Dodging Katrina


Matt e-mailed this morning to let me know that he and Gabrielle (and the cats) are safe in Houston after having just moved into a house in New Orleans!

Hey Everybody!

Thanks so much for all your emails and phone calls over the last couple of days. It means the world to us to know you are all there. Here’s what we know.

As some of you know, we are in Houston at my Dad’s house. All the animals are fine, we are fine. Just worried about where all this will put us. The road in and out of the city are littered with trees and debris. The twin bridge that runs to the west bank (our version of the golden gate bridge) is gone. There is no clean running water, no electricity, lots of snakes and “swamp-things” running around the hood.

We spoke to our landlord last night for the first time. She is a head nurse in the ICU at the only remaing hospital. She let us know that except for a missing fence and a couple of broken windows the house is fine – no water damage that she could see. That was good news. The sad thing is, we dont know what it will be like to come home too. With a million homeless people, contaminated water, and no power, it could be like living in a Mad Max movie……and I’m no Mel Gibson!

Thanks again for all your help and concern. We will be alright. Just pray for those 20,000 in the Superdome! yikes!

-matt & gab

Fried stereo and little sleep

Elise and I ran a few errands yesterday. We were listening to a Podcast on the iPod shuffle (very hard to do if you want to listen to a particular episode) when all of the sudden the tape adapter would fast forward and stop. It would play a few seconds of the Podcast and then stop as the adapter tried to fast forward. Eventually the tape deck in the truck started clicking, the tape adapter’s reels continued to spin in fast forward and there was no more Podcast.

Frustrated, Elise pressed the eject button. The tape adapter came out of the tape deck and the stereo switched to radio mode. In radio mode the stereo found itself in a perpetual state of seek, scanning every radio station but not stopping. We just watched as the channel numbers cycled over and over at a rapid speed.

I’m wondering if I should summon the scholarly minds of the Ford Forums.

In unrelated news: I couldn’t fall asleep last night. Elise fell asleep on the couch at 10:30. I woke her up and we both went to bed at 11:15 and I just layed there.

I layed there.

I layed there.

I rolled over.

Still haven’t yet fallen asleep I finally lean up and looked at the clock. 1:30 a.m.

I rolled over. I put my feet outside of the sheet and comforter. I layed on my side. I switch sides. I turned my head one way, then the other way. I rolled over. I meditated and thought about nothing. I just couldn’t fall asleep.

I didn’t want to get up and do anything in fear that I might overly stimulate my senses and make it that much harder to fall asleep.

So I just layed there for what seemed like forever.

I don’t know what time I finally fell asleep but I think it was somewhere near 10-minutes before my alarm sounded.

Saying bye and Honey do

On Saturday morning the winning bidder of the trusty Shadow auction and her son showed up to pick up the bike. We chatted for a while as I signed over the title. They’re great people and it’s good to know my bike is going to be ridden someone who will really enjoy it and take care of it.

I watched from the driveway as the Shadow made way to its new home. It was a sad morning indeed.

I didn’t have time to dwell on the loss or be reminiscent as I had a list of projects and chores to tend to. It was 10:30 in the morning and time to get up in the attic. A month ago I bought 100′ of speaker wire and swivel speaker mounts so I could put speakers out on the deck.

I climbed up into the attic, made my way to the opposite side of the house, fished through insulation to find the coax cable that goes down the living room wall and out behind the TV armoire. A new hole needed to be drilled through 4-inches of of wood to drop a string down the wall to pull up the speaker wire. I crawled back through the attic and into the garage to get my cordless drill and my spade bit. The drill tuckered out on me. My backup battery was dead.

Off to the local hardware store for a corded drill. The local hardware recently went out of business. Then it was off to the ol’ HoPot. I picked up a reliable corded drill and a 1-1/4 spade bit. I got home and it was up to the attic again. It was 1:30 at this point and probably 200-degrees in the attic. August + Texas + Attic = Hell. I sweated so much that it looked like I just got out of the shower.

It was so hot that I thought I was going to puke and pass out but was bound and determined to run the speaker wire. I was finishing up in the attic and making my way back toward the garage. I had a flashlight, extention cord and my new drill with the new spade bit attached. I lost my balance and had to take a large step so my foot would land on a rafter instead of falling through sheetrock. In doing so I stabbed the back of my calf with the spade bit. I heard it puncture my skin and I became light headed.

I installed the speaker mounts, installed the speakers, ran my wiring and now have music on the deck. And a Band Aid on my calf.

Elise had to go to work later that afternoon. I took some clothes to Goodwill, ran to the bank, had the oil changed in the truck, went to Bed Bath & Beyond for kitchen gadgets and then to Pep Boys for an air filter.

Christine worked for Elise that night so I went over to John’s place for a guys night in. John, Jack, Josh, a deep dish pizza from Mangia and a football.

I got home after midnight and Elise and I stayed up until after 3 a.m. talking our jobs. Man, we’re party animals.

We didn’t get out of bed until 10 this morning. I finally fixed the water softener that hadn’t worked in a month or so.

While at John’s last night we saw an ad for Furniture Row… no interest financing until 2010. So Elise and I went furniture shopping this afternoon. We didn’t find anything.

Next stop: the grocery store and finally home. For dinner I made a hot & crunchy fried trout with habanero garlic tartar and a late summer sauteed vegetable salad.

Crunchy Trout

Fried Trout

Trout filets
Corn Flakes, crushed
Crushed red pepper
Chile powder

Wash and season trout with salt. Dredge in beaten egg bath. Dredge in breading mixture. Fry in hot oil.

Habenero Tartar

Sweet pickle relish
1/2 habenero chile, finely diced
Red poblano pepper, finely diced
Garlic, diced

Sauteed Late-Summer Salad

Green squash, julienned
Yellow zuchinni, cut on bias
Fennel, sliced (use leaves for color and extra flavor)
Cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
Lemon to taste
Salt to taste
Fresh basil

Sautee in XVO

Crunchy Trout

iTMS Bamboozle and tha Rasta Willie

I had heard a lot about Willie Nelson’s new “reggae” album recently. I passed it off as some overly-hyped thing that usually turns me off…

I don’t know how it came up but Elise and I started talking about Willie Nelson tonight as I was looking into a new flatbed scanner on eBay while sitting at the bar and while Elise was making a milkshake in the kitchen. I hit the iTunes Music Store and sampled Willie’s song: “I’m a Worried Man“. Elise and I, without prompting nor a head nod, immediately found ourselves in a groove. Elise was twisting and bobbing while blending her milkshake. I, at the iBook, stationed at the bar, was deeply and rastafarianly bouncing and turning my head in two directions to the rhythm. We could have easily been the b-roll for the opening credits of The Cosby Show. It was hot.

So, I bought the song, “I’m a Worried Man” for $.99 from the iTunes Music Store. I played the song 4 more times on the stereo in the living room via AirTunes. The bass was awesome… the hardwood floors were rumbling.

I revistited the iTMS and sampled more of the Countryman album. All of the songs are fun. It really is a great album. I haven’t listened to the lyrics yet – but it’s one of those albums that you just crank up while driving to New Braunfels in route to a killer toobin’ adventure. It doesn’t matter so much the lyrics, it’s just a fun album from a head bobbin’, neck jigglin’, Cosby Show intro perspective.

So I decided to buy the entire album (or “record“). Since I had already purchased the “I’m a Worried Man” song, I was asked if I was sure that I wanted to buy the entire album. What was I to do? 12 songs on the album. I had already purchased one song for $.99. There were 11 songs left to purchase. $9.99 for the entire album or pick the other 11 songs that I hadn’t yet purchased for a total of, yes, you guessed correctly, $9.99.

Could I return the one song? Instead of omitting one song, I purchased the entire album. So the music industry got $.99 out of Joe Consumer. It was for a Willie Nelson album… and a pretty cool album for that matter. I have some awesome en-route to a toobin’ music for next year!

On a personal note: my family moved to Cat Spring (population 17 and a coon dog) when I was 11-years-old. My parents had donkeys (Domesticated Ass would be great name for a band) for agricultural write-off purposes as they had a house on 35 acres of property in the country. Our donkeys received awesome names like: Dolly Parton, Earl Campbell, Kathy Whitmeyer, Loretta Lynn and Willie Nelson. I have a deep-rooted and personal relationship with very important people. And donkeys.

So now I’m groovin’ to reggae music by Willie Nelson. All I see in my head is a donkey hanging out with Ricky Williams and they’re both buying music from the iTunes Music Store.

Last Ride

I got home from work at 8 o’clock tonight and quickly mowed the lawn, edged and blew the grass clippings off of the driveway and sidewalks. I walked into the garage and stopped to look at the trusty Shadow. There it was… shiny black paint and chrome. I put the key in the ignition and the garage was illuminated by the headlight. I pulled the choke, turned the key and my faithful steed came to life.

I wanted to crank it up just to make sure everything sounded okay before Charles and his family come to pick it up tomorrow morning. Everything sounded great. I listened and stared. My old friend turned, looked at me and said, “Come on, let’s go. One last time.”

I obliged.

I saddled up and reved the throttle so the straight pipes could echo in the garage.

The trusty Shadow and I went on a peaceful ride. I wanted it to be one to remember. We took Slaughter up to MoPac and headed south. We curved onto Hwy 45 and took in the baby blue glow of the hill country sky as dusk began to pass. I held back a tear or two as it set in that this was our last ride. Then a bug hit me in the forehead.

We turned right on 1826 and I gunned it just for old time’s sake. I thought about all the miles I put on that bike. All the places we had been. It was my only source of transportation for years. I’d been through a lot with that motorcycle. It’s a great bike and has a lot of years left in it.

It was a great last ride. The temperature outside was comforting, the air was thin and all I could smell was grass and trees. There were very few cars out and of those, none were trailing us. We could go as we pleased.

I pulled into the garage and left the engine running for a bit so I could listen for one last time. I turned off the engine, dismounted and stopped to look at the trusty Shadow again. Riley walked into the garage, looked up at me and meowed. He and I are in-tune. He knew that this was a deep moment for me. I picked him up and we shared a final look at the ride I’ve always known as trusty.

I’m going to miss my old friend…

Dreamhost hosted website backup was hacked sometime in the very early morning yesterday. has been hacked a few times in its years. In the past, I would contact Dreamhost‘s technical support and say, “My site was hacked. Can you fix it for me?” And they would.

This time I wrote and said, “Hey, my site was hacked. How do I fix it?”

Dreamhost takes full backup “snapshots” of your data twice hourly, twice daily and twice weekly. How’s that for getting your money’s worth?

So if you’re website is hosted by Dreamhost and you get hacked:

Telnet into your account
Windows: Start>Run> “telnet” (without quotes)
Login will be the same as your FTP username and password
Or you can use PuTTy

OS X: Terminal

Here are Dreamhost’s instructions

Steps for restoring data on your own :

    1. cd into the hidden directory named .snapshot (it will not show up in any directory listing at all, but it’s there)
    2. Choose how far back you would like to go ( hourly.0 is one hour ago, hourly.1 is two hours ago, nightly.0 is one day ago, nightly.1 is two days ago, weekly.0 it one week ago, weekly.1 is two weeks ago )
    3. Copy the restored file to where you want it (using the unix cp command). You’re done!

I had to reacquaint myself with the Unix command line…

cd .snapshot (note “.”)
cd nightly.1 (or however far back you need to go)
ls (to see your data files)
cp index.html /home/.server/user/

Let me know if you need help. Or you can contact the Happy Help You Recover Your Data Team at Dreamhost.

Important to do list

I have to keep lists for myself. I’m pretty good about keeping a mental list but I usually write things down for safe keeping and so I can actually scratch something off of my list. I really like my Ta-da List but I find myself using that for personal “honey-do” projects that are usually reserved for weekends. Most always I have a peice of paper in my left front pocket. I might need to run over to HoPot and I can’t call up my Ta-da List there.

This was on my tangible list today:

    Test setting up a client pharmacy domain in Plesk
    Determine if there is a RDA for Choline
    Pick socks up off floor in bedroom
    Cat puke

Well I’m here to tell you that I found time to clean cat puke but not time to set up a client test domain. I’m a family man – family comes first. ;-)

Fun with showroom salespeople

Mom, Elise and I went to Star Furniture in Houston on Saturday afternoon. Elise found a bedroom set that she liked. I liked it. Mom liked it. Elise and I decided to buy at least the bed. A saleswoman approached us. After introductions I asked if there were having any same as cash specials. She said, “No, but if you pay cash you will receive a 12% discount.”

12% is a nice discount and we would prefer to pay with cash but at that juncture, we didn’t have that much cash in our checking account.

I next asked if she could discount the bed as the footboard and a deep scratch on the top. She walked over to her point of sale kiosk and called her manager. We continued to inspect the bed. A few moments later she came back and told us that we would receive an additional 5% for the scratch in the furniture (the floor model was the last in their inventory).

Elise asked the saleswoman if we could have a few minutes to talk about it. She obliged. We talked about it and decided we didn’t need to spend the cash right then. We thanked the saleswoman and said we weren’t going to make a purchase today.

We continued to walk through the store. I was quick to notice a big poster that read, “Pay cash and receive a 12% discount OR take advantage of our two years no interest and no payments.”

We walked around the store some more (a 110,000 square-foot showroom) to see if we could find another bedroom set we liked. We decided we like the one we all had originally agreed upon. We walked back to that wing of the store and decided to go ahead and get the dresser as well.

We walked downstairs and had the business center page our salesperson. She came downstairs and I told her we’d like to buy the bed and dresser with the two years same as cash. We filled out the credit paperwork. Before she took our application, Elise asked to make sure that the 5% discount was applied to the purchase. We all heard her – she said, “Are you going to make sure to apply the 5% discount?” To which she replied, “Oh yes, of course. It will be on your receipt.” She then left and processed our approval. She came back with the the bill of sale which required our signatures. Elise noticed no 5% discount. She asked the saleswoman where the discount was.

“Oh, I thought you said you didn’t want the discount!”

Elise responded, “Why would we not want the discount?!”

Saleswoman’s response: “I don’t know. I was wondering that myself.”

Weekend with the parents

We spent this past weekend visiting my parents. We got to mom & dad’s around 7:30, said our quick hellos and hopped in the car again to drive up the road for catfish at Crossroads. Crossroads’ catfish always makes for a treat and is comfort food for me.

After dinner we went back to the house and we gave dad his belated birthday present. After belated birthday present opening, mom, dad and Elise endulged in homemade ice cream and cobbler. Everyone eventually fizzled out and went to bed. I stayed up, went outside and looked at Mars in the eastern sky. I thought about life, Mars, life, life, where my life is going, where Elise’s and my lives are going, if I left the toilet seat up for the cats so they could get water, I checked my armor, thought about life a little more and went for bed. Before settling in I softly asked Elise if she wanted to see Mars. She said, “Josh… See Mars?… You’re obviously stoned from the peyote so you and Jimi Hendrix need to put your guitars away for the night, you need to take Jimi home so he can take his kid to T-ball practice in the morning and you should brush your teeth and get some sleep.”

She got up and I showed her the bright orange glow in the eastern sky. She said, “Wow! That’s Mars?” To which I said, “Yes!” Elise then checked her armor and went straight back to bed.

Dad woke me up on Saturday morning so we could run the coax cable from the attic, down through the wall to the TV so mom could watch one show and record another….

My parents have been really up on television technology as of late. Last year they bought a large, flat panel DLP television for the living room. They subscribed to a digital satellite TV service and last week they acquired a new DLP TV for the den. Mom has been working on setting up the TV in the living room so they could watch one show while recording another on their DVR.

Enter Josh: I was up in the attic with an electric drill, flashlight, string, coax coupling kits, pliers and yards of coax wire. An attic in Texas turns into an oven at 10 a.m. in August. With the help of everyone I eventually ran the coax from the attic and through the wall to the TV in the living room.

The remainder of Saturday was cooking. Mom and I made homemade Salsa Verde. Mom went on to make garden grown spinach with balsamic vinegar, peas and a salad with purple onions, walnuts, Mandarin oranges, goat cheese with a sweet balsamic dressing. Dad marinated and grilled 1.76″ inch (yes, I measured) ribeyes. Dinner was awesome.

On Sunday Elise and I slept in. Around 1 p.m. the girls and I drove to Katy where I picked up a new e-Machines AMD64 Windows box for the office. We then drove around Houston in search for furniture. We had lunch at Panera in Memorial City and eventually we found a great bed and dresser for our bedroom at Star Furniture. We weren’t really in the market for new furniture but by chance we found a pretty good deal, aside from the terrible sales experience we had to endure.

We didn’t get home until almost 7 p.m. and had to immediately hit the road.

Another weekend that quickly blew by!


Josh cooks for the girls

Tejashri, Jenny, Christine, Tonja, Cyndi, Michelle and Elise had a girls’ night in at our house last night. Last month Christine, Kim and Elise decided that the girls needed to maintain regular get-togethers once a month. Christine and Cyndi decided on the name: Third Thursday Thenoritas. One of them has a speech impediment.

For the first girls’ night out I was volunteered to do a cooking demonstration. This was the menu I prepared:

    MexiCoffee Rubbed Smoked Pork Tenderloin Medallions topped with a Grilled Corn and Chardonnay Cream Aioli

    Grilled Asparagus Fence with a Butter & Balsamic Reduction

    Smashed Mashers

    Café Amoré Crème Brûlée

Thankfully the girls were chumming it up most of the evening so I wasn’t on the spot all night. Unfortunately the meal didn’t go as well as I wanted. The pork was too done, I didn’t like the asparagus, my first corn chardonnay sauce congealed and I put too much beer in the potatoes which didn’t leave room for cream.

MexiCoffee pork loin

I think the girls liked the food. I wasn’t happy with the meal but all of the estrogen floating about the house kept my spirits up and eventually made my boobs tender.

It’s hard to cook a good meal for more than a handful of people. Next time I’ll definitely need a sous chef. Elise helped me as best she could but I hadn’t organized myself enough to account for help. I was expecting to do everything on my own and realized that I needed help only after it was too late.

The crème brûlée was well received. It was actually refered to as “orgasmic” – it’s hard not to blush when you’re the only guy in a dining room full of women and that word is used.

So… I’m glad the girls had fun. I tried to join their group for next month’s outing but was quickly denied. So I’m going to start organizing another Godfather Club meeting. First on the agenda is to see if Alexandra will come over and show us how to make crème brûlée.

Search gammut

This illustration is an actual pie chart generated in my web server statistics software. It clearly indicates that serves a wealth of information on topics that vary significantly. is a cornicopia of useful information.

    Big: Adjectives & English Translations
    Janicek: Slovakian Geneology
    Keg: Food & Drink
    Jokes: Humor
    Ball: Sports & Recreation or Male Anatomy
    Triathlon: Sports & Recreation
    Training: Sports & Recreaction or Al Queda Summer Camps

Austin Radio and the Little Beat

Ever since returning from Cabo I’ve tried to maintain the “no worries” mantra. It really sucks to come home to anti-Bush bumper stickers, road rage, death in the news, a war, money, radio and everything else that we subconciously hyper-consume on a daily basis.

I spend a lot of time on the road. I used to think I liked listening to talk radio in the mornings. Not NPR. NPR is depressing. I used to channel flip between Austin’s KLBJ-FM Dudley & Bob show and the syndicated Howard Stern show. The Dudley & Bob show is sophomoric and to the best of my knowledge is the only “funny” local morning talk show. I listen more to Stern now because when you get past the boob and ass bits, I think he can be funny at times. But most of the time I have talk radio on for noise. Half the time I’m not really even listening.

Enter Podcasts. I read about Podcasts when they started gaining popularity and you could subscribe to them with your RSS Podcast applications. I downloaded a couple of them and gained no interest. Podcasts are modern day’s pirate radio. Most are not much unlike watching cable access – geared towards a very limited audience and generally very badly produced (I’m not complaining – I know if I tried to produce a Podcast, it would be terrible). We can all now subscribe to Podcasts from the iTunes Music Store. Last month I subscribed to a few new Podcasts to see if I could actually find a few that I would actually enjoy. After returning from Cabo I wanted to stay in that paradise state of mind so I subscribed to shows like HawaiiUp and Beach Talk for my commutes to and from work. They just couldn’t hold my interest.

So I don’t feel much like subscribing to Podcasts anymore. If anyone knows my sense of humor and personality and know of a Podcast that I might like, let me know.

Yesterday I received an e-mail from David Sadof. David had a weekly talk show on KLOL in Houston that I used to listen to religiously. He e-mailed me to let me know that he was back on the airwaves in Houston. Well, I live in Austin so I can’t really listen to him. I wrote him back and asked if he thought about producing a Podcast. He said he hadn’t fully researched it but apparently it’s being considered. That would be very cool – I would definitely subscribe to his Podcast.

An interesting thing about David Sadof: He was the first to interview Eddie Vedder about the meaning of Pearl Jam’s song “Jeremy“.

So I would subscribe to Sadof’s Podcast (hint hint). If they were still around, I would subscribe to the Stevens & Pruett Podcast. Funny, both are out of Houston. Austin needs something. Maybe I’ll start my own Podcast.