Biff.

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    Thursday, December 01, 2005

    I've been back less than two weeks

    And my plate is already full. I did get about a 2 day grace period where I talked to a bunch of folks and got up to speed on what had changed since I left.

    The difference now is that, instead of my plate being full of technical, detailed junk, it's now fully of touchy-feely schmoozing goo. And I think I like it. Oh, there will be the occasional technical analysis, but mostly my job is to interact with people and keep the process moving forward.

    The best part of all is that they're actually going to PAY me to do it. Sweet.

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    Outside the box

    You know, sometimes all folks want, regardless of what they might say, is for you to just think INside the box. I've never really been very good at that. I think it's mostly because I get bored quickly and my mind wande...

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