Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Update

Hey!  Hope everyone is doing okay!  We keep on rolling into fall, but I can't even believe summer is gone...
Our weekend was pretty good.  It seemed to go by very quickly.  Last Thursday evening we went to a happy hour with some of Amy's friends from work.  It was fun!  On Friday Amy and I went out to lunch with Jennifer and Kim.  It was fun.  We went to Arturo's.  It's cool having Amy working close enough to my office that we can walk places and meet up.
Friday night I think we just sort of hung out.
Saturday morning I got up and went to do the annual NAMI Walk.  NAMI does advocacy and works with families who are dealing with mental illness.  My parents went on the walk as well, and we joined The Justice Walkers, a team of people from the courthouse who work with the mentally ill population in one way or another.



Saturday afternoon we went over to Ryan and Jamie's place to watch UT play against Kansas.  UT beat Kansas.  We looked okay, but not great.  Kansas is really bad.  Baylor is coming up this week, and I am afraid.
Anyway, it was fun to hang out with Ryan and Jamie to catch the game.
On Sunday we went to Ikea and I got a couple of new dressers.  As I type this, they're still sitting, unassembled, in boxes at our house, but one step at a time, right?  Right?
We also did some grocery shopping, I got a haircut, and we had band practice. Mono practice was good.  Frank, Jim, Reed, and I.  I even squeezed in a little mandolin on a couple of songs.
That was about it!
Amy made a really good veggie-sausage-pasta dish on Sunday night.  Very tasty.
Hope everyone is doing well!  Things are so busy in the fall!!

Take care!

P.S.- I'm typing this post on my phone while riding the bus to work.  If it contains a bunch of mistakes, I apologize and blame it on aforementioned busyness!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Update

Hi!
Things have been busy with us.  Work's been busy, and home's been busy.
Last week I went to South Padre Island for a law seminar with people from work.  It was a pretty good trip, as work outings go.  The classes were decent (I've been to better, but they weren't bad).  I had a fun time hanging out at the each with my co workers, and our office put us up in a really nice condo tower called The Bridgepoint.  I shared a three bedroom unit with Bill and John.  We had nice weather while we were down there, despite predictions of rain before the trip.  I think late September through early October is a really great time to go to South Padre, weather wise, unless you end up getting a hurricane.

view from 20th floor balcony

it's worth taking the shuttle bus to Manuel's for breakfast

retreating back to the tower from the beach

the 2014 TCAO crew at the beach

Proof that we went to classes.  And that we love America.

Roommates
  
I was gone from early Wednesday through Friday evening.  
On Friday night I got home.  Amy's mom, Jean, was staying with us.  Amy made a delicious jambalaya dinner Friday night, and it was great to be back home and hang out with her and Jean.
I slept hard.
Saturday involved tacos at Maria's and a quick trip to check out the boardwalk on the hike and bike trail at Town Lake.  In the afternoon I went out to see my parents for a little bit, and then came and took a bunch of old videogames and gaming systems to Game Over Videogames (a pretty cool store that deals in vintage videogames and gaming systems).  I traded in a bunch of stuff and got some store credit.  Saturday night we went out to dinner at Chuy's.
Sunday Jean left to head back to Phoenix.  Amy and I did shopping and chores.  I was feeling sort of run down (maybe a combination of allergies and still feeling tired after my trip), so I skipped out on band practice.  We watched the new Ken Burns documentary about the Roosevelts, and went to bed.  That Roosevelts documentary is really good.  They were interesting people.  It's hard to believe that one family could hold so much presidential power in the U.S. for such an extended period of time, but between Teddy and FDR, the Roosevelt held the presidency for almost 20 years, and Eleanor ended up being one of the most influential first ladies of all time, with an active political life that lasted long after her husband's death.
Watching the documentary, hearing about their personalities and the little controversies and rumors that were inevitably stirred up (as well as some of the moral conundrums that they faced), I honestly felt like it was impossible to judge them on the strength of their personal character.  They came from wealth and privilege, but they also lived out almost their entire lives under the sort of public scrutiny that comes with such position.  Ultimately I feel like you just have to judge them on the work that they left behind.  They guided us through wars and fought for sweeping and unprecendented social change.  It would be easy to be dismiss such efforts as misguided or naive if they hadn't been successful in so many ways (not in every way- but often enough to definitely lend a tremendous amount of credibility to their worldview and philosophy of governance).
Anyway, we watched The Roosevelts.  I haven't seen all of the episodes, but I've seen enough to know that I highly recommend it if you can find the time.

And that was it.  Life's been busy, but good.


Last night my friend Laura gave us tickets to see Garrison Keillor at the Paramount because she didn't go.  It was really good.  He has a unique ability to tell stories and anecdotes that are funny, poignant, and powerful, and often all at the same time.  Philosophy wrapped in narrative.  Social commentary disguised as gentle, old-fashioned humor.  I'm really glad we got the opportunity to see him, and the Paramount seemed the perfect venue to catch his performance.  We don't have many people who can tell stories that way these days, and when Keillor finally retires, we're going to lose not only an important cultural icon, but an important thread in the social fabric.  I don't know who, if anyone, is going to step forward to do what he does.  In the internet age of point and click and 15 second YouTube clips, it's hard to imagine someone trying to learn to entertain people for hours at a time simply by spinning yarns.
Anyway, it was a lot of fun.
Thanks to Laura for the tickets!!

Hope everyone is doing well!

Hope the rest of your week is good.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Update

So busy lately!
This weekend was good!

Feel Like Funkin' It Up!


On Friday I went to see Rebirth Brass Band at Emo's with Frank, Mandy, Candace, Vicki, and Sigmund.  It was a really good show.  Rebirth puts on the kind of performance that just makes you feel good.  Funky New Orleans second line style jazz.  Lots of dancing and bouncing around. 
It was a fun night.  It was my first show at the new Emo's location on Riverside, and I think I would give the venue a favorable rating.  The sound was pretty good, parking was easy, and it wasn't too crowded.  Drink prices were about average for an Austin club.
Thanks to Frank for driving me around!

On Saturday we ran some errands and did a few chores.  HEB, Costco, and I installed some smoke detectors.  The usual.  It rained pretty steadily on Saturday, and the temperatures were quite a bit cooler.  We kept calling it faux fall because we know that we start getting cold fronts in September, but they're usually just a tease.  The heat doesn't actually really break until sometime in October.  Still, the cool weather was nice.  We opened the windows, and I bought a cool ceramic pumpkin at HEB.
Saturday night Shelly and Kit came over.  We watched UT play against UCLA.  UT lost the game, and they took some heat in the media for blowing their lead late in the 4th quarter, but to be honest, I was just super happy that UT showed so much improvement after the BYU game the previous week.  We lost the game, but it was really tight and competitive.  Going into the UCLA game I had been afraid that it would just be a horrible rout and that UT would once again show themselves to be incredibly outclassed.  Instead, we looked like a team that barely lost while playing against the 12th ranked team in the country.
So, good news/bad news following that game, I guess.  The good news is that this is a rebuilding year, and Coach Strong's team definitely shows signs of improvement.  The good news is also that UT showed tremendous potential on Saturday night.  Swoopes played well, and the team looked more cohesive, calm, and motivated.  Execution was better on offense and defense (with a few notable lapses). 
The bad news is that UT fans are extremely demanding and they have a short memory.  They definitely have a "what have you done for me lately?" mentality, and I was shocked to see the journalists in the paper on Sunday morning complaining about the Longhorn loss.  UT is an extremely well-funded program, though, with lots of opinionated, affluent boosters.  It's already becoming obvious that Strong isn't going to get a pass for very long just because he inherited a mess created by Mack Brown.  On one hand, this makes sense.  Strong is getting paid a lot of money, and he knew what he was getting into when he took the job.  On the other hand, reality is reality, and money doesn't instantly change the capabilities of existing players.  This might be one of those situations where patience is rewarded as much or more than dollars.  Texas fans almost pride themselves on their impatience.  I hope Strong gets a fair shake.
Anyway, it was a fun game.  I had a blast watching it.
Also on Saturday night we played Mario Party on Kit's Gamecube.  It's not exactly up my alley in that I'm not a huge fan of more traditional arcade style games, but it was fun to play a game that four people could all play at the same time.  Also, as predicted by Kit, there was at least one group argument caused by the game.  We were forewarned that this was commonplace with Mario Party, that many a friendship had been wrecked upon the rocky shoals of this deceptively cheerful Nintendo landscape, but we thought we were above such pettiness and scoffed at the notion we would suffer discord as a result of a video game. 
Hubris.
After an unseemly incident where Shelly and Amy engaged in some godawful cheating and then giggled about it like giddy hyenas, fingers were pointed, and it became obvious that we would not be immune to the curse of Mario Party.  In the future we may need an additional person to serve as referee.
Oh well.  We'll get 'em next time. 
In all seriousness, it was fun hanging out!  Hope to do it again soon.

On Sunday we did chores and stuff.  Got some exercise.
Sunday night I had band practice at Reed's with Frank and Jim.  We had fun.  We played some originals and worked on Niteclub, by the Old 97's.  We had a good time.
On Sunday night Amy made pasta with Italian sausage and spinach for dinner.  It was delicious.

And that was it. 
Nice weekend.  Too short!

Hope everyone is doing well.
Enjoy the ride as we begin our initial descent into fall.
 
 

Monday, September 08, 2014

Update

Hullo everybuddy!
Ummmmm...
Not a lot new going on, really.

On Friday Amy and I had lunch with out friends Shelly and Kit.  We ate Mexican food and got caught up.  It was nice to have a chance to hang out with them.
Friday night we just sort of hung out and watched Northern Exposure.  Saturday involved breakfast at Central Market and exercise and a grocery shopping and whatnot.  Amy made delicious guacamole and sundried tomato dip for the UT game on Saturday night.
We went to Ryan and Jamie's house Saturday night to watch the game with Mom, Dad, Jamie, Ryan, Juan, Nicole, and Matt.  There were also a lot of dogs in attendance (Scout, Lucy, Levi, and Cassidy).  The food and the company were great for the game (thanks for the chicken, Roundball!), but the game itself was pretty awful.  Our new quarterback, Tyrone Swoopes, performed fairly admirably for a sophomore with limited playing time under his belt.  The rest of the team just kind of fell to pieces.  The offensive line was a mess.  They've had injuries and suspensions to deal with, but then again, they were pretty bad for most of last season, too, so I'm not sure that their recent difficulties tell the whole story.  Defense held it together through most of the first half, but in the second half they reverted to form, with blown tackles and blown coverage.  Felt like last year.

Still, we had a good time.  It was fun to hang out and shoot the breeze and force Ryan to be our grill slave while we watched football.

Levi and Dad face off over who gets to sit on the
sofa during the football game.  (Levi won)
On Sunday we mostly hung out around the house and took care of some chores.  I ran a couple of errands, including a trip to the mall to pick up a couple of suits that I had ordered.


This guy backed up traffic for ten minutes before realizing
that maybe his weird bike was safer on the shoulder than
rolling down a regular lane of traffic on Loop 360. 
Keep Austin Weird!
Sunday evening I had band practice with Reed, Jim, and Frank.  We had a good time.  We're working on taking a song that Frank composed on GarageBand and turning it into something that the whole band can play.  It sounds cool.
After band practice Amy made chilaquiles (woo hoo!) for dinner.  Amy did a little reading while I goofed around online, and that was it.  The end.
Pretty good weekend!

Hope everyone is doing okay.  Hang in there, Horns fans!

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Labor Day; Coach Strong's Debut

Hey!  Hope everyone had a good Labor Day!
Ours was pretty good.
On Friday we went to Cypress Grill for dinner.  The food was good, and we had a really nice time.  We both like that place.  I don't want it to get any more popular because it would just get crowded. 

On Saturday we went grocery shopping and took care of a few errands (or tried to- apparently hardwired, interconnectable smoke detectors are not as easy to find as one might assume).  The first University of Texas game of the season, UT v. North Texas, was on Saturday, and we were supposed to go to a watch party over at Ryan and Jamie's place.  Ryan got sick, though, so the plan was scuttled.  Ever flexible, we watched the game at our house, instead.
 
UT looked okay.  This was the debut game for Charlie Strong as head coach, so I was curious to see how things were shaping up.  The defense looked really solid, but the offense was still showing some weakness and making a few errors.  The game was more or less a blowout (38-7), but a victory was more or less a foregone conclusion against North Texas.  The first game of the season is almost always played against a really weak opponent so coaching staff can get a look at how things are working and make adjustments before facing off against more legitimate opponents.  At the end of the game, I still had some pretty big concerns about how UT's offense was handling itself.  Coach Strong has made adjustments, and things seem to be getting better, but these are still mostly the same players that were recruited by Mack Brown in previous years.  The offense still had a number of moments when it looked like it was sputtering.
Then, this morning the headline in the paper was that David Ash had suffered another concussion after a blow to the head during the game.  He was out last season after concussions and head injuries, so this is not good news.  It sounds like he's going to be out for the next game, and his future after that is unclear.
Bad news.
Ash's replacement is a young, sophomore quarterback named Tyrone Swoops who appeared in 5 games last season, throwing for 26 yards and rushing for 79.
Strong's expectations for Swoops?  He should be able to "execute the offense".  I guess it's fair to say that Strong would rather keep the expectations low.
Sigh.
Well, everyone knew that Strong was going to have his work cut out for him, given his number of returning players and the way that they struggled last season.  With Ash out, expectations will be significantly lowered, giving Strong a chance to engage in some serious rebuilding without taking too much flack regarding the disappointing performance of his team.
Annyway, that's it for Texas football.  I just wanted to post a little bit about it, given that it was Coach Strong's debut with the Longhorns.  It's the beginning of a new era.  I like the work ethic and sense of responsibility that Strong is trying to instill in his players.  I hope he gets the chance to get his program off the ground.

After the game we watched the last two episodes of season 2 of Orange is the New Black.  The second season was pretty good, and the ending was satisfying.  I'm not sure where they're going to go with a season 3.  The characters are really well established, and we've already had major plotlines involving a large number of them.  Just about all of the stories from season 2 were brought to a fairly satisfying conclusion.  I'm a little afraid that season 3 is gonna be where the show turns into a full on soap opera.  The premise of Orange keeps the characters trapped in a prison, after all, so there's a certain point where either things will become boring (the same people doing the same things over and over) or where it will feel like characters are intentionally creating their own drama.  Characters who create their own drama are typically less likable and less sympathetic.

On Sunday we did some chores and then went out to my parents' house out in Steiner Ranch in the afternoon.  The four of us went swimming in the community pool out in Steiner, and we had some Rudy's barbecue back at my folks' house after swimming.  After dinner we looked at pictures from their recent trip to Scotland and Ireland (brilliantly displayed on Dad's megaTV).  It was a really nice day, with all of the elements necessary for a classic Labor Day weekend (i.e., sunshine, water, barbecue, and goofy family activities).  At some point my Dad even pulled out a photo album of baby pictures of me to show to Amy.  It was somewhat hilarious and only mildly humiliating.  Mom and Dad were 1970's fashionistas, I'm here to report.  And I was an adorable baby.  Hahaha!!!

On Monday, Labor Day, we took care of chores, ran a few errands (I went to the mall and took advantage of a suit sale), and got a little exercise.  Amy made us a top notch breakfast with eggs, homefires, and bagels.  



It was a big enough breakfast that I skipped lunch.  In the afternoon I had band practice.  We played our originals, some 1980's classics, and even a few jingles.  You gotta keep things lively, ya know?  I'd like to buy the world a Coke...

So that was Labor Day.  Not too crazy, but relaxing and very nice.

Hope everyone is doing okay!