School year coming to an end

The school year is coming to an end. The only reason I know this is because a coworker has two daughters, one of which is graduating from high school. I think I may also be suffering from some sort of subconscious nostalgia. It was around this time ten years ago that I graduated from high school. That whole time I kept thinking to myself: “Man, it’s going to be great to breeze through college, get a degree, get a good job and life will be so much less stressful”.

I liked high school a lot more than most of my college experience. College was a tough time for me. I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to study or what I wanted to do with my life. I thought it was going to be a great experience. I was really excited in May of 1994 – my life was about to change drastically and I was going to embark on some new and fun adventures. Those next four years were a big let down. I can only blame myself though. The best thing that happened to me was when I met Elise. I was still with my ex-girlfriend at the time but even just having met Elise as an acquaintance seemed to change my life. Devine intervention. Fate. I knew things were going to change. And they did.

I’ve always liked May. It reminds me change. School would end for the summer and I would try to squeeze as much nothing into my vacation before I started a new chapter in my life. I wish I could go back in time and find myself preparing for graduation. I’d take Elise with me this time.

Jewel song, McDonald’s novelty

Since I’ll soon be commuting to Marble Falls for work everyday, I’ve been riding the bicycle to the Austin office while I still can. I won’t have that luxury for much longer. I tried plugging the iPod into my computer this morning. iTunes didn’t recognize it. I’ve been listening to the same playlists for over a month. No new songs on the iPod. When I was approximated one mile from work, Morning Song by Jewel began playing. At this same time I began declining a slope in my route which allowed me to stop pedaling. I usually stand while riding a bike. I took in some of the morning air and took a gaze to my left. A non-descript bird was flying along side me. Keep in mind, a Jewel song is whispering sweet folk yodel in my ear. I look back at the bird. The bird looked at me. Jewel’s singing. The bird flew off. I thought to myself: “Man, I’m a goon”.

I read today that Wayport is putting wireless Internet in 8,000 McDonald’s. That’s good. Maybe people will spend more time in McDonald’s reading about bad carbs on their notebooks with free hi-speed Internet access. That’s one more reason for me to pinch pennies for the iBook fund. I used to hang out with a couple back in college. They liked McDonald’s. I remember one time the three of us were driving some place. The (then) new McDonald’s on Burleson and 71 had just been completed. The girl says: “Oh, sweety, we haven’t eaten at that McDonald’s yet”.

I thought that was funny. I’m more of a Dairy Queen man.

Pulling a Trump

I had to fire someone last Thursday. I had been thinking about doing it for a few weeks. This person was only going to be working with us until the end of July. After learning that we were going to consolidate offices in Marble Falls, he decided to put in his two weeks notice. I really saw no purpose in keeping him onboard. My boss felt the same.

Having to fire someone is like having to shoot your favorite dog who went off and got all sickly on you. It’s necessary. I’m guessing it would have been easier to let this person go had he stole something or groped a coworker. I had to fire him because of productivity issues and an overall bad work ethic. It was a hard thing to do because he and I had hung out outside of work. There was a personal relationship that I had to sever as well.

I guess what they say is true: If it hurts, it’s good for you (or the company).

A guy rides his bicycle into a truck

We finally went to the grocery store yesterday evening. This after having gone a week with no food. I think it was Wednesday evening when I ate the last package of Ramen noodles. Once we run out of food, we end up eating out. We like dining out as a treat, not as a means of survival. Brick Oven, Wendy’s, Texadelphia, Chick-Fil-A, Double Daves. Those establishments kept us alive for the past few days. We now have food in our refrigerator and pantry. Elise made a dewberry cobbler that I snuck a bite of this morning. Lasagna, shrimp kabobs, burgers, chicken and popsicles are on the menu for the rest of the week.

On Friday I took an extended lunch to get my truck inspected. It wouldn’t pass because I needed a new tail light lens. I drove around to places where cars go to die trying to find a tail light lens. I finally found one. I came back to work and looked online to find that I could have saved $20 had I shopped eBay first. I went home, installed the new lens, replaced a brake light and got my truck inspected. I watched the Lakers beat the Timberwolves.

We woke up early on Saturday and worked in the yard all day. Elise and I went to lunch at Texadelphia and went to HoPot for mulch and flowers. We came home and worked until the sun went down. We showered and met Mark and Terri for drinks at Applebee’s.

I changed the oil in my truck on Sunday and bought more rocks for edging one of the oak trees in our front yard. I went back to HoPot for more mulch and tomato cages. I came home and saw a bicyclist plow right into the front of a parked truck. After realizing that the guy was okay, I couldn’t help but die laughing on the inside. I then put a few things up for sale on eBay in an effort to raise funds for an iBook. Elise came home from work and we went to HEB with an on-the-fly grocery list. We always spend more when we go to the grocery store half cocked. Luckily we weren’t hungry.

Late Mother’s Day weekend

This past weekend was a relaxing one. Elise and I weren’t able to visit my parents the weekend before last for Mother’s Day, so we both left work early this past Friday and went for a visit. We made it in time to have fried catfish at Cross Roads. This is something Elise hasn’t been able to try in the five years that we’ve been together.

After dinner we drove to Bellville to buy a half gallon of Blue Bell ice cream for the dewberry cobbler that mom made. Stuffed full of catfish, hush puppies, cole slaw, French fries, pinto beans, cobbler and ice cream, we all went to bed early.

Elise and I woke up early on Saturday morning and washed the Jeep. We lounged around the yard as the temperature and humidity were tolerable. I went inside and fell asleep on the couch. Elise and mom piddled in the garden and dad also took a nap in the den (men need sleep). I woke up and went back outside only to lounge around in the yard some more. Later that afternoon, Elise and I suited up and picked dewberries near the train tracks in Cat Spring. For
dinner, Mom pressure cooked a pork roast with potatoes, carrots and celery. I broke her pressure cooker in the sink. Dad fixed it.

That night Elise and I drove to Brenham to watch the Lakers beat the Spurs on the big screen TV at Sander’s Place. My parents don’t have cable and I didn’t want to miss that game. Bye Spurs. The Lakers are going to the Western Conference finals. It’s kind of hard to be a Texan and root for the ‘other’ team. Oh well. Since the game didn’t start until 9:30 p.m., we didn’t get back to my parents’ house until almost 1 a.m.

We woke up on Sunday, ate breakfast and I think I took a nap on the couch. We pretty much stayed in most of the day to avoid the heat.
Later that afternoon Elise and I put the soft top on the Jeep. We drove back to Austin late that evening. I got semi-depressed on the way home. I’ve been missing my parents a lot recently. But, we still had a nice weekend.

45 mile commute to work??!?

Sometimes I think life is just out to get me. Early last week I had a weird dream about work. The next day my boss ‘moved on’. Two days after that, I bought a truck so I could keep dry when it rains and haul various things (i.e. building a deck). Four days later I find out my job (as well as everyone else’s) has moved to Marble Falls. That’s a 90 mile round trip from where I live.

The employees of the Austin office drove to Marble Falls yesterday for what we thought was a meeting. We were told that the company is consolidating in Marble Falls and got to see our new office. It’s a pretty drive and it is a pretty town, but still, 90 miles? I still haven’t been able to pick my jaw up from off the ground. I guess I’ll just have to see how things go.

Change at work, another dead bird, bought a truck

A lot has happened this week. It all started with a shocking dose of clairvoyance. I think my dream about work had an underlying meaning. There was a “change in management” late Tuesday which has left me with more responsibilities and an undying knot in my stomach.

I came home late that evening to watch the Lakers beat the Spurs to tie the series 2-2 in the Western Conference Semifinals. For second-stage entertainment, Annie brought another bird into the house and killed it behind the TV armoire. And again, Riley swaggered by for investigation.

After nearly four years of riding a motorcycle, I finally bought a truck. It’s nothing fancy, but it’ll keep me dry on rainy days and will be good for hauling things that only a 1993 4-cylinder Toyota pickup can haul: large quantities of cotton and rice cakes.

Fight with the Ultimate Chopper – baby back ribs

Elise worked somewhere around 734 hours over this past weekend while yours truly made sure nobody came into our house and stole the TV. I came home from work on Friday evening, mowed two strips in the front lawn and noticed that the yard didn’t need mowing. I flopped down on the couch and finally watched the Boondock Saints DVD I borrowed from a coworker.

Elise went to work at 4 a.m. on Saturday. I woke up (much later than that) and mopped the kitchen and swiffered the hard wood. I rode over to Victor’s could-be-new-house to put in my two cents on the notion of a purchase. It’s a cool little house. I told him I thought he should buy it. There are a few repairs that are needed but it’s an 11 year old house.

I came home to find Elise taking a nap on the couch. I kicked my feet up onto the couch and fell asleep TV. Elise went back to work and I re-edged the garden with the stones we recently purchased. We both agreed that a curved layout would look better than the straight design if using naturally occurring rocks. I watched more TV for the rest of the evening.

I called Mom to wish her a happy Mother’s Day on Sunday. I picked up some baby back ribs, Coke and beer and headed home for the one-man barbecue and basketball. My plan was to watch game three of the Lakers Vs. Spurs series and eat baby back ribs and drink beer. I should have started this meal on Saturday.

While at a stop light on my way back from HEB with my small amount of groceries, the 2 liter bottle of Coke leapt out of my backpack. That was mildly amusing. I then got into a huge argument and choking fight with my Ultimate Chopper. My UC has decided to no longer relinquish its S blade. I was in the process of mincing garlic, onion and ginger when the fight occurred. Without going in to great detail, I had to spend half an hour cleaning aforementioned minced vegetables from all surfaces of the kitchen.

I watched the Lakers finally beat the Spurs yesterday afternoon.

I marinated my pork ribs in Coke syrup (a reduction of the two liter bottle that flopped out onto the street earlier), rubbed them with garlic, cayenne, cumin, salt and pepper and smoked them for a couple hours. I took the surviving post-fight chopped vegetables and made a spicy orange and ginger barbecue sauce. I also made a chipotle ranch potato salad. Elise came home just in time to eat watch a movie and go to bed.

Stressful morning dreams

I had some weird dreams last night. In the first dream I was sitting in my office at work, in the dark. The next thing I know, a SWAT team is inside the office. There are probably ten men with M-16 rifles, all wearing black and wearing night vision goggles. I’m petrified because I’m thinking they’re after me for something. One slowly approaches me. I put my hands up very slowly to find that I’m holding a large, half-rotten red apple in my hand. The soldier emits some reassurance via telepathy and I then know that I’m not the one they’re looking for. From my chair I watch as the rest of the team scan the tiny little closet where we have our paper, laser printer and microwave. The reassuring soldier points his gun to the ceiling in my office at what looks like a smoke detector.

I woke up.

I had a hard time falling back to sleep because I kept thinking the blinds would start their glow. Our bedroom window faces northeast and in the mornings the blinds “glow” when the sun rises. When this happens, I know it’s only minutes before my alarm sounds. I peeked and the blinds were nowhere near glowing. I didn’t want to look at the clock because when I do, that just prolongs my falling back to sleep because I begin thinking: “It’s 5:27, my alarm is going go off in one hour and eight minutes. No, it’s one hour and seven minutes. Let’s see… what’s five plus seven?… carry the one…”

So I shoved my face back into my pillow and tried to sit still and fall back to sleep. I was sweating. I was hot. The cat came and licked my nose. I was frustrated. I finally fell back to sleep only to be awaken by a very short-lived dream where a part human, part demon entity broke into our house, creepily walked into our bedroom and mangled my arms with a knife.

I couldn’t fall asleep after that because I was paranoid that someone was going to break into our house. I thought about having our security system turned on and monitored. This is a service we opted out of when we bought the house. The security system is installed, we just don’t pay to have it monitored. I then thought about how heavy of a sleeper I am. Should someone break in, would I even hear it? And if I did, I have a baseball bat and a 12-guage shotgun in the closet – would I be able to get to either one of them in time? Elise doesn’t like to have the gun loaded in the house, so would I have enough time to put shells in the gun? That would make noise so the infiltrator would be able to find us quicker by following the sounds of my fumbling fingers.

The cat licked me on the nose again. I was tempted to see just how fast I could load the shotgun. Elise probably would have gotten mad at me for waking her up that early in the morning to shoot the damn cat with a shotgun and close range. Riley understood my frustration and hopped off the bed.

I didn’t sleep for the rest of the morning.

Computer: 2 – Josh: 2

It’s been a long week for yours truly and his battle with technology. Since building a new computer, I’ve been gradually installing software as I need it. Earlier this week I wanted to download some photos from our digital camera. To make these images web-ready, I used to use a combination of XP’s Image Resizer and Albert Bertilsson’s Renamer. With a couple right clicks of the mouse, I could batch resize and rename an entire directory of digital photos.

I can’t get the Renamer freeware to work like I once had. The instructions (which I’m sure are for Windows 98/2000/NT) tell you to:

  • Select “folder options” in explorer.
  • Select “File types”.
  • Find the type “File folder” in the list, and select it.
  • Select “Edit”.
  • Select “New”, to edit add a new action.
  • Name the action “Renamer”, and select Renamer as application.
  • If you rightclick a drawer, a “Renamer” option will appear,

    selecting it will start Renamer with that directory.

Doing this in XP will make the search utility open when a folder is double-clicked. Very frustrating. I explained my frustration to Elise and told her that this is why I want an iBook – for iLife (as well as overall OS stability). I figured she’d empathize because she’s the photographer of the family and photos are, well, very important – especially in their digital format and should be handled very carefully with computers made by Apple.

Then comes the hacking. was hacked early this morning. Damn script kiddies. has been hacked twice in two weeks. Damn damn script kiddies.

Then there’s my recent online banking experience. I “forgot” to pay our Jeep payment last month. Well, I remembered somewhere around April 17th. The payment is due on the 1st. To make sure that that didn’t happen again, I scheduled an automatic payment using UFCU’s BillPay. I “forgot” that I implemented this time and energy saving system so I also manually sent our Jeep payment this month as well. I sent two Jeep payments in May. Since I’ve only been paying our bills online for a couple months, I watch my payment history very closely. I’m lucky I do this because both instances of the Jeep payment had, what they call in the banking industry, “errors”. I called our credit union this morning to get things squared away. I’m still not sure what’s going on. I called our credit union in Temple (Jeep lien holder) and told them that their money was on its way. Somehow.

We were also to become part of the elite, prestigious, pinkies-up, high-nosed Advantage-Plus Checking members at our bank. Again, this was an oversight, or an “error”, and we were still in the peasant-like e-Checking bracket. Because this change hadn’t been made in our wear-on-our-sleeve banking status, we were charged $4.95 for what would otherwise be free BillPay services provided for Advantage-Plus Checking members. The horror. I got our $4.95 back.

The Big Kahuna of annoyances. The Mother of Reasons to Put a Fist through your Monitor. Omegasearch. My browser was hijacked by
Omegasearch. That sucked. My homepage was changed, a nifty search bar was added to Internet Explorer, I got loads of new bookmarks as well as a huge banner added to the bottom of my browser window. If your browser is ever hijacked by Omegasearch, go here, download Hijack This, run the utility and post your log file here. Dexter will help.

But wait, that’s not all. My Outlook at work is hosed. I have two messages in my outbox that appear to not be sent, but they’ve sent. They’ve sent a lot. Like 19 times they’ve been sent. This is, of course, after Outlook refuses to open or when it does, it hangs for 10 minutes. This happens once a month. I’ve embraced it.

I love computers.

DoubleDave’s and landscaping rocks

This past Friday Elise and I rented Big Fish and Kill Bill Vol. 1. On the way home we stopped at HEB and picked up some Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. We both didn’t like Big Fish. I guess it was over-hyped.

On Saturday we drove way out to the middle of nowhere somewhere west of Dripping Springs and set up a catering at a couples’ home. We drove back to El Arroyo, had dinner and walked down 6th street to eye the goods being sold at the Pecan Street Festival. We didn’t find much of interest and it was getting too cold to be outside.

We woke up early on Sunday and I started cleaning the interior of the Jeep. This was necessary because it was becoming a health issue. Last weekend while helping Elise cater the GreenFest, I spilled chicken fajitas inside the Jeep. Chicken fajita meat doesn’t smell good after sitting in a car for 8 days. The good thing about having a Jeep is that you can pull the drain plugs and hose out the interior.

After sanitizing our ride, we drove back out to nowhere somewhere west of Dripping Springs to pick up the table and chafing dishes we dropped of the day prior. We came back to Oak Hill and cashed in on a free lunch buffet for two coupon at DoubleDave’s. I always remembered DoubleDave’s as having crappy pizza. Our pizza was really good this time.

Since we had the van, we drove to Dollar Tile and bought some (1200 lbs.) landscaping stones. We spent the rest of the afternoon edging our garden and the oak trees in the front yard.