Monday, February 23, 2015

Update

Our weekend was good!  Friday night we went out to dinner.  Afterward we went home, and we listened to Serial.  Lots of different friends have been telling me about Serial, and then Amy developed a curiosity about it, so now we're listening to the podcasts.  For those who haven't listened, Serial is a podcast from the developers of NPR's This American Life.  It's a nonfiction audio series telling a story over multiple episodes- in this case a real life murder mystery revolving around the killing of a young high school student, Hae Min Lee, and the subsequent conviction of her ex boyfriend, Adnan Masud Syed, for the crime.  The podcast primarily reflects the investigative work of journalist Sarah Koenig as she interviews people who knew the defendant and/or the victim, sifts through various pieces of evidence, and occasionally expresses her own personal thoughts, feelings, and biases about the various players and theories surrounding the murder.
The podcast is interesting.  The content certainly isn't revolutionary.  Television and print media have been full of true crime stories for many decades.  What makes Serial sort of interesting and unique is the combination of narrative viewpoint (Koenig very much tells the story from her own point of view, explaining how she got interested in the story, how she met each of the people, and how her opinions change regarding Syed's guilt or innocence as her investigation progresses) coupled with the intimacy and immediacy that comes from the recorded one-on-one interviews that Koenig conducts with her subjects.  There's something about the radio interviews that seems to capture the personality of Koenig's subjects in a way that courtroom testimony and/or on-camera interviews do not.  People seem to let their guard down a little.  The interviews sound like a regular conversation between two people as opposed to the more rigid, guarded responses that people appear to have when they know that they are being watched or filmed.
And the quality of the journalism is strong.  Koenig not only does a good job of tracking people down, searching for evidence, and talking to relevant witnesses, but also openly discusses her biases and emotional reactions to her subjects.  As an audience member, I feel far less manipulated by a journalist who tells you that they have an opinion (thereby allowing you to agree or disagree) as opposed to a reporter who more subtly presents evidence in a way that is designed to bring an audience around to seeing their point of view.
Annnnyway, we're liking Serial.  We have many more episodes to listen to, but we're liking it.



Steanso puts baby in the corner

On Saturday Amy went to a hair appointment, and I went out to lunch with Ryan.  We went to a sandwich shop down near Ryan's house called Independence Fine Foods.  Pretty good little deli style place.    It was good to find some time to sit down and hang out.
Saturday afternoon/early evening we drove over to pick up a crib from a friend of a friend named Clark.  Clark's kids had grown out of their crib, so we swooped in to take it off their hands.  It was very cool of them to give it to us.  It was also sort of the final piece in our nursery (aside from maybe some knickknacks and pictures and stuff), so it feels good to have it in place and know that the baby has a room to call his own.  So that was Saturday night.  We ate dinner, and put together a crib.  I think I played a little Grand Theft Auto while Amy worked on some sort of crafts.

Sunday we ran errands in the morning.  In the afternoon we went over to Mary and Chad's house to visit with them and see three week old baby Truett.  They all seemed to be doing well, if slightly sleepy (which made me a little sleepy).  We hung out with them and visited for a while.  It was good to catch up.
After that I worked out and went to band practice.  Frank, Reed, Jim, and I got together to play.  We hadn't played in months, so it felt good (if slightly rusty).  Thanks to Reed for hosting.
Amy went to an Oscars get together over at Shelly and Kit's house.  I got done with band practice, made a sandwich, watched Walking Dead, and was already falling asleep when my party animal wife came rolling in.  It sounds like she had a really good time.

And that was the weekend!  It was nice.  Way too short.
Hope everyone is doing well!


**  Addendum- the very cool quilt on the wall in the picture above was done by Amy and Jean!  Amy did the needlepoint in the panels, and Jean made the quilt!
    


Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Update

Hey! Hope everyone had a good weekend! Amy and I both had Monday off for President's Day, so we got a 3 day weekend. Pretty cool. We did a lot of house stuff and chores stuff, mostly. 
On Friday night we stayed home and watched Edge of Tomorrow.  Neither of us had seen that movie before, and I was really impressed.  It's about a soldier (played by Tom Cruise) who ends up in a sort of time loop while fighting against aliens during an invasion.  The movie was well written, interesting, and more creative than anything I'd seen in a long time- especially from a blockbuster, Hollywood sci-fi action flick.  We both enjoyed it.
On Saturday we got a lot of the nursery stuff put away (babies, for being so small, amass a shocking amount of stuff, apparently). I put some cube-like shelves together for use in the nursery.  I wrote baby shower thank you cards and visited with our landscape guy about our ongoing drainage situation.



Amy stitched this for the nursery.  It's from Dune.  The Bene Gesserit Litany Against Fear.
When Amy and I met, she was literally reading a copy of Dune.  Talking about that book was one
of our first conversations.  So if Dune helped bring this kid into the world, it's more than
earned a spot in the nursery!


On Saturday night, Valentine's Day, we went out and had some Thai food for dinner.  It was nice.  It felt relaxing, the food was good, and I enjoyed having dinner with Amy.

On Sunday we did some shopping and ran a few errands.  We also hung some stuff up in the nursery.

Nursery progress.
In the afternoon we drove over to our friends Adam and Katie's house to meet their new daughter, Ophelia.  Ophelia was born about 6 weeks ago.  She's awfully cute.  Adam and Katie seem to be doing well, also, and it was great to see their little family settling in to life together so nicely.

Ophelia and Amy
Sunday night we watched Pacific Rim.  I had seen it once before, and Amy had never seen it.  Pacific Rim is a fun movie.  Amy really liked it, and I think I actually enjoyed it more the second time around.  The movie has a pretty good sense of humor, and going into it the second time I was more prepared for the way that Guillermo del Toro sort of emulated Japanese anime and kaiju films.  The movie is more than a bit melodramatic, but so is the source material that it's derived from.  Throw in some awesome shots of city-wrecking robot versus kaiju combat, and it's hard not to be entertained. 

On Monday we had the day off for President's Day.  I'm not exactly sure why, but when it comes to vacation time I will not look a gift horse in the mouth.  So on Monday my parents came over for a little while.  They're getting us some blinds for our back door, so we figured out how that would work.  We did a little bit of shopping, and worked on hanging some more stuff up.  Our house hasn't had things put back up on the walls since we got it painted, so we're figuring out how we want to do it this time, starting with a clean slate.
Monday night Amy made a really good red beans and rice recipe with chicken sausage and bacon.  Very tasty, and the slow simmering made the house smell good.

Anyway, that was about it.  Other from that we exercised and took Cassidy for walks and just sort of hung out.  Another 3 day weekend that went by too fast.


Monday, February 09, 2015

Baby Shower; Update

Howdy!  Hope y'all are doing okay!  The weather here in Austin has been spring-like and incredibly nice.  Hard to believe we're still in the first half of February.
We had a good weekend.
Friday night we ate pizza and just sort of hung out.  We watched The Heat, starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy.  It was a fun movie.  Not groundbreakingly original, but thoroughly entertaining.  It made us laugh really hard (which felt good after a long, busy week).  Definitely in the tradition of some of the silliest, goofiest comedy buddy movies that I've seen.  (Reminded me of David Spade and Chris Farley or even Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy in 48 Hours).


On Saturday my family threw a big baby shower for Amy and I out at their house.  It was really nice!  There was great food and drink and lots of friends.  Everyone seemed to get along really well and enjoy one another's company.  It's always fun to see different friends from different parts of your life coming together.  It's even more fun when everyone seems to have a good time together!
As busy as things get, it's really nice to have these sorts of events where we get a chance to see old friends and catch up.  It was really good of so many people to take time out of their schedules to come out to Steiner Ranch to celebrate with us.
We got a bunch of really nice baby presents.  We are extremely grateful, not just for the presents and the shower itself, but for all of the support that we've gotten from our family and friends.  It's very humbling.  Thanks for the shower, Mom and Dad!  Thanks for helping out, Ryan and Jamie!











On Sunday I got up and went out to breakfast with my college friend, Richard, and his wife, Joy.  Amy was feeling just a little tired and/or slightly amiss on Sunday morning (her sleep patterns have been thrown off a bit by pregnancy), so she didn't make it.   Joy and Richard were in town from Houston and missed the shower on Saturday because they had a wedding to attend, but it was great to catch up with them over breakfast!  It sounds like life is going well for them down near Houston.  They already have three kids, so in addition to catching up on some news about the Trinity gang, I got to hear some cautionary parenting tales while eating my eggs.  It was really good to see them!


The rest of Sunday involved shopping, chores, and so forth.  Ryan popped in for a while to drop off presents that we couldn't fit in our car, so we got to catch up with him a bit.


And that was about it!


It was a good weekend.  Great shower!  Thanks to everyone!

Monday, February 02, 2015

Update

Howdy! Happy February!  I guess that supposedly the groundhog (Punxsutawney Phil) saw his shadow, so we're supposed to have 6 more weeks of winter.  Austin has had an awfully spring-like winter so far, though, so I think I can probably handle it.
On Wednesday night we went out and had a nice dinner with parents at The County Line.  It was good to catch up with them.  I hadn't been to the County Line in years.  It was pretty good, and it's a nice midway point in between my folks' place and our house.
Our weekend was pretty good.  Amy's mom, Jean, came into town on Thursday night and stayed with us over the weekend.  We went out for Mexican food with her on the night that she got into town.  On Friday Amy took the day off.  She and Jean launched into numerous pre-baby craft and home repair projects. 

Primer on dresser
One of these projects involved repainting and redecorating an old Ikea dresser.  Amy and I had started out the project a couple weeks earlier, trying to spray paint it, but that went... poorly.  In the end, Amy and Jean used rollers and did a great job of putting primer on it, painting it, and adding overlays to class it up.  The blue paint color that Amy picked was called "Approaching Storm".  Given the fact that the color was picked for our child's nursery, I found the choice somewhat prophetic.







Finished dresser in nursery


Anyway, the final product is really cool.  Looks nice, and it's something unique that Amy made for the nursery.
Speaking of unique, homemade things for the nursery....
Amy and Jean have been ridiculously productive with sewing and quilting and whatnot as this baby's due date approaches.  Jean has made some really cool baby quilts, and I think Amy made some sheets this weekend in addition to a few small baby bags that are meant to hold little kits (which hold a diaper, a change of clothes, some wipes, etc.).  Everything that they've made looks really good.  Not like "good try" good, but like, "people would pay money for that" good.  The creativity and the amount of work that they've done has been astounding.  More than once I had to remind them to stop and eat.
Friday night was one of those times.  I came home from work to find them sewing and painting, and generally working away frantically, so I went out and picked up some food at Central Market so that I'd have a way to lure them into eating dinner instead of working all night.  We had a nice dinner, and had a chance to sit back and relax.
On Saturday we went out for breakfast, and then Amy and I drove over and picked up a Learning Tower that Amy found on Craigslist.  It's basically a sort of adjustable stool with a railing around it that boosts kids up to counter height so they can see what's going on at the kitchen or at the table.  The railing keeps them from falling.  It's pretty cool.  The kiddo won't be able to use it until he's like 18 months, but hopefully it will be fun. 
Saturday afternoon we went to the grocery store, and Saturday night Amy made some really good chicken soup for dinner.
On Sunday we ate breakfast, and Amy and Jean worked on more sewing stuff.  Eventually they went to a baby shower that the women from Amy's office graciously threw for Amy and another one of her friends and pregnant co-workers, Heather.  By all reports, it was a really nice time, and we got some really nice gifts.  While they were at the baby shower, I went for a ride on my bike. 
This is what February 1st looked like this year
It had been a while.  The weather was perfect for bike riding, though, and it felt really good to be out and about.  I rode downtown, sort of winding my way through some of the South Austin neighborhoods as I went.  It was a nice ride.

I got home, took a shower, walked the dog, and drove over to Ryan and Jamie's house for the Super Bowl. 
It was nice to hang out, they had some good food, and the game itself was actually pretty good.  I didn't really have a favorite, but I found it hard to root for the Patriots in any event (Tom Brady is way too cool for me to ever support), so I became a de facto Seahawks fan for one night.
Mostly it was just fun to hang out, though.  Good to see Juan, Matt, Nicole, and Dick, as well as, of course, Funcle Ry and Auntie Jim Jam.
The Super Bowl halftime show was predictably ridiculous.  Ryan immediately jumped all over the pop culture value of Katy Perry's dancing sharks, while somehow they didn't immediately phase me.  Today's internet reaction to the routine has proven Ryan to be the more savvy observer.

Anyway, that was the weekend!  After the game I went home to find Amy and Jean still sewing away.  We ate some ice cream and went to bed. 
Jean flew back to Phoenix today.

I hope everyone is doing well!



Monday, January 26, 2015

Update

Hey!  Hope everyone had a good weekend!
Ours was good, but too short.  On Friday, after work, we went to see our friends Mary and Chad.  They're expecting a baby this week, so we went to hang out with them and wish them good luck as they forge ahead to scout out the new parent territory.  We'll be joining them in a few months, so we're counting on them to warn us of pitfalls as we charge into the whole thing.  It was good to see them.  We also had fun scouting out the pre-baby house changes that they had made (always fun to see how everyone brings their own personalities to this stuff as they go through it).  We're excited to meet their kiddo!
On Saturday we took care of errands and did some shopping (after breakfast tacos).  The weather was great this weekend, which was perfect since we wanted to keep the windows open to rid the house of the last remnants of the paint smell.  Saturday night we went over for dinner at Shelly and Kit's house.  They cooked a kind of Thai chicken dish for us.  It was really good!  Spicy, but not too spicy.  We checked out the electrical work that Kit is doing in their cool, new Tuff Shed (someday maybe we'll put on in our back yard for storage), and we played Mario Party on the GameCube.  I'm proud to say that Amy and I were victorious, despite the trickery of our opponents.  We had a really fun evening.  Very cool of them to have us over.
On Sunday we went and checked out strollers at Buy Buy Baby.  Since I'm tall, we had to buy one that had an adjustable handle.  For better baby maneuverability.
We slowly hung some stuff back onto out walls on Sunday and did a few other chores.
I went over to Reed's house on Sunday night to play some music with him.  It was good to see Reed and his familia, and it felt good to be playing music.  Amy made stuffed peppers on Sunday.  I had requested them, and, as usual, they were delicioso!  You can see the goodness all coming together in the picture below.  Garlic, onions, peppers, cheese...  You can't see the sausage because I think Amy was cooking it in a pan when I snapped this photo.


Peppers in Progress!
So that was our weekend, basically.  We got a little exercise, and walked Cassidy a bit.  Nice weather!
It all went by so quickly...
Now back to our regularly scheduled program.
I like my job, but I good do with a little more weekend time these days!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Update


So how has everyone been?  Fighting back against the midwinter, post-holiday funk?  These dark days can get you if you let them (and I mean they're literally dark- as a light lover, I hate how quickly the sun goes down this time of year).
We've been busy!  We stayed with Mom and Dad last week out in Steiner Ranch while we got the inside of our house painted.  We used a company called Renaissance Painting, and we're happy with the results.  We picked mostly pretty neutral colors, with the exception of the accent walls (one of which is in the picture below).
Anyway, thanks to Mom and Dad for everything.  Thanks for letting us stay at your house and being such great hosts and for your help with everything from moving furniture to doing electrical work!

So, our week was a bit tiring in terms of driving, meeting with painters, going to work, trying to get a bit of exercise, and whatnot, but in the end, we're pretty happy with our results.  Our house feels brighter and cheerier for our efforts.


New Paint!

We also got some landscaping work done last week.  It was mostly to fix some drainage problems in our yard, but it looks pretty cool as well.  The picture below shows the work in progress.  There's a little stone wall, and crushed granite closer to the house to allow for better drainage (although I don't think the granite had been filled in yet at the time the picture was taken).
New Landscaping!
And this picture shows Amy's yard work from Monday.  Amy bagged up leaves from our former dog run (we had it removed to expand the back yard) while Dad and I were working on repairing a ceiling fan.  I had no idea she filled up all of these bags.  Taken in the aggregate, it was a lot of work.  Dad and I were pretty proud of our work on the ceiling fan, and then I walked outside, expecting to find Amy reading a book, to find 10 or more large bags of leave and brush bundled up.  Not bad for a woman who's on her 7th month of pregnancy...


Amy v. Old Leaves
Anyway, we got a lot done over the last week and a half or so.  Commuting back and forth from Steiner Ranch, we also got to experience Austin traffic in a way that we're not really used to.  I think it gave us a new found appreciation for the location of our house.
So the baby prep and the house repair continue.
Things are good with us.  After two weekends of moving furniture and belongings in order to accommodate the painting crews, we're looking forward to trying to see some friends and having a little relaxation time.
Not much other news.  We've started watching The Honorourable Woman, a British miniseries about spies, international politics, and corporate intrigue.  It stars Maggie Gyllenhaal and Stephen Rea.  We're liking it.  Mostly.  I can't decide whether the show is really clever or whether the show just thinks that it's really clever.  At any rate, we're still watching with some interest, and I want to see how things turn out, so I guess that's an endorsement.  Stephen Rea, as usual, puts in a good performance.
And that's about it.  Happy birthday to Reed Shaw, who had another one on the 20th!  Hope it was a good one. 
It's been a while since I got a chance to make music with Mono or anyone else.  It's overdue.  Hopefully this weekend.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Update

Hey!  Not too much to post about right now.  We're sort of in a transitional period at the moment over at our house.  We're having some interior painting done, so much of the weekend revolved around moving furniture and taking pictures off the walls and stuff like that. 
On Saturday night we managed to make it out to see The Imitation Game.  It was a good movie.  Alan Turing's story is pretty amazing.  It's just sort of fascinating the way that his knowledge of math, cryptography, and machines came into play at exactly the right moment in time to help turn the course of the war and save countless lives.  Of course, other aspects of his life were occurring at exactly the wrong point in history.  He ended up as somewheone who should had been venerated as a national hero on a societal level (although, because his work was classified, the magnitude of his achievements were never widely known during his lifetime) while suffering a lot of pain and grief on a personal one.  Anyway, the movie has a few moments that are a little heavy-handed, but it's still a really good film.  Go see it!
Mom and Dad came to the house yesterday to help us move some stuff and to get the house ready for painting.  I really appreciate all their help.  We're staying with them this week in order to escape the fumes and mess at our place.

And that's about it for now.
Just wanted to check in and say hello.
Hope you're doing well!