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Archive for November, 2005

Thanksgiving 2005

Elise’s brother, Eric flew in from Des Moines (after a stop in Minneapolis, Chicago and Dallas) last Monday to spend Thanksgiving with us. Elise made beef stroganoff for dinner and Eric and I spent the better part of the evening putting MP3s on his new phone.

Elise went into the office on Tuesday morning and then took Eric for lunch at Guero’s and then to the Stevie Ray Vaughn memorial statue. After I got home from work we all went out for barbecue at The Salt Lick. We then headed over to Westgate Lanes for a rowdy night of bowling but decided against that as there was an hour wait. So we went home and talked until Elise fell asleep. That was a sign that everyone needed to go to sleep.

Elise went to work on Wednesday and I stayed home with Eric. We ran out to meet Brad so I could give him some CDs and I could get my laptop bag. While out I had the truck’s oil changed and Eric and I did some Christmas shopping.

We drove back to the house and I cooked a late lunch. Elise came home shortly after and then we all packed, loaded up and headed to my parents’ house in Cat Spring. We got there just in time for spiral sliced ham and homegrown black eyed peas.

I woke up at 5:30 a.m. on Thanksgiving day to go deer hunting. No luck. I sat there for three hours and watched two little bucks and two little does all morning. Luckily I had my iPod to keep me entertained.

This one should have been mine
My dad shot this buck two days after my unsucessful hunt.

Later that morning Eric and I were commissioned to remove cedar limbs from above my mom’s new greenhouse. That was a dangerous task. I was standing on a ladder that was layed at an angle between the roof of the green house and a neighboring tree while holding a rope in one hand and a chainsaw in the other. Eric was manning ropes that I tied to limbs in the tree so they wouldn’t crash down on me or through the skylights when I cut them.

Mom's greenhouse
Mom’s new greenhouse

Mom, Elise and Eric went for a tour of the pasture while I took a nap on the couch and dad watched football. Later that afternoon dad cooked 2″ ribeye steaks. Dad and I vetoed the traditional Thanksgiving dinner of turkey and dressing this year because we don’t really like turkey and dressing. Steaks it was and they were great. That evening consisted of watching two hours of The Apprentice.

We woke up early on Friday, ate breakfast, said bye to mom and dad and then drove off due north to Okeene, Oklahoma. Along the way we listened to the UT vs. A&M game. Once we crossed the border it was time to discuss names for the baby. After an hour the three of us couldn’t come up with any names that stuck.

It was then that Elise and Eric talked about work. And talked about work. And talked about work. I started watching a movie on the iBook and was getting distracted by the siblings talking about work. I exclaimed, “we’re on vacation, stop talking about work.” Eric concurred. And then they continued their conversation about work.

We got to Grandma Boeckman’s house shortly after dinner time. Luckily they saved the three weary travelers some fried catfish and hushpuppies. We stayed up and talked with all of the uncles, aunts and cousins. Steve, Joanne, Elise and I stood in the kitchen and became a great baby naming ensemble. We came up with great first and middle names for both a boy and a girl.

Elise, Eric and I went to the motel and turned in for the night. On Saturday we drove back over to Grandma’s for the annual Boeckman Thanksgiving. Lunchtime quickly reared its head and we all feasted. As always the food was great and it was good to talk to Elise’s family.

After lunch many of us migrated to the living room to watch the OU vs. OSU game. It’s weird being in Oklahoma among Oklahomans, watching two rival Oklahoma college football teams battle it out and try to figure out who’s rooting for who.

The weather was oddly agreeable this year. Uncle Mike used his Crocodile Hunter skills and caught an armadillo in Grandma’s back yard. Mike and Neil took a .22 and said armadillo behind the barn and I’ll leave the rest up to your imagination. I practiced my swing with Steve’s pitching wedge in the back yard and showed Elise’s little second cousin, Catch how to hit golf balls.

Night fell and most migrated to the kitchen for leftovers. After dinner Neil and I sat on the back porch and I think I pretty much have him sold on buying an iBook. Some of the guys went down to the basement where we talked about investments, eBay and Mythbusters.

Bed time grew near and again Elise, Eric and I drove back to the motel and called it a night. We woke up early on Sunday and drove back out to Grandma B’s house for breakfast and bid farewells.

Elise, Joanne and Eric took our truck and Steve and I took the van. We caravaned to Perry, OK to meet up with Grandma Thurston so she could ride back to Des Moines with Steve, Joanne and Eric. Grandma T spent Thanksgiving Joanne’s brother, Mark and his family. Grandma T didn’t know that Elise and I were going to show up so it was a great surprise for her. We met at Braum’s (the north Texas/Oklahoma version of Dairy Queen) for breakfast. We sat and talked for a couple hours and then it was time to head home. We took a few pictures and parted ways. Steve, Joanne, Eric and Grandma headed north up I-35, Elise and I headed south.

Elise drove the first leg and did a damn fine job seeing how crosswinds through Oklahoma were gusting at 40 mph. It was unreal! We were already running later than normal as we detoured for breakfast with Grandma so we decided to delay our trip more by stopping for a tour of the Oklahoma City National Memorial. Wow! I’m really glad we stopped. What an amazing memorial. It was a good feeling to stop a pay respect to those who lost their lives in the 1995 bombing. I remember when it happened but it was really amazing to read all of the literature and plaques posted throughout the memorial and get all of the details about what happened. We were both in awe as we looked at the architecture of the memorial and how the entire site was designed to honor those who lost their lives.

Solemnly we made our way back to the truck and headed south towards home. After passing the accident on the Texas/Oklahoma border, I decided I would relieve Elise and take over driving for the rest of the trip. I tapped Elise on the shoulder to wake her up and offered to drive. Yours truly drove the last half of the trip. The 35W and 35E merger just north of Hillsboro is the bain of my existence. Every year we get stuck there as other weary travelers are making their way home south for the start of the week.

We left Grandma B’s at 9 a.m. and didn’t get home until 10 p.m. We had a great time though and it’s always a blessing to spend time with our families. We’re thankful for that.

Here are photos from this past weekend.

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Laying someone off: It doesn\’t get easier

I decided to lay off one of my employees this morning. I came to my decision late yesterday and I thought about it all last night and this morning on the way into work. The task of letting someone go never seems to get easier. This morning’s meeting was especially hard because it wasn’t that I was having to let this person go because of poor performance or that this person was a liability. It was because I just didn’t see a fit and the position this person was filling isn’t needed right now.

The company operates in an intimate setting. It’s hard to find the right time to pull someone aside for a private conversation. In hindsight I should have walked in first thing this morning, kicked everyone else out, let the person go and then go about the day. Instead I came in and allowed myself to get distracted. During that time a couple of my staffers went on their break so the break room was unavailable. This extra time allowed my concious to continue to do a number on me.

Like ripping off a Band-aid or chewing off your own arm that’s been caught in a combine, I did what had to be done. It’s a hard thing to do, especially when it’s good for the company but not for the person losing his or her job. I chose the firm but compassionate route which ended the converation is one of those “And, well, that’s it. I appreciate what you’ve done for us here and wish you all the best.”

I keep thinking that one day I’ll have really bad hair and will be able to slap my palm on the board room table, point my index finger like a gun and say, “You’re fired!” I’ll have a blonde lady sitting next to me who may say something like, “That was the right decision.” And there will be an old guy sitting to my other side who may say something like, “There was really no other choice.”

Sometimes there really is no other choice but making that decision and doing the deed is never easy.

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Smoked salmon with tomatillo ancho butter

Southwest seasoned mesquite smoked salmon filets with a tomatillo ancho butter topped with smoked mustard seeds and green peppercorns and french fried sweet potatoes.

Southwest fish & chips
Southwest fish & chips

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Clunky interface

My brother-in-law flew in from Des Moines this past Monday to spend Thursday Thanksgiving with my family and then to drive up with us to Okeene, Oklahoma for the annual Boeckman Saturday Thanksgiving. Eric brought his new Samsung a950 wireless phone and wanted me to show him how to load it up with MP3s. Talk about a tedious and clunky process.

We had to put the TransFlash card in its card adapter and then into the two-piece USB adapter and transfer MP3 files from my hard drive to the card adapter. Most of my audio files are MP4s so I then had to convert them to MP3s. Getting 100 songs for Eric took over two hours. This is such a horrible interface both in the software and the hardware. After all that work, I gave Eric an extensive demonstration of my iPod…

Clunky MP3 cell phone

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Spinning dog and twisted metal

I’ve never been a big fan of my 50-mile-one-way commute to work. It’s worse as we are subject to Daylight Saving Time and the skies now begin darkening at 4:30 p.m. The darkness makes my commute home so much fun on the windy and fast four lane HWY 71, which has no divide, is painted with deer blood and fluorescent spray paint lines that mark the mishaps.

Last night:
I was in the far right lane. The truck two vehicles in front of me slammed on its brakes, slowed, and then kept driving. The car in front of me slowed slightly and kept driving. I was safely behind both vehicles and then saw the thing that caused the truck to brake. I swerved into the left lane and as I drove by the point of impact I saw what looked like a German Shepherd, spinning lifelessly on its right side. Spinning and spinning.

This morning:
I was sitting at the light at the 290 & 71 intersection. An early model red Celica stopped behind me. The car had a boom boom stereo. I thought, “Who the hell listens to boom boom this early?” I looked in my mirror and took notice of the driver, a guy who looked like Drew from Office Space. The O-face guy.

The light turned green. I chose the left lane to get me through Oak Hill on 71. The red Celica followed. Traffic was heavy. Both westbound lanes were zooming at 40-50 mph in the 35 mph zone. After a mile or so, the car in front of me signaled left and started to brake as it was going to turn in to a business parking lot. The car rolled to a stop and was waiting for a pause in the oncoming eastbound traffic. I stopped. The red Celica stopped. The old minivan stopped. The new minivan didn’t stop. The new minivan ran into the back of the old minivan, shoved it into the left eastbound lane and sideswiped the red Celica. The car in front of me turned in to the parking lot. The van missed my truck’s left side by inches. It pulled back in to the left westbound lane in front of me just in time as eastbounders were coming again. This all transpired in 4.3 seconds. I witnessed the wreck because I had a gut feeling it would happen. I heard everything. I should have stayed as a witness. I didn’t stay because I was confident that the wreck didn’t warrant severe injuries. I steered right, drove off in the right lane and looked in my mirror to see the doors of the three involved cars open.

Boom boom.

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Long time friends and new neighbors

We just got word that our good friends, Doug and Marcia’s offer was accepted on a house a few blocks away. Doug is one of my closest friends from the good old days when we ran banquets at the country club. Doug left the club to go to law school in 1999. After graduating, he and Marcia lived in North Carolina for a few years. Doug happened upon a great opportunity here in Austin, recently passed the Texas bar exam, accepted the job offer and now they will both be moving back next month.

What’s funny is that the very first house that Elise and I tried to buy is on the same street that Doug and Marcia’s house is on. Another great thing is that Marcia is pregnant and due in February. Elise is due in April. So we’ll have friends within walking distance who will also have a newborn. That means the girls can go walking with strollers and talk about things like “lactating” and “onesies” and Doug and I can stand the driveway, drinks in hand and talk about lawn fertilizer and pressure treated lumber.

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8 years ago

Josh & Elise's first photo
Josh & Elise’s first photo – the college years

Josh: “You used to be so cute”

Elise: “You used to know the right things to say”

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Week in review: iMac

I began using my new iMac at the office this past Monday. My desk is aesthetically pleasing now. My plan was to force myself to completely switch to using my Mac at work. I can’t. I’m verrrrrrrrrrrry slow on my new computer.

My desk is aesthetically pleasing now because I have my iMac, Bluetooth mouse and keyboard and phone. It’s iFeng Shui. I had to add an adjoining desk for my old Windows machine and the server. When I need to do something that is time sensitive or mission critical, I use the Windows computer.

I try to use the iMac as much as possible. I will continue to try but in the meantime I’m like a three legged cat trying to bury turds on a frozen pond.

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Fat finger typing leads to dinner with like-named locals

Joey Janisheck (pronounced just like it reads) was “fat finger typing”, trying to get to his own website and accidentally typed janicek.com. He read up on us and sent me an e-mail just to say hello and to note that he and his family also live in Austin.

I wrote back and said, “Great! Similar tribes must come together and feast.”

Elise couldn’t help but make fun of me for setting up a blind date. I’m the anti-social one.

So we met at Rudy’s on Wednesday night and had a great barbecue dinner with Joey, his wife Melissa and the the little ones: Molly and Boston.

Not only are the names similar, but so are personalities and careers. Joey runs his own web development business and is the CTO of his household and Melissa is a caterer. Boston is Spiderman. I don’t know what our kid is yet. Probably a ninja.

We had a nice evening with the Janishecks and look forward future outings and possibly some parenting advice.

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Hypnobirthing

Elise and I are having a “discussion” on hypnobirthing. All I can say about this “discussion” thus far is that Dr. Grantley Dick-Read’s Birth Philosophy would be the coolest name for a band.

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Once Upon Your Dead Body

I’ve listened to Coheed and Cambria’s Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One album over and over for the past three weeks. Nothing else. I love it. I can play some mad air drums to that album in my truck on the way to and from work.

I had to stop listening. Someone recently asked me if I wanted paper or plastic. I instinctively responded, “No. I hope you die right now. Will you drink my chemical?”

I have no idea what that means. Sounds saucy but it’s better than that Kanye West song.

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Rock game hen

I wanted to buy quail. HEB only had frozen “marinated” quail. I don’t swing on pretreated packaged meats. I bought a couple cornish game hens and thought I was going to make a boring dinner.

I threw together a chile rubbed charred cornish rock game hen stuffed with cilantro and ground lamb with an ancho dewberry coulis, Colorado wild rice and pistachio crusted leeks.

Good hen

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Lucille’s Corn Pudding

This is a great corn pudding recipe from the Y Bar & Grill in Oak Hill

2 cans sweet corn
1 can cream corn
1/4 stick butter
3/4 cup sugar
6 eggs
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix all ingredients in oven-safe baking dish. Bake at 350 until done in middle (1 hour or more).

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