Why are people smiling at me?

Work has been going by really quickly. I guess it’s because I’ve been getting myself wrapped up in projects. Right now I’m trying to determine how to embed video in a pop window environment that will work the way I want it to in both IE and Netscape. Anyone who knows anything about web/multimedia development knows how frustrating it can be to get anything to work the way you want in Netscape 4.x.

Everyone kept smiling at me while I was on the trusty Shadow today. I kept thinking that I had a dead bird stuck in my helmet or something. I would drive by buildings with those mirrored windows to check myself out – didn’t see anything. Oh well, maybe everyone was just in a good mood today.

I really think I could open up my own restaurant in Temple. I can make a mean chicken fried steak. I think people around here would swing on that. Of course I would still want to incorporate fine dining. I like cooking game and I think people would really like that too. I could just have meat and potatoes on the everyday menu, then the fancy stuff could be offered too. I’d have to feel out the crowd. A lot of people drive in from Austin every day, so I could probably gain some business that way. I don’t know, I’m just thinking while I type. I would just love to retire early and run my own restaurant.

Oh yeah – in case I forgot to tell anyone – I finally put a streaming video on the Scott & White website.

Cable installation, McCarthy’s Tae Kwon Do, El’s 15 lbs.

I got cable TV today – woooohoooo! I met Bobby, the friendly, local Time Warner guy at the apartment during my lunch break. We turned the TV on to make sure it worked. He handed me the channel guide and the first thing I found was Speedvision. I immediately turned to that channel and lo and behold: 600cc series sport bike racing [insert male grunt here]. So, now I have 2 channels that I have to remember: 72 is Speedvision, 75 is the Food Network.

And I happened to call to order cable/Road Runner at an opportune time. This week, Time Warner is having a Road Runner special – 3 months for $19.95. After the 3 months, Road Runner goes up to the standard rate, which is still $5 cheaper than Austin’s rate. I have to wait until Monday to get RR installed. We don’t have a cable outlet in the office, so that will be fun watching the install guy figure that one out!

Yesterday I went and talked to Master McCarthy at McCarthy’s Tae Kwon Do. I think I’m going to join. I’m a little nervous though… It’s been 8 years since I last practiced (regularly). Master McCarthy was really cool though – he laughed at me when I suggested that I just start from scratch. He said: “No, you’ll keep your black belt – you’ll just have to get in shape!” I can’t even touch my toes right now! I want to train and win at the Junior Olympics. We’ll see, money is still tight.

Oh yeah, and congrats to El! She lost 15 lbs. as of today. I don’t know what that means – lifetime goal, maintenance goal, don’t-have-to-pay-to-go-to-meetings goal… she’s told me a hundred times, but I get confused. Anyway, I’m very proud of her. I’m also extremely nervous about her being in Austin alone now. After she lost 10 lbs., she started wearing these really tight butt-hugging cut-off jean shorts and halter tops. She started wearing this really dark blue eye shadow too and is teasing her hair now.

Liking my job, Toys, CDs

Nothing really new going on recently. I’m getting a little more settled in at work, liking what I’m doing.

I took some of my toys to work with me this morning. I like to have my workspace setup in a stress free, toy filled environment. It helps me laugh at the little things.

As I was collecting said toys and placing them in a bag, I decided to charge up the old Hummer. I came home from work and went to the closet to change clothes. I turned and saw the battery pack plugged into the wall and I grinned from ear to ear. I didn’t even change clothes. I popped the battery into my RC truck and went outside. I drove around the parking lot for probably an hour. That was fun. I was outside just laughing like a little kid driving and jumping my little truck around. Yeah, I’m a dork – but at least I can do stuff like that and not have a care in the world at that moment in time.

A few months back, El and I consolidated all of our CD’s. We bought 4 or 5 of those leather CD cases. They take up a lot less room than all of those annoying jewel cases. And you don’t have to buy shelves to put them on. Anyway, I have 3 of those CD cases here with me. I’ve decided to listen to every single CD that I own. Whether I hate the CD or not. It’s pretty interesting. So far, I’m through Alice in Chains’ Jar of Flies; Dahebegebees, self titled, and now I’ve gotten myself into my Metallica section (all arranged by release date, of course) – it’s probably going to take a month for me to get through all of those disks!

Philip always makes fun of me and my Seinfeldian ways. My CD’s used to be in alphabetical order, then chronologically indexed as needed. They’ve managed to work themselves out of order… maybe I’ll get to that task one day.

Dad forced into retirement

Today had to have been one of the most shocking, humbling, surprising and depressing days of my life. I’m not at liberty to discuss the matter, but all I can say is, I’m glad Tuesday’s Gone. That’s an old song by Lynyrd Skynyrd. I prefer the Metallica version. Download it – that’ll let you know how I feel. I’d post it here, but it’s a long song and would be a huge file.

This past weekend was fun. We hung out with Victor a lot – had a good time. My friend Cody came over on Saturday night. We shot the bull, hung out on the porch, that sort of thing…

El came back up to Temple with me on Sunday. It really is nice having her with me up here. I can’t wait until she’s here for good.

I don’t feel like writing anymore… If you’re on a modem, download that mp3 anyway, it’s a good song (even if it’s not the original).

All I can say is, sometimes life kicks you in the teeth – you just have to keep your head up, stick your chest out and deal with it. Those are some of the words I live by.

No firewood, I have nothing, recordings

Once again – no real reason for not having written in the past 4 days. I guess I’ve been kind of busy straightening miscellaneous stuff out.

Sunday was fun. El was here – we went to Wal Mart to return a phone. We meant to buy some firewood because we had a mean cold front blow through. We left Wal Mart, got home and realized we forgot the firewood. We drove back to Wal Mart to find out they didn’t sell firewood.

We drove up the street to a convenience store. No firewood. Drove to another convenience store. No firewood. Then we decided we would buy some starter logs. We bought 3 of them. I just think that’s hilarious. I think it epitomizes our current life together – trying desperately to survive. All we have is each other… and 2 lawn chairs, a small TV that gets 3 snowy local stations and some starter logs for a fire.

After buying the starter logs, we did actually find one store that had a little bit of firewood left, so we bought it and used it.

And to top that off, I cooked a chili rabbit stew for dinner that night – talk about bohemian!

While at Wal Mart, I bought a little Labtec computer microphone. After the rabbit dinner, El had some wine, I had a couple beers and we setup the microphone and recording software. We made asses of ourselves as we recorded my guitar playing and El’s singing.

I’m using my old answering machine from my old (pre-Elise) apartment. It still has some messages on it from almost 2 years ago.

I’m off to Austin tomorrow night! Sure wish I had that mp3 player to keep me occupied during the 70 mile haul.

Streaming video for S&W, cold ride to Austin, Shadow inspection, Hard Rock

Friday was a slow day at work. Most everyone in the office took the day off. I worked on a branded streaming video interface. I did a lot of clock watching – waiting for 5pm to roll around so I could head to Austin.

5 o’clock came and I was off. I rushed home and packed some socks and underwear, strapped on the leathers, filled the Shadow with gas and headed south.

The temperature was in the mid 40’s. I was tired and cold. My forearm muscles kept getting sore. I actually had to stop in Round Rock to stretch.

El got home from work right as I was arriving. We talked and hung out for about an hour. We got hungry so we decided to go to Taco Bell and Blockbuster to rent a movie. We rented Training Day. Pretty good movie.

Elise had to work at 6am on Saturday. I got up around 8. I went to Wood’s Fun Center to get my bike inspected. That was a riot. I forgot that my proof of insurance card had expired. I had to sit on hold with Progressive for about 30 minutes to finally talk to someone. I asked them to fax my proof of insurance to the mechanic. First try failed. I had to call again and wait on hold. Finally it went through.

I came back to the apartment, played with Riley and watched a little TV. El came home around 2 – we took a nap. Then we went to the new Hard Rock Cafe on 6th. Nothing special about it – if you’ve been to one HRC, you’ve been to them all.

We decided to go out for an after dinner drink. We went to Pete’s Piano Bar. We wound up staying too long. The piano men laughed at me because I wanted them to play some Alice Cooper. Oh well, that’s why they’re downtown piano men – playing their Billy Joel and Elton John.

We came home and went straight to bed. It was late.

El is off today (Sunday), Monday and Tuesday. She’s coming up to Temple with me. She just got back from church. Now we have to load up her truck. I figured out how to take apart my desk – so we’ll be taking that with us. Now I don’t have to sit on the floor to play on the computer anymore!

80’s toys, Contagion, Chromosome 6 and Invasion

Ahem – I haven’t written in a few days. I don’t really have an excuse – not like I’ve been busy.

Sunday, El and I went and got lost in some local neighborhoods. There are some really nice houses in the surrounding areas. It looks like El and I might be able to get ourselves into something relatively large and cozy for a good price. And by large – that just means anything larger than your standard 2 bedroom apartment.

We went to the mall. Nothing special about that. They did have a cool collectibles store complete with 80’s GI Joe action figures, He-Man, Star Wars and Transformers. Each toy averaging $50. I came home and emailed my mom to tell her that I was mad at her for getting rid of all of my old toys. (I’m not really mad Mom!)

El stayed Sunday night as she didn’t have to be at work until noon on Monday. It was depressing coming home and her not being there. She left me a nice note though. She said she missed me the minute I got out of bed. I talked to her and kissed her before I left for work, but it was still cute that she said she was missing me before I even left.

Monday was a typical Monday. Nothing really happened at work. Actually, I can’t really remember what the hell I did at work. I remember working on a streaming video interface.

I started reading a book last night. It’s actually a compilation of three novels by Robin Cook. Contagion, Chromosome 6 and Invasion. It’s pretty good thusfar. I didn’t get very far into it. I’m going to try to read a lot more tonight – it’s better than the crap on TV.

Today I woke up and went for a walk. This time last year, I was running 3-4 miles in the morning – every morning. After the wedding, I started slacking. So, I decided to start running again. I’m going to walk this week and possibly next week, just to build up to running again.

I had a bunch of meetings at work. Met with the CSO this afternoon to find out that we’re behind on our website development. I can’t say I don’t have anything to do at work!

Temple is growing on me. For some reason, I REALLY wish I had my dream bike. The team green Kawasaki ZX7R Ninja. Ahhhh… I’ve wanted that bike since 1994. One day, it will be mine. I’m going to get that bike and a brand new solid white helmet – then I’m going to put Mr. Yuk stickers all over it.

I’ve seen a lot of really good motorcycle roads around here – my throttle fist gets itchy every once in a while. (this is one of those instances when I hope that my loving, understanding, best friend, sweetheart of a wife doesn’t read this)

Took the trusty Shadow to get a fixin’

Today my parents came in. I feel kind of bad for them. They had to wake up and leave their house at 7am to get here in time to help me take the bike in to the shop.

They got here around 9:45. Dad and I went out and had a hard time loading the bike into his truck. It’s really hard to back up a 600 lb machine with a flat tire.

Anyway – we drove the 20 miles to A1 Cycles in Killeen. Come to find out, they didn’t have the tires I ordered, nor the correct length chain. I did get the tires, just not the ones that I was quoted a price for.

We came back to Temple, had lunch, went to Marshall’s (the store) and I showed them Scott & White. Dad bought me two really nice pairs of shoes.

We drove back to Killeen to pick up my bike. Another guy was there when we arrived and come to find out, they did have the chain. I raised hell and made them put it on for me. Then this ‘other guy’ tried to charge me too much. He heard it from me. So I got the price I was quoted.

Now my mom is giving my dad a hard time about the proper way to air up an air mattress. I think they just blew up my mom’s hair drier.

El will be here later tonight. Tomorrow I think we’re just going to take it easy – maybe take up the local fare for lunch.

Walking to work, My Mind is Playing Tricks on Me

That’s why she’s called my better half.

I was dead set on making the trek to Killeen and getting the trusty Shadow repaired. Then El called last night. She said: “Why don’t you just walk to work and wait until your parents come down this weekend and take the bike in then?”

So, your humble narrator walked to work this morning. And home from work this afternoon.

The walk to work was really nice. The weather was great. It was a little humid, but the wind was blowing hard enough to make it comfortable. It took around 40 minutes to walk. I don’t know how far S&W is mile-wise from my apartment – but none-the-less, the walk was nice.

Work was okay. I implemented a javascript that will probably be used on the new S&W home page whenever we decide to launch it. That and researching the utilization of streaming video took up the majority of my day – along with another meeting.

After lunch, I was actually looking forward to my walk home….

There aren’t many sidewalks in Temple like you would find in larger cities. I had to walk along the sides of access roads and in medians. Along the way, I could see the new sprouts of Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrushes. I can tell that Temple will yield a very pretty Texas Spring.

Today I decided to buy myself a six pack of beer, walk home, let the belt buckle flap open, sit in front of the tube and watch ER.

I walked to the local convenience store. I grabbed a sixer of cheap beer and took my place in line. In front of me stood a kid – barely pushing 18 years of age. I could tell this because I watched as he fumbled for his ID when the cashier asked for it. He had at least 3 ID’s in his wallet. This guy was buying a pack of Swisher Sweets. The big ones. It didn’t dawn on me until after I bought my own poison that I had just thought, last night, about going to this same convenience store and buying myself a cigar.

As I approached the counter, a song began to play in my head: “My Mind is Playing Tricks on Me”, by the Ghetto Boys. I don’t know why the hell this song came into the ol’ thinker – but it did.

Anyway, I made my purchase and I was on my way. I was only a block or two from the apartment. I took the shortcut. The straightest distance between two points is a straight line. It just so happened, that one of the points in-between was one of the town’s Catholic church grounds.

I’m strutting along, with gangsta rap ringing in my head, a six pack of cheap beer swinging from my grip in a plastic bag, through a nice, manicured church parking lot. It took me a second, then I interrupted my own brain muzak to think to myself: “F#*K, I’m walking through church grounds, looking like a bum. Then I thought: “Sh*t, I just said ‘F#*k’ on church property”.

I figured I should stop while I was ahead, so I walked faster and started humming that tune again. As I approached the edge of the church property, I saw something on the ground. I knew what it was, but I knew I had to get closer just to verify it. It was kind of like anyone’s desire to walk up to a dead body, even though they know it will be disturbing – but just to do it anyway.

It was a dead blackbird. He was a big fellow too, almost crow big. I don’t know how he could have died. He couldn’t have been hit by a car, he was too far from the street. He was lying, face up, wings spread, right below three nice, medium sized trees that were planted closely together. He was in the process of decomposing – maybe a couple days deceased.

I’ve seen symbols in my day – I wonder if this is another.

Indiana Josh and the Temple of Doom

I mean, come on! Does it ever stop?!?! Today the weather got into the mid 70’s. I came home from work and thought: “Today would be a great day to go for a ride.” So, I go outside, ready to mount the trusty Shadow, and my back tire is completely flat. Now, I knew that I was in need of new tires – but why couldn’t it wait until the weekend? Life sure is dishing it out right now.

I rode, at a snails pace so as to not damage my rim, to the Exxon a couple blocks away. I asked the mechanic if he could patch a motorcycle tire. “No, sorry.” So, I took advantage of their free compressed air. I filled the rear tire to 32psi, then filled up with the ol’ petro. It takes approximately 60 seconds to fill my 3.5 gallon tank. In that time, my tire pressure dropped to 25psi.

I rushed home in time to call a motorcycle shop. To the best of my recollection, $85 for the front tire, $135 for the rear. This shop is in Killeen, 17 miles from here. I asked if I could bring the bike in tomorrow. The man on the other end told me that the tires could be replaced if I get there by 5pm.

This means I’ll have to leave work early tomorrow. This should make for a very interesting motorcycle ride. I just hope I make it. More news on that in tomorrow’s posting.

I keep wondering if I did something wrong to deserve all of this. I donate to the Salvation Army. I’ve given the homeless spare change. I respect others, the Earth and myself. I pay my taxes. I obey the laws. I don’t steal. I’m an ordinary guy – just like everyone else. I put my pants on one leg at a time. I go to work, come home and mind my own business. I pay my bills.

Geez. As I’ve said, one day I’ll laugh. Oh yes, one day milk will come spewing out of my nose as I look back on the Spring season of 2002.

I’ve been forced to spend over a grand in 2 days. And I haven’t even gotten my first paycheck.

S*%T, F#@k, A$$, I mean, seriously – what the hell? Watch, I’ll probably wreck on the way to Killeen tomorrow and break both legs. I’m sure my health insurance hasn’t kicked in, so I’ll have to pay for an ER visit. Why the hell not? Kick me while I’m down.

Luckily El brought down my guitar last time she was up. I think it’s about time to write a new song. I ought to hop on my one-legged motorcycle, go to the convenience store, buy myself a big fat cigar, come home, sit on the porch and play some blues. With my luck, I’d probably break a string. I wonder where the hell you go in Temple to buy guitar strings.

I’d be playing the flat tire, busted radiator, double rent paying, cheap cigar smoking, broken guitar string blues.

What a life.

Literal lunch break, It takes your bad days…

Today was a drab day. I woke up at 6 only to roll over and reset the alarm for 7. I didn’t really have much to do at work. I had piddly stuff to do, but nothing that made me feel like I accomplished anything.

I like to come home for lunch, I always have. It saves on eating out and gives me the chance to get away from the workplace. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not dreading being at work – I just take the term lunch break literally. I like to come home, be in my own element and relax.

The downside to my afternoon retreat is that there’s nothing on TV except soap operas. I hate soap operas. Last week I spent 3 lunch breaks watching Detroit Rock City. This week it’s going to be Seven. I don’t have many other movies. I guess I’ll have to get El to bring me some more.

Anyway, I go back to work this afternoon and El calls me. She had to put her truck in the shop because it was overheating. We have to get the radiator replaced. $835. So that set the mood for the rest of my day, and probably the rest of the week.

I just got off the phone with Elise – she’s really upset. Not just because of the truck, but because we are owed money from some friends who’s wedding El photographed. We feel that these friends are abusing the friendship. They avoid our phone calls now. It’s pretty sad. Work has been stressing her out this week too.

We’re broke. I wish May would get here so El will be here with me, she can get a job and we won’t be paying 2 rents.

We did really well a few months back. We saved quite a bit of cash for our emergency fund in two months – even without me having an income other than unemployment checks (which was very, very small). So, I consoled my wife – told her to think about how much money we were able to save when there was minimal income. Now that I have a good job, we’ll be able to save that much more and get her a different vehicle.

My parents have been really concerned – I don’t blame them. I’m concerned and pissed at the same time. I told my mom that I really hope I can look back on these times and laugh. And the good thing about all of this is, I know I will.

A long time ago, my mother said to me: “It takes your bad days to know what you’re good days are.” I don’t quite remember what evoked that statement, but I’ve lived by it ever since.

S&W online staff directory, Cody at Amazon, Java Noodles, I WANT MY WIFE

Ah, where to begin. Last Friday was okay at work. I started on a project that actually gave me something to do. I’m working on updating the online physicians directory for S&W. That just killed time until 5pm when I got to leave to go to Austin.

That was probably the best motorcycle ride I’ve ever been on! The weather finally turned. It was around 72 degrees, it had rained late in the afternoon so it knocked some of the humidity out of the atmosphere. I rushed home from work, cranked up the stereo to an old Metallica CD, packed my backback, strapped on the leathers and hit the road.

I stopped at a local filling station where they provide free air for your tires (very rare). Then it was off to Austin. The backpack kept my posture, the aforementioned music was still gunning in my head, the trusty Shadow was stickin’ to the road because the rain had washed away the sludge and everyone was in a Friday night rush. Because of the chaps and heavy jacket, the wind wasn’t beating me like in most instances. I just blared down the road averaging 90 (keeping up with traffic, of course [wink]).

Anyway – it took me less that an hour to get to Austin. El got home from work shortly after my arrival. We called up ol’ Victor and went to the Mr. Gatti’s buffet. Then we picked up some beer and hung out at the apartment for a while. I decided that I want to go see my old friend Cody (see groomsmen pictures in wedding section) spin (DJ) at Amazon – so we all packed up and went downtown. We all had a great time. Every time Cody, or Dan (Cody’s mentor) spins at Amazon, we get to hang out in the DJ booth. We headed home, Victor got the munchies so we stopped at Jack in the Box where he ordered everything off the menu (not really, but if you know him, you know he can pack it in).

Saturday El had to work early in the morning. I think I slept in until around noon. Not so much by the old hair of the dog, but from being sleep deprived from earlier in the week.

Actually, Victor called and woke me up because we had been giving each other rainchecks for about a month on lunch at Java Noodles on E. Oltorf. Victor, his sister, Lisa and I drove up the road for lunch. I wouldn’t suggest eating at Java Noodles. I read in the Chronicle that the chef was one of the 2 best [overall chefs] in Austin. ???. I think it was his day off!

After lunch, Victor and his sister went to have their taxes done. I went home and tooted around on the computer and watched some 90210. That was pretty much Saturday.

Sunday, El had to work early again. I, well, pretty much sat and watched TV again. I think I just needed some rest. Plus it was nice to be back where most of my stuff was. And it was good to have Riley just veg on my lap all day.

El came home, we went to HEB and bought stuff for chicken Caesar salads. I came home, grilled the chicken and made the salads. It was time to go. It was close to 6pm and I wanted to beat the night’s cool air. El walked out with me and we said our goodbyes while the trusty Shadow warmed up. She started to cry. I hugged her and I got a little teary. I sucked it up so as not to make her more upset. I told her to start looking for jobs in Temple now – that I was going nuts without her. There’s really no point in us being apart. We’re going to have to pay rent on 2 places for one more month regardless of who’s living where. She concurred.

Elise has been landing some photo gigs here and there. This weekend she is shooting her boss’ grandfather’s 85 birthday party – so I think she’s waiting until the stress of that is over before she starts to look for jobs here.

I just really wish she was here with me. It’s really hard to come home at night and try to crack a joke when your better half isn’t there to laugh with you.

Elise never reads these postings, so I can write this… “Elise, find a job and move down here now and I’ll give you long, heartfelt massages every night until July!!!”

Today went by quickly. I’ve been working on this physician directory update for work. This has given me the opportunity to go into the hospital and clinic and meet some people. Everyone here is really nice – and they will actually sit there and talk to you. I had to get some updated information for a surgeon today. I thought I would have to talk to her secretary. Nope, I actually talked to a surgeon. It’s really breathtaking to be in the presence and engaged in conversation with someone who saves lives for a living. It sort of makes you reevaluate your own dreams. I didn’t talk to her about that stuff, but I just makes you think.

I went to college as pre-med. I even went to the National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine in D.C. my senior year of high school. I dumped that idea because I wanted to go into politics (I was big into student government in high school). Then, computer science – was that ever a mistake! Then, Communications. “Communications?… what the hell are you going to do with that?” Well, luckily I chose a good ‘area of specialization’. You always hear those stories about how people never go into the field in which they were trained in college. I think I have.

Oh yeah, and if you really want to impress someone, refer to your resume as a CV. Curriculum Vitae. That’s what a physician’s resume is called. Of course, your CV would probably need to be around forty pages long!

Anyway, it’s about that time for Elise to call. El, if you ever read this – I’m serious about the back massage thing!

S&W IS department (ahem), what’s in my new job

Elise just left. Luckily I’ll see her tomorrow. See, weather permitting, I’m going to try to go to Austin every weekend. The weather was really nice today – hopefully it will be the same tomorrow so the motorcycle ride will be pleasant.

The IS department came and setup my computer so I can now log on and do my job. Unfortunately, for me, the S&W uses a Novell network that I am not familiar with at all. I guess that will give me something to learn in my spare time. The also use GroupWise as their email client. I’m used to Outlook Express… More stuff to get used to. No biggy – I guess that ‘old dog, new tricks’ thing applies.

Work was okay today. I always thought that I was kind of web/new media savvy – boy was I wrong. We had a meeting today with the IS department… I felt like everyone was speaking Chinese.

Elise ran some errands this morning, then she came and met me for lunch in the hospital cafeteria. I had the fajitas – that was a mistake. They were terrible.

After work, I came home and El and I went to Academy to get me a rain suit. I can’t really show up to work all drenched like I could at Vidbook. See, I have to kind of dress up for this job. Luckily I don’t have to wear a tie – but I might as well.

I’m still confused and uncertain as to what I’ll be doing as Communications Coordinator. My cohort, David and I discussed this today. He shed some light on it for me, but I really won’t know until I’m actually doing the work. Right now I go to a lot of meetings. There we discuss the design of the new S&W website. I’m not actually going to be doing any designing or development – that’s what the IS and Illustration teams do. But my experience has helped in coming up with some good ideas. I mentioned a cool Javascript for the home page – everyone liked it and I think I’m supposed to propose this to the IS dept. I kind of wish I could get my hands in the dirty work. Maybe one day I will. I think it would be a plus if I could chum up the IS guys.

Well, that’s news for now. I can’t wait to head back to Austin.