Highs and Lows

Last night I was stricken with feelings of regret and pride. Maly has always been really good about tending to her “duties”, specifically her bedtime to do list. She gets a drink of water, goes to the bathroom, washers her hands, brushes her teeth and brushes her hair.

Last night, after the above ritual was complete, Rocio came over to drop off Rafter. We all hung out in the kitchen for a bit and Maly and I shared a sprig of grapes. Over my shoulder, and without putting too much thought into it, I told Maly that since she ate grapes, she was going to need to brush her teeth again.

Ten minutes later I found myself sitting at Maly’s bedside, finishing the Snow White story we’d started earlier in the evening. I remembered telling Maly earlier that she was supposed to brush her teeth. I just assumed she hadn’t, so I told her, “I asked you to brush your teeth, but since it’s late and you’re already in bed, it’ll be okay this one time if you don’t.”

“Daddy, I did brush my teeth.”

“No, I meant after you ate the grapes.”

“But I did brush my teeth.”

“A second time, after you ate the grapes?”


“No you didn’t.”

“Yes I did.”

“Are you sure?”


“You brushed your teeth twice tonight?”


I assumed that my child wouldn’t heed my instruction and lie to me about it. And I had absolutely no reason to make that assumption. I still wonder what that says about me.

This morning Elise asked, “Did you tell Maly that she needed to brush her teeth again last night?” I told her that I did. And it was confirmed that the child did in fact brush her teeth a second time last night. I praised Maly this morning for brushing her teeth, and I apologized for assuming that she hadn’t. I didn’t go into the details of my assumption – I just made sure to praise her because she did the right thing.

You know what happens when one assumes…

And so now we fast-forward to 3 p.m. today. I was walking out of the bedroom and into the living room where I caught the angel of a child on the couch with the cat’s head locked between her knees. Before I could say anything, and before she noticed my presence, she punched the cat in the head.

I’ll spare the details, but will say that it wasn’t pretty. There was no beating or bloodshed, but the child probably felt like she was an inch tall after I was done.

I had to go out to the garage and pace as the rain poured onto the driveway and contemplate the punishment for the Shiny Toothed Cat Mangler.

It’s amazing how in one day the child can be a saint, and in the next, she can be a demon.

Too much time on my hands

“I think you have too much time on your hands.”

I’ve been told that a couple times recently and nothing chaps my ass more. I used to think that Austin drivers were my #1 pet peeve, but today I was reminded that it’s the person who says, “you have too much time on your hands.”

I really like what Terry Border says, and how he challenges people to be creative instead of being parasites. And anytime someone tells me that they think I have too much time on my hands, I send them the link to Terry’s post:

I come across that line far too often- “They must have too much time on their hands.” I’ll see something really neat on the internet, and written somewhere in the comment section, I’ll find those words. How many hours does that commenter spend watching television, surfing the internet, or playing video games?

If you spend 3 hours a day on passive entertainment (which is probably a very low estimate), that’s 21 hours a week that could be used to write something interesting, make something cool, or creating something absolutely nutty that you and some other people might really enjoy. If you aren’t doing something along these lines, then I think that it might be you who isn’t spending your time wisely, and not the other way ’round.

I challenge you to try it.

Terry takes photos of ordinary objects in interesting settings and situations. And he put these photos together in a book. And he sells his book. For money. He’s contributing something creative for you to consume. I’ve consumed his works as well, and I really appreciate him using his time to be creative and share it with the world.

So I’m with Terry. I challenge you to make something. Do something. Contribute.

Social Media-Fil-A

It’s been almost two years since I noted my thoughts on Twitter and Facebook. Today I stand partially corrected. I’m a pretty avid Facebook user. And by user, I mean that I contribute invaluable nuggets of real-time information to my online social circle. For example, I recently noted that “if I were Bobby Flay and I had a little daughter, I would probably name her Sue.” While I was at Home Depot, I saw a product in the lighting department that were called Steel Nipples. I took a photo, uploaded said photo to Facebook and professed that “Steel Nipples” would be a great name for a band. I also use Facebook to keep up-to-date on the goings on of my friends, family, colleagues and a guy named Jimmy “Legs” Hamstercaster.

I’ve “unfriended” lots of “friends” because they really weren’t “friends”, but were “friends” at one point and now, well, even with close to 500 “friends”, it’s almost too much to keep up with. It’s to the point of distracting and the reasoning behind why I only browse my friends’ Facebook statuses in the evening.

We have company in town from Des Moines (French for “the Moines“) this week, and we found ourselves out on the driveway this evening playing foursquare. I thought to myself, “where I have I recently heard the term ‘foursquare’ a lot recently?…” It wasn’t long before I remembered Facebook – I see Foursquare updates from my “friends” who “check in” at places like Starbucks, Chick-Fil-A and Ernie’s Shack o’ Fresh Dead Bait, Tackle & Tanning. And just today, Mike Elgan tells us that we all will use Foursquare or we might run the unfortunate risk of not being awarded the illustrious titles of “Gym Rat” for checking into the gym, or “Super Matter Excrementor” for checking into the 3rd stall in the bathroom on the second floor of the mall from our smart phones.

He says:

The reason I say you’ll soon use Foursquare or some other location service is that even if you don’t embrace a location-based social networking, one is likely to embrace you.

The products, services and businesses you enjoy will increasingly offer incentives to persuade you to use location services.

I get it. I understand it. But I just don’t buy it. If I want a latte, I’ll go buy one because I want one, not because I have I a merit badge on my phone.

My friend Joey uses location-based social networking services to show to his followers that he’s at the Eiffel Tower, and then three hours later, he’s checking in at the In-n-Out Burger in Marina Del Ray, all while actually sitting on his back patio watching squirrels and deer eat corn.

My other friend Travis notes a social networking update observation in, “Oh wait… you just now checked into Chick-Fil-A and took a photo of your waffle fries with your iPhone? No f&%$ing way!”

Most other friends are “checking in” at bars. Or commenting on conversations held with their cat. Or buying a slip cover (whatever that is).

I genuinely hope that Jimmy “Legs” Hamstercaster has a great egg salad sandwich tomorrow. That’s his business. My business will be in the now, probably playing foursquare out on the driveway with friends and family.

I’m a real good driver

I remember when I was a little kid and dad would let me sit on his lap and let me “drive.”

[flv width=”500″ height=”375″]http://www.janicek.com/video/20100610_lapcruising.mp4[/flv]

Dessert discussion

I was having dinner at the fine Schobel’s Restaurant in Columbus, TX with my daughter, mother, niece and her fiance when the topic of desserts came into our conversation.

Niece: “I was looking at their dessert menu and nothing really sounded good.”

Me: “You know what’s awesome for dessert?”


“A concoction that I created once myself.”

“Oh yeah? What’s that?”

“Bacon ice cream served in a bacon bowl and topped with chocolate covered bacon.”

“Bacon ice cream?!”

“Yes. It’s really quite good.”

“I’ve heard about chocolate covered bacon, and that sounds really good. I’d eat chocolate covered bacon. But bacon ice cream?!”

“Yes. Trust me, it’s awesome. I call it ‘TUBS: The Ultimate Bacon Sundae'”

“So, do you sprinkle it with gummy worms, too?”

“No. That’s just gross.”

Knock knock reprise

The joke:

“Knock knock.”

“Who’s there?”


“Banana who?”

“Knock knock.”

“Who’s there?”


“Banana who?”

“Knock knock.”

“Who’s there?”


“Banana who?”

“Knock knock.”



“Orange who?”

“Orange you glad I didn’t say banana again?”

The Zombie Eater version:

“Knock knock.”

“Who’s there?”


“Banana who?”

“Orange banana don’t you say so!! HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!”

20 songs to make every little thing alright

Here’s a playlist of 20 songs that I put together to put me in my happy place.

  1. Beautiful Day – U2
  2. No Woman No Cry – Bob Marley
  3. Feelin’ This – Blink 182
  4. Come Sail Away – Styx
  5. Turn! Turn! Turn! – The Byrds
  6. A Small Victory – Faith No More
  7. Party Hard – Andrew W.K.
  8. Top of the World – Carpenters
  9. Don’t Worry Be Happy – Bobby McFerrin
  10. I’ll Tumble 4 Ya – Boy George & Culture Club
  11. Feeling Good – Muse
  12. American Pie – Don McLean
  13. Empire State of Mind – Jay-Z Ft. Alicia Keys
  14. Could You Be Loved – Bob Marley
  15. I’m A Believer – The Monkees
  16. Walking on Sunshine – Katrina & the Waves
  17. Do You Realize? – The Flaming Lips
  18. I Can See Clearly Now – Jimmy Cliff
  19. A Beautiful Morning – The Rascals
  20. Three Little Birds – Bob Marley

Yes, I realize many of them have significant cheese factor, but hey, they work for me. And yes, there are three songs from Bob up there, but that’s how I roll. What’s in your list of pick-me-up songs?

26 little books and a secluded island

Tonight Maly and I read all 26 little books from her alphabet collection before bed. When we got to the “I” book, there is a page that has a clipart picture of a guy sitting at a desk before a computer on a island out in the deep blue ocean.

“What’s that, Sugar?”

“I don’t know.”

“It’s where daddy would love to be.”


“You. Are. Awesome.”

Date 1 of 10

Last night Elise and I went on date #1 of our Ten Great Dates, a program that Elise signed us up for through her church. Like all functions, programs, standing, kneeling, sitting, tithing, kneeling, standing, sitting and standing that are sanctioned by the church, I went in to this experience with an open mind.

Our class started with all 39 couples sitting in the church’s little auditorium. After our program leader put away the levitating serpents, we watched a short film starring the fine couple, David and Claudia Arp, who, together, started the Marriage Alive program back in the early 70’s when the free love movement was nearing its end and being replaced by things like capitalism, disco and monounsaturated trans fats. In this film we were told that with the help of mild sedatives and Sade’s 1984 hit album “Diamond Life”, we could re-energize our marriage.

Our first class was quick and it allowed us to rip out not one, but two perforated pages from our “10 Great Dates” owner’s manual. These pages were our respective “Date One Exercise” worksheets – one for him and one for her. On these pages were the series of the same 11 questions. We hopped into our love wagon and drove over to the local interior Mexican restaurant for dinner, and to see if we could score some sedatives from the bus boy.

As we waited for our dinner, we filled out our respective worksheets. We wrote down our memories of things such as:

  • First time I saw my mate
  • First date
  • First kiss
  • Favorite dates
  • First time we talked about getting married
  • Wedding day
  • First home
  • First anniversary
  • Most romantic moments
  • Happiest memories

Elise reflected and reminisced in detail in most of her answers, while most of my answers consisted of a simple “yes” or “beer!”

The best part of the date was just being able to get away and focus on rekindling our relationship while knowing that our only offspring was safe, handling mosquitos the size of Labradoodles, under close supervision during a summer twilight in Texas.

It was fun to remind each other of important and exciting events that we’d experienced, arm in arm, in the past. For example, Elise reminded me that we were married in “SEPTEMBER!”

Three Pepsis and an hour later, we found ourselves back in the church parking lot along with the other parents who also didn’t know what to do with one another for an entire two hours.

So we loaded up the child, drove home and prank called the David and Claudia Arp house until 1 a.m. Elise blames it on the Pepsi. I blame it on the re-energizing.

Security and Sanity

In the almost 9 years that I’ve been married I have finally learned, after repeated reminding, that women need one thing: security. And by security they mean “health insurance.” This is especially true after offspring have entered the picture. Before we had a child, the only thing my wife needed was a man with hair and washboard abs; neither of which I had, but I did have health insurance.

If our child were to break her arm today, the only thing we would have after paying medical bills would be a stinky cast. Long gone are the days when one could trade a plump hen or a bushel of earthworms for the town’s doctor to set a broken bone. In my research I discovered that in the early 1800’s, 20 tablets of 30mg Viagra would set you back just a jar of canned peaches. I am clearly a man before my times.

In order for there to be “security,” we need one of two things: a job that provides group medical benefits to its indentured servants or independent medical coverage which, for a family of three healthy humans, will cost us approximately $6,279.98 per hour. I say approximately because insurance rates are calculated daily based on prime plus an arbitrary number that sounds official to lobbyists and special interest groups.

If I had a job working for a corporate employer, I would run the risk of losing my sanity, but thankfully I’d have health insurance which would cover up to 50% of sanitarium service expenses and monthly bedpan replacements! My wife would have to sift through the daily “THIS IS NOT A BILL” bills from the insurance company which indicate that antibiotics for an ear infection fall into the “Full Cranial Transplant” category, which is only covered in the event that said transplant occurs on a Wednesday during a month that contains the letter “Y”.

Or we could just get independent health insurance. Hahahahahahahahahahaha!

The one thing that I’ve learned about myself in the past few years is that I appreciate and aspire to live a simpler, saner life. I think this could easily be achieved by moving to a Pacific coast town in Mexico with little more than my family and my trusty laptop. We would all learn to speak fluent Spanish, fish in the deep blue, study ocean conservation and explore the regions and cuisines. I’d setup some kind of some kind of U.S.-based online business, or write a weekly newspaper column, to earn US dollars while living on pesos. If I had to guess, I would think my wife would love to become a teacher or a nurse. Our daughter would become increasingly popular by telling her jokes to the locals about farts and email. Surplus cash (above food, clothes, investments, savings, fishing lures and guitar strings) would go to charities. I’d setup my own health insurance plan where Richard Branson, Keanu Reeves, Sammy Hagar and I would charter a jet full of highly skilled Mexican doctors and fly to the U.S. to help sick children without insurance.

As far as security, Mexican health care in medium to large cities is considered very good to excellent, and very affordable.

As far as sanity, I like to re-read this story and daydream about catching dorado and laughing. Laughing a lot.

The American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked.

Inside the small boat were several large yellow fin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, “Only a little while.”

The American then asked, “Why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?”

The Mexican said, “With this I have more than enough to support my family’s needs.”

The American then asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos. I have a full and busy life.”

The American scoffed, “I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing; and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat: With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats. Eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor; eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles and eventually New York where you will run your ever-expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”

To which the American replied, “15 to 20 years.”

“But what then?” asked the Mexican.

The American laughed and said that’s the best part. “When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.”

“Millions?…Then what?”

The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

You’re fired

[flv width=”500″ height=”375″]http://www.maly.tv/video/20100604_yourefired.mp4[/flv]