Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Short Post on the Gay Marriage Ruling

My brother wrote a good blog post about the Supreme Court's gay marriage ruling and it's implications (surprisingly, Ryan can actually write pretty well about things besides comic books and film noir when he sets his mind to it).  You can read his post here. 


In the comments section of his blog I dropped a comment, and I wanted to reiterate it here, for posterity's sake if nothing else:


"Good post! I remember serving on the student Senate back at Trinity from about '93 to '95, and the administration didn't want to allow LGBT organizations to use any campus facilities to hold meetings or hold film screenings, etc. They knew that there were gay students on campus, but it felt like the school didn't want to acknowledge them. I believe that the primary reason was that they were afraid that it might hurt fundraising efforts with the alumni if the school became too openly accepting of gays. The people in the student association just wanted to help out some of our friends. We thought of our school as fairly progressive, and we were kind of floored by the fact that the student would discriminate against any of its students this way. We also worked on trying to add sexual orientation to the school's nondiscrimination policy, but the school fought us pretty hard on that, too. We made some progress by the time we graduated, but ultimately we had to hand our efforts off to the next generation of incoming students (the administration just kept trying to put the issue off, apparently thinking the issue would blow over). A lot of change has happened in a relatively short period of time. Trinity now proudly touts its support for LGBT students on its website, and gay marriage, which seemed utterly impossible when I was in college, has come to pass. At any rate, congrats to everyone who supports equality. In a better world, equality wouldn't be controversial."


Anyway, I have LGBT coworkers, neighbors, and good friends.  I'm really happy for them.  I'm happy for the whole country.  I know that there are people who see marriage equality as a cause for agitators and troublemakers, but the truth is, I really think that anyone who doesn't want equality for another person is the one causing the agitation.  Everyone has to be equal.  It's nice to see our country taking another step toward realizing that goal.

Picture Addendum



(Raylan sporting Hawaiian party wear.  Thanks Funcle Ryan
and Aunt Jamie)

(Kaylee meets Raylan during our visit with
the Bloods)

(Raylan and I have a quiet moment
before Amy gets out of bed)

(Raylan and I go for a walk on my first solo day
with him)

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Quick Update

Really quick update.  I'll post more later, but I don't have time right now.


Friday night we had some pizza and wine.  We had wine!!  Wild and crazy night where each of us had a glass of wine.  And then stared at the baby.  And put the cork in the wine bottle to save it for the next night.


Last weekend we mostly just hung out on Saturday.  We took Raylan out to breakfast at Central Market on Saturday morning.  He had Belgian waffles (just kidding- he sat in his car seat and gurgled at us while we ate).  It was nice.
After breakfast I did some grocery shopping while Amy gave Raylan a bath.
Mary and Chad came by with Truett for a visit.  Raylan and Truett actually seemed to notice each other, so that was really cool.  They'll both be attending daycare together at St. Luke's pretty soon.


Saturday night I think we watched The Americans.  I'm still enjoying it a lot.


On Sunday we went out to Mom and Dad's place.  Our family friends, the Bloods, are in town, so we had some barbecue for lunch and hung out with them while we ate.  Afterward they went to go visit some friends who live near my parents, and Amy and I went to the swimming pool while Mom and Dad did some Raylansitting.  Unfortunately we had some thunder while we were at the pool, so we only got a relatively short amount of time to actually swim, but we enjoyed our time, anyway.
We got back, fed Raylan, and headed home.


Yesterday I stayed home all day with Raylan, solo, while Amy went to work and Mom hung out with the Bloods.  We had a pretty good day!  (although we missed Amy/Mom)


That was about it.


I'll try to post some pics later.  Short on time today.  Hope everyone's doing well!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Father's Day







So this weekend was my first Father's Day! It was pretty good!
On Saturday we got up and I went grocery shopping while Amy gave Raylan a bath and took care of other Raylan-related tasks.  Mostly the day involved a lot of puttering around and getting various things done.  I got a haircut.  Ryan and Jamie came by to visit for a while, catch up, and say hello to Raylan.  I think that on both Friday and Saturday evenings we watched the first couple of episodes of The Americans.  I'd heard enough about the show to become intrigued by it, and then I started trying to avoid conversations with people about it because I knew that I wanted to watch it, but my friends and my brother can't seem to talk about this show without dropping spoiler bombs.
Anyway, it seems to be living up to the positive things that I'd heard about it.  I know it's been said before (because, like I said, spoilers), but it's a pretty interesting and amusing narrative trick to get the audience so invested in the well being of a couple of Soviet spies- people who earnestly discuss their belief that Ronald Reagan is a nuclear-armed madman who is hellbent on the destruction of the Soviet Union, even at the potential cost of world destruction.  You could see how a couple of well-meaning Soviet spies might feel the need to protect their country from such a man!
Anyway, we're enjoying the show.


On Sunday we went out to Mom and Dad's.  It was Ciara's birthday, so we had hotdogs and hamburgers and celebrated with Susan, Ciara, Donald, and a few of Ciara's friends.
We also celebrated Father's Day.  Amy got me a Millenium Falcon t-shirt, a Pink Floyd t-shirt, and a cup with Raylan's picture on it which declares me to be the best dad!  Very nice and very fun.


So good weekend!  A little too much rain again, but a good weekend!
Take care!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Update

Our weekend was good!  Back before Raylan even arrived on the scene we had bought tickets to go see Rhett Miller (of Old 97's fame) at Strange Brew.  We enlisted my parents to do some babysitting, and they actually ended up taking Raylan to their house to spend the night while Amy and I went out.  It was weird to have a night without Raylan around (there might have been some anxious phone calls late at night and first thing in the morning), but in the end everything went well.  Raylan had a good night, by all accounts, and Amy and I had a nice date night to ourselves.
Rhett Miller's show was really good.  Salim Nourallah opened for him, and his performance was a little weird.  Nourallah mostly played along with a pre-recorded tape of background music.  He played a little bit of acoustic guitar from time to time, but mostly he sang along, karaoke style, to his own music.  It was odd.  I wasn't sure how a guy his age was getting gigs doing stuff like that.  Then Miller took the stage and explained that Nourallah had been the producer for a number of his albums.  I'm guessing that Nourallah is mostly a producer first and a recording artists/performer second.  Anyway, he might be good with a backing band, but I think the dude should steer clear of the solo/acoustic shows.  If you can only perform by singing along with a tape, you probably shouldn't be going solo.
Rhett Miller, on the other hand, did a great job.  He just got up there and sang for an hour and a half (or longer) and rocked it out on an acoustic guitar.  He maintained a really high energy level throughout the performance, his voice sounded good, and the songs sounded really tight.  I think he was a little weirded out by the sort of quiet, intimate, slightly intense experience that comes with playing at Strange Brew (he's not really a mellow singer-songwriter, after all), but he seemed to enjoy the experience more and more as the show progressed, realizing that the audience was really into the music.  The audience is really quiet during the songs at Strange Brew, and many of them are seated, so that has to be sort of odd for musicians who are used to playing to audiences at bars and nightclubs where people are drunk and talking throughout their set.  The Strange Brew audience is enthusiastic, though, and they applaud and hoot and holler enthusiastically between songs.  Once Miller started to really understand what the place was all about and started to get the fact that the audience, although not rowdy, were really, truly enjoying his music, he started to enjoy himself much more.  Maybe he'll come back.  I would definitely go see him again in that setting. 




Rhett Miller at Strange Brew
So Friday night was a lot of fun.  Weird to come home to a house without Raylan.  But we had fun.  Saturday morning we got up and went to Kerbey Lane for breakfast.  Then we went grocery shopping.  Then Amy went to a hair appointment while I drove out to Steiner Ranch to pick up The Boy.


("When I go to Gramma's house I get souvenirs!!")

(babysitters)
Seems like everything went fine out there.  Mom and Dad said Raylan was pretty happy and easy to deal with while he was out there.  I visited with Mom and Dad a bit, fed Raylan, and then drove back to South Austin. 
Saturday night we ordered pizza and just sort of hung out.  I'm not sure what we were doing.
(beautiful, happy people)

(raindrops falling on the fam)
On Sunday we actually took Raylan out to go run a few errands.  It was the first time we'd done this.  We put him in his carrier, and he mostly slept while I walked around Buy Buy Baby and Homegoods with him.  After we got home Jamie stopped by and visited with us for a while.  It was good to see her.  Sunday night we watched the season finale of Game of Thrones. That show is starting to wear me out.  I'm just getting tired of the relentless awfulness.  I'm also getting tired of the way that victimizing people, particularly women, has become the single favorite plot device that the show employs in order to keep its audience engaged.  I know that George R.R. Martin and the show's writers can point to all sorts of awfulness throughout history as real world precedent for the awfulness on the show, but I still find the constant shock factor to be: 1) no longer all that shocking now that the violence is so expected, 2) lazy (the plotlines of many characters increasingly seem to boil down to little more than wandering around sort of haplessly until something bad happens to them, and sort of unrealistic (despite the insistence of show creators that the awfulness is supported by historical precedent, it seems like every awful thing from the all parts of the world throughout history have been distilled down to fit into this one program).  Anyway, I know that I overthink things, but it also bothers me that one of the top-rated shows on television relies so heavily upon the victimization, particularly of women, in order to score its ratings.  I'm reminded of aesthetics classes and questions about whether the things that we choose as entertainment have an impact on our minds, morality, and soul.  I'm not sure about the answer to that question, but GOT is starting to make me feel uneasy.
Anyway, enough about that.  It's the end of the season.  We'll see if I feel the need to see how things play out next year.
In the interim, I'll be doing a bunch of late night diaper changes with this guy.  Speaking of ruthless tyrants....  ;-)


("I like to wake up when you are trying to go to
sleep.  It's hilarious.")

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Update





Well, the weekend was kind of weird.  I woke up on Friday feeling a little off, and by Friday afternoon I could tell that I was coming down with something.  By Friday night I had a bad headache, really sore throat, and a bunch of other typical symptoms that go along with a pretty nasty cold.  It was really uncomfortable.  I felt really crappy Saturday.  I felt bad for Amy because she'd been kinda cooped up in the house all week on baby duty with Raylan, and when the weekend came around, I was sort of useless as a caregiver.  It wasn't like I was too sick to sit in a chair and hold him, but once I read that babies tend to get fevers when they catch a cold, it made me want to limit the amount of physical contact that I had with him. 
By Sunday, though, I was feeling better.  I got up in the morning and fed The Boy and took the pictures featured above.  I guess maybe Raylan was pretty excited about his Sunday plans to see the grandparents.  Anyway, needing to get Amy out of babyland for a bit, we took Mom and Dad up on an invite and piled in the car to go out to their house.  When we got there, Mom and Dad did some babysitting while Amy, Jamie, and I went to the pool and did some swimming (Ryan's out of town for a conference, so Jamie met us out there).  It was nice to get some fun in the sun.  It helped dry out my cold a bit, I think.  Anyway, the sun and the water felt good.
Sunday night we had dinner with Mom and Dad.  It was good to catch up with them.  They fed us salmon burgers and pasta salad and regular salad and fruit.
Then we drove home and went to sleep.
Anyway, I'm feeling better now (still a little congested, but whatever), and (knock on wood) it seems like I managed not to get Amy or Raylan sick.


Things are good at our place.  Did I mention that we got Raylan into what we think will be a really good daycare (i.e., a good place that's close to our offices downtown)?  That's a big weight off our minds.
Anyway, I hope everyone is doing well!  Summer time!!!

Monday, June 01, 2015

Update

Well, things are going well over at our place.  I'm back at work full time, and Amy is at home with Raylan.  I get home from work and try help out with some feedings and diaper changes and whatnot.  Raylan is doing well.  He's eating well and sleeping pretty well, and he generally seems like a happy, healthy baby.  He makes a lot of different baby noises-  not crying, really, but sighs, grunts, gurgles, coos, and chortles.  He also has a lot of different expressions, ranging from smiles and chuckles to intense stares to grimaces to surprised looks (complete with raised eyebrows) and glances of uncertain curiosity.  Watching an infant for a while makes you realize the extent to which human emotion and mood precede language and reason. Raylan is only 6 weeks old, and he already has opinions about some things, to be sure.
Anyway, we're all doing really well.


Raylan helping Mom cook a polenta and sausage dish

On a rainy Saturday, Raylan listens to "Yellow Submarine".  While
wearing... a yellow submarine.
So our weekend was good.  We're in babyland, so it mostly had to do with baby care, but it was good.  We took Raylan for some walks in the stroller, and we met some new neighbors down the street who are about to have a baby of their own.  Mom and Dad came over on Sunday, and Amy and I got out for a few hours to run some errands and grab lunch.  It was nice to get out for a little while and roam around.  It was also good to see Mom and Dad and have a chance to catch up with them for a little while.
It seems like the rain is finally starting to let up a little bit.  This is a good thing.  We need some sunshine.  We needed the rain, but now we've gotten our fair share for a little while.  Hopefully we don't slip back into a drought, but we can do without the flooding.
Anyway, that's it for now.
Hope everyone is doing okay!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Memorial Day

Our weekend, despite the storms, was pretty good.  Saturday night and Monday both involved storms and tornado warnings and general moments of weather-related anxiety.  We were monitoring the weather for long periods of time.  Over the years Amy and I have dealt with some minor flooding issues, roof damage, and power outages.  Our stuff has been relatively minor, and it's still a headache, so I'm very sympathetic to people who face serious loss as a result of water, wind, and weather-related damage.  It was pretty sad to hear about the homes that were destroyed in Wimberley and the lives that were lost.
We've had some flood control work done at our house, and it seemed to really help out this time (BIG knock on wood).  We had some really intense rains for a while, and this time nothing came into the house.  Which was nice.


I got to see Mad Max: Fury Road.
Fury Road was good.  It was pretty much everything that you might expect from a really good Mad Max movie.  It was intense, hyperkinetic, violent, funny, surprisingly thoughtful, and extremely imaginative.  The movie stood out as feeling extremely innovative and original, garnering an astonishing 98% approval rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes after two weeks at the box office, and although I really enjoyed the movie, I'm somewhat confused by the adoration poured upon it by critics and audiences.  I feel like Fury Road was a great movie, but it was just another very good addition to a longstanding film franchise that's been around for decades.  I really enjoyed the movie, but it didn't depart much, if at all, from any of the material that had been explored in the original Mad Max, The  Road Warrior, or Beyond Thunderdome.  The popularity of Fury Road, I think, feels like a reaction to (or against?) the uninspired, bland, computer generated fare that audiences have been receiving for the past decade or so.  George Miller reminds everyone why it's worth taking some creative risks while making a film, making a movie which ended up pleasing everyone when, on paper, it probably looked like it might not please anyone.  If an unknown or younger director had approached studio heads with a pitch for a movie about insane, punk rock-ish, post apocalyptic warriors chasing each other and fighting  their way across a barren landscape for two hours, the studio heads would have balked.  In the era of big budget blockbusters that must guarantee a return on investment, even George Miller could have conceivably ended up producing this movie on a shoestring budget for the Syfy Channel.
This movie stands out from contemporary movies because it implements the risky but rewarding style of the other Mad Max movies before it.  Nothing is a sure thing in this movie.  Audiences might have rejected the characters, the story, the cinematic style, or even the premise of the whole thing (we're not exactly short on post-apocalyptic fiction these days).  But the movie, especially when held up against recent fare, is unorthodox.  Which makes it unpredictable.  Which makes it compelling.  The process which funds quirky, visionary, inspired movies surely must produce as more duds and flops as it does successes, but when a visionary film is successful it stands alone as a triumphant work of art.  The Mad Max films accomplish that sort of success, and it's the sort of success that the great Hollywood blockbuster-generating machine can't seem to achieve.
Many a Hollywood producer has run his profit algorithms and decided that's it's a sure bet to imitate, recreate, and simulate previously successful works.  Fury Road was successful because it wasn't a copy of a work that had previously been successful.  It was a continuation of a series of films that had been previously successful, and it felt every bit as vital and original as The Road WarriorFury Road didn't need to "update" Miller's previous work by way of direction, cinematography, or story.  It didn't insist that we know how to do things better these days.  Instead, Fury Road reminded us that the older films told their stories exactly how they needed to be told, and it insisted that, by and large, the old-school world of practical effects, accelerated film speeds, and live action stunt work is still the best, most convincing way to tell certain stories.  The characters weren't modified to make them more palatable to modern audiences.  The whole movie was chaos and violence and madness and determination.
The movie didn't reach out to find an audience.  It made the audience come to the movie.  The process began in 1979 with Mad Max, but 2015's Fury Road demonstrates what can happen when a persistent, dedicated group of fans fan the flames of cult film love.


Anyway, it was a good movie.  I enjoyed it.  But I wasn't surprised by it.  Maybe I should have been.  People keep expanding on classic old film franchises and then ruining them.  But I'm an optimist, and I liked the trailer.


We also went out to my parents' house this weekend.  They fed us grilled steak and salmon (Dad's gotten pretty darn good at grilling salmon), and we hung out and just talked.  The sun came out while we were over there, so we sat outside and took a short walk.  It was very pleasant.  Very relaxing.


Sunday Mom and dad came over to babysit for a while so we could run a few errands, and Ryan stopped by later to say hello and hang out with Raylan. 


We watched Game of Thrones.   


I'm not sure what else.  I'm tired.  Raylan likes to party at night.
Raylan is good, though.  He's eating and growing and sleeping and getting baths and doing some tummy time and playing on his mat and getting his diaper changed and looking at things .
He smiles quite a bit, and even though some would say that he's too young for social smiles, I would swear that we can get him to smile at us sometimes.  He just reacts to smiles and laughs and sometimes smiles back.
So he's good.  Amy seems to be doing really well, too.




Hope everyone is doing well.
I'm happy to say that the sun is out...



"Do that little thing that you do!"
"I got sunshine... on a cloudy day..."