Sunday, September 18, 2016

Update

Howdy!


Our weekend was, with the exception of the UT game, pretty good.
On Friday Mom took care of Raylan, so we met up with her when we got back to our house after work.
On Friday night I think we just ate pizza and watched some Seinfeld.  Last week was a pretty busy week, so we were sort of worn out.
On Saturday we got up, and I went to the store to do some grocery shopping.  Amy did some yard work.  I helped move some bags of leaves and sticks, but she did the lion's share of the clean up before I even got home from the store.  It was hot and humid Saturday, so I gave Raylan a bath afterward (he'd been outside "helping" Amy) and got him some lunch.  Then he took like a three hour nap.
I went to the gym.
When I got back and after Raylan woke up, we piled in the car and headed over to a baby shower in Mueller for our friends Danielle Tierney and Gavin Tabone.  They recently adopted a little girl, Abby, who was really cute.
There were a lot of friends there from the County Attorney's Office and from the DA's office (people who used to work at the CA's office, but who've moved on).  It was a nice get together with food and drinks.  We gave them a gift card and a quilt that Jean had made.  They seemed to really like the quilt!  (thanks, Jean, it was very nice!)
(Given that Abby is not in Longhorn garb on a game day, Raylan
greets her with suspicion)


We didn't stay at the baby shower all that long.  Raylan took a really long nap, so we go there a little late, and then we left as soon as it started showing signs of winding up because we had to get to dinner at Mom and Dad's house.  But it was fun to go, and the people from work enjoyed meeting Raylan (who was pretty well behaved).
Uncle Bob and Aunt Linda were in town from Florida for a visit, so we headed out to Steiner Ranch for a really nice dinner with them and the family (Ryan, Jamie, and Susan were also there).  Mom made chicken enchiladas (with rice and beans and salad).  It was a nice time.  It was good to see Uncle Bob and Aunt Linda and have a chance to talk with them.  Of course, it was fun to see the rest of the family as well.  Raylan ran around and did his best to entertain.
Eventually, after dessert, we left to get Raylan home to put him to bed.
At 9:30 the UT-Cal game started, and I watched that at home.  What a mess.  Texas' defense looked pretty terrible.  Shane Buechele did a decent job, although he made more mistakes than in the previous two games, including throwing at least one costly interception.  Overall, the big problem was the Texas defense, though.  They did nothing to stop the passing attack, and weren't great against the run, either.  While I think he has some raw talent to work with, it doesn't seem like defensive coordinator Vance Bedford is pulling things together.  To be honest, I don't have a lot of confidence that he's capable of rebuilding the defense. 
Also, it was ridiculous for UT to play a game that was scheduled in the evening like that on the west coast.  It had to hurt the television ratings for the game (UT has a big audience, but asking them to stay up that late is asking a lot).  The kickoff for the second half occurred after midnight our time.  Amy made it through the first half (which was after 11:30) and hung out with me, which is way past her usual bed time, so she gets a fan spirit award.  Anyway, they need to do those west coast games as day games.


On Sunday we got up and went out to breakfast at La Posada.  It was pretty good.  Good salsa.
Raylan is hypnotized by the plaster parrot decoration (not pictured) 
After breakfast we went shopping for some Halloween/fall decorations (yea!) and a few things for the house.  We went to At Home, which I guess used to be Garden Ridge.  It was fun to wander around.  Raylan got very excited about the holiday decorations.  He was, surprisingly,  not frightened by even some of the "scarier" Halloween stuff.




("Hey, Dragon, can you come here?  I got a question.")


 


 





Sunday afternoon we did some chores and some playing.  Amy and I both worked out.
In the early evening I went to band practice.  We played some old songs and did a little bit of recording.  It felt good.
Amy made red beans and rice with sausage for dinner.  Very good.  We went to bed early.  Because that lame ol' UT game kept us up late the night before (grumble, grumble).
Overall, it was a good weekend.  We had fun at the baby shower for Abby, and it was great to see Uncle bob and Linda!


Have a good week!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Update

Hey! Hope you guys had a great weekend!
Our week was sort of unusual. We got back into town on Tuesday evening from Phoenix.  Early Thursday morning Amy left for a meeting in Houston for work.  It was an overnight trip with co-workers.  My Mom and Dad took care of Raylan on Thursday during the day, and he spent the night at their house.
Thursday marked the 50th anniversary since the first episode of Star Trek aired, so on Thursday evening Ryan came over and we had a mini Star Trek party.  We drank beer, ate pizza and watched a couple of episodes ("Arena" and "The Enterprise Incident", to be specific).  It was fun to hang out and catch up and revel in some vintage Trek.  Thanks to Ryan for coming by!



This beer was actually pretty good, in addition to
being appropriately festive


Amy got back into town on Friday night.  I had dinner with my parents and Raylan at Central Market, and Amy was home to greet us by the time we returned.  Raylan was very excited to see his mom!
On Saturday we got up and spent a little bit of time outside after breakfast.

"You know what, Dad?  I like to lounge."
In the middle of the morning I headed out to Steiner Ranch.  My parents are converting one of their guest bedrooms into a playroom/bedroom for Raylan with a day bed sort of deal, so we offered to take their barely used, king-sized guest room bed off their hands.  Also, their neighbors, Doug and Nancy, are moving to Sun City in Georgetown, and they had a kitchen table that they were looking to unload.  It's a really nice, table, AND they had access to a free moving truck, courtesy of their realtor.  So Saturday turned into moving day.  Amy had a hair appointment that had already been rescheduled twice, so she headed off to that while Mom and Jamie watched Raylan.  Ryan, Dad, Doug and I moved furniture.  Thanks to Mom and Dad and Doug and Nancy for the nice furniture!  Thanks to Ryan and Jamie for the assist with the moving operation!




Raylan helps supervise the furniture delivery


 


New eating platform!
Saturday afternoon I got some exercise.  In the evening we watched the UTEP-UT game.  It was sort of a blowout, and UT once again looked pretty solid.  Still, it was fun to watch.




The fall of 2016.  Hopefully both of these signs are backing winners!
On Sunday morning we went to Kerbey for breakfast.  Raylan got up late, so he only got one breakfast this time.  Consequently, he was very focused on his eating.


After breakfast we went to the Austin Zoo.  We met up with Katerina and Logan.  We'd taken Raylan to the zoo once before, but, being older, he was much more interested in the animals this time.



Here Logan looks on in amazement as Raylan laughs at being splashed
by a bathing parrot.  Good times.




Amy tries to restrain Raylan as he charges at the goats

Logan takes things in while Raylan tries to figure out how you ride
these creatures.





Amy taming one of the wildest critters at the zoo


Sunday afternoon we got exercise and Raylan took a nap.  We rearranged toddler car seats, and I took my bike to the repair shop to have the brakes and shifter cables tightened up.
When Raylan woke up we all went to the grocery store together.
The store was a little crowded and crazy, but Raylan seemed to enjoy the outing, and we all had a good time.


Sunday night Amy made pasta with spinach, wine sauce, and sausage.  So gooood.


And that was the weekend.  Busy, but fun!
Have a great week!


 


Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Labor Day in PHO

Hey! Hope you had a good Labor Day weekend!
We had a nice one.  We flew out on Friday for Phoenix to go visit Amy's family, and we got back in town Tuesday night.
It was a nice trip!
We got to spend time and catch up with Amy's family, and Raylan got to spend time with them and hang out with his cousins.
On Friday morning my parents drove us to the airport (so thanks to them for getting up early to get us there).  Raylan was fairly good on the plane, although he was a little bit wiggly.
"C'mon, guys- be cool.  Just a few laps up and down the aisle.  I'll barely
touch the emergency exits."


When we got to Peoria on Friday (the area northwest of Phoenix where Amy's family lives), we hung out at the house and Raylan got to play with Nathan, one of his cousins.  This was good stuff for Raylan.  First of all, he and Nathan seemed to get along well as playmates.  Second, Jean and Greg's house is well-equipped for entertaining and caring for Amy's nephews and niece, so there were lots of new and exciting toys as well as a friendly dog (Molly) and an elusive cat (Lola).


"Don't pressure me, Nathan.  I can do this."
Friday afternoon we took Nathan and Raylan to the pool.  It was a lot of fun.  On Friday night we had some good chicken that Jean had made.  Also, she made a really good berry crumble sort of dessert.  Very good.


Carol and Jerry, Amy's grandparents, were kind enough to let us sleep over at their house in their king-sized bed while they slept over at Jean and Greg's house during our stay.  This made things very comfortable for king-sized Steanso, and, more importantly, normal-sized Amy, who tends to get a bit "crowded out" when sleeping in a smaller bed with me.  So thanks, Carol and Jerry!


On Saturday we got up and drove out to Anthem where they had a fun little train for kids as well as a very nice park, playground, and splash pad.
Raylan fell asleep in the car on the way out there and was delighted and amazed to slowly wake up and find himself boarding a train.
"Whoa...."


 Afterward he played on the playground a bit and splashed in the splash pad.




"This whole place is so magical!  I can't wait
to see what amazing flavors this water holds!"



Checkin' out the ducks and birds at the pond with Nana and Mom
Later we went back to the house. 





With a little help from Amy, Molly and Raylan work things out.


In the late afternoon Greg and I went to see Star Trek Beyond.  We both had fun going to see the movie, but we also both agreed, I think, that it probably wasn't the best Star Trek movie we had ever seen.  It was still mostly an action movie with a menacing bad guy, but not a lot of old-fashioned Star Trek mystery or alienness to it.  There were some good character-building, buddy moments with the cast, but the process of figuring out what alien races are up to and understanding the unknown has been largely overlooked in the new Trek movies, and where it does exist, it's really more a matter of figuring out the plans of the bad guys as opposed to understanding what how another entity is thinking.  I miss that part of Star Trek.
There was, however, a reference in the movie to the giant, green hand from "Who Mourns for Adonais?", a memorable episode from the original series, so when we got home, we dialed that up on Netflix and watched part of it.  Raylan was interested in the whole Star Trek thing, in general, and the giant, green hand, in particular.


"Thanks, Poppa.  This really clears up some things that I've
been wondering about."
Saturday night we went to Saigon Kitchen while Carol babysat Raylan.  I had a dish with garlic noodles and shrimp.  Very tasty.  It was a nice dinner out.
Saigon kitchen is one of our favorites when we go to Arizona.




On Sunday we got up and went to the pool with Matt, Heidi, Carol, Jerry, Matt, Nathan, and Joanna.


Big boys in the big pool!
"You're getting wet, Poppy!"
Amy-Jean time
I the early afternoon Jean and Amy did some sewing while I borrowed a car and ran to a nearby store to do a little quick shopping (I took advantage of a nearby store that carries tall clothes). 
In the afternoonwe watched the UT-Notre Dame season opener.  Jean made queso and delicious shrimp tacos, and Jerry and Carol came over. 
The game (which went into double overtime) was really, really fun.  There were still a few signs of the old UT weaknesses (e.g., a few defensive lapses and some costly and needless penalties), but, on the whole, the team looked much better than last year.  For starters, UT's new true freshman quarterback, Shane Buechele, displayed a confidence and poise that seemed pretty amazing in front of a capacity crowd on the opening game of the year (and against Notre Dame, no less!).  It's still early, but that kid really seems like he could be something special.  And Tyrone Swoopes seemed to get the job done running when he subbed in at QB!  The offensive line seemed much improved, and, for the most part, the receivers caught the ball.  I like the new hurry up style offense.
Anyway, it was a fun game.  Time will tell whether this victory against a young Notre Dame team is truly a signal of things to come, but at the very least, it was great to see UT show some determination and focus during a long, hard fought game. 
Hook 'em!!!
Beer helps the Longhorns win!



Bleeding orange in the Arizona desert


On Monday, Labor Day, we got up and went out for breakfast with Jean and Greg at The Haymaker.  It was good!  I ate some sort of fried chicken, potato, eggs benedict creation that was delicious and probably could have fed a family of four.

Nana shows Raylan how to order things on Amazon (not really)
Later Jean took us to the pool again to meet Heidi and Scott and Nathan.  I got to go down their large water slide with Scott a couple of times, and Raylan had fun swimming with Nathan and Scott.
In the later afternoon we had a cookout at Greg and Jean's house, and the whole family came over.  We played Quirkle with Scott, Heidi, and Matt, and Raylan ran around and played with his cousins.  Heidi made a buffalo chicken dip which was very good.

"In all honesty, Nana, I should probably be wearing this
helmet much more often..."
"Everything looks squared away back here, Dad."
"Not a fan of the paparazzi, Uncle Jason. 
Not a fan."
"What ya got, there, Scott, is a tower that needs knockin' over.
Lemme help ya..."
Ya know what gets four squirming
kids to sit still for a second?
Buffalo chicken dip.

It was a good evening.  Greg grilled some tasty chicken breasts and we had corn on the cob.




Tuesday Jean made us some breakfast and we left town.   Before we went we had one last get-together with the cousins and Raylan.  We tried for a more organized group picture with the kiddos, but this was as good as it got (it may not be perfect, but I think it's a pretty great photo):
 
Greg, Jean, Nathan, Joanna, Amy, Scott, Raylan, and me

And that was about it.  Greg was kind enough to drive us to the airport.  We had a great time.
Thanks to the Davis, Koffel, and Sinex families for hosting us!
As always, we really do appreciate the hospitality. 
Zzzzzzzzzzz



Monday, August 29, 2016

Update

So hi! Feels like it's been a pretty busy week since my last post.


On Tuesday Donald Trump came to Austin.
I'm still not sure why he came to Austin.  Austin is a decidedly red state, so he's almost sure to win the support of the state, overall, no matter what.  So it seems like he should have been spending his time in a swing state, instead.  On top of that, despite the fact that Texas is a red state, Austin is a left-leaning, blue city, so it's not clear that this visit would even be especially fertile ground for fundraising efforts.
But, anyway, Trump was here.
It's no secret that I'm a progressive and a Democrat.  I haven't really ever voted Republican, from what I can remember.  (I have, however, abstained from voting on occasions when I didn't really support the Democrat who was running for a particular office)
This election has definitely made me question what I would do if someone like Trump managed to become the nominee of the Democratic ticket (which is not as far fetched as it sounds- Trump was a registered Democrat from 2001 to 2008, and, even now, his defense of things like domestic manufacturing still sounds like something that could come out of an old school, pro-union Democrat playbook).  Anyway, as I've watched some longtime Republicans come forward to support Hillary (or at least publicly condone Trump), it's been a good reminder for me of the limits of political parties and the fact that the country always needs to come before party  affiliation.  I would hope that it won't come to that with the Democrats, but I'm sure that there are a lot of sensible Republicans who never would have imagined someone like Trump seizing the nomination.
But, anyway...
I have some conservative friends and family members, and I generally see these people as just folks with a different point of view- people with different ideas than mine on how to run a government so that people can be happy, healthy, and safe.
And by this age I'm used to people getting into office who have different ideas than mine.  If they mess up, I think that the system usually has a way of evening things out and allowing damage to eventually be corrected.
Trump scares me, though.
I really feel like he appeals to people's fears and prejudices in a way that isn't healthy.
The news and the media have covered Trump and his faults and flaws ad nauseum, so there's no need to rehash all of the nasty things about Trump here, but I really do dislike him as a candidate on just about every potential level.  I question his judgment, his intellect, his ethics, his temperament, and his overall character.
I truly feel that if Trump were elected, his presidency would lead to a period of time in which our country would become divided against itself along racial and ethnic lines and where the rest of the world would come to look at us as a dangerous, unstable, xenophobic state.
So.... when Trump came through town last Tuesday, I went to the protest.  I wasn't sure I was going to join the protest, but I figured that simply by being there I could be one more person showing up to add numbers to demonstrate dissatisfaction.
But in the end there wasn't much of a protest at all.  There were some people out, but far fewer than I had anticipated, and, judging by the size of the police presence, far fewer than law enforcement had anticipated as well.
I think Trump had been stumbling so badly since winning the GOP convention and doing so badly in the polls that there wasn't a real sense of urgency that was going to bring people out.  Or maybe Austin has just grown really complacent.  I'm not sure.
At any rate, I showed up.
I really feel like this guy is bad news.  He's either going to be seen as a historical anomaly or he's going to herald in a new age of intolerance and political fearmongering.  A triumph by Trump after would be a victory the spectacle of reality television in lieu of any attempt at genuine leadership.  I just wanted to do something to express my reality and frustration with the Trump candidacy other than just posting Facebook comments or engaging in internet activism.  So right or wrong, I went.
Protesters yelling at each other.  One guy was anti-Trump, but I think the
other guy was just some conspiracy theorist who was just mad that we didn't
understand that the world was being controlled by the Illuminati.
Gotta love this town.


We all have an interest in the outcome of this election.
Some people are feeling it more immediately than others.

Anyway, I hung out for a little while near the Moody Theater, but there were probably only about 40 or 50 total protesters hanging out (with 40 or 50 cops).  I heard later that the Moody Theater (where Trump was filming a Fox show with Sean Hannity) wasn't filled anywhere near capacity.  Apparently you could walk right in if you wanted to see Trump.
But I didn't. 
I hopped on a bus so I could get back to Amy and Raylan.


Friday was National Dog Day.


Cassidy loves her some sunshine

Friday night Raylan stayed with Mom and Dad.  I went to see Kubo and the Two Strings with Amy.  It was okay.  Pretty art.  It was pretty good, but not as good as Zootopia.  Fun to go to the movies with Amy, though.
Later Friday night I went downtown to see an old college friend and former bandmate, Henry Benjamin, playing at Lambert's.  It was good to see Henry, and his music was great.  He's a first-rate guitar player, he writes some thoughtful and funny lyrics, and I wish I got to see him perform more often.  He was opening for San Saba County, a band fronted by another friend of ours and fellow Trinitonian, John Saba.  They were having a record release, and they were solid as well.
It was a fun show, and it was good to get a chance to visit with Henry a bit.  He lives out in San Francisco these days, but hopefully he'll swing back through town again soon.



Henry, doing his thang




On Saturday Amy and I went to Maria's for some breakfast tacos.  It was nice.  We sat out on the patio.
Afterward I went to the grocery store while Amy did some chores.
Then Mom and Dad brought Raylan home.  We took him for a walk and played with him.  We got some exercise.

"Keep talking, Mom.  I can't really see under this hat, but
I can follow the sound of your voice...")




"So you wouldn't believe what this one weird kid has been doing at
daycare, Pooh-"



Trying out the new soup!


On Sunday we got up and went to Russell's Bistro.  It's owned by our friends Joe and Emily.  Joe actually manages the place, and Emily works with Amy.  I had never actually eaten there (although I had some appetizers when Amy's Christmas party was held there this year).  The food was really tasty.  I had migas and Amy had French toast.  Raylan, enjoying his traditional, weekend second breakfast, had some eggs and more than his fair share of Amy's French toast (which he loved).
"Dad, are we gonna take pictures or are we gonna eat?!?!")
We sat on the patio.  The weather was unseasonably pleasant for Austin.  It was a really nice experience.

"Mom, I can't help noticing that there's still some French toast on your
plate that you haven't given to me."



After breakfast we drove down Lamar and stopped off at Auditorium Shores and Butler Park.  We let Raylan run around a bit and look at the turtles.  He also got to visit the dog park.  We watched him pretty carefully to make sure that he didn't pick any fights with any dogs, but most of the dogs ran away from him.  A few dog owners with especially kid-friendly dogs brought them by so he could gently touch them.  He loved it.  He was literally panting with excitement.


"Here we are in my favorite place.
It's called Outside."


We also briefly took Raylan over to Zilker Park.  He got to play on the playground there a little bit and see the Zilker Zephyr.  Tickets for the little train were sold out, but it was pretty warm by then, anyway.  We'll be back when it's cooler.  Raylan still enjoyed seeing the train and waving to the kids.

In the afternoon, Katerina came over with Logan, and Chad came over with Truett.  They got to play in the kiddie pool and mess around in the backyard.
Later they played in the house.
It was nice to have them come by.  We enjoyed chatting with Katerina and Chad and watching the kiddos play.



"Hang on there, Logan, cause I am really about
to pick up some speed!!"


Toddler party!





And that was mostly the weekend!  We picked up some pizza from Pinthouse Sunday night and relaxed.
It was nice.
Thanks to Katerina, Logan, Chad, and Truett for stopping by!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Dad's Birthday; Update

Hey, there!
So, it's still raining in Austin.  I never thought I would miss the drought, but...
It's August, and it's constantly raining.  Which is weird.  And which makes it especially hot and jungle-ish. 
Raylan is going a little bonkers from spending too much time inside.  We keep taking him to stores and to other places to get him out of the house.  At this point, the kid knows Target fairly intimately.
The rain finally let up for a few minutes on Saturday morning, so I took him out to walk.  He was so excited to run that he immediately fell on his face on the concrete (scoring himself a world class, black and blue goose egg on his forehead just in time for my dad's birthday dinner).
Oh well.
I just hope it doesn't rain all the way through September and October as well!



"Dad, thanks for going to the store and getting me flowers!!
Next time you should really consider getting some for Mom..."

On Saturday morning Raylan and I let Amy sleep in a bit.  We got up and had breakfast and went to the grocery store together while she caught up on sleep.  We had a good time.  Immediately after this outing I took Raylan for our infamous walk/nosedive onto the concrete adventure.
After that Amy fed Raylan some lunch.
I went to the gym to work out.  After the gym we headed over to my parents' house to celebrate Dad's 70th birthday.
We had a really nice time.  Ryan, Jamie, Susan, Donald, and Dick were there along with my parents.  We got to visit, and Raylan was extremely entertained by everyone, at least, in part, but trying to entertain everyone.  That kid loves a crowd, and he knows how to work a room.  As I said, he's been cooped up quite a bit lately with the rain, so he enjoyed the chance to run around Mom and Dad's house and soak up attention from all of the Raylan-lovin' grown ups.
Mom and Dad got barbecue from Rudy's, and we picked up a German chocolate cake from Russell's Bakery.

"Yeah, that's great, Grandpa.  Now are you gonna let me throw
that thing, or what?"


"Yeah, yeah.  Picture.  Great.
Are we done here?  Cause I got stuff I gotta get back to.
Those blocks aren't gonna knock themselves over."

"No, I'm not tired!  This is the best party ever, and there's
still a lot...of stuff... I want... to do..."


 


We watched some of the Olympics on Mom and Dad's giant TV, drank a little beer and wine, got caught up with one another, ate some good food, and entertained Raylan.
Then we headed for home.
Sunday we got up and ate breakfast.  Amy went to meet some friends, have brunch, and do some shopping.  Raylan and I went to Target and ran another errand or two.  We had a good time.
Then he got some lunch and went down for a nap while I worked out.
Amy came home and we did a few chores and wrangled Raylan.  In the evening I went over to Reed's house to play some music while Amy took over Raylan duty.
I went and picked up some Central Market for dinner after I got back.
And that was about it!
I guess the weekend went by pretty fast.


Happy 70th birthday, Dad!  We all really appreciate everything that you do and have done for the family!  It's literally much more than I can convey in a blog post, but my life would never have been anywhere nearly as good  without you!  I truly feel very lucky to have you as my dad (and Raylan is lucky to have you as a grandfather).
Love you!