Huaraches and stocks

Harold and I watched Bad Boys II last night at the theatre. Funny, action packed and long. Usually I can wait for a movie to end before I need to use the restroom, but this time I had to go. Don’t you hate (and I promise this isn’t going to turn into your one-stop website for daily restroom adventures) it when you’ve been sitting in a movie theatre chair and you have to get up to use the can? The lights are low, your butt muscles are asleep and while you’re staggering towards the aisle, you kick empty boxes of Raisinettes and other peoples’ feet.

On the way to the movie theatre, Harold told me all I need to know about huaraches. I spouted off about how back in my day, we didn’t have shoes. Then something about the stock market. Harold pointed out that the Texas Lottery was up to $47 million. He asked what I would do with $47 million. I told him that after taxes were taken out and I received my check for $8, I would invest it or buy a few chicken burritos.

But seriously, I told him that I would buy a decent, manageable house, give my parents and in-laws a lot and probably a new motorcycle. So I’d have many millions left to invest in the stock market. I then had to explain to Harold what stocks were. He asked if he could buy stock in the mall. It’s fun explaining something to someone for the first time. I told him that in order to purchase shares in a company, you have to be able to throw a football with your left hand without looking like you’re the offspring of related parents.

Joshua – The Name

I’m going to have to disagree with 68% of this free name analysis from

Red is false, green is true.

Your name of Joshua gives you the ability to be creative along practical lines of endeavor. Your ideas can be very original and inventive. You enjoy being with people in a social environment. Your personal appearance is important to you, for you desire to make a good impression on others. Your pleasant manner attracts people to you with their problems and you are capable of offering practical advice, though you would probably not follow such advice yourself. This name causes you to be somewhat too concerned with the personalities, problems, and activities of other people. You seem positive and decisive and can be outspoken in the expression of your opinions, but you lack the self-confidence needed to follow through with your ideas and plans. Procrastination is your downfall. You frequently choose the path of least resistance to avoid your responsibilities. It is not easy for you to overcome obstacles or face issues. This name does you an injustice in that it restricts your success in business and personal pursuits through a lack of ambition. There is a weakness in the fluid functions and in the region of the head resulting in sinus problems, headaches, eye, ear, or throat conditions and related ailments. Hair loss could also be a problem.

Poison tipped darts in the men’s restroom

PWhen something that I’ve grown accustomed to suddenly changes, I usually say something like “awwww, man!” Take for instance the pleasant fragrance that was once emitted from the automatic air freshener dispenser in our office building’s men’s restroom. One wouldn’t ordinarily associate a sweet, fresh smell with a men’s restroom. Our building’s men’s restroom is an exception. 95% of the time, I would walk into the restroom and smell the wonderful smell that a little automatic wall-mounted canister of industrial-grade air freshener would spritz out on it’s little schedule. The other 5% of the time I would be met by the smell of what very easily could have been the byproduct of rancid armadillo and bleu cheese stew.

But really, I liked the smell of the air freshener that had been used in the restroom for the past couple of months. I seriously contemplated standing on the sink basin and opening up the dispensing mechanism to find out what brand and fragrance flavor air freshener was used. I wish I had. Today the fragrance flavor is different. Now I feel lost when going to the restroom. It’s bad enough that I can’t seem to convince myself that there are not Indiana-Jones-and-the-Temple-of-Doom-like poison tipped darts being shot into the back of my neck from above the bathroom’s mirror…

You see, even though I generally enjoy my 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. bathroom experiences due mainly to the associated aromatic pleasantness, like clockwork I get the bejesus scared out of me while ‘tending to business’. Invariably, while I’m standing before the urinal, that sweet aroma dispensing mechanism spits its nectar into the confines of the restroom. When this happens there is a distinct and wet aural puff not much unlike the sound that is heard when a tribesman shoots a dart through his blowgun and into the jugular vein of a small woodlands creature. Every time I hear that noise, I think I’m being shot in the back of the neck with a blowgun dart. I’m here to tell you that that kind of nervousness can lead to some pretty serious performance anxiety. I don’t know who would want to shoot me in the back of the neck with a blowgun dart. And to do that while answering the call of nature is beyond me. Perhaps I’m seen as a threat to the people of the Sweet Smelling Men’s Restroom Tribe. They’re trying to get me when I’m most vulnerable. That’s why I now carry a machete. You should see the looks on peoples faces when they see me walking down the hall and into the restroom. They just don’t understand what I’m up against.


I was just outside, contemplating my personal life and the late 19th century Bohemian arts revolution of eastern Europe when I realized that I, along with all of my friends, am a yuppie. This was discussed during a lunch date (heh) that I had with Victor yesterday. I’m a webmaster. My wife is the Director of Catering for a popular local Tex-Mex chain. My friends are Assistant Vice Presidents of large banks, Certified Public Accountants, Engineers, Online Ad Sales Managers, Financial Analysts for the largest media corporations just to name a few.

I thought this was noteworthy because I feel as though I can step away from myself to watch my life evolve. Almost ten years ago, I knew quite a few people who delivered pizzas for pot money, were career restaurant waiters and topless dancers. I’m not saying that there is anything wrong with any of those professions. As a matter of fact, a combination of the aforementioned would be interesting. Like, oh, I don’t know, pizzas delivered by topless dancers. I never see these people anymore. Well, except for John. He was a topless dancer.

I’m just taking note on how I’m getting older.

House shopping, The Oasis

This past weekend was a relatively quiet one. I surprised Elise and took her to The Oasis to see the sunset on Friday evening. We went over to John and Christine’s afterwards and hung out by the pool for a little while.

On Saturday, Elise and I drove around and looked at houses. And looked. And looked. We’re trying to get an idea of what neighborhoods and types of houses we like.

We woke up early on Sunday and went grocery shopping. We hadn’t gone to the grocery story in a month or so. We came back home, watched a few episodes of the Sopranos on DVD and I made stuffed, 4 cheese cannelloni. I also made watermelon smoothies with boysenberry sorbet and ginger.

Rained on, Kicking a girl in the face

It’s been a long week. The boss is in England so I’ve been very busy at work (you’d think it would be the complete opposite). On Tuesday I was treated to a fajita lunch at El Arroyo by my wife, El Directoro de Cateringo. I hung out with Harold on Wednesday. Usually I take the Jeep so he and I can go someplace. This time Elise had the Jeep so I had to ride the trusty Shadow to Harold’s house. We played basketball in his driveway and I showed him how a motorcycle works. I had to cut our visit short because the skies turned black and I knew I needed to get back home eventually. I was rained on on the way home. If you’ve ever ridden a motorcycle in the rain, even during a light sprinkle, you know the pain. A SUV drove up beside me and gave me a couple gentle honks. I looked over and the passenger, a girl who I would guess was the same age me, gave me a kindly, sympathetic wave as she stuck out her bottom lip. I smiled and nodded. That sympathy made me feel a little better.

I kicked a girl in the nose while sparring in Tae Kwon Do class last night. I don’t say that because I’m proud. We ended class early so we could all huddle around her and watch while she dabbed the blood with a paper towel and listen to yours truly repeatedly say “I am soooooooo sorry”. It really was an accident. It was one of those foot-and-face-meet-each-other-because-they-were-traveling-towards-each-other type things. She lunged as I was kicking. I felt really bad. I apologized profusely.

That’s pretty much what’s been going on recently.

Home buying

I took the first step in the actual pursuit of a home. Elise and I have been doing a lot of research and consulting with family, friends, Fannie Mae and the credit union. I e-mailed Della, a realtor who happens to be a third degree black belt and my instructor’s wife and gave her our criteria. She said she’s going to start looking for us.

Since Elise started working, we’ve been putting her earnings into a secondary savings account that I setup specifically for the purchase of a house. I’m sure that once Della starts sending us information on houses, we’ll become more motivated to save more and to save it faster!

Round Rock Express, wheel shopping

Elise and I took John to the Round Rock Express game on Friday night. The weather was really nice and the park was quite impressive (I’m not really a baseball fan). We really didn’t watch much of the game. We sat and talked and laughed at John while he spilled Buffalo wing crumbs on the guy sitting in front of us.

After the game, we took John home and Elise and I caught up with the remnants of a bachelor party. We met up with the boys at Club Austin, then we trekked all the way to Fado, then finally to Katz’s for a late night dinner.

We began shopping for new wheels and tires for the Jeep on Saturday. That took pretty much most of the day. We’re going to beef the Jeep up with 32″ tires. For dinner, I cooked the elk tenderloin filets that had been marinating for the past couple days. I really undercooked them, so that kind of hosed the meal. I had made garlic and rosemary mashed potatoes, but they were cold by the time the elk was done. Wow – the elk was awesome!!! Very tender, very flavorful. Definitely going on my menu whenever I own my own restaurant. I want to try ostrich and antelope next. After dinner, Elise and I went over to Tommy’s to watch boxing.

We slept in on Sunday. I woke up in time to make a grilled salmon salad for lunch. Veggies, grilled salmon and a raspberry vinaigrette. We were homebodies most of the day. We did make a special trip down Barton Springs so we could buy two 90 cent frozen custards at Sandy’s.

We decided to splurge last night and bought tickets to the upcoming Aerosmith/Kiss concert.

Amanda Karotkin

Crap! I forgot to tell everyone that Elise and I had a baby. We kept meaning to call and tell our friends and family, but it seemed as if we always became sidetracked by something usually pretty important. One time, we were going to call my parents to tell them but we found ourselves in a heated debate over pro mint waxed floss or cinnamon waxed floss (not pro).

Actually, these are photos of Amanda Morgan Karotkin (AKA Mandy Mo), offspring of Bill and Andrea.


I’ve had two weird dreams in the past few days. I usually don’t remember my dreams. I’ve also been waking up before my alarm. On Monday morning I dreamt that I was bitten on my left big toe by a cobra. Elise and I were visiting with some random anglo man outside of a temple type building. I looked up and noticed a cobra dangling from a wooden cylinder that was part of the building’s architecture. As I stepped away, I felt a sharp pain on my foot. I looked down to see a cobra letting loose of my toe and slithering off.

I asked Elise and Mr. Random Anglo to rush me to the hospital. They were in no hurry. I started getting mad. I told them that I was beginning to feel light headed. Still no rush. Elise and Mr. Anglo just continued to talk. I began walking to the Jeep, I guess to take myself to the hospital and that’s when the alarm went off.

I told Elise about this dream. She wondered if I felt as if she was neglecting me in some way.

I had a dream this morning where a group of us witnessed a man who was run over by one of those rolling pin tractors that are used when paving a road. He wasn’t crushed, he was just pressed into the ground. He pulled himself out of his self-shaped hole and started walking around.

Elise’s first full day at El Arroyo

Today is Elise’s first full day on the job as the Catering Manager for El Arroyo. She will no longer be working with me anymore. I was made aware of this situation yesterday evening. It never dawned on me that I wouldn’t be seeing my wife in the office anymore. We will no longer be able to go home for lunch together.

Fourth of July in Des Moines

Elise and I made the long trek to the frozen tundra known as Des Moines over the long Fourth of July weekend. By frozen tundra, I mean 100 + degrees and more humid than Houston. Really. It was cooler in Austin when we left last Wednesday evening.

Elise and I stayed in Dallas with our friend Jenni. We woke up early and drove straight through to Des Moines. Texas. Oklahoma. Kansas. Missouri. Iowa. I-35 the whole way. We stopped and took pictures of yours truly by the state line signs. Another couple had the same idea. This other couple pulled in behind us at the Oklahoma sign, and then again at the Kansas sign. What are the odds of that happening? They were heading to Nebraska so we didn’t see them at the Missouri sign.

After stopping in northern Missouri to purchase bulk quantities of colorful explosives from the largest fireworks warehouse I’ve ever seen, we chugged on through to Des Moines. We exchanged quick hellos with Elise’s parents and then headed over to Lindsey’s house to meet her new son, Liam. After 12 + hours in the car, we were both ready for bed. We drove back to Steve and Joanne’s house to find that the air conditioning was not working. Steve and Joanne volunteered to be part of a program through the local utility company where their home’s air conditioner will be turned off (remotely by the utility company) for 20 minutes during peak hours. After a couple hours, we realized that something wasn’t right. Elise and I were so tired that we really didn’t have a hard time falling to sleep despite the hot and humid inside climate.

We woke up on Friday and went to the Fourth of July parade in Urbandale with Heather and her daughter Juliet and Jimmy and his two girls. After the parade Elise and I went to Mom and Dad B’s house where Steve and I painted the back deck with a primer. In the hot sun. I sweated. Profusely. Texas-sized beads of sweat, man.

After a cold shower (still no air conditioning), Elise and I went to Pat and Traci’s house in West Des Moines for a FOJ barbecue. That’s Fourth of July for you PWCFOAVW. That’s People Who Can’t Figure Out Acronyms Very Well. After a great bratwurst barbecue, Heather, Jimmy, Juliet, Elise and I drove to Grandma T’s house to sit in the Cold Day Sack and watch the Urbandale fireworks display. Oh yeah, that’s French for a street shaped not much unlike a thermometer.

The fireworks display was awesome. Plus, after five years of being with Elise and knowing most of her family, I was finally able to meet Uncle Mike. Uncle Mike is Joanne’s brother. He reminds me of one of my uncles. Everyone always ‘warned’ me of Uncle Mike. I actually enjoyed Uncle Mike’s company. My in-laws were keeping an eye on me and even extended an invitation to join in on their conversation just a few feet away, I guess to keep me from harm. See, Uncle Mike is approximately 6′ 7″ and, if I had to guess, approximately 375 lbs. and prone to giving loving, but vertebrae splintering bear hugs. He’s a very compassionate man who just doesn’t know his own strength. I was told that he once fractured a man’s humorous when engaging in a standard hi-five after a soft ball game.

I’m just joshin’. Uncle Mike is probably 5′ 8″ and a buck and a half. He’s the “black sheep”. I put that in quotes because that’s what I was told. He uses one of those microphone-shaped-voice-box-vibrator things to speak because he had his larynx removed due to cancer. After we warmed up to one another, I asked if I could try out his voice. He said no. I asked if he would be willing to Sumo wrestle for it. He said okay. I then decided that it would take me to long to find my diaper and I didn’t think I had another one to spare for him. So instead, we just watched the fireworks. Uncle Mike kept saying “zzzzzzzzBoomzzzzzzz”. and then we would both laugh.

After the fireworks display ended, Elise, Eric (Elise’s brother), Kari and I did the only patriotic thing we could think of: Drive into someone else’s corn field and ignite consumer-grade fireworks that just so happen to be illegal in the state of Iowa. I mention a corn field because there aren’t that many corn fields in Iowa. Believe me. Luckily I was traveling with natives of this Midwestern region and they were able to navigate to a remote location that contained a few stalks of corn. I couldn’t have done that on my own.

Our patriotism was cut short by near-tornadic winds and rain. We tracked four pounds of corn soil and a gallon of water into the Jeep, took Kari home, then Eric. Elise and I then went home.

We woke up on Saturday and went to the farmers’ market. Steve and Joanne bought some fresh greens, Iowa chops and some funny looking yellow vegetables. These vegetables have very small “kernels” growing in near-symmetric rows on something that I was told is called an “ear”. Elise and I bought a little over a pound of farm raised elk tenderloin filets from some very friendly locals. The marketing strategy that forced me into buying their product: Mr. Reitsma let us all sample an elk round steak. I’m really excited about cooking the filets we brought back with us.

We went to Autographs Rock ‘n’ Roll Sports Bar & Grill for lunch where Eric gave us the V.I.P. treatment. That meant sitting in the V.I.P. room and eating waaaay too much food. Eric is the Kitchen Manager at Autographs. I was lucky enough to be sitting in front of a glass encased Stratocaster, signed by all of the members of Metallica.

Later that evening Elise and I went over to Lindsey’s house to hang out with Lindsey, Liam, Heather, Juliet, Kari and Lindsey’s parents. Elise and I went back home and Steve and I sat on our primed porch and talked about life and motorcycles until the wee hours of the morning.

We woke up late on Sunday just in time for Iowa chops, mixed green salad and that weird cylindrical-shaped yellow “ear” vegetable. Elise and I then packed, loaded the Jeep, said our sad goodbyes and hit the road. We stopped in Kansas to visit Elise’s Grandpa. Unfortunately it wasn’t a face to face conversation. We looked down at Grandpa T’s grave which is nestled next to a nice shade tree. I didn’t say it out loud, but I thanked Grandpa T. for Joanne, and ultimately Elise.

Elise drove the entire nine hours to Norman, Oklahoma where we stopped and stayed at the Super 8. We had a couple of beers to relax and then went to bed.

I drove the last leg all the way back to Austin on Monday. We were exhausted when we finally made it back home. Coming home is always such a bummer. Although the trip was short, we had a really nice time. It was good to see Elise’s family, friends and friends’ new babies. And Nooooooo – before you ask – we’re not there yet – Baby-wise, I mean.

Road Trippin’ to Des Moines

Elise and I are embarking on our trip to the city of Des Moines this evening. We will be leaving after work and staying the night with our friend, Jenni in Dallas. We will then wake up first thing in the morning and drive straight through.

I really wasn’t looking forward to this trip at first, but now I’m getting excited. I wasn’t excited because at the time of discussion, we didn’t have a lot of money and I know — I’m calling it here — something is going to happen to the Jeep. I’m putting my money on a blowout somewhere in northern Kansas.

According to my calculations, the drive one way is 934.94 miles and will take us 15 hours and 12 minutes. Wuff.