Monday, August 29, 2011

The Weekend

So the weekend was pretty good. It went by way too fast.
I ate hatch chili enchiladas, played a kind of complicated boardgame called Caylus (or it seemed complicated at the time) with newfriends Reid, Jim, and Seth, went to a few stores, swam at Barton Springs, had band practice, and ate frozen yogurt.
The importance of the frozen yogurt is not to be underestimated.
Amy looooves frozen yogurt.
It's delicious, cold, and apparently good for you, so she likes it. A LOT.
For a year now she's periodically mentioned cravings for froyo, but I've typically had to quietly, sadly respond with my belief that there really weren't many frozen yogurt choices in South Austin. Maybe none at all. This statement would usually elicit a sort of mournful, wistful, faraway look as Amy longingly stared out the window and dreamed of having a boyfriend who could provide her with tastier, healthier frozen treats.
I'd looked on Google Maps, though, and no sign of yogurt in South Austin.
But on Saturday everything changed.
Wham! Bam!
We found two frozen yogurt places in South Austin within about a four hour span!
First we drove past a place called Yogurt 4 U on William Cannon, and then we found a place called Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt over in Sunset Valley only about a mile or two from my house!
We had yogurt there twice in twenty four hours.
I know that sounds like a lot of yogurt, but it was a weekend of celebration. (also, one of those times we went right after swimming and basking in the sun at Barton Springs. I'm pretty sure you're required by law to eat frozen yogurt after a trip to Barton Springs if yogurt is available)
It turned out that Tutti Frutti had been there for about a year, but I guess it took the place a while to work its way onto the interwebz.
And you wouldn't believe the change in Amy. Thanks to froyo, I'm able to bring joy into her life now. There's a spring in her step and a smile on her face. Sometimes, when she thinks I'm not looking, I see her close her eyes and grin as she thinks about frozen yogurt.
Annnnyway, I hope you guys are doing well. Stay out of the heat. Eat some frozen yogurt.

Peace.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Happy Birthday, Dad!


So my dad, Rick Steans, is turning 65 today. Amy and I just got back from spending a couple of very nice days at the beach with Dad, Mom, Ryan, and Jamie.

I literally can't say enough about my Dad and what it mean to have grown up in a family with him. He's taught me everything from basic, practical life skills (e.g., how to change a tire and how to install grounded electrical plugs) to helping shape my worldview (e.g., "You're as good as anyone, but better than no one.")

At any rate, I don't want to get too sentimental on the ol' blog, but I would definitely feel remiss if I didn't mark Dad's birthday with some kind of post. I love you a lot, Dad, and I feel very lucky and proud to have you in my life! I hope you've had a good birthday!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Happy Beach Birthday!

Hey Steanso readers!

Steanso and I are heading to Galveston to participate in Rick's birthday extravaganza. I don't know what awaits us down there (aside from the possible hurricane or Karebear Tsunami), but I know we'll have fun. I'm looking forward to some serious sunbathing and cavorting. Anyway, here's wishing you all a fun-filled summer weekend!

Take it easy,
Amy

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Weekend

So the weekend was sort of a mixed bag. On Friday night a few of Amy's friends came over and we grabbed some food and played a few games. We played Dixit, which is a really interesting game involving pictures and interpretation (you have to guess how other people will perceive some sort of abstract images) and Imperial (which involved a big world map and wars, taxation, investment, etc.). Both games were a lot of fun. I didn't exactly win, but so long as we all had fun, we're all winners. Right? Right?!
On Saturday we met up with some other folks that Amy is friends with from the iSchool and law school for bar trivia at Opal Divine's. We ultimately came in fifth, but we were holding strong in second place until the final round, and there were 34 teams, so we did pretty well.
On Sunday we went to a funeral for my friend Debra Goodlett, who I mentioned had passed away a while back. There were quite a few people at the funeral, and some people said some very nice things.
I'm really going to miss Debra. She was much more than a coworker, and she really helped brighten up life here at the County Attorney's Office.
Sunday night we did some grilling, but in mid dinner my air conditioning went out, so I'm still contending with that. The chicken kabobs, on the other hand, were really good, but having a broken air conditioner during the middle of a heat wave is a real drag.

Well, that's it for now! I hope everyone is off to a good start this week!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

What You See in the Clouds

This is pretty wild. As a person who's pretty solidly grounded in a belief in science and logic, I recognize that the video shows clouds (i.e., water vapor) being shaped by wind as a storm blows in. I guess that some guy up in Canada shot this footage.
There are untold numbers of these meteorological events going on all of the time around the world, and probability itself would have to dictate that some of of the events arising out of this large group are bound to occur in formations that our minds will try to organize into recognizable patterns.
But there's some deeper, primordial part of me that still wants to posit that supernatural events, if they are ever going to exist at all, would have to take shape within the chaos and confusion of seemingly random events and coincidences- the less logical part of me argues that if there's some sort of chance that supernatural events could ever occur, then these occurrences might have to be the sort of things that a person could easily explain through logical means, while simultaneously being understandable, to a person who was inclined to see them differently, as something entirely different. This is, I suppose, where questions of faith and belief come into play. Faith in what, I'm not sure, but faith in something more than we can readily explain. The logical part of my brain wants to mock the superstitious part of my brain, but human beings have been superstitious for a long, long time, and thousands of years of evolution, in some ways, can prove a difficult thing to overcome.
So somewhere between feeling foolish about superstition and arrogant about the certainty that we have in our understanding of the universe, I feel stuck.
But faces in the clouds, no doubt, are a very cool thing.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Plastic Surgery and Comedy Gone Wrong

So a couple of things have gone through my mind over the last couple of days. Well, at least a couple. One of these things made me look upon something with dismay that I think many other people might potentially look upon in a favorable light, and another made me look upon something that I had previously viewed with skepticism in a much more positive way.


The positive-viewed-negative line of thought for this week came from watching a trailer for the new movie, 30 Minutes or Less, starring Jesse Eisenberg, Danny McBride, and Aziz Ansari. The movie is a sort of dark comedy about the madcap hijinks that ensue when a pizza delivery guy (Eisenberg) has a bomb strapped to his body against his will and is forced to commit a robbery. I really like some of the actors in this movie, and some of the jokes will probably turn out to be sort of funny, but I'm having a hard time getting past the fact that the plot is loosely placed upon a real life event in which a pizza delivery driver named Brian Douglas Wells had a bomb involuntarily strapped to his body in Erie, Pennsylvania in 2003. He was forced to rob a bank before the incident ended in a police standoff (the police were unsure about whether Wells was a voluntary participant). Wells ended up pleading for the police to try to disarm the bomb in front of news cameras before being killed by the bomb's detonation (the question of whether Wells was a willing participant in a robbery conspiracy still remains, I believe, although no one seems to believe that Wells planned to end his own life).
So, anyway, I just have a hard time imagining sitting through this movie and enjoying a whole lot of belly laughs. I remember seeing video of the original standoff with police as Wells begged for help before his death, and I was pretty horrified by the whole thing.
Maybe I'm just getting old and stodgy, but I'm just kind of bothered by the fact that we're so cynical these days that an extremely disturbing and very real murder is apparently considered viable subject matter for a wacky comedy. Call me softehearted, but I feel like regardless of whether Wells was involved in a robbery plot or ended up dying in an awful accident after things went wrong, there's still a profound lack of human empathy occurring when we're using a gruesome death as the source material for a comedy. I guess I'm not even so much bothered by the fact that the movie got made (people have a right to make whatever kind of art that they want) as by the fact that the studio was convinced that there would be a large audience out there for this movie (and that's exactly the sort of calculation that the studios have to make before greenlighting an expensive motion picture).
The whole thing makes me feel vaguely depressed.


On a more positive note, I'm fairly amazed by the progress that Charla Nash has made following her face transplant. She was attacked by a chimpanzee in 2009 (a friend's pet) and had her face and her hands pretty much destroyed. Now, however, doctors have given Nash a new face, provided by an unknown donor, and Nash seems to be recovering fairly well.
The whole operation has given me a reminder about/new appreciation for doctors who do reconstructive and plastic surgery. It's probably mostly ignorance on my part, but my knee jerk reaction when I picture plastic surgeons involves thoughts of breast implants, facelifts, and other forms of cosmetic surgery that I tend to think of as mostly nonessential.
This whole Charla Nash story has been a good reminder that these sorts of doctors also do amazing things in terms in terms of restoring quality of life for people who have suffered devastating injuries. It's amazing that we live in a day and age when people can get a new face!

Anyway, short post, but I felt like writing something! Hope you guys are enjoying youselves!
Peace!!

Monday, August 08, 2011

A Step in the Right Direction

So the Dow dropped over 600 points today and we're facing a possible double dip recession, the U.S. is facing the first ever downgrade of its credit rating, there are random riots going on in England (kicked off initially by a police shooting, but having quickly spread in distance and scope far beyond their point of origin), markets in Europe and Asia have been falling off sharply, and there's a horrible famine that's ravaging East Africa.

I think now, as much as ever, we need this...



Attack the Block

Oh yeah! We also went to see a movie this weekend called Attack the Block. It was a British movie about some London kids who have to fight off an alien invasion. It was a simple movie, but really fun! I recommend it!

The Weekend

(Amy has to have chocolate wine to keep her from getting scared of the wine with googly eyes)

The weekend was good. We had some good meals (chicken burgers with potatoes on Friday and grilled chicken last night with grilled veggies), we went to Barton Springs, we watched Deadwood, we did some shopping (nothing fancy), and got a bit of exercise. Also, I did some watering. Somehow this drought has turned me into an elderly farmer who's obsessed with irrigation.
Nice weekend!

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Mr. Peanut


So today I finished reading a book called Mr. Peanut that I bought at City Lights Books back when we were on our San Francisco trip in May.
I read a couple of pretty good reviews of the book after I finished it today, one from NPR and also a New York Times review by Scott Turow.

The novel, by Adam Ross, was well written, had a fairly complicated structure, and explored some interesting and difficult themes. At times, though, it made for a kind of harrowing read (which, I think, was part of the reason it took me a while to finish the book).

Mr. Peanut deals with marriage and questions about why marriages work and fail, exploring these questions in the context of a sort of a convoluted murder mystery. The book takes a look at at least three different marriages, each of them dysfunctional in a different way, and the novel is unsettling not just because of the murders that occur within it (I've read a number of horror, sci fi, and fantasy novels with as much or more bloodshed), but becauseof the realistic, recognizable, painful fights and relationship difficulties that foreshadow the violence.

Mr. Peanut was a book that was troubling because it just hits some raw nerves in terms of depicting the psychology of relationships. Even though very few readers have probably ever wanted to literally murder a loved one, a much larger number of readers will be able to relate to a fleeting (or maybe not so fleeting) sensation of wanting to "kill" someone out of frustration, anger, disappointment, etc..

I'm not going to say much more about the books because I think other reviewers have already done a pretty good job at saying some good things about it (Turow definitely has a strong review).

I guess I mostly just felt like Mr. Peanut was a book that I didn't exactly enjoy all of the way through, but still, I guess that in the end I thought it was a very solid novel. The book puts its audience through some unpleasant experiences, but it also gets the reader to think about relationships and maybe even learn a thing or two by way of close, detailed examination of the normally private emotional lives of couples.

Even though it took me a while to get through it, I have a feeling that Mr. Peanut is going to be one of those books that sticks with me for some time.


Ummm... okay, this wasn't my best book post. Maybe I'll update it again later and make it better.

Of course, by then you'll all have moved on to better things.

But I'll feel better.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Staycation

Yesterday was a really good day. I took a day off of work so Amy and I could celebrate summer. We got up late and ate Don Juan tacos for breakfast at Juan in a Million. We went tubing in San Marcos. It was nice and peaceful and hot and cold and relaxing. We had frozen yogurt. We ate watermelon. We got sunburned and then sat in the dark air conditioning and watched LA Confidential. Amy made chilaquiles for dinner, and they were really, really good. We took Cassidy for a nighttime hop.
Just a great summer day.
Thanks to Amy for sharing it with me!!