Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Hey there. Mandy and Camille had Andy, Rami, and I over for dinner last night at Mandy's place. We had spaghetti and Camille's homemade meatballs, which were very good. Camille is leaving for Boston again this afternoon.
I don't have a lot to report on. I got home from work yesterday and felt pretty awful and couldn't understand why. Then I saw a news story about how the air in Austin yesterday was filled with a incredibly high concentration of both mold spores and dust, and things began to make a little more sense. Let's hope the Claritin does its job today.
I keep watching the news, but I'm just not too inspired by the stories that I see. Hillary and Obama have begun to fire some opening volleys at each other, but I guess that's to be expected. I kind of wish that those two would just get on the same ticket. As things stand, they could potentially do some pretty serious damage to each other during the primaries (in terms of Clinton picking on Obama's inexperience and Obama attacking Clinton's voting record on the Iraq war). If they were both on the same ticket, though, I think they would be pretty much unstoppable. A lot of the women that I know will be annoyed with me for saying this, but I still think that Hillary is going to have a difficult time winning this election (although putting Obama on her ticket would help her out quite a bit). I think that conservatives actively dislike her to such an extent that her very candidacy is going to mobilize the right. I think that the right is going to vote in far larger numbers than they otherwise would just to avoid getting her in office. So far the Republicans don't really seem to have a strong candidate to run against Hillary, but just wait- we still have a long time until the election, and presidential races are at least as much about tearing down opponents as they are about presenting a charismatic candidate with a viable platform.
Oookay. I swore that I wouldn't get into this stuff yet. We've got too far to go, and it's gonna wear everyone out.
Anyway, I hope you guys are doing okay.
Oh, by the way, I didn't talk to Ryan and Jamie yesterday, but as of Sunday night, Jamie was doing fine- eating pizza, playing with the dogs, and watching sci fi on the tellie. I think she's doing okay at the moment.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Last night I went over and had pizza with Ryan and Jamie (Jamie having been discharged from the hospital yesterday afternoon). We watched part of the Battlestar Galactica miniseries as well as the season premier of Who Wants to be a Superhero?. It's a show on Sci Fi where real grown ups fashion their own costumes and develop their own superhero personas and then compete to be featured in a Sci Fi channel feature film and a comic drawn by Stan Lee. I can't believe Roundball hasn't tried out for this. With the right costume, he's a shoe in to be the team's "big guy" (every superhero team has a strong/big guy!). Anyway, as goofy as the show is, they try to reward people for doing good things (they win points by helping out old ladies and kids who've lost their puppies and stuff like that), so it's kind of refreshing to see a reality show where all of the contestants aren't trying to stab each other in the back. Also, curiously, there's a guy on there calling himself The Defuser who's a "police detective" from Austin. I'm not sure if he's with APD or TCSO or what, but I hope he sticks with his superhero outfit when he returns to the force.
And it looks like things are headed south for Michael Vick in defending himself against dogfighting charges. One of Vick's codefendants, Tony Taylor, pleaded guilty today and promised to help prosecutors (ie., provide truthful testimony) in their ongoing prosecution of Vick, presumably in exchange for some unspecified degree of leniency in Taylor's sentencing. One of the attorneys at jail call today said that he thought it was pretty crappy of one of Vick's friends to do that, but on the other hand, Vick's buddies probably can't afford million dollar defense teams, and I'm sure they don't want to be the ones left holding the bag when the dust settles. In a disappointing turn of events, the Atlanta president of the NAACP reprimanded the prosecution in Vick's case and accused the government of "piling on".
If Vick was knowingly involved in these dogfights, I think he deserves prison time. I hope that the NAACP doesn't try to turn this into an issue about race, because I think that the racial factor is irrelevant. This is a case about protecting animals and discouraging barbaric behavior in human beings. Dogfighting is a vicious, bloody sport with a growing popularity, and I think people need to know that they're going to wind up in jail if they get involved in it.

Well, not much else to report. You Adventurers take it easy.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

The weekend has been pretty good! The Whiskeetos had a few people over on Friday night for a sort of housewarming party. Unsurprisingly, several bottles of whiskey appeared as housewarming presents. Anyway, we hung out on their front porch until the early hours of the morning.

On both Friday and Saturday (and probably eventually today as well), I visited Jamie up at the hospital. She feels fine, but they've got her on blood thinners and they're monitoring her to make sure she doesn't have any nasty blood clot problems.

And then last night (Saturday) the Mono E played a party over at Mike's house. Here's a picture of Eric playing guitar that looked kind of cool on my phone, but which is barely recognizable here. We started out strong, but had a few hiccups toward the end. Overall, we did ok.

Eric also played with a new group that he's been jamming with, Operation Moonpie Face Destroy, and they had a fire dancer who entertained people during their set. During The Mono Ensemble's set, the only entertainment option was listening to see if we were playing the songs right. Anyway, it was a pretty fun party and OMFD did a good job on their first live gig, but I took off kind of early because I wasn't feeling great.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Well, it's Friday! Jamie is still in the hospital, and I really haven't talked to them since the early evening yesterday. I hope all's well with her.

I didn't do too much last night. Reed came by to pack up his drums for a potential gig/party that Mono E may play at on Saturday night (weather permitting- the party is cancelled if it rains because it's supposed to be held outside).
Here's the flyer for the party on Saturday if some of you Adventurers want to stop by to hear The Mono E and grab a beer. There are supposed to be two bands (including us) and a DJ, so it should be pretty entertaining.
Other from that, I don't have too much news. Camille was supposed to have gotten back into town last night, but I haven't seen her yet (Mandy was supposed to pick her up kind of late last night at the airport).
There's an article on the CNN main page today that sings the praises of Austin as a place to live. I agree with the article, and I love Austin, but I wish people would quit hyping it because we're growing too fast as it is.
Okay. I'll rap at you guys later.
Take care of each other.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Well, it's been a pretty busy day today, but I just wanted to make a quick post. Jamie went through her procedure this morning, but the doctors weren't able to remove as much blockage as they would have liked, so they're keeping her in the hospital overnight, and they're going to try to treat her with some medications and try some different treatments. This isn't a disaster or anything, but it's a drag because we all wanted the angioplasty to just go smoothly and for her to go home. I don't know a whole lot of details because I only had a few moments to talk to Ryan during lunch time before I went back into court.
Anyway, I think Jamie's doing ok. Her parents are coming into town tonight (they had already planned this trip before- it's not an emergency visit or anything).

Other from that, I have little to report. Last night I had dinner with Jamie at Hao Hao because Ryan was working late. That place has good Chinese food. I told Jamie about my desire to one day see Palo Duro Canyon. I've lived in Texas for the vast majority of my life, I call it home, and I love it in spite of its faults, but there large parts of it that I've never seen. I need to go to Big Bend, as well, and although I've been to the Frio River, I've never been to Garner State Park, and I'd like to go there at some point. Jeff, Mandy, Ellie, and I tried to go to Lost Maples after we went on a camping trip to Kerrville in the fall of '05, but the park was too crowded and we couldn't get in. I'd like to go back there, too. Jeff made me buy a tent, and I need to get some use out of it. Plus, Cassidy likes to camp.

Ok, I have to run. Best wishes to Jamie and all of you Adventurers.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Hey! It's Wednesday night, but tomorrow may be busy, and I just want to take a second to wish Jamie (my sister-in-law, for those of you who really haven't been paying attention) the best as she undergoes an angioplasty procedure on Thursday morning. Jamie has kidney disease, and apparently some arterial blockage kind of goes hand in hand with kidney malfunction, so this type of procedure is fairly common among patients with kidney disease. The Steans family isn't getting too worked up about this procedure because the doctors have been saying that it's pretty routine, but, nonetheless, it's a bit daunting to know that a doctor is going to be poking around McSteans's heart (so we're not taking this too lightly, either).
Anyway, Jamie, we all love you, and, of course, hope everything goes just fine. You Adventurers send Jamie some good thoughts, prayers, and all around positive mojo.

What's up, guys? Last night was pretty quiet, once again. Eric stopped by. He's working on mixing down some stuff that he's recorded. He kind of amazes me. He manages to produce more music in his free time (while holding down a full time job) than a good number of "professional" musicians do when they're getting paid to do nothing but make music. Anyway, Eric's very prolific, and his music is good. He's not just cranking stuff out without any concern for quality- he's a really good song writer and musician who manages to pull off a number of different styles of music. I'm not just saying this stuff because he's in my band (although I genuinely feel fortunate to play in a group with such a talented person). You can check out his web site (which can be kind of tricky to load, especially if you're not running on a Mac) over here. You can check out his MySpace page over here.

Anyway, I didn't do a heck of a lot last night. I watched a show on KLRU created by Jean-Michel Cousteau that was about America's undersea ecosystems and wildlife sanctuaries. There was some pretty incredible underwater cinematography, including some really cool footage of humpback whales in sanctuary waters near Hawaii. I've been scuba diving before, but only in other countries (Mexico, Cayman Islands, Honduras), but this show really got me thinking about the undersea ecosystems that exist around the North American coastline. Cousteau's team did a good job of showing the diversity of undersea life off of the North American coastlines, from the Flower Garden coral reefs in the Gulf of Mexico to the struggling reefs in the Florida Keys to the kelp forests of the west coast and the whale migration routes of Hawaii and Alaska. The show also highlighted the problem of ghost fishing, which apparently involves the loss of nonbiodegradable fishing nets by commercial fisherman. These nets can be very large, and will continue to trap and kill sea life for decades after being lost and left on the bottom of the ocean. Ghost fishing poses a big hazard not only to the fish which the fishing nets were designed to catch, but also to marine mammals, sea turtles, and other large aquatic life which get caught up in the expansive nets. There are groups who are trying to clean the nets up (at least along the U.S. coastlines), but ghost fishing is a big problem, and there are a relatively small number of people working with limited budgets to address the problem. Anyway, the video of the whales that they had on this show was really super cool.
Okay. That's it for now. Everyone make sure to use enviromentally friendly fertilizers on their lawns, because we don't want to poison the ocean!

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

One other quick note. I'm glad that there has finally been a small increase to the minimum wage. The minimum wage is now $5.85, and it's not nearly enough. I think that minimum wage needs to be set with an eye toward what it realistically costs to afford a basic level of food, shelter, and health care in this country. I'm not talking about supporting freeloaders here who want to live off the government dole- I'm talking about the fairness of paying people a salary that they can exist on if they're willing to work 40 hours a week. Yes, I'm a crazy hippie, but I think companies ought to be required to pay their workers a salary that they can actually subsist on. There are a number of Living Wage campaigns across the country with various goals (the least of which states that businesses which receive government subsidies ought to provide subsistence level salaries to their employees). The basic idea is that businesses should not be allowed to thrive by paying substantial salaries to their top level employees while employees at the bottom of the pay scale literally don't make enough money to survive (at least by working a standard 40 hour work week). The current minimum wage puts full time employees below the federally defined poverty line if they work 40 hours a week ($12,168 a year- try living in Austin on that!).
You can check out The Living Wage Resource Center here. You can sign the Green Party's Living Wage/Fair Wage petition here.
Here endeth my communist manifesto for today.
Hey, guys. Sadly, I still don't have any real news to post about. I've been caught in a holding pattern lately, in need of adventure.

Anyway, work this week is busy because a bunch of people from my office are gone to a seminar in Houston (thereby leaving us sort of shorthanded).

I'm glad to see that the NFL put Michael Vick on at least a temporary suspension. I'm willing to see how things play out in court, but it sounds pretty clear from the evidence so far that, at the very least, there were dogfights occurring on Vick's property (and I think that level of culpability should be enough to at least temporarily suspend Vick, pending further investigation). If it turns out that Vick really was fully cooperating in the staging of these dogfights, I hope that he gets permanently kicked out of the NFL and does some jail time. I just think that it's absolutely unacceptable for us, as a society, to tolerate the intentional infliction of cruelty upon animals as a source of entertainment. It violates the rights of the animals, and it indicates some kind of sociopathology on the part of the people who participate in it (in short, I think the inability of these people to empathize with the suffering of animals means that most of them aren't too far removed from being capable of inflicting some pretty nasty abuse upon humans).

There's a good, albeit short, piece in the New York Times this week by Adam Cohen about the constitutionally prescribed limits of presidential authority in conducting a war and the intent of the founding fathers when investing the president with war powers. It's time for the Democrats to step up and demand from (or even better, to present to) the current administration a plan for withdrawal from Iraq. If the White House continues to be obstinate, Congress just needs to cut off the funding. While the Republicans will undoubtedly kick and scream about how the liberals are refusing to support the troops, the truth is that the only real way to support the troops in this war is to look for a way to get them out of Iraq. If the White House refuses to do this, then they're the ones who've turned their back on our soldiers. The Democrats need to grow a backbone and stand firm on something pretty soon, or the momentum is going to shift back to the right (I think that given the choice between leaders who accomplish the wrong thing and leaders who are so ineffectual that they seem to get nothing done, Americans will choose the active wrongdoer every time. Americans like people who get things done, even when the tasks being accomplished don't necessarily arise from very good ideas) Anyway, the Democrats need to be looking a lot stronger by the time the next presidential election rolls around, or there's going to be trouble.

Okay. That's it for today. Peace, Adventurers.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Monday. I have nothing to report. Truly. Here's a link to my brother's blog in case you feel that you've been shortchanged by my lack of a post.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Well, it's Sunday afternoon. Just thought I would make a quick post since I may be busy tomorrow. Friday night I had Crack practice with Sigmund and Andy. We rocked pretty hard, and came up with some interesting sounds. Andy recorded us on his video camera. Probably not the most exciting bit of video ever captured, but hopefully the audio sounds cool. Once we got done playing, we listened to some old Crack recordings. At some point we need to edit some of that stuff down (or pick and choose portions of it), and put it up online somewhere so people can download it. We're not exactly polished, but we're interesting (in a decidedly Crack sort of way), and oftentimes the music carries a lot of emotion.
Saturday I didn't do a whole lot, to be honest. I went out for breakfast with Ryan, Jamie, and Heather Wagner, and then afterward I went browsing at a bunch of music stores to check out acoustic bass guitars. (I played about a half dozen of the things, but ultimately was unsatisfied with the sound that I could get out of the acoustic basses when they weren't plugged in. They just didn't seem like they were going to be loud enough to be heard when playing with a bunch of acoustic guitar players. If any of you Adventurers out there have any ideas or suggestions regarding certain makes or models that I ought to try- other than just buying a very expensive upright acoustic bass violin- I'd love to hear them).
Today I got up and mowed the grass and then took Cassidy down to Gus Fruh. The water was still pretty cloudy from all of the recent rain, but the sun was out and we did some swimming, anyway. I met some people who were down there playing songs on acoustic guitar and mandolin, and Cassidy and I floated around and listened to them belt out some Van Morrison, Jimmy Cliff, and Grateful Dead songs, among others. It was really nice. We also saw a couple of really big vultures that freaked Cassidy out.
That's it for now. Mono E practice is in a little while. I bought us a new mic stand while I was at the music store on Saturday. Wheeeee!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Howdy. Happy Friday, everyone!
Last night I went out to dinner with Jamie and Mandy at Madame Mam's (Ryan had to work late). We ate pad thai, fried rice, and small egg rolls. It was nice. Apparently Kellie (Mandy's sister) is going to be returning to Texas from Seattle in the relatively near future, and apparently Jamie's parents are already pretty close to having found themselves a central Texas retirement property after only one visit down here for house hunting.
Other from that, I didn't do too much last night. I messed around on the computer and watched some Doctor Who. Exercised a little bit.
At the risk of sounding like a party pooper or trying to rain on everyone's parade, let me say that I'm getting tired of all of this Harry Potter hype. It seems like every magazine, newspaper, or website that I look at has some kind of article about Harry Potter, speculating about his fate and commenting on the quality and social impact of the books and movies, and I'm just tired of it. The media hysteria surrounding Harry Potter is really what bugs me- the books and movies are fine, I guess, although I've never really found them to be all that outstanding.
The book always seemed, to me, to just be fairly derivative of a bunch of other source materials (a combination of a boarding school tale and a fairy tale that simply employs characters and creatures which fantasy fans are already fairly familiar with from other books and movies). Harry Potter himself never struck me as a particularly interesting character, and the whole thing has always just felt like it was dripping in cliche to me.
Now before everyone attacks me, let me back up and say that the books are cute and fairly clever and I'm glad that they've apparently drummed up a renewed interest in books among children. I just think there are many, many other books out there that are at least as good if not better than Harry Potter, but which have somehow never managed to reach the cultural icon status of the Potter books.
When I was a kid, I remember reading The Chronicles of Narnia, The Hobbit, The Book of Three and The Chronicles of Prydain, The Dragonriders of Pern, A Wrinkle in Time (and other Madeleine L'Engle books), and many, many others, and I'm convinced that most of these books showed more imagination and told more engaging stories than the Harry Potter books. The Potter books contain elements of the fantastic, but I think that their strength lies in familiarity rather than in their ability to amaze, awe, or stretch the imagination. The characters seem familiar, the boarding school setting seems familiar, and, to be honest, even the magic elements which exist within the story seem familiar (we've all heard about witches riding brooms since we were kids, the wizards in the books seem fairly stereotypical, the dragons, griffins, werewolves and other creatures in the book have all typically appeared in other works, and even the magical "gadgets" in the books seem like things lifted out of an old Dungeons and Dragons manual).
I just want today's kids to have a work of fantasy that really shows them something new and expands their imaginations. A Wrinkle in Time was written about 11 years before I was born, but that book will still blow your mind if you go back and read it today. Madeleine L'Engle created her own, unique world rather than just creating a genre tale by cutting and pasting ideas out of other works.
Man, I'm being too negative. Go out and enjoy Harry Potter, folks. There's nothing wrong with it. I'm whining, but ultimately it's just because I believe that we can do more. Our imaginations are capable of more than just reshaping and combining concepts that we've already seen. But insofar as one can create an enjoyable storyline out of pre-existing concepts, Rowling has done a great job. I just want my fantasy to feel a little more fantastic. That's all.
Man, I just spent a lot of time on Harry Potter, and, in a way, I've contributed to the hype. Damn you, Harry Potter.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Hey, guys. Well, I don't have a ton of stuff to report on. I went and had dinner last night with Ryan and Jamie at Katz's (I'm not quite sure how we ended up there, but we had a difficult time coming to a decision). Work has been fairly busy, which is a good thing (even though I'm not the most energetic person in the world, I actually like to be pretty busy at work so long as things don't get too overwhelming- being busy makes the time pass more quickly and keeps things interesting).
I'm kind of annoyed, but not surprised, that the GOP managed to block a Senate proposal to begin withdrawing troops from Iraq. Even though the vote was 52 to 47 in the Senate to approve the proposal (a slim majority), the Democrats needed 60 votes to have the proposal approved. As I've said before, however, I'm not really sure we should pull our troops out of Iraq, anyway, until we have some kind of plan to assure a basic amount of security to the people in that region once we're gone. Some of these Democrats are annoying me even more than the Republicans- they made a knee-jerk decision in response to popular opinion (or at least popular opinion as they saw it) that got us involved in the war in the first place, and now that public sentiment is shifting against the war, I sense some similarly reactionary decision-making in the works regarding pulling our troops out (without regard for the consequences of our actions). Once again, I don't think it's gonna make a very good impression on the rest of the world if we let Iraq slide into chaos just because we've gotten tired of the war. A slow, orderly withdrawal is part of the solution, but we also need to continue the training of Iraqi troops and police, and we need to be able to provide them with military support when the need arises (although perhaps from troops based on non-Iraqi soil). I just hope that the Democrats are thinking this thing through and keeping the best interests of the Iraqi people in mind rather than just making quick decisions in response to current political attitudes.

Also, I read this op-ed piece by William "Billy" Kristol on Sunday about why history will ultimately view Bush as a successful, but misunderstood president, and I wanted to scream. I've seen Kristol appear on countless talk shows, and he always seems like the amiable, likeable friend that you might have who you genuinely like, but who makes you cringe when he opens up his mouth and starts spitting out ridiculous political dogma that quickly demonstrates to everyone else in the room that he either doesn't bother to keep up with the news and world affairs, or that he is willfully ignorant of such matters because he doesn't want to absorb any information which might have an adverse impact on his worldview.
Anyway, there were so many things in Kristol's article that I took issue with, that I didn't even bother to write about it (I just felt like it would take too long to properly respond to the large number of things that I thought he was either misrepresenting or just didn't understand).
Therefore, it made me very happy today to see a response to Kristol's article written by David Corn, an editor for The Nation. Corn carefully lays out his rebuttal, spelling out the many areas in which Bush's leadership has either caused or contributed to awful problems for Americans over the last 7 years (the war, the actual effects of our "robust" economy for many middle Americans, the responses to Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, our terrible enviromental record, the erosion of human rights, and the damage done to America's image within the world community are among the examples), and he does a better job than I could have done. He also points out many of Kristol's other failed predictions from over the years (and I remember seeing Kristol make some of these predictions- such as his belief that Bush would ultimately be triumphant in justifying the Iraq invasion by proving they had WMDs and more firmly showing Hussein's links to Al Qaeda)
Anyway, I agree with Corn- Kristol isn't much of a pundit. Maybe he should look into getting a slot hosting a children's television show or something like that. I mean, he seems really nice, but he's kind of an idiot.
Gotta run.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Well, today is looking to be pretty busy, as well. Here's a quick post, and maybe more later.

Jamie flew down to Houston yesterday to have an appointment with a doctor about possibly getting back on the kidney transplant list. She was back in time for dinner (which was fun- hadn't seen she and Roundball since last week), and it sounds like she stands a pretty good chance of getting put back on the list for a transplant. We'll see, I guess, but it sounded like her appointment went well. And we had a lovely Chinese dinner at Hunan. It's not the best Chinese restaurant in town, but the ladies who work there are really nice.

Other from going to dinner with Roundball and McSteans, last night I went to Target and picked up a new wireless router for my laptop. Once again Steanso has the ability to lay in bed all day and download wacky You Tube clips while eating bon bons. Everyone rejoice.
I also took Cassidy for a walk and exercised a wee bit.

That's it.
Oh yeah, since I didn't post about any news stories yesterday, let me take a moment to express my disgust for Michael Vick, who has allegedly been involved with dogfighting that has been held on his property. Anybody who's read this blog for any amount of time has probably figured out that I'm an animal lover, and the whole idea of dogfighting kind of makes me sick. I've had some experience with it in criminal court, as well, and the people engaged in it tend to be idiots driven by their own insecurities to try to prove their manhood by forcing dogs to fight each other to the death (usually while engaged in illegal gambling over the whole thing). Here's an idea, jackasses- if you want something to fight to the death, grab a hatchet and go at it yourselves. Forcing animals to suffer for your personal entertainment is stupid and, to be honest, demonstrates some kind of warped pathology that I don't really even want to think about. Michael Vick- you're an idiot (didn't you just get busted for trying to bring pot through an airport, as well?) and I hope they put you in jail.

Gotta run.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Quick post, but today is gonna be busy.

I didn't do anything last night. I ate a burrito and watched television. Took Cassidy for a walk.

And, man, I keep looking for stuff in the news to write about, but I'm just not inspired at the moment.

Well, maybe it's good that I don't have time to write much today. The universe is giving me a sign. I need a day off.

Maybe more later.


Monday, July 16, 2007

So another Monday.
Sunday was good. Spent the early afternoon hanging out at Barton Springs ( I even had a hangout partner- Kim Bloom, who is, with the possible exceptions of our friends Lee and John, just about the only person I know who loves hanging out on the water as much as me). Anyway, the springs were a little crowded, but it was nice to get a bit of sun, and the water felt good.

After swimming I talked to The Karebear and The Admiral on the phone for a while, and then we had Mono Ensemble practice. Practice went pretty well, even though Jim didn't make it. All of you Adventurers mark your calendars, because we're going to be having a Mono E party on the Thursday night before ACL Fest for anyone who wants to come. There'll be a more official invitation with details later, but just keep that night open. Also, for those of you who are going to ACL Fest (I'm looking in your direction, Roundball), don't forget to ask off work for Friday, September 14th so that you can do some rocking. If you have to fake menstrual cramps on the first day of the festival, it's gonna look suspicious.

There's a new book called Dialysis Without Fear which was co-written by Susan Offer Szafir along with her parents, Daniel and Marjorie Kaiz Offer which is scheduled for release on July 23rd. The book helps to illustrate the effects on lifestyle and health which are experienced by dialysis patients, and its meant to help provide insight and support to both patients who are new to dialysis and to friends and loved ones of dialysis patients who want to gain insight into kidney disease and dialysis-related issues. Anyhoo, the book sounds interesting to me primarily because my sister-in-law, Jamie, has been dealing with kidney disease as long as I have known her, and has been on and off dialysis that entire time (she has been through a couple of kidney transplants during that time, and is currently undergoing dialysis three times a week). Dialysis is a pretty "normal" part of life with Jamie, and I really don't think about it too much, because she takes it pretty much in stride and deals with it as a fairly normal part of life (although I know that it tires her out to the point that it makes it hard for her to hold down a normal job schedule, I tend to forget about the whole dialysis thing because by the time I see Jamie after work or on weekends, she's usually had a chance to rest up and seems fine). Anyway, maybe I should read the book. If nothing else, I'll be helping to support an Austin writer.

Ookay. That's it for now. Have a good one.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

So here are some pics from the weekend thus far. These first couple are from the Friday the 13th jamboree over at Eric and Stephanie's place. Before the night was over we had about 4 acoustic guitars, a bass guitar, and a small drum set going in their apartment (we had the lights turned down during the rocking, and I was playing guitar, so I guess I got no pictures of us actually playing). The tomfoolery went on until well after one in the morning, and unbelievably, none of their neighbors called the police. I'd say Eric's luck holds out just fine on these Friday the 13th events.

In the picture above, Reed is pointing at me and mumbling something incoherently about having his picture taken.

In this pic Eric is making sure that the cats are also having a good time at the party while Anna looks on.

On Saturday Mandy's brother and sister-in-law, Justin and Charissa, were in town with Mandy's nephew, Lucas. Mandy had some of us over for a barbecue, and Lucas was sort of the guest of honor. Lucas can be seen in this photo, expressing to the world how excited he is to be at the cook out. Maybe a better name for this picture would have been "Lucas Takes Flight".

In this pic, Andy gives Lucas instruction on how to properly destroy things (apparently to Kim's amusement).

After Lucas went to sleep we ate a ton of barbecue and drank some beers and did our traditional hang out in Mandy's backyard.

And the weekend's not over yet, but I'm a sucker for posting pictures. Hope you Adventurers are having a good weekend, as well.

Friday, July 13, 2007

So it's Friday. The 13th. Eric, the intrepid leader of the Mono Ensemble, and his wife, Stephanie, tend to have small social gatherings at their home when these allegedly ominous Fridays roll around, and I think tonight there may be some beer drinking and guitar strumming tonight, in keeping with the tradition.

There's an article in The New York Times today about how Bush keeps intentionally distorting his depictions of Al Qaeda in Iraq and the reasons why Al Qaeda is fighting us there. Bush has repeatedly referred to Al Qaeda in Iraq as one of the reasons we're at war over there, and implied that Al Qaeda is one of the reasons that we invaded Iraq in the first place. In truth, intelligence experts believe that Al Qaeda wasn't even in Iraq prior to our invasion, and that Al Qaeda fighters migrated there (or were recruited into the organization from the indigenous Iraqi population) in order to fight the U.S. once the war started. In yet another display of dishonesty, Bush has repeatedly implied that we invaded Iraq in order to go after Al Qaeda and that we can't leave Iraq because it's an Al Qaeda stronghold. The truth of the matter is that Saddam Hussein was not an ally of Al Qaeda and didn't tolerate its operation within his country. Al Qaeda popped up to fight us once the war broke out, but they probably would have migrated to almost any country in the region so long as there was a war going on to hide their immigration and a promising chance that they were going to get to take some cheap shots at American troops (i.e., if we had invaded France, I bet there would have been Al Qaeda IEDs and snipers sneaking into the country within weeks). It's true that Al Qaeda now has a significant presence in Iraq, but the irony is that the American invasion and accompanying destabilization of the country was the catalyst for Al Qaeda's infiltration of Iraq. If the president thinks we need to stay there now in order to get Al Qaeda out of Iraq, he ought to at least 'fess up to a "we broke it, we bought it" type philosophy.
Which brings me to my next point. I'm glad that our Democratic leaders have finally awoken to the folly of our decision in invading Iraq, but I'm a little concerned about their lack of any cohesive exit strategy in wanting to pull out of the region. Although it's often cited by conservatives as a reason for their infuriating "stay the course" philosophy regarding the Iraq war, I think there are very legitimate concerns about whether widespread genocide would occur if the U.S. were to suddenly pull all of its troops out of Iraq. Although we should have considered these issues before the invasion, the fact remains that the U.S. has destabilized the country through our own actions, and now I think we're responsible for attempting to secure some kind of safety for its citizens.
Of course, I still want to see our troops out of Iraq, so I think we need some kind of plan that both gets us out of there and prevents ethnic cleansing or other forms of genocide. The plan should probably incorporate the continuing effort to create an effective, stable Iraqi military and police force (under the command of a government which is committed to not only majority rule, but also the protection of groups in the minority), as well as some kind of plan by the U.S. military which withdraws our troops from the borders of Iraq, but which keeps U.S. troops readily available in Saudi Arabia or some other "standby region" so that we can implement quick strikes and military support missions to aid the Iraqis if help is called for by their government (a kind of "pull and strike" strategy*). In short, we need to get the Iraqis to stand on their own feet, but we need to be readily available if they have trouble. I'm not sure of the best way to accomplish this, but the Democrats need to start coming up with some plans before we just yank out our troops and let Iraq descend into chaos.
Anyway, I just don't want the U.S. blamed for Iraqi genocide in addition to all of the other problems that we've already created. I know that we need to extricate ourselves from Iraq, but we owe the Iraqi people the duty of making sure that they are at least as safe when we leave as they were when we invaded their country.
Okay. End of rant.
Hope everyone's doing okay today.

* I didn't come up with this "pull and strike" thing on my own. I've read versions of it a few places, including an op/ed piece in Newsweek by Jonathan Alter from 6/25/07

Thursday, July 12, 2007

And here's a picture of Jamie with her actual new car (still officially unnamed as of this writing). Jamie's pretty excited about the ground clearance on her new CRV (her old Camry used to bottom out every time she went over a speed bump or pulled into a moderately steep driveway), and the ground clearance is what she's pointing to in this photo. She is not, I repeat, not doing the funky chicken in this picture. We have other photos for that sort of thing.
I would like to point out that both Roundball and Jamie felt compelled to stop by The Hop a Long Lounge shortly after picking up their new cars in order to have them blessed by the small Buddha featured in the bottom left foreground of this picture. Buddha likes new cars and he bestows luck and safety upon their drivers, so long as their owners pledge to align themselves with the forces of good. (also, we usually go out for a "welcome the new car" victory dinner)
Hey. Hope things are going ok out there.

Last night Roundball and Jamie went to pick up Jamie's new car, which is a shiny, red new CRV. It's pretty cool to have two CRVs in the family (for those of you who have never seen my car, I have a blue 2000 model CRV) , albeit two generations apart. Anyhow, it's a pretty cool new ride, and Jamie took Roundball and I to dinner in it over at Hyde Park Grill. Ryan wants to dub Jamie's new ride "The Badger" because that's what we used to call Ryan's red '84 Honda Accord back in high school, but I don't think Jamie is going for it.
I took some pictures of Jamie's new car, but somehow I screwed them up, so here's a picture of a CRV off of the Honda website that looks an awful lot like hers (although maybe not exactly).

Other from that, I didn't do too much last night. I watched a movie called Primeval about a giant, man-eating crocodile named Gustave. The movie is very, very loosely based upon a true story about a giant crocodile in Burundi that kept eating people. It was a pretty weak movie, mostly because the writer tried to make some kind of laborious point about how man was ultimately responsible for creating this monster crocodile (because the crocodile had become huge and vicious by feeding off the corpses of the genocide victims that were dumped into the African river in which it lived). I'm not sure why people feel the need to try to spin these animal attack movies into morality tales, but it almost always happens (The Ghost and the Darkness was about colonialism in Africa, Jaws is about the lack of respect that modern man has for the ocean, King Kong is about the intersection of industrialist capitalism with the mysteries of the ancient, natural world, - etc. and so forth). I just like seeing animals eat people, and think that's good enough. After all, people enjoy eating animals all the time without any profound justification, so I'm of the opinion that animals don't really need any kind of profoundly moral reason for eating people. Anyway, in Primeval, the director's half-hearted attempt at referencing the horrors of African genocide within the context of a killer croc horror movie seemed not only misplaced, but kind of confused and cumbersome. It's hard to take truly disturbing social issues seriously when they're placed in the same movie with a 50 foot computer generated killer lizard. Fortunately, however, Primeval stayed true enough to its horror movie roots to reinforce the notion that if you're white and good-looking enough, you can survive pretty much anything. Ugly folk and minorities best watch their backs.

On a subtly different note, Steanso wishes farewell to Ladybird Johnson today, as well. Admittedly, I don't know too much about her, but I know that she was a big supporter of the University of Texas, helped establish the wildflower center and some highway beautification programs, championed a number of social causes (including Head Start, the Job Corps, and the War on Poverty), helped start some important businesses in Austin (including TV and radio stations), and was a well-loved first lady. Anyway, people really love her here in Central Texas, and I know she'll be missed.

Last, but not least, a new government report states that Al Qaeda is now the strongest that it has been since the attacks of 9/11, back in 2001. Of course I'm mad that the war has been pointless, that Al Qaeda is still highly functional and dangerous, and that our head of Homeland Security is telling us that he has a strong "gut feeling" that there may be an attack this summer, but at this point I'm just mad at the Democrats for not standing on the Senate floor every single day and counting the number of days since 9/11 and pointing out the fact that we still don't have Bin Laden or his highest ranking officers. We've got ourselves a war, sure, but the people actually responsible for 9/11 are still at large, unpunished, and continuing to pose a terrible threat to U.S. security. I said from the beginning that our response to 9/11 needed to be more akin to a massive criminal investigation and manhunt than to a military escalation, but Americans are more comfortable with war than thinking, and the next thing you know we've drummed up some enemies so that we could have a good and proper war (well, at least that was the mindset at the time) rather than doing the more difficult work of hunting down the truly responsible parties.
We gave Al Qaeda exactly what they were looking for when they attacked us. We showed the world that we were unthinking brutes who were willing to attack anyone target of convenience (accepting civilian deaths as "collateral damage" along the way) so long as it satisfied our mindless need for revenge. Now Al Qaeda has a training ground and countless examples of unjust U.S. action to use in their recruitment propaganda. They have a safe haven within Pakistan, and the U.S. seems unwilling or unable to effectively root them out of that country for fear of alienating one of our allies (although I still don't really understand that mindset- I don't understand how Pakistan is doing us many more favors than Afghanistan did under the Taliban's rule. Of course, among other differences, Pakistan has nukes).
Anyway, the Democrats need to be capitalizing on this horrible failure. They need a plan to bring these people to justice, and they need to be begging the public to put a Democrat into the White House so that they can put an end to this threat.

Man, I blogged a lot today, but it's been fast and furious blogging. I bet there are a lot of typos. Hope you guys are ok.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

So here are a few pictures of how I spent some of my day off yesterday. I think Jeff would've approved....

Sometimes it just helps to have some time on your own. (or with a high quality three legged dog)
I'm not much good at catchin' fish (which Jeff loved the most when he was down on the water), but I love going to the creek just the same.

So today is the one year anniversary of Jeff's death. Pretty much everyone who knows me knows that I miss him a whole lot, and that I still feel incredibly sad about his death.
I know that a lot of people are going to read this (on the 3rd, the anniversary of the accident, I had more hits to this blog than I've had since I installed the meter to start keeping track of such things), and I had originally tried to gather and organize my thoughts in the attempt to write some super great post. But I just didn't have it in me.
I don't think it matters, though.
I think that the people who really know me know how much Jeff meant to me, and that Jeff knew it, too.
And today isn't about me writing some super great post or telling humorous stories about Jeff. Today is just about Jeff and the fact that we miss him and enjoyed the time that we had with him (if you're looking for humorous Jeff stuff, just check out his blog, which is still up, or just just click through a bunch of my entries from the time I started my blog up until the day of the accident- the comments he always left in the comments sections might give you even more insight, but he's all over my blog).
On a slightly different note, this one year anniversary has been tough, because in some ways it feels like time just keeps rolling on and we're leaving Jeff farther behind. In other ways, it really doesn't matter how much time passes, because Jeff remains a presence in my life (I'm typing this from inside a house that I probably never would have bought without his help and on a blog that he encouraged me to keep up with). Anyway, I miss him a lot.

Right after his death, I kind of subconsciously started out thinking I could just kind of hurry up and force myself to grieve and then get over his death (a philosophy born somewhat out of the fact that I knew that Jeff had an aversion to depressing topics and a ceaseless zest for life), but I was naive. Just getting over the initial shock that he was gone took longer than I thought. And following that there have been different periods of varying degrees of sadness (which I'm still going through). Jeff might not have liked all of the sadness and grief, but I think it's been unavoidable, and that the same passage of time that is making today difficult is also, ultimately, the most crucial ingredient in coming to terms with Jeff's death. Time won't make the fact that he's gone any better, but time helps us just learn to deal with it.

So, that's all I have. I miss you, Jeff. My life has been immeasurably better for having had you in it. I miss you when I'm having fun, because I know that you always loved a good time, and I miss you when things suck because you always tried to find a way to make them better. My sympathy and love goes out to Mandy and Jeff's family and everyone else who has been touched by his death.


Monday, July 09, 2007

Well, Sunday brought little news. The Mono E had band practice over at the Hop-a-Long Lounge, and we ran through a bunch of golden oldies in early preparation for our pre-ACL Fest kickoff event (which isn't until September, but we need all of the prep time that we can get).
After practice Weedo and I rolled over to Roundball and Jamie's place for some pizza and some Wii tomfoolery.
For those who've never played a Wii, it's a pretty simple, easy to play gaming system that allows people to pick it up and play it fairly well within a few moments of getting started. The simplicity of the games may leave serious gamers wanting a bit more to sink their teeth into, but the Wii is great for parties and social gatherings where you want to be able to play some games with your friends, but you don't want to spend half an hour explaining a game (or, more importantly, the players don't want to spend half an hour mastering a relatively complicated set of buttons- the Wii, by contrast, really only uses 2 buttons).
Anyway, the Wii was/is fun, and the pizza was good.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

We crossed into the Sensat afterworld on our trip to New Orleans last weekend.

Unsurprisingly, the Sensat afterworld was filled with the spirits of all the fish that Andy has eaten over the years. Strangely, the fish weren't too bothered by the fact that Andy had eaten them- probably because they knew that he had enjoyed them so much.

Rami used her Elf powers to sneak into the Sensat afterworld with us, and apparently Andy was pretty happy about that.

But as he wandered the streets of Sensat Afterworld, mostly having a good time, it suddenly occurred to Andy, that, "Hey, if I never go back to my life in Austin, I'm never going to get my free iPhone at work!"

So Rami used her Elf magic to conjure up a 5 pound pizza, and offered it to anyone who could get them out of there.

And Reed said, "You throw in some of your magic Elf potions, and you might have yourself a deal."

And Reed ate a piece or two of pizza, pounded a few Elf drinks, chased them down with some Red Bulls, and mumbled, "I'm your Huckleberry."

And the spirits of a hundred thousand fish gathered to wish us farewell.

And the Whiskeetos slipped into a deep sleep, for such was the way home.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Well, last night we gathered at The Crown and Anchor and drank a few beers in honor of Sigmund's birthday. In this picture, Sigmund is squinting around, looking for Kim so as to inquire as to the identities of the two people clinging to him (i.e., Camille and Andy).

I know that Mandy, Camille, and myself had a good time, and I hope everyone else did, too (especially the birthday boy).

Today I just got back from going to the spillover with Jamie and Ryan. In a grand experiment, we took all three dogs with us, and I think things went pretty well. The dogs loved the water (which was running exceptionally high after our recent rain) and were generally well-behaved (with the minor exception of Lucy wanting to knock around a yippy little chihuahua a bit, but Ryan seemed far more concerned about this than the chihuahua's owners, who generally acted as if their yippy little dog had it coming). Anyway, it went pretty well, and hopefully all the dogs are tired out a bit and got some much needed exercise.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Happy Birthday, Sigmund!!!!

Happy birthday, Sig! You're a good friend, and a heck of a trombone player! Sorry, about the late post, but Cassidy and I have been down at Gus Fruh, celebrating in your honor.

Congrats on another year, and may fortune smile upon you as you begin another voyage round the sun...

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Well, last night I went over to Mandy's to celebrate the 4th of July with Rami, Andy, Mandy, and Camille. Given the fact that it had been raining all day, we decided to hedge our bets and cook a meal inside the house rather than relying upon the grill (although, of course, as fate would have it, the skies parted and the rain stopped just before dinner time, so we ended up hanging out in the backyard, anyway. We had tacos for dinner, and they were really good (Mandy and Camille even made some really good chicken for the tacos, and I'm normally not that huge of a fan of chicken). Andy brought sparklers and whiskey (you would think he brought that stuff because it was a holiday, but in truth, sparklers and whiskey could happen on just about any given day with Andy F.).

Here's a blurry cell phone pic of Andy and Rami with sparklers in Mandy's back yard. I have a picture of Mandy with a sparkler, too, but she looks afraid of her sparkler, so I decided not to post it.

Anyway, not much else to report. Had the day off today and went and saw the new Die Hard movie with Jamie. Before you get on my case for dragging Jamie to that movie, I would like to point out that Jamie was the one who actually picked this movie when I asked her what she wanted to see.

That's about it. The White House and Bill Clinton are duking it out over whether or not President Bush should have commuted the sentence of Scooter Libby. I, of course, don't think that Libby should have had his sentence commuted (and I think that if there were any justice in the world, Dick Cheney would be sharing a cell with him), but I think it was kind of foolish for Clinton to choose this particular topic (i.e., executive pardons) to launch an attack. Clinton handed out a whole bunch of pardons on his way out of office, and even if the facts of those pardons are substantially different from what's going on in the Libby case, the legal nuances between what Clinton did and what Bush did are going to be lost on the public, and Clinton is going to come out looking like a hypocrite.
Still, Libby and company burned people who were trying to serve their country, and effectively ruined at least one career and compromised national security in order to help settle a personal vendetta. Bad, bad Republicans. I still can't believe that The White House keeps getting away with this crap while Clinton was impeached for behavior that would have barely merited suspension if high school students were caught engaged in it.
And who's responsible for the lies that the U.S. told on the floor of the U.N.? (and no, I don't want to hear about erroneous intelligence- you don't get to go to the U.N. and just make up evidence if you don't really know what's going on. That's lying, too, and now untold people are dead because of it, we've destabilized an entire region of the globe, and most of the countries in the world aren't going to trust us again for the next 50 years. All of the people involved in that whole fiasco ought to be tried as war criminals. And we STILL don't have Bin Laden, for the love of God!)

Oookay. I gotta run before I work myself into a tizzy. Peace, guys.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

There was an article on the front page (at least in the online version) of The Statesman today about the anniversary of the accident, and the slow pace at which Mary Dodgen's case is moving through the court system, mostly due to Dodgen's battle with pancreatic cancer. The article talks a little bit about the fact that Jajuan met with Mary Dodgen privately (i.e., the woman who killed Jeff and seriously injured the Blooms), and I hope that meeting gives Jajuan some peace, especially if Dodgen's illness prevents her from ever going to trial.

Anyway, yeah, the whole thing is incredibly frustrating and strange (it's very unusual to have a defendant in the criminal justice system with an illness serious enough to prevent her from going to trial on such a serious charge). I just wish there were a way to move things forward more quickly, but I have faith that the people in the Travis County justice system are doing their jobs to the best of their ability in order to move the case forward and see that justice is served.

Happy July 4th!!!

Happy Independence Day, everybody! Hope everyone is having a good one. It's a little hard for me to just revel in warm and fuzzy patriotic feelings these days, when I feel like our actions, as a nation, have caused so much of the world to fear and mistrust us over the past few years (i.e., an unjustified war, numerous human rights violations, and an appalling lack of cooperation in trying to control global pollution all serve as glaring examples of our shortcomings). Ultimately, though, I feel like America is a country that has a whole lot of people in it who are trying to do the right thing and who want to set a strong example for the rest of the world. We can't let the setbacks that we suffer diminish our determination to make this a good country (even if we periodically lose control to self-serving, short-sighted, arrogant leaders). Anyway, I still have high hopes and aspirations for this country, though the last few years have shown that we're more than capable of making some very large mistakes (you have to stay alert, or else some opportunistic bastards will just sneak into office and mess the place all up). In addition, I have tremendous respect for all of the Americans who've gone before us who worked and fought so hard to make this country a great nation. So happy Independence Day in honor of all of the Americans out there who are struggling to help this nation fulfill its potential!
That's about all I've got. Man, I really wish it would stop raining.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Didn't do too much today. I watched some TV, briefly visited the cemetary, and tried to take Cassidy to the greenbelt (but it started raining). It was good to relax today, but it was a pretty low key, mellow day (as expected).
All of this rain is finally starting to bug me. In general, like many Texans, I typically have a "the more rain the better" mentality, but we're now into our first week of July, and I really haven't gotten to do a lot of my usual summer tomfoolery (i.e., swimming holes on the greenbelt, Barton Springs, etc.) because it's been too darn rainy. Plus, these clouds are just depressing. We already get them all winter in Texas, but I'm not used to having them in the summer as well.
That's about it.
Hope you guys are ok.

Monday, July 02, 2007

The Big Easy, The Police, and Robosaurus

Wow. To call the last few days a whirlwind would be an understatement. I left at around 9:00 a.m. Friday for New Orleans with Rami, Andy, and Reed. We got to New Orleans at after 9:00 at night, after stopping to switch to my parents Expedition in Spring and hitting some traffic along the way (there were some people who decided to shut down all eastbound lanes of traffic just outside of Tomball, but I'll leave my rant about the stupidity of the people in the greater Tomball area for another time). Once we got to New Orleans, we checked into The Quarterhouse and went to the Harrah's casino on Canal Street. Some of us lost more money than others, but none of us came out ahead. We went to Bourbon Street after that, and drank a few hand grenades from Tropical Isle among other things. At some point I had a piece of pizza.

Saturday morning we got up and went and ate at Cafe Fleur de Lis, which has good food and which was about 2 blocks down from The Quarterhouse. After breakfast/lunch (and a short detour by Rami and I into an art shop on the way back) we walked over to the aquarium, which I had heard about many times, but never visited, despite repeated trips to New Orleans. It was really cool (we got to watch them feed the penguins and the sea otters). After the aquarium we went back to the room and I just hung out with Reed for a little bit (we had a drink or two before going to the concert, while I think Andy and Rami went to a bar or something and had a drink - I'm not really sure what they were up to). Then we caught a cab to The New Orleans Arena for The Police concert. It was a really good show. They mostly stuck to their most popular songs, but they jammed some stuff out, and they seemed to be having a good time. Sting made a few crowd-pleasing comments about how good it was to see the people of New Orleans showing so much spirit. What can you say? They were The Police, and they rocked.

After The Police show we hiked back to our hotel, and then went out for a late night dinner at a place called Rotolo's on Decatur Street. We ordered a 5 pound pizza and didn't get done until about 1:00 a.m.. After that we pretty much went back to the room to crash, but we ended up drinking some more. Rami went to bed, but Andy, Reed, and I ended swimming, floating in the hot tub, and listening to the iPod at around 3:00 a.m.. I went to bed (i.e., passed out) after that, but Andy and Reed apparently went back down to Bourbon Street so Reed could try to take a picture of the full moon over Bourbon Street, and so Andy could try to show off the iPod speakers that he had some how hidden in his pants. The next morning we had to be checked out by 10:00. Getting up and out of there by 10:00 was sort of painful. We drove down Canal Street and tried to go to Mandina's, but it hadn't opened yet, so we went back to the Quarter and ate at some place who's name escapes me (I had a shrimp po boy, and it was pretty good).

And that was it. We hit the road by a little after noon, and got back to Austin a little after 11:00 p.m.. Driving through Spring to get the bigger car probably added a little time onto our trip, but I think the extra comfort was probably worth it.

I had today off work and spent a lot of it sleeping (although I did take Jamie to lunch at Maudie's). This evening I went to see The Transformers movie at The Alamo, which was accompanied by a display of awesomeness by the legendary Robosaurus. Robosaurus breathed fire, picked up and chewed on cars, and generally just stormed around the parking lot, roaring and flapping his ears angrily. He was freaking awesome. The movie was actually really fun, too. It was definitely just a big, dumb summer blockbuster, but I enjoyed it a lot more than either Spider Man 3 or the most recent Pirates of the Carribean movie. It knew its audience and its purpose without becoming too overly cute with itself or too serious. Not Oscar material, but a really fun popcorn movie.

I'm tired, but I just wanted to update you guys!

Andy and Rami share some hand grenades at The Tropical Isle!!!

Reed kind of looks skeptical about the arrival of our pizza.

Feral Andy makes a late night appearance.

Everybody wants to go a different direction.

Just a wee bit of shopping makes Elf Rami smile.

The Police. We couldn't take cameras inside, so all I got is this lousy cell phone picture. Good show, though.

Jackbart and Jamie prepare themselves for the might of Robosaurus.

Robosaurus barbecues a car. Probably a car full of Robosaurus haters.

The third is the anniversary of the accident that killed Jeff and hurt Kim and Sigmund. The whole thing makes me sad, and it's strange to have it coming on the heels of a fun trip. I thought about Jeff quite a bit on the trip, though. As with most fun-seeking adventures, he would've loved it. Damn. Miss him, miss him, miss him.
Peace, guys.