Monday, November 28, 2016


Hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving!  Ours was pretty nice.
On Wednesday Travis County shut down a little early, so I got to come home and hang out with Amy and Raylan.  We got to play around a bit and then Amy made a pecan pie with chocolate and bourbon in it.

Whole lotta turkeys in this picture!
On Thanksgiving Day we got up and watched a bit of the parade.  Amy made us breakfast while I played with Raylan.  I think we also went to the park for a little bit.
Amy made a green bean casserole.
In the afternoon we got cleaned up and rode out to Steiner Ranch for a nice Thanksgiving Dinner at Mom and Dad's house.

Raylan shows off his new Turkey Day duds while
pondering the fact that his guitar has no strings
In attendance were Susan, Uncle Donald, Mom, Dad, Ryan, Jamie, Doug, Kristen, and Dick.
The food was excellent!  Turkey, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, stuffing, brussel sprouts, rolls, other vegetables, and certainly stuff I'm not thinking of (fruit salad?).
There were also appetizers and wine and lots of good conversation and company.

And here we are!

Raylan has taken to squiring a lot during photos,
so this picture represents something of a victory
We had a really nice Thanksgiving Dinner.  Big thanks to Mom and Dad for doing the work to host it. It was a really nice day.  Raylan started out kind of shy, but eventually he warmed up to all of the people and switched into "Raylan the Entertainer" mode.  That kid loves an audience.  He sorta worked himself into a tizzy and ran around showing off all his words and stuff.  Then he crashed and got tired, so we had to take him home.  Good day for him, too, though!

On Friday we got up and ran a few errands.  I also hung up the Christmas tree lights that day.  Raylan got a haircut, and a trip to the park.

Keeping it Festive!
On Saturday we went out for breakfast and did some team grocery shopping.  We set up the Christmas tree and decorated inside the house.  We also drove out near Steiner to look at some possible playground equipment for Raylan.  Afterward we hung out at Mom and Dad's house for a little while.

Raylan works up a thirst by steering the race car shopping cart
with his feet
Amy made a sort of slow cooker tamale pie recipe on Saturday that was muy bueno!  Unfortunately, Saturday night Amy got sort of sick.  Seems like it might have been food poisoning from some ice cream, maybe.  It wasn't from the tamale dish, because I had it and I was fine.
Anyway, she was sick pretty much all of Sunday.
I took Raylan with me to Central Market for breakfast, but then after that he went to Mom and Dad's house so Amy could get some rest without Raylan trying to barge into our bedroom or yelling at our bedroom door.  (such a quiet, meek child!)
Anyway, it seems like Amy is feeling better now, but Sunday was rough.
She was mostly in bed, but then did emerge long enough to watch Westworld with me before disappearing again.
I went to the gym, played guitar, and watched Batman v. Superman (not a great film, by any means, but not quite the total disaster that I had been anticipating).
So that was our holiday weekend!

We have a lot to be thankful for this year.  I have a lot to be thankful for.
I've got a job that I find fulfilling, a wonderful wife and an amazing son, a great family, and good friends.  
Life is good.
I've said this before- I'm not super religious, but I feel blessed.
My job has me working with a population of people who struggle to find food, housing, and relationships.  I work with people who have a hard time connecting with others without getting abused or exploited.  I work with people who have mental illness, addiction issues, and who struggle to just get through life.  For a lot of these people, life is pretty painful, and where respite is to be found from suffering, it often comes in the form of drugs and alcohol.
Sometimes that pain comes from making bad choices, but oftentimes it really is just a direct result of the circumstances into which people were born (and sometimes a person's background or mental functioning makes it extremely difficult for them to even realize what a good choice looks like).
Anyway, I don't take anything that I have for granted, because I regularly see the reality of how difficult life can be every day for many, many people.
So I look at my life, and I feel blessed.  I'm thankful to God, the universe, and everyone who makes a positive contribution to not only my life and my family, but the world in general.

Have a great week!

Monday, November 21, 2016


Hi!  Hope everyone had a good weekend.
We're really enjoying the cool, clear whether here in Austin.
Our weekend was sort of low key, but good.
Friday night we just were hanging out at the house.  We ate some Chinese food, and we started to watch an episode of Battlestar Galactica, but Amy fell asleep.
Saturday we got up, bundled up a bit, and walked up to Central Market for some breakfast.  It was fun.  Raylan was in a good mood and ate a lot.
Afterward we all went to the grocery store together and did some shopping.  Failing as a parent, I was unable to find a race car shopping cart this weekend for Raylan to sit in.
He didn't seem to mind too much.  He sat in a regular cart and pointed at things and shouted out names for them (correct, incorrect, and nonsensical).
Afterwards we took him to Joslin to play on the playground.

"Mom, when we really get going, I want you to launch me
into the air, okay?"
On Saturday afternoon we worked out while Raylan napped.  Then I snuck in part of the Longhorns game.
We lost in overtime to Kansas.  Kansas!  They were 1 and 9!
Adios, Charlie Strong.  I still like you, but you're not even giving your defenders anything to work with.
I wish you the best of luck at your next job.

So I watched the game while playing with Raylan while Amy made soup.
We also played in the yard.
Cassidy still loves a good sunbeam
Later we went to Garrison Park.  We played on the playground and wandered around.  Raylan was amazed by the tractors that they use to cut the grass.
He also just loves running around and exploring.  It's nice to have such a big park so close to the house.

Intrepid Adventurers

Raylan loves the park.

After the park we went home and just played a little more until Raylan had dinner and a bath and went to bed.

"Do I always have to cheer for the Longhorns, Dad?"
"Sadly, yes, son.  Yes, you do."
Saturday night we ate pizza.  We watched an episode of Battlestar, and this time Amy made it through.
On Sunday we got up and ate breakfast and then went to go visit our friends Jordan and Libby, and their new son, Rowan.
Rowan was awfully cute, and Raylan was pretty well behaved while over at their house.  It was really good to see them.  It was nice to be invited.
We went back to Joslin park later in the morning.  Raylan loves not only the playground equipment, but also running around Joslin Elementary, next to the playground.  While running up and down one of the ramps by the portable buildings (one of his favorite activities), he fell and faceplanted on the ramp.  In classic Steans family style, he did this just as we were leaving.
Never miss an opportunity to put a weird bump on your head before a family holiday, right, Raylan?

"Check it out, Dad!  I'm a Klingon!!"
Anyway, in the afternoon we did a little bit of shopping/errands and played at our house some more.
Then I went to band practice (which was good).

"So this little fat dude in the front yard says that
all life is interconnected?  Weird..."

Amy made spaghetti, which was really good.  Then we watched Westworld.  I continue to be impressed by that show.  We're enjoying it.

So that was our weekend!
Hope everyone has a good Thanksgiving this week!

Monday, November 14, 2016


Howdy!  Hope everyone had a nice weekend.  After about 9 or 10 days of cloud cover and rain, we finally got some sunshine this weekend in Austin, and not a moment too soon!
Amy and I had a three day weekend due to the Veterans Day holiday on Friday.
Amy flew out for Arizona early on Friday morning to visit her family for the weekend.  My Mom and Dad took Raylan on Thursday and Friday (so I could get Amy to the airport, take care of a few errands, and see a few friends).
On Thursday night Amy and I got to go out for dinner before she went on her trip.  We went to Curra's and had some Mexican food.  We also watched The Warriors, which, surprisingly, Amy both suggested and enjoyed (she had never seen it and was intrigued by some clips she saw online).  It was a nice evening.
Nothing makes your husband miss you like having a nice date night right before you jet out of town!  ;-)
Anyway, I took Amy to the airport early on Friday morning.  Then I went and and ate migas at La Posada. It was early, and the place was mostly empty, so I watched the news with the waitstaff and spent some time talking with them about the Trump win.  Judging from what I heard, they were pretty freaked out.  I'm guessing that not all of the people who work there are documented, so there's the specter of deportation hanging over the place (along with tons of other Texas businesses that rely on undocumented workers).  I've been going to that place for over 10 years.  Sad to see them all so down.
I've been trying to avoid the internet and the news ever since the election.  But at some point you just can't avoid it, I guess.
I spent Friday, Veterans Day. shopping for a couple of new suits.  I got a haircut.  I went to see The Arrival while they were working on my suits.

The Arrival was a pretty good movie, but it was a little onerously self important, in my opinion.  The movie clearly had a lot to say about the nature of "otherness" or the separation of the alien from the normal. (spoilers)  By learning to understand the language of an alien race, Louise learns to experience time itself in an utterly new and different way, thereby changing the entire way that she comprehends and appreciates in life.
What the movie either intentionally or unintentionally passes over, however, is the possibility that people may not possess the inherent ability to ever truly understand the alien.  Maybe the skills that understanding an alien mind are not something that we possess, as a consequence of our nature or our biology.  Seems like it something more truly alien would be a more interesting turn of events, and very few movies address it.  I guess that's more or less the theme of 2001, but it seems like there is still an awful lot of ground to cover in exploring that scenario.
For all of the talk of the utterly unfathomable natures of the aliens in the movie, ultimately we were given little evidence that their minds were all that different than our own- except with superpowers that let them see the future.
Furthermore, the movie conspicuously skips over the question of whether the ability to "see the future" means that humans are devoid of free will.  This question is presented in the starkest of terms by the plot, but then ultimately never discussed in any meaningful sense (which feels very artificial when dealing with a protagonist who has the ability to see the future, but then fails to act upon that knowledge in any number of possible ways, even to protect those closest to her).
I thought that The Arrival was a good film, but not as smart as it found itself.  For one thing, I think that, for a movie which seemed to be taking pride in presenting philosophical issues, it spent too much time on the very tired "will humanity irrationally destroy itself?" hand wringing.  I also found the film's metaphor to be stretched a little thin.  It's one thing to gain a different view of the world by learning to communicate in a different way.  It's probably another thing to gain a new sensory ability itself simply by learning a new language.
I thought that the best moment in the film came as Louise diagrammed a sentence on a white board, giving examples to her colleagues of all of the different ways that an alien intelligence might be different than our own (e.g., do they have a concept of individual identity? do they have a concept of intent as opposed to acting out of pure instinct? etc.)
This felt like a movie, in the end, with a relatively thin examination of philosophical question, albeit wrapped up in a very nice, glossy, heart-tugging, critic-friendly package.  (But it will probably end up receiving critical attention that would make it seem as thought none of these concepts had ever been asked before)
Anyway, in the end, The Arrival was worth seeing, and I'm probably being too hard on it.  It just glossed over too many interesting things, in my opinion, but maybe those are the constraints of making a two hour movie as opposed to a book or a series.

Here's how Dad spent his Veterans Day.
Thanks for your service, Dad!
(and the child care, too!)
Anyway, I had big plans to go for a bike ride on Friday, but I never made it.  The suit took a lot longer than I had hoped.  Got a haircut, though!
In the evening I went out to dinner with my friend, James, at Pinthouse Pizza.  Later our friend Robert joined us with his girlfriend, Laura.  We ate pizza and drank beer and ultimately shut the place down around midnight.  I rode my bike over there and back.  Because beer.

On Saturday I went over to my parents' house to watch UT lose to West Virginia.  It was a pretty good game, and, darn it, we were close.  But we lost.  Oh well.
I couldn't keep watching UT if I was gonna let their losses put me in a bad mood for very long.
Ryan and Jamie came over to watch the game, and it was good to see them.  Raylan and I stayed until around dinner time.  We went for a walk with Mom and talked to Dad and just sort of hung out.


On Sunday I got up and, after breakfast, took Raylan with me to run errands.  We went to the grocery store, and Raylan got to ride in the race car shopping cart.

"Hey!  Hey!  Trying merge, here, buddy!"
Later we went to the park.  There were a lot of other kids there (not pictured, so as not to freak out their parents), and Raylan had fun playing with them.  The weather was great,

Raylan not only enjoyed the park, but also running up and down the ramps at the portable buildings at Joslin Elementary.

We also went for some walks on Sunday.  We stopped by to visit Mandy and her doggies.  Raylan got to feed the fish in her pond.

"Mandy, I think this would work better if I could get in there to
pet the fish while I was feeding them."
Also, mixed in there, we played cars and read books and watched a video with garbage trucks on it.
Hot Wheels just don't go out of style
It was a nice day with Raylan.  He asked for his mom a few times, but he seemed pretty happy to hang out with me.  Which was nice.  I was, admittedly, a little nervous about Amy going out of town, but we managed to keep things going for a few days (with a lot of help from Mom and Dad) while she was gone.
It was also kind of good to just hang out with just the two of us for a little while.  When Amy and Mom and other people aren't around, Raylan is more likely to give me a little bit more of his attention.  He starts talking to me a lot more and bringing me his favorite toys and asking me for things that he wants and just sort of communicating with me a little differently.  We both had a little bit of good bonding time.
But we'll be really happy to have Amy back!
And that was the weekend.
Hope you have a good week!

Monday, November 07, 2016


Hey!  Hope everyone had a good weekend!
Ours had some ups and downs.  Friday night was pretty uneventful, I guess.
I had a hearing at work that got me out somewhat late for a Friday, so Amy picked up Raylan.  We ate tacos from Torchy's.
On Saturday we had a parent work day at Raylan's child care center.
We ended up cleaning up the sandbox and replacing sand, cleaning up leaves on the property, and moving some pieces of furniture into storage.  Stuff like that.  It was good!  We got to meet some of the other parents, visit with some of the teachers, and take part in a little bit of community building.

"The new sand is great, Mom, but those guys over there seem to be
doing stuff with dangerous tools, so I need to get a much closer look."

Proud moms with 1,500 pounds of new sandbox sand!
When we got home I watched the UT-Texas Tech game (I had recorded some of it because the work day overlapped with the game).  UT won again!  On the road!  It was fun to watch them win.  D'Onta Foreman is emerging as an extremely powerful running back, and even starting to generate some Heisman hype.  The Longhorn defense actually held its own against a fairly powerful offense.  UT almost blew it a few times with fumbles, dropped passes, and some questionable play calling late in the game, but we squeaked it out.  A win's a win, and we'll take it!

It was sort of rainy and gloomy outside by Saturday afternoon.  At some point while we were playing inside we realized  that Raylan felt warm and was acting sort of cranky.  We took his temperature, and it was 102.
Wah wah.

So that slowed us down a bit.

This pic was taken before I realized Raylan was sick.  Hopefully he's
just trying to play hide and seek as opposed to having a fever-induced
The rest of Saturday involved a dreary day with a cranky kid who wasn't feeling super well.  I made a run to the grocery store while Amy took Raylan for a ride in his stroller.  But mostly we stayed home and laid low.  Amy made tortilla soup, and it was delicious.

On Sunday Raylan seemed a little better.  His temperature was normal when he got up.  But he still wasn't feeling great.  We tried to go to breakfast, but aborted the trip when he sort of had a meltdown in the car on the way there (I picked up food for us, instead).  I'm not sure if there's some serious teething going on or a bit of sickness or both.  He has a doctor appointment on Monday, anyway, for his check up and shots, so I guess we'll find out.
Anyway, we took him to Target to wander around a bit, which he enjoyed.  He got a couple of new Hotwheels cars and a little bit of track.  We had fun with those when we got home.  Raylan is a fan of cars.

We also walked to the park and played with Raylan for a bit until it started drizzling.

Raylan and Amy both had naps on Sunday.  I went to the gym, and then we took turns watching Raylan so Amy could work out.

Raylan had a low fever in there somewhere, but he got some Tylenol, which seems to help.

I swear that Raylan put this hamper over
himself.  Although it gave me some design ideas for
a toddler quarantine mechanism.

Sunday night Amy had been scheduled to babysit for a friend and co-worker, Katarina, but they sort of cancelled on her at the last minute because her husband got sick (they had been planning to attend a concert).  Amy was sort of bummed to not get a chance to take care of Logan, I think.  (and the whole thing was even more confused, given that I had cancelled on band practice to take care of sick Raylan while Amy was supposed to be babysitting).  We were meant to all be home together on Sunday night, I think.
Anyway, we watched Westworld, and just had dinner and hung out and had a nice evening.  We're still really enjoying Westworld.

And that was pretty much the weekend! It was a little bumpy, but we had some fun in there with Raylan (who had his ups and downs, but is always a great kid).

Hope your week is off to a good start!