Last Monday, I flew to Cleveland to visit with a new potential client. This potential client produces a magazine for highschool athletes. It was a good meeting, and I’m glad I went. Downtown Cleveland is a lot nicer looking than the airport area, and the power didn’t go out in my hotel overnight this time.

I flew home from Cleveland Tuesday night, then got up and flew to Chicago and back on Wednesday to meet with two more companies: one in the financial research and advice field, and another in the online auction business. Both meetings went well.

Then Friday morning, Christine, Jack and I got up before the sun and boarded an airplane headed for Raleigh, North Carolina.

I had two clients to meet in North Carolina (one in Raleigh and the other in Charlotte) and I figured what better excuse do we need to go visit Aunt Murrell and the rest of the Helmke family?

We arrived in Raleigh around 10:30 a.m., met Aunt Murrell and Karen at the airport, and then headed to downtown Raleigh for lunch. We ate lunch at the cafeteria at Exploris, which is where Karen teaches at the charter school and Karen’s son Tim works as an IMAX projectionist and certified technician. Tim joined us for lunch. The highlight of lunch (for me) was the sweet potato french fries… ummmm.

After lunch, the girls and Jack headed back to Aunt Murrell’s house to get settled. I headed to a meeting with my client in Raleigh. My meeting went really well.

I drove down a back road from downtown out to Aunt Murrell’s house in Clayton, which is about 20 minutes from downtown Raleigh. Let me say this: driving anywhere in North Carolina is amazing. I don’t care if you’re in the best neighborhood in town or the worst, just driving through is fun… All of the buildings are old, or are built to look old. You’ll see lots of old brick warehouse type structures, or old southern houses with large wrap around porches. Even the little shotgun houses have big porches (proportional to the house). The trailers all have porches as well, and if there isn’t a porch out front, you can be guaranteed there’s one out back.

The trees in North Carolina are all wonderful to take in. Towering pines are the dominant tree, interspersed with smaller magnolias and oaks. Kudzu is a problem in the southeast, and that includes North Carolina. It’s pretty, but it’s also not pretty … depends on your perspective I guess. There was a lot more Kudzu in North Carolina than last time we visited… but the landscape is still gorgeous.

Back to the story: on Friday night, Karen cooked us Barbeque Chicken with a home-made barbeque sauce, sweet corn-on-the-cob, fresh cantaloupe, and salad. Karen said that she was inspired by her sister Gretchen (Karen had visited Gretchen earlier that day and Gretchen was making a barbeque sauce) to make the barbeque sauce.

Jack was fed dinner by Aunt Murrell while sitting in the same high-chair that Carl, Tim, and all of the other kids in the family, ate out of at some point. Aunt Murrell told us that the high-chair came from Spain some 30 years ago.

After putting Jack to bed, we all stayed up really late just talking and catching up with each other. I think we stayed up ’till at least 1:00 a.m. Friday night.

On Saturday, we just enjoyed our weekend and relaxed most of the day… we sat around chatting, enjoyed the great outdoors in the backyard (they have a state forest that starts at the edge of their backyard), and waited for the family to come over. We also visited Patsy Aikens Designs’ Summer Closet Sale. We bought Jack some great Chez Ami clothes at a good discount and I’ve just about got Christine talked into becoming a Chez Ami consultant this fall.

Then, Saturday evening, the family came over to visit with Jack and us. We really enjoyed seeing Helen and Brad, Terry and Gretchen, and Jon and Hanna. Oh, my gosh… Jon and Hanna are so big now. It’s been 7 years since we’ve seen them, and they’re almost adults now. Jon is 17 and Hanna is 13. Jon will be a senior in highschool next year, and the editor of his school paper. Hanna is going to be a freshman at the same highschool (which she’s not 100% thrilled about, but she’ll push through that challenge I’m sure). Brad and Helen were wonderful with Jack… helping him walk and brining him his very own North Carolina bluebird stuffed animal.

Karen grilled bratwurst, hamburgers and hotdogs for dinner and we enjoyed eating out on the patio with everyone. We also had home made peach cobbler for dinner… ummmm, good.

On Sunday, Aunt Murrell and Karen taught Jack to pull up consistently, and helped him learn how to push his support across the room while walking with it. I can’t believe how fast this kid is learning new things, folks… he learned to pull up, crawl on his hands and knees, and cluck his toungue this weekend while in North Carolina.

Jon and Hanna joined us in the afternoon and we visited the Raleigh flea market at the North Carolina state fair grounds before heading to the pool. After Jon and Hanna left, Jack crawled around outside on the porch, and we all determined that the porch was a little dirty after we looked a how dirty Jack’s outfit was afterwards… here is a photo of Jack about to eat a mint leaf… you can see how dirty he is in this photo.

On Monday, I drove to Charlotte to visit a client (4 hours one way folks… bad idea, next time I’ll fly there). Christine stayed in Raleigh and learned how to make home made cards from Aunt Murrell. For dinner we ate pork tenderloin and sauteed new potatos with rosemary that Karen cooked, and we sampled a squash casserole for Aunt Murrell that she was considering making for a family that she has to cook dinner for this week. All of the food was good.

On Tuesday Gretchen and Hanna came over to visit a little more, I headed to work, and that night we met Tim out for dinner at The Irregardless Cafe. The Irregardless was really a fine place to eat. We were treated to live music while we enjoyed the light middle eastern cuisine. Jack really enjoyed the fish tank that Aunt Murrell showed him at the restaurant. Aunt Murrell and Karen gave us a little bag of North Carolina stuffs that we brough home with us… lots of little goodies that’ll help us remember our trip, and let us bring a little of North Carolina home with us.

This morning, we got up, packed, and got on a plane to come home [sidebar: cool photo from the plane]. It was a bittersweet farewell. We didn’t want to come home, but we knew we had to. We really had a good time in Raleigh with the Helmke clan.

A full set of photos from Raleigh is available here.

And here’s a video from a few clips we had on our camera:

Average Rating: 5 out of 5 based on 287 user reviews.

Jack turned seven months old on Thursday, June 23rd. His getting to be such a little man folks.

Jack also graduated from his swimming class on Thursday, earning his first certificate ever. Jack is now a certified Starfish according to the city of Austin.

I went to Starfish class with Christine and took a lot of photos of Jack swimmming in the pool with his Mommy.

In some of those photos, you can see Jack standing up, holding on to the side of the pool. You cal also tell he still doesn’t like to be on his back in the pool. You can also catch a few glimpses of him sticking his tongue out “Air Jordan Style”, which is a new thing he’s started doing lately. In this shot, you can’t tell, but he’s super excited and jumping up and down.

Average Rating: 4.8 out of 5 based on 252 user reviews.

Jack’s Grandma came to visit him this week. She drove up from Bellville on Tuesday, and stayed with us until Thursday, and man was it nice to have her come visit, especially because Jack’s Daddy was out of town Monday through Wednesday night…

We were able to catch up on some much needed house work, as well as just enjoy each other’s company. Grandma brought Jack a sprinkler water toy that looks like too much fun… and she played in the pool with us.

Jack really enjoyed laughing and playing with Grandma this week.

Average Rating: 4.7 out of 5 based on 168 user reviews.

Thursday morning Affordable Portable showed up and built me a little building:

They started at 8:15 a.m. or so, and finished up around 6 p.m. It would have taken me 3 weeks to build something that looked like what they built, but wasn’t nearly as well built. This thing is solid folks.

By July 5th, I’ll have turned it into a full blow office with insulation, an Air Conditioner, power, phone, cable TV, internet, refridgerator, and the like. The good thing is that the men’s bathroom is already installed… I had the guys from Affordable Portable leave the tree out back ๐Ÿ˜‰

Average Rating: 4.7 out of 5 based on 222 user reviews.

This past weekend was awesome. It was the best weekend it could be, especially for a first Father’s Day.

Evan and Ella came to visit us in Austin while Shadel visited some friends in Galveston for a bachelorette party.

Evan and Ella arrived around 11:30 on Saturday morning, and we all loaded up and drove out to the lake house. Greg and Cheri’s family were still visiting, and they’d invited us out to swim with them. We figured why the hell not? What else do you do with two babies all weekend, right? It’s not like you can take them a movie or a museum to keep them busy, can you? That, and spending time with Cheri and Greg and the kids and in-laws and grandparents is always fun… the pool was a bonus.

Cheri had lots of fixin’s for lunch ready for us when we got there, so we ate lunch and the jumped in the pool. I got sunburned (stupid me forgot to put on sunscreen again). Ella and Jack loved the pool. Just loved it. Matthew, Paige and Patrick loved having Jack and Ella around to play with, and I’m sure the feeling was mutual.

Jack did a little kick-boarding with a little help from Daddy. Ella danced on the pool patio to the tunes of Pat Green. Patrick showed us how good he was at pushing off of me to swim across the pool. Cool dude Mathew watered his mommy with a watering pail. Paige and Patrick learned a new trick with the floats (they’d jump off the side of the pool onto one of the floats to skim across the pool). All in all, we had a great time at the pool, hanging out with family.

When we got home from swimming, we fed Jack and Ella at the table, then gave them a bath in the big tub together… too much fun!

Evan and I headed up to Home Depot (with Ella) and bought some supplies for the little building going in out back. (Ugh… didn’t realize wires were that expensive). Christine headed to Babies-R-Us with Jack and bought a high-chair and a big baby gate for the entrance to the dining room, and some outlet covers (before, after).

Saturday evening, I cooked T-bone steaks for Evan. They were pretty good steaks, though I cooked them just a tad too long, or rather over a tad too hot fire… “But, John, charred edges on a steak are the only way to eat them!” you’re saying? I hear ya, but I couldn’t done a little better job. Ella told us that the peas and carrots were good (she ate half of both of the peas and carrots off our plates).

We watched Last of the Mohicans on Saturday night, then started to watch Troy, but Evan couldn’t hang, so we went to bed.

Sunday, we unpacked the stuff from Home Depot after playing with the kids for a little while… then Evan and Ella left to get home for Father’s Day activities with Shadel.

Jack and I hung out together (after a much needed nap) and talked Father/Son stuff. I gave Jack some advice about life, which he took pretty well. Christine went to HEB to buy some stuff to make dinner with.

When Christine got home, we opened presents. Jack got me two cool shirts that I’ll wear a lot this summer I’m sure. Christine bought me a good DVD. Then I put Jack to sleep (he fell asleep in my arms he was so tired after reading his book for the night which was too cool … he hasn’t fallen asleep in my arms in a good 4-5 months).

Then Christine made us dinner. She made Crawfish Etoufee from a recipe, and it was goood! Ummm!

Best Father’s Day Weekend I’ve ever had. Glad I got to spend it with my brother and niece too.

Lots more photos here.

Average Rating: 5 out of 5 based on 260 user reviews.

Christine had made up our mind to move a little over a month ago…

We even put money down on a lot in a new subdivision and started building a new house. We would have loved the new house… it’d have been perfect for us today, and would have been big enough to serve us for at least 5-10 years (as long as we don’t have 10 kids). We signed a contract and everything, and we were excited. We picked exterior colors, brick and tile, and marble countertops and chose some options to make it “our home”.

But then, we had our realtor over to tell us what needed to be fixed up so we could sell the current house. The list was like 5 items long. The “stager” (that’s what the woman who tells us what to do to fix the house up) said our house was just perfect, and that it’d sell with just some minor work (like cleaning out the gutters) without a problem…

That evening, Christine and I took Jack for a walk around the block and down to the park. We started noticing the 60 year old oak trees and the shade as we walked. We noticed the individuality of all the other homes. We talked to a couple of neighbors.

That day at lunch, I’d talked to a guy that was working at home out of a big RV Motor Coach that he’d half converted to an office.

We briefly discussed buying an old Airstream travel trailer and turning it into an office and parking it in the driveway (Yes, Robert Earl Keen’s songs come to mind, especially the one where he talks about powering an air-conditioner out on a table top in the San Antonio heat in mid-summer). That Airstream idea turned us to thinking.

Why were we moving?

We were moving because I needed an office that was a little less distracting (when the dog barks because the mailman comes to the door, or a strager walks by, as I’m on the phone with a client, it throws me off). And Jack needs a place that’s less distracting for him while he grows up (when I walk from the office to the kitchen while he’s eating it throws him off).

So, why were me moving? We could get an Airstream and put it in the front yard.

We decided we weren’t moving.

I checked eBay and researched some other projects where people had turned Airstreams into offices. (Hell, even Airstream has a commercial sales program for new Airstreams as offices). I could get an Airstream for $5, 000, put $2, 000 into it, and a little electrical work on the house and we’d be set… I’ve have the less distracting office, Jack’d be able to eat without me walking through… Wesley could bark to his heart’s delight. Problem solved, and we got to stay in our little old 1940’s Austin bungalow. Putting an Airstream in the front yard sounded like a perfectly East-Austin thing to do.

Then we contemplated actually putting an Airstream in the front yard, weighed the costs and effort involved in making it work, and we decided to put a little out-building in the back yard instead.

So, I ordered a building from Affordable Portable here in Austin, and they’re set to deliver it on Thursday. I’ll spend the next couple of weekends getting it suitable for me to work out of, and then I’ll move out of the guest-bedroom.

note: We looked at buying a building at Home Depot, and the value just wasn’t nearly as compelling as what Affordable Portable was offering. For the same money we got a nicer building, with a real steel door and real windows built on-site, painted to match the house with a hip roof that’ll match our house perfectly. It’ll look a lot like a little house in our backyard, and might even turn into a nice hobby shed or play-house for Jack and his buddies when I move out of it.

I can’t wait to have an office again, though I’m not sure I’ll be able to handle the commute…

Average Rating: 4.7 out of 5 based on 180 user reviews.

It’s officially summer again, and you know what that means folks: Time to hit the river! Woohoo!

Jack on the Guadalupe

If you need an excuse to hit the river, Dub’s wedding is a good one… we’re all going to be on the river on July 16th… call us if you need the details.

*photo courtesy of Josh Janicek

Average Rating: 4.9 out of 5 based on 218 user reviews.

I got this voicemail from Christine today… it’s too cute, so I had to share it with all of you (click the link to hear an MP3 of the voicemail Christine left me):

Jack is Standing Voicemail

Woohoo! The boy figured out how to work his arms and legs together!!!

(If you have a kid, you know how big of a deal this is… if you don’t, you will understand someday)

I’m so proud of the little guy. It seems like just this week that he learned to push himself up into a sitting position, and now he’s figured out how to pull himself up into a standing position? Damn they learn things fast.

It seems like Jack learns at least one new thing a week (at least) and I’m lucky if I learn one useful thing a month…

Average Rating: 4.6 out of 5 based on 150 user reviews.

The last couple of weeks have been just crazy for Christine and I (and Jack).

Let’s see… last Thursday, Christine, Jack and I went out to Debbie and Raymond’s lake house to go swimming. Boy, oh boy, did we have fun! Debbie and Raymond had brought Paige and Patrick (Cheri and Greg’s two oldest) with them to the lake (Paige is 7, Patrick is 5) and we all went swimming in the afternoon together… lots of fun. Cheri and Greg showed up with Matthew (2 years old) on Friday, and we happened to head back out to the lakehouse to see them, and to swim some more.

Then we helped Josh build his deck (it’s almost finished by the way) and went to the Schuster wedding this past weekend.

Then, this week, Jack started taking swimming lessons from the City of Austin, thanks to their summer aquatic programs. Jack is in the Starfish class with 8 other kids, and he’s the youngest one there, and he’s learning a lot about swimming. (Kudos to Christine for getting our kid trained on how to swim as early as she can.) They swim for 30 minutes a day, Monday – Thursday for 2 weeks.

Jack has learned how to enjoy the water (that first dip in the pool out at Debbie’s was a little scary for him) and is learning to kick while his mommy drags him through the water on his belly. At first he didn’t like being on his back in the water, but he’s learning to relax and enjoy it … slowly, but not bad for 6 months old.

Then on Wednesday of this week, Greg’s brother Scott, his wife Sara, and their 3 year old son Luke met Greg and Cheri at the lakehouse. Christine had taken Jack out there earlier in the day to swim and hang out, so I went out after work to have dinner and swim a bit as well.

Today (Friday), Christine and I went up to the neighborhood pool at Patterson Park to swim a little, as a fun way to cap off the week:

Here are some more photos of Jack and Christine in the neighborhood pool.

Tomorrow, Evan and Ella are driving up from Bellville, and we’re heading out to the lakehouse again, to spend some time swimming with Cheri, Greg and the kids.

It’s gonna be a fun summer, and hopefully we all come away from it with a good tan!

Average Rating: 4.4 out of 5 based on 275 user reviews.

Mauricio Zuazua is one of our closest friends from Christine’s days at Freese and Nichols in Fort Worth. I don’t know why, but the man just amazes me.

Maybe it’s the way he always wears the right clothes for the occasion, or perhaps it’s how he always knows the perfect thing to say at the perfect time for the perfect reasons. Maybe it’s because he’s so skilled with the ladies. Maybe it’s because he possesses the class of the old world while still being a modern man.

I can’t pin it down exactly, but I always feel priviledged to talk to Mr. Zuazua, and am downright awed when in his presence.

So, it was a very happy coincidence that he was in Fort Worth the weekend that we were in Dallas for Angela’s wedding. We met up with Mauricio and his girlfriend of a few years now at Mi Cocina for brunch on Sunday the 5th, to try to catch up with each other.

We had a lot of fun, and I could tell Jack was just as impressed with being in Mauricio’s presence as I am… that, or the little guy had some serious gas

It was really good to see Mauricio again. He’s done with graduate school now, and is looking to travel to Brazil for a few weeks on a consulting gig before moving back to the D.C. area to get a real job again. Hopefully we’ll get to visit him in D.C. someday when he gets settled.

Photos here.

Average Rating: 4.7 out of 5 based on 199 user reviews.

There was a saying in the Army that went something like “It ain’t that bad boys, we could be breaking big rocks into little rocks” that helped us get through some of the more menial repetitive tasks we had to accomplish from time to time.

I now know how shitty it can be to break big rocks into little rocks all day. That’s what I did on Saturday and Sunday this past weekend. Broke big rocks into little rocks. (Ok, I wasn’t doing all the work by any means, I was just one member of a team of hard laborers.)

Why was I breaking big rocks into little rocks you might ask?

Because I was helping Josh build his deck, of course. You see, the soil in Central Texas consist of about 3 inches of dirt, then 6-8 inches of rocks, and then clay.

Josh’s Dad was teaching us the ways of building a deck, and he said that the posts that were on the edge of the deck needed to be put two feet into the ground. Us young pups know when to listen to an old dog, so we set about digging holes two feet into the earth on Saturday morning times 10, and after about 45 minutes we had one hole dug, and one hole partially dug. Josh and I promptly headed to Home Depot to rent a jack-hammer. Whilst there, we also picked up an auger, to maybe make our lives a little easier.

By the time I left on Saturday around 1:00 p.m. (I had a wedding to attend that afternoon, remember) we’d dug maybe 6 of the 10 two foot deep holes we had to dig. I felt horrible for leaving early on one hand, and glad I’d made previous plans on the other… My shoulders and hands were killing me, and I was already sunburnt.

You see, the process for digging a two foot hole with a jack hammer, auger, post hole diggers and a shovel goes like this:

1. Use the auger to dig a rough indention into the first two inches of soil.
2. Use the jack-hammer to break big rocks into little rocks.
2.a. (optional) Rest for 15 minutes before trying to dig the jack-hammer out of the dirt.
3. Use the post-hole digger, or your hands whichever is most productive, to remove said smaller rocks.
4. Use the auger to remove the little rocks, and see if you’ve made it through all of the rocks.
5. Use the jack-hammer again to break big rocks into little rocks.
6. Repeat steps 2-4 until you hit the clay.
7. Use the jack-hammer to break up the clay a little, or the auger, if it’ll move the clay.
8. Remove the remaining clay and rocks from your hole, and pray that you’ve gotten two feet deep.
9. Rest 30 minutes because its 100° outside and there’s no clouds or breeze.
10. Repeat for next hole.

Digging post holes in Central Texas sucks. Especially when you’re almost 30 and way out of shape. Thank goodness for peach-tea to keep you going.

Anyways, I returned to Josh’s house on Sunday and Josh, Keith and David were already hard at work in the backyard. They’d finished up all of the deep holes, and were starting to lay out the joists that would support the deck, so I pitched in, and by 5:30 p.m. or so, we had built what looked like a deck. Oh, it wasn’t 100 percent complete, but by golly, we were done. Exhausted. Finito. Done.

Christine and I drove home, where I promptly took a cold shower. I was pretty good and sunburnt, and smelled like rotten dirt. Ever smelled like rotten dirt? Yeah, that was me. My body hurts now in more places than I can remember, and my arms and neck are pink and puffy.

That’s the last time I ever build a deck in Texas in June… and for that matter I won’t build one in May, July, August or September either… February? I’ll think about it.

All in all, it was fun working with Josh, his dad and his brother, and it was really nice to see Elise out there helping out where she could… though I can imagine it was frustrating working with three tired, sweaty and grumpy guys… Janice pitched in keeping us hydrated and wearing hats and sunblock… it was a team effort.

Average Rating: 4.5 out of 5 based on 296 user reviews.

In the past 3 weekends, Christine and I have attended three weddings. The spring really is wedding season I guess. We still have 2 more on our dance card in the coming couple of months.

I wrote a little about the wedding we attended in Guanajuato and posted the photos from it here. The Hill-Hernandez wedding was a lot of fun, and for us was a mini-vacation to a place tht we’d long wanted to visit.

On the weekend of June 4th, Christine, Jack and I flew up to Dallas to attend Angela Pierce’s wedding to David Waters (Angela was Christine’s roommate in college). Christine was one of the bride’s maids in the wedding. Jack wore his little white wedding outfit (that just barely fits him anymore) and was super cute. He did well at the wedding, but since it was a full Catholic Mass, we had to take a break about half way through to walk around a bit out in the foyer of the church, and to change diapers. Grandmother Mary was with us too, so she took care of Jack a little at the wedding and then at the reception. The reception was too much fun. Angela and David hired a mariachi band (2nd wedding in two weeks with a mariachi band, woohoo!) and after they left, the DJ was pretty good. Jack left the reception with Mary when he had had enough of the loud noise and strange people… not that anyone there was strange, just strange to him – ๐Ÿ˜‰

Christine and I stayed until the wee hours of the morning… ok, maybe we stayed until 10:30 or so, but we closed the party down. And man were we partying. Christine was dancing. I was dancing. We danced with each other, and with other people… it was a lot of fun and it was great to stay out all night with friends.

Photos from the Pierce-Waters Wedding here.

Then, this past weekend (June 11th) we went to Eagle Lake to attend Stefan Schuster’s wedding to his fiance Periwinkle Ferguson. They were married at 5:30 p.m. on a glorious Saturday evening outside (which in Texas means it was 105°F). But that didn’t slow anybody down, least of all Jack. It was a really nice small heartfelt wedding ceremony in the bride’s proverbial backyard (he father owns the house that the wedding was held at), mixing traditional wedding elements with folk elements, and lots of love. They wrote their own vows, and you could tell they were very special and from the heart. Jack wore his little white wedding outfit again (and I think this’ll be the last time). Jack played in the grass at my feet during the ceremony, and because it was so hot outside, we were allowed to drink beer during the wedding (rock on! Actually, I don’t know if we were allowed, but TJ’s husband Jeff graciously brought me a Shiner Bock, so I had to drink it!)

Photos from the wedding are here. Sorry that they’re pretty much all of Jack…

We stayed at the Schuster wedding until about 8:30 p.m. before making the trek back to Austin (about an hour and a half drive at 90 miles per hour). Did you know that bugs make a really loud smack on the front windshield of a Volvo late at night? I swear we must have hit every damn bug between Eagle Lake and Austin Saturday night. It sounded like I was sitting inside of a snare drum as we rolled down the highway, and when I went to look at the car Sunday morning, it looked as if the car was used as a prop in the movie Starship Troopers. ICK!

So, three weddings in three weekends (and we actually had to miss Jill and David Aronson’s (former co-worker) wedding on June 4th) and we’re beat. We’re taking the next weekend off (Stephanie Stein’s (old Bellville family friends) wedding is this coming weekend, and I just dont think we have the energy to make it to it, and to do all of the stuff around the house that we’ve been meaning to do but have been putting off).

Average Rating: 4.6 out of 5 based on 238 user reviews.

I was quoted in the local paper today as a “Mac user”. Funny… I will never forget one of my bosses in college telling me I was never going to get anywhere in business if I was a Mac user. Sure, being a Mac user hasn’t gotten me anywhere in business specifically, but it hasn’t hurt me either:

Apple’s switch to Intel: Some say it’s smart; others say it was inevitable.

By Helen Chernikoff
Monday, June 13, 2005
Time was, Mac fans would have been outraged by any concession, or even connection, to Microsoft Corp. or Intel Corp.

Those days are gone. Apple Computer Inc. made peace with Microsoft in 1997. Last week, Apple said it will switch to Intel chips by 2007.

And that’s OK with many Mac loyalists. “There was some cachet to being an iconoclast, to being different, ” said Bob LeVitus, the Central Texas author of 49 books about the company’s computers. “But there are downsides to the road less traveled.”

Chips made by Motorola Inc. (now Freescale Semiconductor Inc.) and, later, IBM Corp. have been losing ground to Intel for years. Like Apple’s unique software, they were one more barrier between Macs and the rest of the computing world.

Many Apple enthusiasts not only have accepted the change, they’ve embraced it.

Theories abound as to why. Apparently, Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ charisma did the trick.

“Whatever (Jobs) says is true. It doesn’t matter how true it is, everybody believes it, and it’s true, ” said John Engler, a Mac user and local salesman for a New York multimedia company.

Macs remain as offbeat as ever, others say. What makes Macs special is their sleek design and user-friendly software, said Kramer Wetzel, the kind of Mac partisan who, upon entering a coffee shop, automatically tallies the iBooks versus other makers’ laptops.

“It’s like a car: It’s still going to be a steering wheel, a brake and a gas pedal. The engine doesn’t make that much difference, ” said John Booher, who owns the Wizard of Austin, a computer training and support outfit.

Switching to the Intel chip is just good business, he added.

Jobs pulled the plug on PowerPC because the alliance didn’t deliver the goods, the superfast, 3-gigahertz chip he’d promised the Apple faithful two years ago, Booher said. Intel’s massive scale รขโ‚ฌโ€ it provides more than 80 percent of the world’s desktop PC chips รขโ‚ฌโ€ also should translate to lower prices. Maybe Apple will pass those savings onto consumers, Booher said.

“Being in bed with the big player who’s got the economies of scale ought to be really good for Apple, ” Levitus said. “It’s going to be rough the first few years but once the transition is made, we should get lots of benefits and faster.”

Average Rating: 4.4 out of 5 based on 207 user reviews.

I took the day off today because Christine was feeling a little under the weather (we’ve both been suffering through some kind of flu-type affliction). It was fun to spend a day with Jack and my wife… made me wish I could do it more often.

Since I wasn’t working all day, I decided to shoot a bunch of video of Jack so I could put a movie up of some of the things he does now that he’s six months old.

Here’s what I came up with:

Jack at Six Months

We shot some more footage of him eating later in the day, but the video was already getting too long… maybe I’ll put that footage up later… maybe not.

Average Rating: 4.6 out of 5 based on 293 user reviews.

Christine hasn’t worked for the past 6 months or so, but we stay in touch with all of her friends from work quite a bit, so when Erin Taylor asked if they could borrow our video camera to make a movie at the office, I couldn’t say no.

Little did I know that Freese and Nichols won an award for one of the best offices to work at in Central Texas. They were asked to make a video showing how much spirit they had. Erin brought the raw footage over tonight, and we edited it, and here’s the result:

Click the image to watch the movie.

Average Rating: 4.4 out of 5 based on 222 user reviews.