Yankee yogurt

Elise is photographing a wedding with Marc tonight at the Barr Mansion (the same spot where we had our wedding reception seven years ago). She left around 4:30 this afternoon which left Maly and me to fend for ourselves.

First we hit Bed Bath & Beyond for a much-needed countertop compost bin (our makeshift tupperware container and plastic wrap is probably what’s drawing the recent roaches in our living room). We found the compost bin really quickly. Since I already had the kid out of the car, I decided to browse a bit. We quickly found ourselves in the candle aisle. We had to smell ALL of the Yankee candles. I’d pull each one from the shelf, remove the glass lid and let Maly smell.

“Hey, Maly! Smell this one. It’s mango salsa scented.”

“Hmmmmmm… yogurt!”

“Oh, and this one, it’s vanilla bean!”

“Hmmmmmm… yogurt!”

“Oooh. I like this one. It’s called ‘beach and sand'”

“Hmmmmmm… yogurt!”

“Awe, you’re going to really like this one. It’s called ‘cupcake’. It’s smells like happy birthday, doesn’t it?!”

“Heh. Yeah. Hmmmmmm. Yogurt!”

“Maly, they’re called C A N D L E S”

“No, daddy. It’s yogurt.”



“Hmmm. This one smells like donkey scrotum!”

“How the hell do you know what donkey scrotum smells like?”

“Shut up and eat your yogurt.”

The night before the first day of school

Maly starts her Parent’s Morning Out tomorrow morning. For me, it’s somewhat of a reality check…

“Okay, Mr. Janicek. We’ve given you and your wife two years and four months to instill morals, values, respect, common courtesy and long division in your daughter. You can leave the rest up to us now. We’re the Public Professionals.”

“Aye aye! Wait, did you say ‘long division’?”

“That’s correct.”

“But she skips the number four when she counts.”

We’ll fix that.”

I’m really kind of nervous. While a heart string is being pulled, another string is being severed as this is one of many times where I’m just going to have to let go a little bit.

One of the getting-ready-for-school milestones occurred last week when I decided it was time for Maly to graduate to a big girl bed. This meant converting her crib into a day bed. I’ll admit it: there were a few tears shed. What 2-year-old girl wouldn’t cry when her dad bursts into her room at 3 a.m. with a roaring chainsaw after deciding it was baby bed reconstruction time! Oh boy, that was fun!

I’m kidding. The chainsaw will wait until she’s at least in junior high and has 6 of her friends over for a sleepover.

The big girl bed has allowed for more freedom. She no longer has to scale the 4-foot barrier to get in and out of her crib. She can now roam about freely. She’s an all-out free-range toddler. This makes bedtime a little tedious as of late. As I type this, I can hear her in her room playing. She should have been asleep half an hour ago. This means that while she’s at school tomorrow, she’ll probably groggy, forget that her shape is a green circle, the other kids will laugh at her and she’ll come home with a meth addiction and want to immerse herself “emo” music.

So tomorrow is my baby’s first day of school. The scene that stands out most in my mind is from that old, old story that my great grandfather told me, which was passed down to him from his great, great grandfather. The one of the fabled clownfish, Nemo. It’s Nemo’s first day of school and, excitedly, he wakes up extra early, rushes in to the anemone where his dad is sleeping soundly and wakes him abruptly by announcing, “FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!! FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!!!!” Fish could speak back then, so I’m told. Nemo was so excited to go to school so he could learn about the world around him and make new friends. Nemo’s dad, Marlin, was reluctant and wanted his son to stay back so Nemo could be safe and protected. Nemo eventually proved to his dad that he could handle things on his own. Marlin always regretted not pulling the old chainsaw during a slumber party gag.

Part of me wants to keep my daughter in the anemone so she’ll be safe. The other part is confident that we’ve done well as parents and she’ll do fine in school from this point forward. The other part of me realizes that I’m going to have to brush up on my long division because going forward, I’m nervously awaiting the questions that are going to be asked of me.


“Yeah, Sugar.”

“How do you determine the square root of a number?”

“Well, now, you see, honey, when two numbers love each other very, very much, and have committed to a lifetime of togetherness…”




Ahh. Yes, well, you see, there’s this very rare tree in the jungles of Aboriginioniumium that the indigenous tribespeople call the Equidistantsided Box Bush. This plant has a very complex root system that essentially mirrors its above ground counterpart. The root system is shaped kind of like a square, if you will. And you see, this “square root” is harvested in the late Spring when the Abluetoothoniumsmum people celebrate the togetherness and the lifetime commitment of the two numbers that have taken a vow before the…”


Partying like it’s the second party of the day

This weekend has lead me to realize that my short-lived life as an adult is over. We were obligated to attend not one, but TWO birthday parties. And these aren’t the birthday parties from the days of lore when you had to wake your friends up the next morning from their cozy resting spot on top of the entertainment center, a dirty washcloth as a blanket and Red Hot Chili Pepper CD case as a pillow. And these aren’t the birthday parties that start at 10 p.m. These are the parties that start at 10 a.m. so everyone in attendance can get home in time for lunch and naps (parents included).

Maly’s first party was at 10 a.m. yesterday. And it’s not like we woke up crusty-eyed and attempted to slather deodorant somewhere near our armpits so we could be presentable at the party. We’d already been up with the sun because whenever there is a human that’s of 30-inch stature in your house, you’re up early — even if said 30-inch person fell asleep the night before with a Red Hot Chili Peppers CD case as a pillow.

By 9 a.m. we were at The Store, scurrying about to find a suitable birthday present, balloons, and styrofoam cups and creamer for coffee with kid-in-tow who’s singing, “Partay! Happy bird-day to yoooouuu!” and stopping at every consumer item that looks anything remotely like a Princess. I did not know this but the Jolly Green Giant is, in fact, a “beautiful princess” as can be clearly seen on a can of green beans.

The first party was at a municipal park. The playscapes, slides and rocks kept most of the kids busy for roughly 19 seconds. Once my child saw the cake, she sat at the picnic table and stared at it. It wasn’t even a princess cake. It was a Transformers cake and I was anxiously waiting for my daughter to tell me that they were beautiful princesses. I was mentally preparing myself to explain to Maly the history of Optimus Prime and his voyage from Cybertron to protect Earth and its inhabitants from the evils of the Decepticons. Instead she sat there and stared at the frosting that had started to glisten in the 95-degree humid outside weather.

Thankfully she didn’t manage to poke a finger or her entire face into the cake. She respectfully sat there, anxiously, until candles were extinguished and she got her own piece of cake.

After a long ride home and a severe sugar crash, our daughter went down for a peaceful nap.

We had roughly three hours until the next birthday party. During that time, Elise made dinner for a family who belongs to her church who recently brought into this world a person who will one day reach 30-inches in height and possess a penchant for icing.

In an effort to be supportive, I rested my weary head on the couch and watched women’s Olympic volleyball where the U.S.A. amassed more points in order to beat another team who wore brightly colored jerseys and very tight, short shorts.

4 o’clock showed up fast and it was off to the next party! We loaded up the dinner Elise had been slaving over, very careful to set each pot and dish evenly so they would not spill or splatter in transit. We were off quickly because we were already late for the party and had yet to deliver dinner.

20 minutes later, dinner had been delivered, we’d made just enough small talk to accommodate hospitable conversation and it was time to get to the party. Party party party! During all of the rush of loading and delivering and chatting, we realized we needed to go home and get the kid so she could go to her next party. Ha! I’m kidding. We didn’t make sure to set all of the pots and dishes evenly. We just kind of threw them into the back of the Jeep and hauled off kind of like that scene in Heat. You know, the part right after when they broke into the bank and made their getaway; but not without a really awesome gun fight scene that lasted somewhere around three hours. And then there’s that scene where they’re talking to Ton Loc in the bar and Al Pacino’s all like, “YOU GET KILLED WALKIN’ YA DOGGY!!!” Man, that’s a great movie.

So we get to the second birthday party 45 minutes late. This is a party for a 2-year-old boy who we don’t even know. The only reason we’re invited to this party is because this boy and Maly will be starting Parent’s Morning Out together next Tuesday. Parent’s Morning Out is “school” at church on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon. These eight hours a week will teach Maly how to say “MIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINE!!!” louder than any other human being on earth. It will also allow Elise to have some quiet time so she can relax on the couch and empty every bottle of vodka in the house.

Elise had met the mother once briefly at church. I’d met the mother in passing after we had attended Maly’s Parent’s Morning Out open house. We don’t know this family from Adam. Or Mike for that matter. We get to the house and there’s the awkward, overly-lengthy introductions and hellos in the doorway. We met the entire family, not a name to be remembered. I think I called everyone “Bob” for the rest of the afternoon.

“Oh, so this must be your youngest daughter Bob?”

“No. Her name is Sophie.”

“That’s right, Bob, you’d already told me that while we were standing in the doorway.”

“My name’s Diane.”

“Exactly. Can we have cupcakes now?”

While standing in the doorway, we noticed a lot of shoes were on the tile just inside the house. Elise politely asked if we should take our shoes off. “Oh, it doesn’t really matter. If you want, you can take your shoes off.” Which we interpreted as, “yes, take off your shoes. We don’t want you strange feet tracking dirt all over our carpet.” So we obliged and took off our shoes. I’m accustomed to removing my shoes given studies in Eastern culture. However, this family was full-blooded American. A family who would definitely understand another team who wears brightly colored jerseys and very tight, short shorts.

I did find out later from Bob that the family is from Chicago. That explains the Eastern culture.

Turbo power

Tommy saw my post from yesterday this morning about the not-so-turbo RoadRunner Turbo broadband. He sent me a text message this morning to tell me that he’d get it taken care of. It’s good to have one of your best buds that works at Time Warner. :-)

Here’s a test hardwired straight to the modem:

Here’s a test on wireless while sitting near to the router:

RoadRunner Turbo

Before RoadRunner Turbo:

Hmm… first try:

Second try. Closer to router:

For kicks I tested my neighbors connection (no clue which neighbor this is):

Reset the modem again. Also reset the router. Tested in office near router:

Back on the couch, where I was sitting before I signed up for an addition $10/month for “Turbo Charged Internet!”:

I’ll have to try again tomorrow.

Nostalgia and the fear of fraud

Today I decided that I want to get a plastic tire swing for Maly. I found the perfect branch from which to hang it from in the oak tree in the backyard. I was looking for a very specific tire swing — the same one that I had when I was growing up in Bear Creek back in the early 80’s.

I checked craigslist, HomeDepot.com, Target.com, Walmart.com, Lowes.com, ToysRUs.com. None of them had the swing that I was looking for. I reluctantly checked eBay and I found four. Again, I reluctantly placed a bid on one of them. Once my bid was confirmed, I noticed that I could setup a text (SMS) message notification for when I was outbid or when the auction ended. My first thought was, “Cool!” Then I stopped and thought, “Oh, right. This is eBay.” I just have this gut feeling that if I give eBay my mobile number, I’m going to start getting text spam. Not necessary from eBay, but from someone smart enough to harvest cell phone numbers from eBay. I just don’t trust eBay anymore. EBay’s reputation as a whole has gone down the crapper.

I haven’t used eBay in years because it’s full of scams. And even if I did find a $2 item that I wanted, I’m not going to pay $40 to have it shipped to me. So, I’ve been a big fan of craigslist over the years, especially for selling stuff. I used to be methodical about selling unused things on eBay, but it soon became just too difficult and time consuming to list items.

So hopefully this eBay purchase will go without a hitch.

NMDP donation

This evening Maly and I took a walk to the mailboxes to get the mail. There was an envelope from the South Texas Blood & Tissue Center. When we got back to the house, I put Maly in the bathtub and while she was taking a bath, I opened the envelope. I was a little hesitant because I thought the contents might contain bad news about the patient.

To my surprise, I found a check for $251.94 for my mileage driving to and from San Antonio.

I’m taking that check to the bank first thing tomorrow and then I’m going to write a check for double that amount, paid to the order of the National Marrow Donor Program.

Fantastic Contraption

Thanks go to Rob for introducing me to Fantastic Contraption. Now my free time is spent working on physics projects in a Flash game.

Here are my successes, and some failures:


Fixing the deck

Over the years a single 4×4 support post has been warping on the deck:

Warped 4x4

It was perfectly straight when we built the deck three years ago:

straight 4x4's

That post has been pulling its counterpart away from the house:

I went to the ol’ HoPot yesterday and bought a comealong. I pulled the warped 4×4 back enough to where I got the counterpart 4×4 close to the house again:

It’s looking a little better:


But it’s not good enough. I’m going to the HoPot today and picking up either an 8-foot 4×6 or a steel bar to clamp to the warped post to “retrain” it.

I’m hell-bent on getting that post unbent.


We went to the HoPot where I went with the 8-foot 4×6. I also picked up six heavy duty clamps that are tested at 550 lbs.

I had Elise hold the 4×6 up against the warped 4×4 post on the outside of the deck while I clamped the top and the bottom to the 4×6. Here you can see how badly the 4×4 is warped (keep in mind that the post is still being pulled 3″ toward the house with the comealong):

Clamps are in place and I’m starting to straighten out the warped 4×4:

And now I’m happy that I have a straight 4×4 post:

It's straight!!!

Now to do a little research to see how long I need to keep my 4×6 brace clamped to the 4×4.

The beauty of social bookmarking

I’ve been in touch with the folks who run Project Michelle over the past couple weeks. They even interviewed me as a PBSC donor to help raise awareness of National Marrow Donor Program.

Michelle is a 26-year-old with Leukemia who is desperately searching for a marrow donor. Today ProjectMichelle.com was voted up to the #1 spot on Reddit. That is truly amazing and so exciting.

I hope this helps in raising awareness in marrow donation and lots of people sign up to be part of the NMDP. And hopefully one of those people will be a match for Michelle!