Aardvark Al's Other Bag

January 31, 2005

Hermann Hesse Stole My Moon Pie.
If You Don't Believe Me, Ask the Dog

Yesterday I was trying to figure out the assembly instructions for the Ergonomic Industrial Mechanical Stool I got for Christmas. The thing is so complicated that it had been sitting in its box under our brown, needle-dripping eucalytus tree since last Christmas.

I had connected the hydraulically forward-sliding back support to the vertically-descending left foot support when I suddenly had the urge for some moon pie.

I have been hooked on moon pie since the great Daphne, Alabama marshmallow pie crisis. Apparently the city fathers in Daphne felt the need to impose a ban on "foreign-made Moon Pies" (i.e. marshmallow pies), insisting that the only original Moon Pie is made by the Chattanooga Bakery in Tennessee.

Apparently, the police in Daphne were arresting small children for possession of the moon pies that somehow kept flying off parade floats in that town.

I can tell by the way you are snickering up your sleeve that you don't believe me. Especially you there in Hawaii. It's pretty hard to snicker up your sleeve when you're wearing a sleeveless blouse.

For absolute proof of the Great Daphne Moon Pie controversy, go here.

Aha! Wasn't it Al Gore who said "he who laughs last laughs last?" And wasn't it Hermann Hesse who wrote: "Eternity is just long enough for a joke?"

So anyway, I went to the refrigerator to see if there was any marshmallow pie left. There wasn't any moon pie, but I did find last month's Eminem tickets, which would explain why we didn't make it to the concert. I immediately examined the tickets, because that's what it said on the tickets I should do.

The ticket also said it was not responsible if it was lost, stolen or damaged, and that it wanted to be stored in a cool dry place. This explains why I put the tickets in the refrigerator and why I found them wedged between the coleslaw and the soyburgers exactly thirty-eight days after the concert was over.

I was wrenched out of my bitter ticket-senility recriminations by the phone ringing. At least I thought it was the phone. I picked up all of the phones in the house. The phone continued to ring. Actually, I discovered it wasn't the phone at all. The dog was ringing.

Game for anything, I picked up the dog, and after some experimentation found that if I spoke into his mouth and listened from his ear, I could carry on some semblance of a conversation.

It was Hermann Hesse, complaining that I was quoting him out of context.

"Wait a minute, Hermann," I said, "Didn't you die in 1962?"

"Well, technically yes. But we're allowed to communicate with the living whenever anyone finds their Eminem tickets in the refrigerator."

Drained from this deus ex canis experience, I went back to constructing my hydraulic stool only to be interrupted again by a loud musical blast from the bedroom. I opened the door. It was the entire Aardvark Tabernacle Choir practicing the Requiem Mass. We have a big bedroom.

Then, as they say, somebody (I think it was the second contralto) spoke and I went into a dream.

In this dream, it was 1771 and I was Sir William Johnson being carried by Mohawk tribesmen from Johnstown to High Rock Spring after the Battle of Lake George. After several days, my health improved dramatically because of the healing effects of the springs and I was able to walk about the garden of the small country inn where my companions had brought me. In that garden, I met a dog who looked very much like my own dog, except that he was about 250 years older.

"I am the reincarnation of John Arnold," the dog said, speaking into my mouth. "Three years from now, I will arise and go, and I will settle with my wife and little doglets in the township of Innisfree, and there a crude cabin will I build, of clay and wattles made, and it the people of Innisfree one by one to bite will I instruct..."

I said "I'm sorry, but we're all out of wattles."

"Maybe," said the dog, "but you can only go so far in ripping off Ogden Nash and W. B. Yeats."

At that point, I snapped back into my living room. The hydraulically forward-sliding back support was still connected to the vertically-descending left foot support.

There was a note attached to the lateral transmogrification pedal. It said:

"Eucalyptus trees don't have any needles."

There is an appropriate quotation that could go here. What was it Hermann Hesse said? "When dealing with the insane, the best method is to pretend to be sane?"

Yes, but then Hermann Hesse never left his Eminem tickets in the refrigerator.

January 30, 2005

Why We'd Rather Compare
Screwdrivers than Fry the Elephant

Apparently, not many people in other parts of the world know about the Robertson screw. Well, stand back....

(If you don't want to hear a frothing diatribe on comparative screwdriver design, go here.)

For a (not so clear) profile of the Robertson screw and screwdriver, go to the Robertson web site:

The advantages of the Robertson screwdriver and screw are:

1) The driver doesn't strip the screw. You can re-use the screws several times if you want.

2) Because the screwdriver is so deep-seated, it delivers massive torque and security (you're not likely to have the driver escape and spear your hand.)

3) You can drive the screw with a power drill, and the fully set screw simply stops the drill dead. It doesn't skip like a Phillips (annoying, since most drywall screws are Phillips), and

4) You can actually hold the screwdriver (with the screw on the tip) in one hand, leaving the other hand free to hold the wood or whatever. You can even hold the driver and screw upside down and the screw doesn't fall. Try that with a Phillips!

You can assume that the Phillips does the opposite of all of the above.

The problem with Phillips is that its v-shaped (viewed horizontally) profile pushes the screwdriver up and out of its x-shaped (viewed from above) socket. Just what you don't want a screwdriver to do, because it strips the screw. And the screw has those thin, smarmy fin-grooves, so easy to strip.

In contrast, the Robertson has a slightly tapered deep-seated square socket. For a discussion on the evolution of the screwdriver, with Robertson at the pinnacle, go here:

If you want to read a bunch of Canadians grousing about the Robertson's lack of recognition and calling Bob Vila a "bearded ex-ice-cream salesman", you can go here:

For an American view see: the "square-drive" screw -- the Robertson under a generic name. So you don't have to drive to the Yukon to buy them! (Would you really drive to the Yukon just for a screwdriver? Notice I said screwdriver. This is a family blog.)

Why isn't the Robertson screw better known in the US?

Apparently, Henry Ford wanted to use the Robertson in his cars, but he also wanted exclusive rights to the Robertson screw, and Robertson wouldn't sell. So Ford adopted the inferior Phillips screw, and the world standardized on Phillips. It's another case of the failure of a superior technology, i.e. Beta vs. VHS.

Or corporate giant vs. the little guy:

AM vs. FM (David Sarnoff of RCA sued Edwin Howard Armstrong (the inventor of FM radio) for years to keep superior-quality FM radio off the air.

Or Thomas Edison (Mr. GE) trying to convince the world that Nicola Tesla's alternating current was dangerous (even to the point of publicly electrocuting a retired circus elephant with AC) just because he (Edison) had sunk millions into DC, which had the disadvantage of not being transportable over long distances.

Whew! I feel better! Don't ask me where all this came from. If I smoked, I'd go out for a cigarette. Maybe I'll go out for a Timbit instead.

Oh, great. Now somebody's going to write in and ask what a Timbit is.

January 28, 2005

Nice Casket...
But Does it Have Stint?

All right. Now I'm starting to get angry. I mean, I may be gullible, but I'm not stupid. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that every time I open the front door, something terrible happens. So I have resolved never to open the front door again. This may make things a bit difficult, because we don't have a back door. But no matter.

Apart from the front door thing, I must say I am shocked...shocked that no one is taking this blog seriously. Do you know what it's like to be laughed at unmercifully and without stint? Especially the stint part. That's the part that hurts. I would suggest that everyone take a deep breath and go out and buy up all the stint you can afford.

As for me, I'm fed up with all this hassle. I'm off to vacationland. Today, I visit a travel agency.

"I'd like to take about two weeks off -- some place where they don't have any front doors."

The travel agent looks at me sideways.

"And stint. I want plenty of stint."

After trying oh, fifteen or sixteen travel agencies, I finally find one that will talk to me, the Slumbering Acres Funeral Parlor and Travel Agency.

They have a doorless, stintful vacation package at the Thundering Bluejeans Dude Ranch. The cool thing about this dude ranch is that there are no horses. It's actually located in a 100-acre junk yard outside of Toronto. The gimmick here is that you build your own two-stage rocket and break the sound barrier with it. In addition, you get a 50 percent discount on a mahogany casket with white satin interior.

Cool!

So I'm writing this part of the blog at the "ranch". My team has already cadged together most of the parts we'll need to build the rocket.

Day Two. We've found a cool as heck muscle horse to serve as the rocket. It's a gazillion horsepower Pratt and Whitney jet engine that apparently fell off one of the flights going out of Pearson airport last Tuesday. Just a couple of dents. We're attaching the jet to a mountain bike for a test ride, then cranking it up to 15th gear.

Outta sight, man!

No. I mean, literally, out of sight. We found the engine two days later in a suburb of Detroit. We had reports of falling bicycle parts from as far as Duluth.

Day Five. The fusilage of the launch vehicle is a 1967 Chevy Sportvan with cool red flames on the side. For software and electronics, we've gutted a 3D game called Iron Storm and a discarded GameBoy. And we're using mechanical parts from a knitting machine and several two-fisted mechanical contraptions used as models for old Japanese monster cartoons, such as UFO Epsilon, Mekanda Robo, and the Great Mazinger -- in their day, 20-storey instruments of chaos and destruction.

Day Eight. Launch Day. I've packed a good supply of bean-and-donut sandwiches and plenty of GatorAde which, co-incidentally, we're using as rocket fuel. The big surprise is that the rest of the team isn't going on the launch vehicle. That makes sense. The less weight you have, the more speed you'll work up during the launch. I may be gullible, but I'm not stupid.

OK. I'm in the rocket. Here's the countdown. 10, 9, 8 ... It's interesting, sort of, that my team members are running away...7,6,5...They seem to be laughing...4,3,2...They're getting into a plum-colored sedan and leaving a cloud of dust...

As the rocket takes off, I notice several Ryder rental trucks pulling up. As I head off into the great black stratosphere, my last coherent view of earth is of increasingly smaller workmen dismantling the Thundering Jeans Dude Ranch and packing it away. There is a faint wisp of snickering in the air.

Launch Plus 10 Minutes. Things seem to be going reasonably well. Except that the knitting machine parts are creating a large mauve sock that is threatening to take over the cockpit. And back in the baggage compartment, there is a huge commotion and a giant clutching hand appears. Mekanda Robo has escaped. Quickly, I check the flight manifest. There does not appear to be a parachute on board. Instead, the walls are closing in, an interesting alternative. All in all, your typical launch sequence.

Suddenly, there is a knock on the cockpit door. (Sound of footsteps. Sound of door opening. Sound of massively rushing air and rocket roaring.)

I am writing this blog about three miles above Yuma, Arizona. I broke the sound barrier a couple of miles back. I whip out my contract with the Slumbering Acres Funeral Parlor and Travel Agency. To my relief, the mahogany casket includes funeral services.

I love it when a plan comes together.

It would have been nice, however, if I could have broken the sound barrier while still in the rocket.

January 27, 2005

That Was No Screwdriver,
That was My Goat

In response to the irate letters I have been getting from Phillips screwdriver lovers South of the Border (not to be confused with that cheesy tourist trap with the gazillion billboards on the way to Florida) I would like to apologize for the aspersions I have cast on the Phillips screwdriver (by comparing it to the inifinitely more wonderful Canadian-developed Robertson) in an earlier blog.

In no way did I mean to imply that the Phillips screwdriver is a cheap, poorly designed crappy tool that almost invariably rips the screws up just when you are about to drive them home with that final twist. Nor did I mean to imply that Phillips screws are flimsy tin upstarts that don't work and should be thrown on the ash-heap of civilization as soon as they are bought. Nor did I intend to say that if there is any justice in the world, the Robertson screw and screwdriver should be written into the constitutions of both Canada and the United States as a basic and inalienable right of the common man.

I in no way meant to imply the above statements. I'm sorry if I gave you that impression.

As for the people who emailed me complaining about my possible treatment of goats, let me assure you that no goats were harmed in the production of this blog. Nor do I maintain that anyone should go home, douse their goat in Liquid Wrench, and shove it in the oven to bake at 350 degrees. Please do not do this at home. That is, if you have a goat. If you don't have a goat in your house, please don't go out and buy one and bake it just to spite me.

And, lastly, thanks to the people who have written nice goat-free comments under these humble bloglets. I'm just happy that the blogs give people a smile. There are too many things not to smile about these days.

And too many goats.

January 26, 2005

Let's See You Shear the Goat Again
And This Time Without the Potatohead

It always starts with a knock on the door.

This time it was Mrs. Smallmouthbass, the landlady.

"You're their last resort," she said.

You see, there are two brothers, Mario and Lucien, who live down the hall. They're originally from the city of Bastia, just off the western coast of Italy. The problem was that the two brothers had to take off for a conference in Chicago.

"It's very important," she said, lowering her voice. "It's about the big bag theory."

Mario and Lucien were obviously check-out boys at the local A&P. While gone, they needed me to take care of their pet goat.

They were twin brothers. I could tell them apart because Mario had a mole on his left cheek. They seemed nice enough. We had the usual goat-on-vacation conversation. There were cans of goat food, goat treats, schedules for goat walks.

"Is there a number where I can reach you if something goes wrong?" I said.

"Don't worry," said Mario. "If something's wrong, we'll call you."

And then they were off.

For the first few days, things went well. The goat was trying to isolate a rather long string of hyrocarbons, so he spent most of his time in the laboratory.

On the third day, I got a call. It was Mario. I know it was him, because he sounded as if he had a mole on his left cheek.

"The goat needs to walk," he said. He hung up.

The next day, another call. It was the one without the mole.

"The goat needs to be milked."

I began to wonder how they knew what the goat wanted. I thought at first maybe the goat was placing long distance calls while I wasn't looking. I began to spy on the goat, never letting him out of my sight. But no, no phone calls. Just long hydrocarbons.

Suddenly, the phone rang. It was the one with the mole.

"The goat's hungry."

It was then that I began to get scared. Something very strange was going on. Somehow, across thousands of miles of rutted pavement, these two guys knew what the goat was thinking. After hours of intense pondering, I came to the only rational explanation.

Somehow, the goat was telepathically controlling their minds.

I resolved to test my theory. I sat down facing the goat, put my fingers to my temples, and hummed softly to myself in the key of E-sharp. After two hours of this, a thought struck me like lightening on a hot day in July.

The goat wanted me to give him a haircut.

It took a while, but I finally found a book on how to do it in the local library. Why I would want to give a goat a haircut in the local library I'm not quite sure. Anyway, the book said:

"How to give your goat a haircut

Things you will need:

A bird house
A tape recorder
A can of Liquid Wrench
A large economy sized bag of macaroni
Mr. Potatohead
A Phillips screwdriver
The key to an ad agency's men's room in New York City
A spaghetti strainer
A goat (optional)

Step 1: Get your goat.

Step 2: Goats invariably do not like haircuts, so you will have to distract him. So nail a birdhouse to the wall, and place a tape recorder playing bird music inside it.

Step 3: This will probably not work, since goats do not like bird music. Instead, take the can of Liquid Wrench and liberally douse the goat. Empty the large bag of macaroni on the goat. Set the oven at 350 degrees, and bake the goat for 15 minutes, or roughly the time it takes to put together one mildly creative Mr. Potatohead.

Step 4: After 15 minutes, the fumes from the Liquid Wrench will have hardened on the surface of the oven door, so take your Phillips screwdriver and pry open the door. If you live in Canada, you can use a Robertson screwdriver, which is infinitely better.

Step 5: Wash the goat off in the shower. If the macaroni gets irretreivably stuck in the drain, use the men's room at Guild, Bascomb and Bonfigli's New York office. You'll need a key. They don't trust non-creative types.

Step 6: Strain the goat through the spaghetti strainer. You'll notice that the goat reappears with a nice toney fuzz on his hide.

Step 7: If you are left-handed, skip step 4.

Step 8: If you do not have a goat, skip step 1. Proceed to Step 2."

So I started building the birdhouse. About halfway through Step 5, the phone rang. It was Mario.

"Are you giving the goat a haircut?"

I don't know why, but my left eye began blinking uncontrollably. It was still blinking when the Corsican brothers arrived home from Chicago.

I am writing this blog from a padded cell in the Harry P. Gesticulation Home for the Mentally Questionable. On Tuesdays we get ice cream. On Thursdays we paste colored macaroni on eight by eleven sheets of construction paper.

But I am not allowed to paste the macaroni on my goat.

January 24, 2005

One Very Good Reason for Inventing
An Answering Machine for the Front Door

We got another email from the "Manitoba Minister of Tourism" yesterday. For those of you not familiar with the Great Manitoba Controversy, it is this: For some diabolical reason, the Government of Saskatchewan maintains a public relations office in Thunder Bay (Ontario) for the purpose of furthering the illusion that there is, in fact, a Canadian province called Manitoba.

They have even gone so far as to finagle the road system just west of Kenora so that you run into a sign that says "Welcome to Manitoba", leading the unwary traveler to assume that he is now driving in "Manitoba". In truth, he is heading north into a maze of roads and small dummy towns with suspicious sounding names, such as "Ashtray", "Doormat", "Natural Moisturizing Ingredients", and "Winnipeg".

This last "city" is, in reality a post office, a railroad station (tracks not included), a gas station, and five ramshackle houses inhabited -- during daylight hours only -- by employees of the "Manitoba Tourist Office", who drive several hours each day from Kenora to wave at tourists as they pass by and sell Manitoba blankets.

After several years of investigation, we have discovered that this diabolical scheme has been masterminded by an occult group composed mostly of disgruntled former members of the Flat Earth Society. You know these guys. Their mission statement is that the earth is a large flat pancake made of congealed lard resting on a giant turtle, and that the illusion (foisted on us by airline pilots and astronauts) that the world is round is caused by distortion from thick aircraft windows. This same effect makes Saskatchewan look as if it has hills.

Sorry. There's someone knocking at the door. It must be my landlady, Mrs. Smallmouthbass, coming for the rent. (Sound of walking feet.)

"Yes? ... No, I'm sorry, I don't want any...Well, you look really ridiculous in that outfit, too...And don't come back again!" (Slam. Sound of walking feet.)

Dang! That's the third NHL hockey player this week selling Girl Scout cookies. Now where was I? Oh, yes. Manitoba.

So what could possibly be the motive for setting up this bogus Manitoba? Well, Duh.... To make Saskatchewan look good (anyone who has actually been to Saskatchewan will know what I mean). That and to work up a heightened state of apathy about the Province of Ontario, touristwise. They've even gone so far as to monitor web traffic...

Damn! There's the door again.

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that it's the Nonexistent-Manitoba Blog Police, and if I open that door, the "Manitoba Minister of Tourism" will be standing there, with a huge portable wormhole ready to suck me into the farthest reaches of the galaxy.

That's what they'd like you to believe. We have nothing to fear but fear itself.

(Sound of walking feet. Sound of opening door. Sound of huge portable wormhole sucking aardvark wearing a chicken suit into the furthest reaches of space.)

(What seems like an eternity of silence follows.)

(Followed by a small, balding man in a plaid suit selling parentheses.)

January 21, 2005

I'll Have Half a Dozen Donuts and a
Huge Personal Crisis To Go

For those of you south of the border (or in some other part of the world), Tim Horton's donut shops, in terms of distribution in Canada, are like Krispy Kreme on steroids. There is a Tim Horton on virtually every block in the busy sections of town. I remember counting three on one block right near where I used to work. But I digress...

Two days ago, I was in one of the Tim Horton's near my house when I discovered the mysterious side-leaning tables. Each table-and-chair unit at Tim Horton's hangs on a single post, which is bolted into the floor. Most of them were perfectly straight up, but two were off by about ten percent from perpendicular -- enough to give the people sitting there a noticeably slanted table.

As I munched my pastry (I was sitting across the aisle), I wondered "Why just these two tables"?

Then I thought: "Maybe it's because there's a trash bin between them."

On top of the trash bin, there was a planter with some plastic plants. The strange thing about the bin was that it wasn't a bin at all. It had just a door, about three feet high. No swivelly cat-flap thingy where you can put your trash.

They probably put the "trash bin" in first, and had to angle the tables to avoid the bin. Stick with me. I'm going somewhere with this.

But why didn't they put the tables in before the trash bin? Or at least fix them once they noticed their mistake?

Or would they? Maybe it was meant to be like this. Then a thought hit me.

And then I really started to get scared.

Maybe they were hoping that somebody would just happen by, somebody with not a hell of a lot of stuff to do. One poor sod out of a million who would look up, and see that something was horribly, dangerously out of kilter.

You know the drill. The princess is out in the dark woods and she throws her golden ball up in the air and it falls into this deep dark pool, and this vile, warty, pustulant frog surfaces and says:

"I'll dive down and get it, but first you have to promise to be my friend and let me take you to the Senior Prom in my four-on-the-floor Candy Red Convertible with independent rear suspension."

In short, this was one of those thresholds of life. One of those wormholes in time that grab your life by the short and curlies and change it forever. Or one of those mysterious black holes that suck you into the far reaches of the universe. It could be Beelzebub himself. Just ten feet away from my coffee and Apple Cheese Danish.

Then again, maybe it was just a trash bin.

The problem was, I had to know. Just like in that Clint Eastwood movie. Was there one more bullet in that gun? Well was there, punk?

The other problem was, some beefy guy walked in and sat down right next to Beelzebub, throwing his jacket over the trash bin.

I looked at him. He glowered at me. I made sidewise glances with my eyes, nodding my head to the side, trying like hell to get him and his jacket to move to another table so I could open the trash bin door, see what the heck was inside, and find some semblance of inner peace.

He followed my glances, which unfortunately happened to be in the direction of the men's room door.

Probably the fact that both of us were sitting in a donut shop should have given me a clue. To this day -- and I will take this conviction to the Supreme Court and back -- I am whole-heartedly convinced that there should be a law requiring big beefy guys to wear signs on their jackets indicating the fact that they are off-duty policemen.

I am writing this blog from a eight-by-four cell inside the Metcalf Street Police Station. The cot isn't too hard. The food is tolerable. The stainless steel toilet was a definite let-down. My lawyer says that, seeing this was a first offence, I might get off with two or three months. Six, tops.

When I get out, I'm going straight to Taco Bell.



January 20, 2005

In Search of the Limits to the Search for the Truth

...I know what you're thinking, but the problem is that I've never really seen the garbage man. I put the garbage out at night and it's not there in the morning. It's as simple as that. I've even stood there at the living room window hoping to get a glimpse of him driving by, but eventually I had to let the dog out, or go to the bathroom, or make breakfast and as soon as I turned my attention to something else, I came back and the garbage was gone.

It's really starting to spook me.

Last week I thought I had the perfect answer. I tied a string to the garbage can and tied the other end to a little bell, which I hung in the kitchen. A few minutes later, the bell rang. I ran to the window. The garbage was still there. I went out to the street, just to see if there was a dog or other animal nearby. Nothing. As soon as I got back in, the bell rang. I ran to the window. The garbage was still there. This kept up for several hours, the bell ringing and me going to the window until, in desperation, I cut the string. The next time I looked out the window, the garbage was gone.

I got the idea that he could see me looking out the living room window. That's why he wasn't showing up. So last weekend I bought a whole bunch of electronic equipment. I set up a video camera on the roof. I hooked it up to all the electronics, which I hid in the den. I made plenty of tuna sandwiches and brought in several large bottles of pop. I didn't take my eyes off the screen the whole day. I ate plenty of sandwiches and drank a lot of pop. Nothing happened on the screen. The garbage just sat there. After the sun went down, I couldn't see any more, so I shut down the electronics. I went out to the end of the driveway to bring in the garbage.

It was gone.

I took the electronic stuff back to the store. I told them it didn't work. They gave me my money back, but they looked at me as if they didn't believe me. Maybe it was that dazed, desperate look in my eyes.

I am writing this from inside the garbage can at the end of the driveway. I am writing this with the absolute certainty that there is a garbage man, and that, sooner or later, our garbage will be taken and that I will see the face of the garbage man as I fly head first into the jaws of the trash compactor.

I know what you're thinking, but the problem is that I have never really seen the garbage dump. I know it must exist...

January 17, 2005

Why This Aardvark is Wearing his Snout
In a Sling This Year

We couldn't ski in the backyard because of the frozen rain on top of the snow, so we went skating instead at a local ice rink with Dan and Catherine and a couple of friends of theirs. We'd been skating last fall, and last spring as well, so it wasn't a huge surprise. The skates fit alright, although they were tight. The aardvark's feet probably got bigger over the holidays. Too many chocolate chip cookies! For more information on the tendency of chocolate chip cookies to go directly to your feet, see our cookie feature on page 10.

Once we got the skates on, we hobbled to the ice and spent about 5 minutes communing with Gonzo the Ice God. Contrary to popular belief, your nose can become permanently flattened if you lie with your beaker directly on the ice.

It is really humiliating watching people who have spent years at hockey camp sail by without any apparent effort while you're flailing around trying to keep your balance. It's especially humiliating for aardvarks, because we have to tie an extra skate on our snout. No aardvark snout jokes, please. (Would you mind passing the ants?)

The big thrill of the day was watching the Zamboni driver work his magic on the ice we dug up with our afternoon flailings. We're saving up to attend Zamboni University next year so we can find out exactly what's inside that flat watery waffle iron he was dragging across the ice and, in a moment of awesome wrecklessness, our snout.

Mmmm. Waffles! Delicious! But dangerous!


January 14, 2005

Rabbit Rumblings Rousted by Great Thaw

Yesterday was really strange. Here in this neck of the woods, it was 11 degrees C (in St. Catherines, Ont, not far away, it was 19 degrees C). That was a record for January, according to the Weather Channel.

What was strange, though, was the fact that the trees were raining. During the previous day, we'd had tons of freezing rain, covering the trees with an icy coat that made them bow down under the weight of the ice. Then yesterday, all the ice melted and you could hear the rain dripping from the trees, and the ice falling to the icy snow below.

The sump pump (now free of frogs) was going like crazy yesterday and into the night. Not much fun for the rabbit, who sleeps next to the sump pump. However, we gave him a new fuzzy towel to sleep on and one of his favorite carrot treats to munch on, so he did not sink his teeth into us. Instead, he lodged a complaint with the Sump Pump Advisory Board. These things happen when you expose rabbits to too much water.

January 10, 2005

Never Trust a German Shepherd on Skis

We finally got some soft snow, as opposed to ice and freezing rain. So the old aardvark strapped on his cross-country skis and has been shussing around for the last couple of days. We're lucky enough to live right next to a park and a woods and a farm, and an electric company right-of-way, and a couple of other farms, so it's easy enough to go out through the back gate and ski for an hour or so without retracing your steps or seeing civilization. So that's what we did.

On the way back, we had a nice conversation with the Old Lady Who Walks Her White-Booted Black Dog, whom we have seen walking by at least once a day. She has a British accent, and says she comes by twice in the summer and once a day in the winter. (She wears crampons on her boots in winter. No kidding.) We suspect she is some kind of mythical persona, and she actually walks the earth continuously, searching for the Most Sincere Dog Kibble.

Yesterday she and the black dog were accompanied by a young brown German Shepherd, who is more goofy than threatening. Nonetheless, we gave it a wide berth until we asked the lady:

"Is this your dog?"

"Good Gracious, No!" she said indignantly. Thinking ahead about possible grist for my website, I asked her if she ever read blogs. She looked at me with squinty eyes and clutched her purse tightly.

She explained that the dog's name was Zack or Zeke, and that he lived in the house at the top of the hill, next to the park. We had wondered about those people, but their house was far enough away that we'd never spoken to them.

Apparently, they don't mind leaving Zack to run free, so he regularly accompanies the old lady, much to her chagrin. When he's not skiing, he also noses around our garbage from time to time. We've seen him out in the road.

We apologize in advance for the realistic tone of this blog, as well as for forgetting to send you a card on your birthday.

January 06, 2005

Frogs in Basement Sump Pump, Alas!
And Other Frog Escape Stories

You thought we were kidding when we penned the Frog Missive (below). We responded to a Google search that hit our site, and found a treasure-trove of Frog Problems. Here are some questions posed by various Frog Problem sites on the Web:

Q: "Frogs, or maybe peepers, had babies in the sump pump basin in the basement. Will they go away? Right now, I open the basement in the morning and say hello to them...they are waiting to go out. In the evening they are waiting by the door...on the inside! Tonight I turned on the pump to drain some of the water and they started swimming around...tiny little things. How can I encourage them to go outside and stay out?"

Nelly

A: Dear Nelly. Buy a bucket. Put frogs in bucket. Open door. Pitch out frogs. Get life.


Q: "Our frog got lost one day, and we couldn't find it. I was doing laundry in my basement some weeks later and decided to check the sump pump switch. I looked at the pump well and see, guess who, Froggy, alive and reasonably well, swimming around. He had somehow managed to travel down two floors and find a home in the sump pump well.."

Sally

A: Dear Sally. You might consider getting a good mouthwash. If your frog goes to that much trouble to escape you, it's probably trying to tell you something.


Q: "I had a dream that our fish tank was dying, and I needed to clean it. So I scooped the fish and the frog out, and went to fill the cup they were in with water from a water cooler. But all that came out was clam chowder. The fish and frog were drowning, and there was nothing I could do. I spilled the cup on the floor and tried to pick them up, but no luck..."

Erika

A: Dear Erika. Ah, yes. The old dead frog in the clam chowder dream. Contrary to popular belief, Erika, fish tanks aren't alive to begin with. What you need is a better class of dream.

For more Frog Escape stories, see:

Frog Escapes

January 04, 2005

Nobody Said Google was Perfect

We have been tracking the ways in which people stumble on this and the other blog sites Aardvark Al has scattered across the Internet. One unfortunate person was apparently looking for advice from a veterinarian (possibly about complications arising from a disastrous attempt to teach his dog to speak), and instead was directed to our main Web site, where we have an extended silly diatribe about veterinarians. (We also have something to say about vegetarians, but it's a kind rant. We lean in that direction ourself.)

The other surprising search link was one stipulating "Dusseldorf massage". We traced it back to a Google-powered German search engine called "startseite.de". Apparently, the person was looking for a good massage parlor in Dusseldorf and got instead our blogs about Bratwurst in Dusseldorf, and the story about the Zen student offering to give his master a massage.

We are looking forward to inquiries about Zen in Dusseldorf and Bratwurst takeouts in Tibet.