Get 'em while they're hot!

Spread the word, there are some new shirts to be had from my comic site. They aren't much, but with a free shop what do you expect.

If anyone has information about printing quality shirts, especially black t-shirts, drop me a comment.

My shirt shop.

More baby pics up soon, promise. As well, the GOP Convention is in full swing, look for some diatribes on that subject as well.


National Spoiler Company

With so much going on at home, we've been doing a lot of TV watching. Well, most of us. LMA is grounded for the first time for using a Bic pen to test the durability of our comforter. We've been mercifully without Lion King and Fantasia for about 4 days now.

And what has replaced it but the 2004 Olympics from Athens.

I love the Olympics. Every two years I debate whether I like the cold or warm versions better, but as the opening ceremonies wind down and the events take place I forget myself and dive headlong into mass viewing. The Winter Olympics are a little rougher on me emotionally because I tend to cry when underdogs win figure skating.

But that's not why we're here. We're here because NBC and its affiliates have done a great job bringing my affliction and me as much coverage as is humanly possible. At any time of the day I can watch sports from Athens. Now, if I wanted to watch table tennis, I'd have to tune to Bravo at 2am, but that's still ok. It's been like that for a while.

Next time around I'd like NBC or whoever has the rights to air the games to sign some sort of agreement with the rest of the American news agencies. This agreement would prohibit outlets from reporting on the results of the games until we can actually WATCH them! It's a battle between enjoying the ride home with NPR, the occasional flip over to CNN Headline News or our local News 8 Austin and not finding out who won what before the Bob Costas prime time show even starts. It's infuriating to a TV glut such as myself.

I should have known. NPR and News 8 Austin positively ruined the Tour de France for me. And they wouldn't warn me. A heads up shouldn't be out of the question. "Hey, if you don't want to feel that DVR space you used to record OLN to see Stage 16 go to waste, you might want to turn the radio off for 45 seconds." No. As soon as I turn on the TV, graphics with "Roulon wins bronze" and "Hamm wins gold" hit my receptors faster than my Catwoman-like reflexes are able to turn away.

Now, I know what I ask is impossible so I'm willing to make some lifestyle adjustments.

From now on, I will read spoiler websites 1 hour before going to see a movie. I will start reading books last chapter first. I will start my dinner with a chocolate sundae, followed by pasta and vegetables. Apparently the largest broadcasting company in the galaxy feels that good things are best left for you to find out before they happen, so I must be living my life incorrectly.

Time differences and show time perils aside, Greece is really putting on a show. The facilities look wonderful. The opening ceremonies (11 days ago) were spectacular. It's a joy to see the games with ruins behind them. I'm really worried about the judging in the games, but that's a controversy for another blog. Go ahead and look, there's got to be a googol of them. (Points if you know I didn't misspell that.)
I'm also getting a little sick of the commercials. "Hey Todd. Hey Todd!!" There's a ton of them that just make no sense. Mrs. A thinks I should go into Marketing when I go back to school because I know good commercials. Maybe she has a point.

As my first job, I'd find the McDonalds new chicken product ad team and force them to watch their failure ad nausea. "Step away from the talent!"

Best part so far was Bob Costas calling the Russian Shot-put lady a cheater-cheater-pumpkin-eater.


More Crazy in the Nuthouse

This is Mrs. Austin.

I know sometimes I'm a little melodramatic. I know sometimes when Starbucks is out of my favorite chocolate muffins it seems like the world has turned against me. I know that some of you wish I'd just stop with the pity-party antics and suck it up.

Ok, but some days really are bad.



Come on now.

The saga grows ever wider as the Austin family prepares for a visit from the CPS case worker.

For those just tuning in, Mrs. Austin is battling Post Partum Depression, a condition she mentioned to her doctor which sent us on a week long hike through Hell. By law someone had to report it. We don't know who, Mrs. Austin has a very good guess, but CPS got involved.

So we took the steps necessary to help Mrs. Austin get through this rough time. An appointment was made to see a caseworker, which she did. And a follow up appointment was made for the caseworker to come out to see the house and talk with LMA.

She didn't show.

Now when I say didn't show, I don't mean she called and canceled or rescheduled or came late, I mean the lady didn't show up. How's that supposed to look to a scared and a troubled family when the state declines to appear.

This is after being 20 minutes late and calling to say so, Mrs. A's therapist charged her $90. There was still 40 minutes left on the appointment.

So apparently I'm in the wrong field, this confounded technology, this bane of human ingenuity. I guess the big bucks are in the family welfare cartel where you are able to charge whatever you want, force people to take drastic actions and then become conspicuously absent. There's gads of leisure time and chump change to be made in this industry. I see it so clearly now. Get a degree for a diploma mill. Prey on weak families who feel bad about their issues anyway. Profit.

I guess I'm over simplifying. There are rules for everyone and we're no exception. But it stands to reason if you set up the rules, you should follow them. We should be able to charge the state $90 for a missed appointment.

All ranting aside, Mrs. A still has up and down days. Lately it's been ok. We all have dinner together, watch the unending Olympic coverage. The weekend we had away from the kids was Awe Some. I really love my kids, but on some occasions I really miss being able to sleep late, leave at a moments notice, go out without special planning, eating in quiet restaurants. But then I see their sparkly eyes and smiley faces, or hear LMA sing a song she learned in school, or hear Pilgrim start cooing with Mrs. A and I know it's going to be ok.


Holding at 24

Hey you!

Sing Happy Birthday to me!!

-Mrs. Austin



Pay attention now. This is a photo essay in four parts. Lots to cover.

The Move

In 1999, I took a job offer and we moved to Austin. Since that time, my office has been in one building. Over the 5 year span, I have had 2 jobs, 5 bosses and 3 different desks. I've worked for the same company that changed it's name twice and was bought buy another company only to have it sold back to some of the original members.

I learned a lot in this old job. A lot of skills that probably wouldn't get me a job in any other field, but enough to feel I've accomplished things. In that 5 years I've only been asked twice to contribute my artistic skills to the job; the first time being a total disaster.

But last week that all changed. We finally, after months of waiting, moved to our new facility out west. No longer will we enjoy the comforts of downtown with its convenient parking and walking distance eateries. It's a sad solemn day when a chapter of your life closes; a chapter that so far has been 1/6th of my life.

But in some respects it's exciting. The group is now smaller, leaner, and more energetic. We're ready to take on the financial world and give 'em what for. I have to share an office with two other people, but it's an office, not a cube. I'm glad I was chosen to move and I'm glad I still have a job, especially with the little one starting day care.

The Bugs

Not that Texas has bugs that are any stranger than California or Illinois or Florida, but lately it's like the rock has been rolled away from the cave and the mutants have been given a bus pass. This, yes, this is a bumblebee. Now I remember growing up with bumblebees. They were fat, slow, stupid bees. This guy and his buddy came ripping past us faster than a bird. This guy is the size of a half dollar. I didn't want to get too close so this is a zoom.

These little fuckers look like wasps when they fly and like to hang out in long grass. Imagine my dismay when mowing the lawn, I unleash a half dozen of what I think are mud wasps. Yeah, I left the mower running and sprinting down the street screaming obscenities. Then they land and you notice they're just beetles. Little jerks.

Now THIS guy is truly wonderful. Just a spider, about the size of a pea, but check out the back. Imagine getting bit by a spider, then looking to see it has an evil death's head on its back. By the way, I'm not actually touching it, the camera wasn't focusing on the spider, so I had to put something behind it.

I didn't take this one, Mrs. A did, but it's yet another Interesting Bug.

There were 4-5 of these guys marching around the top of our trash can. They almost looked like sentries patrolling for intruders. When I tapped my finger near one, it actually jumped on my finger instead of scurry away like you're supposed to as a bug. Aggressive, red, tense. I have no idea what kind of bug is it, but it looks pissed.

The Trampoline

I think I'd like to do a series of photos with everyone we know jumping on the trampoline. Not all at once, mind you, it would be foolish to get more than, oh 5 people on at one time. I worry enough having LMA up there with anyone. The limit is 250lbs. and I won't give much away, but with LMA weighing in at a sprite 30lbs., she and I push the envelope.

We had to take this picture fast. She was having none of it.

Mrs. Austin and her brother had a tramp as kids and so when he and his wife came over, he tried to recreate some of those youthful memories. Either that or give himself a busted spine.

This is Invincible Girl. You can't see it in this shot, but later shots she was less than invincible. Seriously, I don't know that she's ever been on a trampoline, but she giggled like it was covered in feather ticklers.

This is Schuyler's mom. She came to pick Schuyler up after we watched her for a while. I think she enjoyed the jumping more than the kids.

This was Schuyler's second time on the big black bouncer and this time she took to it more than last time. This time, with LMA and Miss Julie's help, she fell, flopped and knocked heads with the best of them.

The Family

It's not a utopia in our house. It rarely has been idyllic, but lately it's been downright oppressive. We're doing our best to get through this, but we're living day to day, minute to minute. Plus I've shaved my beard and let my hair grow and that's usually some kind of sign.

Haircuts aside, Lil Miss Austin has been regressing. I won't delve into specifics, but I think she's finally getting tired of the times we put her off so we can attend to the baby. She's a trooper though, we all are. She digs her brother and still wants to smoosh his head.

She's still too small to pick him up or hold him in her lap, but that doesn't stop her from trying. I left the two of them in a room, Pilgrim up on a chair, LMA on the floor watching TV, when I came back she straddling him, holding him by the waist, and dragging him over to where she was sitting. It was awful sweet that she wanted to include him, I'm just no sure how she got him off there without a single wound.

I've been doing my best with the little man, but if you remember stories from when LMA was a baby, you'll recall that she was always waking up at night. Pilgrim has improved the trait by never falling asleep. The little monster sleeps almost non-stop from 5-11 at night, then he's up almost the whole night with some distressful thing or another. It's no wonder Mrs. A wants to smash plates.

Lil Pilgrim, at least, is a pretty normal disposition. He smiles now if you tap his nose or make a face or funny noise. His little head is very edible and his eyes are insanely curious to his surroundings. He does squirm and cry and grunt and squeal like any other kid, but we're starting to notice a change in pattern. I hope it's a good change, we could use it.

LMA long ago figured out how to use a camera. Now it's a matter of figuring out how to see the picture she just took.


In everyone's life, a little rain must fall.

I've never been one to subscribe to a lot of the psychoanalysis I see around me in the world, or on TV. I've always had a limited view as the problems of the mind as I don't feel I could ever have them, I believe no one can. That doesn't mean I don't think they exist, I just think that since you can't see it, like a wound or a broken arm, it doesn't exist. I'm that way about most things. I'm not a spiritual guy either. I love science. I love math and physics and geology and history. Things that have happened or can be proved are much more interesting to me than things you can't see, touch, prove with 100% certainty or measure with any instrument. It's a fault of my own, a limited view of the world that resembles a child first discovering his hand more than an adult emotional and psychological understanding of his environment.

So when Mrs. Austin started talking about PPD (Post Partum Depression) I did the same thing I do with everything like this, I wait until something comes out of it. Now before you all call Social Services, I did not ignore her, or think she was faking it, or anything of the sort. I just had no frame of reference on how to help her. On one side she loves her new child, on the other side she's having thoughts about hurting herself.

I'm also a strong believer in the ideal that you treat everyone as you would want to be treated. If I came across a paraplegic or someone with horrible burns on their face, I do my best to treat them just like everyone else. I would take extra actions like opening doors or helping across streets, but I wouldn't either stare or over compensate by treating them specially. I feel, and again I can sense the dander of you readers starting to get up, that to overcompensate is to call undue attention to someone who may not want it, but to stare is to be mean. If I was somehow, alternately challenged, I would want only the special treatment that allowed me to get by, nothing more. I wouldn't want to be coddled or doted over like an infant. I'm a human being, they are human beings, so treat them like human beings, not pets. Yes they deserve a modicum of sympathy, but don't be gushing imbeciles.

This leads me to Mrs. Austin's current state. I want to be the person who is strong, stable and doesn't treat her like she's got a problem. At the same time, I have to watch over her 24/7 for signs that things are getting worse. I don't mean to make my problem with her problem a big thing, because it's not. Whatever inconvenience or resentment I have pales to what she's going through. For 2 months she's been telling people she's had a problem, now people are starting to listen and she's trying to put on a brave face and say that it's not that bad.

Last night, after a few calls from her doctor, we made a visit to the ER at St. David's. Her OB said she needed immediate help and that the ER people would be able to find someone that could see her. So we're thinking a psychiatrist or at the very least a therapist. After 3 hours of waiting in triage (that's important, because we saw a lot of kids with head wounds and old ladies with drug overdoses come in) we were finally seen and sent to a room. We waited in this new room, with Pilgrim, for another hour before someone finally came and saw us. The guy who came first was a tech to get Mrs. A's blood pressure. Then they asked her to put a gown on. At this point I didn't think they had read her chart properly. We were still unsure why we were there. The blood pressure guy, we'll call him Martin, proceeded to basically hit on my wife with stories of the myriad alcohol bottles he had at home, unopened, for times he had a date. Ok then. Another RN or RN Assistant asked some questions and said a social worker was in that night and would come and talk to us. Mr. Hippie Social Worker finally comes and talks to Mrs. A and I take Pilgrim for a walk. After some time he comes out and talks to me.

Before we go on, for those that don't know, Mrs. Austin is already taking something for depression along with a host of other medicines for headaches and a thyroid problem. All of these are limited to a breast-feeding person, she can basically take these or nothing. The last major incident was during one of her bad headaches, and she doesn't remember what happened. Let's just say it was bad, hence the concern.

So when the Hippie Social Worker talks to me, it's basically to say that a few incidents were traumatic and worrisome enough to warrant some immediate attention. It's at this point I thought, "Isn't that what we're doing?" Oh no. We waited four hours for someone to give us a list of places we can go. This is after the OB told us to go to the ER immediately.

We take the list, get home at 11 pm and decide to take the next day off. Pilgrim and LMA had problems all night and no one got sleep. It's enough to make someone, well, crazy. Our day off was spent calling places that could see Mrs. A today. The urgent need still pervasive, we found an emergency psychiatric clinic. They took walk-ins and our insurance. So our day off was spent looking at a waiting room full of the finest mentally challenged residents Austin has to offer.

We left after 2 hours.

Mrs. A finally used her company-sponsored programs to land an actual appointment with someone. Not an entrance exam, not a questionnaire, not a pass through or an evaluation, an appointment.

It's not enough for someone to say you have a problem. If they don't offer much of a solution, just saying you have a problem causes more problems. I'm proud of her for admitting she has a problem and coming forward. I'll do what I can to help. I hope the people around us understand us enough to let us do what we can to get through this. Waiting in an ER while the bleeding and overdosed are carted passed you, or waiting at PES while a guy with a towel in which we think he was carrying a squirrel heart, is not the way to get better. It's just a way to make you scared to be that way.