Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!!

Happy Halloween!  I hope everyone has a fun, happy, safe holiday!
I've been to a couple of fun parties (although one was actually for Dia de los Muertos- more on that tomorrow), seen some creative costumes, and still have trick or treaters to look forward to tonight!
I like Halloween.  I'm not always a big fan of gruesome scariness, but I like the Halloween celebration of things that are a little imaginative and wild.  I hope everyone has a good one!  Just remember to take care of each other!

Also, my dad is retiring today after working for as long as I can actually remember.  I'm not going to write too much about it because my brother has already done an admirable job on his blog.
Congratulations on your retirement, Dad!  Looking forward to hanging out with you in the "post work" era!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

We Are the 53%?

(I wrote this yesterday, but just getting around to posting it today)

So now, most inevitably, counterprotests have popped up that are meant to serve as a refutation of the themes and messages of the Occupy Wall Street movement.  The "We Are the 53%" moniker refers to the 53% of Americans who pay taxes, and these counterprotesters argue that messages of personal accountability, responsibility, and work ethic are missing from the themes being expressed by the Occupy protesters.
Well, maybe the Occupy Wall Street movement might win over more adherents by including messages of personal responsibility.  This is America, and, of course, we want our citizens to stand on their own two feet and be self reliant whenever possible.  In general, though, I think that the "53%" response just isn't really on point in terms of responding to the central messages that are beginning to solidify within the Occupy movement.
Perhaps I've been missing a big part of the Occupy message, but I haven't heard many demands for government handouts or insistence upon welfare programs as a key part of their message.  Instead, what I've mostly heard from them is a certain frustration over what they see as a lack of a level playing field when it comes to the influence exerted by corporate America, the financial sector, and the absolutely wealthiest percentage of the country, especially as compared to the rules that middle class citizens and everyone else are expected to play by.  Recent Supreme Court decisions (see Citizens United) have recently given corporations almost unfettered rights to engage in political lobbying and involvement in the political process (thereby granting unprecedented first amendment rights to metaphysical "persons" which are, in fact, only powerful profit making machines), and there's a corporate tax structure in this country which allowed General Electric to owe no money in taxes in 2010 despite generating $10.3 billion in pretax income.  Banks have been engaging in extemely risky practices in areas like derivatives and the mortgage markets, and tax dollars have been the ones bailing them out when things went south.
So yeah, we can always do with a greater sense of responsibility, self reliance, and principled behavior, but I think that the Occupy protesters would probably argue that large parts of Wall Street, Washington, and corporate America have been failing to live by those same responsible principles themselves for a long time, and, in fact, in recent years the American tax payers have been the ones bailing out corporations and the wealthy when they engage in irresponsible behavior- not the other way around.
I'm not saying that there isn't room for people to encourage personal responsibilty during the Occupy protests.  I'm just saying that I don't think that the search for fairness expressed by the Occupy protesters and the expectations that individual citizens will strive to be self reliant are really mutually exclusive goals.  I really do believe that there are plenty of hard working American citizens out there who have done their best to play by the rules who have ended up being seriously harmed by an economic downturn brought about, in large part, by companies who weren't held to reasonable rules of fairness.

I guess, like some of the people out their protesting, I just don't want to see the same mistakes repeated that led to our economic deterioration in the first place.  It seems like now might be a good time to reassess and move forward in a healthier way.

That's all I've got.  I hope everyone is doing okay!!
       

Monday, October 24, 2011

Hi!

Man, I really do not have a lot of earth shaking news to share with you guys, but I just wanted to say hello.  Keep in mind that Mono Ensemble has a gig coming up on November 4th at The Carousel Lounge at 9:00 p.m.!

Hmmmm....
What to write about....?
Well, the McRib is back again, so Ryan should be happy.  I guess that's all that I have to say about that. 
Yup, it's gross.  He loves it.  Me's my brother.

What else?  I'm scheduled to be a judge this week for an advocacy skills trial at the law school over at UT this week.  So I'll be sitting as a judge for law students in a mock trial.  It should be an interesting experience.  Amy seems to think that I can get through it without damaging any young, aspiring, enthusiastic legal minds, so I'm going to give it a try and do my best! 
Amy is pretty good about encouraging me to try out healthy new things.  But if the law students all hate me, I'm going to have them file their complaints with her!  ;-)

Not too much else to report.  We had a good weekend.  It went by far too fast.

Hope everyone is enjoying their run up to Halloween! 
Watch an old scary movie, eat some candy, and make yourself a costume! (or at least enjoy watching other people wear theirs)

Take care! 

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Goodbye, Laura

Many of you probably don't know Laura Bennett Hague, but a a few of the people who read this blog definitely know her.  Laura was a good friend of mine and housemate from my Trinity days back in college.  She passed away this morning after a long battle with cancer.  She was an extremely lively, caring, energetic person who was filled with boundless enthusiasm and an endless love of life.  She had a tremendous sense of humor, loved entertaining people, and loved being entertained by them.  She was fiercely loyal to her friends.
During college, Laura loved nothing more than organizing parties, planning outings, and thinking up fun things to do with friends.  Her eyes would light up with excitement whenever someone would suggest anything from a houseparty to a spring break trip to a group dinner.
I hadn't seen Laura in a number of years, but I've been exchanging some messages and emails with her over the last couple of years, and it's also been quite evident to me for some time (although maybe this wasn't something that I initially picked up on in college) that she was a person of extraordinary strength, bravery, and faith.
Although I haven't seen her in a while, it makes me immensely sad to know that she's gone.  She left behind her husband, Josh, and her daughter, Katy Jayne.
My sympathies and love go out to Laura and her family.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Some Halloween Spirit Coming at You!!



Do the mash!  It'll make ya feel good!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Update, A Bit on Occupy

Hey!  How are you guys?  Just wanted to check in.
Amy was out of town this weekend.  It was only a few days, but I missed her.  After my having been away to Tulsa the week before last, and then Amy being gone this weekend, well... I just missed her.  Glad she's back.
Friday night I hung out with Jamie and Ryan a bit.  Saturday I went with my parents and with Reed to watch UT play OSU.  UT lost, but the game was better than I expected, and, I thought, better than the score reflected.  Fozzy Whitaker and Malcolm Brown both did a better than expected job with the running game.  I'm still not entirely sold on the idea that we ought to be 100% committed to David Ash over Case McCoy as our primary quarterback, but I do think that Ash is getting better.  He's got a good arm and he runs pretty well.  He's young, and he needs to develop a little more awareness out there on the field (both in terms of pass coverage and pressure in the pocket).  Hopefully he'll learn these things.  On the other hand, if he doesn't learn (and sometimes college quarterbacks just never seem to develop an ability to quickly make good tactical decisions), I hope the coaches don't give up on the possibility of using McCoy.  The coaching staff at UT is willing to demonstrate a lot of confidence in their players (which helps recruiting), but I think that sometimes they assume that a plaeyr needs time to grow when, in fact, the player has peaked (e.g., Garrett Gilbert).  Obviously we haven't gotten to that point with Ash, and he's done pretty well, but I think the coaching staff should keep all of their options open.

What else?  One month after they started, the Occupy Wall Street protests have spread to Austin and a lot of other places.  The messages of the protests are sort of amorphous and the agenda varies a bit, depending on which protester you talk to, but the broad themes of the movement seem to deal with frustration regarding the American corporations, the government, and the ways in which the two things intersect.  Among other things, people are angry about corporate influence in the American political process (lobbying and paid political ads by companies) and taxpayer bailouts for companies that helped to create the recession in the first place (with very risky investment strategies and bad lending practices).  Companies which have taken assistance government assistance are felt to have had too little accountability and have done very little to create new middle class jobs (while overall corporate profits have done just fine).  People may not really understand the intricacies of the linkage between the financial, corporate, and government realms, but they see the middle class in decline, poorly run companies repeatedly receiving taxpayer help ("too big to fail"), and corporations continuing to make really good profits, although many of these same companies (particularly in the financial sector) were responsible for the decision making that put the American economy in the hole in the first place.
The Occupy protesters have a long way to go in terms of advocating solutions instead of just voicing complaints, but I can see why people are irked.  In particular, I think the focus on the private sector is long overdue.  The government isn't the only boogeyman contributing to America's problems, and I think that Occupy's focus on the financial system is a good start.  (I'm not sure that encouraging everyone to move their money to credit unions will really fix our problems, but it's at least bound to get the attention of the private sector.  Predatory lending practices have helped lead to our recession, and with national banks slipping in stealth fees in areas like access to checking accounts- which banks are holding for free and loaning out to others at interest- it's easy to see why consumers are annoyed).
Anyway, Occupy needs to get more cohesive, organized, and eloquent if they want to create real change.  With all of the disparate elements that they've collected under one tent, it might be difficult to bring focus to their agenda.  But I understand the frustration.

What else?  Hope you're still reading because Mono Ensemble has a gig on November 4th!  Come on out and see us rock at 9:00 at the Carousel Lounge.  Mono Ensemble will be playing from about 9:00 until about 10:15, with our friends Venus Fixer playing from 10:30 until midnight.  Hope everyone can make it!  More reminders to come!

Take care!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Lunacy

If anyone's reading this today, I just want to remind you that tonight is a full moon. A hunter's moon. Jupiter is supposed to be visible somewhere near it.
It's October.
There's a full moon.
Go howl.
:-)

Monday, October 10, 2011

Back in the ATX

Just a quick update.  Well, after a fairly productive week in Tulsa, I got back into Austin kinda late Friday night.  It was really good to get home and see Amy (and see Cassidy, and sleep in my own bed).  The whole weekend was good.  It was kind of rainy and overcast, which can sometimes get me down, but after months of severe heat and constant sunshine the clouds and drizzle made for a nice, cozy, lazy weekend.  We ran some errands, hung out around the house a bit, and went to see a movie (we saw Drive, but neither of us cared for it all that much).
The UT-OU game was unpleasant, but as with any other traumatic experience, I'm working hard to suppress that memory.  Thanks to Ryan and Jamie for having a few of us over.  Aside from the events that were taking place on the TV, it was a pleasant experience.
I don't have too much to report in terms of the veterans court training trip to Tulsa.  The National Drug Court people kept us really busy with classes and workshops and stuff about trauma and drug treatment and other related topics.  In the evening our group went out to dinner a few times.  We went to a place with pretty good  barbecue and a blues band (Back Alley Blues & BBQ) in the Blue Dome District.  We also went to a really good pizzeria (Andolini's) and a pretty good Irish pub (Kilkenny's).  Tulsa seems like a nice enough town.  The locals gave us a lot of razzing about the upcoming UT-OU game, but I would expect no less when a rivalry like that is involved.
Annnyway, it's good to be back.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Tulsa

The conference is okay. Tulsa is okay. If we want to use the Internet in our hotel it costs $13 a day, so I'm making this entry from my iPhone.
I miss Amy.
Hi, Amy!
I'm not sure how Ryan travels for business and doesn't get grumpy.

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Hello Tulsa, Goodbye White Chair

Well, I'm off to Tulsa this week for a Veterans Court training.  I'm not super excited to be going to spend a week in Oklahoma (I'm going to miss Amy, and the fall weather is starting to get nice in Austin right now), but I'm trying to stay positive about it.
Amy and I have had a good weekend.  On Friday night we went to Lambert's.  Neither one of us had ever been there, although both of us had read some good things about it, and I thought it lived up to its reputation.  Amy had a pork chop, and I had shrimp and grits.  We also had a chick pea appetizer, brussel sprouts, and a pumpkin brulee for desert.  It was a really nice dinner, and I had a really nice time.  I'll definitely go back there again.

(big happiness at Lambert's!  And people wonder why I'm not thrilled about heading off to Tulsa)

Yesterday we just did some house stuff, and then last night we went over to my parents house to watch the UT-Iowa game.  It was a nice evening.  Not a great game, but it's always better to be on the winning end of a blowout!  
And today I've been getting ready to go out of town.  Also, we moved the trusty (and kind of grungy) ol' white chair out to the curb for bulk pick up.  I sat in this chair a lot more back in the pre-Amy days (it's now been dubbed the "Jason is Alone" chair), but it served me well for a time.  Via con dios, chair!

(This is Amy's new post as official guest greeter for the Hopalong Lounge)

At any rate, maybe I'll blog while I'm gone.  Things might be slow in Tulsa.