Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Quick post on Halloween night.
Here's an article which was forwarded to me by my friend Lee, a former Marine officer in the JAG Corps who used to work under Lt. Col Colbey Volkey out at Camp Pendleton. Lee says that Volkey is a really good guy and a great Marine (a claim which the article seems to support). Anyway, after years of service in the Marine Corps and in the JAG Corps in particular, Volkey is leaving the Marine Corps because of what he sees as essentially corruption within the military justice system. It sounds like Volkey has had problems with commanding officers trying to influence the outcome of judicial proceedings (through everything from influencing juries to stacking prosecution teams to selectively filing charges in the first place), and that he believes that he has seen soldiers being railroaded (or something that sounds awfully close to it) in cases of alleged misconduct in Iraq when it looks like a proper defense of the soldiers in those situations might call into question the orders that the soldiers were operating under. Apparently higher ranking officers aren't too happy about cases or legal defenses (especially effective ones) which might call into question the command decisions of these higher ranking officers and/or policymaking individuals (It may be unfair to punish soldiers when they were trying to execute ambiguous orders to the best of their ability in an extremely difficult situation that they shouldn't have been placed into in the first place. When bad things happen as a result of soldiers carrying out their orders, who's to blame?).
Anyway, the article merits a look. I'm pretty sure that Colbey isn't exactly a bleeding heart liberal, but it sounds to me like he's tired of seeing footsoldiers sacrificed for the protection of commanders who are making bad decisions. Then again, the first bad command decision was probably getting our troops involved in an occupation and guerrilla war against indigent insurgents in the first place (big surprise- I'm looking at you, George). He's also tired of seeing soldiers come back from serving overseas who have developed significant mental health problems (typically as a result of post traumatic stress disorder) who are then treated as discipline problems by the military rather than getting the help that they deserve, and he's worked within the military justice system at Guantanamo Bay and come away from the experience describing the system as "horrific" and "a sham".
Interesting perspective from a guy who has put in a lot of years serving his country. Maybe we owe our troops a little more help than they're getting. We definitely owe them a justice system which staunchly upholds the constitution that they're fighting to defend.

Happy Halloween!!!


Happy Halloween, everybody! Hope ya'll are having a good one.
Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays. I like the idea of people dressing up and pretending to be other people, and I enjoy the sensation of being "scared" when you really know that there's nothing to be afraid of (which is much different than the more depressing feeling I get about things that are legitimately scary in real life- the difference between "fictional scary" and our attraction to it versus "real scary" was the subject of some writing by my philosophy advisor at Trinity. He studied aesthetics, and was interested in the emotional differences that we feel between reacting to fictional events versus real ones. Kind of interesting).
Halloween makes me think of Jeff Wilson a lot, too. He really loved Halloween, and would go to some fairly extravagant lengths to decorate his house and to come up with costumes (i.e., scarecrows in the front yard, ghosts hanging from his trees, and costumes that ranged from Taxi Driver to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). Anyway, I miss celebrating Halloween with him.
Also, happy birthday to Rami Reid! Rami's our favorite little Halloween hobgoblin, but she and Andy are in Jamaica this week on vacation. Hopefully she's having a good birthday.
Last night I watched The Shining with Team Bloom and Jennifer. I hadn't seen it in quite some time, and it was fun to see again. Such a great movie. Kubrick was a genius, and I'm not sure if anyone in movie history has ever played a crazy person as well as Jack Nicholson (plus, that little kid, Danny Lloyd, is just amazing). Anyway, it still holds a place on my list as one of the scariest movies of all time. If you haven't seen it in awhile, watch it again (you know you're not doing anything for Halloween tonight, anyway).
For some scary Halloween trivia, it appears that Vanilla Ice was born on Halloween in 1968, and that America detonated its first hydrogen bomb (because apparently our earlier nuclear weapons weren't strong enough?) on a Pacific atoll in 1952. And I already mentioned Rami's birthday.
Anyway, I guess that's it for now. Have a fun Halloween!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Hey. Not too much to report. My mom was in town yesterday visiting a friend of hers, so last night I met up with her (along with Ryan, Jamie, cousin Sue, and Ryan's friend, Julia) at Z Tejas. We ate some good food and did some catching up. It was good to see her.
Other from that, yesterday was pretty uneventful.
So now the Justice Department's investigation into potential misconduct by Blackwater USA (the "private security firm" which provides protection for many State Department and other U.S. officials) may have been compromised by the fact that State Department officials apparently promised immunity to some Blackwater guards during the course of their investigation. This is made troubling by the fact that the FBI and the Justice Department now claim that the State Department had no right to offer immunity to these people, and that the promise of immunity for their testimony may now make it difficult to prosecute some individuals who have been the subject of Justice Department inquiry.
Is anyone really surprised that this Blackwater investigation is going to fall apart? The idea of using mercenary contractors and other private contractors in Iraq has been a program which this administration has seemingly enthusiastically endorsed from the get-go (I'm not saying this has anything to do with the fact that Cheney was CEO of Halliburton from '95 to 2000, but... oh hell- yes I am). I never really doubted that Blackwater would escape any kind of meaningful investigation or punitive measures in this case (i.e., the investigation into possible wrongful shootings of at least 17 Iraqi civilians by Blackwater personnel)- I was just wondering how the investigation would get derailed this time. (How's Alberto Gonzales doing these days, anyway? Working on that tan?) Anyway, at least people are watching Blackwater (and these contractors, in general, I guess) more closely now. Sadly, that may be the best that we can hope for, given the fact that these contractors never seem to have had any hard and fast rules in the first place, and that our own government can't even seem to agree upon how best to investigate and prosecute a case that involves military contractors. Uggh. Let's at least hope, at a minimum, that they come up with some new rules and procedures to oversee the operation of these security firms.

I feel a little weird today. A lot of people in my office are sick, so maybe I'm trying to fight something off. Or maybe I just feel weird.
Anyway, I hope you guys are doing okay.

Trinity vs. Millsaps 10/27/07

Gotta be proud of my Tigers! There's not a lot of respect for Division 3 football, but these guys are playing their hearts out (without scholarships) and they're willing to take the kind of chances you just don't see in Division 1 ball very often. Go, Tigers!!!

Monday, October 29, 2007

You may now disregard the previous post (or at least the part about Philbin getting promoted).
FEMA staged a fake press conference? I mean, we're getting pretty used to not exactly getting the real story form our government, but this is absolutely ridiculous. I especially love the Q & A between FEMA employees (posing as reporters) and other FEMA employees about the quality of work that was going on in reaction to the California wildfires.

"I'm very happy with FEMA's response so far. This is a FEMA and a federal government that's leaning forward, not waiting to react. And you have to be pretty pleased to see that."

This quote by FEMA Deputy Administrator Harvey Johnson in response to a question posed by a co-worker.

What is our current administration doing to rectify this situation in which goverment employees are broadcasting fake press conferences? Well, John "Pat" Philbin, the Director of Public Affairs who was responsible for the fake press conference is being given a promotion- he's becoming the Director of Public Affairs for the Director of National Intelligence.
Great. It's good to know that this administration, who've been oh-so-forthcoming on sharing intelligence with the American people in the first place (the Valerie Plame case excluded), is now putting someone who's best known for his ability to stage fake press conferences in charge of public relations for the Director of National Intelligence. Yee haw.
Hey. The weekend was ok. Friday night we had Crack practice, and then hung out a bit at Mandy's afterward. Saturday I ran some errands, hung out with Jennifer and Cassidy at the dog park for awhile, and then went out to dinner and to see The Nightmare Before Christmas in 3D over at the Highland movie theater. Sunday Ryan had to work, so Jamie and I went and ate a hotdog and went to see Dan in Real Life. Afterward, I had Mono E practice. After band practice I did.... nothing.
Still thinking of the Thweatt family as John undergoes that stem cell transplant and chemotherapy down in Houston.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Well, it's Friday and the sun is shining, and I'm happy for that. Last night we had a happy hour at Z Tejas for Kim Bloom since she's leaving our office to go over and work for the D.A.. I'm happy for her, but I'll be sorry to see her go. It makes it a lot easier to go to work every day when your friends are here, and even though I'm friends with some other people in our office, I haven't been friends with any of them for as long or known them as well as I know Kim. Anyway, she's just going across the street, but I'll miss her, and I know Jennifer and some of the other people around here are going to miss her a lot as well.



What else..? I'm thinking a lot about the Thweatt family these days as their youngest member, John, prepares to undergo a stem cell transplant and some major chemotherapy down in Houston. I've known Lee, John's dad, since junior high and Sarah, John's mom, since college. I met Jacob and Henry, John's older brothers, when they showed up on the scene sometime later. John is fighting neuroblastoma (which is rare and mostly just effects kids), and the chemotherapy is expected to make him pretty sick and produce some pretty nasty and uncomfortable side effects. Still, this treatment is apparently just about John's best and only hope for a cure, so he's soldiering on, and the Thweatt family with him. They're a great family, and apparently some of their neighbors, having heard that John would be in the hospital for Halloween, hosted a kind of early Halloween this week, giving John a chance to do some early trick or treating and giving the other kids in the neighborhood an early chance to show off their costumes and share them with John.

Here's a picture of John dressed as Yoda for Halloween (one more reason the Thweatt kids are so near and dear to my heart is their fanatical love of all things Star Wars). I think Yoda was a great choice for a Halloween costume for John because Yoda is another little guy who's small stature belies his strength.

Anyway, if any of you Adventurers know the Thweatts, be sure to include them in your thoughts and prayers this week as John begins this new and critically important phase of his treatment. If you don't know the Thweatts, trust me when I say that they're really good people, and send them some your best thoughts and prayers, anyway.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Hi. Last night I went out to eat with Team Steans at Jason's Deli. Afterward, Ryan and I watched an episode of The Search for the Next Elvira. Jamie seemed very disappointed in us.

The UN's GEO-4 report was released this week, and it paints a pretty dire picture of the impact that human activity is having upon our planet on a number of levels. Of course, environmentalists and the UN have issued many warning about global environmental damage in the past (most persistently and notably in the area of global warming), but this report involves an accumulation of data from hundreds of researchers in different fields, with the data and conclusion having been reviewed and analyzed by thousands of additional experts. Further, the GEO-4 report deals with a broad spectrum of environmental issues rather than just focusing on global warming. It covers topics including forestry, fresh water supplies, fisheries, biodiversity, agriculture, desert spread, pollution, and a host of other topics related to the interaction between humans and our environment, and it studies the ways that these various subjects impact each other. On the whole, the report finds that most areas of the Earth's natural enviroment are on the decline, and that great work is required if people are to have hope of continuing to sustain our natural resources on this planet for future generations.
I know that this report is going to be dismissed as alarmist left wing rhetoric by a lot of people, but I really do feel that we're at a crucial juncture in this planet's history. I mean, it's gotten to the point where I read some of this stuff, and I'm a teensie bit relieved that I don't have kids of my own, just because I just don't have a good feeling about what future generations are going to have to deal with on this planet. The climate is out of wack, the seas are overfished, animal species continue to die off at an alarming rate, we're facing fuel shortages, we've got overpopulation that will continue to create food and water shortages, and our technology continues to rocket forward much faster than we are developing the ability to humanely and conscientiously deal with it. (And these enviromental concerns don't even include my worries about the fact that I think the world is becoming destabilized politically as technological advances continue to allow greater and greater amounts of military might to be wielded by smaller and more fractious political groups. I think that technology will ultimately make small groups, maybe a handful of people, as powerful in a military sense as entire nations had previously been. I found all of this information about how to make small scale bombs and weapons out of household items on the internet in about 20 seconds. Imagine what a motivated person or group could do if they were willing to do a little homework).
Then again, people have been predicting the end of the world since the beginning of time, right? Right? Still, when it's all the scientists getting together to say that the sky is falling, that's a little more worrisome somehow.

By the way, Jennifer Kraber is a lovely human being. She just told me so herself. Now she's begging me not to put this on my blog. Now she says I'm unfair. Unjust.

Well, I gotta go. Sorry about the gloom and doom.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Hey. Hope you guys are doing well. Don't forget to vote for Prop 15 this week during early voting (at least all of you Texans). It funds cancer research.

There was an article this week in Newsweek about Pakistan, arguing that Pakistan may now be the country that poses the biggest threat to U.S. security in the world, surpassing the threats posed by Iran or North Korea. I think the basic thrust of the argument is that there are regions of Pakistan which aren't really under government control, and we know that elemnets of Al Qaeda and the Taliban are hiding within Pakistan and using it as a base of operations. There are fundamentalist Muslim groups within Pakistan which support these groups, sympathize with them, and lend them aid. Even more troubling is the fact that Pakistan is a well known nuclear power, already in possession of nuclear weapons, and that they have never provided any kind of detailed public accounting regarding exactly how many nuclear weapons they have or how much nuclear material they're in possession of. Given the fact that it's not always clear exactly who the jihadist sympathizers are in Pakistan (the population at large doesn't seem to support the Muslim hardliners, but there are many within the country who do), the possibility seems to exist that radiocative material or entire nuclear weapons could find their way into the hands of Al Qaeda or the Taliban. And, of course, that would be very, very bad. (There have already been reports that a rogue group of Pakistani nuclear scientists met with Osama Bin Laden after 9/11- a story which continues to raise concerns amongst U.S. intelligence officials).

Anyway, given the fact that Islamic hardliners attacked Benazir Bhutto last week, killing at least 134 people in the process, it seems like now is a particularly good time to keep an eye on Pakistan. With a popular Bhutto pushing for democratic reforms and vowing to combat terrorists, and with President Musharraf's popularity sort of on the decline, it seems that Islamic jihadists may feel threatened and step up their struggle to maintain control over portions of Pakistan as a sort of stronghold for operations. Iran may be developing a nuclear program, but Pakistan already clearly has one, and given the instability of the country, that's a scary thing for the U.S..

I'm not sure why I felt the need to blog about Pakistan, except that I had never really thought it about it as much of a threat before, given the fact that we consider ourselves allies with the Pakistani government. Of course, it doesn't matter so much if we're friends with Pakistan's government if that government ends up getting overthrown or if Islamic sympathizers within that government are likely to provide our enemies with the makings for nuclear weapons. I still have high hopes that Benazir Bhutto may help bring some stability to Pakistan, though.

Well, that's it for now. Hope you guys are doing alright.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Hey. Work's busy. Nice weather this week in Austin. A cold front rolled through town and hopefully broke the back of this late October heat wave.

I don't have much time to write today. I'm in a blogging lull, I guess, but these things happen.

Hope you guys are doing alright out there.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Hey. Didn't mean to skip a post today, but I'm not feeling great, and I don't have a lot to report, anyway. Friday night I went to see 30 Days of Night with Jackbart and Stephanie. It was pretty good, I guess. Not the best vampire movie of all time, but it had kind of an interesting story, and between the setting (a darkened arctic town) and the creepy look of the vampires themselves, the movie had an interesting look. 30 Days wasn't really all that scary so much as it was a horror movie in the true sense of the word. It's not a movie that makes you jump out of your seat so much as it make you- uh, well- horrified at the situations and the choices that the characters get involved in. I'm really not entirely sure what to make of the movie, but during our screening an entire theater full of people cheered when a child took an axe to the head. It's the kind of movie with situations where that kind of reaction didn't necessarily seem inappropriate. So like I said- horrifying. It was good to see Jackbart and Steph. We ate Thai food after the movie.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Japanese anti-crime urban camouflage fashion. Ya dig?

Prop 15

And here's something that was sent to me by my brother-in-arms, Larry Lee Thweatt, who lives down in Houston with his wife, Sarah, and three boys, Jacob, Henry, and John. As I've mentioned before, Lee's youngest son, John, is battling cancer (neuroblastoma). My own mother, the Karebear, is a breast cancer survivor, my grandmother had cancer as well, and my good friend Liz passed away a little over 6 months ago from cancer, so I guess it's fair to say that both the Steans family and the Thweatt family not only take this whole fight against cancer business seriously, but we take it personally.

Here's the bulk of Lee's email:

"Here's a partisan plug from me for support of Proposition 15, which would infuse $3 billion over the next ten years into cancer research and prevention by creating the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. The amendment has bipartisan sponsorship in the Texas House and Senate, and Governor Perry is supporting the measure, as well. The President of MD Anderson supports the initiative. Privately, the measure has support from the American Cancer Society, The Susan G. Komen Foundation, and the Lance Armstrong Foundation. For reasons that defy understanding, here in Houston, the Harris County GOP announced this week that they oppose the measure. As you make your own decision on election day, consider these findings from the Texas Cancer Council: CANCER FACTS• There are more than 100 distinct types of cancer• More than 77,000 Texans develop cancer each year• More than 35,000 Texans die each year of cancer• Cancer is the #2 killer of Texans, accounting for one of every four deaths• Cancer is the leading cause of death for Texas women ages 35-74• Cancer is the second-leading cause of death for Texas men ages 45-74 A report titled The Cost of Cancer in Texas: A Report to the Texas Comprehensive Cancer Control Coalition on the Economic Impact of Cancer by The Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, The University of Texas at Austin and the Texas Health Care Information Council found that the total estimated direct medical costs due to cancer in 1998 were $4.9 billion, and indirect costs from lost productivity were $9.1 billion – for a total of about $14.0 billion attributable to cancer in Texas that year. That means that since 1998, Texas has lost somewhere around $140 billion in lost productivity from cancer. More importantly, since 1998, we've lost fellow Texans, family and friends equivalent to that of the entire population of Lubbock. That can change. Truly, it can. Proposition 15 provides for the establishment of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas and authorizes the issuance of general obligation bonds for the purpose of scientific research of all forms of human cancer. This measure makes sense economically, socially, and morally. Yes, it will be expensive. What will be far more expensive, in terms of both dollars and lives, is doing nothing, or even, less than we can. Should we spend $3 billion over the course of the next decade to try and save $140 billion and prevent the loss of another 350,000 lives? How can we not? This matters. With all of the force of character you can summon, vote. VOTE. Make sure your friends and family vote, as well. Support Proposition 15 on election day."

Early voting starts October 22nd and runs through November 6th. Get out there and vote for Prop 15, Adventurers!
Hi, guys. Beautiful weather this morning.
Last night I watched TV and read a book and messed around on the computer a whole bunch.

And former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto seems determined to remain in Pakistan and to try to return to power through fair and democratic elections following a suicide bombing attack which apparently tried to target her in Karachi, Pakistan on Thursday. The attack killed 136 people who were attending a welcoming celebration for Bhutto (hundreds more injured), and officials are stating that the attack bore signature elements of known Islamic militants from Pakistan's southern provinces, where Taliban and Al Qaeda elements are still known to be active.
I gotta say that I like Banzir Bhutto. She's an extremely well spoken, intelligent, articulate woman who seems to be determined to see democracy prevail in Pakistan, and even more courageously, she insists upon a secular government with participation by members of any and all religions, despite the fact that Muslim militants within her country would much rather see her dead than have a non-Muslim government installed. (To my understanding, Musharraf, the current leader of the Pakistan's military-led government, has walked a tightrope for years, alternately pacifying the Muslims while condemning extremism and terrorism and operating what is, ostensibly, a secular, military government). I'm aware that Bhutto and her husband have been accused of corruption in the past (including kickbacks for military contracts), but it seems unlikely that these allegations have merit. Instead, they seem to represent further political attacks against Bhutto (her husband, Asif Zardari, spent eight years in prison on such charges, and claims to have been the subject of politically motivated torture during his time in custody). Bhutto herself claims that the corruption charges are politically motivated and false, based on a few fabricated documents, lies, and misrepresentation. A report by the Auditor General of Pakistan has supported Bhutto's claims, providing evidence suggesting that Bhutto was removed from power in 1990 as the result of a witch hunt ordered by then president Ghulam Ishaq Khan (who paid investigators millions of rupees to file corruption cases against Bhutto and her husband in 1990-92).
So the lady has subsequently been in exile for a significant amount of time, she seems to have had any possible sins forgiven by the current government of Pakistan (Musharraf seems interested in some sort of power sharing agreement where he and Bhutto might contemporaneously hold office), she seems to be fairly popular with the Pakistani people (at least 1.5 million people filled the streets of Karachi to welcome her home), and she seems to be willing to risk her life to bring Pakistan a more stable, democratic, secular government. In a part of the world where extremists seem to get their way just by bullying political leaders and the public with horrific acts of violence, Bhutto has exhibited a good deal of courage by sticking to her principles and insisting upon a course of action for Pakistan that she sees as best serving the interests of its people.
Anyway, I like her. I wish more of our politicians exhibited even a bit of that kind of courage and conviction. I wish people would quit trying to blow her up.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Today has been surprisingly busy. Last night I went and ate Chinese food with Ryan, Jamie, and Nicole. Dinner was nice. After dinner I went home and hung out with Cassidy and watch High Noon, which I had never actually seen before in its entirety. It was, of course, a good movie, and in watching the bonus features after the movie I learned that in addition to just being a good western suspense film, High Noon was also meant to be a metaphor for the actions of many Americans during the McCarthyism and blacklisting of the 1950's (Gary Cooper runs around town trying to find someone to help him stand up to the gunfighters who are threatening his town, but no one will join him in standing up to the bullies).

Anyway, sorry about the weak posting, but sometimes life trumps blogging. Hope all's well.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Hello. Well, Team Bloom is supposed to be jetting off to San Francisco today for some vacation. I'm pretty jealous. I feel like I need a break, and San Francisco sounds like a great place to visit. I need to just schedule some kind of vacation. I've got the time.

Last night I went over to Ryan and Jamie's place. We hung out and watched part of Little People, Big World (which I totally don't get- it's a show about a family with some little people in it. It's supposed to show how they're basically the same as everyone else, I guess, but I don't get it- I'm totally sold on the fact that they're just like us, which basically just leaves you with a sort of voyeuristic show where you're just watching the daily life of this white, middle class, American family). We also watched part of Independent Lens, which is a great documentary series on PBS, but last night they were talking about crossword puzzles (people who make them, tournament champions, etc.). It's a subject that just didn't hold my interest since I don't really like crossword puzzles very much in the first place, so I bailed out about halfway through.


And there's an article in the N.Y.T. today about the fact that the Republican candidates for 2008 seem to be arguing not about whether or not global climate change is occurring, but instead disagree about how the problem should be addressed and what actions might be appropriate as a remedy. While their schemes for combatting the problem differ, the fact that they are offering solutions at all seems to indicate an informal consensus regarding the fact that not only is climate change occurring, but that human action can and does have a substantial impact upon the earth's climate. Senator McCain has gone so far as to indicate that he would like to see the U.S. sign onto the Kyoto Protocol (albeit, only after India and China have also signed on), and just about all of the candidates have said that they would like to see improvements in initiatives for alternative fuels and the expansion of nuclear energy as a power source. Anyway, I just thought it was interesting to hear that these candidates seem much more willing to address the issue of global warming than our current administration seems to have been.

And Steven Colbert has announced his candidacy for president. The man's pretty funny, but I wonder what he's going to do when he moves to the front of the polls.

And George Lucas is talking about producing a Star Wars TV show? I guess that a Star Wars TV series could potentially be really good, but given the way that the last three Star Wars movies turned out, I'm guessing that it ends up being pretty weak.

The weakening of the U.S. housing market combined with record prices for oil kind of tends to indicate some potentially difficult times ahead for the U.S. economy. I just don't want the bottom to fall out from under the economy just in time for the Democrats to take office. I think that the Democrats are pretty good at building up the economy (or at least Bill Clinton did a pretty good job of it), but it could be a long, slow process, and it will be hampered if they're wrongfully blamed for causing the nation's economic woes in the first place. Anyway, it would be just like Bush and Co. to wreck the place and then hand it over to the Dems for the cleanup.

Well, that's it for now. Hope everyone has a good Wednesday.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

So it's Tuesday. Nothing very important happened last night in my world. Watched a little TV. Played a little music. Took Cassidy for a walk and did some reading. Uneventful.

I'm transitioning to a new position within my office where I work on cases in which the defendants have mental health issues that need to be addressed as they proceed through the court system (it involves coordinating with special mental health defense attorneys, mental health counsellors from the jail, psychiatrists, and, of course, the judges). It's something new and different from what I've been doing for the last eight years or so, and I find it pretty interesting. It's Kim Bloom's old job, but she's moving on up to the D.A.'s office, so I'm scrambling to absorb her knowledge before she disappears in a couple of weeks. I think she's kind of gradually accumulated a lot of knowledge regarding her position since she started it, and maybe she doesn't quite realize how much she knows (and, conversely, how little I know) about the finer workings of the mental health program within the overall Travis County justice system. So I'm learning all I can, but she may still get the occasional phone call from me even after she's over at her new job (I know how to find you, Kim).

Well, not a lot to report today. It's kind of a dreary, overcast day hear in Austin, but we can't seem to buy a drop of rain. You guys have a good day.

Monday, October 15, 2007

And it's great to see that fossil fuel emissions and the accompanying greenhouse effect is not a science/technology issue that Fox News feels compelled to take seriously, but that the possibility of sex with robots is something that gives them cause for alarm....

You've got to be kidding me.
Hey. This is pretty funny. Maureen Dowd from the New York Times apparently challenged Stephen Colbert to write one of her columns for a day (following some kind of mock rant on The Colbert Report about how all of the op-ed columns in the Times were filled with nothing but lies - in case Mom and Dad are reading this and don't know who Colbert is, he's a comedian who has his own show on Comedy Central. He plays at being superconservative, but he really specializes in just kind of pointing out the absurdities of the American political and pop culture scene while parodying a conservative talk show host. Boy, I just managed to make Colbert sound a lot less funny than he is.)
Hi. The weekend was pretty good, but went by way too fast. Friday night I went and saw the new Wes Anderson movie, The Darjeeling Limited, at Alamo with the gang (Team Bloom, the Whiskeetos, Mandy, and Kellie Jo). I enjoyed the movie, and I'm sure (as with all Wes Anderson movies) I'll probably enjoy it even more upon subsequent viewings, but I will say that it felt very familiar, in terms of being a Wes Anderson movie. I'm still liking what the guy does, but at this point some of his stuff (both in terms of themes and technique) is starting to walk the thin line between being classic Wes Anderson material and just feeling repetitive (for instance, the themes of family and trust amongst family members, the use of characters who are devoid of cynicism, the use of 60's and 70's classic rock songs over slow mation shots, and even the cross section/mural-like rolling dolly shots). It feels like Anderson is carving out a very cult-like niche for himself, and I like the work that he's done, but his movies definitely have some overriding characteristics that bind them all together, and I'm kind of curious about whether Anderson is capable of making a different kind of movie (Woody Allen comes to mind as a filmmaker by way of comparison- I like his films, but you pretty much know what you're in for when you go to see a Woody Allen movie, and you don't expect him to stray very far beyond what the classic Woody Allen sensibility). Anyway, Darjeeling was good and definitely worth a look-see, but I think I'm getting to the point where it might be good to see him make something a little more outside of his comfort zone.
Saturday I got up and took Cassidy down to Gus Fruh for some exercise. I really didn't plan on getting in the water, this being October and all, but the sun and the wind were warm and Cassidy was looking for a swimming partner, so I got in for a bit. The water level has gone down a bit, but it was still more than adequate for cooling off.
I downloaded Radiohead's new album, In Rainbows. I really like it. It strikes a great balance between holding onto Radiohead's unique sound, while probably actually being a little more accessible than their last coupel of albums (it sounds funny to say their new album is more accessible than their last couple of hugely popular records, but repetitive listening has kind of made Radiohead's large audience forget how strange Kid A and Hail to the Thief sounded upon a first listen- even though they were great records). Anyway, I really like In Rainbows. Some of it sounds more straight ahead rock/pop, but it maintains great use of sound layering, computers combined flawlessly with acoustic and electric instruments, and, of course, Thom Yorke's haunting voice. Good stuff.
Saturday night I went to Cherry Creek and had catfish with Ryan and Jamie. Ryan and I watched some pretty awful version of Beowulf on the Sci Fi channel after dinner.
Sunday I got up and had breakfast with the kids, and then went on an unsuccessful clothes/shoes shopping expedition with Ryan. These big and tall stores are really geared more toward fat dudes than tall dudes, and I'm having a hard time finding a suit. We cruised around and ran errands, and I even stopped by a car dealership to look at cars (no, I'm not getting a new one immediately, but it's fun to look).
Last night we had a Mono Ensemble practice that everyone made it to, and it felt really good to be belting out some tunes with the band. It had been several weeks since we last played, and sometimes when we take a break I forget how therapeutic it is to make loud rock and roll with friends. We sounded pretty good considering we're getting back into playing songs we haven't done much since the beginning of last summer (the skate party put us in 80's music mode for awhile).

Not much else to report. Three UT students were found within Airmen's Cave and led to safety after an 11 hour retrieval operation. I guess that the three students were amateur spelunkers and just got lost in the cave. I saw a television interview with them after their rescue, and I was a little annoyed at how unapologetic and completely unhumbled these three students were after getting themselves lost. It took like a dozen people or more over 11 hours to get these numbskulls out, and the only thing they could talk about was how eager they were to go back into another cave. I guess I just wanted to hear them admit that they got in over their heads, and they should have probably brought an expert with them, but the kids seemed way more interested in assuring everybody that they knew what they were doing- an attitude which seemed patently false seeing as how they got lost and required rescue. I don't know, it just seems irresponsible to me to go crawling into a cave without a guide if you don't know where you're going or what you're doing, and then have to rely on the kindness (and tax dollars) of strangers to bail you out. Man, reading that, I realize that I sound like a grumpy old man. Oh well- those kids still kind of annoyed me.

Hope you guys are having a good day.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Friday, October 12, 2007

Hey. Well, it's Friday.
I spent a good portion of my evening last night trying to work on some songs that I've been trying to write. I go through long periods when I don't pick up my guitar much at all outside of band practice, and then sometimes I go through periods when I spend quite a bit of time playing music at night. I record occasional tunes that I come up with on my cheap little tape player, and I scribble down lyrics on leftover legal pads, and most of it never sees the light of day (I tend to mostly chicken out when it comes to actually sharing my stuff with other people, although I recorded a few songs to CD a while back and we took to playing them with the band). Still, I enjoy the process, and I hang onto some of my songs and play them over and over (I have some that are from way back in high school that I play on occasion because I just like the tunes). I have a hard time writing songs, and I tend to rework them a lot of times before I'm even marginally comfortable with them. I've always been amazed and impressed by Eric (our bandleader with the Mono E). He seems to have a much more natural ability to just kind of channel some sort of creative energy, seemingly effortlessly producing lyrics and melodies (he very well might say that the process really isn't all that effortless, but he makes it seem like it comes easily to him, and he's both fairly prolific and produces really good stuff). Anyway, expressing himself through music seems to come more naturally to Eric than it does to me (or to probably 99% of the people out there). I feel like I'm sweating a lot more to produce a small fraction of the material with my end results often being of questionable quality. Oh well. I still enjoy it.

Al Gore was awarded a Nobel Prize today for his work on curbing greenhouse gas emissions and fighting global warming. I know that this award is going to make a lot of American conservatives groan (they'll undoubtedly see it as yet another example of those European liberals trying to place ambitious American industrialism under siege), but I think that this award just goes to show how seriously the rest of the world is taking the problem of global warming while Americans sit back and debate whether the problem even exists (or whether human action has had anything to do with causing global warming and whether it's worth our time to try to take action that might reduce its effects). You gotta love America. We'll probably still be arguing about whether or not we should do something about global warming once Manhatten is flooded under a foot or two of water.

Gotta run. Hope you guys are having a good Friday.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Sorry. Busy day, and I don't have too much to post on, anyway. Hope all's well.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Oh yeah. It also occurs to me that today is my two year anniversary working as a prosecutor with the Travis County Attorneys Office. When I first came over here I wasn't sure about how well I would adjust to life as a prosecutor, but I've definitely come to enjoy it. Last year's accident has made the work feel more important than it did when I first came over here (I always knew DWI was a bad thing, but now I've got a greater appreciation for how dangerous DWI really is and how much it impacts people in the community), and it had kind of lent the work a sense of purpose (I'm not a zealot on a crusade or anything, but it helps to solidly believe in what you're doing when you see the same crime repeated over and over and over- it just kind of helps to keep me from losing sight of the fact that DWI really is a very serious offense that can hurt or kill people, even though it's a crime that's often committed by individuals who look more like the neighbor next door than like hardened criminals or thugs).
Anyway, prosecuting has its ups and downs and good days and bad days (like any other job, especially in the legal world), but overall I like my job and take satisfaction in it. Happy anniversary to me.
I really don't have any news. Didn't do much last night.

The Democrats continue to remain soft in opposing the war. They say they're going to focus their efforts on battles that they can win, but, frankly, I don't think that leaves them a whole lot to work on. They might as well continue to take a moral stand against the war, and at least keep their constituents happy. Here's a pretty good op ed piece by Harold Meyerson from The Washington Post which kind of sums up some of the frustrations that Democratic voters are feeling regarding the leadership of their party. I know I've said myself that the U.S. needs to have some kind of peacekeeping force in place in the region around Iraq (in order to prevent widespread ethnic cleansing or genocide from taking place once we leave), but I still want to get the vast majority of our troops out of there (I think we should have some kind of small, quick response force in place which is intended to assist the Iraqi government when called upon, but I don't think we should continue to have anything near the size of an occupying army within the country).

And Europe is marking its first anti-death penalty day. Capital punishment is banned in all 27 of the European Union member nations. In 2006 more than 3800 people were executed in 55 countries, according to the EU. I guess maybe that whole Holocaust thing has made the Europeans a little twitchy about giving governments the power to execute people, including their own citizens. Incidentally, I'm not a big fan of the death penalty, either.

Well, that's about it for the moment. You guys keep on keeping on.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Roundball had a similar preoccupation with the McDonald's McRib when he was a boy...
Oh yeah. I meant to comment on this earlier. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case of a German citizen who was seized by Macedonian police, turned over to the CIA, taken to Afghanistan and tortured (ok, physically abused, to be more specific) before being returned to Albania in 2004 where he was released in the Balkans. German officials say they were unofficially informed by their American counterparts that the man, Khaled al-Masri, was accidentally seized in a case of mistaken identity (although U.S. officials won't officially comment on the case). So here's another good reason to reconsider the use of "extreme interrogation techniques". Our government, in all of its limitless efficiency and unerring effectiveness, apparently occasionally inflicts its handiwork upon the wrong person. And then our conservative high court refuses to hold anyone responsible for these mistakes.
I'm really glad that my surname doesn't have an Arabic ring to it.
Hey, guys. Not too much going on today. Last night wasn't too exciting, either. I went over to Ryan and Jamie's house last night and had pizza with them and watched the first half of the Cowboys v. Bills game. They've got a friend of theirs, Nicole, staying over at their house, and she and her boyfriend, Matt (who's also an old friend), hung out with us.

I went home and sprayed the oak tree in my front yard with some fungicide (nothing like yard maintenance at 10:00 at night, but it was the first chance that I had to get to it). I also watched Rosemary's Baby because I didn't think I'd seen it before, but about halfway through it, I realized that I had. It was still sort of scary. Sort of. It kind of ultimately fell into the category of movie where the protagonist just isn't smart enough to be really able to help herself (although the audience is able to come up with a number of things that she could have done to address her situation more effectively), so she ends up just seeming sort of pathetic and hopeless. That Rosemary shoulda just gone out and bought herself a handgun (or hopped a train for Texas).

And for those of you out there who think that I just blindly support the Democrats on whatever position they take, here's another example of an area where I'm annoyed with them. The Democrats seem poised to roll over and contiue to extend expanded wiretapping powers to the NSA for eavesdropping on calls that American citizens engage in with individuals in foreign countries (the Protect America Act). I'm annoyed because this act removes the need for a warrant from the foreign intelligence court, thereby taking the normal judicial oversight required for a wiretapping warrant completely out of the process in these cases. I think the proper solution would be to streamline the process so that applications for warrants can be reviewed more quickly and efficiently by a judge (the role of the judge being to make sure that intrusion upon the 4th Amendment rights of American citizens is warranted before eavesdropping takes place). In criminal court certain judges are often on call so that their review of warrants can take place upon short notice, day or night. I'm not sure why we can't work a similar program in this situation rather than just handing over unfettered authority to what may potentially be overly zealous intelligence agencies (the intelligence agencies may do pretty good work, but they're only worried about catching bad guys and don't worry a whole lot about civil liberties or the privacy concerns of the average citizen). Anyway, the Democratic leadership needs to worry less about looking soft during the war on terror, and they need to be working harder to find solutions that safeguard the privacy rights of their constituents while still allowing us to pursue the bad guys.

OK. End of sermon.
I gotta run. Hope you guys are having a good day.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Hello. The weekend was pretty nice, if not especially remarkable. On Saturday I went over to Mark McCrimmon's house with Kim and Sigmund to watch the Texas v. OU game. Even though we didn't win, it was fun to go over there (Mark's wife, Lisa, made some excellent pulled pork for sandwiches and Mark made some tasty sangria). Saturday night I ate Mexican food with Ryan and Jamie, and afterward we watched some Halloween movies (the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead and part of The Rocky Horror Picture Show until I got too tired). Sunday I got up and went over to the Westgate theater (which is right by my house) and watched The Kingdom. It was pretty good. It gave a fairly interesting view of Saudi Arabia, and it felt pretty realistic with an interesting plotline, but somehow in about the last 15 or 20 minutes the movie kinf of took a hard right turn and all of the characters suddenly became Jason Bourne. There were huge explosions, car chases, and gunfights, and the Americans turned into Rambo- able to shrug off the effects of brutal assaults and shoot down 15 Saudis apiece without taking any bullets themselves. The action scenes toward the end were fun to watch, but I didn't really feel like they fit in with the overall feel of the rest of the movie.

Sunday afternoon I went and ran some errands with Ryan, and then last night we went and had Chinese food for dinner. During the day at some point Ryan and Jamie decorated their house for Halloween, turning it into a spooky wonderland (see photo). We watched an episode of The Bionic Woman last night, but I wasn't all that impressed with it. Katie Sackhoff's tentatively villainous character seems much more interesting than Lucy Hale's lead protagonist, and the show, on the whole, just doesn't seem to be developing in a very interesting direction (it seems like they're just kind of going in a terrorist of the week type direction with a Gilmore Girls type relationship developing between the bionic woman and her younger sister). I think the main problem is that Lucy Hale just doesn't feel like she's bringing a lot to this role. Her version of The Bionic woman feels more like a supporting character for Smallville than the lead role in a show meant for grown ups. She just kind of lacks intensity or charisma or something. Can't put my finger on it. Alright. I've now spent too much time on Bionic Woman. By the way, we also watched a little bit of the Packers game. It was the first one I've watched this season, so, of course, it was their first loss. I freakin' knew that would happen. Oh well. I'm going back to ignoring pro football for the rest of the season.

Anyway, pretty good weekend. Went by much too quickly.


Hope you guys had a good one. Talk to you later.

Happy Birthday, Jim!






Happy Birthday, Jim Gillespie!

He plays saxophone, he plays bass, he plays keyboard, and he's the oldest and wisest member of The Mono Ensemble! Many happy returns to Jim!




Friday, October 05, 2007

It's Friday. I woke up this morning and was immediately happy about that fact. I sat outside on the porch with Cassidy while she dined al fresco on a tasty bowl of Eukanuba and enjoyed the slight coolness of the oncoming fall.
I had dinner with Mandy last night, and she's off to Boston today to visit Camille. I also briefly attended a happy hour after work, held for our co-worker, Kristi, who may hold the record for the prosecutor with the shortest term of employment with our office before jumping ship (or at least for someone who still merited a happy hour upon leaving). She's going over to the defense side to work with Sumpter and Gonzales, so we'll still be seeing plenty of her. Good luck, Kristi.
For some reason I also played some Playstation for awhile last night. Those of you in the know will be happy to hear that Sam Fisher continues to be fairly successful as he infiltrates a known terrorist group in pursuit of some stolen red mercury. He's been kind of shaken up by the death of his daughter, but he seems to be holding it together. (Those of you who aren't in the know really shouldn't care what I'm talking about. Honestly.)
By the way, here's a pretty good Washington Post op-ed piece by Eugene Robinson about Bush's veto of the SCHIP expansion, if anyone's still interested. And here's an article from New 8's web page about the fact that ER rooms have become overcrowded, and that a very significant part of this overcrowding stems from the fact that uninsured individuals are seeking treatments in ERs rather than in regular doctor's offices or clinics because hospital ERs are obligated not to turn uninsured patients away (and hospital officials state that the veto of the SCHIP program is going to contribute to this problem even more).
Well, the weather seems beautiful outside, we're on the cusp of the weekend (TX-OU weekend, no less), and hopefully The Admiral will be safely returning from about 3 consecutive weeks of world wide business travel today. At the risk of jinxing myself, things are going okay. ;)
Oh, yeah! I almost forgot! Many happy returns to friend and fellow persecutor John Lastovica, as he celebrates what must be his 75th birthday today! Happy birthday, John. Hope they let you take the afternoon off.
Hope you guys are doing alright, too. I'll rap at ya later.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Well, Cynthia Bell's memorial service was nice, and some people said some very kind things about her. She was a really good lawyer, and a very funny and intelligent person. She also had a fierce battle with alcoholism and depression which ultimately killed her. We see a lot of both of these illnesses in the legal community (attorneys suffer from much higher rates of both depression and alcoholism than the general population), and I think that's partially why Cynthia's death has been so tough. Not only did we lose a really good person, but her death has been a bit of a cautionary tale for a lot of lawyers who struggle with their own demons. Many attorneys are kind of reluctant to discuss things like dperession, but to some extent, I think Cynthia's death has kind of put these issues, at least momentarily, in the spotlight. It's kind of the way of lawyers to agonize over things privately, but to show a confident, optimistic face in public. Lawyers deal with a lot of stress and are forced to deal with a lot of negative aspects of society as part of their work, but it doesn't behoove attorneys in any professional sense to show weakness, the effects of stress, or "negative" emotions publicly. Clients don't like it, juries and judges aren't crazy about it, and if you're unlucky, your opponents may exploit it. Plus, attorneys (well, any people, I guess) like for other people to think of them as successful, and it's hard to maintain that image if you're struggling with depression or substance abuse.
Anyway, I wasn't best friends with Cynthia, but I'm very sorry to see her go. I'm going to miss her sense of humor, her common sense approach to lawyering, her brutal honesty, and our talks about our respective dogs. It sounds like a cliche, but she really was one of a kind.
...
Peace.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Great. We're evil.
I know I said I didn't have much to blog about today, but George W. found a way to piss me off enough to get me writing again. Today Bush vetoed a $35 billion expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, stating that it provided healthcare for too many Americans who don't need it. This annoys me for a number of reasons. First off, the program is supposed to be funded through an increase in federal taxes on cigarettes, meaning that there wouldn't even be an increase in the federal income tax in order to fun this program (and people could just avoid paying the tax by not smoking- something that people shouldn't really be doing, anyway). Of course, the tobacco lobby is so far up Bush's - uh- rear end, that Bush would rather go to the mat and refuse to give insurance to American children rather than risk offending the tobacco industry. Second of all, who are these kids who don't need government health insurance? If there were any justice in the world, every child in America would receive free healthcare coverage. The SCHIP program is designed to help provide services to kids in families who have too much money to qualify for Medicaid, but who still can't afford to pay for private health insurance. The whole thing involves a matter of priorities- the president is willing to spend $700 billion for a pointless war in Iraq and give $50 billion in subsidies to oil companies, but he's worried about families somehow scamming the government by seeking healthcare for their children? Even if the wealthiest families in the country were getting free healthcare for their children, is universal healthcare coverage for children really something that's a bad thing? (especially when it's being paid for by taxing a vice that's killing tons of americans every year?) Jeez....
I gotta run, but it gets me mad.
Hey. I can't come up with anything. I tried to work on some songs last night and watch the last episode of "The War". Because I was trying to do both things at once, I think I was only marginally successful at either one.
I just can't come up with much to write about today. This afternoon we're supposed to have a sort of memorial service for Cynthia Bell. Her death is still bothering me because the circumstances surrounding it were just so sad.
Oh well. Maybe I'll write more later.
Ciao.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Hey. Tuesday. Not a lot to tell you about from the home front. Last night I ate bad Chinese food with Ryan and Jamie and watched some kind of celebrity dancing program on TV.

I guess there's some bad stuff coming out about the operations of Blackwater USA in Iraq. I don't fully understand the relationship and the chain of command between the U.S. military (or our government in general) and these private security contractors, but it certainly seems like they're kind of running amok over there with very little oversight or supervision (which is kind of scary when you have what basically amounts to a bunch of heavily armed, independent, paramilitary type employees running around, feeling like they can shoot at the locals with relative impunity). I don't know. The whole idea of these private security firms (who are, in truth, mercenaries) kind of troubles me, but I can't put my finger on exactly why. It's not as though are regular military troops are always well behaved and disciplined. There's just something about giving private firms, operating for profit rather than under the direct command of the military, the power of life and death over civilian populations in another country which makes me uneasy. Maybe I'm worried about the fact that it might be more efficient (and therefore ultimately more profitable) to just kill a bunch of people than it might be to do things the hard way and risk losing American lives in order to minimize the risk to Iraqi civilians (these situations seem especially likely when you're mixing insurgents in with an indigenous population). I think that if we're going to be using these kinds of firms, they need to be monitored extremely closely with embedded members of our own military or something of the like. I don't know.

And there was a sort of interesting article on CNN today about cheating in videogames. My first reaction when coming across the article was, "Who cares if people cheat at videogames?", but as the article points out, in the modern world of multiplayer online game play, nowadays there's a lot of money tied up in these things. Players (especially online players) spend money to access different portions of their games, to improve their characters, to upgrade weapons and vehicles, and so on and so forth. There may even be cash prizes involved for the best players of some games. So it seems pretty unfair when a player can hack into a game or implement some alterations to the program which allow a player to gain powers that other players don't have or which allows the player to advance through the game by illegal means (well, maybe not illegal, but you know what I mean). Video game designers are now having to expend some pretty serious time and resources trying to build safeguards into games to prevent players from cheating and taking unfair advantage over other players. I guess cheating is part of human nature, but to me it seems pretty nutty to spend money on a videogame and then deprive yourself of the experience of playing the game (at least as it was meant to be played) just because you've gotten caught up in being too competitive about it. Strange story, but a sign of the times, to be sure.

And last, but not least, Rush Limbaugh has taken to attacking soldiers who have returned from the Iraq War, but who are critical of the governement's handling of that war. Although he later tried to claim that his comment was referring only to one specific soldier, Jesse MacBeth, a vocal war critic who falsely claimed to have served in Iraq, Limbaugh's comments on the air never specifically referred to any such person. Anyway, the Democrats are probably trying to score some points on this one without really worrying too much about what Limbaugh meant to say, it still makes me chuckle any time I can see that blowhard struggling to get his foot out of his mouth (plus, I haven't heard the tapes of the show, but I've heard that Limbaugh specifically mentions MacBeth later, as an afterthought, indicating that he was not referring to him at the time that he made the comment about the "phony soldiers"). Ahhhhh... Limbaugh. What an idiot.

Well, that's about it for today. Peace.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Pope Spawn!!!


That's right, kids! Kevin Palka, aka The Pope, and his lovely wife, Raegan, have brought a child into the world. Samuel Liam Palka weighed in at 7 lbs. and 11 oz. at around 6:30 a.m. yesterday. I'm pretty sure that Raegan is a gynecologist, so maybe she delivered the baby herself. I'm not sure. All that we can be sure of right now is that Samuel can look forward to some sort of Addams Family-style upbringing. (He'll probably be wearing all black, listening to Bauhaus, and be bored by the monotony of his own existence by the time he's in third grade). Congrats, Kevin and Raegan, and good luck, Samuel. Hang in there, kid. No telling what's in store for ya, but you can bet that it's gonna be a wild ride.
Hey, guys. Nothing to report, really. I finished up watching season 2 of Rome last night (thanks, Kim Bloom, for lending). It was really good. The story is good, and it's constantly fascinating to watch these stories play out against a backdrop that's thousands of years old, when most of the issues and problems that the characters deal with could just as easily occur within a modern day political drama. At any rate, I think that the writers do a pretty good job of keeping things historically accurate, and in doing so, they help to accentuate both the similarities and the differences between Roman society and our own (and there are a lot of similarities- it's astonishing that the lifestyle of people in an ancient city could be so similar to our own, but still have so many obvious differences).
Not too much else to report. Ryan and Jamie are back in town, and Mel and Lucy are gone. It'll be lonelier, but a wee bit more peaceful without them.
My mom is back from her trip to Upper Michigan. Dad is still somewhere in the far east (I'm not sure- China? Maybe India?). He should be back on Friday, I think.
Anyhoo, back to work. I like my job, fine, but it's not as fun as going to the beach or going swimming with the dogs.