Monday, June 25, 2012

Da Weekend

Hey!  The weekend was pretty slow, but good.
Amy's in bar exam study mode, so obviously that keeps her pretty busy.
Friday night I got home from work, and for some reason, despite the fact that it was probably close to 100 degrees outside, I decided to ride my bike over to Ryan and Jamie's place.  It's not super far, but it was hot, and there are some little hills between here and there.  Anyway, I made it over there and back, but by the time I got home I had begun to more fully appreciate the inherent limitations ofa fixed gear cruiser bike that's slightly too small for you.
After my bike ride I showered, and then Amy and I joined our friends Heidi and Jaci for dinner at Chuy's.  We drank margaritas, caught up, and ate some tasty Tex Mex.  It was a good time.
On Saturday we got up and went to the grocery store.
We've been eating a lot of watermelon lately, and it's been really good.  Also,this might make me sound like a dork, but I still can't get over seedless watermelons.  I remember that when I was a kid we used to eat a lot of watermelon, and we would actually talk about how cool it would be if you could get a watermelon without seeds (usually this would come up while we were spitting out watermelon seeds or helping Mom pick seeds as she cut up a watermelon for the fridge).  I remember the first types of seedless watermelons coming out, but they weren't really as sweet or as good as regular watermelons.  Nowadays, though, they've pretty much got seedless watermelons down to a science (literally, perhaps).  I'm not sure what kind of crazy bioengineering took us to this point, but in exchange for eating delicious watermelon without seeds I'm willing to overlook some Frankensteinian tomfoolery.
Anyway, Saturday morning we went to the store.  It's nice and peaceful on Saturday mornings.
After the store we got home, and I rode my bike over to Ryan's house again.
By the time I got there, I was sick of having a bike that was too small and had no gears.  I've been looking at bikes online for a couple of months now, and I knew that my brother was the perfect man to empower me to go out and blow some cash on a recreational purchase.  We loaded into my brother's Honda Element (which has an insane amount of cargo room for a small SUV) and headed over to University Cyclery.  A couple of hours later (and after a short stop at the comic book shop- always a likelihood when you head north of 35th street with Ryan) I was back at Ryan and Jamie's with my sweet new bike.

(I'm pretty sure that when ninjas ride bikes, this is
probably the one that they ride)
I'm pretty happy with my bike.  It's got more gears than I need, but more importantly, it has an extra

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Brooks and The Followers Dilemna

Warning:  op-ed Steanso political/social rambling to follow.  Please ignore if this sort of thing bugs you!

Amy read this David Brooks op-ed piece from the New York Times about what he sees as a "followership" problem in contemporary American culture and told me that she thought it was interesting and might be a blogworthy topic.  I like Brooks.  I frequently disagree with his political views, but I typically find him to be thoughtful, and he usually raises some interesting points.
This particular column began with a discussion of our historical monuments and examined the question of why some of our older monuments are so well loved (e.g., the Jefferson and Lincoln memorials), while some of our newer monuments have been more roundly criticized and, in some cases, been considered flat out failures (e.g., the Martin Luther King memorial has been criticized for not only its inscriptions, but its failure to adequately capture the man depicted; the FDR memorial has been said to inadequately capture the cunning and intellect of a great man and instead depicts him as a kindly, grandfatherly figure).  It's somewhat important to note that Brooks seems to be criticizing not only the reception that the newer monuments have received by the public, but also the failure of the sculptors and creators in failing to capture the power, strength, and greatness of the leaders themselves as enshrined in these new memorials.

Monday, June 18, 2012


Howdy!  Just checking in.  I hope everyone is doing okay.  We seem to be staying pretty busy on Tejas Trail these days.  Work has been sort of busy for me lately, Amy is studying for the bar, and we've been moving stuff out of her place and into our house on Tejas Trail. 
Tejas is the Spanish spelling of a Caddo word taysha, which means "friend" or "ally".  So we live on Friend Trail or Ally Trail.
I like that.
Anyway, Friday involved moving, studying for Amy, and a work meeting that I had to attend.  Friday evening we took a bike ride.  We pedaled around the neighborhood and stopped in to visit my friend D.K. for a bit. 

(Here's Amy just as we are getting back to our house.  The crape myrtles are looking pretty good!)

Saturday we got up and moved some more stuff out of Amy's place.  Amy studied some more. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Weekend; Prometheus

So another weekend...
Friday night Amy and I went and played board games with some friends of hers.  We played a game called Imperial 2030.  It's a complicated game.  Amy and I have played it before, and we did better this time, but I think it's fair to say that we still have a lot of room for improvement.
Saturday morning Amy went to her bar exam review course.
I got up and rode my bike downtown.
Downtown!  I rode along Western Trails to Bannister, across 71, and then rode down South 5th Street through some neighborhoods until I got to Barton Springs.  Then I rode around downtown for a little bit and through Zilker Park.
I will admit that the ride into downtown from my house in South Austin is mostly downhill, while the ride back out of downtown is all pretty much uphill.  On the way back I rode the bus.  It costs $1, and you can just throw your bike onto the rack on the front of the bus.
Pretty cool.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Hylton on Venter and the Advent of Artifical Organisms

So I recently read this New York Times article by Wil S. Hylton about the work of Craig Venter.  Venter is a scientist (a geneticist/biologist sort of guy) who heads up a biotech company called Synthetic Genomics Inc..  Venter's organization is currently striving to develop a form of artificially created, free-living bacteria that will have less DNA than any organisms existing in nature.  If S.G.I. can create such lifeforms, they intend to use them as a framework, attaching other genes to their bare bones structure- genes  that can be specifically selected with an eye toward performing certain predetermined biological functions.
Venter's organization has already created one artifical organism thus far.  The fact that their first attempt was modeled after a naturally occurring bacterium led to criticism of their work by geneticists who argued that Venter had not actually created artificial life (as he had claimed), but that he had only copied natural life.  Venter's response was that this initial effort was nothing but a "proof of concept".  Now that he knows that the process can work, he intends to use it to do other things.
Venter's new free living, framework organism should, if successful, put all such criticisms to rest.

Whether for positive or negative, the implications for Venter's work are pretty huge.  I find it extremely interesting, but I'm not sure how to feel about it.

The Weekend

So the weekend was pretty good.  Friday was low key.  We didn't do much.
On Saturday Amy studied (she's getting ready for the bar exam).  I got some exercise and did a few small things around the house.  In the afternoon I rode my bike over to the theater and went to see Men in Black III so I could give Amy some quiet time.
I had very low expectations for that movie, but on a summer popcorn flick sort of level, I think it actually succeeded.  It was fun, and Josh Brolin did a spot on Tommy Lee Jones impersonation.
Not exactly groundbreaking filmmaking, but the MIB movies do a pretty good job with taking bizarre/fantastic scenarios and depicting them as just a regular part of the workaday world for their protagonists.  It makes for amusing comedy.
On Saturday night we went to see Joe Ely at The Saxon Pub.  He put on a really good show.  Ely's got a good voice, catchy tunes, and good lyrics.  His songs have energy to them, even on the slower, sadder tunes.  I'm really glad we ended up going to see him.  And, of course, the Saxon Pub was, as always, a nice, intimate venue. 
(in a move that amuses everyone but surprises no one, Mr. Ely decides to spin
a yarn or two between songs)
(this team looks like it should have won
big, right?)

We actually ended up leaving the Saxon Pub before the end of the show because we'd made some slightly overlapping plans to meet up with some friends for trivia.  At halftime in our trivia contest we were in first place.  By the end we were... not in first place.  I know it sound like sour grapes to blame the questions, but it really does feel like some of the knowledge categories are getting lamer and lamer (this time we had an entire round dealing with celebrity boobs).
All I'm saying is that it's not that our team isn't smart enough- it's that the game itself isn't smart enough for our team!  ;-)
On Sunday Amy studied some more.  I went for a bike ride.  We also went to Barton Springs for a while.  We ran to the store.
It was a nice weekend.  Amy made some Mexican food with shrimp and chipotle peppers (I've decided that I'm definitely a big fan of chipotle peppers), and different Mexican food with chicken and roasted poblano peppers.  Both meals were delicious.
Well, so that was the weekend.
Hope everyone else had a nice time!

Take care.