Janicek.com

Archive for February, 2003

Clint Burger

Clint Burger and I used to be neighbors (three miles apart in Cat Spring, TX is neighbors). We used to take Tae Kwon Do together as well. I met Clint my senior year in high school and always thought very highly of him.

A few weeks ago, a friend told me that Clint was injured while bull riding. I wish him all the best and a speedy recovery. I would probably break 90% of my bones by just daydreaming about riding a bull professionally.

If you live in or around Austin County, please help Clint by buying a ticket for a benefit meal.

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Speeding ticket update

Remember me breaking in the Jeep by getting a speeding ticket in Ft. Worth? Well, it’s come back to haunt me. If you’ve ever had to deal with a municipal court, you know that time really isn’t of the essence. I had kind of forgotten about my ticket and my mailed request for deferred adjudication.

Elise and I walked to the mailbox yesterday and I found a letter from the City of Ft. Worth. Inside I found a little yellow envelope that read “Probation Approval”. “Great” says me. I then found two other envelopes. One being a returned envelope from when the court mailed the probation approval letter to our old apartment in Austin. The other returned envelope from when they attempted to mail me in Temple.

Now the dilemma: The probation approval letter was dated January 10. In order for my 90 day probation to take effect, I needed to have replied within 30 days.

I called the Ft. Worth municipal court during lunch today to ask what I needed to do (leaning far far away from paying the ticket and having it on my record). I was told to write a letter to the court, requesting deferred adjudication again.

So tonight I’m going to write a very professional, “pity me” letter to the court.

The moral of the story: Make sure the address on your driver’s license is current. In the request of deferred adjudication letter that I wrote the court, I gave them my current address. That didn’t matter, the courts go by the address associated with your driver’s license number.

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Austin Museum of Art, budgeting, Jeep flood

Elise and I had a really great weekend – and we did it on a budget. Well, sort of on a budget… but we’re really working on it!

I tried to get out of work on time on Friday. That didn’t happen. I came home to a prettied-up wife. Not that Elise isn’t pretty all the time, she just… hell, I’m probably going to get myself into trouble so I’ll shut up now. Anyway, she said she wanted to look pretty for her husband after his long day at work.

I had planned on us staying in that evening and eating leftovers. Elise mentioned pizza. Leftovers didn’t sound so good anymore. Not really sounding like we’re budgeting, does it? Well, prior to Friday, I don’t remember the last time we ate out.

We live a hop, skip and a jump from the small community called Oak Hill. We had always eyed the Austin Pizza Garden during previous Oak Hill pass throughs and decided it was time to give it a try. Really good pizza in a small town environment. We opted to build our own pie. I told Elise to pick whatever toppings she wanted. She chose garlic, Canadian bacon, black olives and hamburger. We decided we should have avoided the hamburger, but the pizza was good nonetheless.

After dinner, we went home and played Trivial Pursuit. See, we’re budgeting! Of course, we probably should have went out on the town because every time we play Trivial Pursuit, we end up feeling really dumb. You know what I mean.

I woke up early on Saturday and ran some errands. I had to deposit a check and ship off some items that sold on eBay. While at the bank, I withdrew $20 – our allowance for the day.

I came home, scooped up Elise and we headed out for the day. We got into town and made the proverbial loop around downtown, trying to find a parking spot. We finally found one and headed to the Austin Children’s Museum. I think Elise wanted to go there so I could play. She had also read that admission was free. Admission is free if you’re a child. I didn’t shave that morning. We kept walking up to Congress to our second destination.

Our next stop was the Austin Museum of Art. The exhibit that we went to see was a selection of Robert Frank’s photographs that are on loan from the Houston Museum of Fine Arts. Elise and I both studied Robert Frank’s work in college. All I can say is “wow”. It’s so much more inspirational and touching to see an artist’s work in person than it is in books. Frank is famous for his collection entitled “The Americans”. Elise owns the book that contains all of the images from that series. It was really cool to see them in real life.

I really like the black and white photographs that I’ve seen by Robert Frank because they have the perfect amount of graininess, contrast and subtlety. I sound all snobbish and artsy-fartsy, don’t I? Oh well, I took my share of photography classes. I also found myself standing in that museum, staring at a photo and almost saying aloud, “Damn, how the hell did he get that image?” If you’ve ever seen his photos, you’ve seen being at the right place at the right time.

Elise and I were surprised to find out that Robert Frank is from Switzerland. Up until Saturday, we had always thought that he was American-born. It gave completely new meaning to his works from the America series.

We also saw paintings by Alex Katz. Although I really didn’t like Katz’s paintings, I liked visualizing his moods when he painted. The selected works dated from the early 50’s to 2001. It seemed as if in the late years of each decade, he was angry. I also thought it was interesting how each painting resembled a photograph. More like a snapshot of people and places – not just some painting of a boring, random landscape with a minimal focal point.

While I was waiting on Elise to finish looking at Katz’s paintings, I sat down and picked up a book at one of the discovery/refection tables. I don’t know what they called these little tables, but I sat there and discovered and reflected. I picked up a book that contained a lot of Katz’s paintings. I liked the images in the book better than the ones that were on display.

Anyway – Robert Frank’s photos and Alex Katz’s paintings will be on display at the museum until May 4th. I really recommend going to see Frank’s photos.

After the museum, Elise and I drove out to Mt. Bonnell for a picnic. See, we’re budgeting – we packed our lunch. We found a nice little spot on the rocks to eat our sandwiches, watch boats drive by and take guesses at which public eye person owns which lakefront home.

When we left Mt. Bonnell and got back into the Jeep, we smelled something that was not much unlike wet carcass. Elise immediately lifted the floor mat on the passenger side of the Jeep to find about an inch of standing water. The Jeep had been sitting out in the sun while we were having lunch and became a cesspool sauna. I am the guilty party. Last week, when the sky wouldn’t stop crying, I thought it was fun to plow through puddles of water and spray rain all over the place (you can do that in a Jeep). The water had apparently come up through the drain holes in the floor board, soaked up into the carpet and didn’t drain back out.

We drove home, windows down and began surgery on the Jeep. We took out every square inch of carpet and soaked up all of the water. Surgery didn’t take as long as I had expected. We both decided that we like the Jeep better without the carpet. So now we have a that-much-more rugged vehicle. At least it’ll be easier to clean the interior now.

After we fixed the Jeep, we went inside, showered and headed over to Tommy’s to watch Mike Tyson knock out Clifford Etienne in 49 seconds. Woof. It was like watching a rooky play Mike Tyson’s Punch Out on Nintendo for the first time. Elise and I stayed at Tommy’s until late in the night, came home and hit the hay.

I got up on Sunday and worked on Travis’ site pretty much all day. Elise made fettuccini alfredo. I used my mortar and pestle that Steve and Joanne got for me for the first time to infuse garlic, rosemary and evoo for a bread dipping sauce.

Travis came over later last night to drop off some pictures. We played the geetar and Travis sang some songs. That was a whole lot better than watching the Grammy’s. We’re tentatively planning on getting together next Saturday to write some more music and hopefully get something recorded.

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Friends having heart attacks, air mattress, ice, The Shining

Elise and I went to HEB today to purchase some pasta sauce. I was introduced to the “check yourself out” line. We scanned our own groceries, swiped the ol’ debit card and went on our way – with absolutely no human interaction. It was convenient, but I’m notorious for making witty small talk with our check out person. I felt alone and without an audience. I asked the box how she like working there… she just told me to grab my bags and leave. Not a very personable experience. Technology. Woof.

I haven’t written much about our new apartment. This is mainly due to the fact that it’s an apartment. We’re sick of apartments. It took us approximately an hour to find this place, decide that we could cope with it and sign our lease. We’ve never had an icemaker in our apartments. It’s amazing how the little things can impress a struggling-to-make-ends-meet husband and wife team. Tap water has taken on a completely new meaning.

When I moved up here to live alone for a week, all I had was an air mattress. We neglected to bring a hair dryer with which to inflate said floatation device/back spasm-inducing personal sleeping unit. Elise and I took turns huffing and puffing on the bare living room floor while watching The Shining. Mr. Geek Genius here decided to scour the unfurnished apartment for some streamlining means to inflate my temporary bed. All I could come up with were plastic grocery bags. I needed a source of wind. Seeing how my diet had recently consisted of very soluble food sources, I had to find some artificial source. “A-ha”, says me. I attached a plastic grocery bag to the vent for our stovetop. It inflated. After an intense structural design meeting, Elise held up the mattress while yours truly held the bag to the vent with the appropriate inflation accessories. It was quite a scene.

We ended up watching the rest of The Shining, both suffering from lightheadedness.

In other news, John and I visited an old classmate in the hospital on Tuesday. Are you getting old when you visit a peer in the hospital after having a heart attack? I’m almost a month older than our friend. I’m twenty seven. I installed handrails in the shower – fearing that I could break one of these brittle hips any day now.

Work is great. I’m busy as hell. I sit there, chugging away all day. Before I know it, nine hours have gone by. It’s so unbelievably good to finally have fulfilling work to do. I’d go into details, but I don’t think you’d want to read about how to parse carriage returns and line breaks through a fax form handler. It’s weird how little things can consume a whole day – but sometimes it’s the little things that are so rewarding. It’s pretty cool, what we’re doing.

I’ve been flossing daily. I really like Johnny Cash covering songs like “Hurt”. I decided not to purchase RHCP tickets this past Saturday because I’m getting old. I believe I said something like “Uhhhh, I think we need to pay bills… or something.” Hey, my friends are having heart attacks. Elise is doing well. She said she was disappointed because she hasn’t seen anything new on the site recently. Then she said “I guess I could write stuff on the site.” I concurred.

It’s past my bedtime.

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The perfect game

Basketball season is really get interesting as teams are starting to take shape this year. Even if you don’t like basketball but can tolerate watching one game every once in a while, I suggest you watch the Rockets vs. the Lakers tonight at 9:30 p.m. on TNT.

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“It’s Round 2 for Shaquille O’Neal and Yao Ming as Houston takes on the Lakers at the Staples Center. (Live)

The first-ever meeting between the behemoths was a must-see event for hoopheads. ESPN’s telecast of the Rockets’ 108-104 overtime home win on January 17 was the second most-watched NBA regular-season game ever on cable TV. Shaq put up his usual good numbers, posting 31 points and 13 rebounds. However, rookie phenom Yao, voted the West’s starting center in the All-Star Game, made his presence felt and blocked O’Neal’s first three shots. Yao finished with a respectable 10 points, 10 rebounds and six blocks, while teammate Steve Francis piled up 44 points.”
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This means I’ll have to stay up way past my bedtime, but it’ll be well worth it to watch my two all-time favorite teams play each other! I can never decide who I want to win when these two play one another. It was really hard to decide when Elise took me to see the Lakers and Rockets play each other at the Compaq Center a couple years ago. That was the best birthday present ever.

Oh yeah, despite everything above, I’m going to the Dallas Mavericks this year. Hmmmm???

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Glad to be gone…

Another reason why I’m really glad that I no longer work at Scott & White. It looks as if the Marketing department is completely gone now. I got this e-mail from my former cohort this afternoon:

Have you heard about Mary? She was given the choice of accepting a demotion or a severance package. she took the severance. Market Research department was dissolved. Angie and Chris are going to IS. Pat & Dean were laid off.

Luciana is applying for a transfer for your old job. So far, she’s going to get it. There haven’t been any qualified applicants. Doneva is also applying.

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Form to Fax

Sometimes I surprise myself. Well, I don’t really surprise myself, but I make myself happy. No – no, sometimes I do surprise myself. I can’t think of anything right now… but today I made myself happy.

Since I started my new job, my boss has mentioned some things he would like to change about the functionality of our clients’ websites as well as a few adjustments to our corporate website. One of the first changes he wanted was a server-side form handling script (you know, when you fill out a form on a website and your input gets magically sent to wherever it’s supposed to go). When he first mentioned this, I said “Sure… no problem, I can do that with my eyes closed.” So, I sat down and started customizing a script that I had used in the past. Well, your humble narrator is used to working on Linux/Apache servers. I’m used to perl/cgi scripts. We’re on Microsoft IIS servers. That means active server pages (asp). Okay, too technical. So now I’m having to learn asp. By the way, that’s pronounced Hay (silent “H”) Esss Pee.

So I created a form that’s handled server-side in asp. Great, groovy, fantastic. Another idea my boss had been kicking around was having the ability to have an online form send a fax. To make a long story short, I customized a form handler script that will send a fax with prescription refill information to a pharmacy. I pretty much spent all day on that today and now my eyeballs are about to rupture as I write this. That’s it. Yeah, thought it was going to be something cool, huh? Well, it’s the little things.

Now I just wish I could figure out how to lick my damn elbow. Oh well… I think I’ll go run with scissors now and see how long it takes before something bad happens.

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Useless facts and trivia

The first couple to be shown in bed together on prime time TV were Fred and Wilma Flintstone.

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Every day more money is printed for Monopoly than the US Treasury.

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Men can read smaller print than women can; women can hear better.

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Coca-Cola was originally green.

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It is impossible to lick your elbow.

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The state with the highest percentage of people who walk to work:

Alaska

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The percentage of Africa that is wilderness: 28%

The percentage of North America that is wilderness: 38%

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The cost of raising a medium-size dog to the age of eleven: $6,400

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The average number of people airborne over the US any given hour:

61,000

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Intelligent people have more zinc and copper in their hair.

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The world’s youngest parents were 8 and 9 and lived in China in 1910.

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The youngest pope was 11 years old.

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The first novel ever written on a typewriter: Tom Sawyer.

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Those San Francisco Cable cars are the only mobile National Monuments.

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111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321

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If a statue in the park of a person on a horse has both front legs in the air, the person died in battle. If the horse has one front leg in the air, the person died as a result of wounds received in battle. If the horse has all four legs on the ground, the person died of natural causes.

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Hershey’s Kisses are called that because the machine that makes them looks like it’s kissing the conveyor belt.

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Q. What occurs more often in December than any other month?

A. Conception.

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Half of all Americans live within 50 miles of what their birthplace

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Q. If you were to spell out numbers, how far would you have to go until you would find the letter “A”?

A. One thousand

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Q. What do bulletproof vests, fire escapes, windshield wipers, and laser printers all have in common?
A. All invented by women.

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Q. What is the only food that doesn’t spoil?
A. Honey

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Q. There are more collect calls on this day than any other day of the year?

A. Father’s Day

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Q. What trivia fact about Mel Blanc (voice of Bugs Bunny) is the most ironic?
A. He was allergic to carrots.

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Q. What is an activity performed by 40% of all people at a party?
A. Snoop in your medicine cabinet.

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In Shakespeare’s time, mattresses were secured on bed frames by ropes. When you pulled on the ropes the mattress tightened, making the bed firmer to sleep on. Hence the phrase “goodnight, sleep tight”.

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It was the accepted practice in Babylon 4,000 years ago that for a month after the wedding, the bride’s father would supply his son-in-law with all the mead he could drink. Mead is a honey beer and because their calendar was lunar based, this period was called the honey month we know today as the honeymoon.

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In English pubs, ale is ordered by pints and quarts. So in old England, when customers got unruly, the bartender would yell at them to mind their own pints and quarts and settle down. It’s where we get the phrase “mind your P’s and Q’s”

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Many years ago in England, pub frequenters had a whistle baked into the rim or handle of their ceramic cups. When they needed refill, they used the whistle to get some service. “Wet your whistle” is the phrase inspired by this practice.

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In Scotland, a new game was invented. It was entitled Gentlemen Only Ladies Forbidden…. and thus the word GOLF entered into the English language.

At least 75% of people who read this will try to lick their elbow.

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Elise’s birthday

I’ve had no time to do anything recently – especially update the website.

Work has been keeping me really busy. I’m really enjoying my new job. I was hired on to help a few people out, now I feel like I need someone to help me out! As I was told from the beginning, my job entails quite a bit of production work. I also have these left-handed, research and development projects. I’m hoping we can expand soon and I can start focusing more on the R&D. I still enjoy the production work… it makes me feel… well, productive.

The past month has been a blur. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been back in Austin for six weeks. Things look like they’re finally starting to settle down a bit.

Jenni and her boyfriend, Brett came to visit this past weekend. They made it to our apartment before I got home from work on Friday. We all visited for a while, then I had to play accounts receivable and shipping department for all of my recent eBay sales. I don’t know why I keep doing that to myself. I decide that I want to sell things on eBay, so I list them all at once. Recently I’ve been trying to track who bought what, for how much and by which means.

After I finished ‘business’, the four of us jumped in the Jeep and had dinner at Threadgill’s. We all came back to the apartment, each had a few glasses of elixir and listened to some tunes. I showed Brett the joys of gratuitous game play violence. Hilarity ensued.

Elise, Jenni and Brett woke up early and went to the Red Apple Sale at Foley’s. I woke up later to shave the hair off of my tongue that apparently grows quite nicely when fertilized by scotch. I hopped in the shower and then headed to Central Market. I got home just before the Mall Squad and made California rolls and spring rolls.

We ate lunch and sat around the apartment for the rest of the afternoon.

We went to Romeo’s later that night to celebrate Elise’s birthday. The food and company were great – the weather wasn’t. We tried to go to the Gingerman. They had reached capacity. We walked next door to the Fox & the Hound. To spare you the details, Elise and Jenni tied a few on. John and Christine met up with us after we had been at the bar for a while. We all had a great time (at least those of us who can remember!)

We closed the Fox & the Hound. When we got back to the apartment, Elise and Jenni decided it was time to sing and dance. Brett and I laid low in the kitchen and had a night cap. I had to make mad dashes into the living room to turn the stereo down just enough to keep the pictures from falling off of the walls. I have most of this episode of Star Search on video if you want to see it…

We got up in time to go to lunch on Sunday morning. Seeing how it was Elise’s birthday, I wasn’t going to complain about the restaurant chosen. Seeing how it is now the day after Elise’s birthday, I will say that I will never eat at Magnolia Cafe ever again. I’ve always disliked their food and this visit put the icing on the cake. Elise didn’t like her food either. I’ve tried different things at Magnolia in the past and have never liked the food. This time, I tried the nachos thinking “How could anyone screw up an order of nachos?” Go to Magnolia Cafe on Congress – they’ll show you how. Elise had the Love Migas. I think she stomached half of her plate. Victor, who could eat a rusted gas tank off of a bulldozer didn’t seem like he swung on his meal either. Jenni and Brett got lucky – they both said their food was good.

I took Elise to Oshman’s and then to Academy where, after 15 pairs, decided on one pair of tennis shoes that she liked. That was her birthday present from me. We went over to Sam’s to do nothing but walk around and say “Why are we walking around in Sam’s?”

We came back home and I gave Elise a big basket full of wine and chocolates. We just sat around like a couple of bumps and watched cheesy movies on TV.

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Breathe

I found that breathing is kind of good for you. I was sitting at work earlier this week, chugging through some html that we had generated from Excel, and I sighed. It then dawned on me that I hadn’t been breathing for about two hours. So, I started taking deep, concentrated breaths and my eyes opened and my mind cleared. I need to put a Post-It note on my computer that reads “breathe.”

On Tuesday, Elise and I went to Central Market for the first time since being back in Austin. We bought mushrooms, some spicy, mayonnaise-based dipping sauce and some tortilla chips. It was nice to be in one of our favorite grocery stores again. The mushrooms were for the turkey tetrazzini that I made last night.

I have a bunch of stuff on eBay right now. The extra cash will be nice.

Travis came over last night and we started hammering out the details for his site’s relaunch. That’ll be a fun project for a while.

Elise’s birthday is Sunday. We don’t know what we’re going to do in celebration. Some friends are coming in from out of town. I guess we’ll just play it by ear.

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