Friday, September 29, 2006

Ice skating in Houston last December...

We went skating with the Houston salsero community last December.

Pictures from a year ago...

These were taken at the Dragon Boat Races in Clearlake TX last October. Mitch's good friends in California came with their team to compete.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Pictures from the Salsa Event in Houston

These photos come to us courtesy of Adriana, a good friend in Houston, who is so good about capturing these events and sharing her pictures!

Here's a shot of (part of) the dance floor during the social dancing part of the evening--

Here's Betty, our gracious hostess for the weekend, dancing with Roy, one of the best dancers in Austin.

This is the Master, Eddie Torres, teaching his after-performance impromptu class, with the help of the fantastic salsera Kimberly Rivera (also fantastically costumed!)

This is Jessica, director of the performance group Salsa Passion of Dallas, during one of the performances:

This is Jessica, me, and her boyfriend Joel (also a director of Salsa Passion) during the barbecue party on Sunday afternoon:

We had a great time!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Sick, and busy...

I've been out sick from work Monday-Wednesday. Nothing serious, just an icky cold, but now I'm feeling a little pressured because I have a brief due in the US Supreme Court next Friday. Last weekend was a fantastic salsa event in Houston, with Eddie Torres, the father of modern mambo... but I apparently stayed up a little too late and brought my immune system down. So back to the mines so I can get some work done.

p.s. I've lost some weight, in part because I have no appetite. I'm thinking another 10-15 lbs would be fine.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Antonio's new baby...

My racquetball partner Antonio just had a new baby-- Kaitlyn Ivy.


Sept 8-11, Mitch and I went to Naples FL to visit family. We lucked out and got a free upgrade on the rental car... to a convertible!

This is my Aunt Orie and my Uncle Louis (dad's elder brother). I hadn't seen them in 7 years. They're 87 and 89 but still feisty and full of life. We had two lovely dinners together on Friday and Sunday nights.

On Saturday night, we attended the surprise 50th birthday party for Mitch's cousin Sharon. This is her hugging a guest...

Her kids made a video of photographs from her life; this is her (in the center) watching it, with her daughter and grandkids close by..

Everyone got a kick out of the video..

Mitch's cousin Dennis loved the cake! (So did I-- Mitch egged me on and I ate 3 pieces.)

Some of the guys: Steven, Mitch, Joey, Dennis, and Brian.

Some of the ladies: Kelly, Ciony, Debbie, Sharon, Kathy, and me.

Me and Mitch..

Mitch's cousin Kathy and her husband Joey.

Then on Monday, Mitch and I drove to Boca to visit my aunt Pat, my mom's sister. I hadn't seen her in 3 years and it was wonderful to reconnect. She made lunch for us too-- Waldorf salad and a special mint-chocolate cake.

Sadly, I admit I ate like a pig the whole time. To hell with South Beach, I was on the key lime pie-chocolate cake-prime rib-crab cake-lox and bagels diet! As a result I undid all the hard work of a week without carbs, and then some. But I did run in the mornings... and I ran this morning too. I lost 7 pounds already so I know it was water weight. Today is my first day back on South Beach, though I did eat a tiny piece of chocolate cake at the office birthday party. Mea culpa.

So-- tonight I'll be eating a big spinach salad, some steamed green beans, and a piece of salmon. Wish me luck at losing some of the "goodies" I found by Friday, when Mitch and I head to Houston for a salsa event. I'd like to fit into my jeans!

Then Sunday afternoon I'll fly from Houston to Dallas for a hearing all day Monday. Should be pretty fun-- if you've ever read true crime, it's the case they wrote about in "Body Hunter" and "Screaming at the Sky." (I never read either until I got to this case.)

Gotta get back to work!

Thursday, September 07, 2006

New kitchen ideas

Mitch and I are in the very beginning stages of redecorating his house/kitchen. Nothing extreme (no structural changes) but we're chatting about changing the flooring and the countertops. He bought the house the way it is, but neither of us are keen on carpeting, and I can't stand the tile in the kitchen which seems salmon pink to me. Yuck, I don't care for pink as decor, unless it's a little girl's room! That means the counters (white Corian with a pink accent stripe) are also not my favorite.

So we're looking at replacing the tile in the kitchen/dining nook and the living room/halls (and maybe the dance studio) with bamboo in a dark shade... like this:

The cabinets would stay white, and the counters might be soapstone, which looks like this:

The backsplash is currently the same salmon pink tile that's on the floor, which I would change to something neutral. If we do go with the ebony floor and the soapstone counters, the backsplash might be a real pale grey, tiny tile like 1" squares... if we go with a slightly lighter floor (like a dark oak/chestnut/cherry) we might go with a lighter, granite counter and a neutral beige-y tile backsplash.

Just thinking aloud.

Oh! Just got bad news! Mitch's parents are not attending the family surprise party in Naples FL-- they're staying in Vegas with Aling (Mitch's aunt) who was rushed to the ER last night with nausea, leg cramps, dizziness, and 208/142 blood pressure.

More as developments warrant...

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Upcoming events..

First, I saw a funny bumpersticker this morning: Stop mad cowboy disease. Heehee!

Second-- this weekend I'll be in Florida with Mitch, visiting my family and his. My dad's elder brother Louis and his wife Orie live in Naples, and Mitch's cousins live a few blocks away. His cousin Sharon is having a surprise 50th birthday party-- and then Monday we go to Boca Raton to visit my mother's sister Pat. I need to take care of the rental car arrangements this morning and I have a ton of work to do here in the office... have an evidentiary hearing in Dallas Sept. 18-20. The case is Faryion Wardrip, two books have been written about him, and it should be pretty interesting.

Third, I went kayaking last night! It was my first time and it's hard to get the hang of it. Especially because the rental kayaks are the short, wide ones for better tip-resistance, which means I whacked my fingers on the sides with every stroke of the paddle. That sucked, but it was gorgeous to go down Town Lake where I'd never been before-- It's a jungle-y canyon right in the middle of downtown. Plus the weather couldn't have been better, since it rained yesterday and it was beautifully cool and breezy. So I anticipate being sore later today and tomorrow, but I can't wait to try again soon.

Anyway, back to the mines...

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A sad comment after "Labor" Day...

Reposted from the Austin American Statesman yesterday: (

Corporate profits soaring at the expense of workers
Monday, September 04, 2006

Labor Day is upon us, and like some of my fellow graybeards, I can, if I concentrate, actually remember what it was that this holiday once celebrated. Something about America being the land of broadly shared prosperity. Something about America being the first nation in human history that had a middle-class majority, where parents had every reason to think their children would fare even better than they had.

The young may be understandably incredulous, but the Great Compression, as economists call it, was the single most important social fact in our country in the decades after World War II. From 1947 through 1973, American productivity rose by a whopping 104 percent, and median family income rose by the very same 104 percent. More Americans bought homes and new cars and sent their kids to college than ever before. In ways more difficult to quantify, the mass prosperity fostered a generosity of spirit: The civil rights revolution and the Marshall Plan both emanated from an America in which most people were imbued with a sense of economic security.

That America is as dead as the dodo. Ours is the age of the Great Upward Redistribution. The median hourly wage for Americans has declined by 2 percent since 2003, though productivity has been rising handsomely. Last year, according to figures released last week by the Census Bureau, wages for men declined by 1.8 percent and for women by 1.3 percent.

As a story by Steven Greenhouse and David Leonhardt in last Monday's New York Times makes clear, wages and salaries now make up the lowest share of gross domestic product since 1947, when the government began measuring such things. Corporate profits, by contrast, have risen to their highest share of the GDP since the mid-'60s, a gain that has come chiefly at the expense of American workers.

Don't take my word for it. According to a report by Goldman Sachs economists, "the most important contributor to higher profit margins over the past five years has been a decline in labor's share of national income." As The Times story notes, the share of GDP going to profits is also at near-record highs in Western Europe and Japan. Clearly, globalization has weakened the power of workers and begun to erode the egalitarian policies of the New Deal and social democracy that characterized the advanced industrial world in the second half of the 20th century.

For those who profit from this redistribution, there's something comforting in being able to attribute this shift to the vast, impersonal forces of globalization. The stagnant incomes of most Americans can be depicted as the inevitable outcome of events over which we have no control, like the shifting of tectonic plates.

Problem is, the declining power of the American work force antedates the integration of China and India into the global labor pool by several decades. Since 1973, productivity gains have outpaced median family income by 3 to 1. Clearly, the war of American employers on unions, which began around that time, is also substantially responsible for the decoupling of increased corporate revenue from employees' paychecks.

But finger a corporation for exploiting its workers and you're trafficking in class warfare. Of late a number of my fellow pundits have charged that Democratic politicians concerned about the further expansion of Wal-Mart are simply pandering to unions. Wal-Mart offers low prices and jobs to economically depressed communities, they argue. What's wrong with that?

Were that all that Wal-Mart did, of course, the answer would be "nothing." But as business writer Barry Lynn demonstrated in an essay in the July issue of Harper's, Wal-Mart also exploits its position as the biggest retailer in human history — 20 percent of all retail transactions in the United States take place at Wal-Marts, Lynn wrote — to drive down wages and benefits all across the economy. The living standards of supermarket workers have been diminished in the process, but Wal-Mart's reach extends into manufacturing and shipping as well. Thousands of workers have been let go at Kraft, Lynn shows, because of the economies that Wal-Mart forced on the company. Of Wal-Mart's 10 top suppliers in 1994, four have filed bankruptcies.

For the bottom 90 percent of the American work force, work just doesn't pay, or provide security, as it used to. Devaluing labor is the very essence of our economy. I know that airlines are a particularly embattled industry, but my eye was recently caught by a story on Mesaba Airlines, an affiliate of Northwest, where the starting annual salary for pilots is $21,000 a year, and where the company is seeking a pay cut of 19 percent. Maybe Mesaba's plan is to have its pilots hit up passengers for tips.

Labor Day is upon us. What a joke.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Ali, Michele, Sophia and Gaia

This is my niece, Ali, and her two adorable children... Sophia (standing) and Gaia... they live in Rome, but this was taken last month on vacation on the island of Elba.

And this is Ali and her husband Michele.