Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Flying Aardvark

Sounds like a pub if you ask me. Actually, it sounds like a pub even if you don’t ask me.

I made it to the airport by 5:30 for my 6:30 flight. I haven’t flown in quite a while and so I was a little anxious about getting through security without any embarrassing moments. Not that I’m easily embarrassed, mind you, but I always feel awkward in social situations, especially around strangers. And I have, too many times to count, come across as a rube, goof, or madman, depending on which unscripted response I receive from my cerebral cortex (or my gluteus maximus, or wherever my psyche has hidden itself today).

For example, I went to the post office a couple of Saturday’s ago to buy stamps, and managed to time my arrival to about five minutes before the inside doors opened. Having some cash in my pocket, I decided not to wait in the long line, but rather use the vending machine up towards the front of the line. Sidestepping carefully, so as to not anger anyone who might think I was trying to cut into line, I made it to the machine. Feeling everyone in line watching me, it took two tries to get it to take my money. I MAY have muttered something under my breath like, “Hmmm. What seems to be the problem? Yep. That’s REAL money, alright…” Maybe. Then, when the change started plunking, it seemed extra loud because of the silence. At which point, I COULD have said, a little louder than before, “JACKPOT!” I didn’t stick around to survey the crowd, but my guess is that they were pretty evenly split between “rube” “goof” and “madman”, with “madman” having a slight edge.

Anyway, back to the airport. I walked up to the counter and told them my name and they handed me my boarding pass. I did think it was odd that I wasn't asked for any identification, but then maybe they don't have too many Aardvarks flying with them, so we're easy to pick out.

At the security check-point, I managed to remember to take off my belt and jacket and shoes and so didn’t get yelled at. But I did set my boarding pass down. In the bucket. Before I put in my belt and jacket and shoes. So I had to dig it out before proceeding on. All the other stuff – keys and such – that I normally keep in my pockets I had already put in my carry-on, so I was able to waltz right through (actually, it was closer to a foxtrot – or maybe a tango) and start gathering my things to re-dress. For some reason, I had the strange urge to smoke. Anyway, it did feel odd putting my belt on in front of strangers. Maybe it’s because the only time I undo it otherwise is when I’m a) going to the bathroom or b) taking my pants off. And, contrary to what you may have heard (even if it WAS from me), neither one of those things is something I do with strangers looking on.

Having finished that, I headed to the waiting area at the gate. Fortunately for me, the airline I was traveling on only has ONE gate at DFW. And, it’s right across from the security check-point. So even I was able to figure out where I was supposed to be. It being a Thursday and early in the morning, most of the travelers were of the business variety and so, there wasn’t a lot of quality people-watching to be done.

The flight was a little more than half full. No one was sitting in the middle seat, increasing the overall comfort level by a factor of at least three. Plus, this airline didn’t have a first class, so they used the extra space to put an inch (and maybe a little more) of additional room between the remaining rows. For the first time in a long time, I could sit with my legs straight out in front of me. Wonder of wonders! Already giddy from the deluxe accommodations, I was nudged slightly higher by the fresh doughnut I was offered in flight. The only thing that could have made the experience any better is if the person handing me the doughnut had not been a Robert Reich look-alike (on stilts obviously). Anyway, it didn’t seem to affect my appetite any, but then again, not much does.

When we landed in Denver, I had about thirty minutes to kill before the flight carrying the person I was traveling with arrived. (They flew from Houston) The people-watching at Denver International was much more satisfying than that at DFW. Mostly because it was later in the day. Well, that, and the fact that the terminal design put about eight gates in a space big enough for a crowded four, so folks were sitting, standing and leaning on everything in sight. I loitered around until the other flight arrived and then it was off to work.

As a general observation, the cell phone has certainly changed our social habits and no where is this more apparent than in an airport. The things you learn about total strangers…

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    Tuesday, March 28, 2006

    Hope I’m not being too forward…

    I know a lot of people complain about getting forwarded emails. And, generally speaking, I concur. Especially when I receive forwarded emails from folks who don’t otherwise seem to want to communicate with me. I find the problem is easily dealt with on my end by pressing the magic X button on the toolbar. What will they think of next?

    Even the forwards I WANT to read give me aggravation, though. Usually because they have been forwarded five, six, seven, eight or more times by the time they reach me. And the person kind enough to think of me? They can’t be bothered to ONLY forward the original, they must forward the one addressed to them. Here’s a recent example:

    Double-click – open email containing only headers … and an embedded email

    Double-click – open embedded email containing only headers … and an embedded email

    Double-click – open embedded email containing only headers … and an embedded email

    Double-click – open embedded email containing only headers … and an embedded email

    Double-click – open embedded email containing only headers … and an embedded email

    Double-click – open embedded email containing only headers … and an embedded email

    Double-click – open embedded email containing only headers … and an embedded email

    Double-click – open embedded email containing only headers … and an embedded email

    Double-click

    AH HAH!

    FINALLY the actual, y’know, TEXT of the thing.

    And then, more often than not, what you read isn’t worth the trouble.

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    As a related service, I give you LittleA’s rules of forwarding:

    1. Forward infrequently.

    2. Don’t let forwarding other people’s work be your primary point of contact with the person you’re forwarding to.

    3. Do personalize the forward by adding a sentence or two telling the person why you thought of them when you saw it.

    4. Do only forward the text or “guts” of the thing. There’s no need to forward all the forward headers. Between the cut and paste functions and the delete key, this shouldn’t be too tough.

    5. Do take the two seconds required to remove the "FW:" from the Subject line. After all, your purpose is to have the receiver actually READ what you’re forwarding, right? Removing the "FW:" indicates at a minimum that you put a little effort into the email.

    6. Do take the time to remove all the extra > > > > >’s from the text if they appear.

    7. Do take the time to reformat the text with line breaks and paragraphs to make it more readable. Just because you suffered through doesn’t mean your recipient will, and remember, you’re forwarding this to them because you want them to read it. Make it easy on ‘em, would ya?

    8. Do take the time to fix obvious typos and misspellings. You don’t have to detail check the whole thing, but if you noticed something awry when you read it, fix it before you send it on.

    9. Do take the time to check snopes.com or a similar site before forwarding dire warnings of apocalyptic doom. In case you didn’t know, people already suspect you’re an blithering idiot. No reason to prove it.

    10. Never, I repeat, never forward chain letters. Life is too short.

    11. Feel free to forward these rules to everyone in your address book. Now!

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    Monday, March 27, 2006

    Something from the "Huh" file

    I take an over-the-counter pill for allergies about 10 months out of the year. Being the frugal type (Heh. Indeed.), I typically get the store brand.

    The packaging of which varies, depending upon which store I happen to be in when I need to buy.

    The last time I bought my allergy pills, I was at our local non-chain pharmacy. (Yes, there are still some out there). Some few days later, when I opened the box, I noticed that these pills had that extra paper backing on the foil packaging which requires you to peel the paper back before you can actually push the pill through the foil.

    I'm not really sure the reason this is necessary, hence the inclusion in the "Huh" file.

    It's not that I mind the extra step to get at the pill so much, but would it be too much to ask that when you have the paper that you have to peel back that, you know, it actually PEELED BACK? Instead it tears off in a small piece, usually leaving the tough-to-push-through paper completely in place. Which makes it annoying on a good day and a flaming nuisance on others.

    All I can say is that I hope they don't use this packaging on pills for anger management. Unless, of course, they used the anger caused by opening the pills to generate the sale of MORE pills, in which case it's nothing short of genius.

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    Oh, c'mon. It's sorta funny...

    At least I laughed.

    ('Course, that's not setting the bar real high, now, is it?)

    -----------------------------------------------------------------

    A. Knock knock.

    Q. Who's there?

    A. Impatient cow.

    Q. Impatie...

    A. MOO!

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    Wednesday, March 22, 2006

    Big Ol' Jet Aeroliner

    Carry me so far away.

    Flying to Denver tomorrow at the crack o' dawn. Flying back Friday afternoon - hopefully in time to go to my first Ballroom dance class at TCU. 'Course I will be without a PARTNER since somebody fell down went BOOM, but I think the plan is for her to come anyway.

    Anyway, there'll be no posting for the next couple of days.

    Of course, it's not like you'd notice since I've gotten into the habit of not posting for WEEKS. But, hey, since I actually have a legitimate excuse, I thought it wouldn't hurt to trot it out. KnowwhatImean?

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    Ok

    I'm over it.

    The Wah-mbulance arrived just in time.

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    Tuesday, March 21, 2006

    Episode VII – Wookie for hire

    (Don’t ask me, I just write the things…)

    Well, it’s been an interesting month months quarter year.

    I consider myself a silver-lining type of guy.

    (As an aside, some of the most negative people I’ve ever met SWEAR they are positive people and that negativity drives them crazy. Not sure that’s relevant, but I’ll let the reader decide.)

    Here lately, the silver I’ve been finding is looking a bit tarnished. That’s not to say that I’ve got worse troubles than anybody else. In fact, I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve got it better than I deserve. Way better. That doesn’t necessarily translate into a pot overflowing with gratitude, though, even if it should.

    I’ve survived two job changes in the last year, and even though I’m working fewer hours I feel twice as busy as ever.

    Last Summer we moved Mrs. A’s mother from the Houston area to Ft. Worth, which, while being better for everyone, means that there is much more involvement on a day-to-day and week-to-week basis.

    The Eldest Aardvark Child has transitioned from high school Senior to college Freshman, and we’ve had to deal with a whole slew of issues related to the transition from adolescence into adulthood, both with the child leaving home as well as the child still at home. Not least of which are the concomitant financial issues surrounding secondary education.

    Last Fall, my Dad decided to break his hip. (Nothing better to do, I guess) He is now living with my oldest brother in Washington state. (Those last two sentences qualify for entry into the Colossal Understatement of the Year category)

    Last Fall, the Youngest Aardvark Child decided that she would defy gravity and fall UP the stairs at school, hurting her wrist in the process. Several expensive doctor trips later they discovered she had a radial fracture, which is hard to see on the X rays until it begins to heal. Much band related trauma ensued.

    Last Fall, the EAC decided to combine asthma with Sharpie fumes and spent a couple weeks recuperating. Not much fun for everyone involved.

    Last Fall I decided to get sick with what I was convinced at the time was Hepatitis A. Dehydration and just a general malaise for weeks and weeks. Tests of my liver enzymes came back all wacky, but the Hepatitis panel was negative. Go figure.

    Since school started, the EAC decided that boys weren’t quite as icky as she’d traditionally held. Not being satisfied to find a suitable suitor locally, she decided she liked a boy she’d met on the internet. From Georgia. Then she decided that she needed to talk to him. Incessantly. Using an unholy amount of rollover minutes. Necessitating some suggested behavioral changes in usage patterns and the like.

    In a perhaps related development (sleep deprivation from staying up all hours talking on the phone, anyone?), this Spring the EAC had another round of illness requiring several trips to the doctor and several weeks of recovery. Part of the recovery involved taking large doses of steroids which in turn wreaked havoc with her sleep patterns, which in turn made her just a real FUN person to be around (or not).

    Three weeks ago, Mrs. A managed to adroitly misstep (not an easy feet feat) on the steps and broke two bones in her foot. She has been a trooper, but being inactive is torture for her. Not to mention that it seriously cramps her style.

    Last week, the Boy From Georgia (BFG) came and stayed with us all week. He’s a nice kid. And I think we all had a nice time. But it did add a certain level of stress to the week on top of everything else.

    Sunday, I took the EAC back to school. Today, she called informing us that she’d fallen in her rollerblading class (1 hour PE credit) and then called later AFTER she’d been to the doctor to tell us that it was most likely a broken tailbone. No physical activity for 4 weeks. Swell.

    We’ve had good health insurance now since February 1st. In those six weeks, we’ve had an ultrasound on my liver (it’s fatty – go figure) an MRI on Mrs. A’s foot and a CT scan on Mrs. A’s foot. Needless to say (but I'll say it anyway), all of our deductibles have been met for the rest of the year.

    This is the part where I just need to say “Wah”, take a deep breath and get over it.

    ...

    ...

    ...

    “Wah”

    ::inhale::

    (I’m still working on the other part)

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    When bad things happen...

    I've always worked under the assumption that life's difficulties are designed to teach us something.

    Which, then, begs the question: Why am I so stupid?

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    Monday, March 20, 2006

    A la Goldstein

    I've never been to a five-star French restaurant, but my socks have.

    They weren't very forthcoming with details, but from what I could gather the restaurant could have served stale French bread and Limburger and those two would have thought it was grand. I suspect they were somewhat distracted by the designer L'Eggs they were flirting with.

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    Hey, Kids! Look!

    It's Rip Van Aardvark!!!

    No, wait. That can't be true. Rip Van Aardvark slept a lot...and had a beard.

    Hmmmm...

    There must be SOME explaination for the long time between posts.

    ...

    ...

    ...

    Be sure and let me know if you find one.

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    Wednesday, March 08, 2006

    A small mystery

    So, I'm sitting in the podiatrist's exam room this morning with Mrs. A, waiting patiently (as always) and occupying my time by looking around (aka gawking). On the counter by the wall are several glass jars with metal lids containing various medical-type items - cotton balls, tongue depressers, gauze, swabs, ... [insert sound of scratching phonograph needle here]

    TONGUE DEPRESSERS !?!

    In a PODIATRIST'S OFFICE!!!???!!!

    Then it dawned on me...

    ...

    ...

    ...

    Foot-in-mouth disease.

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    Tuesday, March 07, 2006

    A Joke with Limited Appeal

    But one that I found laugh-out-loud, nay, guffaw-out-loud funny. Which, I'm sure, says WAY more about me than the joke's level of funniousity...

    Seen on a bumper sticker:

    Don't make me roll for initiative!

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