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Archive for February, 2006

Zombie Eater budget and a reborn monster truck

I put our budget on paper earlier this week. In the past 12 years I’ve had the budget on my head. And I did a great job with the budget. Now I’m facing a kid on the way and a temporarily unemployed wife. The first thing I noted when I put things on paper was how much we were spending on dining out. I immediately scratched all dining out from our budget.

We dropped the monster truck off at the mechanic’s on Monday night because 1) it was overheating 2) it has an oil leak 3) the air conditioner is broken and 4) the accelerator pedal was sticking.

After dropping the truck off I hopped into the other truck with Elise. She said she was hungry for a hamburger. It was then that I explained to her that I had created a tangible budget. She immediately agreed with my financial goals and set herself to prepare the fish that has been stinking up the fridge for the past week and a half for our dinner. I caved and suggested we go out like frivolous gang busters. We spent our last romantic dining out evening as a childless couple in the company of a car hop at the Sonic in Oak Hill. Elise had the #1 combo with mayonnaise, small fries accompanied by a seasonal 2006 cherry limeaid. Yours truly had the double jalapeno cheeseburger and onion rings with a subtle, unsweetened iced tea.

We picked up the monster truck tonight. It runs like new. What’s funny is the repairs on the truck cost half of what I actually paid for the truck two years ago. That’s better than a car payment considering how little I actually paid for the truck. I love my monster truck. I’m going to search for a monster decal to put on it now that it’s been risen from the near-dead.
Short term goals: 1) Have one last nice dinner with the Zombie Eater’s mom 2) Have the child and send it to Bangalore to either a) work for Dell or b) fabricate shoe lace tips for New Balance 3) put 500,000 miles on the monster truck.

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Monday’s playlist

I keep meaning to create playlists for myself so I can have preferred music to listen to during my commute to and from work.  Last night I created a playlist on a whim so I could chipper myself jolly for Monday morning.

  • Blood Sugar Sex Magik – Red Hot Chili Peppers — Because glorious euphoria is my must.  Or something.
  • Sometimes I Do – Social Distortion — Because sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t and sometimes I do and sometimes I don’t.
  • Keep It Loose, Keep It Tight – Amos Lee — Because your friends don’t always have crappy taste in music. ;-)
  • Nothing – Anthrax — Because it’s better than caffeine.
  • Whiskey In The Jar – Metallica — Because musha rain dum-a-do-dum-a-da and whack for my daddy-o.
  • Crazy Mary – Pearl Jam — Because that’s how I wanted our high school garage band to sound like.  Instead we sounded like Slayer meets Neil Young meets the Cocteau Twins.
  • I Am One – Smashing Pumpkins — Because sometimes I think I am two.
  • Everybody Wants to Rule the World – Tears for Fears — Because I want sharks with frickin’ laser beams attached to their heads!
  • Good Times – Tommy Lee — Because it sounds like a MTV reality show theme song and makes me think that I’d look good running and laughing on the beach in a bikini .
  • Bad Things – Wednesday 13 — Because love songs make me giddy.
  • More Human Than Human – White Zombie — Because sometimes I feel like I am the jigsaw man.
  • Goodbye My Lover – James Blunt — Because Elise listened to this song one morning, became saddened and wrote me to tell me how wonderful I am and that she loved me more than life itself.  I wrote back and told her to sober up.  I’m still trying to redeem myself.
  • The Dare – Piggy D. — Because I’m biased.
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Man who stand on toilet, high on pot

For two years and 24 days the toilet in the master bathroom ain’t been right. Both bolts that hold the toilet to the foundation had been rusted in two since before we bought the house. I know very little about plumbing and thought that perhaps these bolts were actually fastened to the foundation. Repairing the toilet seemed like a contractor-worthy job that might entail the use of a jackhammer, duct tape and a NASCAR wind jacket. For two years and 24 days one would need to brace oneself while using the toilet in fear that it might topple over and leave said user of commode in a compromising position.

Last month the valve flapper on the toilet decided it would prefer to remain in the upright and locked position upon flushing. This meant that the user of the commode would have to wait until the flush cycle was complete and then jiggle the handle to allow the tank filling process to complete and ultimately quiet the commode.

We woke up yesterday morning and Elise said, “Are you ever going to fix that toilet?”

“Egads, woman! Dare you challenge me to engage in battle the one who thrives off excrement?”

I stuck my chest out, checked my armor and accepted the challenge.

I shut off the water supply and quickly disassembled the commode with breakneck speed. It was right at this point that I doubled over with pain. I got a cramp in my stomach that put December’s stomach cramp episode to shame. I blame this on either 1) Couvade Syndrome or 2) the General Tso’s chicken at China Hill. To spare you the details, the only other toilet in the house also got some special attention from your humble narrator.

I’ve only been sick enough to go to the doctor twice in my adult years. The first when I threw out my back while water skiing. The other time was when I spiked a 104-degree fever for three days and Elise dragged me to the doctor. I honestly thought I might have needed to go to the doctor yesterday. I gently rested myself on the bed and put a pillow over my head. I was sick. I passed out around noon and woke up at three.

El CommodeAfter rest and rehydration I began working on the toilet in the master bathroom again. I replaced the flapper valve in the toilet’s tank and fastened the toilet to the floor flange with new bolts. I placed new gaskets and bolts on the tank and set the tank on the toilet. This took me a good couple hours because I was learning the way of the toilet as I went and I wanted to make sure I was doing everything to code.

Alas, the challenge had been met and I was victorious. The toilet bowl no longer wobbled and there was no longer need to jiggle the hangle. I turned the water on to the toilet, checked my armor and headed for the kitchen for a celebratory beer. I walked back to the water closet to check my handy work and stepped into an inch of water on the floor.

I took the tank apart three more times before I finally got everything sealed correctly. I literally spent 8 hours on the toilet yesterday.

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I don’t write rhymes, I write checks

We woke up this morning to a downpour of rain that has been absent for months. I rose from bed, checked my armor and readied thyself to defend thy wife and I against the drasted IRS. I have a Seinfeldian method in which I store and file all of our tax forms. I went into the office and retreived said documents from 2004 and 2005.

I thought this year I would try my unmatched math skills, harness the accountant within and prepare our own taxes by means of TaxCut.com.

I was quickly reminded of why I leave the tax preparation to the tax preparation professionals.

I was cruising quite nicely through our tax preparation. W2 information was as easy as transposing the numbers from boxes 1-12 into the appropriate TaxCut fields. It wasn’t until I got to our investments when I quickly realized that I was doomed for defeat.

TaxCut: “Please find Article II Box 7b next to the hieroglyphic cave drawing of Nefertiti’s left ankle. Input Schedule C Realized Dividend Earnings Section 7c from Form 1099-B or 1099-DIV”

Josh: “YES”

TaxCut: “Is this an Unrealized Gain in a State other than your own or a Foreign Tax Paid?”

Josh: “Yellow”

TaxCut: Please input your Aggregate profit or loss, Capitalized Interest or CUSIP No. from Form 1099-OID Line 3 plus noncash distributions.

Josh: “Huh huh. You said ‘distributions'”

TaxCut: “You don’t know what you’re doing, do you?”

Josh: “6”

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A photo using lightbox

This is image title

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Recent vices

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Full circle: the poo saga

I met with my boss for a an hour on Friday. I’m lucky if I see my boss once a month. He was happy with the company’s numbers and gave me some good news that has me really excited about work again.

I was driving home that afternoon, thinking about work. My mind wandered to previous jobs I’ve had and how things tend to come around full circle.

After moving to Austin I held a job as a telemarketer. I quit that job after six months or so. After my stint as a telemarketer I offered my service as dog bather/poo squirter. I was the only bather for a few months until the grooming department decided to hire another bather. I worked with this woman for quite a while and we became good friends. She knew I was studying computer science in college. One day she came into the back of the grooming department while I had a dog’s anus in my fist and quietly said, “Josh, I’ve been meaning to tell you this. My husband is the CTO of Keller Willams. I told him about you and he’d like to interview you for a position as his assitant.” I wiped the dog feces from my forearm and dropped that Shitzhu’s ass like P. Diddy drops checks. HOLLA!

Two Monday’s later I found myself at Wal-Mart at 6:30 a.m. in search of a blue tie to wear on my first day as Bob’s assistant. I remember I had a hangover. I also reeked of Halston cologne.

My day-to-day activities consisted of calling Keller Williams offices across the nation to harvest e-mail addresses and backing up the corporate server. Part of my job also required that I maintained regular contact with OnRamp for website updates and server backups. I didn’t like my job. Bob knew I didn’t like my job and he knew I wasn’t going anywhere in the field of computer science. Bob took me to Burger King for lunch one afternoon.

“Bob, do you know why they call it ‘fancy ketchup?’

“Uh uh.”

“Because it looks real fancy when you try to open the little packet with your teeth and you get ketchup all over your tie.”

“…”

Bob downsized me after a couple months of employment. I could tell it was hard for him but I wasn’t the guy he needed.

I loosened my tie, went home with my tail tucked between my legs and did what any other executive assistant would do; I got a job waiting tables at the Olive Garden. Hospitaliano!

After training and being on the floor for a month I became a great waiter at the Olive Garden. I had prime shifts and prime sections. One Sunday afternoon I barreled through the alley and into the teal section to bring my four top a new basket of bread sticks when I bumped into the lady I used to wash dogs with at PetSmart.

“Josh, how are you doing?!?! It’s so great to see you!!!”

“Hi, Lady I Used to Wash Dogs with!! How are you doing?!?! How’s Bob???”

“Bob died last night…”

“Oh my…”

I didn’t know what to say. I told her I was sorry. Her friend was with her and was comforting her by holding her by the arm.

I quit the Olive Garden after a few months for a job as a banquet server at the Austin Country Club. I moved up the ranks to management. I quit the Club after graduating college for a job as a multimedia editor at Vidbook.com. I lost that job when the dot-com’s bottom fell out.

I moved us to Temple when I took a job at Scott & White and we were miserable for a year.

We moved back to Austin when I took a job with Wellness Works. A year and half later I was given the opportunity to run the company.

This past December Elise and I were having dinner with the president of OnRamp, talking about meconium.

Just goes to show that shit happens.

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Grandpa feels the baby

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The baby shower

Friends threw a baby shower for Elise this past Sunday. There were tea, flowers, snacks, ooohs, ahhhhs, coos, giggles and hormones, as some reports indicate. Elise can fill you in on the details after she’s finished sending out the Christmas cards.

Elise’s parents are in town from Des Moines. They came so Joanne could attend the shower and so she and Steve could help us work on the baby’s room. My parents also came into town for the shower and to help.

The men stayed back on Sunday and glued hardwood flooring in the baby’s room. Installing hardwood floor is fun and if I could do it for a living, I would. Right after my career stint as a chicken separator operator.

The women came home from the shower and with them they brought into the house all the various baby products that are deemed absolutely necessary by the National Consumer Council in order to wipe the baby’s hind side properly, sanitize the baby, defrost the baby and get more miles to the gallon from the baby. I am certain that these various items will allow our first-born to grow up happy and never know the dangers of mechanically separated chickens. I am also certain that the world is quickly beginning to slow its revolution around TiVo’d episodes of “Cops” and more around a little human who will one day refer to his dad to his friends as “that asshole”.

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Center of the Uterus

A couple of tickets to the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo fell off the back of a truck on Wednesday.  Elise and I drove down to SA, paid $30 for two personal pizzas and a couple drinks, watched the rodeo and Bill Engvall perform afterwards.  Ninety percent of the Bill’s act was new material and it was all hilarious.

During one of the bullrides “Freebird” by Lynyrd Skynyrd was cranked through the PA.  Elise turned to me with her hand on her abdomen and said, “Ohmagawd, the baby likes Skynyrd.”

I rolled my eyes and laughed.

We didn’t leave the rodeo until 11 p.m.  On the way home I cranked up “Sweet Home Alabama” on the iPod.  Elise turned to me and said, “The baby just started moving!”

As another test I cranked up Metallica’s cover of Skynyrd’s “Tuesday’s Gone”.  The baby didn’t move.  I’m hoping that the Skynyrd-induced movement was like banging on the ceiling of your apartment, telling the upstairs neighbors to turn that crap on the stereo down.

If not, we won’t bathe the kid and when its hair is long enough we’ll give it a mullet.

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Grandma feels baby move

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I’m in the process of learning how to stream QuickTime movies for better delivery of videos from Janicek.com.

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Working with the pros

Elise has been working closely this week with Bill Engvall and Doug English in preparation for this year’s Lone Star Classic.  Doug put his soothsayer hand on Elise’s stomach last night and proclaimed that she is having a boy.

I’ve been working with my buddy, Larry Elkins this week on a better credit card processing solution for the company.  Larry put his hand on my stomach this morning and told me I need more fiber.

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Saints Anger and Angrier

Elise’s work called her last night and said something that set her off. She came into the office and started complaining about work. I hate it when I have to listen to people talk about their work so then I got pissed because 1) I was having to listen to someone talk about work and 2) my wife was upset so I became husbandly upset and wanted to kick the ass of the person that made my wife upset.

Elise’s evening was ruined as was mine. I tried being extra nice (keep in mind, she’s 7 months pregnant to boot) and that probably helped a little, but she was still fuming as we both went to bed.

This morning started off with my alarm spouting out comtemporary Christian music in its sunshiny, happy to be awake, good Tuesday morning to you, chipper voice. Austin’s only classic rock station changed formats months ago to contemporary Christian and apparently I’m too stupid to remember that I don’t like Natalie Grant at 7 a.m. and that I really should change the radio station on my alarm clock.

I am Beelzebub before 10 a.m. (good name for a rock band). I will verbally gnarl you to death if we cross paths. Ask the cat. Or Natalie Grant. I don’t need or drink coffee. I have no real morning ritual. I just need my “me time” for my first few hours into the day.

I tried to remember that Elise was upset last night. I quietly pummelled about the house while getting ready for work and kissed her goodbye and told her I loved her.

I got to work earlier than usual today. My office manager had a dental appointment this morning so I needed to be at the office to make sure the troops were doing okay, plus I had to put together a detailed proposal for a prospect.

One of my employees had to bring her sick baby in with her this morning because she couldn’t leave her at day care. I didn’t mind that she brought her daughter in but I was on pins and needles when the phone rang in fear that Ashtyn would burst into virus-induced shrieks while someone was talking to a customer. Luckily that didn’t happen. The thought of a customer asking, “What? Are you running a day care there now too?” did render a few gray hairs though.

Elise called an hour later. I was in trouble for nothing other than she was still fuming from her ordeal with work from the night before.

Tuesday has gone to Hell at this point.

“Josh, there’s a gentleman on the phone regarding Martin Avenue Pharmacy’s website. He said he works for Martin Avenue.”

This jackass made a search engine optimization sales call to me and posed as an existing customer. He was somewhat convincing at first but as he kept talking, I could tell he wasn’t an employee of my customer. I asked, “Is this a sales call?” to which he replied, “No.” And then he had to balls to belittle me by talking smack about MY meta tags.

So I took much needed time away from the proposal I was working on and filed a complaint against the company with the Better Business Bureau and e-mailed a formal claim letter to the CEO.

I got my proposal out but not before Elise called me again and I was again crucified for crimes committed against pregnant spouses by pregnant spouse’s employer.

I hate Tuesdays. And Natalie Grant.

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