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).

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

By the way, the party for Anna Worthy's birthday is still on for Saturday at Dave Wasser's house at about 9:00 p.m.. You Adventurers are invited to attend and rock to the soothing sounds of The Mono Ensemble. It has been brought to my attention that my original directions to the party described the party house as being west of South Congress when the house is, in fact, a few blocks east of South Congress. In my defense I have to say that the directions which I origianlly posted came from the host of the party (I just cut and pasted them from his email onto the blog), but I've checked the address on Mapquest, and the house is definitely east of S. Congress (which makes sense, since I think it's in Travis Heights).

So the directions are:

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

I think academy runs right into South Congress. So come and have a drink with Anna and for the veterans (well, we're ACL Fest veterans, if nothing else). If you have several drinks, get a cab, though. No drunk driving!!!
Well, it's been a pretty good day so far. The Democrats have definitely seized The House, and the Senate is looking good as well. Democrats have also seized a majority of the gubernatorial seats across the country. America took awhile to wake up, but it has finally rejected the dishonesty and cynicism which has governed this country for the last 6 years. I don't want to get too far ahead of myself and claim that our entire nation has changed for the better (these have been close races, after all), but these election results give me tremendous hope and have me breathing a big sigh of relief.
I'm happy because I have renewed hope for enviromental protections. I'm happy because I'm hopeful for improvements in education and healthcare. I'm happy because we will have people in office who have a greater respect for fundamental human rights and who have a greater understanding of the constitutional and the civil rights afforded to our citizens by our constitution. I'm happy because we will have some people in office who understand the importance of reestablishing our country as a moral authority in the national community and who understand that true leadership must occur by gaining the respect and admiration of other countries rather than by simply forcing them to obey our commands at gunpoint.
I never really got any kind of significant tax break from the Republicans (although I'm sure that people wealthier than myself benefitted a great deal), and I felt powerless as the Republicans got us into an unjust war, passed healthcare reforms which mostly benefitted only the drug companies, stripped away our civil liberties, and lied to us over and over again, about everything from the existence weapons of mass destruction to the wiretapping of American citizens to the handling of inappropriate sexual advances of Congressmen toward underage pages.
I'm happy and hopeful that these things will change.
But I'm still nervous about some stuff.
I'm worried that the socially conscious, progressive voters who finally got motivated to come out for this election will now think their work is done and slide back into a state of apathy. I'm worried that this will happen with the presidential election only 2 years away. The price of having a decent government is vigilance and the willingness to vote in every election, people. Don't let down your guard.
I'm worried that the Democrats will not be able to work together as a solid, cohesive body, and that they will spend so much time squabbling about how to advance each separate leader's favorite respective causes that they will not be able to come together to get things done (we don't need the civil libertarians struggling against the enviromentalists or stem cell research advocates fighting anti-war activists in order to champion their causes- we need to all pull together).
I'm worried that the Democrats will see this win as a victory over religious activism in politics rather than realizing that religion is an integral part of the American culture and belief system and that it is not going to go away. The Democrats need to accomodate and incorporate appeals to the religious senisbilities of Americans through their political messages. I'm pretty dead set in my belief that Jesus was a liberal, folks, and the Democrats need to learn to deny the Republicans the spiritual high ground. I'm definitely not saying that Democrats should be advancing any one religion over any other or showing any kind of preferential treatment toward religious believers over agnostics or atheists, but like it or not, religion is a critical component in the lives of many, many Americans, and it will continue to pop up as a driving force in American politics for many, many years to come. Democrats need to do a better job of conveying the message that progressive ideals, in particular empathy and compassion for other human beings, are in keeping with spirituality and strong religious belief. If the Democrats simply try to ignore religion and spirituality, the Republicans are going to pick up the ball and run with it. We just need to underscore the point that there is nothing incompatible about being a person of strong religious conviction and also being politically progressive.
I'm also worried about Iraq. Really worried about Iraq. Now Steanso was strongly against the invasion of Iraq in the first place (recognizing even before the war that Iraq and Al Qaeda had virtually nothing to do with each other and that there were other, alterior motives that this administration seemed to have for wanting to go to war), and he even went so far as to attend a war protest with Jennifer "Killer" Kraber (so named for her pool playing and NOT because of her propensity for violence), but Steanso is kind of worried about the idea that America ought to just immediately pull out of Iraq altogether. I hate to say it, but America created the situation in Iraq, and now I think we need to bear the responsibility for cleaning it up. Basically I'm worried about large-scale genocide, ethnic cleansing, and other massive human rights violations if we just pack up and leave. I have friends who argue that these sorts of activities are going on, anyway, and that our troops are powerless to stop them (so we shouldn't bother to keep the troops there), but I think that the violence that we're already seeing is nothing compared to what will happen if we just pull our troops out and let warlords, religious leaders, and despots slug it out over control of Iraq. I never wanted us to be in Iraq in the first place, but now that we're there I think we're stuck with Colin Powell's ol' Pottery Barn dilemna- we broke it, so we bought it. I'm not sure what the answer to this problem is, but we have to find a way to gradually withdraw from the country in a way which leaves some sort of civic order in place and which avoids the violence and vicious power grabs which will take place if we abruptly pull out our troops. But we need a definite timetable, and we need a plan for orderly withdrawl.
Anyway, like I said, I'm mostly happy, but I still have worries. A lot of damage has been done in the last 6 years, and I'd say that the Democrats have their work cut out for them. But at least we have some control back. The first step in the healing process is to staunch the bleeding, right? Check.
Well, I guess that's enough ranting for now. Just had to get a few things off my chest.
Hope you guys are having a good day!

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Congratulations, Tibbo!!!!!

Well, it's getting late, and I don't know how much longer I'll be following election results, but let me just say that I'm already happy on 2 very nice points: it looks like the Democrats are going to take the House, and on a local level, it looks like my friend, co-worker, and former boss, Sherri Tibbe, has won her election for Hays County District Attorney. I'm really happy to see this, since I know Sherri personally, and I know that she's a great person, a good prosecutor, and she's worked incredibly hard on this campaign. I know she'll do a great job for the people of Hays County! Congrats, Tibbo!!!!!
Hey! Well, Steanso has been struck in trial again for the last couple of days, but at least he managed to secure a conviction. Hope everyone is doing well out there. I don't have a lot of news to report. Mandy's mother, Ellen, is in town for the next few days. She's a painter, and she's working on Judge Breland's house. I suspect that once The Judge and Ellen join forces, they may be difficult to stop.
What else? Not much. Veteran's Day is right around the corner.
Saturday night The Mono ensemble will be playing at a party being thrown by Dave Wasser for Anna's birthday. Directions are as follows:

It's at the Austin Freedom House: 300-B Academy Drive. It's a few blocks west of S. Congress. If you have dogs, you can bring them. Dogs like parties.

Also, Kelly Jo, Mandy's sister, will be returning to Austin on Saturday. Big things are in the wind, indeed, Adventurers!!!!

Monday, November 06, 2006

Hey there. Monday again, but at least we've got Friday off, right? (if you don't have Friday off, you need to serious thought to whether or not your job is worth sticking with) I'm back in jury trial again, so I'm a wee bit busy. Go out and vote, you lazy Adventurers!!!! We can take this country back, but you've gotta put down the cheese puffs and get off the sofa. It only takes a minute, and it barely hurts. I promise.
Well, I know this was a short post, but like I said, I'm kinda sorta busy. I'll be back soon, though!!!!

Sunday, November 05, 2006

The weekend was pretty good. Uncle Bob and Aunt Linda were in town along with my parents, so I had a few meals with them, and they got a chance to come by the casa and spend some time with Cassidy the wondermutt. It was good to see them.
Saturday night I also hung out with Andy and Rami over at Mandy's, and even Sig and Jackbart stopped by to have a drink and shoot the bull for awhile after they got out of the Widespread Panic show (which was, by all accounts, pretty awesome).
Tonight I had Mono E practice. We sounded pretty good, but we were all kind of tired. It sounds like we're going to be playing at a party next Saturday night. I think Adventurers will be welcome. More details to follow.
Anyway, I just wanted to say hi. Hope ya'll had a good weekend as well.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Hey. 'Tis Friday. The 'rents are supposed to be motoring into town this weekend with Unkie Bob and Auntie Linda for some fun-filled, Steans family hijinks.
Last night The Mono E played a relatively quiet set for First Thursday at Ben White Florist. We had a good time, but were under orders to sort of keep the volume down, so we rocked at a reasonable level. The shop gave out free flowers, and we gave out free music. Thanks to everyone who came out and braved some cool temperatures to hear us play. We had a couple of bumpy spots, but on the whole I think we sounded pretty good, and hopefully everyone had a good time. It was fun to see people in their cold weather clothes gathered around the fire and to watch little kids playing in the grass during our set.
After the gig I went to Hill's Cafe with Ryan, Jamie, Susan, and Mandy. As we were in mid chicken friend steak, Steven Harms arrived with his special ladyfriend (sorry, but I can't remember her name for the life of me). They missed the gig but showed up for the ceremonial post-gig gorging. Anyway, we all ate a variety of fried foods and then headed home. I hung out with Mandy for a few more minutes and then went to bed.
Well, it's been kind of a long, tiring week (with the Halloween concert and then the gig last night). I hope everyone has a good weekend.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Hey. S'up? Everyone go out and vote early. You can do it with your driver's license at the courthouse today or tomorrow, and it's easier than trying to figure out where you're supposed to show up on election day.
Last night I was pretty tired following our rockin' evening at the Trey show the night before. I had dinner with Mandy, and we watched some episodes of 30 Rock (which is pretty funny). Reed came over to get "a couple of cymbals", which of course ended up meaning more than half of his drum set.
Don't forget to come and check out The Mono Ensemble at Ben White Florist on South Congress today at 5:30. It's part of the usual first Thursday celebration, although the location is pretty far south (close to the new Amy's Ice Cream on South Congress). Check out yesterday's post for links to The Mono E's site and to the florist's site.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

more Halloween pics

Here's Elf Rami in her birthday suit...... er, costume. Note that Andy is completely comfortable in assisting with the natural childbirth process.

Jackbart and Sig promise Eric that if he buys the first four rounds, they will get the next four....

Ellie, Mandy, and Sig talk about how lucky they are to be friends with Steanso while finishing up their beverages after the show....

Fun show!! Thanks to Trey and the guys!!!
By the way, don't forget about The Mono Ensemble's First Thursday gig tomorrow at Ben White Florist on South Congress (just South of Amy's Ice Cream in the little yellow house).
Hope everyone had a happy Halloween! Mine was really good. We (Mandy, Ellie, Andy, Rami, Jackbart, Sig, Eric, Stephanie, Jay, and Anna) went and saw Trey Anastasio last night at Stubb's. Like so many things I've done recently, it definitely felt kind of strange to go to see Trey play without Jeff (for those of you who don't know, Jeff was a huge "phan" of Phish, of Trey Anastasio, and of the Halloween holiday), but in the end, it was a great show and a lot of fun, and Trey's new band is pretty awesome (Jeff would have enjoyed it, and would have kicked me in the butt if I hadn't gone to see it). Ivan Neville (of The Neville Brothers) sat in for part of the show, and there was a pretty cool horn section as well. They played a little Phish (I distinctly remember Heavy Things), but mostly new Trey stuff. It was all good, though, and the crowd (who were mostly dressed in crazy Halloween costumes) really got into it.
After the show we went to Opal Divine's to grab some food and ended up sitting outside in the midst of a particularly talentless (but perdiodically hilarious) display of drunken, costumed Halloween karaoke. The Whiskeetos were in rare form, and Elf Rami treated us all to a rare birthday performance of an interpretive dance set to "What a Feelin'" from the Flashdance soundtrack. The performance was made even more memorable by Rami's "pregnant, drunk Britney Spears" costume and by the fact that the version of "What a Feelin'" that Rami danced to was sort of howled out by some drunken idiot on the karaoke stage.
Anyway, we were out late and I'm tired today, but it was well worth it.
Today is Dia De Los Muertos (i.e., The Day of the Dead). In Mexico, people gather to tell stories of their dead family and friends and to celebrate a kinship with the deceased through the display of colorful, ornate calavera (skulls) and calacas (skeletons). Holiday foods are prepared and eaten, with small amounts left as offerings for the dead. Parades, prayers, dances, and other rituals are observed. This holiday seems a little bizarre to most Americans at first glance, but the more you think about it, the more it kind of makes sense. It's meant to take some of the pain and hurt out of death, and to be a time when people can feel closer to the people that they've lost.
Anyway, I'm not about to go out and start formally celebrating The Day of the Dead, but I sure thought about Jeff a lot last night during that Trey show. And it was a good time. We had fun. I guess all I'm saying is that maybe those Mexicans are onto something.....

The Trey show was really good!! Rami had a good birthday!! I'm going to sleep now.....