Engler’s patio muzak, No more cable

Elise got home from work earlier than we both had expected. We went over to John and Christine’s so that John and I could run wires for the outside speakers.

After a couple hours of intense design, engineering and manual labor, we found that we needed to run the source (John’s iPod) through an amplifier (the head unit of his home stereo – conveniently located on the other side of the house). Since we didn’t have enough RCA and speaker wire, we decided to eat. I’m not sure if this project will be completed. I guess I’ll have to wait to hear from John.

Elise and I saw 28 Days Later on Sunday. Not at all what I was expecting. It’s okay. I’d suggest you wait 12 x 28 Days for it to come out on DVD. I guess Freddy vs. Jason will be the scary movie this year.

I bought an Atari 2600 on eBay the weekend before last. I’m yet to swing by Radio Shack to purchase an RCA to coax adapter. After that, it’s all about the Space Invaders.

Elise called Time Warner today. We’re downgrading to the lowest level of cabledom one can have. We’re doing this because we can’t completely get rid of cable without buying some sort of amplified amateur radio operator antenna to hang out of our patio door in order to get local channels. We have to pay $12/month to watch any form of broadcast television. Anyway… I’m going to miss the Food Network and American Chopper.

El’s job, Grokster

It’s early Saturday evening. My catering manager wife is at work. Elise is ‘working’ a thirty year high school reunion downtown. She just called me from the kitchen to give me the scoop on her first day. I can tell she’s really excited. She was listing all of the things she wants to change, add and improve upon. She told me she’s nervous that got herself into something big. That’s a good thing though. I’m bored and lonely.

In other news… I had to perform minor surgery on my computer today. I was downloading some live bootlegged recordings from an independent artist so I could listen to only a portion of the song to verify my liking and immediately rush to the record store and plunk down $20 for the entire album (scroll down to read the comments). For some reason, I decided to try out a new p2p client. Do not download Grokster. If you do, don’t contact me to ask how to remove all of the spyware that comes with said software.

Circus with Harold

Harold and I went to the circus last night. We left during the intermission. We were both greatly disappointed. It’s not really even worth going into detail. I will admit that it was a feast for the eyes. There was so much going in the center of the Erwin Center that you could easily find something at which to stare blankly.

I’d venture to say that the highlights were: T.M. the Gator Guy near-abusively man handling obviously sedated alligators. A trail of elephants moping around the arena, every last one of their inner monologues being “Please, would someone just shoot us all now.” And horses with equal amounts of unbearable fear and lethargy in their eyes. It was sad.

I don’t like the circus. I semi poked fun at PETA (and they were there – they even handed a flier to Harold) but I think I have to take their side. I’d much rather watch an elephant grazing in the Serengeti on the Discover Channel than watch them being herded in person.

Mom’s b-day, Elise’s new job

\It is a great day for the two most important women in my life.

1) Today is my Mom’s birthday. Happy Birthday Mom!!!

2) Elise was offered the Catering Manager position at El Arroyo. Congrats babe. I’m thinking about quitting my job and working on my gut while catching up on daytime talkshows. (I’m kidding Mr. Caldwell)


I’m taking Harold to the circus tonight. It’s being held at the Frank Erwin Center here in Austin. I haven’t been to the circus in something like twenty years. All I can remember is that I was a little dude.

I stood in the box office line yesterday with my vouchers. As I waited, I began to wonder if there will be any radical animal rights activists protesting the circus. I’m thinking we might see a bunch of PETA people. I think Harold would find that people made up of pillowy flatbread are interesting.

El Arroyo, Austin\’s Pizza, Farmers\’ Market, Fajitas with Bill and Andrea

Being cognizant of our dining out expenditures lately, Elise and I treated ourselves on Friday night and had dinner at El Arroyo. Well, when you’re friends with the new general manager, I guess we didn’t really treat ourselves…

Elise had barbecue chicken tacos, I had a chicken fajita Caesar salad and we had three top shelf margaritas between the two of us. The best part of the meal was when Bill told us that there will be an opening for the Catering Manager position in the coming weeks. Elise and I are both really excited about that. Hopefully Elise will be able to get that job.

We went home after dinner and watched Detroit Rock City and Spinal Tap (one lead to the other).

We woke up early on Saturday. I took the top down on the Jeep, we drove downtown and perused the Austin Farmers’ Market. We didn’t buy anything, we just looked. All of the vegetables and flowers that were being sold looked nice though.

After a few planning setbacks, Tommy and Shannon came over and we all hopped in the Jeep and went to Lake Travis. We rented a ski boat for three hours. We didn’t do any skiing, but I did jump a wake that caused the boat to come crashing down into the water, almost giving my wife a concussion and a sprained ankle. That wasn’t very fun. Well, it was, up until the point at which Elise was hurt. Luckily Elise shook off her pain and we drove around the lake and stopped for an hour or so to swim.

On our way back to the marina, another boat waved us down. Two guys had run out of gas in the middle of the lake. They spoke of wonderful gifts in prizes we would receive in return for towing them. We towed them to the nearest marina. No gifts or prizes, just an “Oh, we left our wallets in the truck.” I gave them my business card and claimed that “If I do not receive a large cash sum from you within ten days, next time I will ransack your vessel and seize all your treasures. Aaaaaargh!”

I didn’t say anything to them. I decided to leave it up to Karma.

Having been worn out by the sun and since Elise’s husband-inflicted-ankle-sprain didn’t allow her to walk, we decided to go home and take it easy instead of going to Tommy’s to watch the Lewis vs. Klitschko fight. We didn’t feel like cooking so I ordered a large Downtown favorite from Austin’s Pizza. Man, that’s some good pizza. Man, that’s some good pizza. Is there an echo here? No, I just thought I’d say that twice.

Elise and I went to the grocery store on Sunday. We spent a lot of money and our refrigerator still looks empty.

We went over to Bill and Andrea’s for dinner. I made chicken fajitas, marinated with the Penzey’s fajita seasoning that Joanne gave me. The fajitas turned out really good. I’m always a little hesitant about using “seasoning”. I used to have a real problem with the stuff back in the 80’s. I had a pretty bad usage issue. It’s an addiction. Before you know it, your hiding from your loved ones, sprinkling seasoning on all sorts of foods. Taco Seasoning, Steak Seasoning, Poultry Seasoning, Seafood Seasoning, Italian Seasoning. This list goes on and on. I used to blare Duran Duran’s Hungry Like the Wolf at all hours of the night on my Hi-Fi, just seasoning. It was the song that brought me and my seasoning to a spiritual plateau. My parents stepped in and there was an intervention. I spent days in a detoxification facility and had to take seasoning methadone for weeks just to curb the hunger. It was a long, bumpy road. I made it though. I’m fine now. I can season fajitas responsibly now. Just a dab. No need to go all out. I know when to stop. I’m strong. I’m hungry.

I also made a chipotle salsa that’s pretty wicked. Elise and I really like chipotles. Elise made some guacamole that tasted really good – even after having just been made. I’ll bet it’ll taste even better today after the flavors have had time to marry. Same with the salsa.

Ewoks and economics

I was just out on the patio, thinking. I was thinking about our finances and how we really want a house. We’re saving as much as we can. We also need new tires for the Jeep. We’re also going to have to pay more in taxes next year. And then I realized something: eBay, Google and TiVo sound like they would be the names of small woodland bipeds who starred in Return of the Jedi.

I’m glad I got that figured out.

Back in black (belt)

Ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch ouch… it hurts to type.

I started Tae Kwon Do last night. I hyper extended both elbows and my butt hurts. Badly. My arms hurt because I haven’t really done anything strenuous involving my upper body in nearly a decade. My butt hurts because I played Blazer Lazer Tag on Wednesday. When you have to bend your legs to shrink yourself to five feet (average size of pre-pubescent male competition) while dodging invisible beams of light, you find that you have muscles you’ve never known of.

Anyway, my first class back in TKD – It was great. It was riveting. Invigorating. An action packed adventure so chock full of action that you won’t need to see another action packed adventure this entire action packed summer. But really – it was a lot of fun. I felt great after class. Stretching was a little difficult. I really think I would be a lot worse had I not been riding seven miles a day on my bicycle.

After warming up, we did some kicking and punching drills. I haven’t really forgotten anything, I’m just a little rusty. In need of a little honing. After drills, we worked on patterns. Clyde (my instructor) taught me approximately the first half of Ge-Baek (again). Ge-Baek is traditional black belt pattern (sequential combination of strikes and blocks). I was surprised at how quickly I remembered the moves.

After everyone worked on patterns, we sparred. I sparred Clyde first. Clyde is a second degree black belt. I’m a first degree black belt who’s been out of practice for almost nine years. I did quite well. I still have it in me. I still have my rhythm. I’m not as limber or as quick as I once was, but that will come with time. Grasshopper.

I sparred the other three students that were in class. I had a handicap. My pants kept coming down. Nine years will take its toll on a pair of elastic waist Tae Kwon Do pants. Crouching Tiger Dropping Trou. I bought a new uniform after class.

안녕히 가세요. (That reads “Good Bye”)

Momma likes a tha cookin’ a

It’s pretty flattering when your Mom asks you for your Arrabbiata recipe (I consider my Mom a mighty fine cook):

“While I’m thinking about it, can you give me a hint as to what is in your pasta dish, the one you made Mother’s day weekend? GOOD!!! I bought some prosciutto and plan on making it soon.”

Side note: FrontPage’s spell checker insists that I use the word “prostitute” instead of “prosciutto“.

Blazer Lazer Tag

Harold and I went to Blazer Lazer last night for a couple games of Blazer Tag. We had a blast. For the first game, it was every man (pre-pubescent male) for himself. After five minutes of all-out blazing lazer hellfire, I realized that 1) I’m out of shape and 2) pre-pubescent males are dangerously aggressive with battery powered laser canons. It didn’t help that I was the tallest panting target in a room built for five foot people.

The rules are pretty simple. Shoot other people. When you’re tagged, your vest emits a sort of glass crashing sound and your entire “suit” starts blinking. It seemed like with every step that I took, I heard that ominous glass crashing sound and my chest suddenly became what looked like a landing strip for a small UFO brigade. With as much blinking as my suit was doing, I should have given myself the codename Lanky Christmas Tree instead of, get this, Neo. Yeah, I couldn’t come up with anything better. I didn’t know we were going to have to pick codenames.

I actually didn’t do that bad. The first game consisted of 11 players. I came in eighth. It was the first game. I didn’t know how to play. The gun I was toting sported a fancy LCD that I couldn’t understand. I couldn’t tell if it was scientific calculator, a Gameboy or one of those jobbers you see on boats that tells you where to find the fish.

Luckily Harold took me under his wing. He was familiar with the sector as he had done a couple tours in that region before. He guided me to his strategic stronghold and we played snipers.

For the second game, the entire group was divided into two teams. Red and yellow. Harold and I were on the yellow team. This time, yours truly came in fourth.

Harold came in first.

Both games.

By a landslide.

He’s good.

Really good.

So good that if I were ever backed into a dark alley by a pack of rabid Pit Bulls with grenade launching tails and Ray Romano, I’d want Harold to come swooshing in with his Blazer Lazer pack and blast them all away with mean vengeance. With his trusty two handled laser pointer.

Anyway, we kind of screwed up the first game. You get an access ticket when you give the cashier your money and codename. On that ticket is printed your code name and what pack your supposed to strap on after your briefed on game play. I neglected to read our tickets. I just knew that we had packs 3 and 4. Harold was supposed to be Cyrus on the first game. On the second game, he was Cyrus and I was Neo. As we had intended. Here are my score cards.

Harold’s a good kid. I really enjoy hanging out with him. It gives me something to look forward to. His mom told me that he really likes hanging out with me and he can’t wait until I show up to pick him up on Wednesday evenings.

TKD, Dahebegebees

Elise and I went to the Unified Tae Kwon Do school at Lake Travis yesterday evening. We observed an adult class. This class consisted of a husband and wife, both green belts and a high school-aged boy practicing for his black belt. I was kind of hoping for a larger class so as to lend more diversity in sparring. I’m going to actually join the class tomorrow evening and see how I like it. I guess it’s better that it is a small class so I can reacclimatize myself in a smaller, more intimate setting.

After class, Elise and I came home and watched a video of some old tournaments and my black belt test. Needless to say, I’m excited.

After watching my black belt test, we went to Sam’s Boat to watch Dahebegebees. It’s been a loooooong time since we’ve seen them. They’re still a lot of fun to watch, even though their fan base is getting much larger. Not that that’s a bad thing. We used to go watch them at Lucy’s Retired Surfers bar on Monday evenings (when I worked at the country club, my only day off was Monday). I remember times when there were only a few heads in the bar. We’d lean on the second story railing, listen to Dahebegebees and watch Endless Summer. Twice. It was at one of these shows that Elise told me she loved me for the first time. I immediately responded by politely asking her to quit stalking me. I eventually had to call the police and contemplated changing my identity all together.

Father’s day, belated Spurs win. Yay.

Elise and I spent a relaxing weekend at my parents’ house. We both left work a little early on Friday due to a torrential downpour accompanied by thunder and lightening which knocked the office’s power out. Elise and I arrived at my parents’ house around 8. Elise and I ate dinner, talked for a while and went to bed.

I woke up at 6 a.m. on Saturday (don’t ask me why) and changed the oil in the Jeep. We all had breakfast and went to Sealy for a little thrift store shopping. I bought 20 issues of Popular Science magazines ranging in date from 1948-1950. I was hoping to sell them on eBay for a hefty profit. That doesn’t look like it’s happening. I guess I’m stuck with reading on how to construct a volcano at home and vacuum tube computer theories.

We had lunch at that hamburger joint in New Ulm… Texas Star Cafe or something like that. Really good hamburgers for very little money. Not the healthiest thing, but a bacon and jalapeno cheeseburger runs you around $2.95. And these aren’t wimpy little hamburgers either.

After lunch we went to The Barn at New Ulm. It’s a little woodworking shop. They make nice things, but man are they expensive. I hit them up to design a website for the store.

Next we stopped and visited with Foster and Lucille, friends of my parents’. We stayed and visited for a couple hours and all came home to relax for a while.

At 7 p.m. sharp we all went outside and herded up the cows to be wormed. My parents lost a calf to blackleg last week so I had the honors of administering a vaccine to three calves. That was pretty cool. I’ve never given a subcutaneous injection before.

Elise and I stayed up late that night and tried to take pictures of the lightening storm in the north. We were armed only with my Mom’s digital camera, so we didn’t get any shots.

Elise and I slept in on Sunday. We gave Dad his Father’s Day card and a bottle of Dewar’s. We lounged around, read the newspaper, watched TV – that sort of stuff. I made chicken enchiladas for a late Dad’s day lunch.

Elise and I headed for Austin around 6. We got home just in time to watch the Spurs beat the Nets in the sixth game for the championship. Talk about the most exciting finals series I have ever seen. I write that with the absolute smallest amount of enthusiasm known to man. I don’t know why I didn’t just write that watching the NBA finals this year was as much fun as eating caterpillars. I love Texas and all, but the Spurs just don’t do it for me. And in this series, if you can barely score 90 points, I’m probably going to repeatedly spear forks into my nostrils and subject myself to watching anything featuring Christopher Lowell instead.

Game 1: San Antonio 101 New Jersey 89
Game 2: New Jersey 87 San Antonio 85
Game 3: San Antonio 84 New Jersey 79
Game 4: New Jersey 77 San Antonio 76
Game 5: San Antonio 93 New Jersey 83
Game 6: San Antonio 88 New Jersey 77

Canoeing, Custard at Sandy’s

Harold and I rented a canoe from Zilker Canoe Rentals yesterday. I’d say we paddled for an hour or so. We paddled out through Barton Creek and into Town Lake. On the way, we could see the bottom of the creek and turtle masses. Once out in Town Lake, we had to dodge all of those super healthy people in their single seat competition row boats. It’s really nice to get out and do stuff. I’m beginning to realize that I’m going to have to be resourceful in finding things for Harold and me to do.

Before we reached the end of our excursion, Harold asked me if I liked ice cream. I said yes. He invited me for a frozen custard at Sandy’s. Man, talk about the most awesome ice cream treat I think I’ve ever had. I’m still kicking myself for not having tried Sandy’s sooner. I’ve been in Austin almost ten years and I’ve driven by Sandy’s a gazillion times. Next I’ll have to try their hamburgers.

It just so happened that there was a small congregation of Harley-Davidson owners sitting on one of the picnic benches. Harold and I walked over and agreed on a Heritage Softail that we thought was the best looking. Harold told me that he wants a Harley one day. He’s a good kid. He makes A’s and B’s, gets embarrassed when I ask him about Lindsay (girlfriend) and is really inquisitive.