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Archive for March, 2003

Texas Chili Parlor, driving range

This past weekend wasn’t as fruitful as I had hoped.

Elise and I drove downtown on Saturday afternoon and headed to Spamarama. We approached the gate to find out that there was a $5.00 per person admission fee. We evaluated the ongoing festivities from beyond the chain link fence and decided that we could have more fun with a roll of duct tape and a set of chop sticks. Well, we didn’t decide that at the time, but now that I think about it, think of all the things you could do with duct tape and wooden sticks.

We decided on a late lunch at the Texas Chili Parlor. We had always wanted to try that place out. Not-so-great chili and horrible service. I had a large bowl of the XX Red and Elise had a small bowl of the Mild Red. The bus boy took our drink orders, our waitress took our orders. Elise had to go to the bar to fill our drinks for us. We never saw our waitress until she wanted money. Nobody came and apologized for the crappy service, but they did comp the combined six Cokes we had (the chili was hot!)

We drove around campus for a while and headed home. Before we got home, we rented a 8 Mile, Road to Perdition and One Hour Photo – we had a coupon (kyew-pon): rent up to three movies for $1.00. Elise says koo-pon, I say kyew-pon. 8 Mile was okay – even though I like Eminem, I would have felt let-down had I paid full price for the rental. One Hour Photo was interesting.

We were going to go to a party that night, but 10 p.m. snuck up on us and we were too tired to do anything. We must be getting old.

We woke up early on Sunday. Elise went to church and I played a hacked copy of Ghost Recon that came loaded on the Archos. Elise came home and we went to Rudy’s for a late lunch. We ate out too much this weekend, but we were determined to have a good meal out. Rudy’s has yet to fail.

We drove out to the overlook by the 360 bridge and walked around for bit. We watched a guy repel off of the eastern side of the highway cut out.

Next we drove down South Lamar and stopped at Austin Found. We browsed that junk for half an hour or so. We kept thinking we would come across something interesting. Nope. It reminded me of a rundown lot you’d see in downtown Houston.

To end our day, we drove home and then walked to the driving range. On our way we picked up a dozen or so golf balls. I stashed them in my pockets. We bought our bucket of balls and then I added our found lot. We saved one ball and had a putting contest. We tied at 2 each.

As we headed home, Elise marched on the side of Staggerbrush Road, twirling her putter like a baton. That was funny. I was a ninja as I cut the heads off my victims with my 7 and 9 iron katanas. Those weeds won’t mess with us again.

We went home and watched Road to Perdition and ate popcorn.

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Johnny Carino’s – blech

We decided to try out Johnny Carino’s last night. We agreed that we’ll stick to the Olive Garden if we’re ever in the mood for faster Italian food.

We were rushed to a tiny two top table at the back of one of the wings of the franchise, our waitress mumbleasked what we wanted to drink and disappeared into the dimmed mood lights. She brought our drinks along with a bag of bread and a plate of cheap olive oil and burned garlic flakes.

I opted for soup and salad. Elise ordered the cheese tortellini. Elise’s food was okay – lukewarm and bland. She doctored her plate with crushed red pepper flakes. My soup had a subtle fresh-from-a-tin-can taste. My shrimp & artichoke Caesar was nothing to write home about. Now that I think about it, our $26.01 dinner outing tasted not much unlike banquet food.

The best part was our waitress, Christia brought the debit card receipt. I signed my wavy signature and took a glance at what was occupying my left hand… a gnarled pen cap. Our waitress gave me a pen that she had apparently mistaken for her chew toy. I hate thinking about being the root of someone’s termination, so I didn’t complain to a manager. I’m still debating with myself whether or not I should call up ol’ Mr. Carino and chewing on his ear some. I might just do that this afternoon. Maybe I could get a free meal out of it.

Prior to our outing I downloaded approximately 15gb of MP3s to the Archos. I think it took around 15-20 minutes. Pretty cool.

I don’t know what we’re doing today. It’s already 11 a.m. I think we’ll try the rodeo or Spamarama. Tonight we’ll probably go to a large party that Marshall’s co-hosting.

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It’s alive (again)

Yes, yes… I’m good. I got my computer working again. Came home for lunch, determined to get it working – and I did.

I’m back to where I want it to be… 25gb boot drive with XP, 30gb MP3 drive, 655mb of SDRAM, USB 2.0 card (with the Intellimouse using one of the ports).

Everything looks good right now. Too bad I left the Archos at work… I’ll have to see if it works when I get home tonight.

Solution to hard drive problem: Plug everything in how you want it… reboot computer and press F1 to load BIOS utility. Save new BIOS.

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My computer is in a coma!!!

I thought I was cool. I plugged in the Archos and XP read it as an external drive. Yeehaw. I went to transfer the existing music from the Archos onto my secondary hard drive. Oops… where did my secondary hard drive go?

I unplugged the Archos and restarted my computer. Still no ‘D’ drive (that’s my 30gb MP3 drive). I immediately started taking my computer apart. Once things were cleared out, I realized that the EIDE ribbon from the motherboard to the D drive had been disconnected. I’m thinking that happened when I installed the 128mb of RAM.

Well, since I had gutted my computer, it didn’t work when I tried to reboot. “Primary Hard Disk Error” That’s all I get now. I sat there, on the floor for two hours, trying to put humpty dumpty back together again. I’m sure Elise will have to go to church on my behalf next Sunday due to the profanities that were yelled by yours truly.

I took out the USB 2.0 card, the 128mb of RAM and my 30gb hard drive. Still no luck. My instincts were to call in the big guns – my Mom. I tinkered around with my computer for a while, I tried every combination of jumper settings on the hard drives, ribbon and power source seatings. I e-mailed Mom this morning – she suggested that I do what I’ve already done. The one thing I haven’t really looked deeply into is the BIOS settings.

I’m saving my larynx today so I can have air with which to cuss tonight. I’m really hoping my hard drive(s) aren’t fried.

The moral of the story: I really don’t know. I guess it would be: “If the lamp doesn’t turn on, check to see if it’s plugged in before you take the whole damn thing apart.”

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Archos is in, more RAM, Henry David Thoreau

Arrr arrr arrr arrr… more power! I just added another 128mb of SDRAM to the box of circuits, bringing me to 655mb of RAM. I just got back from Discount Electronics where I purchased a 2-port USB 2.0 PCI card. I think they’ll be seeing a lot of me in there. I bought the USB 2.0 card for the Archos which came in today. A lot of geeking out will be going on this evening… so can’t write long. The RAM came with the Archos in the auction that I won. Windows XP took the PCI card like nothing ever changed. I even put the Intellimouse on the USB. I can’t wait to see how quickly I can transfer MP3s to the jukebox.

Elise and I started reading Thoreau’s Walden to each other last night. My high school English/Latin teacher would be proud. He probably wouldn’t be impressed with how stupid I sound while reading aloud. It’s been a while since I’ve read classic literature. We’re only on page 42 right now, but have already found words by which to live, and I will leave you with just that:

“In any weather, at any hour of the day or night, I have been anxious to improve the nick of time, and notch it on my stick too; to stand on the meeting of two eternities, the past and the future, which is precisely the present moment; to toe that line.”

Okay, back to being a geek now.*

* Like quoting Thoreau and talking all that 2-port USB 2.0 PCI crap wasn’t geeky enough.

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Rest of the weekend at Mom & Dad’s, hail, Janicek.org, Janicek.net

After eating on Saturday evening, we walked to the pond to see the hog tracks. We found a couple trees that are being beaten alive by woodpeckers.

Elise and I stayed up to watch another worthless episode of Saturday Night Live.

Sunday… hmmm, we woke up and had omelets. Elise put Que to rest. Que was her cat that we had to put to sleep a couple years ago. We had her cremated and finally spread her ashes by the live oak tree in my parents’ front yard.

I took the box that once contained Que’s ashes and made a jewelry box for Elise.

The drive home to Austin was nice. For once, in a great while, coming home from my parents’ house wasn’t painstaking. I didn’t have the inclination to seek psychiatric help on Monday morning. I really like coming back to Austin. I think back to the days of when we would drive back to Temple, knowing that I had to work at that other place… I get all watery in the glazzies just typing about it.

Anyway – the week has been fast and furious, as usually. As I type this, it is hailing harder than I have seen hail fall in Texas. I’m pretty sure we’ll have hail damage to both the trust Shadow and the Jeep.

I bought Janicek.org and Janicek.net today. I’m still ripping CDs. I’m pretty much done ripping all of my CDs. I’m yet to start on Elise’s CDs. Hopefully the Archos will be tomorrow – I have gigs and gigs of MP3s waiting on it.

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First wireless network, Archos Jukebox Recorder

I just setup my first peer-to-peer wireless network using two 802.11b Dlink wireless adapters.

I’m at my parents’ house right now. Mom wanted a wireless network because she didn’t want to run wires. I spent approximately an hour on the phone with Dlink tech support. That was a waste. Had I played around with the configuration utility a little longer, I could have figured things out on my own. Oh well, at least I know how to configure a wireless LAN now!

Elise and I got in around 8:30 last night. We had dinner and chatted for a little while. I tried setting up the network late last night, but couldn’t keep my eyes open.

I woke up at 6 a.m. this morning, grabbed the .243 and headed to the pond to see if I could rub out a wild hog or two. No luck. It was nice to be out in the crisp morning air. The pond was steaming, the sun was rising and the moon was setting. It was really pretty outside. I was tempted to go wake Elise up so she could take pictures, but I know she likes her beauty sleep.

I walked back to the house and washed the Jeep. I picked up the paper for Mom and Dad (we’re in the country, so you actually have to walk to the road to get the mail/newspaper). I went and played with the dogs for a few minutes. I felt like I could use that military slogan: “We do more before 8 a.m. …” Well, considering it was Saturday, I would have usually slept in a few more hours. Having said that, I took a nap.

Everyone is in the kitchen, making dinner right now. Guess I should help.

I also won an eBay auction for the 20gb Archos Jukebox Recorder last night. I really didn’t think I would win with the amount that I had set for my proxy bid. If this MP3 player is the condition that the seller claims, I got a damn good deal. More than half the price of an iPod, and $100 less than the other player that I had been considering. But wait… that’s not all! I get everything that comes with the jukebox (carrying case, batteries, USB 2.0 cable, AC adapter, mini to RCA cable), I also got 128mb of SDRAM, Sony MDR-CD60 digital reference headphones and a Sony CPA-9C cassette adapter in the deal.

I told Elise that I really wanted a good, hard drive-based MP3 player. Of course, they’re all really expensive. She didn’t want to spend that much money because she knew that I wanted to put an MP3 player in the Jeep as well. I did a little more research on portable MP3 players and decided that the Jukebox Recorder 20 was the one that I wanted because you can use a cassette adapter. Good thing we kept the tape deck in the Jeep.

I used money we had set aside in our Paypal account to pay for a large portion of the Archos. I’m currently selling my video capture card as well. We’re doing pretty darn well with getting rid of something if we want something new.

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Driving range, lunch with Philip, Mickey’s party, Shadow ride

Okay, now that Friday is upon us, I guess I’ll go ahead and post an update on what we did last weekend.

Ummmmmm… Hang on, let me go ask Elise.

Okay, I’m back. That was funny. We both had to stare at each other with our heads tilted to collectively recollect what we did 5 days ago. I said “collectively recollect”.

Elise and I went to a coworkers house in Cedar Park after work. She had a birthday party. I didn’t get a sip of my scotch in before I was overwhelmed with eBay and website questions. The night progressed quickly while we listened to AC/DC tapes. Elise and I stayed up too late.

We woke up relatively early on Saturday. Before I hopped in the shower, I woke Elise up and told her she’d better get moving if she was going to make it to the sale at Kohl’s. Elise went to Kohl’s for undergarments. I can’t seem to bring myself to writing Elise and lingerie in the same sentence without feeling compelled to charge a membership fee for this site. Damn, I already did. Okay, now send me some money.

I stayed in and ripped CDs. Elise came home around noon. Philip came over. We went for pizza at the Austin Pizza Garden (again). Good pizza. Philip scanned my MP3 collection and I burned a few CDs for him.

We stayed in most of the afternoon. We walked to the driving range by our apartments late in the afternoon. That was fun. We looked like a couple goofs lobbing balls a few feet in front of us with what we thought was much style and grace. I really want to make that a weekend ritual. We just swung our clubs, talked, laughed at ourselves and swapped praise when one actually hit a ball correctly.

We stayed in on Saturday night seeing how we had spent $7.00 on a bucket of golf balls.

Elise got up on Sunday and went to church. I practiced my religion by hopping on the trusty Shadow and making a couple runs on Lime Creek Road. On the way, I met up with a guy and his girlfriend who were riding a Honda VFR. Made me want a sport bike (even more).

I came home and ripped some more CDs. Elise got home from church and we hopped on the bike again. We went to Best Buy to look at MP3 players. I don’t know why. We then rode around scenic parts of town before we stopped at Jo’s on S. Congress. There was a flock of people about. Good thing about having a motorcycle: ample parking. We did the trendy thing and both had an iced half caf coffee frappuccino mocha latte choco espressoccino something. I think I drink coffee once a year. I reckon coffee makes me a little nervous. mmmmhhhmmm.

We walked up and down Congress. We just window shopped and browsed. That was pretty much our weekend.

This week has consisted of work and doing stuff on the computers at home. I decided to ditch the home network. I took the 30gb hard drive out of Elise’s computer and stuck it in mine. I’m going to load it with MP3s. Hooowaahahahahaha.

Spring began three hours ago. I’m happy now.

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Networking XP & 98

Okay… I’m stupid. A few days ago I decided to network my two computers because I was doing some mad CD ripping and needed more hard disk space. I spent 3 days with networking burning in the back of my subdural blah blah. I sat down this evening and decided that come hell or high water I was going to get my two boxes of circuits talkin’ to one another.

I sat and configured. I sat some more and configured. I decided to check my device manager to find that there was an error in the onboard network adapter. I think to myself: “I’m not using an onboard network adapter” — duh… I installed a PCI network adapter when I networked the two computers a long time ago.

Ok – that was waaaaaaaay to geeky. Long story short, next time I have to double check the fundamentals. “Hmmmm, I wonder why the damn lamp won’t turn on…” Three hours later… “Maybe I should check to see if the lamp is plugged in.”

That’s all I can write right now… I now have an 30 GB networked hard drive and am in the process of moving all of my mp3s onto it so I can rip/download some more.

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Cover the Uninsured Week

Building on the momentum generated by the February 2002 launch of the Covering the Uninsured educational and advertising campaign and Web site, The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and some of the most influential organizations in the United States will cosponsor Cover the Uninsured Week. This unprecedented weeklong series of national and local activities will take place from Monday, March 10, through Sunday, March 16, 2003, in an effort to sensitize the public and opinion leaders to the plight of the more than 41 million Americans who lack health insurance.

Whereas, 41 million Americans do not have
health care coverage;

Whereas, eight out of 10 of the uninsured are
in working families that cannot afford health insurance
and are not eligible for public programs;

Whereas, uninsured Americans
live sicker and die younger because they are forced
to go without the health care they need;

Whereas, a slow economy, higher unemployment
and rising health costs mean that more Americans
are becoming uninsured in our community;

Therefore, we recognize the urgency of seeking
solutions to one of America’s greatest problems,
and hereby declare our support for
Cover the Uninsured Week
March 10-16, 2003.

Let’s Get America Covered.

Elise and I don’t have health insurance.

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Ripping, Kite Fest, MP3, Fry’s

I can’t think of anything witty to put here, so I’ll just start by summarizing this past weekend.

Elise worked for us again on Friday. We left the office around 5:30 and headed home. After she watched a little TV and I ripped a few more CDs, we decide to catch as much of the nice weather as we could on the trusty Shadow. Elise grabbed the disposal camera and a couple rolls of film and we took them to HEB to get developed. We came home and returned to our respected zones and continued as we were.

I’ve recently switched to the full version of Musicmatch Jukebox 7.5 for my digital audio needs. I was a Winamp guy, then I started using Microsoft’s Media Player 8 when I switched to XP. Now I’m in front of Musicmatch a lot. I think I’ve increased our MP3 collection by approximately 9GB. Come tomorrow, I’m fairly certain I’m going to have to network Elise’s computer for more storage space. Anyway – I spent Friday night ripping a very, very small fraction of our CD collection.

I woke up at 7-something on Saturday morning. I came into the office and made sure all of our tax information was together and organized. I goofed around on the computer for a while and then woke Elise up. We got to Jackson Hewitt just after they had opened their doors and we were the first ones in to get our taxes done. I really thought we would have to wait in line. It took a little over two hours to get our taxes done because tax-doer-person-man couldn’t type.

We stopped for a late breakfast at the taco/donut spot across the street from our apartment. We got home and I ripped more CDs. Elise went to Target to buy a gift for Andrea Karotkin’s baby shower.

Elise came home from Target to find me ripping CDs. Elise showered and got ready for the baby shower. I ripped CDs. Elise went to the baby shower. I ripped CDs. While Elise was still at the baby shower, I took a nap (CD still ripping on the computer), got up and decided that it was too nice of a day to not take the motorcycle for a ride. I put another CD in the computer to be ripped, threw on the leathers and hit Mopac. Mopac is a lot more fun than I-35. I didn’t really go for a ‘ride’ – I just made an accelerated trip to Fry’s Electronics. I spent a couple hours there, just wishing. Man am I glad we’ve written off credit cards and have learned to curb stuffitis temptations. My real intent was to price portable MP3 players. And in-dash CD/MP3 players. And digital cameras. And PC hardware. And PS2 games. And DVDs. And flatbed scanners. And photo printers. And negative scanners. And RC cars. And 167″ wide/flat/plasma screen, dolby digital 94.2 surround sound TVs with fold out bongo band. But really… I went to check out portable MP3 players.

I’m still walking to work and it would be that much more enjoyable with some tunes. I’d like an MP3 player with a lot of storage space because 1) it’s a longer walk and 2) it would be easier to have a lot of storage space so I can just leave all of my MP3s in the player versus have to remove and upload new songs every day.

I started looking at MP3 players last week. I asked John for an unbiased opinion (D’oh) about the iPod which is made my Apple. He said it’s great. From what I’ve read, it is, but it’s waaaaaaaay too expensive and you can’t replace the battery. This is the case for a lot of the hard-drive MP3 players. So basically after a year or two, your battery won’t hold a charge and you have a $500 paperweight. I sang to myself on the way to work this morning. Looks like it’ll be that way for a while!

Anyway, I got home from Fry’s and Elise told me that we were going to see John and Christine. We stopped at the grocery store on our way and arrived at John and Christine’s around 9:00. John made fajitas – I made some pitiful frozen margaritas – I guess they did the trick though. We ate on the back patio and came inside to watch an episode of Saturday Night Live that was pitiful enough to make my eyelids very heavy.

Elise and I got home around midnight and I showed her how to use Musicmatch. That didn’t last very long as we were both really tired.

I got up around 9 on Sunday morning, showered and cleaned the inside of the Jeep. Elise and I got out of the house around noon and went to Sam’s to buy a kite. We found a cool double-decker winged jobber with flames painted on it. We headed down to Zilker Park and got stuck in traffic. I had no idea that an annual kite festival would be so crowded. We did a little urban off-roading, got a nice little parking spot and walked down to where the action (or lack there of) was. While we were there, I think there were two gusts of wind that might have been powerful enough to knock over a tissue standing upright. I carefully constructed our kite in hopes that we would be able to fly it. Elise and I both attempted to get the thing in the air but failed, as did everyone else with their kites. Instead, my wife and I just sat there in the grass, watch people and talked about everything and nothing. That was just as good as flying a kite.

We got home a little shy of 5:00 and made a big pot of red beans, rice and sausage. Since we hadn’t been spending much money, we treated ourselves to a couple movie rentals and some ice cream. We rented Panic Room and My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I liked the former, despite what I had heard about it. MBFGW was… ehhh – I guess it was okay.

So, that was our weekend. The weather has been getting nicer… we’re excited about getting out and doing things. “I’m sick of this cold weather” says my wife from the Midwest.

Okay, all of this writing is digging into my CD ripping time.

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Ash Wednesday, Thai, walking

Today is Ash Wednesday. I got home from work to find a note from Elise. She said she had gone to church and would be back later this evening. I laughed when I read that note. It reminded me of my first experience with Ash Wednesday…

Philip and I took trigonometry our junior year in high school. Philip came into class late and took his assigned seat (Ivey, Janicek) right in front of me. As nonchalantly as I could, I nudged him and whispered “Dude… dude…” He turned around, looked at me and whispered “What?!” I, being the kind of friend who would tell you if you had spinach in your teeth, motioned to Philip to brush his forehead as it appeared as if some dark dirt had accumulated above his brow.

It was that day that I learned what Ash Wednesday was all about. Apparently during your lunch hour you’re supposed to extinguish cigarettes just above the gap twixt your eyebrows. I’ve decided to give up on this as people tend to look at me strangely when partaking in conventional religious practices. I try, but those Catholics still confuse me.

Yesterday was Fat Tuesday. We didn’t indulge. Instead, we stayed home, made dinner and watched a movie. Ever since eating at the Thai Kitchen in the Lincoln Village Shopping Center a couple years ago, I’ve become a big fan of Thai food. I had been putting off cooking Thai until last night. I made basil chicken with red curry. I’m a big fan of spicy food but this time, I couldn’t handle my own creation. I overdid it on the chilies.

Yesterday also marked one year since I had started working at Scott & White. I didn’t realize this until today. I told myself a few months back that if I were still employed by S&W, I would do something drastic. Luckily yours truly did not find himself running with scissors last night. Instead, we watched The Ring. Really good movie. Elise had to explain the ending to me. I’m getting a little slow in my old age.

I’ve started walking to work again. I walk almost a mile more each way than I did when I was walking to work from our apartment in Temple. I was almost to work yesterday morning when my boss saw me and picked me up. Upon getting into his truck, he said “What are you doing walking?” I said “I was trying to exercise, and you ruined it.” He said “Okay, I won’t pick you up again.”

I walked approximately a mile towards home yesterday evening when Elise picked me up. She was on her way home from the grocery store when saw me walking. I told her that between her and my boss, it didn’t seem like they want me to be healthy.

I walked all the way to and from work today. It’s quite a trek but I feel good doing it. Just before Elise picked me up yesterday, a group of migrant workers traveling in a pick-up truck yelled “Odelay, gringo!” Nobody ever yelled anything at me when I walked in Temple. Ahhh… to be back in Austin.

During my walk this morning, a little old lady with a bad leg made it a point to say “Good morning”. That made me smile and started my day off right.

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