Sunday, April 30, 2006

Friday night I went to see Thank You for Smoking at the Alamo with Kim and Jennifer. They seemed nonplussed (and Jennifer was downright disappointed), but after having already perused a fairly negative April 18th review by Crackbass on Nanostalgia, my expectations were pretty low, and I ended up enjoying the movie (funny how a negative review ended up helping me to enjoy the movie more than I might have otherwise). I think that some of the reasons Crackbass didn't like the movie were some of the same reasons I liked it. Crackbass didn't think the movie emphasized the harmful effects of tobacco enough, but I was glad that I didn't have to sit there and get beat over the head with an anti-tobacco campaign for 2 hours. Crackbass thought they should have spent more time explaining why someone would choose to be a tobacco lobbyist, but I found it kind of refreshing that the main character didn't spend the whole movie agonizing over his chosen career. The guy was a lobbyist who was earning a lot of money advocating for a product which is legally sold and distributed in our country. The guy was a smoker (or at least he was through the first half of the movie), and he seemed to think his strongest professional skill was in making arguments.
Anyway, I think Crackbass was looking for a movie with a morality tale regarding the evils of the tobacco industry, but instead he got a morality tale about the hypocrisy of a country which refuses to simply outlaw cigarettes, but which then demonizes the people who provide the supply for our country's demand (although the movie was savvy and self aware enough not to go so far as to try to garner pity for the main character- he is of course working for an industry which contributes to the death of millions). Arguments regarding addiction aside, smoking is ultimately a choice that people make, and I think that the outrage expressed toward the cigarette industry is spawned largely by the guilt of a country which can't seem to give up a habit that we know is killing us. The guilty pleasure is trumping logic. The main protagonist in this movie just seemed to be able to simultaneously understand the ideas that 1) smoking is bad for people and 2) that people have the right to enjoy and indulge in something which is likely to ultimately hurt them. There are arguments to be made about marketing schemes used by big tobacco and teen smoking and so forth, but nowadays cigarette companies have mostly admitted that their products are harmful and have gone so far as to sponsor anti-smoking campaigns. At what point is the burden of responsibility going to actually be shifted to the consumers? Because as long as cigarette companies are still allowed to sell their products and amke a profit, they're going to continue to do so and to have spokespeople to help them with their considerable image problems....

Annyhoo, after the movie I caught up with the Wilsons and Feral Andy and Elf Rami for some cocktails by the pond. It was good to see them, and we hung out and waited for storms to arrive until I couldn't stay awake anymore and gave up (the storms didn't show up until like 3:00 a.m., I guess).

Saturday I took Cassidy to the Barton Springs spillover. Cassidy loves the water and other dogs, and it was about the greatest thing in the world for her. She swam and I swam and then we went home after an hour or so.
At home, I got a call from Crackbass and wandered over to his house. His pops, Genghis Don, was at the house, and they were drinking beer, which was a plan I could get onboard with.


So we sat out back and drank beers and flipped through a music catalogue, ogling the guitars, and then talked about music, airplane companies with corporate jets, the oil industry, and the usefulness of barbecue chimneys. Later, The Pea and Jajuan returned from the weiner dog races in Buda and there was delicious barbecue with mashed potatoes and some kind of bacon-flavored brussel sprouts.






Later, after Don and Jajuan had made their exit we called up Ellie "The Gamler" Gamble to try to entice her into joining us for some drinking and game-playing tomfoolery, but she declined. Mostly because she hates us.










Shortly after our Ellie rejection, the conversation took a few turns and The Pea learned that Beck is a Scientologist.

Having dropped this headscratcher on The Pea, I headed for home....









..... to curl up in my bed and dream of life as an overfed, big ol' fat koi in the Wilson's pond......

Friday, April 28, 2006

For those of you who are inclined, there's a good article in the N.Y. Times about homicide statistic in N.Y.C.. I'm not going to really review it here, but it's an interesting article about trends regarding who's doing the killing and who's being killed in New York, and I think some of the trends can be extrapolated across the country (Steanso minored in sociology/criminology in college and is kind of interested in this kind of stuff).
The Commerce Department announced today that the U.S. economy showed marked growth in the first quarter of this year. Great. Kickass. According to the Labor Department, employee compensation packages are slightly shrinking. The rich get richer and everyone else just keeps struggling along to support them. Welcome to economic boom under the Republicans.

Last night I had dinner with Team Wilson as well as Kate and Judy. Kate is currently undergoing some kind of cleansing regimen during which she is subsisting on a diet of water, honey, pepper, some kind of syrup, and lemon for about two to three weeks ("Until I feel cleansed..."). Crazy. I think that if someone were to abduct me and force me to live on such a diet I would report it to Amnesty International as torture and inhumane treatment upon my release.
I also rocked out with Crackbass and Feral Andy over at the Hop-a-Long Lounge. We had some hits and some misses. I've noticed that whenever we have to resort to actually trying to figure out which notes we're playing with Crack it usually means that things have begun to go awry ("I said play a C, damnit! It's a C!!!!!!). We had some good jams, though, and some strong grooves. Crackbass almost played a Gorillaz song. Almost.
My dad (that's The Admiral to you kids) is on a whirlwind tour of his company's domestic facilities this week. He's been gone to Canada, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, and possibly other places I can't think of. I think he gets back to H-Town tonight. My mom had a good Field Day, and although he's a good athlete, that Jimmy Junious still can't follow directions.

That's it for now. Have a good weekend!!!

Thursday, April 27, 2006

In light of the current anger and frustration of American consumers over gasoline taxes, Bush has once again managed to turn logic on its head and make things even worse. On Tuesday Bush ordered a cessation in the replenishment of the nation's oil reserve (meant to be set aside in case of a true emergency involving the country's oil supply) and urged that enviromental regulations and clean air rules be waived for American oil producers, allegedly so that oil could be refined more quickly and easily and be made available more readily to American consumers. The White House was unable to say what kind of an impact they hoped to see these measures having on gas prices, with the president only stating, "Every little bit helps". You know what else helps? When you try to discourage price gouging instead of giving tax breaks to the most profitable industry in the country.
These measures come at a time when oil companies continue to post record profits, with profits form the first quarter of this year totalling more than $16 billion, a figure up more than 19% from last year. In another bit of brilliant strategizing, Bush has suggested that perhaps the $2 billion tax break which the oil companies got from the federal government last year might need to be repealed.
C'mon, people? Is anyone really surprised that Cheney and the Bush White House are screwing the American in favor of big oil? Does anyone else remember Cheney's closed-door, secret, hush-hush White House meetings with representatives from the big oil companies and their lobbyists back in 2001 when he was forming the Bush administration's energy policy under the rubric of the National Energy Policy Development Group? Initially the general Accounting Office and later a government watchdog group, Judicial Watch, tried to get minutes and records from the meetings of this National Energy Policy Development Group, but were denied access due to White House secrecy policies and the use of laws which protect meetings held solely by federal officials (which is pretty much bullsh*t, as documents obtained by The Washington Post indicated that representatives from Conoco, Exxon, Shell, and BP America- all clearly not federal officials- were present at meeting of this energy policy group).
All I'm saying is that we were screwed from the beginning. The White House has been working with the oil companies from the start, and now those oil companies are posting record profits while gasoline prices go through the roof. Bush also promised that access to Iraqi oil reserves following our invasion would help to finance the war, and those predictions have fallen by the wayside along with countless other broken promises and lies made to us by this administration. Meanwhile, Bush is planning on tearing up our wildlife refuges and and relaxing enviromental and health standards set for the oil companies in the interest of producing cheaper oil? Something is very, very wrong here, folks. We shouldn't have to allow companies that are posting record profits to poison our air in order to bring us an affordable product.
I'm all tuckered out from ranting.
Mandy made Mexican casserole last night, and it was very good. Daisy, the wiener dog belonging to Crackbass's ma and pa, is visiting Casa De Wilson, and she is very cute (although, yes, yes, Max and Lucy are cute, too). Down in Spring, Texas, my mom (aka, "The Karebear") is hosting Field Day today for her elementary school class. Hope Kaiser Elementary is getting the great weather that we're experiencing here.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

CNN reported today that the CIA has been making illegal flights through European airspace, transporting foreign prisoners to undisclosed locations around the globe in a process referred to as rendition. The process typically involves the transfer of individuals into U.S. custody by foreign governments, followed by the relocation of these individuals to other countries (typically third world countries with little humanitarian oversight) where the individuals can be imprisoned, interrogated, and sometimes tortured without review. Rendition involves the transfer of people from one country to another in a way which bypasses all administrative and judicial due process. The CIA has engaged in the practice of hiring private aviation companies or setting up "front" corporations in order to mask its activities. The practice is theoretically used by the CIA in order to avoid what it refers to as "red tape", but their "red tape", in truth, typically amounts to laws protecting human rights and civil liberties, and requirements that flights involving the transfer of prisoners through foreign airspace be reported.
Amnesty International has been monitoring and protesting U.S. rendition practices for some time, and has documented cases where individuals have been seized and transferred to other countries where they have faced years worth of interrogation, detention, and torture without ever being formally charged with any terrorism-related crime. The U.S. continues to deny that anything illegal is occurring, but the secrecy surrounding the program belies its tradition of civil rights abuses.
Anyway, Steanso has been reading about this rendition issue through Amnesty International for awhile now, and it really bugs me (just one more example of the "might makes right" mentality of our current administration- and hopefully not our country as a whole). When I saw CNN reporting that the EU is now investigating the practice, it seemed like as good a time as any to vent about it. The whole idea of being snatched by some foreign govenrment and flown halfway around the world to face imprisonment and possible torture without ever even standing trial or having a hearing seems kind of deplorable to me, but I guess that's just the wild-eyed liberal in me again. Stupid U.S.
What else? Dinner and Battlestar Galactica last night with Crackbass and Jackbart. Crackbass made some chicken and mushroom something (which was good), and Jackbart brought some wine (which was also good). I mostly brought some personality and fun to the occasion.
That's it for now. More updates if events warrant.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

So Bush's approval ratings are at an all time low, with only about a third of the country reporting that they are satisfied with the way that he's handling his job. Even Fox News ran a report on Friday which admitted that Bush's approval rating had sunk to around 33 percent, a record low for the president (and you can bet that they pretty much choked on that information, given the fact that Fox News has typically been nothing but a PR machine for the Bush administration). Less than half of the country now reports that they find the president to be trustworthy or a strong and decisive leader. Analysts attribute much of the dissatisfaction to the ongoing war and rising gas prices. Steanso is willing to bet that the release of the latest Bin Laden tape isn't helping matters either.
Anyway, let's hope that the Democrats can take advantage of these sagging numbers and win some congressional seats in November.
Speaking of the Fox News PR machine, Fox anchor Tony Snow is apparently being considered for the job of White House press secretary. Snow was apparently a speech writer for Bush's father back in 1991. Why don't they just get the whole thing over with and move Fox News into the West Wing? They're already a propaganda machine (not only was there now follow up on that anomolous article about Bush's low approval ratings, but the article itslef was hard to find within Fox's archived database, even though the article was run as recently as last Friday). I never understood how Fox News could be taken seriously as an objective news source, anyway. I mean, c'mon. Geraldo Rivera and Bill O'Reilly as credible news sources?

Steanso doesn't have much to report on the home front. Last night he just watched 24 and did some reading. Hope everyone is having a good day.

I retrospect, this has been a pretty lame post, but Steanso is feeling kind of weird today. If Crackbass got me sick he's getting a beatdown.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Well, the weekend flew by entirely too quickly for Steanso's liking, Adventurers. Saturday was the magical, mystical trip to Krause Springs, and sunday Steanso did some housework and took Cassidy to the dog park before the guys showed up for Mono E practice at my house. Practice was pretty darn good. We sounded pretty tight on most of our stuff, and Frank even showed up for practice.
In the ongoing trial of accused terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui, the defense team once again was put in a bizarre position, arguing to the jury that Moussaoui should be sentenced to "the long, slow death of a common criminal" rather than the relatively quick death that Moussaoui would receive through the death penalty and a subsequent execution. Death, the defense explained, would only grant martyrdom to Moussaoui, and thus fulfill the deluded fantasies that he has of himself as a holy warrior. The prosecution, for its part, spoke of the fact that Moussaoui rejoiced in the suffering and grisly deaths of the 911 victims (an assertion which Moussaoui reportedly nodded his head to in agreement) and implored the jury to put the defendant to death since "there is no place on earth for [him]".
You know that you're in some deep sh*t as a defense attorney when your best argument is that the jury should give your client life because that's the best way to torment him and crush his dreams.
The crazy thing is, I think there's a bit of the ring of truth to defense counsel's argument. If Moussaoui is executed by the government, I believe that he will become a symbol and a martyr for fanatics within the Muslim extremist movement. He will become a symbol of an enemy so dangerous and powerful that the federal government had no choice but to execute him in order to prevent him from doing further harm. If you let him just linger in a federal maximum security prison, he'll eventually die as an impotent, de-clawed animal that has been crushed by the system. As a martyr he may inspire others (I know that this martyrdom possibility just seems crazy to most Westerners, but I think that the inability to see this man as a potential symbol represents a shortcoming of the Western mind).
What else? Guillermo Gonzales joined Jennifer and Kim and I for lunch today. Guillermo is cool because he used to work as a prosecutor in New York and knows a lot about the city and also because he always knows the exact, perfect moment to throw the word "motherf*%ker" into a conversation for maximum effect.
Gotta jet. Be good or be fast.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

I already took Cassidy to the dog park this morning and mowed the front yard. Now I gotta go work out.
Remember this guy? It just strikes me as absolutely absurd that we've been in a war for several years now in Iraq and that we're threatening Iran, and yet Osama Bin Laden is still out there running around and making tapes that threaten to do further harm to the U.S. Given their preoccupation with catching boogeymen and the terrorists that are supposedly lurking around every corner, you would just think that the U.S. would do more to apprehend the one individual who actually helped claim responsibility for helping to fund and plan the 9/11 attacks. I just don't understand why we can't find this guy. I guess our policy of opposing any government which harbors terrorists doesn't apply when we're dealing with Pakistan (and there seem to be similar loopholes in our policies regarding nuclear nonproliferation when it comes to that country as well). As long as the military dictator who's in power is friendly with our administration, I guess that their country gets a pass. Even when the most notorious terrorist in history is most likely hidden within their borders.

Saturday, April 22, 2006


I went to Krause Springs out in Spicewood today with Team Bloom, Team Wilson, and the lovely and talented Ellie "The Gambler" Gamble. It's a really nice place to spend the day and just do some serious floating. The springs are about 70 degrees and flow pretty steadily year round. We're told that the water in the swimming hole is usually clearer, but the recent rainstorms had washed quite a bit of sediment into the water. Very pretty place, with some very cool water. Posted by Picasa

We set up Camp X-Ray, and got the floats ready to float.... Posted by Picasa

.... and hit the water!!!! Posted by Picasa

Crackbass makes lunch. Posted by Picasa

If you were an Elgin sausage at our barbeque, this would be the last thing you would see.... Posted by Picasa




Here's Crackbass chillin' by a waterfall and Sig and
Crackbass loitering near the spring-fed pool. Posted by Picasa


Anyway, I think we all had a good time at Krause Springs and I would definitely go back again sometime. One of the good things about hanging out with Crackbass is that he has an abundance (sometimes an overabundance) of energy, and he drags me out to do stuff that I might otherwise have forgotten that I enjoy. This weekend's lesson is a reminder that it's good to get out of the city and into the hill country (or any of the more rural areas surrounding Austin). There are still some pretty amazing places close by, and these flights back to a more natural enviroment are just good for the soul. Here endeth the lesson.

Friday, April 21, 2006

I've known plenty of lawyers who felt like they were dying up there in front of the jury during a rough trial, but Tom Farris, a 57 year old defense attorney in Raleigh, North Carolina, actually dropped dead of a heart attack while trying a DWI case. That sucks. I hope Tom enjoyed being a defense attorney, since that's where he spent his final hours. At any rate, we here at The Adventures salute you Mr. Farris. Laywers are kind of their own subculture to begin with, and then attorneys who work in criminal law are kind of an insular subsection of the larger legal community, and criminal defense attorneys are a group which is even one step farther removed from the overall criminal law community (which includes judges and prosecutors, obviously). Nobody understands criminal defense attorneys like other criminal defense attorneys (other defense attorneys being some of the only people who don't constantly ask, "How can you do that for a living?"). Even though I'm a prosecutor now, as a former defense attorney I honor the passing of a member of the brotherhood who went down in the line of duty, but hopefully doing a job that he took some pride in and enjoyed. Via con dios, Tom Farris.
AMD finally got the go ahead to start construction on their new facility at southwest Parkway and William Cannon drive. The project has been contested by Save Our Springs, which is upset about the new facility being built on the Edwards Aquifer recharge zone and also about the fact that they think AMD snuck their building permits in under older, enviromentally looser building codes than currently required by city ordinances.
Steanso has some mixed feeling on this, but I guess I think it's ok (although I may still be being duped). AMD has reacted to the opposition by SOS by taking significant measures to make their facility enviromentally friendly (they are including large amounts of unimproved land and a really big rainwater reclamation system, for example). Of course, they may still secretly be getting ready to screw us, but since they seem to be in Austin for the long haul, I don't find that very likely. My basic feeling (as frequently articulated by Weedo, an AMD employee) is that sooner or later there's going to be some kind of development in that area, so we might as well had the job over to some people who are going to make an effort to have as minimal an impact on the enviroment as possible (which is what AMD's PR machine would have us believe is going on now). Anyway, the new facility will give Weedo a shorter commute as well, and we all want a happier Weedo.
What else? We had a three man Crack practice last night (the power trio of Sigmund, Crackbass, and myself) and had a good time. Sigmund had some equipment difficulties with the trombone, but we got them mostly ironed out. We also hung out and listened to the new Mono album, which Crackbass and Sig seemed to enjoy.
Well, that's it. Have a super awesome kickass weekend!!!!!!!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Steanso is pretty busy today, kids. Last night I had a delicious dinner of meatloaf and macaroni and cheese which was prepared by Jajuan, ohterwise known as "Jeff's Mommy" (Crackbass's blog describes it as 4 cheese macaroni and cheese, but this is incorrect- the magical 4 cheese variety is thus far only prepared by the Pea. Crackbass isn't paying attention). Anyway, the food was great and I met Susan, a friend of the Wilsons. She seemed very nice and generally tolerated our antics pretty well. Watched some more Battlestar Galactica with Crackbass and Jackbart.
Not time for more right now. Maybe more later.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Well, last night we finally got a bit of Ryan, but not nearly enough. Crackbass and Jackbart and I had gathered at Casa de Wilson so that Crackbass could grill us up some grub, and we watched in excitement as giant, purple clouds raced toward us across the radar map and lightning arced across the sky until... nothing. The first round of clouds broke up almost entirely before reaching us. We got a couple of drops. We caught a bit of rain off the second round of clouds, but nothing like the multi-inch rainfall totals and hailstorms that we had been promised. Damn. We need that water for Steanso's trees. And tubing. Especially for tubing.
Crackbass' Blogo De Wilson seems to be going fairly well. As advertised, it offers some interesting insights into the mind of Crackbass.
For those of you who have never hosted a blog, they can be very odd things. People may become offended or upset about things on that you post on the blog which you don't even realize are all that controversial. Sometimes you may be inundated with comments or criticisms, while other times you can't seem to squeeze a peep out of your readers (pathetically, I've discovered that personally, I'm just a whore for attention- I'd rather have people berate me in the comments section than not post at all. Just so long as they keep reading). Blogging also leads to some revelations about yourself. When you feel compelled to write something almost every day, you find yourself typing opinions and ideas that you didn't even know you had.
Maybe the most interesting thing about the blog is that it's a place where all kinds of different people from different areas of your life come together (in a hopefully semi-harmonious fashion). Weedo's mom has been known to read the blog from time to time as well as my uncle (although never of them ever post comments, darn it) and these people, via the magic of the blog, get to rub elbows with people like Crackbass. Friends from high school (like Cobra and Diva) share words with my brother (The League) and friends that I have made much more recently (like Sigmund, Jackbart, and Lunch). It's a weird melting pot, but a fun one.
I know that sometimes the blog gets a little stale, but you gotta hang in there through the slow times to be there for the fun ones. Such is the nature of blogging.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Vince Young visited with the Minnesota Vikings on Monday? I guess it's still pretty unlikely that Vince would end up being drafted to the Vikes, but maybe they're interested in a trade or something? I don't know, and I don't really understand the logistics of how this would work. All I know is that the idea is weird. How will Weedo handle it if Vince goes to Minnesota (being both a die hard Vikings fan and a die hard Aggie)? I guess Weedo will adapt (probably pretty darn quickly if Vince performs well in the NFL). Anyhoo, probably still a long shot, but you never know....
And more sabre rattling from Bush in regard to Iran's nuclear program. The U.S. continues to strongly oppose the development of Iran's nuclear program- a program which Iran maintains is for strictly peaceful, energy producing purposes but which the U.S. suspects of developing weapons. Bush promised to keep "all options on the table" in combatting the advancement of Iran's nuclear program, which seemed to include the possibility of war (either nuclear or conventional).
The weak point in America's diplomatic position would probably be the fact that the U.S. is in possession of over 67,000 nuclear missiles , leaving it sounding just a wee bit hypocritical when we tell other countries that they can't develop nuclear power and/or weapons. And given the way that most of the middle east (and much of the world) views the war/occupation in Iraq, many in the global community might argue that Iran is justified in developing a nuclear weapon system so that it might defenend itself against foreign invaders.
Steanso finds the whole thing perplexing and a wee bit scary. Maybe the U.N. will help. I doubt it. More rolling blackouts predicted for today.
Hooray! More premature ACL Fest excitement. It looks like the Shins have been added to the ACL Fest lineup (judging by the ACL Fest link on their website to the ACL Fest 2006 lineup). Steanso has a tremendous fondness for The Shins and includes them amongst the best shows that he's ever seen at ACL!

Monday, April 17, 2006

Remember when I said I found our recent weather patterns troubling yesterday, but I didn't want to sound like an alarmist? Well..... ALARM!!!!! 97 degrees today and rolling blackouts. I don't want to overstate things, but we're probably in the end times.
Hope ya'll had a happy Easter.
Let's see. What's in the news today? Another Republican crashes and burns in a corruption scandal (this one would be former governor George Ryan of Illinois, who was convicted of trading state contracts in exchange for presents and cash for himself, family, and friends). Republicansd have always been a slippery bunch in Steanso's opinion, but the corruption that we've seen coming to light in the last couple of years has begun to reach almost epidemic proportions.
Here's something that Steanso is worried about, although it has no real bearing on any particular news event of the day. Steanso is worried that the Democratic nominee for the next presidential election will be Hillary Clinton. Steanso has no particularly negative feelings about Hillary, personally, but Steanso believes that Hillary rubs a lot of people the wrong way, and that she is particularly grating to many conservatives. The Democrats need to seize votes from a lot of middle-of-the-road swing voters. and for whatever reason, I think that Hillary jusr irks a lot of non-democrats (I think a lot of people are repelled by what they see as naked ambition on Hillary's part, especially the more conservative types who were annoyed with the active, involved role that she took within her husband's administration, her willingness to stay married to Bill after the Lewinsky debacle, and the fact that she successfully ran for the U.S. Senate in New York, despite the fact that she was not a native New Yorker). Anyway, I think that the most surefire way for the Democrats to throw away their chances during the next presidential election would be to run Hillary for president. She's too devisive.
Oh well. We've got mid term elections to worry about first, and those elections could change the entire nation's political landscape long before we get to the presidential election.
Vote Kinky for Texas Governor in 2006!!!!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Blogo De Wilson

Hey. Late evening post after a tasty nacho dinner at Casa de Wilson and some pond-side toad watching. Just wanted to let everyone know that Crackbass is kicking off a blog on his own site, Blogo De Wilson. Apparently this is a relaunch after having had a prior blog that he has subsequently been taken down (which I only learned about after the fact). Anyway, everyone go over and check out Crackbass's site and wish him well as he launches! You all know you want to see this thing work. A peek into the mind of Crackbass? Who can resist checking that out....

Happy Easter!!!

Well, I hope everyone is having/has had a happy Easter! The Admiral and Karebear have been here for the last couple of days, and we had a jolly visit. We ate very well and drank good wine and entertained Cassidy. I'm proud to say that I talked the Admiral into watching Escape from New York on Saturday afternoon (which is one of those quintessential Saturday afternoon movies- not very good, really, but somehow kinda fun and pretty much required viewing) while the Karebear ran an errand or two. We took Cassidy to the dog park yesterday and went to church this morning for Easter service before the parents toodled back toward Houston.
Ninety five degrees in Austin today. More record high temperatures and our drought continues. I don't want to sound like an alarmist, but given all of the talk of global warming, I find our recent weather patterns kind of troubling.
Anyway, I just hope that everyone is having a happy holiday!!!!!

Friday, April 14, 2006

Well, Steanso is doing some lunchtime blogging today since he doesn't actually have time to go anywhere to eat before he has to go back to court. Easter weekend is upon us, and if everything is going according to plan, The Admiral and the Karebear (those would be Steanso's parental units to those who don't already know and love them) should be motoring toward Austin in the family truckster as I write this. I'm not sure what we'll do this weekend, but it's bound to be an Easter jubilee!
Last night I had dinner at the newly remodeled Central Market Cafe by my house (with The Pea and Crackbass). I just had a simple sausage and pepperoni pizza, but it was very good. They've done away with all of their outdoor seating at the cafe, which I found to be a very odd choice, since previously there always seemed to be plenty of seating for both indoor and outdoor customers (and I liked having a choice). Also, now that there will be no more outdoor seating, I'm told that the live music which the cafe used to host on Friday nights will be limited to singer-songwriters and small ensembles. I guess the blues, jazz, and rock bands which used to play there are a thing of the past (also kind of disappointing), and that they won't be hosting their cookouts on the outdoor grill, with cheap burgers and beers on summer evenings (yet another disappointment). The sodas that they're offering on the new soda fountain have changed (which sucks, because I used to like the old selection of Stewart's products), and last night there was a long line for ordering which moved slowly. Other than that, eveything's great! (seriously, though, they've added a lot of new menu items that I haven't tried and a breakfast menu which looked pretty good, so despite my whining, there may be some very good things about the new cafe that I have yet to experience)
And has anyone watched That 70's Show this year? I watched an episode last night while I was whirling away on my elliptical machine, and the whole thing just seemed bizarre and kind of sad. I used to love that show (I thought they actually pulled off a pretty damn funny coming of age story with a group of friends that actually seemed to enjoy each other's company), but it has jumped the shark in a horrific fashion. The plot has become nonsensical, and the lead character (Eric Foreman) has simply left the show (supposedly for the Peace Corps in Africa), although his ex girlfriend and all of his other friends continue to hang out with his parents at his house? With Topher Grace off the show and Ashton Kutcher making only periodic appearances, this show should have been cancelled quite a while back. Sometimes when you love something, it's better to just put it out of it's misery.
Gotta run. Lunch is over.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

It's completely ridiculous to be getting excited about this this early, but tickets went on sale for ACL Fest today, and Steanso already bought a couple. What can you say? I've never had anything less than a really good time at the festival (even when the temperatures reached a record 108 degrees last year, so that's saying something). I'm kind of pissed that the festival organizers moved the festival a week earlier this year (I wanted it to move a week later in order to help with the chances for cooler weather), but let's all just keep our fingers crossed and pray for clouds. According to an incredibly reliable source (i.e., Jeff "Crackbass" Wilson), the Flaming Lips are already scheduled to play ACL Fest this year and Radiohead is rumored to be in negotiations to play. anyhoo, everyone go out and get yourself some tickets while they're still only $90 for a three day pass. The more friends that are there, the more fun it is.

In other news, Zacarias Moussaoui took the stand at his own death penalty trial today in order to denounce his defense team and state that he had not been adequately or properly represented in his terrorism/conspiracy case. Moussaoui stated that he had repeatedly asked for a Muslim attorney, and that he didn't think his current defense team could properly assist him, partially because his defense attorneys were only interested in building fame for themselves and also because one of the defense attorneys was a Jew. Steanso's heart goes out to the Moussaoui defense team. During his tenure as a defense attorney, Steanso dealt with a number of disgruntled, frustrated, desperate, court-appointed clients who accused him of things ranging from general incompetence, to collusion with the prosecutors, to being a "white devil". Steanso's experience is that most criminal defendants turn on their attorneys only as a last ditch effort to avoid responsibility when they are facing some kind of particularly nasty outcome. First defendants will blame other parties (i.e., "the dope belonged to that other guy", or "my girlfriend started the fight and I was just defending myself"), and then blame the prosecutors or the cops, then the judge, and finally, when all else fails, their defense counsel. I guess they figure that they can portray themselves as innocent victims who have been railroaded by a corrupt system, and perhaps gain sympathy with a judge or a jury.
The role of criminal defense attorney can often be a thankless one, and sadly, some of these defendants who turn against their attorneys do so on the cases where their attorneys are working at their hardest for their clients, often in cases where the client is facing an extremely difficult case and where the attorneys are waging an uphill battle. The client panics, realizing that they face difficult odds at trial and possibly a harsh sentence if they are convicted, and they try to turn the attention away from their own misconduct and toward the performance of their lawyer. In cases where the attorney is court appointed, his client may start out with a predisposition toward being suspicious of his lawyer in the first place (many clients don't trust lawyers who are paid by the same system which pays the judges and the prosecutors- they feel that the main objective of court appointed lawyers is merely to clear cases rather than to act in the best interest of their client. Sadly, this is occasionally true).
Anyway, I just heard about this recent rant by Moussaoui and it made me shake my head in sympathy for those poor ol' defense lawyers. I don't know any of them personally in any way, but I would bet a good chunk of change that they're working their butts off to try to save that ungrateful S.O.B..

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

more Roundball B-day nonsense

I thought that today, this being my brother's birthday, I would share a few of my fonder memories of growing up with Ryan "Roundball" Steans.
One of my earliest memories involving Roundball deals with a time when he was just a toddler, and I hoisted him up onto the moving, rubber railing on the escalator at Sears (or maybe it was Penny's- I don't recall). Mom was checking out at the perfume counter or something, and Ryan and I were standing near the escalator, and with just a wee little boost Roundball took flight and travelled up a two or three story escalator on his stomach, his pudgy little arms clinging to the handrail. Mom started kind of screaming once she realized what was going on (in her defense, Roundball was looking at potentially a three story drop if he had let go of the railing), and soon every employee in the store was watching as a smiling, untroubled Roundball travelled all the way up the escalator, only to be retrieved by some guy from electronics up on three when he got to the top of the ride. I'm pretty sure that I was filled with nothing but pried for my brother as I watched him travel all the way to the top. Who would have guessed that he could hold on so long? Anyway, no harm no foul, right? Wrong. I got paddled.
Another fond memory comes from the name Roundball itself. Growing up, Ryan was rarely content to be Ryan. At dinner, from the time that he was a very small child, Ryan regularly complained to my father about the mundanity of his own existence. And he came up with odd, alternate versions of himself that he thought might be a better way to go than the path that fate had chosen for him. He regularly bemoaned the fact that he wasn't black, or named Jesse, or maybe black and named Jesse. He told my father about how he wanted to join the Marines when he grew up because everyone knew that the Marines were tough and that the Air Force was full of sissies (my dad being an Air Force veteran), and on several occasions it seems that he professed a desire to grow up and do "real work" like Grandpa Johnson did down in the iron ore mines rather than sitting behind a desk all day like the Admiral.
So, like many suburban kids, Ryan played soccer, and after he had been practicing with a team for a few weeks we went to one of Ryan's first soccer games of the season (when he was still very young and in grade school), and everyone on the team, including the coach, is cheering Ryan on as "Roundball". My dad (and as I'm writing this, I'm beginning to realize what a patient man my father is) asked the coach why they were calling him Roundball, and the well-intentioned coach responded with something along the lines of, "Well, we know Roundball is just his nickname. We can call him Clyde if you like."
"Call him what?"
"Clyde. He goes by Clyde, right?"
"Uh..... sure."
When asked about the different names later, Ryan never seemed to think it was much of a big deal. My brother, somewhere around age 6 or 7, had already developed a set of multiple identities in order to cover his tracks and obscure his true identity, I guess in case he didn't feel like playing soccer anymore and decided to split. Or maybe he thought Clyde and Roundball were more interesting people than Ryan. I'm not sure, and he's never really cleared it up.

There are other stories.... in junior high or early high school Roundball and some of his friends put together a small comedy troupe calling themselves the Vegetable People. They recorded skits with video cameras, and I remember his friends coming over to the house with suitcases full of "hilarious" props, such as rubber replicas of severed limbs and various wigs. They would record videos for school projects that contained completely inappropriate, off-color material, including sexual innuendo and other decidedly non-PC material, and then they would turn it into their teachers and laugh and laugh and laugh when their grades came back and they got an A (the teachers would just be impressed that the videos mentioned the subject matter from their class, but, sadly, most of the teachers weren't clever enough to catch any of the jokes contained in the performances). Most of the videos were pretty damn funny, though.

Anyway, I could go on ad nauseum, but on this, Roundball's birthday, I just thought I'd share a little bit of the backstory on the person that I know as my brother. He's truly a one of a kind, nut, and he has always made my life far more interesting than it would have been without him.
MANY HAPPY RETURNS, ROUNDBALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ROUNDBALL!!!

In case I don't get a chance to post until late in the day tomorrow, I want to go ahead and wish my bouncing baby brother a happy birthday for tomorrow, April 12th!!! Although Ryan was what we call a "late bloomer", he's put the days of rubber sheets and protective helmets mostly behind him, and moved on to become a fairly interesting guy. Anyway, I send out a shout for mad birthday props!
In all honesty, Roundball's a pretty good brother when he's not busting my chops (and even when he's giving me a hard time, I probably wouldn't have it any other way), and I wish him a lot of happiness with the wife and the pooches out there in the desert on his birthday.
I wish you were here, man, and I wish the very happiest of birthdays to you!!!!!

-Jason
There was an article on CNN today about the recent mobilization of Hispanics as a political force in fighting against proposed immigration reforms (that would more severely limit or control the number of people entering the country). The article talks about Hispanic voters as a potentially powerful voting block, and it seems to indicate that the outcry arising over this immigration issue might provide an impetus for change in attitudes and voting practices within America's Hispanic community (currently there is very low voter turnout within the Hispanic community- a subsection of the population consisting of somewhere in the neighborhood of 40 million people, but apparently some are speculating that Hispanic political activism may be on the rise in the wake of these immigration protests). The article goes on to suggest that the Democratic party would no doubt be the biggest beneficiary of an increase in the turnout of Hispanic voters at the polls.
Steanso kinds of questions this assumption. For one thing, the Hispanic community has traditionally had deep religious and family roots. The Republicans have already done a pretty good job of convincing a lot of lower income people (who would seemingly have little to gain by voting Republican) that the Republican Party is much more religious and more well-aligned with the church than the Democratic Party. A large number of Americans have already traded in their chances for health care improvements, substantial education improvements, and general social welfare programs in exchange for a party that promises to fight abortion and push for prayer in public schools. Steanso thinks that the Republicans are going to get a lot of mileage in the Hispanic community out of the fact that the Republicans are prominently aligned with a large number of religious organizations and leaders.
Also, Steanso tends to think that the immigration issue is not going to be as clear-cut across party lines as this article would have you believe. I think that there will be Republicans who don't want a lot of immigration reform (mostly because cheap, illegal immigrant labor helps to support so many small businesses), and that there will be quite a few Democrats who are actually in favor of immigration reform (because they see the long-term economic and social hazards that allowing continued, unchecked immigration may pose).
Steanso also thinks that the Republicans' appeal to "family values" (which Steanso tends to actually see, typically, as an attack against free speech, gay rights, and any other positions which might threaten the Republicans' '50's era vision of the American family) as potentially resonating within the Hispanic community.
I don't know. Once again, writing about this stuff has given me a headache. All I'm trying to say is that I don't think that an increase in Hispanic voter turnout is necessarily going to amount to a huge boost for the Democrats. I guess time will tell.

We're supposed to have Crack practice tonight, but no word yet from the boys via the World Wide Web, so maybe no one's coming. If that happens, I will cry myself to sleep. Probably.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Steanso is tired today, despite the fact that it's early in the week. Court, distraught victims, and even some of my beloved fellow attorneys have begun to wear me down just a tad, I'm afraid.
The weekend was pretty good. I had band practice, took Cassidy to the dog park, went to Barton Springs, and slept a good deal. I also got pretty darn sunburnt (you think I would be old and smart enough to put on some sunscreen by now, but it was very nice on Sunday, and the cool breeze and the warm sun were a wicked combination).
My heartfelt sympathies go out to Sherri Tibbe (my court chief) who had one of her dogs pass away over the weekend. It's a very hard thing to go through. Our pets are one of those rare groups who we bond to very strongly and without emotional reservations or safeguards. Anyway, I'm sorry Tibbe.
Just can't blog. Maybe more later.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Well. it's still a work in progress, but here's a link to the Mono Ensemble page on MySpace that I've been working on. I initially told the band that I would hold off before posting our songs on there, but I think it'll be ok because: #1) I don't really think anyone is out there looking to steal our songs, #2) we already have discs of those songs with creation date material digitally encoded into the recordings, and #3) you can't download our songs off of this site anyway (because that's the way I have it set up). Anyway, enjoy the site. It has 4 of our songs, some pictures, and a little bit of band info. Eventually, hopefully, we'll post some information on the site regarding upcoming gigs (once we have some upcoming gigs). We should have CDs coming out within the next month or so. If you have a MySpace page of your own (or decide to make one), be sure to link us as one of your friends. We need all of the friends that we can get.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Well, Steanso had an interesting morning in court. Someone phoned in a bomb threat, and the courthouse had to be evacuated for an hour or so. The general consensus was that someone was trying to put the brakes on a trial that was going on up in felony court for some kid who shot and killed some other kid (sorry I can't be more specific, but I just don't know much about the case). The weather was pleasant outside, though, so as we were standing around waiting for the building to be checked, I got to catch up with some people that I haven't seen much since I started the new job. If we'd all had cocktails in our hands it would have felt more like a fundraiser or a happy hour party than a bomb scare.
Last night I watched an episode of Big Love with Crackbass. It's an HBO show about a polygamous family out in Utah, and although the episode that I watched didn't really go into any specifics regarding the religious beliefs of the main characters, it was implied that the protagonists had split off from an ultra-conservative Mormon sect (living out in the Utah hills) in order to move to the city and incorporate themselves into "normal" society.
Steanso tries to be pretty open minded about just letting people live their lives in any way that they see fit, but for some reason this show just kind of bugged me. I'm honestly not sure why it bugged me, but it did. I've seen a couple of news magazine shows about polygamist groups out in Utah, and I think that maybe some of the things that I'd seen on those programs made me feel uneasy about the whole thing (including the assertion that many woman who are involved in polygamist marriages become involved in such relationships because they are paired off with and "introduced to" their prospective husbands at a very early age- often 13 or 14- with their husbands being much older than they are).
But even if these women were adults when they were making the decision to enter these relationships, I think the whole thing would still make me uneasy.
And I'm not sure why. These are other people's lives and their decisions regarding family dynamics and how to live should really be none of my concern.
But it bugs me. Maybe it's the whole one-sided nature of the power structure of polygamous relationships, with multiple women vying for the attention and support of a single man, or maybe it's the fact that I just can't imagine anyone being truly happy in such a situation unless they had undergone some serious religious indoctrination (probably rising to the level of brainwashing, in my opinion), but for whatever reason, I don't like it. I'm not saying that people shouldn't be allowed to live this way if this is how they choose to exist, but I'm saying that personally, I'm not a fan of the lifestyle. Rubs me the wrong way. And this show kind of bugged me in that it kind of tries to show us how seemingly normal polygamy can be. But until I see just as many polygamist families forming with three husbands for everyone wife, I just don't see anything fair or healthy about the structure of these family units. If people are truly happy this way, though, am I being small minded? Not sure. Maybe.
I hope everyone has a great weekend! Shrug off the shackles of your air conditioners (they're making you soft) and go visit the world for a little while. The sun is not your enemy.
One more reason to like Austin..... (an impromptu pillow fight at Auditorium Shores drew about 200 participants yesterday after being hyped on the internet and by word of mouth).

Thursday, April 06, 2006

I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby has apparently told prosecutors that President Bush had authorized him to leak certain classified information prior to his meeting with New York Times reporter Judith Miller (in which CIA operative Valerie Plame's identity was leaked). Bush is thought to have given the authorization in order to help combat mounting criticism from U.S. Ambassador Jospeh Wilson (and others) regarding the Bush administration's failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq (especially after using the existence of such weapons as a central reason for the U.S. invasion). It is not clear that Bush specifically authorized the leak of Valerie Plame's CIA affiliation, but the revelation that he authorized the leak of any classified information during the Plame Affair remains somewhat shocking in the face of the tough stance which the Bush White House has taken against the leaking of classified informaton and in light of the fact that Bush has remained silent on this matter while Judith Miller spent over 80 days in jail protecting the identity of Scooter Libby , and in light of the fact that Mr. Libby, himself, now faces indictments carrying penalties amounting to up to 30 years in prison.
Critics of the president have already jumped on this, with Howard Dean stating the president's declassification of sensitive materials for political gain demonstrates the fact that the president's true allegiance lies with his party and himself rather than with his constituents.
Steanso agrees with Howard Dean, and not for the first time. Steanso is also not surprised to learn that the president engaged in such foolish, petty behavior in order to strike out at his adversaries, but then his behind his subordinates when it came time for an accounting regarding the leaks. Hubris. It's our word of the day, Adventurers. For those of you who are scratching your heads, hubris is a word of Greek origin meaning exaggerated pride or self confidence. Hubris is the common trait possessed by many central characters of Greek tradgedy, and it invariably leads to their downfall. Willful pride. Underestimation of one's enemies and the obstacles one faces. A belief in one's own infallibility.
Steanso believes that we have a man sitting in the office of Commander in Chief who uses the powers of that office to satisfy his own personal whims and petty vendettas rather than for the benefit of the people that he is sworn to serve. Perhaps all presidents have engaged in such behavior to some extent, but Steanso believes that few of them have abused their power as consistently, repeatedly, and exclusively as George W. Bush. Bush believes his actions to be above reproach or consequence, and so far, sadly, this "might makes right" mentality has served him fairly well.

In other news, Crack practice last night went very well, I thought. Lots of long, drawn out, trance-inducing grooves, cause that's where we are right now. It's good. Crackbass has really begun to find his niche in holding down rhythms and building foundations, and Feral Andy and Sig have gotten pretty good at producing some interesting melodies and playing together. We've still got rough patches, but we're having more hits than misses these days, and that's something. Overall, we're talking to each other pretty well in a musical sense, and the tunes are still taking me out of my own head, so that's a very good sign.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Well, it's hump day. Crack practice is tonight, which is a good thing since we've been laying idle since the Bella Blue gig during SXSW. Crack is like a well-oiled machine, Adventurers, and if we don't take her out for a spin on a regular basis, she'll start to build up rust. Also, the Crack gang hasn't all joined forces since Sigmundo went to Europe and Crackbass returned from Hawaii. Maybe they will return from their travels feeling reinvigorated and ready to rock. Then again, they may not remember how to play their instruments at all.
What else.....
The news isn't much help. Katie Couric is going to CBS (I could care less) and some guy from Homeland Security got busted trying to solicit children for sex on the internet. That's great. We spend all of this time preparing for phantom terrorists to jump out of every shadow (theoretically the reason Homeland Security exists in the first place), and meanwhile the monster next door is being employed by the federal government to protect us. I tell ya- every once in awhile evil is spectacular and terrible and awe inspiring (as in the case of September 11th), but most of the time evil is subtle and banal and sneaks up on us in sheep's clothing (and most of the time evil isn't the work of inscrutable outsiders- most of the time it looks friendly and familiar until things go horribly wrong). How's that for some bright and cheery philosophy from Steanso? Sorry. How about that Katie Couric, kids......?
Also, Apple has announced the release of software which will allow Windows products to be used on Apple computers. Steanso really doesn't understand this because it seems that most of the people that he knows who are using Apple computers switched to Apple in the first place in order to avoid having to use Windows (you'll hear Apple users bitching about PCs a lot, but they're usually not actually complaining about the systems as much as they are about the Microsoft operating systems which are the common denominator among the many different kinds of PCs which are out there on the market). Most people (and this is, obviously, a big ol' generalization) who use Apple 'puters, in fact, seem to really have an intense dislike for Windows and Microsoft products as a whole. I wonder if the release of these Windows products for Apple systems is the first step in trying to move all Apple systems into a Windows operating system. I hope not. It's nice to have at least a little choice out there.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Hope all's well today.
In the category of "I'd really love to wanna feel bad for ya", Tom DeLay announced last night that he's leaving Congress to move to Virginia. DeLay is apparently planning on stepping down from his House seat in late May or early June, thereby clearing the way for Governor Rick Perry to hold a special election so that someone can fill the seat until January when the winner of the upcoming November election will take over. The move is calculated to give Republicans a much better chance at holding onto DeLay's congressional seat in the face of strong opposition by the Democrats. DeLay's announcement also comes at a time when DeLay faces campaign finance charges in Texas and possible implication in a federal corruption investigation involving longtime DeLay ally Jack Abramoff.
We'll all be sad to see DeLay go, here at The Adventures, and we wish him a fond farewell and a swift kick in the ass as he heads out the door on his way to Virginia (probably to mess up that state). Knowing that Republicans are much like the mythical hydra, sprouting new heads when an old head is cut off, Steanso is waiting with bated breath to see who DeLay's annointed replacement will be. How can the Republicans find anyone as ruthlessly mercenary and beholden to special interests as DeLay? It won't be easy.

In other news, Steanso heard San Antonio-based Buttercup on KGSR this morning when driving in to work. Steanso has seen Buttercup perform live on quite a few occasions in the past, and the band is managed (at least some of the time) by Friend of Steanso Charlie Roadman, who also performs in F for Fake (which is a f*%king fantastic band, but that's a different story). Anyway, I guess Buttercup just played a couple of acoustic numbers this morning (sans drummer), but I think that Buttercup is playing a benefit show with a $10 cover this Thursday at Whole Foods. If you want, you can buy some groceries and check them out.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Well, busy at work, so no time for a decent blog post. I'll quickly recap the weekend.

Friday night I went over to Eddie and Leigh's house for a drink with the Wilsons. It was ok, but their dog, Milo, bit me. Twice. Bad Milo.
Saturday I got up and went to The Natural Gardener with Eddie, Crackbass, and The Pea. I looked for trees, but didn't find the right one. Then I went home and, stopped by Casa de Shaw to visit Meredith, and then returned home again where I laid in the backyard on a big blanket with Cassidy, reading Lonesome Dove and playing guitar and eventually falling asleep (which got me sort of sunburnt). That evening I went to Austin Pizza Garden with the Wilsons, and then returned to their place where Ellie stopped by to join us for some cocktails and board games.
Sunday I got up and worked out and took Cassidy for a walk. I paid my bills and then went to Home Depot and bought a Red Maple which I took home and planted in the backyard after a quick stop for a burrito. After the tree planting I had Mono E practice (which was really good, but short), and then I listened to a Loose Fur CD with Reed and Eric and showed them the MySpace site I'm working on for Mono.
That's it. The time change sucks, but it'll all be for the best.