Howdy! Everyone have a nice weekend? Mine was pretty good.
First off, I rarely talk about my job, but Friday morning was sort of interesting. Friday morning I returned to the hallowed halls of my old alma mater, the UT Law School, to give testimony for the National Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys. I sat in with two other prosecutors and answered questions for a panel of well known defense attorneys (I think I vaguely recognized one of the women as a pundit from Court TV and the Nancy Grace Show). We (the prosecutors) each gave a brief statement, and then they asked us a series of questions about our involvement with "problem-solving courts" (i.e., courts with specialized caseloads, such as the Travis County DWI Court or the mental health docket that I work on). I guess they're travelling around the country gathering testimony and data in an attempt to formulate some proposals, which will in turn be supplied to national or state level legislative groups.
Anyway, I thought I was headed to speak at some touchy-feelie defense attorney conference, and the next thing you know I'm in the witness chair in some big, wood-paneled courtroom, speaking in front of 6 experienced attorneys, and giving testimony that's being videotaped and transcribed by a court reporter (while law students, advocacy groups, and even staffers from a few local politicians sat behind me taking notes). I guess the whole experience was fine (the investigative panel seemed relatively satisfied with my own testimony and the testimony of the other two prosecutors), but the whole thing just caught me off guard a bit. Should have worn a flashier tie.
Friday night I had dinner with Ryan and Jamie at Hyde Park Grill (Ryan flew to Dallas and back for work on Friday, so we caught up with him on his way back from the airport). Saturday I went over to Steans Manor, where Ryan and Jamie had some friends over to watch the UT-Kansas game and Ryan cooked up some sausage and chicken for us on the grill. Pretty good game. Really good food.
Saturday night we went to Red Robin for dinner. As many of you Adventurers know, I generally try to go to locally owned places as opposed to national chains, but sometimes you just sort of run out of new places to try...
Anyway, the burgers at Red Robin actually weren't too bad. The place is decorated with lots of wacky crap on the walls, balloons for the kids, TVs crammed into every corner, and lots of pictures with, well, red robins inserted into them.
Like I said, the burgers were okay, but the restaurant was sort of hyper-manic-forced-cheerful, and the food in the place should have come with cholesterol medication as a side item. One of their big selling points is that most of the items on their menu are "bottomless", meaning that once you suck down your strawberry lemonade and eat your way through a tower of onion rings (and they really do bring them to you on some sort of stacked, two foot tall arrangement), you can always get more (I ordered myself some extra fries, mostly for novelty's sake, but the problem is that once the food showed and was sitting in front of me...).
Anyway, I'm not sure I'll be headed back there very soon, but the burgers were pretty good, I have to admit.
For some reason after eating at Red Robin, we went back to my house and ended up watching The Wizard of Oz. Actually, we watched the Wizard of Oz, but it was on cable, so it was occasionally punctuated by segments of Sin City, which we watched during commercial breaks. Yes, transitioning between the two movies was a little jarring, to say the least.
Anyway, two things about The Wizard of Oz. One, it's truly amazing how much of that movie and references to it have been adopted into our popular culture. Line after line you hear phrases that are repeatedly quoted and/or have been incorporated into other works. It's pretty incredible how the Wizard of Oz just sort of constitutes part of the bedrock of our national psyche.
The other thing about that movie is the flying monkeys. Almost everyone finds them disconcerting, and it seems like eveyone has a story about how they were bothered by them as a kid (or how they knew someone else who was truly bothered by them). I gotta say, even upon a subsequent viewing as an adult I found the flying monkeys pretty scary. Something about the emotionless monkey faces and their dark eyes freaks me out, and then there's the fact that, well, flying monkeys are just scary. No one wants an animal dropping out of the sky onto them, but the fear is even moreso when the animal screeches and has little monkey hands.
So I had fun watching The Wizard of Oz.
Sunday I got up and went to Target and ran a few other errands. I went and had lunch with Mandy, and I played a bit of Mass Effect on the XBox before band practice (Mass Effect is pretty cool- it's cort of a combo of a role playing game and a first person shooter. Anyway, I've found it pretty entertaining, and it's made me glad I got my XBox fixed)
Band practice with the Mono E went pretty well. Kudos to Jim Gillespie for making it to practice, even though he had gall bladder surgery this week. Jim's going to make me think twice about cancelling practice next time my allergies are really bugging me. Anyway, all of us were there, and we sounded pretty good. We've been playing Beck's "Golden Age" at the last few practices, as well as a few other covers, and they're coming along well.
So that was the weekend.
I hear Barack Obama on the radio this morning talking about how he misses some of the little things from before his presidential campaign- going to his favorite barber shop or eating at his favorite sandwhich shop. Anyway, he was just saying that he misses those things, not because of the the products themselves (I'm sure he can have a barber come to him these days or send an intern to go get him a sandwhich), but because those are the everyday activities that just kind of keep a person in touch with reality and remind him who his neighbors are. It was an interesting perspective to hear, and although I know that Obama is still a politician (practiced in the art of saying things that people want to hear), it still made me think that we're dealing with a leader who is kind of qualitatively different than the folks we've been dealing with. I'm pretty sure that missing his neighbors and the people in his community was never even in George W. Bush's constellation of thoughts as he entered the White House (he had previously been governor, and for years before that had been surrounded by the people from his father's staff and cabinet [when he wasn't busy hobnobbing with a bunch of high dollar business contacts that were friends of the family]).
Anyway, I just thought it was kind of an interesting thing for Obama to comment on.
So that's it for now. Possibly more later. Hope ya'll had a good weekend!