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Archive for January, 2004

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My 28th Birthday

Yesterday was my birthday. John, Christine, Elise and I went to Sushi Sak√© for dinner. The eel was really good. I’m eeled out for the year. We split an order of Dragon, Kyoto and Spicy Susan (or as Christine calls it: Lazy-Eyed Susan. Or as Elise calls it: Chunky Dunk in the Fatty Tuna). All were rolls; the Dragon was tempura-fried shrimp rolled in rice and topped with eel. The Kyoto was crab and shrimp rolled in rice and topped with raw salmon and avocado. The Spicy Susan was… I don’t remember – I think it was raw tuna but the sauce is what made it – a mayonnaise and Thai-spiced sauce that was worth double dipping.

John and Christine gave Elise and me a gift certificate to John’s aunt’s frame store in Houston. That was a double birthday present (Elise’s is Feb. 9) and housewarming gift. Elise gave me the Cooking Fearlessly cookbook from Hudson’s on the Bend and a gift certificate for a cooking class at Chef Jeff Blank’s house!!! I’ve decided that I’m going to create a menu based on recipes from my new cookbook and entertain one night once we’re settled into the house.

Speaking of house, we close tomorrow at 4 p.m.! Unfortunately, I don’t think we’re getting the keys until Thursday.

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Packing, triathlon and cell phones

Elise and I started packing over the weekend. Moving is a good excuse to throw crap away. We close on our new house at 4 p.m. on Wednesday. We’ll probably start moving some stuff over that night, then continue on Thursday evening. My parents are coming up this weekend to help move the big stuff.

I’m supposed to be packing right now. I’m procrastinating by catching up on correspondences and posting on the website how I’m supposed to be packing. I’m having a hard time determining what can be packed and what will be needed for the rest of this week.

Elise and the girls are on their first day of training for the Austin Danskin Triathlon. Yes, Elise is going to compete in a triathlon. I’m very proud of her for making this commitment. I’m proud of all of the other girls on the team as well. Come game day, husbands and boyfriends will unite, beers and Buffalo wings in hand, to cheer on our girls.

John and I played manly men yesterday by shopping for cell phones and showing each other our… houses. I finally got to see John’s house during the day and John finally got to see the outside of my house. Yesterday was the first time I had driven by our new house in weeks. There was a SOLD sign in the front yard. That made me feel good.

Phone shopping wasn’t fruitful. The phone John wants isn’t in stock anywhere. I decided that we’ll probably just stick with SprintPCS despite them pissing me off last week. Well, they pissed me off again yesterday. I want a new phone. I found a phone that I liked and was ready to make my purchase. I decided to do this because I knew we were going to have to sign a new contract anyway, so we might as well get a new phone. Existing Sprint customers don’t really get a break. The phone I want costs around $300. After instant rebates, a new customer would only pay $79.99. Existing customers only get a $100 discount. How’s that for customer retention? Cell phone/service shopping isn’t fun. I’m going to hold off for a while.

I really need to pack.

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First TKD test in ten years

I nervously woke up on Saturday morning followed my standard morning ritual of showering, etc. I took Elise to work at 9 a.m. and then went to the TKD school to test for the first time in almost ten years! Everything went smoothly. Steve, Cindy (couple in my class) and Clyde (instructor) all said that I did well. I’d forgotten how exhausting performing in front of an audience can be. Midway through my first pattern, I remembered that I needed to breathe.

Four patterns later, I was spent. Not that doing patterns is that physically exhausting, but couple that with being nervous and you’ve got yourself a nice pair of spaghetti legs. Now I have to spar a seventeen year old who reminded me of myself 11 years ago. Again, exhausting. I wish this kid would come to the adult class so he can beat up on me and make me better. You never learn by winning [in a fight].

Anyway, I now have a star glued to my black belt. Three more to go and I’ll test for my second degree.

On my way home I stopped at the corner of Southwest Parkway and 71 and bought a huge rustic “metal art” star to hang on our new mantle. Elise and I fancy that sort of home decor and I figured it would commemorate the star on my black belt.

I took the Jeep to have the oil, rear differential and transmission fluids changed. I also changed the wiper blades on the Jeep and changed the oil in the trusty Shadow.

I picked Elise up from a party she was catering off of Balcones and then we drove out to the Bat Cave to see the Ice Bats get beat by the Lubbock Cotton Kings 6-3.

We went grocery shopping yesterday and watch two boring football games. I was looking forward to watching the Superbowl in our new house on February 1. I don’t like the Patriots or the Panthers so I guess I’ll just make sure to tune in for the commercials.

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Sprint sucks

SprintPCS is running a special until 1/31/04: new signups will receive unlimited nighttime calls starting at 7 p.m. My unlimited nighttime calls start at 9 p.m. As I grow older, I don’t like to wait until 9 p.m. to make long distance calls.

I called SprintPCS today, waited on hold for 15 minutes and finally spoke to a young lady by the name of Anachungaquita. I told this lady that I’ve been a SprintPCS customer for two years and I wanted my unlimited nighttime calls to start at 7 p.m. Without hesitation, Anachungaquita told me “No problem sir, we can definitely do that for you.” I was relieved because I thought I was going to have to fight. I already felt bad because I was almost rude to Anachungaquita with my request…

“For an additional $5 a month” she adds. I went off. I told her that new signups get the extra two hours for free but I would have to pay extra?!? She concurred. I told her “Then I’m going to switch my provider!” — customer service at its finest: “OK, well then thank you for calling SprintPCS.” and she hung up on me!

Update: I’ve long since left Sprint and have been a really happy customer of AT&T. There are some Great Deals on AT&T Family Plans with Free Shipping at LetsTalk.com

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John & Christine’s new house

This past Monday Elise and I were lucky enough to be the first guests in John and Christine’s new house (they closed on the house that morning). We celebrated by standing in the kitchen, eating Freebirds burritos and drinking wine from plastic cups by the light of a flashlight

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Curried squid

I’ve been busy as of late and haven’t had time to document life. Last Friday, I don’t think we did anything. I woke up on Saturday and cleaned the Jeep. I loaded up the old factory tires and wheels that I sold on eBay and headed to Brenham to 1) deliver the wheels to the winning bidder and 2) attend our first Bellville High School Class of 1994 reunion committee meeting.

After what turned out to be a fruitful meeting (damn, I just remembered I’m supposed to be putting together the invitations [task for this weekend]) I drove back to Austin and Elise and I went to John and Christine’s for Cindy’s birthday party.

On Sunday Elise and I went out for dim sum (blech – a waitress sold me on curried squid — “Is it chewy?” “Oh Nooooo”) and furniture shopping. We weren’t out to buy, but we wound up buying a sofa and chair for a price that we didn’t want to pass up.

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One year [work] anniversary

Mickey just reminded me that today is my one year anniversary at Wellness Works. It’s hard to believe that we’ve been back in Austin for over a year now.

What’s really funny is this time last year, I was having excrutiating back pains. The same is true as I write this. I was putting the back seat back into our Jeep on Sunday and didn’t do the whole “bend at the knees when lifting”. I’m in pain.

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Soul who won’t pull over and ask for directions

Elise and I watched a rerun of The Tonight Show last night. Madonna was the main attraction. She spoke about her religion, Kabbalah. I don’t look to celebrities for spiritual guidance, but what she said of Kabbalah was interesting. I know nothing about Kabbalah but from what I gathered, it’s a religion based on spirituality and science. I’m not a religious person. I’m not Baptized. I am, however, a spiritual person and have a lot of questions about life, death and the afterlife.

I’ve never been sold on conventional religions. One reason is because I’m not educated. The other reason is because of the judgment that I feel is involved. I am interested in human history, science, astrology as well as other things.

I told Elise about when I played football in junior high. Before each game, the entire team would take a knee to the side of the field and say the Lord’s Prayer. I was never taught the Lord’s Prayer as I didn’t go to church. I eventually learned the Lord’s Prayer but I never spoke it. I lip synced. I conformed. I think the Bellville Independent School district is (or was) immune to any form of separation of church and state. I knelt and bowed my head because that is what was expected. I didn’t want to kneel and lip sync the Lord’s Prayer – it didn’t feel right to me, but if I didn’t, who knows what would have been said of me.

Now it doesn’t bother me. I am an adult and can stand up for my agnostic* view. My family and my in-laws are religious people. I respect their religions and beliefs. I go to church voluntarily every Christmas eve with my wife. I do this because I know it is something that is important to her. Well, that and you get a pretty good workout at a Catholic Mass.

So anyway, Kabbalah seems interesting. Maybe I’ll research it.

* I prefer the “reserving judgment” definition of agnostic.

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Who’s bad?

This afternoon I was contemplating life, liberty and the pursuit of a regular intake of fiber when I was somehow reminded of a feeling that I haven’t had in a long time. No, not the one associated with a lack of fiber. I remembered a feeling that I used to get when I was younger. That feeling that you get right before you know you’re about to do something bad or wrong. I honestly can’t tell you what spurred this thought, it just popped into my head.

I know there’s a lot of people out there who get that feeling on a daily basis. The feeling or thought is “act now and worry about the consequences later.” There’s that rush of adrenaline just as the little devil on your shoulder convinces you to do it. I haven’t done anything too terribly bad in my lifetime. I remembered a time when I was in high school and snuck out of my parents’ house to drive to Houston in the middle of the night. Houston was sixty miles from our house. I knew it was wrong. Come to think of it, I’m sure I was already grounded at the time.

Ahhh, what a rush. Being bad. Defying authority. Doing what I wanted to do – acting all grown up. Hours later, as I was walking back up to my house in the pitch black country night, I was greeted by a flashlight shining in my eyes and shotgun pointed at my head. My dad had heard the racket of my reentry and thought I was a burglar.

Another time that I remember getting that ’bout to be bad adrenaline rush was when decided to walk out on a job, also while in high school. I knew it was wrong because I had loyalties to my employer and more importantly, I had a car note. I was a short order cook at the local tavern. We were slammed that night and I had plans to go out with friends after work. I knew I wasn’t going to get to leave anytime soon, so I just walked out. I snuck out the back door where no one could see me. I think about that now and I laugh. I laugh at the stupidity of my logic.

I guess I was reminded of that feeling because I realize that I’m growing up. The risks I take now are refined and for my own betterment.

Deborah Nolan was her name. She was my boss at the Tap Room. That was the local tavern at which I worked as a short order cook. I actually saw Deborah in the Des Moines airport on Christmas Eve of 2002. It’d been around 10 years since last I saw her, the night I walked out on the job. And here we both were, thousands of miles from where we once had a working relationship. I was waiting in luggage claim for Elise and her dad to pick me up. I saw Deborah, her husband and their grandchildren waiting for their luggage. I watched her and her family. I was pretty sure she wouldn’t recognize me because the last time she saw me I had long hair, wore a hat turned backwards, combat boots, shorts and a flannel shirt tied around my waist.

I thought about walking up to her and saying hello. In hindsight, I should have. I think the only thing that kept me from approaching her was the fact that I would have had to say “Hi Deborah!” There would’ve been an awkward pause and she would have thought: “How does a stranger with no luggage in an airport know my name?” “I doubt you remember me. My name is Josh Janicek. I used to work for you at the Tap Room. Well, I actually walked out on my shift and never came back.”

Maybe I wouldn’t have had to say that. If I didn’t, what if she remembered it and it just wasn’t brought up. Either way, I decided to grab my bag and make my way to find Elise and Steve.

So Deborah, I’m sorry for walking out that night. I’m sorry for not saying hello in the airport.

Mom and Dad, I wouldn’t know where to begin, but I’m sorry.

I wonder if I’ll ever see shoulder devil again. I’m sure I have and subconsciously made the right decisions because I knew that I would have to pay the consequence. Maybe I’m losing my edge – my spontaneity. Maybe I should just sit closer to the TV and drink a Coke before bed. Oooh yeah. I’m still bad. I still got it.

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Mr. Picassohead

My Mr. Picassohead

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I hate cold weather

I HATE cold weather. It’s 31 degrees outside right now. To some of you, that’s nothing. To me, that’s the desire to quit my job, crawl into bed and hibernate until late March. You can’t do anything when it’s cold except sit inside. You bundle up to go outside only to go inside somewhere else where the heaters are cranked up so you then have to disrobe and lug around your cap, jacket, scarf, gloves, etc. Your nose drips, eyes water, fingers become numb, skin dries out and lips chap. Most people, myself included, tend to put on weight during the cold months. It’s not fun.

My wife is from Des Moines. Her parents, grandma and brother still live there. I don’t see how they survive the winter months.

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Apple is so cool

During lunch I watched a part of a live video stream of Steve Jobs’ keynote speech at the Macworld Conference and Expo in San Francisco. We’re so getting an iBook. New Macs are shipping with iLife ’04. He also introduced GarageBand. He had John Mayer there playing guitar right into the computer and he recorded it. It was SOOO cool. iLife is pretty much what I’ve tried to attain with our computer. I use a hacked version of Picasa for our digital photo album, which is mediocre in my opinion, iTunes (which is made by Apple and is the only recreational 3rd party software that works decently on the computer), Pinnacle Studio 8 (capture card) that I still can’t get to work right. We don’t have a DVD ROM so I haven’t had to endure the pains of dealing with 3rd party software for that.

Jobs also introduced the iPod mini. Apple wants to get their hands on the upper-end flash mp3 player market by selling a smaller player that will hold 4GB of music at a comparable price. Except the iPod mini is a hard drive player (vs. compact flash). It comes in 5 different colors and is the size of a business card. No, I don’t want one – I just think they’re cool.

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