I lost my best friend yesterday.

My Dad had to put Max out of his misery yesterday morning. My Mom e-mailed me in the morning to inform me. I was in complete shock. My shoulders immediately hunkered down, my face dropped, I frowned and slumped all day. I’m still blue today.

Max was the biggest teddy bear of a dog. He was a huge Rottweiler who would lay at your feet and beg for a petting. We got Max when I was 17 years old. Mom and I were driving around in Katy and we spotted Rottweilers for sale in a store parking lot. Puppies sell themselves.

Our vet instructed us to take Max to obedience classes. She said the Rottweilers can become very mean dogs and attack humans if not trained and disciplined. Max didn’t have one mean bone in his body. He could easily scare someone, but the worst he would do is drench you with slobber.

I took Max to obedience classes in Katy on Tuesdays and Thursdays after Tae Kwon Do practice. I drove a Mitsubishi Eclipse at the time. It’s really funny to see a huge Rottweiler sitting in the front seat of a import. Nine out of ten times, Max would get a little upset in the car and vomit. It’s even more funny to see a guy in a Tae Kwon Do uniform shoveling Rottweiler vomit from an import on the side of the road.

Max learned to sit, lay down and stay. He eventually forgot the meanings of the commands. If you told him to sit, he’d just lay down on top of your feet and make you want to pet and hug him.

Unfortunately, I barely had a year with Max. I moved to Austin to go to college in August of 1994 and couldn’t really bring a huge dog to live with me in the dorm. Although Max would have been a far better roommate than the one I had. I always made it a point to spend time with Max and Lady every time I went home to see Mom and Dad. I wish I had spent more time with them.

Max was beginning to deteriorate. The inevitable began to sneak up quickly. The vet told us that most Rottweilers don’t make it past 10 years old. Max’s body was being attacked by cancerous tumors to the point where he was miserable and began collapsing. I don’t want to think or write about that though. I want to remember Max as the big, goofy teddy bear of a dog.

I really am going to miss him. I haven’t cried this much in a long time. It’s the worst feeling in the world, losing a friend.

I’ll miss you,Max. I love you.

Bicycle wreck, first meeting with Harold

Yesterday was an up and down day. First the down. As I was leaving work on my bicycle, I was trying to change songs on the MP3 player. My back wheel went off of the pavement and sent me end over end. It was ugly. I wish I could have been a bystander because I know that it was a hellacious wipe out. I think I flipped twice with the bike. Luckily I landed in grass. Had I landed on concrete, I’m sure I would have broken something, knocked some teeth out or cut myself deep enough to warrant stitches. Luckily I came away relatively unscathed. My bicycle didn’t fare as well. I bent the handlebar. I’m planning on staring at my bike for quite a while tonight – convincing myself that I can fix it. Either that or stare at it long enough to convince it to fix itself. Some Jedi mind stuff. I don’t know, I’m new at this.

And then the up. I met with my Little for the first time yesterday evening. He seems like a great kid. His name is Harold and he turned 13 in February. I arrived at his and his Mom’s house at 7:15 p.m. We talked with the case manager for half an hour or so about rules and roles. Harold and I took the Jeep over to St. Ed’s and talked about all kinds of things. We decided that we’re going to meet on Wednesdays when I get off of work.

Canyon Lake, Johnny Fin’s, Memorial Day weekend

Elise and I had a nice, long, relaxing weekend. On Friday, Elise and I met each other back at the apartment, installed the bike rack and loaded up our mountain bikes. We rode around Town Lake for an hour or so. Town Lake is where you go when you really want to make yourself feel bad. You can tell by looking at most other people that they didn’t need one extra scoop of ice cream last night. Their bodies move in one solid motion versus a series of mid-section reverberations. Either way, Elise and I had fun.

We were going to go out that night but the bike ride kind of took it out of us. We wound up staying in and watching a few episodes from the second season of the Sopranos.

I woke up early on Saturday and washed the Jeep and the trusty Shadow. Elise and I rode the motorcycle to Canyon Lake and had lunch at the Blue Moon Cafe. I had a really good rosemary mustard char-grilled chicken sandwich. Elise had the grilled chicken quesadillas. After lunch we rode around to see the lake and all of the people floating the Guadalupe River. It was around this point that we realized I needed to get somewhere to get my arms out of the sun.

We rode home, stopping somewhere in Kyle to have a root beer. After getting home around 3 p.m., we both took a nap to recoup. We woke up and went to the mall to pick out a pair of glasses for Elise. After coming home and sharing a sandwich for dinner, we got all prettied up and headed downtown. We first went to the Lucky Lounge. Phtphthphpthpbbth. We stayed there just long enough to drink our cocktails and then high tailed it out of there. We went to Cedar Street next to listen to a band that sounded a lot like Dysfunction Junction, but I was never able to determine. We found a cozy spot at the crowded bar where I indulged in a fat cigar and double Glen Livet on the rocks, Elise had some fruity martinis.

After hours of just her and I talking, we came home and hit the hay. I woke up around 9:00 on Sunday and soaked up some morning air on the patio. Janeen called me around 10:00 to tell me that she and Alfonso were coming into town. Elise and I tidied up the apartment and Janeen and Alfonso showed up around 3:00. We sat on the patio and talked for a little while, then headed to Kirk and Lanessa’s out near Lakeway.

We hung out at and Kirk and Lanessa’s for a few hours. Lanessa’s dad and stepmom were there along with Catherine (Lanessa’s stepsister), B.J., Jason (Janeen’s cousin) and Tonya Minar (Britain). We went to Johnny Fin’s for dinner and drinks around 7:00. My food was pretty blah. I had the crawfish etoufee. Alfonso and I watched the Mavericks lose. Again.

After the basketball game, we migrated downstairs and watched a bikini contest. Uh… don’t really know what to say about a bikini contest. There were girls in bikinis.

We all went back to Kirk and Lanessa’s and stayed up till the wee hours of the morning, shooting the breeze on the back porch. Elise and I came home, I fell onto the bed and didn’t wake up until late Monday. It was nice to wake up on a Monday and not have to go to work.

We went to Target and I bought a couple t-shirts and some new flip flops. We went to the grocery store and bought some shrimp and vegetables with which to make shish kabobs. Elise and I ate dinner and watched the rest of the second season of the Sopranos.

All in all, a very nice and relaxing weekend.

eBay stuff

In financial news…

I bought a printer on eBay because our HP 895CXi became possessed and started screaming at me. After two unsuccessfuly exorcisms, I’ve decided to get a new one. I bought a HP 5550. It should be here tomorrow.

I also bought a new saddle for the trusty Shadow. My custom seat job has started to come loose so I decided to replace it. I searched online and couldn’t find a new seat for less than $300. I called the Honda dealer and the stock seats would cost me somewhere in the neighborhood of $350.

I bought the stock seats on eBay for $68.

Elise and I went house shopping for the first time tonight. Of course the first house we decide we like would run us an easy $399,900. And said house was a whopping 2,500 square feet.

I wanted to come home and watch basketball. Elise went back out and found some really nice houses that we could actually afford.

This is a subliminal message. You are not actually reading this. My wife is looking for a career in photography. The job market stinks for everyone, especially photographers. Help Elise find a job so we can buy a house.

In other news… I meet with my Little for the first time tomorrow. I’m excited.

Matrix Reloaded, BBBS

Elise and I went to see The Matrix Reloaded last night. All I can say is Pythagorean theorem. I somehow made that choice before I decided to see the movie, and actually went to find out why I had made that choice. Or something like that. Make sure you listen for the word “aporogy” during the confrontation before Neo meets with the Oracle.

I heard back from BBBS on Wednesday. I meet with my Little for the first time next Wednesday. I’m supposed to meet him and his mother at their house, then my Little and I are supposed to go out on our first outing to get acquainted and to establish a schedule for when we are to meet. I’m looking forward to it!

We’re really looking forward to this weekend. We haven’t been home in almost a month. I want to pack in as much fun stuff as I can this Memorial Day weekend.

Oh yeah, congratulations to Bill & Andrea Karotkin on the birth of their first daughter, Amanda!

Spam now

I’m pretty mad at myself. I keep thinking: “If I could just go back in time – just 30 minutes ago”.

I just signed myself up for tons of free, unsolicited e-mail. A friend of mine just sent me a link for FREE movie tickets. I blindly clicked on the link that she provided and my face went flush. A split second after I clicked, I realized what I had just done. I felt like I had just intentionally dove naked into the biohazard barrel at the county clinic.

I was pretty proud of the fact that I don’t regularly receive spam. That’s been the case for approximately two years now. Oh well. I guess I can join the rest of the world now.

Ardmore, Verden, Granda B’s, wreck in DeSoto

The weekend started out with Elise and I trying to get on the road and up to Dallas before it got too late on Friday evening. I got home from work and loaded what was already packed into the Jeep. Elise finished packing up until 6:30, which is when we finally left.

Having thought that my feet would never touch ground in that city again, we stopped in bustling Temple for dinner. We stopped at Wendy’s because my parents boast about how great their salads are. Elise and I both tried the Mandarin Chicken salad. After waiting almost 10 minutes for our salads, pouring half a cup of light green water out of each, and honestly trying to stomach our “garden sensations”, I got back into line to order us a couple hamburgers while Elise threw away two nearly-full salads.

We got back on the road and arrived at Jenn’s in DeSoto around 10:30 p.m. We stayed up talking on the front porch until around 3 a.m. Elise woke up around six and let me sleep until seven. We ate breakfast and headed to Verden, Oklahoma. We stopped along the way in the booming town of Ryan, OK for a break. It was in Ryan where Elise and I both suffered extensive cartilage damage from returning hand waves.

We made it to Verden just in time for cousin Lisa’s wedding. All but four Boeckman’s (Elise’s father’s family) were sitting on the bride’s side of the church. That’s a lot of people. The Boeckman’s that were present could easily take over the town of Verden and then call it Boeckmanstonfieldville. Or something like that. The ceremony was short and to the point. The reception was at the church. A few of us stayed a couple hours afterwards and helped clean the church after everyone had left. That reminded me of when I worked banquets at the country club. It was nice to know that after this particular wedding, I wouldn’t be working 16 more hours.

After loading up all that we could in the remaining cars that were in the parking lot, we drove over to aunt Barbara’s (cousin Lisa’s mom) to unload. Barbara and I were both wearing flip-flops (sandals, chunklas whichever you prefer). She found a large ant bed on her driveway, right next to where she’d parked. As I came out of the house to come get another load, Barbara said: “Josh, be careful over there… there are a lot of ants on the driveway… don’t step in the ants, Josh!”

I walk towards Barbara’s car. As I walk, I’m singing and bobbing my head to the tune of: “Don’t step in the ants, Josh. There’s ants over by Barbara’s car. Don’t step in the ants, Josh.” I walked over by Barbara’s car, stood there, not having looked down, still singing: “Don’t step in the ants, Josh. “Don’t step in the ants, Josh.” and got bit by the ants. They were all over the place.

I got some bleach from Barbara and fixed myself up. Bleach takes the sting out of ant bites if applied soon enough. After leaving Barbara’s, we drove to Grandma B.’s in Okeene, OK. I rode with Steve in the van and Elise and Joanne rode in the Jeep. Steve and I talked my job and motorcycles.

We made it to Grandma’s at around 8:30 p.m. or so. They saved us a few hamburgers so us stragglers had a late dinner. After dinner we looked at photos of uncle Nob’s new garage. Steve, uncle Richard, uncle Ben, uncle Nob and Eric built a 2.5 car garage in 2.5 days.

Elise and I woke up early on Sunday, had breakfast at Grandma’s and said bye to everyone. We hit the road at approximately 10 a.m.

A trip that would have normally taken 8 hours took 12 hours. Elise and I stopped for lunch at the Two Frogs Grill in Ardmore, OK. Elise had the fried shrimp. I had the short order of baby back ribs. Good food at a really good price.

Elise dozed until we reached south of Dallas. That’s where we stopped. This is what the write up from the Dallas Morning News read this morning:

Three die in fiery I-35 collision
Fatal crash closes highway near Dallas-Ellis border


By JAIME JORDAN and CONNIE PILOTO / The Dallas Morning News

Three people died and a toddler was sent to the hospital Sunday after a fiery wreck involving a tractor-trailer and car on Interstate 35 about 20 miles south of Dallas, near the Ellis County border.

Authorities shut down both north- and southbound lanes of I-35 for nearly eight hours, backing up traffic at one point for up to nine miles to the north.

Police said a Toyota Camry with four people inside collided with another car as traffic was merging onto the highway from the Ovilla Road entry about 2 p.m. The Camry crossed into the median and into the path of an oncoming semi, which slammed into the driver’s side, killing everyone but a 2-year-old boy in a car seat in the rear.

Ellis County DPS Sgt. Larry Adams said officials had not been able to identify the victims but had found insurance documents in the wreckage. Dallas Police were asked to check the address.
“If things match we’ll take them to the hospital to see if they [neighbors] recognize the baby,” he said. “All the identifications were incinerated.”

Police said two adults and one person thought to be either an adult or teenager died on impact. Shortly after impact, the car burst into flames. Sgt. Adams said the vehicle was carrying a family.

Rick Sherrin, a truck driver from Lamar, Mo., said he was headed south on I-35 behind the tractor-trailer on his way to Laredo. He stopped his rig in the middle of the highway and ran to the accident site with his fire extinguisher as others rushed to rescue the toddler.

“I was trying to put the fire out so the other people could get the baby,” he said. “The fire was spreading on the grass where they were working.”

The truck involved in the accident was carrying herbicide and had tried to stop before the collision, officials said.

The blaze charred both vehicles, but the driver of the truck and the driver of the second car involved in the original collision were not seriously injured.

Luckily Elise and I were near Jenni’s house. After sitting in 100 + degree traffic for over an hour, we exited and drove to Jenni’s. She told us that there was a report on the news that the accident and gave us an alternate route. We would have never made it home last night had we not made the detour. After leaving Jenni’s and finding I-35 again, we saw over 4 miles of traffic backed up on the northbound side of the highway.

Anyway. We got home a little shy of 10 p.m. I took a shower and went to bed.

It was a very long weekend. I’m really looking forward to some R&R this weekend.

I punched Michael Bolton in the head

The talented Michael Bolton

This story is not one of my proudest moments. In fact, charges could have been pressed and I could have gone to a juvenile detention facility. I punched Michael Bolton on the top of his head. I have no idea why I suddenly remembered this incident. I suddenly experienced a flashback.

If memory serves me correctly, I was thirteen or fourteen years of age. I rode a short school bus to school. Not that kind of short bus. Bus #24 was Bellville Independent School District’s budgeted mode of transportation for those who lived in the Cat Spring area. There weren’t many of us on this bus seeing as how Cat Spring‘s population was approximately eight humans and two dogs.

On this particular Winter morning, yours truly was flu-stricken. I had the flu bad enough to where I should have stayed home that day. As I boarded the bus, Michael Bolton either said something or kicked me in the shin. I can’t remember the details, but whatever he did warranted my fist slamming into the top of his head.

Michael Bolton was the grandson of Norbert Bolton, our one-wrinkle-away-from-being-a-corpse bus driver. Michael Bolton was also quite younger than me. He was an annoying little twit. I shouldn’t have punched this little guy, but a combination of my health status, the fact that this kid is probably still getting pummeled to this day and the notion of punching someone named Michael Bolton, I just couldn’t help but let one loose on his noggin.

I got into trouble with the bus driver, I was “written up” by the school and I had my bus riding privileges revoked for a few weeks. Man, those were a rough few weeks. I got to sleep in because my mom now had to drive me to school. The commute to Bellville from Cat Spring in a standard vehicle is approximately 12 minutes. A commute on a dilapidated short bus driven by a walking, talking and breathing mummy who is built like a cowboy and is the grandfather of a child who shares the same name as a contemporary music [insert word] takes approximately an hour and seven minutes.

This incident didn’t leave me with anything valuable. I guess it’s just nice to be able to say that I’ve punched Michael Bolton. Now if I could just meet someone named Bob Saget.

Weekend at my parents’, soft top and seat covers

I don’t know why I’m compelled to write about the events of the past weekend and week’s end. Oh well. Last Friday Elise went to Killeen to visit friends, one of which just had a baby. I went over to Tommy’s and watched the Lakers finally win a game against the Spurs.

We slept in late on Saturday morning and then headed to Central Market and then to my parents’ house. We got to Mom and Dad’s around 5 p.m. I cooked Arrabbiatta with farfalle pasta. Everyone said they liked it. I didn’t. I think I should have sprung for a better prosciutto. We also had Caesar salads a la Central Market. I cannot get enough of CM’s Caesar dressing. I don’t know what it is – I just love it. I’m seriously thinking about getting a part-time job at CM just so I can have an inside advantage to acquiring that recipe. I’m starting to twitch and foam at the mouth just typing about it. I’m scratching my arms now. I’m about to curl in the the fetal position and place myself in a corner.

We chatted for a while after dinner and then all went outside to start on the Jeep’s soft top. Mom and Dad went inside to watch their Sopranos DVDs. Elise and I stayed out in the barn most of the night and finished installing the soft top.

We woke up on Sunday to Dad cooking bacon and eggs. We hung out in the living room most of the day and talked. I watched the Lakers beat the Spurs again. Elise and I headed home at 6 p.m. We got back to Austin just as the sun had gone down. We hopped on the trusty Shadow, went to Target and purchased Hawaiian themed seat covers for the Jeep – hibiscus and surfboards.

401(k), IRA, Fidelity, Prudential and gangsta rap

Elise and I are really keeping track of our investments. I’ve had two 401(k) accounts in my life thus far. Upon leaving the company that offered my first 401(k), I rolled my investments into an IRA. When closed, I rolled my second 401(k) into the same IRA. It’s just easier to manage one retirement account. I guess if I have the option to contribute to another 401(k) plan, I will and I’ll have to keep track of it as well as the IRA.

Elise has also had two 401(k) accounts. The first one was offered to her when she was working at Circle C. The second 401(k) account was when she was working at Sallie Mae. We received a letter from Fidelity yesterday stating that her money would be distributed to her because she a) no longer works at Sallie Mae and b) she has a balance that is smaller than their set limit and to which is not being contributed.

Anyway I like Fidelity because we were able to speak to a human after a short and relatively painless browse through their voice activated, automated menu. This was after 9 p.m. My retirement savings is with Prudential. They work normal business hours. I’m sure they take three hour lunches too. But I like Prudential’s online portfolio manager better than Fidelity’s. I don’t know why I just wrote about that. That was nerdy. I should have used that space to practice my west coast gangsta lyrics. Oh well. Too late now. I did notice something though: When I type the word “gangsta”, I get a little red squiggly line underneath it, indicating that it is misspelled. I wonder how long it will be until we all will have the delightful opportunity to work with software that utilizes an ebonics spellchecker. Hey! There it goes again. “ebonics” gets a squiggly red line too.

Anyway, we called Fidelity and setup a rollover IRA for Elise. While we were at it, we decided to have Elise’s 401(k) from Circle C disbursed and rolled into this new IRA that we’d just setup. The only problem is that we need to get a request for disbursement form from Elise’s former employer. Elise’s 401(k) plan was provided by a company named GCP Management, LLC. GCP took over Circle C shortly before Elise quit. GCP no longer owns/runs Circle C. Elise’s pay stubs have an address, but no phone number. We couldn’t find a GCP Management, LLC anywhere [online] to get a phone number. We called information, no luck.

I decided to e-mail the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce and explain our situation. A nice lady wrote me back and knew nothing of GCP Management. I wrote her back and told her that they used to manage a public golf course. That helped. She e-mailed me back to tell me that Golf Club Partners is listed with the address that I provided for her. She gave me their phone number. So now we have to call them to request a disbursement.

The moral of the story? Practice your gangsta rap every chance you get. It’s easy to become distracted by proper grammer and your financial security.


Last night I drove the Jeep to the Exxon Tigermart that is across the street from our apartment complex. Two girls pulled into the spot next to me. They got out of their truck as I exited the Jeep. I left the Jeep running. As I was walking to the door, a policeman exited the store. He said to me: “Hey dude, don’t leave your vehicle running.”

“Why?” I asked defensively.

“Because some transient could come up and take your vehicle.” the officer retorted.

Have you ever noticed that law enforcement officers like to use the word vehicle. They prefer to say vehicle instead of car, truck, van, motorcycle or a skateboard being pulled by a group of squirrels. I wonder if they talk like that at home. “Diane, Bobby and Rebecca, step out of the vehicle, we are at the park now.”

Anyway, I thought about raising a stink but I really didn’t want the officer to come over and talk to me. You see, I had just had a glass of wine and was afraid that the officer might smell alcohol on me. I know that I wasn’t legally intoxicated, it’s just that I had just had a glass of wine at the apartment (right across the street) and I could still taste it in my mouth. I really didn’t want to be subjected to a field sobriety test in front of a very busy Tigermart. I really hate making a fool of myself unintentionally.

I went into Tigermart and made my purchase. One of the girls that had gotten out of the truck next to me called from across the store: “I’m glad that cop made you turn your car off, I was going to steal it!”

I responded: “Yeah, because we live in the ghetto.” I said that jokingly because we live in a nice area. I do understand that a transient can be lurking anywhere and it is good practice to take your keys with you.

Meetings: Now vs. Then

We had a meeting at work yesterday. It was the first “large” meeting I’ve been to in the four months that I’ve been here. By “large” I mean seven people were in attendance. A coworker, my boss and I meet every couple of weeks to discuss production. Those meetings are usual where bossman says “This is what needs to be done”. Then we go back to our desks and do what needs to be done. Those meetings take anywhere from five to thirty minutes.

I enjoyed yesterday’s meeting because bossman discussed the company’s finances and operations. He shed light on how the company operates and that made me feel like a member of something good – not like some cog in a corporate machine.

I thought about my last job at that one place in Temple and the countless meetings I had to attend. I spent so much time in meetings that I didn’t have any time to do any work. If I tried to get started on some project, I’d have to go to a meeting before I got my hands dirty and come back not knowing what I was doing. I would say I spent 75% of my time in meetings. I would sit there and listen to people talk about perspectives, objectives and strategies and write on whiteboards with their fancy dry-erase pens or stare blankly at a Powerpoint presentation. Well, I used to listen. It didn’t take long to realize that there was no point, so I would practice on my drawing skills. I came up with some real humdingers. I wonder what I did with those drawings…

Harley stock

Okay, so I’m trying to grow up. Elise and I spent Saturday evening and Sunday with my parents. We talked a lot about finances (credit and stocks specifically). A branch from the motivation tree fell and hit me on the head.

Elise and I are budgeting. We have our short-term financial goals and we’re doing our darnedest to achieve those goals. Since we both don’t have benefits, I really started thinking about our investments. I’m comfortable even though the market is still ugly. I decided to heed the advice of one financial advisor from our credit union. He said to invest in something that you like. I’m going to keep all of my stocks where they are but I also wanted a “fun” (yet profitable) investment. I bought some shares in Harley Davidson. Buying those stocks makes looking at our portfolio fun.