Big Ass Apple

Holy crap I'm in New York. And not just New York, Midtown Manhattan, Times Square baby! My company decided they needed more people up in NY for some testing so they were very kind in appropriating the funds to fly and house me in the city that never sleeps.


For those that have never been, let me start off by saying, you just have no idea. It's so big and so loud and so alive. I don't care where you're from, you will just overwhelmed by the sheer size of it. (With apologies for those random readers from Tokyo, maybe).

Coming from Texas, big means spread out over several, sometimes, dozens of miles. Yeah there's 4 million people in Houston, but Houston has the same area as Rhode Island. (Don't check on that, I'm pretty sure it's poetic license.) Meanwhile you have twice, three times that number living or working in an area 5 miles wide and 15 miles long. Just unimaginable. There's no grass, no dirt, no trees. It's just concrete and steel and people. Ok, well you get the idea, it's big. Moving on.

I haven't been able to do a whole lot, my job's kept me pretty busy, but in just wondering around you see things that for someone's whole life, sometimes, you only see in movies or TV. Studio 1A, Radio City Music Hall, Time Life Building, Hello Deli, the CBS Studios, the Ed Sullivan Theater, Rockefeller Plaza. This is all within 10 blocks. I haven't even been to the ESB or Ground Zero/Freedom Tower site, or up to Central Park, or the Met, or Yankee Stadium, or the Garden, or the Statue of Liberty, or the, or the...

I'm here 4 days, two of which are spent traveling, so to try to cram everything in would be foolish, so what do I do instead? That's right, try to fit in. I don't have the time to catch a train to see the Museums up on the West Side or down to Battery Park. You'd need a two week vacation just to see the famous things in Midtown. Easier for me to blend, do my job, appreciate that I'm here, geek out internally, and go home to my family. I'll be back.

So to fit in you can't take pictures, you have to have an umbrella and you have to walk very fast. No one stands here, and if they do they are a doorman, a moving guy or mentally unstable and directionless. My friend I met for drinks said she found me because I was the only one standing still. Pretty sad. There are also no traffic rules that apply in the known universe. Lanes are not strict, they're for decoration. Drivers have a third arm that lingers on their horn, but not in a road rage type way, more like a car saying, "Pardon me" or "Come on that's yellow." Your head has to be on a swivel here, and you always have to be moving. If you stop, you have to pull over (on the sidewalk) and find a doorway. If you stop in the middle of the sidewalk to tie your shoe, well then you die. It's that simple.

Oh, and everything here is priced like the island consists of Maharajas and Texan Oil Tycoons. Pack of smokes? 8 bucks. Heineken? $5. #4 breakfast at McDs? 6 bucks. The umbrella I bought was less than a pack of cigarettes. And people don't MAKE more here, and with living here the way it is, they eat out more too. So how do they do it? I'm thinking lots of crack and or Hawaiian goof balls. I know Austin isn't that pricey and I know people are making ends meet, but only just. How one could survive with the same pay, but higher rent, higher food prices and constant use of public transportation just boggles the mind.

Anyway, cutting this short because I'll write more when I get back, and include pictures.



Life In Austin: Episode II

For those who didn't get blanketed with emails, Mrs. Austin and I are expecting our 2nd child. We found out a couple days ago, Mrs. Austin is 8 1/2 weeks along. The due date predicted is June 5th of next year.

JUNE 5th! That's like (Nov, Dec, Jan...) not very long from now!

I don't know what the protocol is for telling people, whether you have to wait 2 months or 5 months or just introduce the kid at parties, but we decided that the shock we were in was really prohibiting us from keeping a secret any better than the White House.

And it's Shock and Awe, I tells ya. Nothing like going into the Doc to check on a cold and he tells you you're pregnant. It's like saying "Pinch me, I'm dreaming" only to have 5 people punch you in the gut. We were absolutely sideswiped with this news, it coming on the heels of a LONG summer discussion on how having LMA around was good enough for us for a little while longer. We had thought of having more kids, at most one more, so LMA could have a sibling, but our current life was really getting good. We were taking small vacations and going back to school and following dreams, all the while still being able to pay the bills. LMA was 90% potty trained, and becoming quite self sufficient. It was pretty groovy.

Now before you send me hate mail about not loving #2, that's not what I'm saying at all. No one plans on getting pregnant the way you plan to see a movie. It can take months, years, and even then you question whether you can handle it or not. Overwhelmed would be a better word, but overwhelmed with caveats.

Second time around we don't have to worry about labor pains and if it's time to go. We'll know how to deal with diapers, teething, sleeping patterns, how to feed, how to nurse, how to do all things Baby. LMA was a learning experience, and I'm sure was a bit coddled and overly protected. #2 will be less so, just by nature. I'm pretty sure we won't be dangling them out a balcony window in front of the paparazzi, but we'll be a little more lax in our, how shall I say, neurotica protectiva.

Plus, the 2nd will have the benefit of having a play partner. LMA is going to be a great big sister. She's fun, sweet, happy. She always wants to help and wants to play. I'm sure there will be normal regression for her and (write this date down) I vow to not over look her needs or place either child's needs above the other. LMA is going to need extra attention, almost forced, because most of our focus is going to be on keeping #2 from rolling off the bed, sleeping on their face, feeding, etc.

It's going to be so much fun, though. Mrs. Austin is a great mommy and she's said I've been a good dad, so who's to say this is going to be anything but a wonderful romp through family life. She'll have cousins, grandparents, probably great grandparents. I think it will be really groovy.

Mrs. Austin will still be going to school, I'll still be drawing, we won't lose who we are, just be making more people that look like us.


LMA and Mrs. A taming the wild bayou critter.

It's been a few days hasn't it? I'm sure you've got a lot done in that time. 10 days, that's enough time to wait for two handguns in the US.

So what else. Red Sox forced a game 6, Cubbies got knocked out in game 7. Avs lost to St. Louis but beat Chicago. Tonight they play the Wild, vengence shall be theirs. And it shall be good. It shall run down the mountain and smite its enemies like a crazed avalanche. UT got SERVED by OU. Wasn't even a game. I think St. Mary's School of the Deaf and Blind would have done better.

I'd like to mention that I love my wife. She's been great lately and just loving school.

LMA is getting more and more lippy and self aware as the days go on. Picking her up from school each day is like going to the airport with a car service sign, you never really know who you'll get, it's new and exciting. Well, it's new, exciting depends on whether or not I have snacks with me. If I don't, it's just new and loud.

Speaking of Loud, the family went to Conroe this weekend to partake in a two fold celebration of Texas size magnitude. First off was the birthday celebration of, count 'em, 4 of Mrs. Austin's family. Two kids, two adults. I can't describe to you with words the din that is associated with so many children in one room. Since I've moved here, 4 children have been born. When they all get together it's like those movies about family get togethers on Christmas or Thanksgiving where there is noise and laughter and wrapping paper flying and shouting and crying and running. No punch line there, it's exactly like that. I came from a family that was a little more somber and relaxed, although I didn't know it at the time. So to be thrust into what I can only call vainly controlled chaos takes a lot of deep breathing and frequent smoke breaks. What's amazing is everyone behaves, everyone is generally happy and if there are problems, they aren't brought up in front of everyone. It's kinda groovy.

With the majority of kids staying back at the homefront, a group of us head out to the Conroe Catfish Festival. If you've ever been to a street festival you know what this is; arts and crafts, food on a stick, beer bought by coupon (ah the American dream) and music. We again were able to see our favorite live band Los Lonely Boys and a few of us got to ride a mechanical bull.

You heard me.

No this isn't Urban/Rhinestone/Midnight Cowboy or whatever movie that was in. There was no Travolta, no dimly lit bar and very few cowboy boots. (There is a movie clip of us on the faux beast, but gimme a while to figure out the web stuff for that.) Of the three of us that rode, it was hard to tell who was the better. No one stayed on for more that 3-4 seconds, and a couple of us had problems getting on, but no problem falling off. LMA got to ride for a second or two, the operator was very nice and didn't try to throw her.

I'm sure my Colorado parents are so proud of me.

It's actually harder than it looks, most of the "holding on" as it were, is done with your legs clamped down on the bull leaving your groin muscles to ache for some time. Unless your Mrs. Austin's brother, in which case only your pride is hurt.


I know I'm getting older. Everyone is. But I finally felt a bit OLD today. I was talking with Mrs. Austin's brother on a smoke break and we both decided that music videos are for kids. Think about it, do you watch music videos? You do? How old are you? I haven't watched MTV since they stopped playing videos and I haven't watched VH1 since I realized there was better TV and other things to do. I can imagine, with great detail and richness of color, a world without music videos. Musicians are in music because they are musicians. If they are worried about their looks, chances are they aren't very good musicians and I don't listen to them. Anyone think Janice Joplin was hottie? How about John Popper? Lyle Lovett? Yeah Britteny Spears is every 18-48 year old male's guilty fantasy, but is she a good singer? Maybe. Can she play an instrument? Don't know, never seen her. Why then do I care to watch her music videos?

The industry as a whole baffels me. Somewhere, sometime in the late 70's, someone decided that just hearing music wasn't enough. They had to see it. So after the entertainment venue failure of laser shows was exhausted, they turned to broadcasting short bits of drama or assembled concert footage along with the song or performance.

Anyone ask for this? Anyone say, "You know, I like the Cars, but what would make my enjoyment jump that last bit would be to see Rick Ocasek as a fly on a bar of soap." I didn't think so.

So this begs the question, or maybe it doesn't, depending on how much free time you have. If this trend is so popular as to require its own award show, what does that say about others in the performance art industry? Does anyone want to see how well a comedian can weld or assemble a killing machine from mere junk? How many ballet dancers are also excellent chefs, I think they should have an entire station devoted to finding out.

Yes, yes. It's a ramble. It's what happens when the days of writing test scripts at work start to wear thin the small membrane seperating your brain from the rest of you that gives a crap.


Like carnies, but with better weapons.

The Austin family's gone medieval! That's right, it's that time of year again. The Texas Renaissance Festival opened this past weekend and we were again part of the madness in all its turkey-legged, period costumed glory. Both Mrs. Austin and I worked the fair in the past, her in Texas, myself in Colorado. We both have fond memories of the fair, how it changed our lives and how it changed our viewpoint on life.

This, however, was the first time I'd been camping at the fair. When I worked the Larkspur, CO fair, the partner I had wasn't about to camp and get all dirtied up, so we drove there and back each day. Mrs. Austin had camped in "Toon Town", as the employee camping area is commonly known, but never in the patrons area. So we were to meet another family there and camp together on Friday, then hit the fair the next day. We arrive around 9pm on Friday and set up camp with 2000 of our closest friends, most drunk, probably high, and all Rennies. Wow. I wouldn't say it was Sodom and Gomorra, but I didn't go near the Fire Pit. We proceeded to set up our little world with tents and lanterns and chairs and alcohol, put the kids to bed, drank and then tried to sleep.

We were awaken twice all night. Once by the retired dude who decided it was cool to play Shania Twaine at 3 am as loud as possible until Mrs. Austin shouted at him, "For the love of God, turn that shit off!" Then again around 5-6am by a group of drunkards who'd split up looking for their camp site and decided to stay abreast of each other's progress by shouting their locations to each other in poetic, yet still annoying, fashion. When the train rolled past around 6:30, we knew it was time to wake up to the dewy chill of Plantersville and get ready.

So, a camp like breakfast and some mild morning traditions later, we made our way to the front gate. We tried to hang with the other family for a time, but keeping a group of 4 adults and 3 kids together in what ended up being a 28,000 person fair was just too much. How we found them twice again during the day was an exercise in celestial odds. After about 4 uneventful hours, we decided we'd had enough. It wasn't that we had a bad time, just that we didn't have a time at all. The camping was fun, but the actual festivities saw us aimlessly walking around, not wanting to see any shows, not wanting to shop or eat much. LMA was perfectly behaved for the most part. I think in this instance, the lack of sleep really wore on us.

So we did what most tired people do, head the exact opposite way from home. We made a pit stop in Conroe to drop off an item for Mrs. Austin's aunt, had lunch, and got a hotel. Man I love hotels after a day of walking around in dirt and sweat. It was the last room in the place, thanks to the overpowering numbers of rennies and fans. We bought some ice cream, Doritos, cokes and milk and just vegged for a few hours before getting what amounted to 10 hours of sleeping. Fully rested, the next day was killed by trying to decide on how best to further exhaust ourselves. There was talk of Galveston, the Zoo, the Butterfly place or just going home. We hit the Outlet Mall north of town, another shop and lunch, then back home.

I will say this. I love camping. We went a lot when I was a kid, and I am very nostalgic toward the smell of camp fires, the taste of Dinty Moore stew, and the chill of crack of dawn breakfasts. Now as an adult, I can also enjoy the warm stupor of liquor to boot. There's something peaceful about entering an environment, making it your own, then leaving it exactly as you found it the next day. I hope we do more.

I also hope I can fill out my costume a little more. For some reason I chose a Scottish get up, although I don't think there's much Scot in my family history. I think I did it because I knew I'd get a sword to go with it and man aren't lowland broadswords just the coolest?

Oh yeah, some more cutie pics.


Notes from the Peanut Gallery

Mrs. Austin here. I just wanted to take a moment to let you all know what horrible parents we are. Lil Miss Austin has, on various repetitive occasion, been known to poop in her "night time panties" in bed. These are pull ups so there's no real harm done other than we have to change her and she still isn't asleep at 10:30 at night. We've been very clear with her that you don't poop in your night time panties. She knows that she is supposed to poop in the "big potty". I think maybe we were a little too clear on this.

Last night she walked into the living room (west wing interrupts) with a handful of poo. Yes, you hear me. A hand FULL of poo. But she didn't poop in her panties. That's right folks. She put her hands in her pants, pooped, and then brought it to us.

"See, Mommy-Daddy? I didn't poop in my night time panties!"