Sunday, December 31, 2006

And I wasn't going to file a post today, but how's this for an end of the year statistic? The Pentagon reported today that the U.S. officially suffered its 3000th casualty in the war in Iraq. Uggh. This year.

C'mon, 2007! Show us a little love....

Rami ponders the chimenea....

Well, 2006 is drawing to a close. Roundball asked if I was gonna do a year end wrap up on the blog, and I really hadn't planned on it. I hadn't really made a big deal of doing one before, so this seemed like a hell of a year to start. Nevertheless, his question did get me thinking about everything that's happened this year.

For myself and for some of my friends, I don't think we can put this year behind us fast enough. Needless to say, we've suffered a lot of hurt and loss this year.

But this year has also contained events that we wouldn't trade away for anything. Among the highlights, Lucas and Gus came into the world, and although Lucas gave everyone some nervous moments, they're both healthy and apparently pretty happy kids. Also, Ryan and Jamie returned to Austin, and Kellie made a successful move up to Seattle, so there's another couple of positive changes which occurred in 2006.

I don't mean to sound cliched, but I guess that's just how life works. Some days might turn out to be among the worst of your life, while at the same time they're turning out to be the best of days for someone else. But isn't it wierd how in all of these things we effect each other? Things ebb and flow, but always keep moving forward. I think the fact that we mourn our losses and celebrate our gifts together is part of what helps to keep us sane.

Uggh. I'm tired, and I'm not sure this isn't just dribble. Anyway, I do want to send some thanks out to everyone who helped me (and Mandy, the Wilsons, and the Blooms) get through 2006. Everything isn't going to magically become better with the change of the year (and I'm aware that I have friends who are going through very difficult times even as I write this), but just getting through this past year has been difficult, so I want to thank everyone for being so supportive. And let's keep our fingers crossed for 2007....

We miss you, Jeff.

Friday, December 29, 2006

So last night I went out to dinner with Roundball and McSteans. We started out by trying to go to Chuy's, but that place had about an hour and a half wait. Chuy's is pretty good, but there's no way it's worth anything close to an hour and a half wait, so we went back up Lamar to Suzi's, and we ate there.
At some point right before the holidays we had discussed karaoke, and the fabled Steans family karaoke machine (which had somehow come to rest in my closet). So after dinner the conversation somehow turned to karaoke once again, and, sadly, the karaoke machine was produced. I gotta say that although he's not always in key, Roundball's really not afraid to put his heart and soul into a karaoke performance. I've never seen a 6'5" man sing Harper Valley PTA before, but Roundball really made it his own last night.
After the karaoke festivities (which only came to an end when Roundball's vocal chords gave out, and he went home), I went over to Mandy's. Kellie and Damon are in town, so it was good to see them, and Donna Rene was there, so it was good to see her as well. We drank a beer and discussed the more eccentric members of each of our families. I also questioned how many members of my family might consider me to be the eccentric one.
Kellie Jo has landed a job at a place in Seattle that's not only a salon, but also a place where they do minor cosmetic procedures. If I ever get my hair cut by her up in Seattle, I can get my Botox done at the same time.

And, hey, I don't mean to sound like an alarmist, but it's probably a pretty good indicator that global warming is continuing to grow as a problem when ice sheets (41 square miles of ice) start breaking free in the Canadian arctic and drifting out to sea. Scientists estimate that the most recent ice sheet in question (which broke off maybe a year ago, although it was only spotted more recently through satellite imaging) is at least 3000 years old. Given the recent trends in global warming, scientists doubt that mere coincidence is to blame for the recent movement of the ice shelf. This news comes only days after Interior Secretary Dick Kempthorne proposed moving polar bears onto the "threatened" portion of the government's list of imperiled species, citing the fact that global warming has been responsible for melting away Arctic sea ice which constitutes significant portions of the polar bear's environmnet.
And yet Bush still refuses to ratify our singature on the Kyoto Protocols (guidelines developed by the U.N. to reduce carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions amongst member nations), despite the fact that the U.S. remains the world leader in the emission of carbon dioxide (primarily due to our consumption and burning of fossil fuels). The current administration's stance is simply that the cost of compliance with the Kyoto Protocols is likely to cause serious harm to the economy of the United States.
Somehow I just can't by the argument that sacrificing the earth's climate is a good way to cut costs or protect our economy. I'm not so sure anyone's going to be that excited about record numbers on Wall Street if Miami and New York are underwater.

Oh well, I've blogged about these things before, but new evidence seems to be coming out on a daily basis about the damage that global warming is doing to our planet. Keep driving those SUVs though, kids. I'm looking to buy some beachfront property in Brenham.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

The karaoke super duo of Roundball and McSteans. To hear them perform is to hear the magical, soothing voice of a heavenly angel... along with the confused, angry wailing of her "special needs" husband.

Anyway, now that Roundball's back, we got weeknight karaoke again.
Shazam!! What are you cats up to today? Steanso is just plowing his way through a 3 day, 'tween holidays work week.
Yesterday was ok. I actually got some stuff done at the office yesterday (it's amazing what you can accomplish with no distractions when your coworkers are out on vacation), and last night I took an inadvertant nap and hung out with Mandy a bit. For those of you who aren't familiar with the inadvertant nap, it goes something like this:
Jeez, I'm sort of tired. Maybe I should take a nap.
No, naps are for lazy people. I just spent most of my day at work, and I'm not going to waste what little free time I have by taking a nap when I get home. Anyway, I have stuff to do.
But Cassidy sure does look comfy and cozy sleeping there on my bed. Maybe I'll just lay down with her for a second and watch the news until the weather comes on....
CRAP! Why is the phone ringing? Where am I? Why is it so dark outside?

And thus, the inadvertant nap. Yawning, stretching, sleepy dogs are my downfall. Particularly the three legged variety.
Anyway, I had some leftover Jajuan food with Mandy for dinner (yummy), and then we watched The Dog Whisperer. I think we both want to quit our jobs and become canine behaviorists/trainers, but unfortunately both of us are afraid of getting bitten by mean dogs. Similar problems tend to arise when I repeatedly suggest to Mandy that we should quit our jobs and track down fugitives like the guys on Dog: The Bounty Hunter.
After watching TV with Mandy for awhile I went home and checked in with Roundball to make sure that he and Jamie had made it back to the ATX in one piece. Then I took Cassidy for a walk and went to bed.
Oh yeah. When I got back from my walk I found a copy of a magazine called Black Asses in my yard. There weren't many articles in Black Asses, but it contained several fascinating studies in contemporary photojournalism. Anyway, wary of the biohealth hazard which Black Asses potentially posed, I (carefully) placed it in the trash can, but not before spending several minutes with Cassidy in my front yard pondering the origins of the periodical (who had purchased Black Asses, and how had it come to land in front of my house?).
Such are the (thankfully infrequent) mysteries of Tejas Trail.
Hope all's well out there.

On a more serious note: we're thinking of you, Liz. Hope you're doing better.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

So it's back to the office for Steanso. Fortunately, most of my coworkers and the court staff are still out for the holidays, so hopefully nothing too grueling this week.
President Ford passed away yesterday. I don't really have much of an opinion on the man. His presidential years occurred when I was just a toddler, and I mostly heard about Ford through my parents, who seemed to speak of him pretty fondly. From what I have read of Ford, it sounds like he was a Republican who believed in moderation and bipartisanship, qualities which seem to be sadly lacking in today's political climate. Ford ascended to the presidency in the wake of Richard Nixon's resignation, and I would guess that he must have possessed some fairly strong leadership skills in order to have governed the country during that era (i.e., post Watergate and through the end of the Vietnam War). Anyway, it sounds like he was a pretty good guy, and that he led a full life.
And Saddam Hussein is apparently set to be executed. I know that Saddam was a bad man, and I would never really argue that he doesn't deserve to be executed (the guy was responsible for killing an awful ot of people), but maybe they should think twice before executing him, nonetheless. Executing Hussein is bound to set off another round of retaliatory violence, and it'll probably turn the man into a martyr. Then there's the whole paradox involved in killing a person in order to show the world that killing people is wrong, but whenever I bring up that argument I just get pegged as a silly hippie. Anyway, letting Hussein rot in jail (as opposed to excuting him) might be a good idea for a number of reasons. Still, I doubt that's going to happen. Somehow, despite my opposition to the idea of executing him, I can't work up a whole lot of sympathy for Saddam. The only thing that I am certain of is that the situation in Iraq isn't going to improve because of his execution. Maybe the families of his victims will feel some sense of justice when he dies, but I have a feeling that they're going to want more than one person to answer for Saddam's atrocities.
Well, I gotta run.
Hope you working Adventurers are hanging in there, and that those of you with this week off are enjoying yourselves.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Hey there. Well, Steanso had the best of intentions for getting a lot of stuff done today (cleaning, running errands, and basically taking care of all of the stuff I've overlooked during my Christmas vacation), but it just didn't happen, Adventurers. Instead, Steanso was awoken with a phone call from The Admiral and Karebear (who called to check in regarding the remainder of their Christmas hijinks), and it took him half an hour just to get out of bed. Eventually I got up and went and picked up some breakfast tacos for myself and The Pea. We had breakfast together, and then I headed back to my house to "take care of some errands". Apparently my errands consisted of a day full of playing with my iPod and watching DVDs. I watched Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's Chest, as well as The Descent. I liked this second Pirates of the Carribean more than I thought I would (everyone seemed pretty down on it when it came out, but I thought it was fun). The Descent was good as well. It was nice to see a good, scary horror movie which didn't just use the "torture as cinema" theme that so many horror movies seem to be employing these days (I hasten to add that this doesn't mean that some bad things don't happen to the characters in The Descent, but at least the plot isn't just centered around finding new and inventive ways to mutilate the human body- I'm looking in your direction Saw And Hostel). It was kind of interesting to see a whole group of strong, female characters cast together in a horror movie as well, especially in a movie where the writer or director could have just as easily written the story with a cast of men (you just don't see that many movies about teams of female spelunkers).
Anyway, I watched these flicks and played a little guitar, and somehow the day slipped away from me. I went to Target with Mandy and watched a little Dog Whisperer. I know I've said it before, but that Cesar guy is amazing. I want his job, but first I want to be able to relate to dogs the way he does so I don't get chewed to ribbons.
Well, that's it. Break's over. Back to work tomorrow. I have no idea how 11 days just passed me by so quickly...

Monday, December 25, 2006

A Yuletide Parting for the Godfather

Well, I was sad to hear that James Brown passed away today in Atlanta at age 73 after apparently suffering from severe pneumonia. I saw James Brown perform at Stubb's back in May (along with Jeff & Mandy, Team Bloom, and others), and it really was a really great show. It was one of those shows that was just bigger than you thought it was gonna be, and everyone who saw it walked out feeling happy. I'm so glad I got to see him play while I had the chance. I'm not saying that the man didn't have his ups and downs, but James Brown really was the godfather of soul, and his music is amazing. Without any danger of hyperbole I think it's fair to say that the man was a musical icon. We'll miss you, Mr. Brown.

In other news, Christmas has come and gone, and so has Cousin Susan's birthday (which was on actually on Dec. 24th- sorry, Sue!). She won't tell me how old she is, but I know that we've been celebrating her 29th for quite a few years now.... ; )

Here's a picture of Susan peeking out from behind a candle at Christmas Eve dinner (Karebear to the right, Nathan Neely to the left).

Christmas was good. Some family friends, the Neelies, came over and went to church with us and had dinner
with us afterwards. Here's Don, Nathan, and my folks unwinding after dinner...

Anyway, it was a pretty good Christmas, all in all. Better than I thought it would be. The Karebear and The Admiral got me an iPod, which I gotta say is one of the most fun gifts I've gotten in a long time!

Anyhoo, Mandy is back in town, and I just got back from hanging out and having a welcome home beer with she and Andy over at her house. It's cold outside, and it's late, and I love my family, but I'm happy to be back in Austin. Merry Christmas, you Adventurers.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Hola! Not much to report on today. Uncle Donald and Cousin Susan have arrived for holiday festivities. Tonight we went out to eat at a Chinese/Vietnamese restaurant downtown and then went to the Rockets v. Clippers game. The Rockets lost, but we had a good time.

Other from that we mostly just hung out today and did some grocery shopping.

Hope everyone's holidays are going well.

Hello. I'm in Houston, celebrating Christmas with the folks. It's a bit odd to be back. The last time I was here was over the July 4th holiday, which was when Jeff, Sigmund, and Kim got hit by Mary Dodgen back in Austin while leaving that Black Crowes show. Needless to say, I have some bad memories from the last night of that trip and the return drive to Austin. I was thinking about that today when I was driving up here, and I remember telling Jeff before I last saw him that it made me feel kind of uneasy when my friends were spread out all over the place, when I was more or less out of touch with them (when I was telling Jeff this, he and Mandy were getting ready to go to Colorado to hang out with Camille and Adam, but I knew I would be in Houston when the Wilsons returned to Austin from their trip). Anyway, I specifically remember having this conversation on that same night that we watched some kind of horror short film called Cigarette Burns and I wished Jeff bon voyage on his trip. I think I was just making that statement in regard to the anxiety that I feel when my friends are off the radar and I'm out of touch with them (relatively speaking), but it sure has come back to haunt me since the time that we had that conversation. That was the last time I saw Jeff (I think there were maybe a few blog comments exchanged and a voice mail on my cell phone about going out to the Sensat's place in Wimberly to celebrate the 4th, but I never spoke with Jeff directly after that), and I still don't like the feeling of being away from home and my friends. It's always made me uneasy, and now even moreso than before.
But what are you gonna do? I can't stay in Austin my whole life, and despite my penchant for worrying, I wouldn't want to. Can't let fear put you in a hole.
So I'm in Houston. Spring, actually. Tonight we had dinner with the Magsigs, some old, close friends of the family, and it was good.
Thanks to Dean and Johnathan (my neighbors) for the delicious pie! I brought it to Houston with me, and my whole family enjoyed it for desert!
OK. That's it. Hope you Adventurers are doing well!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Howdy. Not a lot to post on today. I hung out and caught up on TV shows and did a little reading. Mandy left to spend Christmas in Beaumont this morning, and Tejas Trail definitely feels a bit lonelier in her absence. Susan was riding with her to Beaumont, and Kellie Jo should be arriving in Beaumont by Christmas, also. It's going to be Lucas' first Christmas (Mandy's nephew), so I'm sure Mandy will be happy to be a part of that.
I had my last pre-Christmas dinner with Ryan and Jamie tonight (as well as Doug, Jamie's brother). We went to the Macaroni Grill, and for some reason Ryan drew semi-offensive pictures of our waiter on our table paper with a purple crayon.
Well, like I said, it's been a slow one. Doing laundry and playing some guitar. Teaching Cassidy to read with the help of phonics.
Okay. Gotta run. More nothing to do. Peace.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Howdy. 'Tis the Christmas season, and today Steanso ventured out into the scary world of Austin holiday retail shopping in order to buy a few last minute gifts for friends and fam'. And I'm here to say that it's a nightmare out there, kids. Stay at home where it's warm and safe.
There's something about shopping during the holiday season which turns the ordinarily friendly folks of Austin into maniacal fiends. In just one of the parking lots that I visited this afternoon, I was honked at and narrowly missed twice while on foot and once while in my mighty CR-V. And I'm a pretty easily noticeable (6'6"), slow-moving, easily avoidable guy. A smaller Adventurer would probably have just been mowed down (I'm looking in your direction, D.K.. But wait, is D.K. even around by this time of year or has she already headed north to fulfill her yearly toy-making duties in Santa's workshop?)
Anyhoo, stay home, drink some cocoa, and order gift certificates online. That's Steanso's advice.
On the up side, I did manage to catch up with Kim and Jennifer for lunch, and we had a nice visit at Guerro's despite the rain and traffic.
What else? Not much. I took Cassidy to the vet this morning in order to get her caught up on her vaccinations, and this evening I'm planning on a visit over to D.K. and Liz's house to say hi and to wish Liz a happy birthday (which I believe is on the 24th).
Well, that's about it for now. You Adventurers take care of yourselves and each other, ok? It's madness out there this time of year.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Day two of the Christmas holiday. I went to eat lunch with Ryan and Jamie and then went to see a pretty awful movie with them. No, I don't want to tell you what the movie was because it's embarrassing that I even went to see it.

Ok, I'll tell you for two reasons- 1) everybody who knows me already knows that I'm a sucker for movies that involve giant monsters which might potentially eat people, and 2) maybe I can spare a few of you the indignity of going to see this movie yourself.

The movie was Eragon, and it's about this kid who rides a dragon. I was drawn into it because I liked The Lord of the Rings, and it looked to be sort of in that vein (although I later realized that it was just a mishmash of every generic stereotype ever developed in the fantasy genre), and also because I like ass-kickin', fire breathin' dragons which can eat people. Unfortunately, this movie was really lame, and the dragon had this little girlie voice which made this the least scary dragon put on screen ever (I was gonna say since The Neverending Story, but I think even that dragon had a moment or two of scariness).

Anyway, like I said, I'm not proud.

Not a lot else going on today. I wandered into Herpeton pet store and was momentarily tempted to buy a pot bellied pig, but fortunately for all involved, the pig had already been purchased and put on layaway until Christmas. That pig was cute, though (in an ugly sort of way). Also, he snorted sort of contentedly when I scratched his belly.

Well, that's it. Hope all's well.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Had the day off today. It was... ok. I had really been looking forward to this week off, but as I was telling Mandy, now that my vacation time is here I'm not quite so sure that what I really need is a whole bunch of time to just sit around and think.
Today had its high points, though.
One of those high points was the arrival of Allison and Robert (Susan's kids) over at Mandy's for some quality hang out time in the afternoon while Susan ran some errands. Allison and Robert are always fun, and we hung out in the yard and took a short walk. Apparently sweeping leaves and collecting doodle bugs can be enough to constitute an adventure when you're less than 4 years old.
Another highlight was dinner with Karebear, who was in town to see Ryan and Jamie before they hustle off to Oklahoma to spend Christmas with Jamie's folks. We went to Maudie's (Mandy joined the Steans clan) and ate too much Tex Mex. Mom told us about her recent evening with The Rockettes. Apparently those girls put on a pretty good Christmas performance, but Karebear thought that the midgets (er, little people?) in their touring group really stole the show.
Ok. That's it for now. Hope you guys have had a good Monday!

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Well, it's December 17th and Jeff Wilson once again got me to do something new today. This morning I rode with Don, Jajuan, and Mandy down to Auditorium Shores for the Jinglebell 5K, a 5K race benefitting Mother's Against Drunk Driving. We met up with Andy, Rami, Ellie, Gretchen, Stephanie, Hannah, Chris, Susan, Dan, and Vikki as well as Gus, Mary Ellen, and John (the babies) and Daisy (Jajuan's wiener pup). Steanso was initially thinking he would probably place within probably the top 3 in his age bracket, but in order to lend moral support to his friends he hung back with the baby and puppy crowd, walking the 3.2 mile race (although there were still some moments of fierce competition when Steanso squared off in a more personal battle against Gretchen's 4 year old, stroller ridin' son, Gus).
Anyway, I never thought I would ever participate in any kind of organized race event, so this was definitely a first for me, and I have to admit that it was more entertaining than I thought it would be. We didn't exactly win, but we didn't finish last, so that should count for something. Also, after the race Don took us all out for a nice brunch at Curra's. Thanks, Don!!
Kudos to the gang for coming out.

The rest of the day was less exciting. I watched the Miami Vice movie. It was ok. As with all Michael Mann movies, it was very appealing from a visual standpoint, but the movie seemed to try to be extremely realistic and extremely stylized at the same time, and I'm not sure that it pulled off what it was going for. Part of it may have been Collin Farrell. I just don't think he pulled off his part very well. He never seemed convincing as a seasoned, hardened cop. Anyway, the movie wasn't horrible, but it wasn't as good as I'd hoped.

Mandy and I had dinner. I have this week off of work. Yeah!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Hey there! Mandy had a few folks over for dinner last night, to catch up with friends that have been hard to catch up with because of work and family (i.e., babies) and whatnot during the course of the year. Also, I think Mandy secretly just wanted everyone to come over and check out the Fridge O' Enlightenment.

Here's Rami welcoming us to Mandy's kitchen!

And here's Dan, asking Mandy and Andy, "Don't I look hip in my new shirt?"

Here's Susan and Mandy, getting the soup ready and thinking up questions for the Fridge.

And here's Andy, chuckling at some tomfoolery.

Well, thanks for the dinner and the party, Mandy. It was a good time!!

Friday, December 15, 2006

By the way, I'm a little belated in getting to this, but I wanted to go ahead and send a shout out to Kim Bloom and my other coworkers who have been working pretty darn hard on a UT hazing case which resulted in the death of an 18 year old pledge. The indictments in the case were secured on Wednesday, and the story not only made the local news, but was also picked up on the AP wire and was published in newspapers across the country, including The Washington Post. It may sound corny, but I typically feel like criminal cases should be matters where personal egos shouldn't become involved (particularly from the prosecution side- we're supposed to be enforcing the law and seeking justice, not trying to win cases just to get some kind of notches on our belts), but nonetheless, I know that Kim and the gang have been working hard on these cases, and its good to see their efforts receiving some appropriate recognition.

In other news, check out Conan O'Brian's HornyManatee.Com. It may be the best thing to appear on the internet. Ever.
Frrrrrriiiiday!!!!!! Steanso gets next week off, so he's in a pretty good mood today, I gotta tell ya. Wheeeeeeeee!!!!!
Ok. Got that out of my system.
I guess that preliminary reports about the condition of Senator Johnson indicate that he's doing well, so I'm happy about that.
Last night was the Travis County Attorney's Office holiday party, so I attended that and got to hang out with.... well, all the people that I already work with for 8 hours every day, but at least this time there was some booze. It was a jolly, mirth-filled event, and it was nice to see everyone out having fun away from the office.
After the party I had dinner with Mandy (she made some very good pork tenderloin), and we watched The Office and The Daily Show.
And I hate to be the big a#%hole, but all of this drama over people who keep getting lost in the wilderness has got to stop. Three hiker/climbers got lost on Mount Hood this week, and now a ton of money and further risk to human lives are being expended in the effort to find them, despite the fact that these people put themselves into this situation with the full knowledge and understanding that they were undertaking a dangerous and potentially life-threatening task (and one which many other people would consider to be foolish, given the time of year and the conditions that the climbers were potentially facing) by climbing Mount Hood at this time of year. I'm in favor of taking some reasonable measures to find these guys, but if someone else gets hurt or killed while trying to save these climbers from their own reckless behavior, then I'm going to be really ticked off.
Well, I gotta run. Let's try to stay out of the deep wilderness until spring, ok Adventurers?

p.s.- now there are two more American climbers lost in China? Great. Now we're expecting people from other countries to risk their lives in order to save fools from the U.S..

Thursday, December 14, 2006

And here's just a quick addendum to my post from earlier today. I want to send a shout out to a fellow tall dude, Bao Xishun, a Mongolian herdsman who saved the lives of two dolphins in China this week by sticking his 41.7 inch arms down their throats to remove some plastic that the dolphins had swallowed after gnawing it off of part of their tank. Apparently attempts to remove the plastic by way of surgical instruments had failed because the dolphin stomachs had contracted in response to the metal instruments, but the 7 foot 9 inch Bao Xishun was able to reach down into their stomachs and remove the plastic (Bao was confirmed by Guinness last year as the world's tallest man). The dolphins are expected to make full recoveries.

Anyway, Bao is more than a foot taller than me, but I've stood and looked out over a crowd or two myself, so I feel a teensy bit of kinship. Mostly I just like the fact that there's a news story about a tall guy who's doing something besides playing basketball or getting his butt kicked by some clown who climbed up a beanstalk to pick a fight. Way to represent, Bao!!!
Hey! Hope everyone's having a good Thursday. As I write this, Democratic Senator Tim Johnson (from South Dakota) is in critical condition after suffering a brain hemorrhage. Of course this sucks b/c Steanso isn't wishing brain hemorrhages on anybody, but especially not a good ol' Democrat, but this especially sucks because if Johnson is unable to serve as a Senator, the Republican governor of South Dakota will appoint his replacement (which will undoubtedly be a Republican), and power in the Senate will shift back into the hands of the Republicans. So now I'm faced with questions of whether the Republicans have somehow secretly engineered a brain hemorrhage poison or whether God really does just hate the Democrats (I mean, the Republicans have been assuring us of this all along). Maybe this is a good question for The Fridge O' Enlightenment. Anyway, needless to say, I wish Senator Johnson a full and speedy recovery and a quick return to the senate. Jeez- even when we win we can't win.....

Last night I had dinner with Roundball and McSteans at our neighborhood Hyde Park Grill. Dinner was pretty good. Man, that place stays busy. After dinner we tried to watch A Christmas Carol, but it was too darn boring, so we ended up watching an old episode of Austin City Limits with The Pixies instead. Mandy still fell asleep, but Ryan and I were entertained for awhile.
Also, Stephanie Gottula popped in to drop off a couple of lovely bottles of wine (thanks, Gottulas!!) and a new CD which Eric made. It was good to see her.
Well, that's about it.
Hang in there, Senator Johnson!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Well, Tejas Trail was abuzz with excitement yesterday as Mandy's new refrigerator was delivered to her kitchen. Actually, to refer to this magnificent device as merely a refrigerator is probably to do it a disservice. The fridge is stainless steel, has a roll-out bottom freezer, delivers ice and water from a lighted chute on the door, and is both sentient and omniscient. The fridge has not told us its name yet, but it has promised that all things will be revealed in time. Also, the fridge has promised us a life of joyful bliss if only we pledge eternal loyalty and subservience to it. I don't know about Mandy, but I'm in. In the photo of the fridge that I have provided here, you can see Mandy promising the fridge some sort of sacrificial groceries in order to insure a mild winter and a successful harvest in the upcoming year. For its part, the fridge responds with only one word- "Zule......"

What else? Last night we picked up some grub from Central Market and ate at Mandy's in order to bask in the magnificent radiance of the new fridge. We also watched a Barbara Walters special about the 10 most interesting people of 2006. Some of these picks I agreed with (Nancy Pelosi, Sacha Cohen) while some I did not (John Ramsey, Patrick Dempsey). One name that really surprised me was the inclusion of Joel Osteen within the ranks of 2006's most fascinating. Osteen is an evangelical preacher from Houston whose church (I believe it's called Lakewood) has grown so large in recent years that it now holds services in the the arena which was formerly The Summit in downtown Houston. I have to admit that I don't know much about this guy, and his messages seem to be generally positive and to make people feel good, but from what I can tell, his services seem more like pep rallies than the traditional religion that I grew up with. I don't know- this grinning, overly happy guy just rubs me the wrong way on first impression. He seems more like a car salesman or a cheerleader than someone with any kind of real spiritual insight. But I have to admit that this is just my gut reaction. Maybe the path to enlightenment really does run through Osteen's church. But I doubt it. What I do find fascinating is the fact that there seems to be such a huge void in our country in the area of spirituality and the search for higher meaning in life. Maybe people are turning away from traditional religion and feel that they need somewhere else to go. I'm not sure. Nonetheless, if people are so desperate and hungry for meaning in their lives that they're willing to pack into a pro basketball arena in order to watch a live band and listen to dogma provided by an uneducated motivational speaker (who probably puts on one heck of a dog and pony show, mind you), then it makes me kind of sad for a lot of people. People are longing for something more, and they're turning to some strange places in their search for answers. They deserve something more than a person or organization that's just exploiting their spiritual yearning for profit.
Oooookay- I'm back. Don't know where that last little rant came from. I just get these images in my head. On the one hand we're at war with a people who are so resolute in their faith that they're willing to blow themselves up or fly airplanes into buildings as acts of devotion or religious faith. Meanwhile the good ol' USA is producing evangelical preachers who teach people that if they pray hard enough, god will grant them financial prosperity, health, and happiness (apparently part of Osteen's schtick-one of my good friends called it the Santa Clause version of god). I don't know what it means, and it's all very confusing. Mostly I just wish people would spend more time caring about other people.
Well, this has been a long, circuitous, rambling post, but at least I wrote something. Some days you just get what you pay for, Adventurers.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Howdy. S'up? Not too much here. Still stuck in trial world, but I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Last night I got home and went over to Mandy's, and Susan was there with the kids (Robert and Allison). Those kids are awfully cute (although they drive the wiener dogs completely nuts), and we hung out in Mandy's sunken room and watched Mary Poppins on cable while Robert and Allison took turns smothering each other and trying out their wrestling moves with Mandy's giant pillows. It was good to see Susan and the gang. Hanging out with kids definitely helps to put some charm back into the whole Christmas holiday.
After they left and I ate a sandwich, Mandy and I watched some TV, and then I helped Mandy hang up two strings of Christmas lights (ok, it's not much, but at least it shows some holiday spirit). Then I looked at some stuff for work for a little while and went to bed.
Well, I gotta run, but maybe I'll write more later.
Ciao, chitlins!!!!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Well, the Holiday Spectacular thrown by Roundball and McSteans was a lot of fun on Saturday night. Here's a picture of the fire pit out back that I spent a good portion of my evening trying to get going. Knowing that Cousin John had at one time been in the boy scouts (and tired of being inundated by countless useless suggestions), I asked him how he would get the fire started. He gave me a strange look and disappeared. About ten minutes later he reappeared with a Duraflame. Them boy scouts ain't fools.

Andy F. got real excited about his X-mas presents. He was smooching all kinds of people, even when their hair smelled like a poo festival.

The Pea and Elf Rami were also filled with holiday cheer. I think Rami mighta stole some stuff.

Anyhoo, it was a great party, and I think a good time was had by all. Cousin Sue stopped by as well as Cousin John with his lovely wife, Julie (they drove all the way from Houston, so they win the X-mas spirit award!). It was good to see Shoemaker, Pat, Harms, Mangum, Peabo, Zoomie, and a whole bunch of other people I hadn't seen in awhile!
Somehow Team Bloom escaped without ever being photgraphed. They're party ninjas. Anyway, thanks for throwing the shindig, Ryan and Jamie! I know it's kind of a pain in the ass to host these things, but we sure enjoyed it!!!!

Friday, December 08, 2006

S'up? Not much here. Last night I really didn't do anything except eat some food which Jajuan brought over to Mandy's house (which was very good) and tried to watch some TV with Mandy (we watched Scrubs and 30 Rock, but after that there was nothing good on and the Wilson house was warm and cozy, and I nodded off to sleep on the sofa).
I have come to the realization that it's harder for me to stay entertained in the winter time than it is in the summer. In the summer we just hang out in the Wilson yard and talk and play with the dogs and watch the fish swim around the pond and sometimes I play my guitar. In the winter we're stuck in the house, and for some reason there's more of a feeling that we need to be "doing something" (and the wiener dogs just won't tolerate the cold- they wanna go back in the house right after they're done "takin' care of business"). I gotta find some better winter activities. Thank god I don't live up north.
Well I'm sorta busy, so I gotta run. Stay warm. Have some fun.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Pearl Harbor Day

Hey! Everyone doing ok? Well, it was 65 years ago today that America got sucker punched for the first time by a foreign invasion force. Of course, when the Japanese attacked us in '41 we responded by counterattacking the Japanese and their allies, thereby officially entering World War II. Sixty years later we get attacked on American soil, and our repsonse is to counterattack a nation that has no affiliation with our attackers while allowing the actual, responsible party to escape unharmed so that he might carry out further attacks against America and it allies. We've come a long way.
Last night I went out for dinner with Mandy and Donna Rene at the Hyde Park Grill. It was yummy.
I don't want to invade anyone's privacy, but I do want to send a shout out to my friend Liz, who isn't feeling very well. Hang in there, Liz! I'm thinking of you!!!
Well, I just don't have a lot today, people. Take care, and make sure to be on the lookout for sneak attacks today.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Well, I don't have a whole lot to report. Work is.... weird. Looks like I am being transferred to a new court. I have some mixed feelings about that.
Last night I didn't do a whole lot. I went out to dinner with Mandy (at the Central Market Cafe). Poor Mandy has had to listen to me vent about stuff an awful lot lately, which is probably just about the last thing on earth that she needs. I can't help myself. I just open my mouth and these rants come out. Last night she suggested working out to burn off some stress, so that's what I did. It helped a little. Maybe.
I've been watching The Wire by way of my Netflix rentals. It's an HBO series about a narcotics taskforce and an inner city drug syndicate in Baltimore. I like it. The depictions of the police and gangs feel realistic, the plot is interesting, and the characters are well developed. It's one of those shows that touches on a bunch of different issues during each episode, seemingly without really trying to (e.g., race relations, ethical situations which arise during the course of police investigations, the politics and dangers involved in working in a large, bureaucratic structure like the Baltimore Police Department). The show is good. It reminds me a great deal of Homocide: Life on the Street, another Baltimore crime drama which also had David Simon as a producer (along with The Wire). Anyway, I'm 3 episodes in, but so far, so good.
So that's it. Hope everyone's doing ok.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Ok, it's Tuesday. The heat has been restored at the Hop-a-Long Lounge, and Steanso is successfully battling his way through his case of the sniffles (but living in fear of cedar fever season, which no doubt lurks right around the corner). It's nice not to wake up in the middle of the night, shaking from the cold.
Last night I dined with Team Steans at Kirbey Lane. I hadn't been to Kirbey Lane in about 3 or 4 years, having sworn off the place after finally getting fed up with their crappy service (the food has pretty much remained at a consistently tasty level). Anyway, the service last night was pretty good, although it still took a while to get our food from the kitchen after we placed our order. Kirbey has a nice, cozy atmosphere, though, and it was kinda nice to be back.
And ya wanna see something kinda scary? Here's a short article about global warming and its potential effect on American farmland. Apparently the Consulatative Group on International Agricultural Research (a leading body in the area of agricultural research) has released a study predicting that global warming could move many of North America's areas viable wheat production zones into areas of Canada by as early as 2050. Essentially, as temperatures rise, it will become necessary to grow crops in areas which are increasingly further north. This area may be as far north as Canada in the next 45 years. Kind of disturbing, given the fact that middle America has traditionally been one of the largest food production areas in the world.
Anyway, if you think Americans start to freak out when their gas prices start to rise, see what happens when you take away their bread, pizza, and Ding Dongs. It's gonna be positively Mad Max, kids.
Anyway, on that cheery note, I bid you good day!

Monday, December 04, 2006

The heater is fixed.

Andy's birthday

Photos from Festival de Sensat!

Happy birthday, Andy F.!!!!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Hey, there, kids! Well, it's Sunday morning, and it remains a wee bit chilly in the Hop-a-Long Lounge. The guy came out to fix the heat yesterday, but the heater needs a new part, and he can't get it until next week. Steanso and Cassidy are making do with lots of blankets and a space heater. Given the way my life works, once I get this heater fixed the temperatures will probably warm up and we'll have the warmest winter on record.
What else? Well, not too much.
I guess Dan "The Hammer" Hamre's birthday was on Saturday, so the officefolk celebrated on Friday night by going out and having a few drinks at The Belmont after work. It was kind of chilly (we ended up sitting outside with the butane heaters), but it was good to have a bunch of people from the office going out to hang out together. After happy hour I went out to eat at The Galaxy Cafe with Roundball and McSteans. It was pretty good. I had never been there before. Most importantly, there was no wait on a Friday night. After dinner we rolled back to Roundball's crib for a viewing of the extra super special Richard Donner cut of Superman II (it's a long story, but a different director took over from Donner during the making of this movie, but this version is the one the Richard Donner wanted to see released). The movie was pretty good ("Kneel before Zod!"), but weakened by the unnatural comfiness of a house with heat, I did doze off for a moment or two during the film. Cassidy, however, watched intently and filled me in later on details that I might have missed.
Saturday I got up and ran some errands and then went on a walk with Mandy and the wieners. Then I went home to wait on the heater guy. I ended up falling asleep while reading a book (Under the Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer), but not before blowing an hour or tow screwing around on the internet.
After the heat guy had come and gone I went to see Casino Royale again with Mandy, Ellie, Team Bloom, Andy, and Rami at the Alamo South. Even seeing it a second time, it was a lot of fun. Afterward we went to Maudie's and had a few cocktails before truvking home. I finally got to ride in the PT Cruiser, and that was cool, too (Andy calls it the PT Loser, but I still think it's a fun car).
That's it for now!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Friday's here again, and not a moment too soon. I came home last night and went over to Mandy's house to help cover up a few of her remaining plants (we had moved some of them the night before, but Mandy has lots of plants). Most problematic of all the plants (in terms of winterizing them) was Jeff's "Agave Bot", a giant agave which sits atop a wooden tower at the gate to the Wilson's backyard (another one-of-a-kind Jeff Wilson creation. If you're looking for any kind of practical reasoning behind why Jeff put an agave atop a tower at the entrance to his backyard, you probably didn't know Jeff that well, and you're certainly not going to get much of an explanation from me. I would assume that it's probably some kind of pagan totem or navigation beacon for alien landing craft). Apparently agave plants don't do well in freezing temperatures, so Kate, Judy, Mandy and I gathered shortly after dark last night as the temperatures dropped and worked on getting a tarp put over the agave to keep it from freezing. The process involved ladders, extension poles, old Chuck Taylor sneakers (meant to be used as weights- one of those sneakers is still up there in the planter), and considerable risk to life and limb (Kate is more nimble than she looks and can scamper up a ladder faster than a howler monkey with its ass on fire), but eventually we were successful in covering up the plant and securing a tarp over it.
After dinner we ate soup, salad, and sandwiches, and Susan came over and hung out. It was especailly good to see her since I hadn't seen her for awhile.
After Susan took off, Mandy made pesto out of some basil that she had picked from her garden (I think that was a preemptive move to use the basil before the cold weather got to it- Mandy got some decent sized lemons off of her lemon tree as well). I helped Mandy make pesto by sitting on her sofa watching TV and complaining about the overpowering smell of the basil (which smelled really strong, but tasted pretty good in the pesto).
Then I went home and went to sleep.
Well, Adventurers, it was cold, and last night Steanso's heat didn't seem to be working properly. At about 4:30 a.m. I woke up with a numb nose and some numb toes, realizing something had gone wrong. The heater kept coming on, but it was just blowing cold air. Cassidy and I huddled under the blankets and used a space heater to keep from getting too frosty. Stupid heater.
Well, at least it's finally feeling like winter.
That's it for now, I guess. Have a good Friday.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Howdy. 'Tis Thursday, and the temperatures have dropped precipitously overnight in Austin. I laid awake last night in bed and listened to the wind and thunder, catching glimpses of Cassidy snoozing soundly when the intermittent lightning flashes lit up my room.
Earlier in the evening Mandy and I went over to Kate and Judy's house for dinner. We had pork chops and mashed potatoes and roasted carrots and salad, followed by brownies for desert. Washed it down with a gin and tonic and a couple of sips of Boujolais nouveau. Everything was delicious. Kate and Judy's dogs, Hannah and Gracie, were feeling especially friendly and affectionate. Hannah pants a lot, even when she's not hot (Judy says she just does it when she's excited).
Over dinner we talked about pipe repair, swimming pools, the growing number of random acts of violence in our country (or the appearance thereof), bouncer chairs, America's carbon footprint, and other stuff.
After dinner I helped Mandy move some of her plants into a more winter-friendly environment, and we watched the Daily Show (and a few minutes of the Colbert Report).
That was about it.
I hope you Adventurers are staying warm and having a good day.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Sigmund Puts in Two Cents

Well, I wasn't feeling much like blogging today, but you Adventurers are in luck. Sigmund "Fraud" Bloom has finally responded to some questions that I sent him awhile back. Sigmund is a member of the band, Crack (trombone and guitars, mostly), a dedicated football fan, analyst, and commentator, and the husband of one of my fellow Travis County prosecutors, Kim Bloom. I first met Sigmund through Jeff Wilson, and our first outing was, portentuously enough, a Radiohead concert which we roadtripped to Houston for. Sigmund currently does a lot of sports writing, works for UT, and quietly prepares for the revolution.....

1) You're typically a pretty calm person. Can you name some particular celebrity or public figure whodrives you nuts and explain why?

Tom Cruise. I think he looks like a drowned rat, can't act, and gets by on fake intensity and genuine obnoxious cockiness. On top of all that, he's a Scientologist. The fact that he's the biggest star in the world makes me shudder and fear for the fate of humanity.

2) Most everyone who knows you is also aware that you're a tremendous football fan, and that you've even been doing some sports writing, analysis, and commentating for various websites for a while now. This might sound a little strange, but what's your view on the role that sports play in modern American life? I mean, what function do sports serve withinour societal organism? Why are people so compelled to pay close attention to a set of activites and events which ultimately have no direct impact on their day today lives (other than the impact which they generate themselves though voluntary emotional investment)?

BECAUSE they have no impact on our daily lives. If we really let our emotions out about everything that happened to us, we would constantly paralyzed by them. So we have to keep them under the surface. They simmer and fester. We invest in something that has no real impact to get those intense stored up emotions outwithout damaging ourselves and the people around us. Or something like that.

3) If someone gave you $500,000,000 and told you that you had to give it away to no more than 2 people or groups and that it had to go to someone other than friends and family, who would you give the money to? Why?

Only 500,000,000? That kinda limits my options. Most of it would go to microfinance groups that allow the poorest people in the world to take what is a small amount to us and reinvent their entire lives. The rest would go to AIDS education in Africa. Boring, but the two of the biggest problems facing world civilization in my opinion.

4) You're a big music fan. You're also a member of the rock and roll supergroup, Crack. If you could play in a dream band, with 3 or 4 of your all time favorite musicians (set aside any qualms that you may potentially have about your own musical ability and don't worry about whether the musicians that you pick are currently alive or dead), who would you play with? Why?

John McLaughlin, because no one is more sublime on theguitar, Miles Davis to give us creative direction, and Billy Cobham on the drums because no one was tighter. Basically I would try to recreate something like the1969 Miles Davis lineup - I still think Bitches Brew is the album we should play for the aliens to show them that we are ok.

5) If you could gain any talent or skill and become an absolute master of it without having to bother going through the education and training to learn how to do it, what ability would you choose?

Self-discipline. My will is a mystery to me. I just try to take note of things and people that summon it to surface and surround myself with them.

6) Is there anyone you know who's life should be made into a movie (or a book, I guess, if you want to be a nerd)? Who? Why?

our cat Archie, to show the world what a perfect life looks like.

7) Can you name an event or a moment in your life when you felt a deep sense of personal victory (or at least a tremendous sense of satisfaction in feeling that things had turned out the way that you wanted them to)?

The most recent one was getting hired by as a staff writer. It was the first thing that I ever truly aspired to do professionally and achieving it reminded my that my life is still what I make of it and full of endless possibilities, as long as I want it to be.

8) If you were the absolute dictator of a small country, what would be the first two laws that you would pass?

Free Higher Education and Free Health Care.

9) Ok, this question is a standard, but it's a good one. Theme song for the movie of your life? (ok, you can get an opening credits theme and a closing credits theme if you feel like you need 2)

"Right Place, Wrong Time" by Dr. John

10) If you could get sit down and talk to (or interview) any 2 athletes from any historical period, who would they be and why?

Jack Johnson because he was one of the trailblazers of using mastery in sports to challenge social attitudes about race and Bill Belicheck to get a view of the inside of the greatest mind in football right now.
Hello. Hope everyone's ok.
Last night I went and had dinner with Ryan and Jamie. Then I played with Cassidy for awhile and went to sleep.
I think I do not feel like blogging today.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Hope everyone is having a good Tuesday (or had a good Tuesday if you read this later on). Last night was extremely uneventful. I watched The Dog Whisperer with Mandy (I think we're both greatly impressed by and envious of the way that Cesar relates to and trains dogs. Whenever the show is on, we watch with rapt attention, but neither Mandy or I seem to quite be able to pull off the Dog Whisperer training techniques with Cassidy or the wieners in real life as well as they seem to work on the show). We also watched another old episode from the first season of Northern Exposure.
Mandy's car is in the shop, so she's got a little PT Crusier on loan from the body shop. It's pretty fun, but I still haven't gotten a ride in it. Maybe tonight.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Hey there! Well, it's Monday, but so far, so good. It was a real drag having to get up and get ready for work this morning after sleeping in and goofing off for the last 4 days.

Mary Dodgen, the woman who drove the car that hit Jeff, Kim, and Sigmund, had a court appearance today. I went by her court just to show some support for the prosecution and to see if anything was happening, but I had to leave before Dodgen or her lawyer even showed up (I had a sizable docket of my own to contend with in misdemeanor court a few floors down). Just being there for a few minutes, though, was enough to get a sense for how surreal it was to see the court through the eyes of a victim (or someone who has been close to a crime victim). Given the fact that those courtrooms and the courthouse in general are a place where Jeff and I have spent most of our professional lives (i.e., it's a place where I feel pretty comfortable and where victims and defendants have, to some extent, just become part of the day to day scenery), it was just kind of jarring to be there on something where I have such a personal, emotional interest wrapped up in a case. It's wierd to see prosecutors, defense attorneys, and a judge that I've known for years now working on something which is so important to me.

Not too much else to report. Camille flew out at noon yesterday (I saw her briefly at my house on Saturday night, but I really never got a very good chance to talk to her), and Kellie, Mandy's sister, is supposed to be flying back to Seattle tonight.

The days keep getting shorter, and I don't like the extra darkness.


Sunday, November 26, 2006

The parents are gone now, and it kind of feels like Thanksgiving is finally over. Yesterday I met the fam' for breakfast at Maudie's down on Slaughter (which was, sort of surprisingly, much less busy for breakfast than the location on Lamar). Then I went with The Admiral, Roundball, and McSteans, after a last minute change of plans which were supposed to include looking at retirement properties with my dad, to see Casino Royale. It was by far the best James Bond flick that I had seen in some time, and a pretty perfect movie to see with The Admiral on a holiday weekend (this is the man, after all, who raised me to appreciate movies where they blow lots of stuff up and use kung fu). Last night a few folks (Andy, Team Bloom, Camille, Team Steans, Mandy, and eventually Weedo) came over to my place to have a few beers and do some post-holiday decompression. It was good to see everyone and it made the whole holiday feel a little more complete.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Post Thanksgiving family day. Karebear and The Admiral are still in town, continuing the Steans family Thanksgiving throwdown. Today we gathered 'round the tube for another part of the Thanksgiving tradition- watching the UT v. A&M game. UT ended up losing after a pretty weak performance, and to add injury to insult, Colt McCoy, our brave but apparently somewhat fragile young quarterback, ended up getting carried off the field on a stretcher after suffering a couple of questionable hits at the hands of the Texas A&M defense. To be honest, I really haven't been following UT incredibly closely this year, so the loss didn't sting as much as it might have in some prior years, but the game still sucked. Still, we had lots of leftover Thanksgiving grub, and I brought some tamales over as well, so the food was good, and it's always entertaining to watch a football game with my highly animated family.
Afterwards we were treated to a preview performance of Heather "Daredevil" Wagner's grad school presentation for next week on the difficulties of providing speech therapy services to the children of families from foreign backgrounds and cultures. Good work, Heather. You tell those professors that if you get anything less than an A++ that they'll have to answer to two large and surly Steans men.
I did a little shopping with the Steans clan after the game, and for dinner we headed over to The Brick Oven down on Slaughter. Dinner was yummy. After dinner we watched Silverado on cable.
So that's it.

Here's another photo of the Thanksgiving feast that we had yesterday at Ryan and Jamie's house (that empty chair on the end is mine, but I'm taking the photo).

And here's a picture of Cassidy that I took during a break from the festivities when I snuck out onto Ryan's back porch for a moment. Check out that tongue!!!!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here's Roundball's "gastrointestinal distress" face. It's a product of overly enthusiastic turkey consumption, and in the Steans house it's as much a part of the Thanksgiving tradition as mashed potatoes or pumpkin pie.
Hope everyone had a good one!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving Eve!!

Happy Thanksgiving to all of you Adventurers! Karebear and The Admiral should be motoring into Austin this evening, and tomorrow there will be a Thanksgiving feast with friends and family over at Ryan and Jamie's house.
Steanso is particularly thankful for all of his friends and family this year (who have helped me through some trying times in '06), so I hope everyone gets to have a fun, relaxing holiday. Steanso is also thankful that the Democrats have finally managed to regain some measure of control within our federal government. Let's hope they make some positive changes with the chance that they've been given.
Mandy is spending Thanksgiving out in Kerrville with the Killians (Camille and her family), and I think that Don and Jajuan will be headed out there for Thanksgiving dinner as well.
Anyway, I'm happy about the break from work.

Also, in a non-Turkey Day side note, last night I caught up on the last 3 episodes of Battlestar Galactica. The show is still going strong. The episodes that I watched dealt with nice, light topics like, "Is it morally permissible to commit genocide and wipe out another entire race if doing so might be your best means of self defense against an enemy who seems determined to destroy you?" Anyway, the show is thought-provoking as well as entertaining (the dogfights in space are still first rate). Thanks to Weedo for taping them for me.

Peace, happiness, and thankfulness to all of you guys!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Well, it's Tuesday, but it's a little like Thursday, because this is a 3 day week. Last night I came home and went out for dinner with Team Steans. We went to this Chinese place called Hunan which is down near their house on William Cannon. It's my second time to go back to the place, and it's kind of growing on me. The food isn't super awesome, but it's better than your average mom and pop shop Chinese restaurant, and it just has kind of a warm, old local restaurant feel to it.
After dinner I went home and played my guitar for Cassidy for awhile before heading over to Mandy's. Kellie was working on Mandy's hair, but we watched some TV, including some kind of show on The Learning Channel which was about exceptionally tall people. I didn't really learn anything new from watching the show, except that there are apparently a number of tall people clubs in the U.S. and around the world. Also, apparently tall people are a bit goofy.

Mandy and Kellie had purchased winter outfits for the wiener dogs, and much to my surprise, the wieners didn't seem to mind wearing them. I guess that their disdain for cold temperatures has finally overpowered their sense of embarrassment. Joking, Mandy!

Well, not much else to report, and I'm sort of busy, so I'll sign off. Hope you guys are having a good turkey week.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Well, the weekend finished up pretty nicely. The My Morning Jacket show was a big success and far exceeded my expectations. I got back to Tejas Trail, ate a cheeseburger with Mandy, and then fell asleep on her sofa. I woke up and staggered home.
Sunday morning I got up and procured some breakfast tacos for Kellie, Mandy, and myself. I ate some tacos with the ladies and then watched a little football and did a little laundry. Later in the afternoon Mandy and I went over to Rami's place for a little while. We were supposed to go to see the new James Bond flick with Rami and Andy, Casino Royale, but tickets had already sold out by the time that I tried to purchase them. Anyway, I got to see Rami's place (which is very cool) and to see her dog, Otis (a small, feisty creature who's temperment is not dissimilar to Andy's, particularly after Andy has a whiskey or two in him).
So eventually Andy and Rami went to the movie, and we went to Central Market and picked up some food. We went back to Mandy's and had dinner and watched old episodes of News Radio and Northern Exposure. Mandy even made some chocolate chip cookies. It was kind of a nice, quiet Sunday evening.
And I'm not sure whether the Democrats are going to make any headway (with a Republican president in office who can veto whatever they send to him), but it's nice to see them setting their sights on some practical, helpful changes for middle class America. Raising the minimum wage, cutting interest rates on student loans, lowering Medicare drug prices, passing lobbying reforms, implementing the recommendations of the 9/11 commission, and rolling back sudbsidies for the oil companies are all goals which the incoming Democratic congressman are hoping to address. It feels kind of good to know that someone is looking out for middle America again (or at least bothering to fake it).

Sunday, November 19, 2006

My Morning Jacket

Last night I went to see the My Morning Jacket show at Stubb's. It was a really great show. It's been a long time since I saw a band that looked as pumped up and that was having as much fun putting on a show as these guys were last night. I also bumped into Eddie K and Gary, and it was good to see them. Mandy thought it was a great show, too.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

A Conversation with Roundball

For those of you who don't already know this, I have a brother who is roughly two years my junior named Ryan. He also is known by the nickname of Roundball. Roundball graduated from UT with degrees in Radio, Television, and Film as well as History, and he has mostly worked in the field of distance learning since graduating from college, at both U.T. and Arizona State University (the name sort of describes what he does- distance learning mostly involves teaching courses or conveying subject materials through the internet, video, and/or smoke signals). Roundball has a professorial command of all things related to comic books (especially Superman, with whom he has a mildly unhealthy obsession), and he's a pretty darn good artist himself, having secretly sketched dozens of characters which he will only show to you if you beg him (he has sketchbooks at his house filled with his artwork). At one point, Roundball even drew some art for a concept album produced by a band that some of his friends were in (Maximum Coherence), but I'm not sure if the band ever got their sh*t together enough to release the CD. Roundball is also a talented writer, and has written several screenplays (for projects during school) as well as the better parts of one or two novels (I'm not sure if they were ever completed, but I read the first part of one of them, and it was good). He maintains his own blog site called The League of Melbotis, and he's able to perform a variety of dance moves, including The Lawnmower, The Cabbage Patch, and The Running Man (well, The Running Man may be hit or miss).

Anyhoo, Roundball lives in South Austin with a wife that he seems to somehow keep fairly amused on a regular basis, Jamie (aka, McSteans), along with his two dogs, Mel and Lucy, and their feisty cat, Jeff.

The following are responses to interview questions that I sent to Roundball the other night when I was bored:

1) At various times in your life you have been referred to by the nickname of Roundball. Please describe the origins of this name and your feelings about having been tagged with this moniker.

At some point as a kid, I read a book entitled "Anastasia Krupnick". In the course of the book, the titular character's parents ask her to name her soon-to-arrive baby brother. Unhappy that there will now be a baby brother to jack things up, Anastasia considers having her revenge by naming the kid"Roundball". At age 8, I thought the name was hysterical. While playing a game involving a ball (that's all I remember) I said "Call me Roundball". 23 years later and Jason has still not let go. Normally I don't think a whole lot about it, but whenI came back for a visit and met several of Jason's friends for the first time, they all got excited and exclaimed "Roundball!" upon meeting me. I was a bit mortified (I'm looking at you, Elf). I have worked long and hard to avoid getting a nickname of any sort. It seems to have slipped away since, but I suppose after this post, I shall be stuck with the name. Could be worse, I guess.

2) If you were offered the opportunity to plan and implement some kind of plan, agency, or program with unlimited funding (the only rule being that you can't just generate wealth for yourself, one of your friends, or family), what sort of organization, program, or plan would you implement?

I would probably provide health care to Americans at no fee. It is an absolute tragedy that in this age of technology and endless comforts, some families go broke trying to keep up with medical bills. Also, I would create a team of highly-trained lady cyborg ninjas who would travel the country in a van, righting wrongs, and standing up for the little guy. Most of the funding would go to finding just the right theme song for them when they put their "so-crazy-it-just-might-work" plans into action.

3) If a movie were made about your life and you had to pick a song to be used as your theme song, what would the song be? Why?

I have a few choices. One is a song I've only heard occasionally, but I think is probably most appropriate: They Might be Giants' "Bastard Wants to Hit Me" Here are the lyrics...

He says he knows me
But I don't know that guy
He's waving at me
But he looks kind of mad
Some crazy bastard wants to hit me
He's waving me over so he can hit me
But I don't know that guy
But I'm not going over there
Some crazy bastard wants to hit me
How have we come to this pass?
How can I get to my car?
Climb in, turn the ignition
Pull onto the highway
Where I am free
Some crazy bastard wants to hit me
He's waving me over so he can hit me
And who the hell is he?
I can't believe this is happening
That crazy bastard wants to hit me

I think the song pretty much describes the deer-in-the-headlights feeling I get most days. Also, recently, Rilo Kiley's "Accidntl Deth", but less so these days. And if those aren't good, how's Ween's "Transdermal Celebration"? The lyrics just really speak to who I think I am as a person

4) Have you ever had a person in your life that you considered to be your nemesis? Who and why?

While I am a petty, spiteful person, I cannot think of a Luthor to my Superman or a KARR to my KITT. I sort of felt like a guy I worked with at my last job from another department was my nemesis, but he was mostly just lazy. Apparently I wasn't the only one who had it in for him.

5) If you could only have one superpower, what would it be? (okay, you can have a second one if you insist)

I would want to be able to heal people and cure illness. But to make it cool, I would do it by shooting blue beams out of my eyes at the sick people. It would also make a cool sound, like "SHA-ZANGGG!!!" As a Superman fan, I am unsure whether flight or superstrength are cooler. Or invulnerability. Or heatvision. Or moving super fast. Honestly, being really Supersmart like Mr. Fantastic or Steel would probably be most useful. Then I could just build devices to help me do whatever else I wanted to do. If this was unavailable, I guess I'd want to fly. It would make the cape I wear in everyday life so much cooler. But invulnerability has its advantages. It would be rad to be able to forego elevators and stairs for just tossing yourself out the window. A lot of people would want X-Ray vision, but I don't see how that wouldn't lead to constant abuse. If I really wanted to annoy you, I would want Superman's lesser known power of Super-Ventriloquism (yes, Superman once really had this power in the comics). With Super-Ventriloquism I could totally bug you at work from the comfort of my couch and keep shouting "objection!" from your side of the courtroom whenever you were in trial.

6) If you had to make a movie about the life of one person that you have personally known, whose life would you make into a movie and why?

While a movie about Peabo would be horrifying/fascinating, I think Peabo's life is far from reaching it's inevitable, Animal House-like conclusion with Peabo driving a tank through a parade. For similar reasons, I cannot name Larry Lee (if we could somehow combine their powers...). I dunno. I'd say one of my grandparents, but the third reel of the movie would be kind of slow, what with all the trips to the Bonanza for the salad bar. Maybe a movie about Jamie so people would quit romanticizing hospitals and chronic illness in movies. I'd make a movie about you, but I don't know who they could get to play Cassidy.

7) Who would you cast to play you in a movie or TV show? Why?

Andy Richter. I think the reasons are obvious. If I couldn't get him, Jet Li, but my life would need a lot more wu-shu. If I could get John Goodman, I think some people might feel that was decent casting.

8) Briefly recount one of the coolest moments of your life.

Nothing cool has ever happened to me. This is fact. This is an incredibly depressing question and I resent it. I have met a few celebrities, but found meeting them to to be sort of an uncomfortable, relatively mortifying experience. Decidedly not cool. I don't know. What do you think is a cool thing which happened to me? I can't think of anything. I have the most tolerant wife on the face of the planet. I have literally been pulled aside and told this by multiple persons. So that's kind of cool. *

9) Name some potential event that you are deeply afraid will occur within the next 10 years (i.e., something that you actually worry about).

Mostly I worry about Jamie getting sick, which is sort of an omnipresent concern. I do not worry too much about nuclear annihilation, etc... as there isn't anything much I can do about it. What we should all be concerned about is apes taking over the planet. As Caesar the Chimpanzee declares in Conquest of the Planet of the Apes: "Where there is fire, there is smoke. And in that smoke, from this day forward, my people will crouch and conspire and plot and plan for the inevitable day of Man's downfall - the day when he finally and self-destructively turns his weapons against his own kind. The day of the writing in the sky, when your cities lie buried under radioactive rubble! When the sea is a dead sea, and the land is a wasteland out of which I will lead my people from their captivity! And we will build our own cities in which there will be no place for humans except to serve our ends! And we shall found our own armies, our own religion, our own dynasty! And that day is upon you NOW!" That shit can happen, man.

10) What was the scariest dream you ever had? What about the scariest waking moment?

When I was six or seven I read a lot of books about monsters. Eventually I wound up having a dream that I was being pursued through the streets of an unknown city by Lon Chaney in "London After Midnight". That dream still sticks with me. Here is a link to my nightmare fuel: I used to have recurring dreams that I was in an enclosed structure with a scuba tank running out of air and one or more large sharks. Those were mostly bad because I had them from middle school until a few years after college. Scariest waking moment: I would rather not get into it, but it involves Jamie and one of our many trips to the hospital.

11) If you could alter any single event which has occurred in the past, what event would you change? (by the way, no one will ever know that you changed anything, so you don't have to justify your choice to the rest of the world)

From my personal past, I would have grabbed 15 year old me, shaken him like the dickens and insisted that I both eat better and take school a hell of a lot more seriously. Unfortunately there's a lot of man's inhumanity to man in the record books, and I think I'd need to start there rather than on personal growth. The trick, when trying to fix things, is not to let old Biff Tannen get his hands on the sports almanac and the time machine. That would save you, like, 1.75 movie's worth of trouble. History is just too littered with awful, awful events that I would like to take away. But you know, if I really think about it, I guess I would use my time machine to be on the shore a few billion years ago to find the first salamander to get the notion in its head to crawl out of the ocean. I would then punt the little monster back into the drink and save everyone all the trouble.

*Editor's closing note: I'm pretty sure that Roundball has done plenty of cool stuff in his life (he's starred in plays, made student films, gone scuba diving with his ultra-cool older brother, given rides to and traded stories with homeless people on his wedding day, caught fish in the Minnesota wilderness, chased much older golfers off of our neighborhood golf course with Jeff "Peabo" Peek by hurling pine cones at them, been spun upside down with a mouthful of tequila by a bunch of small Mexicans, earned a black belt in tae kwon do, spent nights and days at my grandfather's camp in Upper Michigan, rode up an escalator railing for three stories on his belly before he could even walk, taken Danish classes (who the hell takes Danish?), and joined the mosh pit around the bonfire during the Jane's Addiction show at the first Lollapalooza. Roundball, however, is a difficult man to please (maybe it's tough to live up to your expectations when Superman and Teddy Roosevelt are your role models). We're gonna have to find some even cooler stuff to do, Roundball...

Friday, November 17, 2006

Friday again. Last night I got home and went to dinner with Mandy and Kellie at Jason's Deli (we were s'posed to eat with susan, but she called in sick). Then we went to Target. There were about 4 or 5 people camped out in front of the store (with tents and sleeping bags and whatnot) waiting for Sony's Playstation 3 to be put on sale this morning (we saw them out there and I asked them why they were camping in line). We all got a pretty good chuckle out of the whole thing, especially considering the fact that it was a pretty cold night out last night. Then we went shopping, and I trudged around the store whining to Mandy and Kellie about the fact that clothes in regular stores almost never fit me (I have to go to big and tall stores, usually). I bought a hat and a pair of socks, though, and then we went home and watched DVR recordings of 30 Rock and The Office.
I don't have a lot more to blog about at the moment, but maybe more this weekend.
Hope ya'll have a good one!

Well, here's a picture of Mandy's nephew, Lucas, which I'm posting just because I think it's a funny picture (and to remind myself that there have been some good things going on this year).

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Well, I'm gonna keep this pretty quick. I had dinner with Mandy and the Wilsons last night and we went to The Fish City Grill. It's a new place that opened up over at Lamar and Ben White, and it has... well... fish. I had salmon, which was pretty good, but we also had oyster nachos as an appetizer, and they were much more interesting (and surprisingly good). Anyway, it was good to see Don and Jajuan. Jajuan is feeling much better following her hospitalization for stomach problems a couple of weeks ago (although I'm sure she still has to watch what she eats).

Other from that it's still been pretty slow. After dinner I hung out with Mandy and Kellie and watched TV. Mandy also made some kind of cornbread dish for her Thanksgiving party at work.
We had our own Thanksgiving party at work today, but I missed most of it because I was stuck in court doing a DWI bench trial. They saved a plate of food for me, but it still kind of sucked to miss the actual Thanksgiving shindig for the second year in a row (last year I was in court and missed it as well).

What else? The new Playstation 3 is out, but it's $500 to $600- depending on which set you buy. Steanso has to admit that he still plays some video games from time to time, but my interest is only a casual one (I almost never buy games when they're brand new, so I'm pretty much down to buying a game every few months for $20 from the bargain section when I go to Target to buy toilet paper), and I just can't see spending $600 on a videogame player. Remember when platform consoles were the cheaper alternative to playing games on your PC? Well now desktop PCs keep sliding toward the $500 range while console systems continue to become more and more expensive. Of course, the consoles play DVDs and allow you to access the internet, but I already have a DVD player and a computer.

Well, that's about it. Later!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Howdy, ya'll. Well, today is the vote recount in the Hays County District Attorney's race. One of my coworkers (and my former boss) Sherri Tibbe is running for D.A.. She won the election last Tuesday by (I believe) 23 votes. Needless to say, that's pretty close. Someone told me that there were around 30,000 votes cast, but only somewhere around 1000 paper ballots will be recounted because the rest of the votes were collected electronically, and there's nothing to recount. Anyway, I'm sure everything will go fine for Sherri, but I talked to her yesterday, and she's on pins and needles. Good luck, Tibbo!
I also just watched another friend of mine, Channing Neary, do her first closing argument as a defense attorney. Channing used to work as a prosecutor in our office, and I first met her when I was a defense attorney. Now she works at Jeff's old law firm with Joe Turner, so we find ourselves on opposite sides of the aisle again. Anyway, I hope the state prevails in their case (this case is taking place in the family violence court, Court 4, which is my old court and a difficult place to work if you're a prosecutor), but Channing put on a really good closing argument, and it looks like she may have really found her niche in criminal defense work. As I write this, there's still no verdict, but Channing did a good job either way, so I just wanted to congratulate her. (by the way, Sue Beckage, one of my coworkers and one of my old Court 4 crew, gave the closing argument for the state, and she did a great job as well- but I've seen Sue do great closings before on family violence cases)
What else? Last night I Mandy and I went out for Chinese food and just hung out. I've been trying to exercise more, so I did some of that. I also played my guitar and yodelled for the wiener dogs while Mandy visited with Camille on the phone.
And Trent Lott is back as minority whip in the U.S. Senate. Does anyone else remember when Lott was basically kicked out of office 4 years ago after making comments suggesting that the country would have been better off if it had more wholeheartedly embraced Strom Thurmond when he ran for president (on a platform which strongly advocated racial segregation)? Both Democrats and Republicans proved to be uncomfortable with the comments, and Lott left office. But now he's back, and he's assuring everyone that he's not a racist. But it wasn't just about the Strom Thurmond comments- Lott also voted against the Voting Rights Act (an act specifically designed to protect the rights of minority voters) and has gone on record as opposing the Martin Luther King holiday. He's also been associated with the Council of Conservative Citizens, a group which has been described as a hate group by the NAACP and the Southern Povery Law Center. Anyway, Lott still has a ways to go in proving himself before he gets any invites to one of Steanso's parties. Keep an eye on Lott, Adventurers. He's crafty and he's trouble.
Well, that's it for today.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Well, I really have virtually nothing to report. Last night I hung out with Mandy a bit, but we just watched some TV and talked a little. Work is work. The holidays are already coming up, and that seems bizarre. I think I've been in some sort of time warp since Jeff's accident in July. It seems like only yesterday. It seems like it was ten years ago. I still can't really get my head around his absence. Expect him to walk through the door any time. Sort of. Anyway, I miss him a lot.
Last night I accidentally left Cassidy out all night in the backyard. I went to bed firmly believing she was on her bed in the living room, but the poor dog was out in the backyard. She never yelped once all night. Fortunately last night was extremely mild, temperature wise, and she seems no worse for wear. But I feel like a jackass. I gave her extra cookies this morning.
Condolences go out to Connie up there in Boston after her cat passed away yesterday (whose name, sadly, I'm not quite sure of, but I think it may have been Frannie or something like that). It always sucks to lose a friend, and no less so when it's an animal. We're thinking of you, Connie!
Well, that's it.
Hope you guys are ok.

Monday, November 13, 2006

It's Monday, and something feels.... off. I can't put my finger on it, and yet it's out there, waiting and lurking.
Last night I went and saw Borat with Mandy, Kellie, Jennifer, Kim, Sigmund, Andy, and Rami. The movie was very funny and had me laughing until my stomach hurt, but there's something strange about going to see a movie with a large group of friends, especially on a school night (meaning there really wasn't a chance to hang out after seeing the movie). We all arrived at roughly the same time, briefly stood in line together, shuffled into the theater, sat in the dark for two hours together watching the movie, and then shuffled back out. We talked for a few minutes outside the theater, and then we went home. I mean, the movie was good, but seeing a movie, in and of itself, does not really constitute any kind of real social occasion or opportunity. We just never really had a chance to hang out and talk.
Oh well. Like I said, the movie was good.
Kellie, Mandy's sister, arrived in town on Saturday, so it's good to have her back on Tejas Trail. I think she's planning on staying through Thanksgiving.

And I guess they're going to build a memorial to Martin Luther King, Jr.. I'm happy about that. I remember, growing up, how Mom would speak with a tone of reverence and respect when telling us about Martin Luther King, Jr. and how he chose to stand up for the civil rights of black people and all Americans, and how he chose to carry on his struggle exclusively through nonviolent means. At a time when inequality and civil unrest were threatening to tear the country apart, MLK was a voice of reason and compassion and hope. Anyway, I think he should be counted as one of our greatest leaders, and I'm happy he's being recognized as such.

Well, gotta run. Hope you guys have a good one.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Well, the weekend has been pretty nice thus far. Yesterday I spent a good part of the day looking at plants with Mandy and then planting a few little plants in pots when I got home. The weather was cool and clear and breezey and it was really nice just to be outside. Mandy got a lot more plants than I did (mostly flowers for her garden and for hanging pots), and I sat outside with her, playing with her weiner dogs and rockin' out on my guitar while she planted some of her flowers.

Then last night Mono E played for Anna's birthday party at Dave Wasser's house. Dave lives in a big ol' loft-type place over on Academy, and his house is pretty cool. Jay made some food and provided the beer, and there were a number of dogs in attendance, as Dave maintains that dogs like parties (no, Cassidy wasn't there- I felt like I couldn't keep an eye on her while I was playing with the band).

Anyway, Mono E played pretty well, and people seemed to enjoy our tunes (note the go go dancers in the accompanying picture) until Dave's neighbor's called at sometime around 1 in the morning and we had to shut it down. Still, not a bad gig for us, all in all.

Friday, November 10, 2006

So I have the day off for Veteran's Day. I really do want to take a second to thank all of the veterans out there (including my own dad, The Admiral). Despite the fact that I bitch about the Iraq war and the way that leadership decisions are often made about how our military is deployed, I have a great deal of respect for our servicemen and former servicemen. It's easy to become cynical about the motivations of our leaders sometimes, but our troops and our veterans are ultimately willing to put their lives on the line in defense of our country, and that isn't something to be taken lightly. So hats off to the vets and to all of the troops who are deployed in Iraq as I write this. Politics aside, Steanso has nothing but respect for you guys.

Well, I got up this morning and ran some errands and took Mandy to get the oil changed in her car. I went to Target, and we went to Chili's for lunch. Mandy's tile work is just about done in her kitchen, and I think it looks great.
We met Rami at the mall and went to see Marie Antoinette. I thought it was a bit long, but Rami and Mandy dug it the most.
Well, Ryan's here with the dogs, so I have to go.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Well, it's the last day of work before our 3 day weekend for Veteran's Day. Be sure to go out and hug a veteran.
Also, don't forget the party Saturday night. It's Anna's birthday, and The Mono E is playing. Festivities start around 9:00 p.m. and the directions are:

the Austin Freedom House: 300-B Academy Drive. It's a few blocks east of S. Congress.

Also, does it strike anyone else as a little hypocritical that after 6 years of basically telling the rest of the world to kiss his a** that George W. is now trying to usher in a "new era of cooperation"? I remember talk of spending political capital. I remember being told that Democrats were anti-American terrorist lovers who want to make our country weak. I remember being referred to as a "Defeatocrat", and I remember having judicial confirmations and countless laws shoved down our throats without even the slightest attention paid to any of the concerns voiced by conscientious leaders on the Democratic side of the aisle.
But now it's time for "a new era of cooperation"?
Well, actually, it probably is time for an era of cooperation, but not because Bush deserves it, and certainly not because he has earned it. It's time for an era of cooperation because the problems that our country currently faces are too big to be handled by just one party, and because all of our leaders need to pull together if any real, substantial progress is going to be made. We need to come to an agreement on what to do about the war in Iraq so that we can quit squandering our energy by fighting about how the situation should be handled (we ALL want the war to come to an end- we just need to reach a consensus on how to achieve that goal). We need to regain the trust of other nations and reestablish our nation as a world leader- not as simply a formidable military power, but as a country which abides by a morality and set of ethical principles that we can be proud of and which will help to make the world a safer, more stable place if other countries abide by them as well (simple little ethical guidelines like promising not to invade other countries unless you can show that the other nation is actually threatening the safety of your country).
Anyway, I gotta run, but I think we do need to cooperate with the Republicans simply in order to effectively solve problems and in order to avoid alienating a large part of the voting population which isn't going anywhere. I think Americans respect our leaders more when they demonstrate that they know how to play nice (even when they don't see eye to eye).