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.