Lost 6 lbs., John gets a new job

I am Satan personified before approximately 9:30 a.m. on weekdays. I stumble out of bed and mumble profanities while shooting fireballs from my eyes at objects [cats, furniture, carpet] that are in my way. I don’t drink coffee and showers don’t even cool me off. Elise knows to avoid me at all costs before the internal exorcism takes hold.

Today was no exception. I was awakened by the happy voices coming from my alarm radio. I smashed it with my triton and hovered out of bed and onto my feet. As I stumbled to the shower, cats ran and hid. I got dressed and ate breakfast. Elise woke up shortly after and got into the shower. I took a deep breath, contained my demons and peeked my head into the bathroom to ask if Elise if she would do a favor for me before she left for work. As I was leaning into the bathroom, I stepped onto the scale with one foot. *Poof*, the evil was exhumed. I looked down, lifted the other foot onto the scale and noticed that I had lost six pounds.

Walking to work everyday [and watching my calorie intake] has paid off.

In other news, John has accepted a job with the Austin American-Statesman. Jerk. I’m happy for him and Christine. Wouldn’t you know it… after Elise and I move out of Austin, both Philip and John move to Austin. Yarbles! Great bolshy yarblockos!

World Series, Jackass

We were blessed with two very drab days this past weekend. Elise and I had been saving nickels and dimes all week so we could go on a pizza date on Friday. We were both in bad moods on our date. We willfully suspended our sourness, made fun of each other and bought a couple pumpkins and rented Phantasm with our $5 gift certificate from Kevin Smith [shameless plug for the DJ we hired for our wedding reception].

So we went home and I gutted the pumpkins and dehydrated the seeds. Then we watched Phantasm and carved our Jack-o-Lanterns. I’ll try and remember to take pictures of them this week.

A used car salesman’s phone call woke us up shortly after 8:00 a.m. on Saturday. Needless to say, he won’t be getting our business. I hopped out of bed, jumped in the shower and went to get my ears lowered.

I came home and we decided to take Annie to Petco to get her shots. Annie’s our new cat. She adopted us. She’s a cool cat, just a little skittish. We decided that it probably wouldn’t be seen as humane if we brought a pillowcase with a cat in it to a pet store. We drove over to Wal-Mart and bought a cat carrier. Then we drove home to get Annie. Drove to Petco. We missed the vet by a few minutes. We drove back home and Elise called a local vet. Luckily we were able to get an appointment. $100 later, we have a healthy cat.

I think that’s all we did on Saturday. Oops, no. We went to HEB to buy ingredients for chili. I made chili for dinner. We ate chili and flipped channels to watch game six of the World Series, the A&M vs. Nebraska game and the Halloween Marathon on AMC.

On Sunday, we woke up a little before 10:00 a.m. I jumped on the computer to realize that the time had changed. Now it was only 9:00 a.m. Elise went to church at 11. I goofed around on the Inertnet. We went and saw Jackass: The Movie at 1:30. Elise had to turn her head a few times. I engaged in a lot of much needed juvenile laughter. After the past few months that I’ve been having, I needed some sophomoric enlightenment.

I watched the Anaheim Angels win the World Series. I have had absolutely no interest in baseball in nearly twenty years. I was always the kid who was hit by the ball in little league. I don’t know why, but I started watching the World Series at game 4.

Halloween Friday Five

1. What is your favorite scary movie?
hmmmm… The Shining. I don’t know.
2. What is your favorite Halloween treat?
Candy corn
3. Do you dress up for Halloween? If so, describe your best Halloween costume.
Not usually.
4. Do you enjoy going to haunted houses or other spooky events?
Yes. I like big production haunted houses. I need to attend more.
5. Will you dress up for Halloween this year?
No. We’re boring. I will when we have kids. Hopefully we’ll have a lot of money by then so I can go hog wild.

Fun Friday stuff…

50 Favorite Horror Films

According to the Box Office Prophet’s 50 Favorite Horror Films, I have 15 good horror movies yet to check out. There are only 10 more days until Halloween. I better get crackin’! Despite the films that I have not yet seen, I think I would exclude Scream. I really didn’t like that movie [or any of the sequels]. I would have pushed Jacob’s Ladder, Stir of Echos, Rosemary’s Baby and The Blair Witch Project up a few more slots closer to number one. I just purchased Army of Darkness on Saturday.

Movie: Seen It Own It
50) I Walked With a Zombie
49) Riget (The Kingdom) Parts 1 and
48) Poltergeist x
47) Army of Darkness x x
46) Au Rendezvous de la Mort Joyeuse
45) King Kong x
44) Stir of Echoes x
43) The Omen III
42) Candyman x
41) April Fool’s Day
40) Event Horizon
39) Jacob’s Ladder x
38) Masque of the Red Death
37) Braindead (AKA Dead Alive) x
36) Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) x
35) Carrie x
34) Rosemary’s Baby x x
33) Scanners
32) Blade x
31) Re-Animator
30) Pitch Black
29) Aliens x
28) The Others x
27) Hellraiser x
26) Hellbound: Hellraiser 2
25) The Eye
24) The Hitcher x
23) Freaks
22) The Sixth Sense x
21) Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978) x
20) The Innocents
19) Phantasm x
18) Jaws x
17) The Birds x
16) The Thing x
15) Suspiria x
14) Night of the Living Dead (1968) x
13) The Blair Witch Project x x
12) Silence of the Lambs x
11) Scream x
10) The Exorcist x x
9) Psycho x
8) Dead by Dawn: Evil Dead 2 x
7) Dawn of the Dead
6) Alien x
5) Halloween x x
4) The Haunting (1963) x
3) Nightmare on Elm Street x x
2) The Evil Dead x
1) The Shining x x

XP installed

I installed XP last night. I’m happy now. It’s like I have a brand new computer. Everything is so smooth.

Ironically, while I was installing XP [and talking on the phone], I saw 3 or 4 switch commercials. I thought about it for a second and began wondering if Apple is pushing so hard because of XP. I have nothing personal against Apple… hell, I’d use one because Tony Hawk endorses them!

XP, Linux, Bachelor

I bought a Windows XP Home upgrade on eBay last night. My computer is pretty much hosed right now. Not really hosed, but it reminds me of Johnny’s old maroon Ford Aerostar in which we used to cruise around. When you banged on the dashboard on the driver’s side, the radio station would change. When you banged on the dash on the passenger’s side, the dome light would turn on. Everything worked, but not as it was intended.

I was beginning to worry that I might have to start using duct tape to open Photoshop.

Mom bought us a copy of XP Home for Christmas last year. Instead of putting the new operating system on my computer, I installed it on Elise’s computer because I read that certain manufacturers hadn’t planned on developing drivers for XP. Elise didn’t like XP and wanted to go back to Win98SE. Because of Microsoft’s new Product Activation, this single copy of XP can now only go on her computer.

I’ve kicked around the idea of installing Linux as my primary OS. I even own a copy of Red Hat’s Linux 7.3. My interpretation of every installation tutorial that I’ve read suggests partitioning your hard drive to leave one normal OS on your computer. I’d be willing to bet money that Linux wouldn’t easily support half of my peripherals and software. By that I mean that it would take more time and effort than I have available and would eventual find myself standing behind this group of striking young Linux enthusiasts. I like computers and all, but not that much.

So my copy of XP is in the mail today. Hopefully I’ll have it by this weekend so I can have a nice little project to work on. Now I have to backup all of my files.

In other news… Luciana gave me a ride home yesterday. I accepted only because I didn’t want to lug my motorcycle jacket home. It was too hot to wear it and it wouldn’t fit in my backpack. Today I wore two fleece pullovers. Those fit into my backpack.

Elise has me watching The Bachelor. I think she’s trying to soften me up. She’s turned me into a Friends fan as well. I could be watching a special on after-market carbon-fiber ground effects for sport motorcycles on Speedvision when I look at the clock and shriek “Omagawd, Friends is on and it’s the episode where we find out if Chandler and Monica are really moving to Tulsa!!!”

Okay – that’s a slight exaggeration. In actuality, I come strutting into the living room fifteen minutes after her show has started. This is usually after I’ve completed a dozen or so bench press reps with railroad ties and just eaten 20 ounces of rattlesnake meat with poisonous centipede au jus and polishing off a highball of 10W-30 on the rocks.

I’m wondering if watching The Bachelor with Elise is some sort of test. I openly critique other women’s physiques, personalities, faces, hair and head. Yes, I said head. There’s one bachelorette who looks like she has a Magic Bubble brain hemorrhage. Anyway, Elise engages in the same critiques – I just hope she doesn’t think I’m ogling. Ehhh, It doesn’t matter, she told me she thought Robert Redford was still “hot” [in Indecent Proposal].

Stupid bird

I am on my third week of walking to and from work. Believe it or not, I really like walking. I like it so much that I’m going to sell the trusty Shadow. I need to get the tire replaced first.

I’ve been kicking around the idea of selling the bike for some time now. Now I’m going to do it. I’m going to go to the store this week and buy a For Sale sign and create some fliers. Elise and I could really use the extra cash.

Most people think I’m crazy for having a motorcycle as my only means of personal transportation. A lot of people think that I’m even more crazy for walking to work. Everyone at work has extended an invitation to either pick me up or take me home from work. I have to explain to them that I seriously enjoy the walk. It’s nice to know that I can ask someone for a lift if it’s raining and I forgot my umbrella.

Walking to work is very humbling. It literally keeps my feet on the ground. A few years back had I been in this very situation, I would have thought to myself: “Thats it… I’m going to sell my motorcycle with a flat tire and go deep into debt by buying a car that I can’t afford.”

Now I walk the 45 minutes [I don’t know how far that is in conventional distance measurement] and take comfort in knowing that I don’t have write a large check for a car note at the end of the month.

I also make it a point to say hello to at least one bird. Without fail, some bird always manages to fly by or land nearby and chirp at me. There have been a couple times where I have seen a bird do something that I think is stupid – like flying off of a lamp mounted above one of the loading docks behind the department stores by which I walk. The bird will fly off and turn around, without having gone anywhere, and land back onto the same lamp.

I’ll say: “What did you do that for, stupid bird?”

I’m learning the way of the walk as well. During my first week of walking, I was almost embarrassed to look at oncoming cars. I don’t know why. I’m just stupid like that. I guess I thought that the people inside their cars would pity me or point fingers. There aren’t many pedestrians where I walk. Now I just don’t care. I like to look at people in there cars and see how long it takes before they look away. I’ve thought about stopping and picking my nose or doing something else absurd for my own humerous benefit.

Temple is too small for that. Soon enough I would probably be recognized around town as the guy who stares at oncoming traffic with his finger up his nose.

My most recent lesson in the way of the walk was given today. I learned to look up before walking under power lines.

This morning was quite cold. Cold enough to warrant wearing my motorcycle jacket. I also wore my Lakers cap so as to contain the heat that escapes from one’s head. I was halfway to work, walking underneath the powerlines behind the department stores when I saw something fall quickly just before the brim of my hat. At first I thought it was a drop of rain. I looked up. I didn’t see any rain. I looked down. No drops on the ground. While looking down, my right foot moved out in front of me and there I saw it, in all its glory, a nice white splatter that covered the tip of my ozzy.

I looked up again and back. There were two birds sitting on the top power line. I didn’t say anything to those birds. I took off my hat and inspected my brim. Nothing there. Miraculously, the heaven-sent dob of cottage cheese hit only my foot.

I’ve never been pood on by a bird before. I’m glad it didn’t hit me anywhere else. Should it have, I couldn’t have walked back home because I had a meeting at 8 a.m. It was funny though. I couldn’t get mad. I just kept on walking to work with bird poo on my foot.

Now I know to look up every once in a while.

Austin County Fair, Astroworld

I was halfway home when Elise surprised me and picked me up on Friday. Yes, I’m still walking. She earned 30 minutes off by having perfect attendance so she was able to catch me before I reached the apartment.

We ran home, El changed, we both packed for the weekend and we headed off to the Austin County Fair. We cranked up the boom box that sits in the backseat and acts as our car stereo – powered by an AC/DC converter, and blared down Hwy 36.

We arrived at the fair at 9:30 p.m. or so. We ducked our heads so as not to be seen [not that we’re celebrities or anything… we wanted to check things out before we found ourselves stuck in conversation] and walked around the fair grounds. I bought my once a year smoked turkey leg, Elise had a paper boat of nachos.

We checked out most of the FFA show animals and the fabrication entries. We made a once around the carnival and dodged most carney haggling. Nothing has changed at the ACF. We made our way to the infamous beer barn and ran into some friends. After deciding that we didn’t want to hang out in front of the beer barn all night, we agreed that we should ride on some rides. Cheezy, Tracy, Jamie, Elise and your humble narrator made our way back to the carnival area.

One thing at the fair has changed – the ride prices. It cost me $8 in ride tickets for El and me to ride one windy windy swirly swoosh ride. The three girls and I piled into a three quarter pod, not unlike the infamous tea cups at Disney World and were spun into centrifugal hilarity. We all tried to take pictures with Jamie’s disposable camera. I’m curious as to how those turned out.

The girls decided they wanted to ride another ride. This next ride was also centrifugal in nature. This one was smaller in stature but larger in amusement. So large in fact that the heavy-set guy who rode with his wife was rushed out of the fair in an ambulance.

Cheezy and I stood behind the molded aluminum gate and watched the girls spin around and around. I noticed the heavy-set guy’s head lay back at the ride swooshed him and his wife around and around as well. After a while, I could barely hear his wife trying to yell “Stop the ride.” It took a few swooshes around before I realized that she was serious.

I told the carney that he should probably stop the ride. When he did, the heavy-set man didn’t get up. We all ran to where the paramedics usually hang out. Nobody was there. Elise ran to the entrance of the fairgrounds to find help. By the time she got back, EMS had arrived and loaded the man onto a stretcher. We watched.

An ambulance came and took the heavy-set man away. I hope he’s alright.

We all walked to a concession stand so I could get something to drink. This year, the 4H held a monopoly on Coca Cola sales. The 4H concession stand was clear across the fairgrounds. I didn’t feel like walking that far for sugar and carbonation. I settled for the concession stand at which I was standing and bought a cherry limeade that tasted exactly how I would imagine homemade hummingbird nectar would taste.

We congregated in front of the beer barn and all decided to go home early. El and I were tired and there wasn’t much excitement to keep us up much longer.

Elise and I woke up at 7 on Saturday morning. It was Astroworld day.

Diamond Shamrock gave us a ticket to Astroworld for choosing their gasoline. With Elise driving to Killeen everyday, it didn’t take long to rack up four fill-ups.

We arrived at Astroworld at approximately 11 a.m. A few small lines were already formed at the gates. I was happy because we arrived early and wouldn’t have to wait long for rides. After fifteen minutes of waiting in line, we made our way to the front. Texas Cyclone, here we come…

“I’m sowwy sur, yoo mobby deesh teckuts mow fo du gumpny binnick und the foody high fobble”. That’s what the ticket-taker told me. I turned to Elise and she told me that he said “The gates are open for company picnics, all others will have to wait for general admission at 12.”

We sat on the brick edge of the landscaped atrium just outside the gates of Astroworld. We people-watched and patiently waited for high noon as other patrons started piling in.

We found our place in line at a quarter till noon. I sold some stocks, relinquished our possession of our first born and signed a contract stating that I would clean the park’s bathrooms in a Yosemite Sam plush outfit and forked out two large dollar bills to purchase our second admission ticket. That just means that I think ticket prices have doubled since the last time I visited Astroworld.

We were little kids again. The first ride we rode was the Dungeon Drop. A little cart suspended 230 feet in the air with patron feet dangling beneath. A 62 mph drop – straight down. Elise was nervous. I told her to watch the penny.

I put a penny on my knee. This was a trick that I was taught when I was just a wee lad. The horn blew, the carts dropped and just as the imminent fear of gravity became reality, the penny gracefully and magically lifted from my knee and gently spun at chest level. It followed us all the way down until it took another path and clanked down behind one of the ride operators. We both laughed and rushed away so we wouldn’t get caught!

Next we rode The Serial Thriller. “Thrill seekers will find their feet dangling below and the track roaring above them as they rip through 5 inversions at speeds of up to 55 mph!” This ride was built in 1999. It felt really weird riding a roller coaster with your feet dangling down below you. We both wore flip-flops and opted to take them off before we rode. We zoomed at 55 mph, twisting and turning upside down. It was scary. I was really afraid that I was going to get my feet knocked off by support poles.

It was somewhere after 1 p.m. at this point. I was hungry. We walked around until Elise decided on what she wanted for lunch. We stopped for pizza. It was pretty gross. We’re finally learning to do that share-a-meal thing. We could have easily spent twice as much on lunch, but we decided on a single serving pizza and a side of two breadsticks.

After pizza, we walked over to Dreyer’s and bought a couple ice cream cones. I had strawberry, Elise had almond and caramel. We sat on a bench tried to avoid looking at the kids who were playing tonsil hockey two picnic tables over. We decided that kids really don’t have many other places to go to make out. It’s not like they have their own apartments or anything.

Without waiting for our dairy based midday meals to settle, we headed over to Greezed Lightin’. Luckily we never had to wait too long in line. Greezed Lightin’ was the classic rush I remembered it to be. 60 mph in less than 6 seconds. We rode in the first car and were shot out into one loop and up, slow stop at the top and then backwards to do it all again in reverse. Elise loved it. She wanted to turn around and get back in line to ride it again. I scooted us along so we would have a chance to ride all of the rides.

We decided to cool off and go for a relaxing ride. We road the Thunder River. That ride is always a blast because you never know who’s going to get drenched. For the first time ever, it was yours truly. The nice girl sitting next to me shared the water with me. We were soaked. It was hilarious.

We moved over to the next ride which was the Mayan Mindbender. This is a smaller version of Disney’s Space Mountain – inside and dark. We had fun – but it wasn’t the best. Plus my back was cold from all of the water that my shirt had soaked up.

Next we rode the Viper. Hmmm… the Viper. The rides are starting to blend together as I try to recollect. I remember the ride, but it’s hard to explain. Fast, a couple loopdy loops, some twists, some turns, two pair of bruised shoulders from being banged around in restraints.

We then rode Batman: The Escape. You have to stand up when you ride this one. More loops and twists and windies. “Riders experience the rush of standing up through a 66-foot-high, 360-degree vertical loop and a horizontal, 360-degree loop that suspends riders nearly parallel to the ground.” We rode in the first car on this ride as well. Riding in the front is the best. Traveling at 55 mph with nothing in front of you is pretty damn scary.

Then we rode the Ultra Twister. “Drops riders 9 stories, head first, virtually straight down. With their heads still spinning, riders shuttle through a circular steel structure rolling 360-degrees forwards – and then again – backwards!” Elise screamed like a… Well, I don’t know what she screamed like but it was funny – and loud!

We decided that our day should start coming to an end. Elise wanted to ride the Merry-go-round, so we did. We rode on the rabbits. I almost fell asleep. I should have had a balloon tied to my wrist, a sparkly unicorn painted on my cheek and some cotton candy caked onto my chin and it would have been picture perfect. We were both bushed.

Elise and I left Astroworld, hopped in the Trooper and headed up 610 to Northwest Mall. Our destination: Alice Cooper’s Nightmare. I’m a big Alice fan and had to pay homage.

We weren’t too excited about having to pay $15 a piece. It was worth it though. I can honestly say that I was scared. It’s hard for me to become scared by ghoulies and zombies. This after subjecting myself movies about the paranormal, supernatural and things that go bump in the night at a very early age.

The Alice Cooper team used effects that I had never experienced in a haunted house [stripped department store]. It seemed as if behind every corner was some hydraulic-driven skeleton or severed head that popped out to instigate the fight or flight reflex. Remote controls were used to maneuver disemboweled prosthetic human organs. The whole thing was awesome. As both sets of our palms were sweating, even a plain clothes character who jumped from out of a corner and yelled “Whooooo!” while clanking on the back of a skillet was scary.

And yes, there was even the proverbial chainsaw man at the end of the tour. Luckily he jumped out and chased the girls in front of us and saved us from embarrassment.

After all of the excitement of the day, we decided to go drive back to the Austin County Fair in Bellville and see the infamous hypnotist. My parents claim that this guy was hilarious. I wasn’t impressed. Maybe it was because I was tired, maybe it was because he sucked, maybe it was because the participants weren’t as involved as they should have been. There were a few parts where I laughed, but overall, I wasn’t amused.

After sitting though an hour of that junk, we headed to the beer barn to do our social part. We talked to a few people that I hadn’t seen or spoken to since I graduated from high school. It was interested to hear about what those people are doing.

It was brought to my attention that my ex-girlfriend was there. Not only was she there, but she was standing a few feet behind me. Luckily I was in the company of good friends who made sure that my back was turned the whole time. I hadn’t seen or heard of her in many years. I had always hoped it would stay that way. The notion of her being there passed very quickly and we had good conversations with old friends.

I also made peace with an old friend who I held a grudge against for many years. I’m a kind person by nature and hate having to avoid eye contact with anyone. It was nice to lay that distaste to rest. I wrote it off as water under the bridge and gave my old friend a hug. He showed me a picture of his newborn. That made me happy.

We left the fair at 2 a.m. or so. I can’t believe we stayed up that late in our old age. Because we neglected to eat dinner, we got back to my parents’ house and ate some clam chowder and went to bed.

I slept in until almost noon on Sunday. Elise did laundry. I ate breakfast and took a nap on the couch. Sleeping until noon and getting up to eat breakfast can really take it out of a guy.

Dad and I watched the Chargers beat the Chiefs. Elise and I left Mom and Dad’s at 7 p.m. We drove slowly and depressed-like back to bustling Temple.

We had a great weekend. It was one of those that we hoped would never end…

Public restrooms and leaky gaskets

I hate public restrooms. Really, I do. The men’s restroom in the conference center at Scott & White is no exception. The single wall mounted liquid waste management apparatus is attached to a painted cinder block wall that divides the little boys’ and little girls’ rooms. Whenever a toilet flushes in the women’s restroom, the pipes within said wall make a noise that could easily be misconstrued as the ignition of the Space Shuttle’s solid rocket boosters.

In the seven months that I’ve worked at Scott & White, one would think that I would accept and embrace this spontaneous calamity. I haven’t. Without fail, yours truly always manages to become startled by this noise. During this nanosecond fit, it’s not unlike me to leave a pattern that would lead some to believe that I use the facility by means of sonar.

In other news: Elise called me this afternoon during her lunch break. She took the Trooper in to have the oil changed. I told her to ask the technician if he could identify the leak. He said the leak was coming from a gasket. He suggested a temporary chemical treatment that would cause the gasket to expand.

We’re trying to save as much cash as we can to purchase a nice used vehicle. I was hoping we could save for a little while longer. We’re going to have to sell before we can only get cash for parts.

Short visit with Lisa

My parents came to visit this past weekend. They arrived on Friday shortly after I got home from work.

I made spaghetti and meatballs for dinner. It was good.

We all stayed up pretty late. El and Mom stayed up later [as usual].

We woke up at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday. We all got ready and headed to Ft. Worth to have lunch with my sister, Lisa and her boyfriend, Ron.

The visit was short and sweet. Lisa was in town from San Diego for her fifteen year reunion at TCU.

After lunch, El, Mom, Dad and yours truly headed back to bustling Temple. We stopped in West to buy kolaches.

We got back to Temple and went to Wal-Mart to buy food for dinner.

We took it easy for the rest of the day. El and I stayed up to watch the season premier of SNL. If the opener is any indication of the rest of the season, looks like we’re in for another ho-hum year of SNL.

On Sunday, El and I woke up late. Mom and Dad had already eaten breakfast.

Mom got on my computer and tried to install a Roxio update. My computer’s on the fritz now. I’ll fix it once I get the website back to normal.
Mom and Dad left around 2:30. Elise and I went to the mall to spend her gift certificate.

We spent well over two hours in Victoria’s Secret. I was there for so long, I figured out the secret…

I felt like such a pervert while in this store. While El was trying on undergarments, I was told that I could sit in the little pink chair next to the dressing room.

I sat in that little pink chair. Girls and women came in, browsing and purchasing. I sat there and tried to look every which way to keep from making any eye contact with anyone. The only other things that I could look at where women’s bras and panties. It was quite the test for your Sunday afternoon unshaven, perverted looking narrator.

We made out with a couple pairs of skivvies and a brassiere.

That was the extent of our weekend.