Janicek.com

Archive for August, 2002

I think I’m appreciated

Talk about starting off a three day weekend on the right foot. I got this email from my Mom late this afternoon:

Date: Fri, 30 Aug 2002 15:47:15 -0500
To: “Josh Janicek”
Did I ever tell you I love you? Well, I’m telling you now. Each day I/we check out your web page, I am either laughing or getting a warm, fuzzy, good feeling and so glad to have you as my son. You have a way of touching people and that’s a good thing. I hope you keep it up and improve on it even more in the future. You are my wonderful son!

By the way, since you will be “out” most of the day Saturday, you should use sun screen and also take a hat to protect you scalp. Your dad and I are paying the price these days for not using hats.

Have fun…

I love my parents.

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Smells from the bathroom and a dream

Sometimes I kill me. I just called our apartment complex leasing office to put in a work order…

Angel: “Good morning, Bridge Apartments, this is Angel, how can I help you?”

Josh: “Hi Angel, this is Josh Janicek in 1326 – my wife said that there was a real bad smell coming from the bathroom.”

I paused after I realized what I had just said.

Angel: “Ooooookay”

Josh: “Yeah, something really stinks in the vanity – seems like it’s coming from the air conditioning vent.”

Anyway – I thought that was funny. Okay, I’m retarded.

On another note… You want to know what my favorite thing in the whole wide world is? Riding my motorcycle first thing in the morning. Even if I know I’m going to work [don’t get me wrong… I love where I work… I love the people I work with… I work at the best place in the whole world…], I take that ten minute ride and cherish it. Cool summer mornings, fresh air, birds chirping, the smell of grass (and the smell of Vap-o-Rub emanating from the 20′ Buick in front of me, driven by ol’ buns ‘n’ knuckles on her way to the Golden Corral). Nothing beats it. It’s quiet, it’s peaceful, it’s a good time to meditate.

I’ve decided that when we retire, I want to move to a warm coastal city. I don’t care if it’s in California, Florida, Hawaii, Australia… wherever. I want to wake up first thing in the morning, everyday, and ride my motorcycle. I’ll ride it along the coast and yell at seagulls. I’ll take deep breaths and be thankful that I’m alive. I will stop at some deli or cafe and eat a piece of fruit on the patio. I will get there around the same time everyday. All of the other regulars will hear me coming from miles away and say, here comes Ol’ Josh and that motorcycle. I’ll wear canvas shorts and a t-shirt. I will ride home and sing songs to myself. I will wake Elise up and make her breakfast. We will play golf. I will get mad because I will probably never become good at golf and Elise will tell me that she loves me anyway.

Our children will come to visit us multiple times a year. My sons and I will take long coastal rides and I will show them where I had my adventures that are yet to happen…

That will be nice.

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Red Eyes, MTV Video Music Awards

Aye aye aye… mis ojos rojos. I stayed up until 1:30 this a.m. playing Twisted Metal Black and SSX Tricky. Usually I go to bed around 11 p.m…. I DID NOT want to get out of bed this morning.

Elise scooped me up around six and we went to HEB to return some waffle syrup (got a whopping $1.15 back) and then we were off to Walmart to get the PS2. I was like me (aka a kid) in a candy store. We picked up the Playstation and TMB and made it home just in time for Elise to watch Friends. I took my time running the wires behind the entertainment center and pretended like I was reading the owner’s manual – just waiting for 7:30 (Friends over).

7:30 p.m. – 1:30 a.m. – mostly SSX Tricky. Six hours of thumb numbing gaming. I’m to the point where I can almost say I think I know what I’m doing, but still suck. Badly. Must practice. Must spend many, many more hours in front of TV. Good ol’ John was supposed to send me a memory card so I could save games and character profiles… guess I’ll have to swing by Walmart on the way home from work.

Elise is leaving for Minnesota today to spend the long weekend with friends. I will be reclusive all weekend and engaged in virtual snowboarding and vehicular mayhem. I am going to peel my butt off the couch for most of Saturday to attend the 24th annual Temple Party Drags – no, not cross-dressers on scooters. Super-charged, nitrous-boosted Harley Davidsons. I think I’ll take the 8mm Hitachicam to film some of the action. Maybe I’ll produce a good video and send it to whoever organizes this event and the website and get a little publicity.

In other news… I lied, I didn’t play the PS2 for six straight hours. I flipped the channel over to MTV last night to catch part of the Video Music Awards for five minutes or so. Stupid. I must be getting old. The Hives?… I mean, come on! I did make note that I’m really glad that there wasn’t an abundance of ‘rock’ bands accompanied by scratchin’ DJs. Why does MTV have VMAs? MTV doesn’t play videos. Shouldn’t they have The Real World Awards? Or the I’m a White Gangsta Wannabe High School Student – Watch Me Grope this 17-year-old Girl’s Leg in the Club and Go Home and Cry About It Awards? Eminem did win a few awards from what I gathered on the news. I did see him accept one of his awards – he was bood. Good. Now he’ll be more pissed off next year, make an even better album and make it a point to offend even more.

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Late lunch, paying bike bill online

Wow – that was cool. I just paid a bill online. Actually, I made my first monthly bike payment to the credit union. See, I borrowed against my own cash so that basically became a new ‘account’. This account now shows up on my online statement and I can transfer money to that account.

I went to the bank during my lunch break to make sure I could pay that way. Unfortunately, the customer care representative (really small bank). was busy processing a loan for some guy trying to get a mobile home. I didn’t feel like waiting around for that. So, I just tried paying my bill online – it worked. I think next week I’ll just go to the bank and have them automatically deduct the money from my checking account and put it into the loan account on the first of each month.

I’ve thought about paying all of our bills online, but that would cost us more than what it’s worth. We don’t have that many bills, so paying x amount of dollars per month for the service would be more than the price of stamps. “But you could have your bills paid automatically”…. I get my bill in the mail, I sit down at my desk, write the check, lick the envelope, walk back to the mailbox – all automatically.

In other news… I didn’t get to eat lunch until 2:45 today. I got to work, started working [duh], had an hour phone call with a salesman about a service we’re going to start using, turned around in my chair to find my boss standing there. I had an impromptu meeting with her, came back to my desk to find an email saying that I needed to be in conference call at 1:00. Went to said meeting in the main building and had to come back to our building for our standard Thursday, 2:00 meeting. The funny part was watching myself in the last meeting lean back and forth in my chair to make it squeak and muffle the sound of my stomach growling. Another day whizzed by. Guess that’s good.

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Wednesday – yeah, Wednesday

Nothing new today. I received Medal of Honor: Frontline in the mail this afternoon. I’ll either buy Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3 or Twisted Metal Black with the PS2.

I was pretty busy at work today so the day just flew by. Came home to my slow graphics processing computer. Luckily I got an email this evening that said my 64mb card will be in the mail tomorrow. If I get the PS2 tomorrow, I’m sure that’ll hold me off for a few days until the graphics card arrives.

Elise is making dinner tonight. She’s been working some mad overtime – making up hours for her half day on Friday (leaving for Minneapolis) and making up for the haircut she got last week. Anyway – so she’s making dinner – we both need to start eating from Elise’s cookbook. My cookbook isn’t as healthy.

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Another video card, crop circles, Canadians

My 32mb ATI AIW128 graphics, TV and video card sold for $152.50! It was at $96 for most of the day and I was happy with that. In the last 30 seconds, there must have been some hawk eye bidding. $152.50 is well over what I was expecting.

So, having received that extra money, I decided to buy another graphics card. I don’t like the PNY Verto 32mb PCI card that I bought last Thursday. My review of this card: Bad. I never really thought that a graphics card could make your computer seem sluggish. Obviously it can. Websites with any graphics load slow, working in Photoshop is like painting with my toes, scrolling through pages is choppy and trying to type is a joke. I’m going to take it back to Circuit City this weekend.

Anyway, I bought a Chaintech 64mb NVIDIA GeForce2 MX400 PCI graphics card last night on eBay for $59.95. I’m sure my computer feels like a brothel right about now – four graphics cards in two weeks.

In other news: I talked to both Moms last night. Joanne called early in the evening. She told me about a recent interview she had with someone from BLT Research regarding crop circles. I think she’s pretty versed in how crop circles are allegedly created. A plasma (think lightening) vortex is sent to earth to create the intricate patterns. She also told me how pure lead has been found in and around crop circles and that (I think) makes for more fertile adult crops.

I called my Mom around 9 p.m., just before I won the GeForce2 card. I was calling to ask what kind of 64mb card she had. We had a nice long chat. I was instructed to purchase any pharmaceuticals from Canada. We don’t really take medicines other than vitamins, but it looks like the Canadians have good deals on drugs.

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Finger Hair

I just noticed that I have really hairy fingers. Well, I didn’t really just notice, but my attention was brought to it because I singed the hair on the fourth middle phalanx on my right hand when I was cooking fajitas yesterday. It looks quite funny. It looks as if I’m trying to perpetrate a phalange comb-over. Most of the hair on this segment of my finger is almost completely gone, but there are still long (almost an inch) hairs on the side that escaped the flames.

What do we need finger hair for anyway? I don’t think it keeps me any warmer during the winter months. Maybe I should conduct a test. This February, when it gets really cold, I’ll shave my fingers and see if I get any colder than I have in the past. I would need a constant though. I know, I’ll shave the finger hair on my left hand and leave the finger hair on my right. If the fingers on my left hand do, in fact, become more subject to frigid air, I will need to wear a red glove and conclude that finger hair does keep the phalanges insulated.

While deep in this research, I think I will simultaneously conduct my ‘Is it Necessary to Dress Up for my Job’ experiment. I will ride to work with my boxer shorts on the outside of my pants while wearing only one red glove to protect the hairless fingers on my left hand. I’m sure the residents of bustling Temple will find my appearance at traffic lights amusing as I’m prone to singing to myself (motorcycle = no radio). From the comfort of the observers’ vehicle they will find me with my boxer shorts and pants interchanged, a red glove on my left hand and bobbing my head as I sing quietly to myself.

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Jenni’s Birthday Party, John Visits

Once again, another weekend that was just not long enough. I came home later than usual on Friday. Elise and I went on our Friday night pizza date [see red bouncy ball in previous story]. We both went to bed pretty early.

We left around 5 p.m. on Saturday to go to Dallas for Jenni’s birthday party. Surprisingly, we were the first ones to arrive. Sandy [Jenni’s mom] cooked spaghetti with meatballs and sausage. Elise and I were quick to wolf down Sandy’s homemade sauce with bowtie pasta (I guess that wouldn’t make it spaghetti, but that’s what Sandy calls it, so that’s what we called it).

After dinner, I went outside to hang out with the men and guard the keg. Dave [Jenni’s dad] and Anthony [host of party] were the only other guys present. We sat outside and talked about work, the economy, the job market, stocks, etc. You know, boring adult stuff. I think it’s funny that I can be engaged in adult-speak and simultaneously step outside of myself to listen in. “Look, there I am, nodding my head, hand in pocket whilst blabbing about politics and money. You know, it would be a lot more fun to talk about X-men, professional skateboarding and those cool, high powered Nerf guns.”

Not that I’m complaining about the company. I guess I’m just documenting my realization that once you’re finished with college and enter the real ‘adult’ world, your waistband expands and you talk about boring stuff. Maybe I should volunteer at the YMCA, become a Big Brother or some equivalent so I can have honest, to-the-point conversations.

Anyway, the sun went down, the music got louder, more and more people arrived, the keg became lighter, there was some dancing, there was some wrestling, there were some incriminating stories told. Luckily El and I were the the out-of-towners, so we weren’t subject to much ridicule. I did find out why a certain attendee was dubbed “Twinkle Toes”.

Elise and I left a little shy of 2 a.m. I’m sure the ride was long and boring. I wouldn’t know because I slept the whole way. I feel kind of bad for Elise. I should have stayed awake and kept her company.

I slept until 10 a.m. on Sunday. I had the additional two hours to sleep in the car, so I let Elise sleep even longer. I prepped and cooked fajitas for lunch. I read my new Playstation magazine and Elise watched TV.

John came over around 3 p.m. We talked about this, that and the other. We went to IHOP for dinner. John got mad because the older lady in the booth behind us (and in clear view from where he was sitting) kept spitting her food out into her spoon.

John left for Ft. Worth and El and I went home. I checked my eBay auctions. Everything is going to sell. We watched Jumanji and went to bed.

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e-vites, selling more on eBay, 32mb graphics card

I just put some more stuff on eBay. Getting rid of these kind of hurts. I’m selling my DOD Death Metal FX86 guitar pedal and my VOX Wah-Wah. Makes me want to cry (he he). But really, I used the hell out of those pedals back in the day. I would still used them if my amp worked. I told Elise that I’m going to sell these pedals, but one day I’m going to want to get another amp, so I’ll probably have to buy more pedals. This probably won’t be until we get a house and half of the garage is my mechanic shop/one man band rehearsal studio.

I got in trouble this morning for not passing along an e-vite. Let me first say: Don’t send me e-vites. I won’t read them. I don’t know what e-vite’s ‘privacy policy’ is and I don’t care. I don’t want my email address floating around. I’ve received two e-vites in the past month and now I’m just waiting for the spam to start flowing in. I don’t care how web savvy you think you are, just send me an email and say: “Hey Josh, I’m having a party”. Or better yet, use the phone. Send me an e-vite and I’ll use your email address to subscribe to every porn and ‘get out of debt free’ newsletter I can find.

Anyway, our friend Jenni is having a birthday party in Dallas tonight. I was sent an e-vite for this party. I didn’t read the e-vite. Jenni called today and asked if we received the invitation. Elise said no. Jenni said that the e-vite was sent to me. So then I had to explain why Elise didn’t know about the e-vite. We already knew about the party before the online invitation.

We went to Mazzio’s last night and split a pepperoni pizza. A little girl was playing with a red rubber bouncy ball. Elise was just sitting there talking to me when I saw, out of the corner of my eye, this little ball bouncing around the restaurant and this little girl chasing it. The ball landed right in El’s lap. She didn’t see it coming – I did. It was funny. I guess you had to have been there.

We went grocery shopping after that. I think we’re finally learning how to grocery shop. We spend a lot of money, but we only have to go every three weeks now. We came home to a full parking lot at our apartment complex. Our parking lot has never been full. Some guy moved in downstairs and across the hall. I think he was having a party. He pissed off the neighbors above him.

Elise fell asleep on the couch while I watched Slamball on ESPN. At first I thought to myself “Geez…. this is so stupid”. Then I actually started watching it. It looks like a lot of fun. It’s like arena football, hockey and basketball – but with trampolines! I’d like to play Slamball. I forgot who won – I didn’t care, it was just cool watching guys jump ten feet into the air and collide with one another.

I’m not too impressed with my PNY Verto 32mb PCI graphics card. My computer seems sluggish when pages are loading, when I’m typing and while using Photoshop. When I minimize Photoshop and then maximize it again, all of my images are stacked on top of each other. In the past, when I would type, the curser would keep up with me. Uggghhh. I don’t even want to think about editing video! Guess I’ll have to wait a while and look into selling this one and moving on to a 64mb card.

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AGP, PCI, Graphics Cards, Oh my!

This has been a very, very long and bad week. It’s been a bad week at work. It’s been a stressful week at work. Not that I’m saying anything negative about where I work. I love where I work… I love the people I work with… I work at the best place in the whole world…

I received my 32mb ATI Radeon 7000 AGP graphic card yesterday. Ugggggghhhhhhhh! I spent four hours trying to get that stupid thing installed. My computer wouldn’t recognize the AGP card. I have an Intel AGP motherboard, but it still wouldn’t work. I downloaded and installed the Intel Chipset Software Installation Utility – that didn’t work either. My Mom has AGP graphic cards on both of her machines, so I decided to call her after my first two hours of cussing and screaming. The both of us couldn’t figure it out with our heads together – and between us both, I’d say we’re pretty damn hardware savvy. I tried the forums. I reinstalled the old ATI All-in-Wonder 128 and its drivers, then uninstalled. It became a vicious circle. Either a blue checkered pattern screen, or no video output at all. I cussed some more. I even started pulling jumpers on my motherboard [according to the manufacturer’s diagram, of course].

I gave up. My Mom suggested pulling Elise’s graphic card and installing it on my machine, then deleting all ATI drivers. Good idea, thought me. I opened the hood of Elise’s machine to find out that her card is on an ISA bus. Pthbbhtthbhhttthh. I really gave up then.

I decided I don’t need an AGP graphic card. I haven’t been too impressed with ATI’s cards anyway. I bought the All-in-Wonder 128 a couple years back for it’s video capture features. It captures great, but it will only save your captured video with proprietary ATI VCR1 or VCR2 codec. It will also allow you to save an MPEG-2, but I prefer AVI as this format has limitations on file size. In order to generate a raw AVI, you have to pull the VCR encoded video into third party software and decompress it. Hardly worth the effort and hard drive consumption. On a plus side, the ATI AIW128 does have a composite and S-video output and coaxial input. I used to watch television on my computer (resizable display) and record Friends for Elise.

Enter the Pinnacle DC30. Those were the cards we used at Vidbook. Good video capture card. Far from the latest technology, but I don’t need the latest and greatest. The DC30 does what I need it to do. I’d eventually like to get a DV camcorder and use Firewire. That will be further down the road.

Anyway – I’m eBayed out for the week so I’m biting the bullet and going to Circuit City after work. I’m eyeing the PNY Verto 32MB PCI card. “But Josh, why are you settling for a 32mb graphic card when you could have the 1024mb Super AGP N2O Sonic Screaming Mega Rhino Blaster Eye Popper 9000 for only $899.99?” Because I don’t need it. I don’t want one. I don’t play games on my computer. I’m getting a PS2 next week anyway!

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FTW

Well… Elise pretty much covered the happenings of this past weekend. I guess it’s time for your humble narrator to tell you about the scooter. Let me first tell you that the ride to work on the trusty Shadow was very odd on Monday morning. I felt like a giant riding atop a girl’s Schwinn bicycle. I don’t know how else to explain it. The 500 + pounds seemed particularly light underneath me. I noticed that the grips are set low and far apart which is probably why my lower back hurts after riding more than 60 miles at a time.

Riding the Heritage Softail was like driving a tank compared to my bike. The second I sat on it, I could tell it was rugged. The ride was so much smoother with the additional 200 lbs of machine under me. The ergonomic design made it easy for me to keep going and going and going. Floor boards have a lot to do with biker comfort. The trusty Shadow has pegs. I’ve gotten to the point where for comfort I rest my ankles on my foot pegs with the heels of my boots 2″ from the highway [not recommended]. The handlebars on the Heritage were directly up in front of me and allowed me to rest my arms. The back seat was high enough and forward enough that it created lower lumbar support. The only thing that starts aching is the middle of my back, between my shoulder blades. Luckily Elise was back there and would massage the tension every few dozen miles. All-in-all, a very comfortable bike. I could easily see myself riding 100+ miles without having to stop and stretch. Maybe that’s just me… I get fidgetty even on long car rides.

And then there’s the pipes. I probably burned half of our fuel by the intermittent full throttling at red lights and in small town squares! That throaty thunder rumble at idle and the repetitive, gun shot muffler blast on acceleration. HA HA HA HA!!! !! Oh yes, one day I will own one! One day, El and I will take off and ride to Sturgis and Daytona (and we would actually ride – most rubs pull their bikes behind their $50k SUVs in a trailer). I want a custom chopper (solo seat), a big cruiser and a handful of sport bikes. Guess I need to start saving, eh?

Anyway, the Heritage Softail weighs in at over 700 lbs and the engine is almost twice as big as the trusty Shadow’s. Harley engines are measure in cubic inches. Most factory big twins are 88ci (1450 cubic centimeters). The Shadow is a 745cc cruiser. Needless to say, there was a HUGE difference is horsepower . And the torque! I didn’t tell El this, but many times I was was tempted to open the throttle, dump the clutch and pop a wheelie! I really didn’t want to try this for the first time on a rented scooter that I was liable for.

Motorcycle enthusiasts are really great people too. You’d be really surprised who you can meet and strike up a conversation with. As El noted, there is a definite camaraderie – and that goes beyond the wave. It’s just a club that you join when you own a bike. There are factions though. I find it hard to pull into a location occupied primarily by Harley Davidson motorcycles on the Shadow. I don’t care though, I like my bike. Anyway, back to the people. All walks of life are represented. A lot of them are ‘salt of the earth’ as El likes to call them. Some you know to stay away from, others are friendly and outgoing – just like every day social endeavors. A lot of people who drive those 4-wheeled vehicles with the holes in the dashboard that blow cold air like to stop and talk shop as well.

Riding a motorcycle is just plain cool. I think the classic word ‘cool’ was introduced into the English language with the motorcycle in mind. You see everything, you smell everything, you hear everything, you taste everything [when you yawn]. I like to think when I ride. You don’t have the distractions that come with a car – you’re not changing radio stations, talking on the phone, thumbing through books of CDs, playing air drums on the steering wheel, putting on make up, etc. You’ve got the wind and your wits.

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Bikes, B&B’s, Breweries and Big Boulders

This past weekend, Josh and I decided to take advantage of a gift certificate given to us last year as a wedding present from his former co-workers at vidbook.com. The gift certificate was good for a 24 hour rental of a big twin Harley Davidson motorcycle from Eagle Rider in Austin. Josh reserved us a Heritage Softtail Classic equipped with a sissy bar (backrest for the passenger) and saddle bags. We were told we could pick it up at 3:00 P.M. on Saturday. When we arrived, the manager of the shop, Keith had his hands full so we amused ourselves by browsing through the merchandise. When Keith was ready to serve us, he informed us that our reserved bike was still out-and-about. Apparently some VP’s of a well known company in Austin had rented ten bikes the previous Thursday and were supposed to have returned them by noon on Saturday. Since they had decided to abide by their own schedule, Keith scrambled to find us a replacement. Luckily he had another Heritage Softtail Classic in stock, so he proceeded to check us out. To accommodate us for the mix up, he gave us until 4:30 P.M. the next day to return the bike instead of 3:00 P.M. (On a side note, Keith told us a lot of famous people rent from them. Russell Crowe was riding the same weekend we were. Willie Nelson rents from them a lot, and apparently Ron Howard rented a dozen or so for the filming of The Alamo.)

Once Josh and I situated our belongings, we headed for the hill country and Fredericksburg. We made a pit stop about 20 miles east of Fredericksburg and it was there that Josh informed me he wouldn’t mind having a Harley. I wasn’t at all surprised. I too was impressed with the ride the Harley was giving us. In fact, at one point I almost closed my eyes, but then I thought better of it. One thing I should mention here is the backseat person’s viewpoint. If Josh were telling you about our ride, he would probably mention the power of the Harley and a bunch of other bike-speak that I wouldn’t know the first thing about. What I do know is the thrill and scare you get knowing that your life is right there in the belly of danger. You don’t have a seatbelt or metal encasing, or even a sturdy windshield to protect you. The only thing you have is a helmet, some sunblock and the driver to hang on to. I should also mention my fascination of the camaraderie that exists among bikers. It’s a general rule of thumb when you come across another biker that you exchange a greeting. I was thankful to have learned this prior to this weekend from riding with Josh on the Trusty Shadow. In my rookie riding days, the first time I tried to enact the “wave” I almost took my arm off and Josh with me. Bad news. It’s not a traditional wave where you hold your arm up. You have to hold it down at your side with your palm facing your “friend”. With that said, it made me happy every time we came across other bikes and exchanged the “wave”. It felt like we were in a secret club.

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We arrived in Fredericksburg to a herd of people lazily strolling up and down the sidewalks on Main Street…just in time for Josh to make our appearance known. As we dragged Main, Josh made sure to exercise the Harley’s robust pipes. After we turned several heads, we decided to park and check into our room for the night. Since Josh had booked the Harley, my task was to find our accommodations. Fredericksburg is known for its bed & breakfasts, so I did some online scouting and found an affordable and convenient one. (It also boasted “free beer”.) We checked into the Fredericksburg “Bed and Brew” where we were promptly shown to our room. We had been given a choice of rooms based upon different themes. We chose to stay in the “Blue Velvet” room which housed blue velvet bedding, silk scarves hung on the walls in canopy fashion, renaissance artwork and mirrors on the wall across from the bed. Now I know what you’re thinking, but it was very tasteful. In fact, the room was much more modern than I had imagined. It looked as if the owners had done some recent renovations.

With our items stowed, we headed downstairs to the restaurant/brewery to partake in our free beer. The bartender gave us 3 samples of beer brewed in-house and Josh and I each got a to go cup of the one we liked the best. (He got the porter and I got the red ale.) With brew in hand (legal to drink on the street), we walked up and down Main Street checking out the different restaurant menus. Since it was the hottest part of the day and hunger was setting in, our beers started to take hold and we retraced our footsteps several times before finally settling on Silver Creek Restaurant and Biergarten, a restaurant with a patio and musician playing cover tunes of Texas artists. I stuck with my German roots and ordered Jager Schnitzel: traditional German schnitzel smothered in a wild mushroom herb sauce. Served with German potato salad (not as good as Grandma T.’s) and sauerkraut. Josh ordered the Grilled Texas Quail: locally raised semi-boneless quail marinated and served with a port wine-lingonberry demi-glaze. Served with horseradish-mashed potatoes and fresh steamed vegetables. We both started with the tomato basil soup. Don’t ask me why. It was probably 100 degrees out and we were the only people ordering soup. I guess the beer was really good. Josh said his quail was the best quail he’d ever had. My dish was pretty good as well, although I think I would have appreciated it more had it been a cool fall evening.

After dinner we decided to drive out to Enchanted Rock. It was dark by the time we got halfway there so we spent most of the drive dodging deer and cattle. When we got there the park was closed so we rested for a bit and headed back to town. Not wanting the evening to end we asked some locals where we could go. One of the bars that was recommended, Skooters, is a biker bar. We decided to put the Harley to good use and try it out. I think the “biker” part of the bar was understated because when we arrived we saw maybe three other bikes out front. It was still a good time. We checked out the locals and listened to the band and after about an hour we headed back to our room.

The next morning we got up at 7:30 A.M. and headed out for breakfast. I noticed a place on our way into town the previous day that had a sign advertising Sunday brunch. Never mind the name of the place is Sunday House. Coincidence? It was a quaint place that had been a house once. It wasn’t very fancy, but definitely homey. With our bellies stuffed… again… we headed for Enchanted Rock. The ride was perfect because we were out while it was still cool, but as soon as we were ready to climb, the sun was out in full force. It didn’t help that we were still wearing our jeans and boots. Why didn’t we change you ask? That would’ve been too much work, so we suffered the hike to the top. Actually, it wasn’t that bad. We (read me) rested frequently along the way and once we reached the top the wind was blowing and the view was worth it. I had been to Enchanted Rock once before about four and a half years ago, but Josh had never been. I figured since it is a Texas State Natural Area and Josh is a Natural State Texan, it was time he see it. I’m not sure he was all that impressed, but we were kind of rushed. He waited patiently while I snapped pictures, but reminded me that our time was limited. We headed back to the bottom where we decided to capture some film of the Harley.

On our way back through Fredericksburg we decided to shop a little and grab some lunch before heading back to Austin. We stopped at Wheelers for lunch and were entertained by the bicycle cop outside the window. I guess Fredericksburg is a pretty rough town because we saw him circle a tree about eight times, escort a boy on his bicycle through traffic and I think he might have carried an older lady’s groceries across the street (kidding about the last one, the other two are true).

Our ride back to Austin was nice. It was kind of a downer knowing the weekend was over, but enjoyable nonetheless.

Thank you Evelyn, Julie, Amy, Whitney, Corey, Chic and Gene

- Elise

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Angiogenesis

Wow! I just had the most exciting experience here at work since hired. Stephanie from our video department coordinated a tour of the hospital for some of the marcom staff. I received the dime tour on my first day, but we got to see a lot more today.

Our small group first met with the pediatric intensive care unit managing nurse. We took a tour of the PICU and the pediatric ward. The lights were low, there was that sterile smell in the air, there were rhythmic beeps and hums from all of the monitors and machines. I got really choked up in the presence of all the tiny babies with tubes coming out of them, but in the same breath, it was inspiring to see all of the doctors and nurses working so carefully and diligently. Most of the babies that we saw were born prematurely or had complications. I don’t think there were any urgent cases in there while we were there. That set my mind at ease. While the head nurse was speaking, I kept looking down at the little human sleeping next to me and I smiled. It was a little girl. She had a tube in her mouth. I could tell she was premature, but she looked healthy to me. I could tell that she’ll be okay.

I did see one baby as we were leaving that I can’t get out of my head. This one was no bigger than my hand. I couldn’t believe how small she was. I had seen really small babies on TV, but seeing one first hand is completely different. A room full of little miracles.

We briefly toured the Pediatric Ward. I have actually walked through there many times trying to find my way to Clinic Administration. The walls and doors were all painted by child patients. They didn’t actually paint on the walls, their art was taken to Wilsonart where the paintings were silk screened and painted onto the doors and wall panels.

We were also informed that Scott & White was one of the very first acute care pediatric facilities to utilize Starbright, a computer network designed specifically for ill children. By using Starbright, children can email friends and family, chat with other pediatric patients around the world and read about their conditions and treatments. I found it really cool that Steven Spielberg and General Norman Schwarzkopf are chairmen for Starbright.

Next we were off to a meeting in the conference room at the Texas A&M Health Science Center at Scott & White. This part was really cool. We walked into a small meeting room and all sat at a long oval table. There was a television mounted on a shelf at the front of the room. On this monitor there was a lady sitting behind a desk. I thought it was a television show that someone had left on. When we all sat down, the lady looked up and said hello to all of us. We were in a medical video conference.

I wish I could remember this doctor’s name. All I can remember is that she is a doctor, a professor at the TAMU HSC and is doing extensive research on Angiogenesis. She [and her team] is working on “turning off and turning on” blood vessels to either increase or decrease blood flow to certain areas of the body. She wants to be able to generate new blood vessels (turn on) where others have failed due to clogging (diabetes, obesity, etc.). She wants to turn off blood vessels that supply nutrients to tumors and vessels that produce too much blood in the retina and cause blindness. My recollection doesn’t do justice to all of the fascinating research she described. I had a hard time blinking because I was concentrating so hard on what she was explaining. Doctors amaze me.

Next we went to MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). We were actually able to witness a lady getting an MRI of her pelvis. You wouldn’t believe how quickly the technician was working. We could see the lady laying in the ‘tube’ and the images appearing on the monitor. I have no idea what the tech was doing, but I’m sure she would be a whiz at Photoshop. Photos of the body are taken in sections depending on what information is needed. They can capture images from front to back, side to side, vertically or horizontally. Think of the sections of a Rubix cube. From what I gathered, that’s how MRI works.

MRI relies on magnetic waves and radio frequencies. These waves and frequencies pick up on hydrogen molecules in the human body and produce images. The technician can monitor the radio waves from within the booth. She turned up the volume of the scan that she was doing. I don’t know how to describe what we heard. It wasn’t pleasant. It was very loud and almost sounded like fuzz from a radio playing some rhythmic, numbing, constant overture. Again, another overwhelming experience that I wish I could describe better.

To end our tour and forerun your humble narrator’s lunch, we stopped by the Department of Anatomic Pathology. We didn’t actually get to go into any labs because, well, I guess that would pose a health hazard, but we did get to look at all of the wax models of diseased organs. There was a whole wall of fame. All of the models were molded from real human organs. Most of the models were hard to recognize, but it was still interesting to see these teaching specimens.

I had a lot of fun at work today. I learned a lot. The art of medicine never ceases to amaze me and earn more and more respect from yours truly.

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