A web design job got passed around among a couple friends and me. None of us really wanted the job because 1) the assumption was that there wasn’t a whole lot of money alloted for the job and 2) there’s not a lot of time for side projects.

I was hesitant about getting an iPhone the day they came out because I’m now sceptical about buying the first generation of anything, especially a phone manufactured by Apple, who is a new player in the mobile phone world.

John waited in line for four hours and bought an iPhone the day they came out. He called me from it and said it was everything it had been made out to be and it was the best cell phone he’d ever owned. He let me play with the iPhone the following Monday morning. My first thoughts, “Wow! This thing is friggin’ awesome!” While I was playing with the iPhone, our Systems Administrator had been IMing me with a bunch of urgent questions. I put him off and put him off. Finally I wrote him back and said, “Hang on, I’m playing with John’s iPhone.”

Within seconds I could hear Sully’s footsteps as he ran over to my desk from the other side of the office to check out the iPhone. I relinquished the marvel and watched as Sully gleamed with geeky enthusiasm.

“Dude, I HAVE to get one of these”, he said.

A light bulb popped up above my head. I asked Sully if he wanted to work on a web design project with me. The payment would be iPhones for the both of us.

I sold the client on the project for the amount that would afford two iPhones. We finished our work on Thursday evening and I purchased two iPhones at the Apple store on Friday morning.

Setting up the iPhone took a whole 2 minutes using iTunes and the thing is truly amazing. It is an awesome device that you could only expect from a company like Apple. I love my iPhone. It is everything that they said it would be. It is, however, very dangerous. Do not watch YouTube videos on your iPhone will driving down the highway to pick up pizza for dinner on a Friday night.

It’s beautiful, intuitive and simple to use. I don’t miss the clunky interface of my (now Elise’s) Motorola RAZR.

The iPhone is so easy to use that Maly immediately figured it out.

10:50 p.m.

“Why are you eating?”

“Potato chips”

“No, WHY are you eating?”


“Is it because you’re hungry or just because you’re snacking?”

“Because whoever decided to put wasabi and mustard on a potato chip is a culinary GOD.”

Terminal iMac

The iMac has been out of commission for two months now. The only good thing about losing my job 10 months ago was that my boss let me keep the iMac that I bought for myself as my work computer.

The girls and I took the iMac to the Apple store this morning. The very helpful and knowledgeable genius quickly assessed that it wasn’t a drive or system problem. After another quick test, he gave me the news. “It’s a hardware problem. Your USB ports are bad.” Cool. I thought I could just get those swapped out. Then he followed with, “You’ll have to replace the logic board.”

$500 for the logic board and $150 for labor. $650 would get me an iPhone. So I opted to not get the iMac a new logic board. The helpful genius showed me how to start the iMac so it will act as an external drive and allow me to recover all of our photos, documents, movies, music, etc. I was happy that I was able to do that. Here’s instructions on how to use FireWire target disk mode in case you find yourself in a situation similar to mine.

Thankfully it was a “free” computer (it only cost me my job) so I’m not out any money. I’m in the process of transferring 60 GB of photos to the LaCie portable drive.

When I told Elise what the genius told me, she said, “I thought they were supposed to ‘just work'”. I then had to explain how hardware often fails and that it wasn’t really a “Mac” issue, just bad components. Nonetheless she was still keen on the idea of selling the iMac for parts and her HP laptop so we can get her a MacBook.

6 miles to Arkansas

Where's Texas?

Our trip to Oklahoma on Saturday started out on a bad foot. We loaded the Expedition with all of our luggage and all of the accessories that come with a 15-month-old child. If you’ve experienced owning or leasing a late model 15-month-old child, you know the accessories I’m talking about. We’re all set to head out. We’re all loaded up and ready to hit the road. The Expedition won’t start. Dead battery.

I quickly decide to removed the old battery and take the Jeep to get a new battery. The posts on the battery are so corroded that removal by standard means is not an option. Since we were in a hurry, I decided to saw the screws that hold the post clamps to the battery’s posts with my trusty Dremel rotary tool. Sparks flew as I sawed through the metal and grunted masculinely. I then noticed the blaring warning on top of the battery that stated that I shouldn’t make sparks, smoke, cook heroin or reheat unpopped kernels near this particular battery. I ceased sawing and possibly saved myself from a sulfuric acid facial.

Elise called her dad to let him know that we would be running a little late. He suggested we just rent a car from Enterprise as they promote half off specials on the weekends. I thought, “great idea!”

So I drove to Budget Rent A Car because I knew it was nearby. I walked in and said, “Man need minivan. He drive to Oklahoma with family”. And I was given a minivan.

I took the minivan home. We transfered all of the 15-month-old’s accessories to said minivan. This process took a while.

Before we set out again for Oklahoma, Elise called her dad. Elise’s dad asked if I got a good deal on the minivan. Elise asked me how much I paid for the minivan. I said that I paid $300 for the minivan. Elise told her dad what I paid for the minivan. Elise’s dad told her that I paid a lot of money for the minivan. Elise then told me that I paid a lot of money for the minivan. Minivan.

Elise decided to call Enterprise to see if we could get a better deal on a rental. She found out that we could get into a mid-sized sedan for $25 per day. That’s a lot better than $100 per day. So Elise told the Enterprise guy to hold a car for us. We made our way back to Budget to see how late they were open so we could return the minivan. While there, Elise decided to run inside to see if by chance they could offer a similar deal as Enterprise. Luckily they had a car that we could rent. That saved us a lot of time not having to drive to the nearest Enterprise and then return the minivan to Budget.

So we had to transfer the accessories yet again.

Our goal was to leave at 9 a.m. We were finally headed out of Austin at 2 p.m.

We had a great time in Oklahoma. We told our story of travel to family. They sympathized and all wished us well on our way home. Many joked and said, “Don’t make the trip home a 12-hour one!”

We left Elise’s grandma’s house in Oklahoma at 11 a.m. We planned on getting home around 7 p.m.

Yours truly opted to drive the first leg. I took Hwy 8 to 281 and then hit I-40 East headed to Oklahoma City. I watched for signs to Ft. Worth once we got to Oklahoma City. Since I am an advanced male driver, my super manly internal navigation system saved nanoseconds by just looking for the word “Ft.” on the mileage posting signs. I kept us traveling headlong on I-40 at a comfortable cruising speed of 81 mph.

We traveled east. We kept traveling east. Eastern Oklahoma is beautiful county. Not as beautiful as Texas, but beautiful nonetheless. Rolling hills. Big oak trees and tall pines. Lush bermuda and buffalo grass lined the interstate. It was a very nice and peaceful drive. Beautiful country.

“Um. Why did I just see a sign for Little Rock?”


“There was a sign back there that said we’re 140 miles from Little Rock”

“There shouldn’t be. We’re on 35 south, right?”

“No. We’re on 40.”

“No we’re not, we’re on 35 south”


“Ha. ha. Very funny.”


So I took Elise and Maly on a 200 mile out-of-the-way tour of eastern Oklahoma. We made it 6 miles to the Arkansas border. The “Ft.” that I thought was “Ft. Worth” was actually “Ft. Smith”.

Thankfully we were able to laugh about the detour. I was, however, fired as navigator. We made it home just shy of midnight. What should have been 8 turned into a 13 hour ride home.

Monthly Maly Letter: Month 15

Dear Maly,

You turned 15-months-old this week. As always, as each month passes, you continue to learn and do more things that always leave your Mom and I to stand back and observe in awe.

Just last week while your Mom was running errands, I took you outside onto the deck in the backyard so you could run around and wear yourself out before your bath and bed time. Your first inclination was to run over to and climb into your plastic baby pool. Before you got in, I swooped you up and pulled off your diaper. I did this because the last time you got into your pool with your diaper on, I was left with the task of draining the pool and all of its “contents” after your swim.

So this time you got in and out of your pool over and over while wearing nothing more than a t-shirt. You got out of the pool and walked over to the passion vine to smell one of the flowers. You stood there for a moment and then briskly walked away to head back to your pool. I happened to look down and see what you had left sitting on the deck. In that fleeting moment you circled back and also took notice of what you’d dropped off. Without hesitation you began to reach down to pick up and observe what used to be part of you.

With ninja-like reflexes, I again scooped you up and removed you from the situation. With you in one arm, we went back into the house where I put on my Haz-Mat suit and removed the Maly morsel from the deck with roughly 23 paper towels and an exhausted gag reflex.

This month has allowed you to spend a lot of time with your extended family. In late-June we took you to San Diego to spend time with your aunts, uncles and cousins. It was in southern California where you first experienced the ocean. You loved walking up to the water and watching your feet disappear into the sand as the tide pulled back to sea. The motion of the water rushing back into the ocean set you off balanced and caused you to follow over countless times. Your adrenaline saved you from noticing the cold Pacific waters but soon it took its toll. Your skin started going pale and your lips and finger tips blue. You wore yourself out quickly and your Mom and I thought you might have suddenly gotten sick. We dried you and changed you on the beach where your Mom let you lie on her chest for warmth and rest.

This past weekend we were in Oklahoma for the Tamaat family reunion. Tamaat is your Great Grandma B.’s maiden name and she comes from a very large immediate family as does your Boppa. You were able to see 7 of Boppa’s 8 siblings at the farmhouse in Okeene. You also met a lot of the cousins. I’d go into greater detail but you will get to know them all in your own way soon enough. Hopefully it’ll take you less than the 8 years it has taken me to finally be able to comfortably approach a relative at Thanksgiving dinner and greet them by name instead of them having to re-introduce his or herself for the twentieth time.

You’re very lucky to have the family that you have. I hope that you grow to appreciate that. Since you’ve come into my life, I have deep regrets about not having made more of an effort to know and appreciate my family and lineage from an earlier start. Maybe if I had, I’d better understand the whole pooping on the deck thing.

You’re learning new words and fixing old words that you once mispronounced. What used to be “baba” is now “baby”. You have two babies. One that your cousin Grant gave you while we were in San Diego and one that Luke and Jadon gave you just recently. You love your babies and you give them both big hugs. You know how to give wonderful hugs and kisses now. You give your Mom hugs and you give me kisses. You might be giving me hugs as well but I interpret that as “pick me up and protect me.” So, invariably, I pick you up, hold you as close to me as I possibly can and kiss the side of your head countless times.

I think you’ve become a nurturer as I watch you protect and care for your babies; the same way that your Mom and I do you. Your Mom and I only have our instincts and recollections of how our parents raised us. I speak for both of us when I say that I’m proud of you for your nurturing disposition and your inherent knowledge of the Golden Rule.

You’ve always been and are continuing to grow into a beautiful person. Your laugh is still infectious. Your smile can melt any heart. Your desire to say “hi” to every stranger is admirable and commendable. Your quest for knowledge is motivational. Your spontaneity and daringness makes me proud. Your genuine love for everyone and everything is inspirational. You are truly beautiful.

But your poop still stinks.

I love you so amazingly much and find myself baffled that I, as your parent, strive so hard to teach you new things but as I sit back once a month to write my letter to you, I realize that you are the one teaching me so many things.

I love you, Sugar



More than meets the eye

Rob and I just got back from watching Transformers. Wow. Wow. And Wow. Wow and wow because the movie was really, really good. When we came out of the theatre, I was tempted to ask Rob if he wanted to play Megatron and I would play Optimus Prime and we could pretend battle in the parking lot with guttural special effects and all – like we would have 20 years ago (had we known each other 20 years ago). The movie brought me back to my childhood days where someone else’s imagination inspired my own. That inspiration would then send me outside to run about the neighborhood, pretending like a was a F-15 that could turn into a robot and battle the enemy robot, which was usually played by our Labrador, Beau.

The third and final Wow is for marketing. Transformers was riddled with brands and their product placement to the point where I had to laugh out loud. Every scene had a big brand presence: Porsche, Microsoft, Mountain Dew, Burger King, Nokia, Panasonic, Apple, Ford, Pontiac, Chevrolet. And I probably skipped a few. I was seriously waiting for BumbleBee to whip out his iPhone to use Google Maps to find the quickest route to the Cube.

It really was a good movie that, unfortunately when it comes to cable in a year, you won’t be able to fast-forward through the commercials unless you want to miss the entire commercial movie.

This is why I write

I’ve been really, really bad about writing in the past nine months. I have reasons but I don’t want those reasons to be seen as excuses.

I set up Janicek.com almost seven years ago as whatever I was thinking seven years ago. It became a personal journal and repository for photos that immediately became a “blog” when the word “blog” was invented by Al Gore. Or Orville Redenbacher.

In those seven years I’ve always thought, “who is my target audience?” The thought of monetizing has always been an idea but not something I wanted to focus my efforts on wholeheartedly. When it comes down to it, I’ve always written to myself with my Mom and Elise’s Grandma in mind. That’s why I don’t say “shit”, “fart” or “Girls Gone Wild”.

It’s emails like the one below that inspire me. A total stranger that took the time to write to us to say, “I care”. It’s people like this that help me maintain a genuine faith in our society.

I received this email on Father’s Day.

Dear Janiceks,

This is a random email, from a random woman who lives 1500 miles away from Austin. I’ve felt compelled to write your family for months now, and I’m just now getting around to it. I hope you don’t find this too crazy.

I discovered your Maly blog in January 2006 shortly after learning I was pregnant with my first child. As most first-time mothers, I was trying to gather as much information about what was ahead of me as possible. My first task was to look at as many ultrasound pictures as I could get my hands on so that I wouldn’t be freaked out by what I saw, or didn’t see, at my first ultrasound appointment. I did a google search, which eventually led me to the ultrasound pics on the Maly blog. At my first ultrasound, I mistook the yolksac for a head and thought I was carrying a two-headed baby, so it turns out all my research was for naught. In any case, I was hooked on the Maly blog for a few reasons. First, I had recently moved to California after spending 10 years in Texas, the last three in Austin at the University of Texas School of Law, so I was thrilled to read anything you had to say about the city I love so much. Second, Elise was three months away from giving birth to Maly at the time, so I could read the blog and know what I could look forward to over the next several months. Third, all the baby-related links gave me something to look at when I didn’t feel like working.

So, I regularly checked for updates on the blog, and when y’all had Maly, I was thrilled for you. Of course, I then began to regularly check the Janicek blog for updates on your first few months with Maly. I was always amused by what you wrote and touched by the way she changed your family. She is completely adorable, by the way.

After having my son, I no longer had hours and hours to procrastinate doing actual work by reading blogs. So, several months went by before I checked back in to see how things were going with your family. When I did and I read what happened with your dad, my heart broke for you. After all those months of reading about your adventures raising Maly and looking forward to my own time as a parent, I returned to your blog only to discover that on the day of the very event that led me to your blog in the first place, the birth of my son, you experienced the death of your father. My husband and I were celebrating the birth of our son when you were saying goodbye to your dad. We welcomed our son into the world the morning of September 26th. I don’t know why I was so affected by something that happened in a family of people I only know through pages on the Internet, but for some reason, knowing that you were experiencing such a profound loss at the same time I was experiencing the greatest joy and new life really hit me. The beginning and end of life suddenly became very clear.

I’m still not sure exactly why I felt so compelled to share this with you. But, I know that every year when I celebrate out son’s birthday, I will think about your family and your dad. It’s obvious from what you’ve written about your dad just how much he meant to you and what a significant part of your life he was. I guess I just wanted you to know that I, a complete stranger, was touched by his passing and continue to keep your family in my thoughts.

Festivus Holidaum Roundupus

This past weekend was spent getting the house in order for company. We hit the HoPot and picked up baseboards for the bathrooms that we recently had tiled and mulch for the landscaping extension we did in the garden. On Saturday we worked in the yard and on Sunday I measured and cut all of the baseboards.

Maly and I split up from Elise and instead of roaming the store, we nestled into a nice outdoor living room couch. Elise soon found us and it was at that point where I pointed out that this outdoor living room furniture would be nice for our deck. Elise was quick to shoot down my idea.

Later that evening we were working in the backyard. Yours truly was spreading mulch in the garden and Elise was hosing off the deck. She then decided that she did like the deck furniture. With zero arm twisting she went back to the HoPot to buy the furniture but they were closed by the time she got there.

So on Monday Rob and I went to pick up the furniture.

On Tuesday Elise picked Heather and Juliet up from the airport for their annual visit to Austin. I came home from work and spent 3 hours putting together patio furniture.

The girls went to the grocery store just as I was finishing up with the furniture to buy groceries for our 4th of July get-together. When they got back, we all hung out on the deck on the new furniture until midnight or so.

Wednesday morning we got up and headed over to the Circle C July 4th Parade and got drizzled on (Central Texas has been subjected to a ton of rain this summer).

We came home and hung around the house and played with Maly and Juliet. Heather’s friend/ex-boyfriend, Randy drove down from Dallas to spend the 4th with us. Later in the afternoon, John, Christine, Jack and Grayson came over and then Rob, Julie, Luke and Jadon walked over.

The guys and I grilled fajitas and the girls fixed all the sides in the kitchen.

We all gorged ourselves and then watched the kids play in the inflatable pool. Yeah, we roll like that. But we all had a really great time.