Josh and Matt race PlasmaCars

We were all sitting on the driveway. Matt and I looked at each other.

“Want to hit the big hill?”


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Memorial Day weekend roundup

The three-day weekend started with me driving down our 79 house street on Friday night to see each and every lawn adorned with a little American flag. I found out from Elise that our neighbor, Stacey, had placed them in everyone’s lawn. We soon found ourselves at the Fender residence. I forgot why we found ourselves over there, but that lead up to us ordering a couple pizzas and going back to our house. Maly and I drove to Oak Hill to pick up dinner, and soon we were back at the house and the seven of us shoved our faces full of pizza.

Next we hit the driveway to play on PlasmaCars. Next thing we know, we’re having another mini block party (we wound up having a mini block party last Friday, too). A pitcher of margaritas showed up, we broke out the lawn chairs and fifteen or so of us took in the night air and just had fun hanging out in the driveway. Oh, and we kept Maly up until 10 p.m.

On Saturday we made a quick trip to the ol’ HoPot to return some stuff, buy a couple plants and some topsoil. We got back to the house and I filled in the low spot that was once the path on the side of our house with the topsoil. I then took the 1,500 lbs. worth of flagstone that used to be aforementioned path and loaded into the car. Then we were off to the Engler’s house for a steak dinner. The kids played in the pool in the backyard and John and I got finally hang out outside of work. And I don’t think we even talked about work. It was also the first time I’d been to their house since November, so it was cool to see all the things they’ve done to the house and the backyard. We came home after visiting for a couple hours, and again managed to keep Maly up past 10 p.m.

On Sunday we ran some errands, patronized Which Wich for the third weekend straight (I love that place but am now, officially, burnt out). What was so cool was at some point during lunch, Maly switched into Daddy’s girl. She got out of her chair, walked over to me and pulled herself onto my lap and just held onto me. She wanted nothing more than to just hang out and stay latched on to me. She wasn’t being needy; I guess she was just having dad withdrawals. It was really awesome. After lunch and a quick trip to Academy, we came home, Maly took a nap and we watched Wayne’s World. That took me back… I couldn’t tell you how many years it’s been since last seeing that movie. Elise also had to log in our Nielsen Ratings journal (yeah, we became a Nielson family a few weeks ago. $30 is $30!). We were saddened to see that we have ~500 channels, many of which we didn’t even know we had. And here we sit tonight, TV off, because American Idol ended last week. Elise even called Time Warner last week to get bump us down to basic cable, they told her they would gladly do that, but our monthly phone and Internet fees would increase. Awesome!

Sunday evening our neighbors, Brandon and Stacey had their somewhat-annual Memorial Day party. They had ~70 people over and served fajitas and beer. We had a blast. Kids got to eat and play, then went to bed. The adults stayed up way too late. I had to cash out at around 1 a.m. Elise stayed out until 2 a.m., which made for a groggy Monday morning.

Late Monday afternoon we drove out to the Balcones Country Club to hang out with the Swendners. The kids got to play in the pool, we watched a belly flop competition and just had a good time hanging out in the hot Texas sun by the pool. We went back to Marc & Cyndi’s house and ordered pizzas, then went out to the fairway that backs up to their backyard, chased fireflies and let the kids wear themselves out. Maly was quickly getting tired, ran up to me and had me envelop her in my arms, pointed up to the putting green that was fast disappearing into the night and said, “there choo-choo train. No choo-choo train.” And she kept saying it. So after repeating that a few times, I just said, “It’s okay, Daddy stopped the choo-choo train. It’s not coming.” Then she put her head down on my shoulder and said, “Daddy stopped choo-choo train.”

IN MY DAUGHTER’S EYES, I STOPPED A CHOO-CHOO TRAIN! I don’t know of a greater power that I possess. That’s pretty awesome.

Soon after we headed back home, again putting Maly to bed around 10 p.m. Tonight we witnessed the wrath of a sleep deprived 2-year-old. She had a melt down, freaking out during dinner, bath and brushing of the teeth. It got to the point where I found it necessary to grasp my daughter’s cheeks, forcing her mouth open while she bawled, tears pouring down her cheeks and past the corners of her mouth as I brushed her teeth. That was hard to do, and I felt so much like I was doing something to hurt her, but just kept in the back of my mind that she was suffering from an over-exhausting three-day weekend. And knowing that if I can stop a choo-choo train, I can damn sure brush a toddlers teeth, although the latter is much, much more difficult.

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Bohemian Innovation: Mister Fan

Give a Bohemian a fan, some misters and zip ties and he’ll innovate to keep a neighborhood Memorial Day party a little bit cooler in this 100 degree Texas heat.

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A good day in Search Engine Optimization

It’s so awesome when you email your dentist’s receptionist to share recipe ideas and then do a quick Google search for “chicken fried Spam” only to find that you’re ranked right up there with the best of ’em. I am a culinary GOD.

I’ll challenge anybody to the Ultimate Chicken Fried Spam Culinary Competition. That’s how hardcore I am when it comes to chicken fried Spam. I even have a few ideas, one that I’ll even share with you here, that should fry up some inspiration. Spam, wrapped in in a pounded out layer of Snickers, then coated in a thick-shelled layer of Blue Bell Moo-lenium ice cream, then flash-frozen in dry ice, then Shiner Bock beer battered with egg yolks, deep fried in bacon drippings and served topped with chile con queso and sour cream.

That’s hardcore Spam.

And here’s even more on hardcore spam…

[Thanks, John]


Remember the movie, “Along Came Polly,” where Ben Stiller’s character, Reuban is a risk analyst with OCD? He’s the guy with a ton of throw pillows on his bed that he puts away every night in his little storage cabinets.

Today’s a lazy Sunday. Maly and I got up this morning, played and it wasn’t until around 11 a.m. that I took a shower. After my shower, I decided to make the bed. We have a sheet, a comforter, a “doo-vay” cover thing (I think that’s what it’s called) and a “throw blanket”. After the half hour that it nearly took me to get all of the mentioned blanket-type things somewhat aligned and spread across the bed, I then put all of the pillows on the bed. And I counted those pillows. Eight pillows. We have eight pillows on our bed. Two of those pillows we actually use.

Eight pillows.

The chopping block: college days debt

If you know me, you know that I hate debt. I got into debt pretty bad about 8 years ago. I got a MasterCard when I was in college, racked up a lot of debt and couldn’t pay it off. That was a hard time in my life. I didn’t know what to do, I couldn’t even pay the monthly minimum, I had collectors calling me. I felt like a bad person and a failure. If you haven’t yet seen this movie, definitely rent Maxed Out, a horrific documentary on American consumer debt.

So I went years without having a credit card. Elise and I now have one credit card that we’re very responsible with, and we pay the balance every single month. We have a mortgage that, unfortunately, I don’t have the six-figures worth of cash to pay of its balance, but I’m cool with having a mortgage as our house was a great investment. And now more recently, we have a car payment because our old Expedition was on the verge of needing some serious mechanic love, and I’d rather get rid of it before it became a problem.

And we have our consolidated student loan that we’ve been paying on for six years. And I’m sick of paying that stupid $219.08 a month. I know that number very well. I’ve seen it drafted from our checking account on the 21st of every month for the past six years. So I’m attacking that debt with full force now. That $219.08 could be working for me in some type of investment.

I emailed Direct Loans (which is run by the U.S. Department of Education) and asked, “if I send an extra payment each month, how can I be assured that the extra will be applied to the principal of our loan?” I asked this because I do the same with our mortgage. Every year I send an extra payment or two and it’s applied to the principal of our loan.

The response that I received indicated that any extra payment that is received will first be applied to any outstanding interest, and the remainder will be applied to the principal. I was also told that interest accrues daily.

So in my reply, I asked, “so, if you draft my checking account on the 21st of every month, and if I sent you an extra payment and it got to you on the 22nd, I’d be paying mostly on the principal, right?”

I received an email response that, if I were to hear the person’s voice who was answering my question, I could totally hear that voice, very sheepishly say, “yes, that would be how you could pay down your loan a lot faster.”

So, I’m stupid for having waited so long to take action on getting this loan out of our life. Elise and I both having degrees is great, I wouldn’t want it any other way, but I want to be done with paying for school. I’ve got a kid whose college education I should be focusing on, not mine, not Elise’s. We’re done with school.

So I setup and automatic payment in our account on our bank’s website to double-up on our student loan payment, and to make sure that my extra payment is received shortly after the 21st of each month, and is applied appropriately. I’m sure I’ll have to monitor this for a few months, just to make sure things are handled the way that I want them to be handled.

And, as the one-two punch, I’ve done pretty well in the stock market over the past 5 years. So, thanks go to Apple, Inc., and Disney. I’m going to be selling some stocks and put a huge dent in our student loan balance.

If I left things they way they were last week, I’d be 46-years-old when we’d be making the last payment on our student loan and we would have paid nearly $15,000 in interest. And that’s not how I want things to be.

So, Student Loan, you’re goin’ down!

How to clean your white MacBook

The Mr. Clean Magic Eraser will bring your grimy MacBook back to its out-of-the-box, beautiful white state. It will effortlessly remove those hard-to-clean palm stains and clean your keyboard and trackpad (and it’s relatively easy to get between the keys with the Magic Eraser’s sponge).

Just make sure to use a little dab of water on one side of the Magic Eraser to swipe your MacBook’s surface, and use the other side to dab up the moisture.

This is a great way to clean your white MacBook (Thanks, Taylor, for the tip from the Apple store):

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Flash vs. VisualHub for video

I’ve been wasting sooo much time encoding video using Flash. My video video editing and encoding process goes like this:

1. Edit in iMovie
2. Export in .mp4 format
3. Use Flash 8 to encode to .flv format for web

I’ve been using VisualHub to encode movies for the AppleTV and for other random purposes over the past year. Tonight I decided to try it out for a Flash video for Maly.TV. I’m kicking myself in the ass for not using VisualHub to encode videos over that year passed.

This video was encoded using Flash 8:
(this video took 1 HOUR and 3 MINUTES to convert)

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This was encoded using VisualHub:
(this video took 1 minute and 11 seconds to convert)

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If you post videos on your website, spend the $23.32 on VisualHub.

Flash took over an hour. VisualHub took a little over a minute.


When a man has a daughter, this is what happens to that man’s faithful sidekick.


Two chicks (and John) at the same time

John and I were IMing each other tonight about really important stuff when Christine took over John’s computer to IM me some other important stuff, which lead to Elise logging on, and then Christine started IMing Elise after moving back to her computer, while maintaining a conversation with me. And then it just got all retarded. So we all decided it would be better if we just stared at each other via a 4-way video conference using iChat.

The proof is in the pudding. The next time you need to make a computer purchase, buy a Mac. You’ll be more productive. Trust us.

4-way iChat