Thursday, May 31, 2007

Hey. So last night I had dinner with Mandy, Andy, and Rami. We went to Cherry Creek Catfish, and Andy howled in pain upon learning that they no longer serve Lone Star Beer at that fine establishment. Andy's auto is dying, so if anyone has a pretty good car (truck, scooter, gyrocopter, etc.) for sale, post a comment and I'll put you in touch with him. He can't go in reverse, people.
Andy and Rami's new house is in South Austin, and Andy is now working pretty much a normal, 9 to 5 schedule, so it's great to have them so close by and more available to hang out.
Anyhoo, we ate lots of catfish (or shrimp, in my case) and had a couple of beers out by the pond at Mandy's place afterward. It was nice.
Even though I missed the game and ended up reading about it after the fact, I was happy to see that the Spurs triumphed over the Jazz to move on to the NBA finals. Those Spurs may not be the flashiest team in the NBA (and, sadly, simply playing well on a consistent basis doesn't seem to garner headlines the way that trash talking or bad behavior does), but they really are an incredibly formidable team. Nice to see them do well.
Well, that's it for now. Hope you guys are having a good Thursday.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

So it's already Wednesday. Some people complain about these 4 day weeks (we have a tendency in the criminal law profession to just try to squeeze 5 days of work into 4 days on these short weeks), but I'm glad to already have a weekend within sight.
Last night I didn't do much at all. I bought a copy of The Martian Chronicles at Half-Priced Books and started reading that (I had read it in early high school and really enjoyed it), and I watched another episode of Homicide (I'm on season 5 and it's gotten really good).
I think Mandy got back kinda late last night (she was supposed to get in sometime around 10:30 or 11:00 or something), but I was kinda tired (and battling mold or some other kind of allergies)and konked out right around then. Hope she had a good trip.

Cindy Sheehan announced that she's packing it in in terms of being pretty much a full time protestor of the Iraq war. I don't know. Maybe it's time. I mean, I respect what the lady is trying to do, but she's been doing it for a long, long time, and she's been fairly successful in raising awareness and getting her message out there (her name is pretty synonymous with opposition to this war). You can only go so far in terms of making people hear and understand your point of view. After that they either get on board with you ro they don't. Sheehan's still pretty frustrated, although now her frustration is turning toward the Democrats, who seem unwilling to stand their ground and demand withdrawal dates or even benchmarks or timelines for withdrawal in exchange for continued funding of the war. Sheehan is right to be frustrated. I don't think we should pull out of Iraq all at once or that we should expect to be completely out of there next week, but it's time to begin the process, and if the Democrats don't take a stand to end this thing, then they're becoming complicit in the whole endless, bloody mess. We need to support the troops, but part of that support includes some kind of defineable scenario for withdrawal. These guys didn't join the military in order to safeguard foreign oil fields or to protect assets for Halliburton. They did their job in "liberating" the country (at least insofar as Saddam and his regime are no longer in power and no longer threatening us with whatever fictional weapons of mass destruction they were hiding in the first place). Our leaders failed them miserably through a lack of foresight or planning as to what was supposed to happen next.
Well, that's it for now. Maybe more later.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Memorial Day

Here are phone pics of my trip down to the Barton Springs spillover with Cassidy from yesterday. The rain we had over the weekend caused a lot of flooding, so the water was much higher and moving much faster than usual, and the Barton Springs lifeguards had even taken down the fences which usually run along the top of the dam (I guess that debris from the high water probably would have damaged them). This first pic just shows Cassidy realizing that the water is unusually high.

Here you can see how little Barton Creek is looking more like a river....

I think in this one.... aw, it's just another puppy picture, but I had to throw it in.
Well, Memorial Day was pretty good. After hanging out at the creek I had band practice. Since it rained for good portions of the weekend (or at least since it was overcast for much of it), I wanted to document some of the moments of sunshine. Cassidy and I got some good swimmin' in.
Super swamped today. Not sure I'll have time for any blogging. Nonetheless, rest secure in the fact that Steanso loves you all.
(ok, most of you)

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Baby Boomers, The Future, and the Skepticism of The Admiral

I specifically remember having a conversation with my father back when I was in either late high school or early college, when I had read a couple of articles predicting the fact that the members of Generation X were going to be the first generation that, on average, did not have an income level or a standard of living that was as high as their parents had previously had. I remember this conversation because The Admiral pretty much rejected the idea, stating that he thought it was just another gloom and doom media forecast, something meant to get people riled up and create a controversy, but probably not a solid prediction of what was going to happen in the future. (just for the record, The Admiral isn't the kind of guy who typically rejects reality as it's reported by the "liberal news media" or anything like that, but he has a healthy skepticism about what he reads in the paper, and in the case of media predictions and prognostications I think he's right to be a little suspicious, as oftentimes these predictions are slanted to suit the political aims of the groups who are offering them)
Anyway, The Admiral thought that with a little elbow grease and the continuing American know-how of the next generation, America's economic dominance would continue and that our generation would rocket forward into the future with the same success that every previous generation has enjoyed (each prior American generation having out earned the one before it).
A study was released this week, however, claiming that American men in their thirties are now earning less than their fathers did at the same point in their own lives, and that family income growth has similarly slowed. The study was based upon U.S. Census Bureau figures, and it shows a 12% drop in income for American males between 1974 and 2004, a stark contrast to the figures in 1994, at which time males were making 5% more than their fathers had made in the generation before. (family income, at first glance seems to have faired a little better, but it actually is on the decline when you take into account the fact that most American homes now have 2 income providers working to produce a household income, whereas in 1974 the general tendency was still a single income provider for most families)
These results come at a time when the U.S. economy is generally considered to be fairly healthy, but they also help to demonstrate the fact that wealth distribution in the U.S. continues to develop in a way which disproportionately favors the wealthy over the middle class. (the outsourcing of U.S. jobs and the structuring of employee compensation packages all contribute to this phenomenon)
Anyway, I'm not here to cry about my job or how much I'm paid (I actually like my job, for the most part, and I've picked a field of work which I am truly interested- there are other areas of the law which might be more lucrative, but I think I'd find most of them pretty dry), and I have no idea how my specific salary compares to what my dad was making at my age, but I think this article does shine a light on some interesting features of the relationship between Generation X and the Baby Boomers (or other prior generations).
This income disparity is just the beginning. The Boomers are rapidly moving into retirement age, and by virtue of their numbers, they'll soon put a massive strain on Social Security, welfare, medicare, and just about every other government "entitlement" program that we have out there. And this is about to occur at a time when our government is already operating with a massive budget deficit and incredible amounts of debt. (I've heard Boomers complain about the fact that there's not going to be any social security system left by the time they retire even though they've been paying into it throughout their working lives, but the leadership of the Boomer generation is also the group which has been responsible for creating a system of government that has been operating at a deficit for decades- minus a few moments during the Clinton years when we seemed close to balancing the nation's budget for a moment). I'm still not clear as to how Generation X, a generation fewer in number than the Boomers, is supposed to shoulder the increased tax burden that will probably be required in order to keep our social infrastructure viable.
But the Boomers may not go quickly or quietly. Boomers are retiring later than any previous generation, thereby reducing or delaying career advancement opportunities for the subsequent generation, while simulataneously, of course, delaying the opportunities for the salary increases which accompany such promotions.
Anyway, I'm not here to say that the sky is falling or that Generation X needs to round up all of the Baby Boomers and put them out to pasture, but I am saying that our society is about to face some interesting challenges as the Baby Boomers move into retirement and Generation X comes into its own. I think that, ultimately, The Admiral was like most Baby Boomers in wanting to reject the prediction that Generation X was bound to face some difficult times. He didn't want to believe that America might offer less opportunity and present more challenges for our generation than it did for his own, and he certainly didn't like the idea that his generation might be contributing to our difficulties. But here we are in 2007, and some of the predictions about the difficulties facing Generation X are starting to become reality.
There will be tricky times ahead, and you Boomers are going to just have to bear with the Gen X'ers as we work through some things.
Now if only the parents within my generation can find a way to forestall some of these problems long enough to push them off onto the next generation...

Saturday, May 26, 2007

A Little Warrior Pride

Just want to take a moment to send a shout out to my old alma mater, Westwood High School, which once again was ranked within the top 100 high schools in the country (coming in at number 88, once again 5 spots ahead of Westlake High, which came in at a disgraceful 93) in this week's yearly Newsweek poll. I already blogged about Westwood when they made the top 100 last year, so I'm not going to rehash the whole thing again, but suffice it to say that I remain proud of my old school. There are quite a few impressive schools on Newsweek's list (a list comprised out of what are reported to be the top 1,200 public schools in the U.S.), many of them magnet or special prep schools (although the list does exclude some elite schools which academically test and then only admit really smart kids on the first place- this is why Jennifer's old school, Bronx Science, isn't on the list. These are elite schools are great schools, but I guess the dudes who compiled the list didn't think it was fair to rank schools that only admit elite students against schools which cater to a broader spectrum of academic ability). Anyway, it's nice to see Westwood fight it's way up there. Go Warriors!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Hey! Well, we're on the cusp of a 3 day holiday weekend, but, strangely, I'm having a hard time getting excited about it. Part of this is my fault. I've made no plans to do anything interesting over the weekend, mostly because I figured I could just go hang out at Barton Springs or on the greenbelt if nothing else came up (an activity that would ordinarily keep me pretty happy), but now it's supposed to be overcast and rain all weekend. Also, the Blooms have gone to Colorado, Mandy is jetting off to Seattle, and Jennifer just got back from a lengthy trip to Las Vegas. I think I'm jealous for a change of scenery, but I don't really have anyone to go visit anywhere fun at the moment, and no one to travel with if I'm going someplace where I don't know anyone (I'm not self sufficient enough to find the idea of travelling alone very appealing).
Okay. I'm done whining.
Last night I had a nice dinner with Mandy and Ellie at Salvation Pizza. Good pie. It was nice to see Ellie, too. It had been a while.
Well, that's about it. Hope you guys have a good weekend. Maybe I'll post some if the weather keeps me in the house.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Well, it's late in the day for a post, but I've been swamped. Not too many goings on to report, anyway. Last night Mandy invited Team Bloom, Andy, Rami, and myself over for a taco dinner and some hanging out. The food was good, and it was nice to hang out with the gang. We drank some beers and stayed out too late for a school night. Conversational topics ranged from an analysis of the Bush dynasty to the virtues and pitfalls of panhandling.
The Blooms are leaving to drive to Colorado today in Kim's still-pretty-new Passat, which goes by the name of Klaus, to attend a wedding and see some old friends from the Phish tour. Via con dios, Team Bloom!
Since I don't have a lot to tell you guys, and I'm tired, I'm gonna cut this short. Three day weekend right around the corner!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Well, we're halfway there, kids. Wednesday. Steanso's folks, Karebear and The Admiral, are in Italy on a two week trip, but I think they're scheduled to return this weekend. It's kind of funny because I don't talk to them every day or anything, but it still feels strange that I'm not able to just pick up the phone and call them whenever I want (well, technically I guess I still could, but the time difference means that by the time I'm out of work, they're probably in bed). I guess their absence has been made more noticeable on this trip because we've had some health problems going on with extended family and friends, and that's the sort of thing I usually call my folks about in order to stay updated and "in the loop". Well, anyway, I hope they're having a great trip.
Last night I had dinner with Mandy, and we watched the season finale of The Office from last week. Still funny.
I also watched two episodes of Doctor Who. (on my own- I'm not sure Mandy would be into it- and, yes, it's the new series, not the old one, but I like this guy who plays the Doctor, so just let me enjoy it, ok?) It's kind of fun, crazy, smart, silly science fiction, and I know that it's been on since the 60's and already has a big cult following, but it's new to me, and I like it. If this lawyering thing doesn't work out, I'm seriously considering becoming a Time Lord and just travelling around the space-time continuum in search of adventure.
Not too much else to report.
I also just sent a random email yesterday to an old friend from college that I hadn't seen in awhile (on a whim), and I heard back from her and got updated on what she's been doing with her life. It was nice. I highly recommend the random email. Helps keep things interesting.
Okay. That's it for now.
Hope you guys have a good hump day.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Hey. Busy day today, again.
Last night I hung out with Roundball and McSteans, and we went to eat at Buffet Palace. Buffet Palace is a Chinese buffet place that is quite close to my home, over on Westgate. In days of old I used to always try to get Jeff and Mandy to go and eat there with me, but Wilson would always wisely refuse.
"C'mon! Why not?"
"Dude, every time you've talked me into going there you've been mad at me by the time we left and ordered me to never let you go there again."
"But we like Chinese food! And it's all you can eat!"
"I know, I know. But it's still evil."

Sadly, Jeff is no longer present to perform his duties as my culinary lifeguard, and instead I rolled into The Palace last night with just another couple of hapless fools who, like myself, were all too willing to take a flying leap off the high dive of hunger into the treacherous deep end that is The Buffet Palace.

And Jeff was right. It sounds like it makes sense, and when you're hungry, the allure of the all you can eat buffet can be almost overwhelming, but ultimately it's almost always a bad idea. The food is just mediocre (although not truly bad) and the price is sort of high (justified by the fact that they're offering you enough food to choke a horse), but ultimately the place is just made evil by the whole "quantity over quality" concept. Like I said, the food isn't truly bad, but it's not really very good, either, so in order to feel like you're getting your money's worth, you feel sort of compelled to just eat a ridiculous amount of food (and contributing to this compulsion is the fact that there are a lot more types of items on the buffet than the average person would eat in 20 meals, but once you're committed to the buffet experience, the tendency is try at least try every item that strikes your fancy- or which might ever strike your fancy, either in this life or the next). The food isn't bad enough to be truly memorable (if it were truly bad, the place would go out of business- instead Buffet Palace continually walks some sort of tightrope of mediocrity), but there are very few items on the buffet that are so good that they would be considered a pleasant surprise if you ordered them at a normal, sit-down Chinese restaurant.

Anyway, I ate way too much, and immediately felt bad about it. It's all part of some kind of buffet restaurant shame cycle. Now I'll swear off of the place, but eventually time will pass, wounds will heal, memories will fade, and a year from now I'll be really hungry and driving around the 'hood again. We'll drive past the Buffet Palace, and I won't be able to remember what was ever wrong with that restaurant in the first place. And I like Chinese food, so how bad can it be? Not horrible, but not good, and you're going to be eating an awful lot of it....

Monday, May 21, 2007

Well, the weekend has come and gone in a flash once again, Adventurers. Friday night I rented a couple of movies- Pan's Labyrinth and a western called Seraphim Falls. Pan's Labyrinth was pretty good, but pretty darn depressing (and I say this knowing full well that Guillermo del Toro, the director, would probably try to argue with my "depressing" description). Seraphim Falls was a pretty run of the mill old west vengeance flick, its most noticeable deviation from the mainstream being that it stars two Irish actors in its leading roles (Liam Neeson and Pierce Brosnan both play American Civil War veterans who find themselves locked in a blood feud following the war). Anyway, that was Friday.

Saturday I went and saw Spider-Man 3 at noon at the Alamo with the Steans, Shaws, and one Chris Griego. It was a fun movie, but it seemed like the plot got a little thin somewhere in the 3rd reel (I don't mean to nitpick, but the whole "evil suit" plotline was pretty nonsensical, and it was never clear at all why Sandman teamed up with Venom. Also, Harry's butler sure has some odd habits in terms of keeping and revealing secrets...) Anyway, after the movie I took Cassidy (who spent the movie frolicking in our backyard with the cousin dogs) down to the Barton Springs spillover for some swimming. Saturday night I went and ate dinner at Hao Hao with Ryan and Jamie, and afterward Ryan and I scoured the stores of South Austin in pursuit of a Wii, but there were no Wiis to be found. During the Wii hunt, however, I bought the new Wilco album, Sky Blue Sky, which I like, although it's probably not my favorite Wilco album (I think it's pleasant to listen to, but maybe not adventurous enough- the boys just seem like they're playing it really safe on this one). After the Wii trip, I watched part of Zoolander with Team Steans and then returned home.

Sunday. Not sure what happened to Sunday. I spent part of my day messing around on the computer and part of my day back in the band room playing guitar (I had meant to try to write a song or something, but inspiration was in short supply). I watched an episode or two of Homicide on DVD, and I had band practice with The Mono E (which included, for some reason, a version of "Small Town Girl" by Journey). Like I said, I'm not sure what happened to my Sunday. I think I spent some of it wishing that I could think of something to do that would make my Sunday a little more exciting.

Well, that's about it for the time being. Hope you guys had good weekends.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Hey! Things are crazy today, and I have little time for blogging. I had dinner with Jajuan, Mandy, and Susan last night at Madam Mam's, and we ran into Jamie and Ryan, already eating there. It was a strange sensation to just bump into the brother and the sister-in-law while out about town. It's good to have them back in Austin.
Anyway, after I eventually got home (we hung out a bit at Mandy's after dinner) I watched my first ever episode of Doctor Who, and I'm afraid to say that I enjoyed it quite a bit. I'm such a geek.
Well, I have to run, but I hope you all have good weekends.


Thursday, May 17, 2007

Hey! Well, last night Crack got together and jammed for the first time in a number of weeks (between Andy's work schedule and Sig's sports writing, we just haven't been able to pull it off for awhile). We mostly just improvised and jammed, but some new, recurring riffs keep popping up which seem to slowly be fashioning themselves into songs. Also, we continue to work at expanding the Crack mythology, so it's important that we come up with some new tunes that explain the adventures of Mr. Pinchy and the Twang Dwelling Mercerfish as they travel through outer space (if very little of that last sentence made sense to you, you probably shouldn't worry about it all that much).
Anyway, Crack practice was a lot of fun, and Weedo popped in toward the end of it to say hi to everyone.
Well, that was about it for last night.

Lee sent out an email today to say that his son, John, has started to undergo chemotherapy treatments, and although he's experiencing a little nausea, he's hanging in there pretty well. You Adventurers keep them in your thoughts.

That's about it for now. I'll talk to ya'll later.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Howdy. Hope you Adventurers are having a fine day.
Last night Roundball, Jackbart, and I wandered to the Alamo Drafthouse up on Anderson Lane to attend a showing of 28 Weeks Later. Jackbart bought us tickets online, and Roundball bought us copious amounts of food (I'm not sure how I got away scot-free, but I just kept my head down and went to town on all of the pub grub that the waitress kept bringing us- in all seriousness, I think I owe Roundball, the missus, and possibly even Jackbart a nice dinner at some point).
The movie itself was a lot of fun, and I think we all enjoyed it, although there was some debate after the screening as to how "good" a film it actually was (there were some logical implausibilities and some unanswered questions regarding how certain events came to pass). A fun film, though, and at times, pretty darn scary.
Other from that, not much to report. Rain, thunder, and lightning last night, and I was able to roll over and go right back to sleep without fear of death by walnut tree. It's the little things, you know?


Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Steanso on The Road

Well, last night I never left the house. I finished up Resident Evil 4, watched an episode of Homicide, watched an episode of 24, played my guitar, and finished reading The Road.

The Road was kind of an odd book, given the fact that it's incredibly bleak, and yet its main messages involve hope and the struggle to retain one's humanity in the face of mounting horror (for those who haven't heard much about it, it's the story of a father and son travelling south across a post-apocalyptic landscape in a desperate attempt to escape starvation, nuclear winter, and the savage aggression of other survivors). The book contains some real Mad Max type scenarios, but McCarthy's prose tends toward the matter of fact rather than the fantastic, and the horrors that his protagonists encounter are made all the more real by the way that McCarthy explains them so simply.
The novel touches on issues that are no less fundamental than the quality of human nature itself (issues that have been touched on by Thomas Hobbes and other philosophers). Are humans just self-centered brutes who will do anything necessary to survive? (in this book, in a land with virtually no resources, humans quickly begin to see each other as objects to be exploited by any means possible, including rampant murder and cannibalism)
One possible theme of The Road seems to be a simple reminder that humanity and morality (meaning compassion, generosity, and most of the better qualities which allow us to live as civilized beings within a workable social fabric) are choices that we have to consciously make. The circumstances that we live in may make it harder or easier to follow our conscience and to act in a "human" way (i.e., it's a lot easier to be kind, generous, and moral when resources are abundant than when they become especially scarce), but ultimately, the decision regarding whether or not to treat other people as fellow humans (thereby inherently worthy of some level of respect) comes from within ourselves and is not dictated by our circumstances in the external world.
McCarthy's protagonists make their own lives more difficult by trying not to take unfair advantage of other people and by struggling to retain some of the emotional warmth and understanding which makes them human. It's harder for them to get by when they're trying not to fight, steal from, or kill other people, and the fact that the boy and his father continue to feel shock, horror, and revulsion as they encounter various atrocities indicates that they haven't entirely given up hope that they might someday find a way to live a life that is somehow better.
Anyway, in spite of the fact that the father and son make their own lives more difficult by nurturing compassion and hope, the book makes it clear that these traits are the only possible things that continue to make their lives worth living. Even though the book's post-apocalyptic world seems to offer no comfort, solace, or reason to hope, the father and son carry within themselves hope and human kindness, and so long as these characteristics exist within them, the possibility exists that they may find those characteristics out in the world, as well (or that they may rekindle these ideas if they have been all but extinguished).
To put the whole thing a different way, if the apocalypse comes and there's nothing left to sustain you, you can keep yourself alive by turning against and feeding off of your fellow man. But why bother? You'll have sustained your life, but turned your world into a living hell in the process.
The only way to preserve a life worth living ina world falling apart (or so the book seemed to say) is to safeguard your conscience and your sense of humanity. When the world falls apart, the only place you're going to have any chance of finding comfort is from within your fellow man.
Anyway, too much babbling, but that's what happens when I lunch at my desk.
By the way, I think Cormac McCarthy believes the apocalypse is already upon us. Decisions are being made, and some of us have already chosen to feed off of other people. As in the book, those cannibals might prove themselves to be survivors in some sense, but they're going to create a living hell for themselves that's not worth living in. You're better off preserving your humanity, even if it makes your journey more difficult.

End of book report. Did anyone make it all the way through that gobbledygook?

Monday, May 14, 2007

Not much time for postin' today, but that's why I posted about my weekend last night. I hope that all of you guys are doing okay. I had lunch today with D.K. and Sharon, which was good because I hadn't had a chance to hang out with them in awhile.
Has anyone else noticed how hard it is to come back to work after these springtime weekends? (there's something about being out in the sun all day that just tires you out)
Anyway, not a lot has happened since my post at like 11:00 last night, so I'm gonna keep this short (for once).

Peace. Love. Rock and roll.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Well, I'm going to write up the events of the weekend while I have some free time.
Friday night I just hung out around Tejas Trail with Mandy. We fed the fish (the fish in the Wilson's pond have become huge), ordered Thai food from Madam Mam's, and watched a few episodes of The Office. Saturday I got up and mowed the lawn (finally got my mower back after over a month in the shop), and then I took Cassidy down to the spillover at Barton Springs. She played with all of the other dogs and we both did a little swimming. After that I headed over to Meredith Shaw's birthday party. It was in the neighborhood park over by the Shaw's house, and it was quite nice. After resolving some logistical/technical difficulties, Mono E even played for a few minutes (apparently our hgih energy brand of guitar-driven rock has, surprisingly enough, produced a target demographic which lies somewhere within the 2 to 4 year old age range). Anyway, everyone had a good time and Meredith successfully turned 2. After Meredith's party I hustled back to Tejas Trail where Mandy and Rami were making shish kabobs. We had some propane shortage issues, but we finished strong with the oven, and we had a nice dinner (Andy F. and Vicki were also in attendance).
Today I got up and talked on the phone a bit with Mom, this being Mother's Day and all, and then I went back to Barton Springs (to the inside part where only humans may tread.... and I guess the occasional assistance animal. And squirrels. Probably an occasional raccoon. You get the idea.) Kim Bloom showed up, so I hung out with her a bit until we both got tired and felt a little sunburned. I went home and read some more Cormac McCarthy. Eventually I went to Maudie's with Ryan, Jamie, and Heather. I ate too much, and now I'm back here, typing up my weekend and feeling overstuffed.
I found out last Thursday that Lee and Sarah Thweatt's two year old son, John, has stage 4 cancer, neuroblastomas. The cancer is, obviously, very scary, and the side effects of the chemotherapy which John needs to undergo are extremely troubling as well. Anyway, Lee and Sarah and their 3 sons live down in Houston nowadays, and I don't see them as much as I ought to, but they're great people who truly do feel more like family than just friends (I've been friends with Lee since 6th grade, and once he started dating Sarah, I pretty much lived with the two of them through two years of college). I just want to send them a lot of love and support as they prepare for a long and difficult fight with John against this disease. Hang in there, guys. I'm thinking about you all the time.
Well, that's it for tonight, I guess. The weekend was nice. I'm glad you're back, sun (somebody remind me I said that in mid-August).

Friday, May 11, 2007

There's an interesting article in the online version of Time magazine this week about Mitt Romney and the role that his religious faith, as a Mormon, should play in helping voters decide whether he is a viable candidate for the office of president. Maybe I found the article interesting because I feel fairly conflicted about the issue myself (not regarding Romney, necessarily, who I would probably never vote for anyway, but just about the role that a candidate's religious faith should play in deciding whether or not to endorse him/her).
On the one hand, the open-minded, liberal, live-and-let live part of me wants to say that religious faith shouldn't really be an issue at all. Although a candidate's faith might inform his or her views on a particular issue, maybe it should be enough to listen to the canidate's views on debatable public issues and to judge him or her on these views alone, without any real need to delve into the more personal reasons as to why or how a candidate has come to arrive at that particular viewpoint. Under this kind of view, what are really important are just the planks within a candidate's platform and his or her ability to defend those viewpoints rationally and soundly before a constituency which contains both religious and nonreligious members.
On the other hand, questions of religious faith seem to go to the core of a person's belief structure and, oftentimes their personality as a whole. Knowing what kind of things a person is willing to put their faith in and believe may tell you something about that person's sense of judgement and about the way that they perceive the world around them (i.e., would we be wrong to question the judgement of a person who regularly engages in snake handling as part of their religious practices? Does it say something about a person's ethics if they regularly butcher animals as part of a voodoo sacrifice ritual? Is it important to know that a candidate is a member of a religious group which requires burdensome contributions in terms of time and money if such demands seem to be exploitative or parasitic to outsiders?)
Furthermore, although I understand the argument that a person's most deeply held personal beliefs should be respected as private, aren't these same sort of beliefs the type of things that voters need to know about as they try to evaluate how a candidate will react to new situations which arise in the future (I guess I mean that it's one thing to have well-developed campaign planks which address foreseeable future issues, but if voters want to know how a leader is going to react to the unforseen events which invariably arise during a candidate's political term, then it behooves the voters to understand the basis and foundation from which a candidate makes the decisions that effect his own personal and public life).

Ooops. I gotta run over to court, but I've probably rambled on too long already (and just for the record, I've been typing this thing during a long, boring lunch hour when I couldn't find anyone to go eat with me, so you taxpayers don't need to worry about Steanso blogging while on the government clock- at least not today). You guys get the jist of what I'm saying. I feel conflicted about my desire to avoid being judgemental about a person's religious faith and my desire to understand how a political candidate thinks and forms his opinions (which may be a viewpoint and set of principles arising from foundation of religious faith).
I HAVE to run.
I bet this thing is rambling, incoherent, and full of typos.
Friday! I don't have major plans for the weekend, but I'm glad that Friday is here. Last night I went to a quick happy hour after work (with my coworkers) and then had dinner with Ryan and Jamie at Hill's Cafe. Mandy went to see Harry Connick Jr. last night with Gretchen and Daniel, and it sounds like she had a good time. : )
Ryan and Jamie brought Mel and Lucy over to the house last night to play with Cassidy, and Lucy and Cassidy were bouncing off the walls. Given the fact that Cassidy hasn't been feeling too well lately it was really good to see her running around and having fun. She sure loves those cousin dogs.
Well, that's it for the moment. I have friends out there who are still going through some very difficult times, and I'm still thinking of them. It's been a long week.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

.... and falling into the category of events which make you realize how little you really understand life....

Phillip Workman, an inmate executed early Wednesday morning on Tennessee's death row, asked that his last meal be a vegetarian pizza, and that it be donated to a homeless person. The prison refused to fulfill that request, saying that last meal requests had to cost less than $20, and that they couldn't be donated to charity. Some Nashville citizens, angered that the request hadn't been fulfilled, ordered more than $1,200 in pizzas and sent them to Rescue Mission, a homeless shelter in Nashville. Rescue Mission contacted other shelters to share the abundance of food.

Workman was on death row for allegedly shooting a police officer during an armed robbery of a Wendy's restaurant in the early eighties. Workman's defenders claim that he was wrongfully convicted, and that a key witness who helped convict him has subsequently recanted his testimony and admitted that he perjured himself at trial. Workman's defense team claims that the officer's death was the result of friendly fire from another officer at the scene. The friendly fire theory was later reportedly debunked by a medical examiner, but that medical examiner was later indicted for falsifying charges. (although, as a prosecutor, Steanso feels compelled to point out that if Workman knowingly participated in an armed robbery, he may be legally culpable for any events that might have been reasonably foreseeable consequences of his illegal activity- including, possibly, a friendly fire death)

Anyway, the whole thing is strange. Those prison guards should've just given some homeless guy a pizza. I guess there are some pretty cynical reasons not to, but you have to allow for the possibility of change and allow people to do what's right. Hope. Hope. You gotta allow for hope. You gotta allow for people to make themselves better. Right?
Well, yesterday ended up sucking quite a bit by the time all was said and done. One of my friends got laid off of his job yesterday, another friend is still having a very difficult time after the passing of her partner (actually, I have two friends who fit into that category at the moment), and I found out that the infant son of two of my other friends has some serious and scary health problems. Not a good day.
There were some more cheerful moments, however. Susan dropped by with Robert and Allison, and we hung out by the pond a little bit and watched the fish. Those kids are pretty fun, and they'll make you smile even when it seems like the world is just looking for ways to kick you around (and Susan is pretty cool, too, I guess. ;) ). After the departure of Susan et al, Mandy and I caught a quick bite at The Central Market Cafe and did a little shopping.
In another small bit of good news, it rained pretty heavily last night for a short period of time, but the patch job that I did on my roof (under the direction and tutelage of John Lastovica, the guru of cheap ass home repair) seemed to hold fast, and I didn't seem to get any water leaking in. I'm still not 100% confident in the patch job, but it seems to be working, so I'm happy thus far. Muchos gracias, Lasto. It was also nice to be able to go to sleep during a rain storm without having to worry about a tree falling through my roof.
Well, that's it for now.
You guys hang in there, and for heaven's sake, take care of each other.

ACL Fest Lineup

Well, ACL Fest is still a long ways off (it always kind of marks the end of my summer), but they've released the lineup, and it looks pretty great. You can see it, here if you haven't already. Anyway, I'm already excited about it, and we still have a long ways to go. Wilco has a new album out soon as well as The White Stripes, so both of those groups should be riding high at ACL Fest time. Also, My Morning Jacket, Arcade Fire, Bjork, Ghostland Observatory, The Kaiser Chiefs, Arctic Monkeys (I need to listen to them more, but I like what I've heard of them), Bob Dylan (yes, Mom and Dad- Bob Dylan- he's back and he's kickin' butt), and even The Reverend Horton Heat!!! It has the potential to be one of the better ACL Fests, so get your ticket if you don't have one!

Oh yeah. The Greyhounds rock and Spoon rock, too! (don't want to forget our Austin guys)

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Howdy. How are you guys doing? Things are pretty slow over here.

Jennifer "Killer" Kraber is leaving for Las Vegas today for an 11 day fiesta of pool, poker, and general tomfoolery. Let's all wish her good luck in her pool tournament and hope that she wins a whole pile of money while she's there! (cause that's what I asked for when she inquired about a souvenir- a big bag of money).
For those of you who don't know her, I've provided a photo of Jennifer, who can clearly be seen leaving the men's restroom at the Travis County Attorney's Office in this picture. Good luck, Killer!!

Last night I dined with Roundball and McSteans at a Chinese/Vietnamese restaurant called Hao Hao off of William Cannon near. Dan "Danimal" Hamre had recommended the place, so with a small amount of trepidation we tried it out.
Hao Hao is in a strip mall, and it's not much to look at, but the food and the service were both good (the food was hot, fresh, and had a lot of flavor, and our waiter was friendly and prompt). It was clear that several of the other patrons of the restaurant last night were long time regulars, and the waitstaff and manager greeted them like old friends (which is nice to see in a neighborhood restaurant). Anyway, Hao Hao wasn't anything super fancy, but it had good, solid Chinese food, which in my experience one can be hard pressed to find in South Austin. Next time I'll have to try one of their Vietnamese items.

Well, that's about it for now. Other from eating dinner, I watched this week's 24 and read some of The Road. Man, that Cormac McCarthy is a dark, bleak guy (although I really love the way he writes). That book makes me want to call my dad and tell him I love him (love ya, Admiral!!!). Anyway, that's what I did last night.
Cassidy seems to be feeling better. She ate two more bowls of food without barfing. Let's keep our fingers crossed.


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Well, not a whole lot to report. Last night I ate pizza with Mandy and we watched some old episodes of 30 Rock. That show is one of the funniest new shows on TV this season, and I think I might be just a little bit in love with Tina Fey. I also watched Flags of Our Fathers, which I was fairly underwhelmed by. As most everyone knows by now, the movie cuts back and forth between battle scenes during the invasion of Iwo Jima and the subsequent story of the troops who hoisted the flag on Mount Suribachi, a moment depicted in the famous photograph which was later the basis for the Marine Corps Memorial in Washington, D.C.. Anyway, the film touches on themes of comraderie, exploitation, morale, patriotism, and heroism, but I just never felt that the movie brought anything new to these well-covered World War II topics. It wasn't a bad movie, but I just didn't find it very interesting or innovative.

Cassidy keeps having some kind of stomach ailment, so we're struggling through that (if she's not better tonight she may have to go see the vet tomorrow).

Well, I guess that's it for the time being. Hope you guys are all hanging in there.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Well, I went to Spring this weekend to celebrate an early Mother's Day (the folks are headed for Italy next weekend) and for a little Cinco de Mayo fiesta action. We had a nice time. We mostly just hung out by the pool, but we also went to the Cinco de Mayo celebration in the Woodlands (lots of gringos in the Woodlands, but they try) and had dinner at a nice Italian restaurant called Grotto in the Market Street Center shopping area (the whole Market Street Center phenomenon is kind of strange- it's essentially a shopping mall, but it's constructed out of a number of buildings which are designed and arranged to resemble a traditional town square- it's kind of an artificially created version of old time small town America [or at least what the average person envisions as such], existing in some kind of parallel reality where the down home townsfolk line up to eat at expensive restaurants and shop at upscale boutiques). Anyway, my meal was very good at Grotto, and afterward we walked over to the "town square" to listen to a pretty good salsa and merengue band for awhile. On the way out we stopped at Borders, and I bought The Road by Cormac McCarthy.

And here's a picture of Adriana and Jeff Peek's new child, Owen Jefferson Peek (a fine name for a southern gentleman, if ever there was one). Congrats to Jeff and Adriana! As you can tell from the picture, the child is obviously destined to be an Aggie.
Welcome to the world, Owen!

And farewell to my big ol' walnut tree. I loved you dearly, and though you dutifully provided shade to my house through many a scorching summer month, you've grown weary with age, and the branches that you keep dropping on my roof just keep getting bigger and bigger. With your brittleness and with the nasty storms that we keep having, in the end it was you or me, tree, which, in the end, means I must bid you a fond farewell!
Via con dios, you big ol' tree!! We'll miss ya!!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Well, it's Friday. After this week, it sort of feels like sliding into home base. I got home last night and went up on my roof to check for a leak, and, sure enough, there's a small hole up there in one of the shingles. It looks like something poked through it, so I'm sure it was damage from a falling tree limb, but it's wierd because I don't remember any large branches falling up there since two years ago when half a tree broke loose and smashed the roof up and I had to have the whole thing fixed. Anyway, it's busted, so now I'm having to call roofers and get that set up, hopefully before it rains and I get a bunch more water in there.
Cassidy is at the vet today, hanging out and waiting for them to slip her in between appointments for an "ear flush" for her ear infection. Cassidy tends to start rapidly shedding fur when she gets nervous, and I guess she has developed an intense dislike for the vet, because fur was flying off of her like crazy when I dropped her off at the vet (she recognizes the place as soon as we pull up- normally she leaps out fo the car as soon as I open the door when we're going places, but at the vet I have to drag her out).
I had dinner last night with Mandy. She's off to Kerrville this weekend for her friend Mallory's wedding. I really hope she has a good time.
Other from that, I have little to report. I started to watch The Last King of Scotland last night. The performances were good, but ultimately it's a grim movie (there are some funnier scenes, but there's just this sense of ominous foreboding the whole time because you know that Amin is going to turn out to be a real bad dude), essentially about a crazy dictator, and at some point I just kind of ended up tuning it out and playing with the dog instead and reading magazine articles instead. I guess I just wasn't in a mood for a "man's inhumanity to man" type flick last night. Forest Whitaker does a good job, though. He powerfully conveys not only Amin's sense of menace, but also his charisma and magnetism, and he gives you a certain sense of how paranoia and a troubled past can take a man (in this case a leader) who has good intentions and turn him into a monster.
I'm tired. There is a funeral tomorrow for the wife of my coworker (who was killed in that traffic accident on Monday morning). I plan to attend if I don't go to Houston to visit my parents. Too many funerals over the past year.
And Entertainment Weekly has published its list of the top 25 sci-fi works of the last 25 years. As with any list of this sort, people (including me) are bound to disagree with some of the picks, but it's an interesting list nonetheless (especially since the first three Star Wars movies are excluded by virtue of their age). Roundball will probably have a cow over their number one pick, but I still think it's a really cool movie. Anyway, if you like sci-fi, check it out. As a big, geeky sci-fi fan myself, I'd be interested to hear any opinions that people have on the selections and their placement on the list.
That's it. Hope you guys have a good weekend.
Steanso out.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Well, it rained really hard last night. Lots of lightning and thunder. Reed stopped by, and while he was in my guest bathroom, noticed that water was leaking through the crack in the top of the window sill. Since the window sits under an overhang from an eve in the roof of the house, there must be a problem somewhere up there on Steanso's roof which is letting the water in. Bad juju, Adventurers.
Also, although I don't think any big branches broke off last night, the thunderstorm (with its accompanying 50 mph winds) was enough to make Steanso a little worried about the large, old, dying walnut tree which hangs over his domicile. Part of this tree has broken off before and caused problems, so when the rains were pouring and the winds were howling around the corner of my house at 1:30 a.m. Steanso was kind of lying awake in bed and wondering if a large limb or tree trunk was going to come crashing through his roof.
We don't get all that much rain here in the ATX, but when the skies finally open up, they tend to make a production of things.
What else? I finally got around to watching this week's episode of 24 last night. Sadly, I've begun to think that that show has probably jumped the shark. All of the internal political maneuvering is becoming tiresome, and as Reed said, how many times does Jack Bauer have to be right before someone starts listening to him? Apparently saving the world numerous times doesn't earn you much credibility in the world of anti-terrorism. And how many times are we expected to be surprised when an old character from a previous season pops up (usually as a result of a fairly improbable plot twist)? 24 has been a decent show, but it just seems like they've run out of ideas that they can carry out effectively in the realtime 24 hour format.

Well, I guess that's about it. All that thunder and lightning last night made it hard for me to sleep. Cassidy, however, seemed unaffected.

Peace. Out.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

So not a lot to report on again. Last night I went and ate Mexican food with Ryan and Jamie. Afterward we hung out at my place and ended up watching a PBS Frontline documentary about Mormons, of all things. It was really interesting (did you know that you can be baptized after death in the Mormon church and that The Book of Mormon holds that a lost tribe of Israelites relocated to the Americas, where they built large cities?). OK, so it wasn't the most riveting evening ever, but it was kind of nice.
So how about this new proposal to let concealed handgun owners carry their weapons onto school campuses? The arrogance and foolishness of this bill astounds me. The argument has essentially been that the Virginia Tech massacre wouldn't have happened if the students on that campus had been armed. This may or may not be true. My feeling is that if there had been armed students at Virginia Tech, then any would-be killer would have just upped the ante and used bombs or fully automatic weapons instead of pistols. After all, he planned this thing out for weeks ahead of time, so surely he would have had contingencies if he would have known that some of his classmated might be armed.
More importantly though, I think that if we had a law in place allowing for campuses full of armed college students, this one school might have avoided this one atrocity, but there would be a slow, steady stream of gun related deaths throughout the course of the year, not only from this college campus, but from many other campuses which have never suffered any attacks. College students already cause enough problems when they're drunk, angry, depressed, lonely, or just partying too hard (think of the number of DWIs, drunken brawls, dating violence, hazing incidents/pranks gone wrong, suicides and so forth which lead to problems every year on college campuses). Now imagine having guns thrown into the mix during this period of emotional volatility, excessive intoxication, and experimentation. Imagine all of the times you saw people doing stupid stuff during college that you knew they were going to regret later. Now imagine that there were plenty of guns on hand at that event.
And what about high schools? Eighteen year old kids may not have picked up a criminal conviction yet (or produced any of the other telltale red flags that would prevent them from getting a gun), but that may not mean that they aren't gang members or have an axe to grind with their fellow students. I'm sure that students, as a whole, will fell much safer knowing that the Bloods and the Crips sitting next to them in their history class are armed to the teeth. And we know that Jimmy wouldn't shoot Johnny just because he slept with his girlfriend, right (because hormonally charged eighteen year olds are well known for making reasoned, carefully thought out decisions, right?).
Here's the thing. It would be a great world if people only acted upon decisions which were made rationally and logically after some careful thinking, but the real world just isn't like that. People make dumb decisions and act foolishly all the time (the jail is chock full of people who didn't think before taking some emotionally charged, stupid action). Most of the time stupid decisions can be rectified. With firearms, those split second decisions have permanent consequences (even more importantly, they are consequences which have their primary effect not upon the shooter, but upon the people in the world around them).
I can't even believe I'm even having to write this. Rick Perry is just trying to pander to his right wing base, and he's come out once again proving that he's a fool. We need far, far less guns in the world. Not more.
You can have your soapbox back now.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Cannoli Joe's Sucked

The title says it all. Mediocre Italian food served lukewarm in an awkwardly designed restaurant with a sort of Epcot Center ambiance, bad service and prices which were way too high. Also, there are rumors that the owner will come to your house and leave a pan of burning lasagna on your front lawn if you criticize his place on your blog.

In all seriousness, even the big chains like Macaroni Grill, Carraba's, and even maybe (gulp) The Olive Garden are better than this place. And marginally cheaper.
Just felt that I should finally post a review of my experience there since the only other reliable review that I knew of in the blogosphere (which I linked to last Thursday) has been taken down.
Well, Monday never got appreciably better. I went home and started sneezing and having a runny nose and itchy eyes and it didn't stop until I took a bunch of Benadryl around 9:30 (which made me feel better, but knocked me out). I watched most of Deja Vu, but fell asleep before the movie reached its exciting conclusion (which should tell you, antihistamines aside, how exciting the conclusion actually was- stupid Tony Scott. When will I learn?)
I've come home for lunch to take Cassidy to the vet. I went in there thinking I had a healthy dog who just needed her shots, but, of course, they found an ear infection, so now I've got to bring her back later in the week after giving her eardrops all week. She doesn't look sick.
Anyway, I hope you guys are doing ok. Roundball caved in the whole Cannoli Joe's debate and took down his post (which was titled, Tonight We Dined in Hell, if memory serves), so score one for pushy restaurant owners who want to intimidate people into not saying critical things about their incredibly mediocre restaurants. Well, I don't have time to write a longer review today, but suffice it to say that Cannoli Joe's sucked. The whole idea is lame, mostly, as I've said before, because Italian food just doesn't lend itself to sitting on a lukewarm buffet line very well. It was executed about as well as was probably possible, but it's just a bad idea in the first place, and it was overpriced to boot. Stick to your guns, Roundball.
Well, I gotta run. Hope you guys are doing well.