I'm still working on WordPress installation.

The WP install itself probably isn't bad. See, I haven't got there yet. I'm still jacking with PHP and MySQL. One of the pitfalls of having your own webserver is that you can't just assume your host has all the latest server scripts and just start uploading all these new groovy modules to your site. You have to configure it yourself, which means a lot of ini hacks and dll moves and path associations and, basically shit I don't care about.

But, at least I'm learning something. I've always said I want to learn some web scripting languages and this is pretty much the way to go unless you plan on taking it as a course in college.

So, I'm to the point where it's all installed, but I can't get IIS to see the right extensions, but then I do and then PHP doesn't support MySQL. Ironic that I'm writing about the setup of this new blog here. I need to find someone who, out of sheer kindness, remotes into my web server and just makes it work.

More simply, WordPress is what you use when you want to work with your blogging software, not fight it.

Not so much. I'd have been done by now if it was, or maybe if I was smarter.

Anyway, that's what's going on. I think I'm gonna take a break and start inking some stuff. I have a three day weekend, might as well try to take advantage of it. I have to try and get this all done by March. Don't see that happening, but we'll see.

For you IE users, I talk about all the "stuff on the right side" a lot and you're probably thinking, "What stuff?" Well, for some reason the del.ico.us code snippet and Blogger don't like each other so it pushes everything below the last entry on the page. If you feel like scrolling, have at it, just an FYI. I do add new links almost every day, some informational, some not so much.

Carry on.



So I think this is pretty damn funny. That's probably just me.

Just so everyone knows, I may be moving this blog off blogger and to something else. Word Press is a likely candidate, but I want to decide whether or not I want to keep this name or my Polaris Comics name. I think a plan might be to have a polariscomics.com/lifeinaustin/ page, in light of registering ANOTHER site and create ANOTHER virtual page on my server, but that's not a bad idea either.

I was talking with a friend of mine and I told him I want to keep it all, but have it all work together. I feel like those IBM commercials in which the heads of some bloated company are giving their overtaxed IT group something impossible to do.

So hey, general public, use that comment thingie and let me know what you think. I really am very ambivalent about this, but I know I want to change it, make it work better.

I also want to resurrect AutoNeurotica somehow. Surely there's more material there, right? I had huge plans for that little blog. I wanted to get people from all over to contribute their stories about bad drivers and have some kind of database that would show where they were from, the kind of car they drove, etc.

Turns out I needed some skills to pull that off. So instead I wrote about people cutting me off.

That said, I found it ironic that heading to the kids' doctor's office last night, I was stopped by a train, during rush hour, carrying materials to a site where they were building a new road.

Is it just me or does getting stopped by a train seem archaic? Aren't we at the point technologically where we shouldn't have to deal with this anymore? Isn't there a critical mass we've long sense passed when that's just not an option? It's 2006, I think all roads should go either above or below railroads. There shouldn't be any reason to stop anymore.

Oh, and Pediatric Center of Round Rock, open until 5:30 means there's someone at a desk in the office until 5:30, not 5:10. Especially only 90 minutes after I'd called and said, "I need to come pick up my kids' paperwork, how late are you open?"


New Look

So I got tired of the old look and not really being able to put my own graphics up, so I got a new template. I hope it works ok.

If you have problems seeing anything or want to give any feedback, the comments section should work, but it's Blogger comments, not Haloscan. Couldn't figure that bit out yet.

If you want to be added to the list of "musts" or "fine folk," shoot me an email and either include an 88x31 button and the link or just a link.

I hope you enjoy the new space. Happy 2006.



Read this over on /. Pretty cool.

Yes, I added ads. I'm sorry. It's more an experiment than anything. My site meter says I'm getting a fair amount of hits so I thought I'd give it a shot. I'm pretty sure by this time next year it would cost Google more to mail a check than the actual amount they're giving me.

Hopefully they become more targeted and not just tons of ads for blogs. Right now you probably can't see them, I'm troubleshooting that.

The del.ico.us links aren't working well on the sidebar if you're viewing this in IE. They're ok in Firefox, haven't checked Opera yet. But the Flickr badges don't align right in Firefox, but they're ok in IE. (I get tired of this sometimes, ya know?)

Thanks to all who sents cards and gifts. We apreciate all you've given us and the kids and it was good hearing from you. Let's do this again in about 350 days.

Two more things, if you notice my little Flickr badge is mostly artwork now. I'm going to try to use it as a social repository. Mrs. A's Flickr will still me photographs primarily.

Also, I've added a wish list on the links section. I think this is a good idea for everyone to have for birthdays and holidays that require gifts. Right now it's just stuff I want but I'm going to start making lists for things for the kids as well. Supplies they might need, clothes, toys, software, etc. The likelihood of it ever being used by anyone but me is next to nothing, but you never know.

Have a happy new year everyone. And to all my Jewish friend, Gut Yontiff.


Year end.

First attempt at posting art here. I have a Live Journal account that I was primarily using to upload artwork, but I haven't really used it to its full potential and I don't think but maybe 3 people were looking at it, so you're going to see more artwork here.

Eventually I want to merge this and my comic site, as mentioned before, but I haven't figured out how yet.

This piece is for the Art Swap over at Penciljack. It's my first serious piece in a while, serious meaning not cartoony or sketchy but something on a nice 11x17 piece of Eon board, blue lined and inked. I think the composition turned out well, but I'm really rusty on inking and it's kind of sloppy there. Mrs. A will say I'm my own worst critic which is fine, I like it that way. The day I'm happy with my work is the day I'm done being an artist.

The family made the trek to the Austin Trail of Lights down at Zilker Park last night. It was the first time in the six years we've been in Austin that we visited the event. We've seen the Moontower or Zilker Tree before, and that was fun. Just a few minutes of standing under the tree and spinning around while drinking cocoa and eating kettle corn and signing impromptu carols. The TOL, however, is another matter entirely.

Luckily it's not a day long festival in which people park and stay for hours. You park, you walk through and you leave. Sure 20,000 people may have been there at any one time, but it was all mobile. So we sat in line on Mopac to park and as we closed in on the cops they turned off their sign and feed people back onto the freeway saying to go downtown and take the shuttle.

Yeah, go ahead. Picture me being all bent out of shape and frustrated. Get it out of your system.

Fortunately Mrs. A kept a cooler head and we parked by the footbridge that runs under Mopac, so it's just a mile or so hike to the front gate. We had the kids in the wagon so it didn't seem too bad. Until we got there.

Yogi was really enjoying the lights, as you'd expect. They were bright and shiny and colorful; all the things a little brain needs. Lil Miss Austin on the other hand couldn't have cared less. The initial walk up was full of excitement and anticipation, and then about five minutes after the big opening tunnel, she started losing interest and spent the rest of the time faking sleep in the wagon or wrestling with Yogi.

Toward the end Mrs. A and I were just speed walking to get out of the place with two seriously antsy kids. Fun.

Which brings up today's final thought; child behavior.

LMA is a constant work in progress. Until she's 18 we're going to be learning how to deal with her behavior and emotions and her boundaries. We're not doctors, we're not analysts, we're just parents who are both working to pay the bills. We don't see the kids a lot because they're in daycare/school and it really hurts me to only see them for about two hours a day and most of that time spent disciplining them.

So, we're constantly adapting. LMA so far is getting the brunt of our experiments as we move from physical punishment to reward system to ignore system back to physical, but we're doing our best. She is a little person who just needs to move constantly, doesn't know how or is physically incapable of shutting down until she's passed out asleep. She constantly says, "No," which is typical. She cries as soon as you tell her "No" or that she can't have/do something. Lately she gets so bent out of shape she screams and runs to her room and slams the door. (I expect I can look forward to this behavior until I'm dead.)

But it's really wearing us down. There's no middle ground with her. She's either mindless out of control or melting down to the point where she can't comprehend what we're telling her, even if she's not in trouble.

So we're going to try new things and those things won't work so we'll try different things. Mrs. A has decided she just wants to let LMA do her own thing. She thinks maybe we've got too many rules or are too strict. I'm going to try the reward/ignore thing for a while, see what that does. Expects say that's the best way, but I tell you what, if you see a kid pitching a fit in a store and the parent is ignoring the kid, what's your thought? Mine too.

For your information, we did celebrate Solstice on the 23rd since I had to work on the 22nd. For those that read this, thank you very much for the gifts. We all love them.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.


Happy Solstice!

Every year I will publish this so get used to it.

Mrs. A and I got into this talk yesterday at lunch. The War on Christmas phrase has invaded our waking lives and has truly given us pause during a time when we should be loving each other and being open minded and accepting and joyous. Especially in America where we have much for which to be happy, proud and thankful.

But no, we have to have a War. Now more than ever I'd like to recap what I've spun in years past; Christians, you're doing it all wrong.

First, if you want to put the meaning of Christmas back into Christmas I think that's the tops. I think more people should stop diluting their feelings and beliefs and trying to remain PC just to appease the lowest common denomination. But at the heart of the celebration of Christmas is the birth of your Lord and Savior. So go to mass, wish Jesus happy birthday, have a nice dinner with friends maybe afterward and be done with it.

No where in the Bible do the words "Christmas Tree," "Christmas Presents," "Santa Claus," or even "Winter Wonderland" come into play. Your desire to make a Pagan/Anglo/Norse tradition your own by is not your fault originally, but to get testy with people for saying "Happy Holidays" goes against the very nature of the event. You want to be correct? It's a Yule Tree and Santa Claus is a very old Elf (you know, those heathen, wood dwelling folk of old?). There were no evergreen trees in Jerusalem. No one put lights or wreaths on their huts.

You want to be put the meaning back into Christmas? Stop making it a commercial holiday and start celebrating what it is.

Second, yours isn't the only holiday going right now. Every religion has something going on at the end of the year. The longest night, the rebirth of the light, the company of friends during a dark time. Christians preach acceptance, tolerance, brotherly love, but apparently only when you say "Merry Christmas." To do otherwise will send you to hell.

Hey, what about all the Hindus and Muslims and Jews and Pagans and Buddhists? Some have end of year traditions, but what would you say if someone at a store or restaurant said, "Happy Chanukah?" This is what "Happy Holidays" means. It means, "I don't know you, I don't want to make you feel uncomfortable, so I'll just shotgun blast this catch all phrase that should encompass everything and be done with it." And a normal person hearing that should just say, "You too," and the transaction be finalized.

The point is, this is a time when we should be looking out for each other, making it a little easier to get through the hectic days and long cold nights. If you start sniping at people because they didn't specifically wish you a "Merry Christmas" then you've done far worse in missing the point of the holiday than all your non-Christian friends.

Besides, the whole thing was stolen from the Pagans anyway.

Happy Solstice.


Bogus plea.

Whether real or not, this little tidbit has been making the rounds on a good number of message boards. It hit Penciljack today.


Slowly but surely.

Excuse the size of the file. See, now I'm in rotation, I have to get busy and produce more. (For those that don't know what I'm talking about, that's my comic book as "Indy Book of the Day" on comicbookdb.com.)

Open letter to Old Navy,

Dear store buyers,

Not all of us guys are 6'2" and weigh 170 lbs. Please carry some fat midget clothes until we can lose some weight.

Thank you.



Mrs. A and I were at Barton Creek Mall yesterday with the kiddos getting pictures taken and on the way in we drove by Abuelo's Mexican Food Embassy (yes that's its real name.) I've never heard of a place called a Food Embassy. I've heard Emporium and Palace, but never Embassy. So Mrs. A caps the day's humor quotient by saying, "That's where food goes when it's in trouble. It runs up to the door shouting, 'Hecho en México!'" I haven't laughed that hard in a while.

I'm gonna make a shirt for it and submit it to Threadless.


Improving your experience, improving my skills.

You might start seeing some changes around here. I've started some tutorials on web development to both reinforce my foundation for what little html and css knowledge I had and expand by picking up xml, java, php and anything else I can think of. It's not going to be overnight, and since it's nothing I'll be using at my day job, it won't be very soon at all. But this is my playground where I'll be experimenting with what I learn.

My art site will probably also see some changes. Ideally I'd like to combine the two into one place since I do nearly all the writing here and I haven't updated my art site in so long because it's clunky. But, I don't want to lose this blog, nor do I want to lose my domain name and have to register another, so some though will have to be given to how to best go about this change. Life In Austin seems like a good enough name, Polaris Comics was sort of a last minute thing, and honestly the name is up for renewal anyway. I'd hate to pay for another year and then not use it. Oh well, we'll see. This all of course takes away from all the drawing I should be doing.

That's another thing, I sat down to draw a picture of Batman for the Art Swap over at Penciljack and I realized I have no motivation to draw Batman. So I thought I'd sketch some of my own characters. Nothing there either. Then I tried just random sketching for practice; nada. I had zero motivation to draw anything. I've been offered a nice artistic donation from a friend if I go back and redo the interior pages of Project: Gemini, which is something I want to do anyway, then push out #1 and #2 at the same time. #1's artwork wasn't all that great. I rushed it to get it done and yes I'm glad I got it done, but it was a sketchbook. I want to ink it to have it at least look finished. I'm no great inker, but I can at least make it look more polished.

Yet, I can't find motivation for that either.

What I can, apparently find motivation for is dorking around with my two sites and watching TV. I gotta stop that. I have to get back into the creative mind set. So, we'll see which one comes up first; web design or comic book.

By the way, you need to see the Santa pictures Mrs. A put up on Flickr. For those that don't know, we try to get a pic with Santa every year, not just the kids, the whole family. I don't know if she's got the other years up or not. Notice how it looks like I'm crashing the party in this one. Good shot, mall people.

If you're using something other than IE, you'll notice the "Of Interest" category now on the right. That's the links I've been hitting that I think are worthy of wider exposure, check them out. If you're using IE, I'm still learning the code and why it pushes it all the way to the bottom. Sorry about that.

Our tree is up and the house is lit. As soon as I got the tree decorate, with the help of the children, LMA asks, "Can we open our presents now?" There were no presents under the tree, but I wasn't smart enough to tell her that.

Carry on.


King Kong

(Possible spoilers below, but I mean it's King Kong. He dies at the end. Still read at your own risk.)

I'm going to admit something. It's something that's hard to admit to the average person let alone an internet elite group who would be running across this page right now.

I've never seen the original King Kong all the way through.

Over the years since cable became a household product, I've seen bits and pieces of it here and there which coalesced into a vague idea of what the story was about. I knew before this year, for instance, that Kong was a big gorilla. I knew that somehow some people got onto an island while filming an early century action movie and stumbled onto a primitive tribe of people who kidnapped the leading lady and "donated" her to the Kong Needs A Girl Fund. I knew that Kong fought a T-Rex. I knew that somehow the movie crew captured Kong, took him back to New York where he went crazy, climbed a building and eventually died. I know he loved the leading lady and she began to find some closeness to the beast.

Turns out that's all I needed to know to watch this movie. I felt bad not knowing how close this 2005 Peter Jackson incarnation was to the original film. I felt bad not knowing all the trivia and factoids related to Kong Mania. I didn't know there were sequels or remakes. I thought this was magic because there was 1933 then today. Turns out there were several remakes and sequels and TV deals and cartoons.

I didn't know about the last minute composer changes. I didn't know about the Lost Spider Scene. I didn't know much about the original story behind the movie crew and director and their whole reason to go to skull island.

It'd be like knowing Star Wars exists, and that Darth Vader is a bad guy, but not knowing why he's chasing Luke and why Luke's friends are shooting at stuff from their spaceships or how Yoda lifts things just by wishing it.

So that was a good thing for me going into the movie. I wasn't married to a vision or memory of an old movie. I wasn't expecting any particular piece to be in place. What I was expecting was a lot of good acting and a lot of giant fights. And I got that.

It was phenominal. My only beef was with Jack Black. I hate saying it, because normally I love watching him, but this time around he was a distraction. He wasn't the main character, but his screen presence was one of someone trying to suppress that Main Character image and trying to fit in. At times his timing and humor were right on, and others he blew some very heavily weighted lines.

The rest of the ensemble was wonderful. I was rarely pulled out of the moment by what they did or said. I was also never thinking "what cool effects those are."

And that's the highest praise I can give the movie. The effects didn't run the movie. What ran the movie was what should run the movie, the direction, the action, the emotion. I was holding my breath a lot and even at a midnight showing, I never looked at my watch and thought "Isn't this thing over yet?" Also, Peter Jackson really likes killing off Andy Serkis.

I want to see it again, although as rapt as I was, I don't believe I missed much.


The Office vs. Office Space

First, a link. I don't have cool links like Scott so you have to just wait till I find a good one. I have a del.icio list, but I don't know how to incorporate it yet and frankly, I hit the same 10 links each day anyway. The likelihood of me finding really cool things day after day is just nil.

That said, check Pandora. For those who use Launchcast (or I guess now Yahoo! Launch or whatever) it's just another flash based streaming music site, but it's based on the Music Genome Project which tries to break down music into genes (types of vocals, beats, what instruments are used, etc) and Pandora uses that data to select what type of music you might like to hear.

So I signed up, we'll see how good it is. I foresee many, many wasted hours on this.

So I've been at my new job a week. Yesterday I got my first real list of tasks to complete by year end. So far so good. So I'm taking a break when I realize that by nature, people compare things to what they know. Ok, I do. I don't know what other people do.

So here's a list of things I noticed from my last job as compared to my new job. It's strictly data, I'm trying not to be biased about it. The act of noticing these things is bias enough, so I won't add comentary.

Old job catered lunch every day if you were on the lunch plan. For $2 a day you didn't have to go anywhere to get lunch and it was pretty decent selection. New job is downtown and closer to more restaurants, but no catering, unless you consider my plastic bag full of food and drink catering.

Old job was "staffed" with mostly young guys, very few women or anyone older than 55. New job is a more diverse group of people.

Old job had good toilet paper, but the paper towel dispenser never worked properly. New job has thin toilet paper, but a nicer sink.

Old job was way down on Loop 360 and there's only one way to get there from my house or the kids' school. New job is downtown and there are more choices on the commute.

Old job I had two 20" flat panels. New job I have one.

Old job I shared an office with two other people. New job, I have my own cubicle.

Old job had a window with a view of the parking garage. New job has a 7th story window view of the Wells Fargo building.

Old job I knew about 30% of the people there. New job I don't know anyone at all.

Old job I was paid for my select skills on the software and longevity. New job I'm paid on my marketable skills.

Old job I had a TV which got a few channels off the office satellite, mostly cable news. New job doesn't.

Old job had the same sense of security you'd get from walking down a dark alley in Detroit around Halloween. New job's sense of security is more a warm blanket on a sunny day.

Old job I was in charge of remote maintenance on 25+ machines. New job I'm in charge of some old tapes (so far.)

Old job I could wear jeans, tee shirts, sandles, shorts, baseball hats. New job I have to wear nice pants, dress shirts and nice shoes.

Old job the hours were flexible, as long as you got your work done. New job has a timesheet, but it's always the same hours.

Old job had inexpensive insurance. New job does not.

Old job had a standup cooler full of sports drinks, juices and sodas. New job has a coffee maker and a soda machine.

Old job had two ping-pong tables, foosball table, a PC with a joystick and some old arcade games, and a Quake install on the network for afternoon games. New job has a couple guys who've played video games before.

Old job, people came to me when they needed something creative or graphic. New job, they don't know about that yet.

Old job, there were maybe two places to have a happy hour. New job is near Sixth Street.

Old job I had 8 bosses over 6 years. There were two name changes. The company was bought and then sold. New job I'm guessing nothing will change before I die.

Old job I had 5 weeks of vacation per year, plus the honor system of sick time. New job I won't get any vacation until June 2006 and sick leave is accrued.

Both jobs are across the street from a Starbucks.

If anyone reading this is good with basic, run o' da mill HTML and IIS hosting, I have a problem with my comic site. If you just type "polariscomics" and hit enter (Firefox and Opera will add the www.__.com) it takes you to www.polariscomics.com/ArtPort/ which doesn't exist on my server. I know I had my ftp site open for a while and some...friendly people used my server to host some movie files, but I've closed it down since then. Now it's acting wonky.

Comments enabled.


New Job

I started my new job yesterday.

I don't want to talk too much about it and get myself fired like any other number of individuals, so I'll lay down some imperical facts that can be viewed objectively with no room for interpretation and then we'll just call it a day.

My new position is with Texas Medical Association. TMA is the largest state medical association in the country. It provides networking tools, software, conference room and support, documentation and resource database access to medical professionals across the state. It's 150 years old. You can read more about it here.

As far as what I do, technically my title is Network Administrator. I don't have too much networking experience, so I believe the title is a misnomer. My duties at the start seem to be backing up the file server onto high density tape. I've only been here a day and that's pretty much the only solid thing I've been able to gleen from the tours and meet and greets. I'm sure as days go by I will settle into my role. From what I can tell in talking to my new boss, I'll be doing some documentation about the processes and procedures involved in troubleshooting and managing projects. I'm sure I'll also be involved in sundowning some old servers, setting up new servers, etc. I'm hoping to get some network training, even if it is "as needed."

There are some things about the job that are not as good as I'd hoped. The health insurance is quite pricey and I'll probably end up opting for paying for my own. I won't give numbers, but it's about 4x what I was paying (or having deducted) from Zone. Add that to an already 1/3 paycut.

But the people so far are cordial. They've all worked for TMA for a very long time. The facilities are modern if not cutting edge. Stability doesn't seem to be a problem.

And that's all I'm gonna say, I've said too much.

Lil Miss Austin continues to be, and forgive my bluntness, a pain in the ass. I tried thinking of a different way to spin it, but I just can't. She's just at this age (you know the one, between 3 and 24) where she's testing her boundaries and pushing our buttons and trying to get her way at all costs. Even with the very real threat of corporal punishment, she will continue to push and push and push her agenda until the whole opperation has crumpled into a raw screaming mass of exposed nerves and empty beer bottles.

Mrs. A and I are really lucky to have each other during times like this. I can not imagine being a single parent with a little kid like this. I know this is normal and I'm getting plenty of feedback and advice on how to deal with her; the majority of which is "just ignore her."

You know how hard it is to ignore a screaming four year old?

So Yogi's been a handful too, but not because of any psychological envelopes he's been pushing. The poor dude just can't get a break medically. It's earaches or breathing problems or diaper rash that hurts me just to look at it. He's got a few words and proto-sentences down pretty well. "All done." "More please." He can sign for a few things like milk, cheese, water. He says please and bird and shoe. He's such a cute kid and lately such a good crier.

Mrs. A has stayed home with the kids a lot lately due to either illness or school holidays and she can attest to how much the word "mommy" has been used as punctuation, salutation, exclamation and dissertation. Yogi can use it as a verb, adjective and noun all at once. He even calls me "mommy," which doesn't get him too many favors.

We love our kids. They are just kids. I have to remember that. Before I know what happened, they will be teenagers and there'll be a whole 'nother set of problems to deal with that will make these days seem memorable and magic by comparison.

With the job and the kids and the holidays I've really let slide a lot of things and I'm sad about that. I haven't the slightest idea what's going on the world politically, I haven't been active on my comic book message board (a place I once called my second home) and I haven't been trying to expand my own horizons with learned reading or self-tutoring. I've completely dropped trying to learn Mandarin. There's a project on Penciljack I haven't taken part of in months. I haven't started my comic's second issue. It seems like all I've been doing is spending the day not at home doing vague representations of working, then coming home and either being exhausted for no damn reason or trying to help Mrs. A keep the house in order and the children from catching fire before passing out around midnight.

I honeslty have no idea what I'm doing with my time the last couple months, but it hasn't been what I've wanted to do. However, I can't account for what I've done in that time either. I've lettered two comics, that's it. It seems like I should have more done. With the way Mrs. A and I argue sometimes, I'm not apparently doing my share during the evenings, but I've also had nearly three weeks off in the past month. Haven't seen any movies, haven't gone out to dinner. It hasn't been all bad, I haven done some comic related stuff, spent a lot of time with Mrs. A and we did get to go to San Angelo to see her grandma. It hasn't been a total waste or a waste of any kind. It just seems like I had so much time and I was not productive in the things that mattered to me, to my family, etc.

I think I'm hitting the time crunch days. I'm pretty sure soon I will wondering why my kids are driving and when they'll becoming home from college to visit and how old my grandkids are now. We measured LMA yesterday and she's 3'6". She can see over the countertops now.



Changing of the Guard

Yesterday was my last day working at Zone Trading. I'd been working with this same group of people with this same software for six and a half years. We've gone through name changes, buyouts, buy backs, supervisors, reorgs. Lot of changes. But that's over and done with and it's kind of funny. I don't think when they made the decision to close up our group they actually realized how much knowledge they were losing and toward the end I could tell. But you know what? I don't care. I'd have rather got a 3 month severance then hang around there knowing my last day is coming up.

So it's on to the new job. I'll be working at Texas Medical Association doing some IT work. I don't want to talk about it too much as I haven't started, don't know the people or the job and I want to start on the right foot. I already feel bad about holding on to the lingering hope that another graphic design job was going to call back. Which they never did.

Yesterday was also technically the last day of my health insurance. Monday I left work a little early claiming I wasn't feeling well. Not caring much at that point it really didn't bother me to do so. But that night and into the next day I got feverish and my throat started hurting and swelling up. Shortening up the story, I have Strep. It's fun. I also may have Sleep Apnea that was brought to light by having a sore, inflamed throat. I can't check on it now, I'll have to wait until I have insurance again.

Mrs. A's last minute medical day was a bit more stressful. For about 5 hours she thought she had cervical cancer. An early and extended physical revealed a thing in a place that shouldn't be there, a Nabothian Cyst to be exact. The first Doctor said the word "lesion" and knowing her family history it was a logical step to "cervical cancer." So in the same day she was able to be referred to and seen by a specialist who said it was the Nabothian Cyst (which I still think sounds vaguely sci-fi) and there's nothing to be worried about and no treatment that is needed. She needs to be vigilant for other reasons, but not this.

So for about 4-5 hours we thought she had cancer. Not a fun day.

She does however have some blood work coming back that may show she's got diabetes. Again, it's in her family and she even had short term gestational diabetes with Yogi. With her thyroid levels constantly being adjusted by different meds, this was a concern. We haven't got the blood work back yet, but the doctor was fairly certain.

First off, I'm glad she doesn't have cervical cancer. I'm upset that she may have diabetes. But diabetes you can live with. Even with the new cervical cancer drugs out now that claim the certain strain can be cured, it's still cancer. It's kind of an ever looming aspect of her physical make up; one day she will have it. It's almost a given, its just a matter of when.

But diabetes is a different story. Diet change and some medicine and home testing for blood sugar levels. I think that's it. She's already started running on her own and she eats well (if not regularly) so even though it's a big thing, it's a manageable thing and I'm sure we'll deal with it as best we can.

So I'm on antibiotics with a failing voice and she's pushing forward with wedding photography tasks. I have to do a tattoo for Mr. Darn Tootin, a x-mas card and an art swap in the next couple days. Plus I've been commissioned to finish out the lettering on two more issues of Bronx Angel. It's good to get work, I just hope I can get it done.

Kids are driving me crazy, I can feel my patience with them slipping away. I snap at the littlest thing. Especially Lil Miss Austin. She constantly says "no" and is constantly ignoring what she's told. I know she's only four and I have to remember that. But sometimes I think she should know better and that's when it gets to me. Yogi's just been under the weather and has been impossible to get to sleep. We got a note today saying he feel asleep on the playground. How said is that?

That's the news.


Face Recognition

This is pretty cool. Of course a picture I put in returns Kiefer Sutherland, George Clooney and John Cusack so I know it's full of crap.

But it's fun anyway.

Behind the Scenes

Got a comment about how my writing is weak when it comes to affairs of the heart, that Mrs. A has me whipped or that I'm afraid of what she'll think when I write in here.

Truth be told, not all is roses with me and the Missus, but guess what, it's no one's business but our own. I'm not going to turn this place into a grudge blog full of reasons I don't like my wife or things she's done to piss me off. Why? Because it's been done, it's boring, and it's not what I want to do.

Yes I'm whipped. I don't know if you've seen pictures, but I'm damn lucky to have Mrs. A as my partner. I know where my bread is buttered, and it isn't buttered by me badmouthing the love of my life, even if she does something to drive me crazy. Some things just aren't meant for public consumption.

And if you're that hard up for spousal angst, go here or watch Wife Swap on ABC. I won't cater to AFV/Schadenfreude culture by pissing off the person I sleep with.

You don't like it? Get bent.


New Poll

Please take the time to vote.


What to do

I realize it's been a couple weeks since I've written, but I have a reason.

I'm extraordinarily lazy.

Ok not really. I've actually been quite busy lately, even having taken two weeks of vacation in the last three weeks. Between the Marine Ball and a couple comic book/design gigs I've taken on, it's been crazy around our house. You'd like I could take a couple minutes to write a little entry about the Austinites. You'd be wrong.

What I really want to talk about is the job situation, but I can't. On my side, I haven't really settled everything yet. The only thing that's even remotely certain is that my last day at my current job will be November 30th. I've had some calls and been on some interviews and I'm happy to report that things are positive, but not knowing who's reading this, I don't want to talk about it and jeopardize anything.

On Mrs. Austin's side, she's having problems with Dell. It's draining and emotional, but again I don't want to give out specifics. Let's just say we don't like them anymore.

On December 2nd, I'll at least be talking about where I am and what my change of employment has brought. It may be a great move or just a good move. I'm at the point where I have to look out for my family and if there's a chance for making that better and easier, I'm gonna take it. I have to suck up this feeling of anxiety and fear of rejection and realize that we have a house and cars and daycare bills and food to pay for. This isn't just me in an apartment where I can go without nice juice and fancy bread for a week or two, or stop going out for a month while I make rent, this is bigger than me. It's now us.

So us is hopefully going to have a full house on thanksgiving. Starting Wednesday night, our house will be a hot spot for about 5 days. We have friends coming in Wednesday night and staying until Thursday night. They work retail, though, so they have to get back for the biggest shopping day of the year. I do not envy them at all. That's got to be rough. We have Friday off, then Saturday we have Mrs. A's Dad and friend coming into town for the evening, the Sunday night more friends to watch Lost and have dinner. At some point Mr. and Mrs. IG will be coming over as well, but we don't know when really.

During this time we still have to get photo and comic book work done.

The vacation time off has been nice. I've been given a chance to do some lettering for a Bronx Angel, written by a fellow Penciljack-ian. The regular letterist had another gig come up so the EIC asked me, seeing some of the stuff I'd done for the ASJ41 project. (I'm xadrian, btw.) So this is cool. It's not just a page or two, it's a full book, it will see print, and I'm getting paid for it. It's an Indy book, but so what. It's a great story and I hope it sees some store shelves. I never thought I'd be a letter jockey, but I've learned a lot that I can use for Project: Gemini or other books I may do.

Speaking of P:G, I added it to the Comic Book Database or comicbookdb.com. It's dorky to add your own book, but fuck it. It's been printed, people have purchased it, it's been in a store, it's a book. Yay me and my self promotion. This just means I REALLY have to get back to working on issue #2.

Completely off topic, I hit our local Walgreens the other day to get some Tylenol Sinus. We had a couple freezes over the past weeks and the weather has officially become non-summer. With the change of the seasons came a giant Canadian cold front which basically killed our sinuses and gave most of us raging headaches. But we knew it was coming, so I wanted to stock up on Excedrine and Tylenol Sinus (proven deterent to both weather front headaches and hangovers.)

Apparently, a while back, some measure was passed (and I still have to find out if it's a Federal thing or not) in which pharmacies are now locking down on psuedoephedrine because it's a key ingredient in making meth. So now, whether you have a home meth lab or not, all sinus/pain reliever with this drug is no longer available over the counter. This means they have these cards where the medicine usually rests. You take the cards to the pharmacy counter and they get it for you after you show an ID and sign a piece of paper.

I wouldn't mind it if the pharmacy wasn't already tasked beyond belief with regular prescriptions. Plus you have to deal with the AARP card holder who sits in line and huffs and puffs about the indecency of having to wait in line for cold medicine.

It took me 45 minutes to get Tylenol Sinus. First they were out of the extra strength, then they were out of the extra strength Walgreens brand. Finally I told them to just get me whatever they had that was similar.

I can't even really blame the drug addicts and illicit manufacturers for this probelm. It seems like governmental ineptitude. They can't find the labs fast enough to shut 'em down, so make it harder to buy at Walgreens.

Meanwhile, I think you can still get this stuff at gas stations.



Hoo rah

Saturday was the big event we've all been waiting for. It's been a month,
maybe 6 weeks, that we've known about this big contract. Mrs. A has
stressed her sanity, business finances and endurance to the maximum in
preperation for this day.

Was it a resounding success? Not really. But it wasn't a complete failure
either, let's get that out of the way right now. Many, many, MANY things
could have gone wrong that didn't. The few things that happened I feel were
handled with adoitness and efficiency. Mrs. A didn't even know things had
gone bad we handled them so well.

And everyone pulled together and did a great job helping out, so I'd like to
thank them. We were completely slammed, then completely idle, then slammed
again, and I feel each person pulled their weight and did a great job.

So what went wrong? Why the sombre tone? Well, we didn't pull down what we
were expecting. Mrs. A and I gauged the number of party goers and made a
guestimate on how many would purchase what packages and came up with what we
thought was a conservative number, (something like, if half the guests
bought only one picture.) Not only did we not hit that number, we didn't
even come close. We fell short on an order of magnitude. It was depressing
and shocking. It was almost insulting. It felt like we had wasted our

I don't want to really belabor the point. Mrs. A is taking this the hardest
of all. This was supposed to be a big thing for her, for us. It was
supposed to help get us through to the end of the year and into next year.
The contract would lead to more contracts like it. There would be contacts
made, and possibly more wedding bookings for these young couples. We
thought the online store would be a great idea and it would pull down at
least as much as we took in with cash that night.

None of it happened. The only thing that happened is 7 people (some would
say 8) worked very hard and sacrified a large chunk of time for what
amounted to very little payoff. Mrs. A has worked just has hard by herself
at weddings for five times what we made that night. It was kind of a

Now, she's not going to like that I wrote that, and I've tried to keep all
the names out of it for that reason. I'm actually kind of ticked at the
whole situation because I know she worked her ass off to make this happen
and it was received with such tepiditiy and aloofness that I'm almost upset
at them for being noncommittal snobs. I don't know what they expected, but
it wasn't us apparently.

We did learn a lot. The positive side of all this is that for next time we
know what needs to be added, removed, changed or rethought. We did make
some money and that was ok. We didn't get run out of the building. We had
a decent dinner. We got to dress up. We met some nice people. It wasn't a
complete loss. And as of now I'm done talking about it. I'm done talking
to her about it. If you care about her, you won't talk to her about it
either. It's over and we need to move on. It'll either get better or it'll
be forgotten.

Carry on.



For those needing a dose of the past, check out our Flickr pages (see links to the right.)

First off, I was a cute kid, sparkley eyes, dashing chin. But Mrs. A was such a level above cuteness that I'm warning you now, you may go into insolin shock just by looking.

Also, compare some of the youth pics to some of the Lil Miss Austin and Yogi pics. Apparently both our kids look like their mom and I look like the lead singer of Queensryche. (Mrs. A bought a hair straightener. Oh. My. God.)

Carry on.


The crazies are running the nut house!

I love Halloween. I think I actually like it more than Christmas and Thanksgiving and the 4th of July.

The problem is that I'm getting older, so the things I like about the day aren't the same things I liked as a kid. Now I like the smell of cinnamon, the taste of hard apple cider, the sound of football games and marching bands, the crispness of the air, the darkness of the evenings. I like the feeling our house gets when we have prime time television shows on and the furnace kicks off and it's dark outside. I like seeing leaves on the ground and overcast days.

As a kid, I liked candy and The Great Pumpkin and dressing up. I still like the idea of dressing up, but each year I make a pact to start early on the costumes and each year I forget that I made that pact. Not since college (and the much referenced Mystic costume) have a made any real attempt at dressing up.

This year, with the long hair, there were several options. Mrs. A thought I should go as the cowardly lion. I'd get an orange suit and grow my beard out. There was also talk of stuffing a dirty tee-shirt, growing out the chops and go as Hurly from Lost. I was quite in favor of renting a nice Lord of the Rings outfit and going as Eomer, though that would have required a really obscure costume and possibly a level of Eastern European sex appeal you can't find at Party Pig.

So this year I went as the long haired father of two. Mrs. A manned the orange and black bedecked homestead, armed with a bowl full of brightly packaged sugar, whilst the offspring and I set out to conquer our block. LMA was Wonder Woman with a pink jacket and Yogi was a mini Frankenstein. He stayed in the stroller the whole time, perfectly content in being chauffeured everywhere in the warmth of felt. She, by contrast, turned each open door into a chance to chat with the neighbors. The first few houses she actually sang the full song, "Trick or treat, smell my feet, give me something good to eat. If you don't, I don't care, I'll pull down your underwear." It made for a good first house, but I had to put the kibosh on it real quick.

So we made a lap of the street and headed home after LMA decided the two goodie-bags (one for her, one for her brother) were too heavy. Plus it was getting chilly. It had rained hours earlier and a cold front had moved in, so the evening was perfect for an early romp around the block.

Arriving safely back home, we dumped the candy into a big bowl, fed the children, sent them to bed, then Mrs. A and I divvied up the loot and watched a movie. We were visited by a large amount of trick-or-treaters, mostly little kids in really adorable costumes.

Then there were the punk asses.

Now I know I'm going to lose a few of you, and most of you don't care about kids anyway, but I have a problem with older kids and trick or treating.


They don't wear costumes.

They're not polite.

They take handfuls of candy.

They don't even say trick or treat.

Mrs. A didn't want to talk about it because I was ruining the day for her, and she was right. I was being a bit grumpasaurus about it, but come on. I had one guy at the door, maybe 12 or 13, just stand there for about 15 seconds without saying anything. Finally I said, "Whataya got?" He kind of looks confused like he woke up on my porch wearing a costume (a cape, oOOooOoOOo) and had no idea what day it was. After a second he snaps-to and says, "Oh, right. Happy Halloween?"

Yeah, yeah. Take your handful of candy and be off with ye, scallywag.

Am I wrong on this? I don't think it's the kids fault, I think it's the parents. They just say, "Yeah, go out and get some candy." Well don't they? Prove me wrong. The little kids, the toddlers and babies in strollers and 6 year olds I don't have problems with. They are adorable and sweet and polite and more often then not, a little scared. Because it's dark and spooky and they're outside at night with weird noises and they are excited and want to do this right.

The older kids have lost the magic.

So do me a favor, next year, if you see your kid heading out the door with a crappy $1 mask on the back of his head, tee-shirt and shorts and an old pillow case, keep him home and go buy a few bags of candy for him. Or plan on having a little party for his friends. I don't want to come off sounding like a curmudgeon, but there's got to be some civility, even at that age.


An Apology

On the heels of calling the world a large group of assholes who can't open a door properly, I pull the ol' mouth-to-foot insertion and committ one custom made faux-pas.

I'm not going to go into details. All the parties read this and all the parties know who you are, what happened, and when.

Rob, I'm sorry. It was off the cuff, I didn't mean anything by it, but just the same, I apologize sincerely. You know I would never purposefully say something like that or target it that way. I hope you don't think me a giant monster shithead.

I hope we're cool.


Open Letter to Anticourteous Civilians

Dear AC,

I hope you are all doing well. I saw you today in the hall, and even though I made eye contact and you didn't, I still wish you well. I'm not the kind of person who will blanket a group with ill will. I genuinely hope all you guys have had a good weekend and maybe have some plans next week for some neat events, fine dining or exciting outdoor excursion.

In the meantime, and I hate to bring this up, but you guys all live in the same world as the rest of us. You know that world, the ones with doors, turn signals, elevators, cross walks, parking lots, intersections, lines for food and movie theaters. In your world, you have a president or prime minister or king or queen. We have that too. In your world you have sunshine and antelopes and salsa, what a coincidence! Our worlds share the same internet, the same oceanic currents, the same coastal erosion, the same William Hung. Our parallels run deep, almost as if we exist in the same exact point in time on the same exact point in space.

But that's not true, and we both know that. See, in your world, when someone opens a door for you, you open the door next to it and wait for the first person to go in, even after they opened the door for you. I know, it's weird, I can't understand it either. Why would someone do that for you? Boggles the mind, I tells ya.

In your world, people expect you to get on the elevator first, before they get out, it's just the social norm. They want to be jostled around, blocked and possibly prevented from leaving the car. They just do, they want that, they anticipate it. It's also highly desirable that you posses or purchase or rent the most pungent body odor you can find. I'm serious, that can only help.

In your world, people have the audacity to jump in front of your car while you're trying to speed past the crosswalks in the parking lot. Don't they know that the parking lots are designed for high speed and low attention driving? They are taking their lives in their hands by even thinking of reaching their cars from the doors of the shop.

In your world, an intersection is the perfect place to show how much you really care by over waving to your automobile counterpart. See, in your world, such interaction requires that one person wave, then another person wave or else the transaction isn't complete. I know you've heard elsewhere that that single wave/sign of courteousness is not only taboo, but highly insulting, how dare they. In fact, a third wave is highly desirable.

In your world the highway is a laneless meadow, free from the lawful constraints and physical limitations seen in the other world. You feel free to zip around cars, drive on the boundaries of the roads without so much as a nod to your fellow drivers, because they are aware of your every intent and are watching your every movement. To do otherwise is criminal. To do otherwise compromises the very fabric of your world, a fabric of self, a fabric of centrism.

In your world, people need guidance and they don't know where to get it. Everyone but you and your small isolated group of several millions, feel the need to help people find the light by following the doctrine of your favorite deity. After all, you are in the minority. Your world is a desolate wasteland of hedonism and debauchery with absolutely no one with your voice in power. Your beliefs and feelings are so misunderstood and so relegated to the corners and basements of the world, that you feel it necessary to shout the word of your savior to the heathens among you. In your world, no one but you has a compass, no one has guidance, no one has a belief structure or a mind of their own. They can't make decisions and need an ancient structure and tome to help them decide what's right. You are just doing a service and we should all appreciate your persistence.

I can't sympathize with you, but I can empathize. It's confusing when you cross over to our world, you know, the one with kindness and understanding and openness. It must be terribly difficult to cope with all these standards and all this conflicting stimulus. I just can't imagine the autistic mind set that goes on when someone opens a door for you or allows you to cross at an intersection or asks you to be quiet in a theater. That must shake you to the core of your being. It must make you really question your role in society. Is this really the place for you? Is it really worth the effort? If there was only some way to learn about this strange world and try to work within it instead of against it.

Well, it's a good thing you have that religion thing to help you get along with your fellow humans. You know the one, the one that preaches forgiveness and acceptance. That should help you out a great deal.

Keep it up.

A Human Being from Planet Earth


Wine, women and song.

I've recently been reintroduced to wine.

I've always liked wine, especially red wine. The more you drink, the better it tastes. And I don't mean drink 3 bottles in one night, but over time. Glass or two a day or every other day. It starts to develop a different flavor. You get past the bite and start to notice the wood or fruit tastes. You start to notice where the liquid clings to your tongue. You start to feel where it bites your throat.

And you start to feel a bit pretentious.

I was recently contacted by an old friend who I haven't seen since college. We had a good chat over instant messanger and a couple long emails recaping what we've missed in the past 10 years. For some reason, we start talking about alcohol and I launched into this diatribe about spanish red wine like I was defending the life of a weak child in court. I went back into the log to read what I wrote, not believing I came off that pompous, but there it was. I felt like Paul Giamatti but without the benefit of a script or years of being an oenophile. I couldn't believe it.

Maybe it was the alcohol talking.

When I moved to Texas, I developed some gastrointestinal issues that required medication. The doctors said "acid reflux" but I think it was more a "weight gain, eating greasy food, hate where you live" ulcer. So I had to stop the red wine. I've never thrown a bucket of lighter fluid into a bonfire, but I'm guessing the result would be similar to what was going on in my gullet.

Long story truncated, I can now drink red wine and I'm liking it again. However, I have to ease up on the getting plastered aspect and just enjoy maybe a glass at a time, everything in moderation and some such junk. Wine tends to screw a lot of things up, apparently, not least of which is the viscious hangover I get, regardless of sinus medicine and water tricks I may employ. Plus, I've found the snob in me is actually looking for good wine, wine I've had before that was recommended or certain vintages.

Next thing you know, I'll be listening to adult contemporary music or jazz and wearing an button up shirt with one button undone to show off my gold chain as I brush my heavily product-ed hair out of my face.

Wee! Asshole man! I need an old Porsche and an appointment to get my cuticles attended to.


So, Yogi came home from school yesterday and I met him and Mrs. A and his sister in the garage. I opened the door and I heard, "Hi dad." No, this isn't a dream, Yogi actually said, "hi dad." It was almost, "hi daddy" but it was at least "dad." I about cried. He also recognized the object and said the word "apple" last night. We say, what is this? And he says, A-poh? It's pretty damn endearing.

He also dances and sings now too. Not in a Fred Astaire way, more in a tribal, toy robot kind of way.

Not to take away from the first born, she was able to spell a bunch of words last night as well. Cup, boots, dog. She's getting really good at sounding things out. She's still a bossy tattle-tale, but I've found out Mrs. A was like that as well. Cute, smart, but stubborn and cries at the drop of a hat.

What I've noticed about her reading, and parents, feel free to comment on this, is that she's still memory reading her books. She's heard them so often that she's reciting and not reading. But she can read and write if she goes slow. I'm waiting for that flip where she finally slows down and reads everything instead of just pointing at a word like "beautiful" that I know she can't read, and still knows that's what it is because I've said it hundreds of times.

Not complaining, just voicing my thoughts.

I haven't found a job. Mrs. A hasn't found a day job. Mrs. A's photography has taken over our lives. It's a good thing, but it's interesting to watch someone do something they like so much that it becomes something they don't want to do. It becomes a job. However, I'm so jealous of the success of her business. The Marine Ball is coming up and while I think she may have bitten off more than we can all chew, I want to help in all the ways I possibly can.

Even if that means being a pragmatic asshole. And for that, Mrs. A, I'm sorry.

Next few weeks are going to be interesting. Looks like I picked the wrong time to stop sniffin' glue.


Domestic Security

The Austin Compound version 2.0 is equipped with a state of 1995 art security system.  We don't subscribe to the service, so all we have is a bunch of window and door sensors that say "bee-dee-bee-deep" when opened and fire alarms, none of which are in the kitchen.

So we've never really had anything happen in the 2 months we've been here, knock on wood.  The door beeps and it's nice to have when you have kids that can open doors.

Three weeks ago we lost power.  A transformer blew somewhere close by and our street went dark.

It was 2:30 in the morning.

The first thing I remember is the noise.  Your brain tends to incorporate sounds into the dreams you have.  Since dreams don't generally take but a few seconds to complete, even a high pitch sounds occurring for moments can be part of an entire dream saga.  I wish I remembered the dream.

The noise woke me, but it wasn't just the noise, it was all the noises.  Mrs. Austin tends to mumble when she's startled awake.  I tend to fight for breath through snorts and epithets.  The children were already awake and it didn't take them long to start crying.  The next thing I remember thinking is that something bad was happening, but not exactly what.  Instinctively I glanced at the clock, knowing that was pointless.  Our clock dims when the room is dark so it doesn't keep you awake.  The problem is, when it's dark, you can't tell the time.  However, I now know the ceiling fan, the AC, the noise machine and the DVD lights are all off.  We lost power.

I start to relax a bit.  At first, I'll admit, I was paralyzed with fear.  I wasn't sure if someone had broken in or not.  Knowing we don't arm anything, I've never heard the wailing the system was giving us.  I was truly frightened.

As an aside, waking suddenly and being paralyzed doesn't mean you're afraid, it means your brain hasn't restored the connection to your body.  It's a safety measure your body uses so you don't hurt yourself acting out your dreams.  When you wake paralyzed, it's because you've woken too suddenly for that connection to be re-established.  I think I've talked about this before, so this just make me look like an ass.  Yay me.

When I was fairly certain it was just a power loss, I sprinted upstairs to the frightened children.  A great but receding portion of my thoughts focused on the likelihood that there was someone in the house.  It was pitch black and I was running into the void.  I could have run smack dab into an intruder, him armed with a crow bar and a Glock, me armed with a minor stabbing implement sheathed in dark blue Haines.

I knew Mrs. A was behind me, which is unusual.  She's normally so scared I'm sent into the darkened house with a hockey stick looking for "what made that sound."  That alone made it feel more frightening, the fact that she was moved to action.  I sprinted up the stairs blindly following the cries of my children.  Little Mrs. Austin was standing in her doorway crying with her hands on her ears.  I told her to go downstairs and find mommy.  Everything was ok.  Running into Yogi's room, I step on the only thing I could have at that moment, a toy with corners.

I step funny, jar my knee and hop around spewing more epithets.  Yogi is crying and sitting stock still in his bed (it's amazing how much you can see with just starlight.)  I hoist him up and cart him downstairs where Mrs. A is frantically going through our homeowner’s paperwork looking for the code to the security panel.  Flashlights are out, children are calming down, but the alarm sounds are piercing and unrelenting.

After many, many, MANY attempts at entering the code, Mrs. A calls the company.  The gist:  Hey, our street lost power and my alarm is going off.  I don't have a service with anyone, but the power loss must have triggered something.  I have the code, but nothing I'm doing is turning the alarm off.  How am I supposed to enter this?  The response:  I'm sorry ma'am.  I can't hear you.  Can you stop that noise?  After about 10 minutes, Mrs. A screams at them, questioning the lineage of the technician or his proclivity for anal sex and hangs up.

The kids are still crying, the alarm is still going.

Finally I get the bright, 3am idea to go get the ladder and rip the motion detectors out of the wall, because it's the motion detectors making the sound.  It doesn't occur to us that the alarm system has been turned off, but the fire alarm is still going.  That’s all the noise. At this point we've gone into our closet and removed the back up battery to the security system in a desperate attempt to shut the sound off.

I finally was able to remove the hardwired fire alarms, all three, then remove their batteries.

Finally, the sound stops.  The kids are squeaking and sobbing, Mrs. A is shaking and I'm sweating and trembling.  We give the children some milk; we get more water for us and we all go back to our bed and snuggle up in the ever-increasing heat of possibly the hottest night of the year in Austin.

The next day we hook everything back up.  I've got a possible lateral meniscus (knee disc) injury, but so far it's minor and some ice and ibuprofen have taken care of it.  We also know how to shut the alarm system down, and we also know how to shut all the sounds off.

I remember my parents doing fire drills when we were kids.  Not with any frequency, maybe once or twice in our first house.  We worked on what we'd do if we had to leave through the second story, how to tell if the fire was outside the door, where to meet, what else to do.  

This was as close as we've come to any exercise, and not only was it traumatic for the children but it really made me feel vulnerable and insecure.  Think about it, by the time my brain fog had lifted, an intruder could have made their way to the bedroom and snuffed us out.  No alarm system would have stopped them from killing all of us.  Robbery, I can see this being a deterrent, but assault?  A little noise isn't going to stop shit, except the brain functions of two adults trying to find four numbers with a flashlight at 3 AM.

And it did its job well.    


Shutter Fi

Hoo rah!

Mrs. A got a contract with the United States Marine Corps to be the photographer at their annual ball. Huge news for us as this could lead to many similar contracts either with them or other institutions. She sold them on her proposal, with a little flirting and drinking, and now we have a month to get ready for possibly the biggest event her business has seen.

Yay for Mrs. A!

In other news, Yogi has a few words under his belt. Bah-bi (baby,) sheo (shoe,) he-oh (hello,) bye-bye, no (of course,) muh (milk and more,) and believe it or not alright, which sounds like ah rye. Uncle Austin should appreciate that (Quagmire.)

Also, I need to find this information, someone help me. Why is it you can get a money order from a grocery store or gas station for 69¢ but at a bank where you have an account it costs $5? Does that seem right? I would think banks would offer free MOs if you had an account with them, or want to compete to get business with non-account holders by offering cheaper MOs than the local grocer. Just seems retarded.

Anyway, that's what's going on. Mrs. A and I saw Ballet Austin/Austin Lyric Opera and Austin Symphony Orchestra's presentation of Carmina Burana last night. If you don't recognize the name, you'll recognize the opening and closing movements O Fortuna, Google it. If you've ever seen a movie preview or a promo for HBO about 5 years ago you'll know what it is. It's a terribly catchy and moving piece and little wonder Carl Orff's musical score to the Johann Andreas Schmeller poetry is one of the best known musical scores in the world. It just begs for applause at the end and evokes serious emotional responses.

Makes me think of Die Hard even though that was Ode To Joy. Also makes me think of Williams' Duel of the Fates from the latest Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. My guess is he was heavily influence (Williams, influenced? Shut up!) by both pieces.

Anyway, Mrs. A is shocked I enjoyed it as much as I did. Me, the guy who played Simon in Jesus Christ Superstar and Sebastian in Twelfth Knight. I enjoy theater and dance and music. I think I enjoyed seeing little kids choir on stage at the curtain call a little too much. I think I actually shouted "Yay little kids!"

Anyway, no luck on the job front yet. Hopefully that changes soon. I keep hitting any job that I even romotely qualify for, none of which has resulted in any bites. I've had two hits so far for graphic arts positions saying they either filled it or I didn't make the cut this time but they'd keep me on file.

So, that's all this time. Carry on.


Goodbye Dell.

When the universe tells you that a shift in your life is about to happen, it doesn't mess around. Things happen in groups for a reason, but I'm not really sure what that reason is. I know that people die in threes, or at least we notice/group them that way, and common folk have been heard chanting 'good things happen in threes.'

So we're working on two things right now and for the life of me I can think of a third occurence to balance this out.

Mrs. Austin quit her job yesterday.

And thank fucking God she did. I've told her this, she should have quit 2 years ago. She's hated working there for years now. The birth of our children really made her realize that the company was a bad place to work, or as she said, "Not a good place to be, but a good place to have been."

The last few months have been especially hard, and I won't go into details because it's not my place. If she wants to talk about what went on, that's her deal. I'll leave it alone. It was a hostile work environment and toward the end she was unable to take anymore time off for medical reasons or to interview at other places. So the choice came up, quit or be fired. Her team was going to be dissolved in a month anyway, and she had some photo and commission income coming in, so I was behind her in her decision to pull the trigger. And Dell isn't a place you give notice, either. You give notice and you're immediately walked out, so that's what she did. She packed up her desk and left. Tried to tell her boss, her boss wasn't there, so she said her goodbyes to people that really didn't like her, and she walked out.

I'm kind of envious.

Yes, this comes at a time when I'm on terminal employment, but honestly, I hated how she came home everyday or called or emailed me with stories about how utterly fucked up her day to day was. She was able to sleep in today, spend time taking the kids to school and plan interviews and appointments. She can make more photo contacts now. She's not totally going unemployed forever, but we are talking about taking the kids out of day care to save money, and really, if she's home, why can't they be home too?

So I'm waiting for the third thing. Friends and family have said my losing my job is the best thing that could happen, and I've already disputed that idea because I'm an unskilled monkey. I consider getting laid off bad. I also consider the second half of our income being cut short bad as well. As much as I'm happy she's out of that place, I'm concerned about money and I consider it a set back financially. So that's two things.

Our house is new, the kids aren't really sick and our cars while not brand new aren't really old. I don't know what will happen to make it three. It has to be bad to fit the universe's edict. A good opportunity came up for Mrs. A and I'd like to think that was it, because it's huge, but two bad things and a good thing make one bad thing. I can't have it unbalanced like that. If the other shoe doesn't drop, I'm going to stress and do something stupid like sell all my comic books and Legos.


Rita with salt.

If anyone reads this before this weekend, I'll try to answer a few questions.

- I don't know where it's going to hit.

- I've not been in Texas when a hurricane has hit Houston or Galveston directly. I was here for Tropical Storm Allison, we got some rain out of that. Before that, it was Hurricane Alice in 1983. So if it does hit, I don't know what to expect in Austin.

- The weather guys here say we could see winds up to 80mph if it hits where they predict.

- We've already purchased supplies and will be tying down outside stuff and bringing things inside tonight.

- Mrs. A is in talks with her family about coming to Austin for the weekend. Houston Mayor has signaled a voluntary evacuation. Galveston is manditory. Evac routes go all the way up to Brenham, Lufkin, Bryan/College Station and Huntsville. Hunstville is about an hour up the road from Mrs. A's mom's house.

- Still haven't found a job.

- The bit with Mrs. A's job thing I mentioned earlier went well. We'll have more news next week.

- Mrs. A has a wedding expo this weekend, to add to the chaos.

- My Name Is Earl was funny, you should watch it. They'll replay it.

- Serenity comes out in 9 days, go see it.

- Yes I'm excited about Lost tonight.

- Yes I'm still not smoking. Other than the day I got laid off, it's been since August 20th.

More to come as the storm approaches.

Carry on.


Child Update - Not for the casual reader

No luck on the job front yet. I've submitted my resume to all the online places and emailed it to about 15 places looking for graphic artists. Now I'll start looking for more IT support roles, maybe even...*shudder*...Help Desk.

Mrs. A has some things going on with her job as well. I can't really say anything until it's all settled, but there's things brewing.

So, on with the kids.

Lil Miss Austin is at the same time turning into a neat little kid with a vivid imagination and an unruly little kid with a hair trigger cry reflex and a propensity to sass and throw down. The last couple weeks she won't go to sleep until she gets a) and glass of milk, b) someone to sleep with her or c) something to eat. Now, we've never given her more than a cup of water and 2 stories, then it's lights out. For some reason she's really testing the boundaries of what she can get away with, and for the most part we're holding the line, but it's a nightly affair. Not only that, she's also walking around, still asleep, looking for bathrooms.

Luckily, Yogi isn't as complex. He's really great at going to bed and staying in bed. Maybe once or twice a week he'll wake up around 11. We just refill his bottle and he's back out. We tried taking the front of his crib off, but that lasted about 10 minutes as he crawled out of it each time. I think we're still about 6 months away from that. But he's such a big kid that it's probably only going to be a matter of months or weeks before he figures out how to crawl over the railing.

Yogi also has finally picked up the "blow me a kiss" gesture. He puts his hand to his mouth and says MWA! He's also finally moved away from the open fish mouth kissing to the tightly squeezed lip mouth kissing. We haven't seen him to the "more" or "please" sign in a while and I'm kind of upset about that. He did it so well that one time, I don't know why he dropped it.

He and LMA run around the house like little cracked out mammals. They love to chase, take toys away from each other, tackle. I worry about Yogi more than LMA because she's bigger, but she has the wherewithal of a porcelain bubble. One wrong move and it's Crysville, population her. Yogi just gets pissed with I take things away from him; things like lamp plugs, new sharpened pencils, ammunition, etc. He loves doing things he's not supposed to do. Loves it. Like the Devil himself found a midget body and is just jackin' with me all day.

It makes for good times.

The kids' hamster died at school. We don't know when, probably over the weekend. We found it hadn't been fed properly. It doesn't make me want to donate another little animal if they can't take care of it, but I feel like we should replace it somehow. I don't know. Just not a great way to start a week off, by burying a dead animal. And by burying I mean wrapping in a tissue and tossing it into the dumpster. I said a few words, mostly along the lines of "dammit" and "smelly dead thing" but I gave him his due.

More later.


Pounding Pavement

Most of my friends and family have heard by now, and even though I don't think I'm supposed to say anything, I really don't care at this point.

My company is laying me off. They're restructuring the IT group and they just don't have spots for me and my coworker of almost 7 years. So now I have to, for the first time in a long, long time, look for a job.

The last time I looked for a job, I was in Colorado. It was 1996 and I had just stopped going to school so I could pay for my apartment and car. I got a job through a temp agency with TCI Cable. They had new cable boxes and need people to test their functionality. I watched TV for 10 hours a day for 2 months. When that stint was up, I stayed on with TCI and worked at their HQ. I started helping security with the parking garage and the key cards, then moved to archives.

Then I met Mrs. A and moved to Texas. I was able to transfer my employment with TCI and worked at a phone center in Houston. My brother in law told me of an opening with his company. I interviewed for the News Reader position and got the job. After the company went under, I was kept on as office support under the new company. After a time, a few people I knew, including my brother in law, moved to Austin to start at a rival company. Eventually, I was offered a job there as well (over ICQ) and so I moved to Austin.

While in Austin, I worked at a company that changed its name, then was bought, then sold again. Now I'm working with remnants of that original crew from 1999. Once November hits and I leave, and February hits and my coworker leaves, there will be only one person left who original worked on the software from almost 7 years ago.

Now, for the first time in 9 years, I have to actually send out resumes, make phone calls, send emails and call in favors. Even though I've technically worked for 7 companies in that time, I've only ever had to update my resume once, and that was for an internal opportunity that was pretty much a lock.

So, I have to find a new job. It sucks. It sucks bad. I have 2 little kids, and a brand new house. Mrs. A hates her job and has been looking to leave it. Her wedding photo business is doing well and is accounting for about half or more of what she brings home. But no matter what job I get, we're going to suffer a pay cut. I won't say I was overpaid for what I did, but I came to work every day and did my best full of the knowledge that it was all temporary. At some point, someone would say, "Holy shit we're paying this guy a lot."

And I think that's what it came down to. I don't want to go into specifics, or name names or anything like that. It's just business and they needed to do what they did, and now I need to do what I need to do; find a new job.

So to start, I'm looking for graphic design jobs. I've seen ten or twelve in Austin and I've sent resumes, but no bites yet. I will eventually go back to finding work in my field, with my skill set, then anything technical, then anything at all. In the end I'll probably be able to collect unemployment, so I won't be totally lost.

I mentioned something to my friend here at work. I said, "Keep in mind, there's several thousand people now in Austin from NOLA. They're all looking for jobs too." She said she hadn't even thought of that.

Not all doom and gloom, we'll be fine. I've got friends in several companies that I can find if they've got work, so it'll be ok. Some people have said this is the best thing that could happen. I'll be so happy when I get out of here and into a new job. I have to disagree with that. I know their intentions were true and they're just trying to be positive, but honestly, the best thing that could have happened was a raise and then some training. The worst thing is that my house and job were in New Orleans. I'm somewhere in between, I'll let you figure it out.


Duke Gardlebean

I heard a commentary on NPR this morning from an aid worker who is putting some nuts out there by saying America is upset at a slow aid effort. Slow compared to what?

I won't add bias, listen to the story. It crystalized a feeling I was developing over the last couple days that the Blame Game is in full swing and the 24 hour media did a good job illuminating the faults with our system, but it's all overblown compared to what happens around the world.

Take a listen.

Mrs. Austin and I were relaxin' around the house Saturday morning watching our son slowly turn from a baby into a little kid. Watching him walk and try to talk, I know where the term toddler came from. Yogi has the balance of drunk and the coordination of a newborn calf, but man his resolve to get places is unparalleled. He moves like he's motivated with money or his life.

For the last couple weeks, maybe months, he's started to do things that are showing more and more cognitive development. He knows patterns and anticipates events or tasks to come. Example: When it's bed time and he's had his bath and he's got his milk, he knows that when I'm putting his PJ shirt on he can shift his milk holding hand and stuff the other arm into a sleeve. He knows that after a shower he finds a towel and puts it on his head. He doesn't understand drying off, but he knows that the towel will make it all ok.

A side effect of this new level of thinking is his empathy skills, which are both cute and worrisome. Cute in that he's acting like a person and not a blob of human parts, but it also acts as a mirror to the people he lives with. When someone falls down or seems sad, he really wants to come up and give them a hug. If they hang their head, he bends down and looks into your face and makes a little inquisitive sound like "Are you ok?" He's starting to use spoons and forks more effectively, so much so that cleaning after dinner is become less a chore than in the past. Don't get me wrong, we still have to get Spaghettios out of his ears, but not as many off the floor.

But, he also yells at his sister when he thinks she's in trouble. If she's sitting in her room crying because she was just told by a parent to clean her room and stop crying or she'll get a spanking, he'll stand at her doorway shouting at her like he's doing the scolding. It's concerning to me that this is how he sees me, as a yeller and a punisher. It makes me want to stop, but that's a different topic.

I know I wrote a lot about Lil' Miss Austin when she was a toddler and I feel it's just fair that I pay some props to the little man. He's the cutest freakin' kid I've ever seen. He smiles a lot and laughs and shouts and purses his lips when he thinks really hard. He loves dropping things from the loft into the entryway below. He loves pushing things that have wheels and some things that don't. Even though we worry about his breathing, he does not seem in anyway hampered by ailments.

He's such a great little kid and he and LMA act so well together. It's neat to see them run around and play tag and tackle and watch cartoons together. It's funny to hear them fight over toys, and it's sweet to see them share. I'm really lucky to have them as kids.

This weekend saw some more home improvements. We finally got around to replacing most of the light bulbs. There was one above the dining room that was part of a ceiling fan the previous owner said they had to special order. So Mrs. A went online and looked for bulbs and really only found that it's hard to shop for bulbs online. So she hit Lowe's and got a few bulbs and one of those extender arms to help you replace hard to reach bulbs if you live in a house full of light fixtures that are just too high to make any fucking sense.

So we try this new arm on a couple fixtures that we could reach with a ladder, only to find that it doesn't really work that great. The little grabber/net spring loaded thing only works, I'm guessing, if the bulb is just hanging by a wire several inches away from a wall or ceiling. If the bulb is actually in any mounted fixture, you're out of luck with the grabber, so they included a suction cup and other implements of destruction. None were very useful. Especially for the outside light.

The outside light is a problem. I don't even know what kind of light this is, awning light? You know, there's a garage light, porch light, kitchen light, sconce, torch, table lamp, chandelier, etc. It's a flush mount with a triangle bulb, either incandescent or halogen, but it's about 40 feet above the front door inside a little upside down alcove. I guess it lights the door from above.

So we used the arm with the grabber, but couldn't get a good grip. Next the suction cup but it never got any suction or traction. So we tag out a couple times, arms getting sore from holding this pole for minutes at a time. Eventually, Mrs. A comes out wearing racquetball goggles and a determined look. She was able to get the grabber thing into the mount, but then couldn't get it or the bulb back out. Like the monkey with the hand in the anthill with a hand full of goodies, but with his hand in a fist, he can't pull away. Ok, I'm alone on that analogy.

So now all we want is to get the pole out of there. We find out there's an old nest behind the light and it's starting to drop pieces into our faces. Finally Mrs. A comes in and says, "Well I have good news. The pole's out." The gripper thing is still up there and the light bulb is shoved to one side. I know there's got to be a way to access that light without having to use a long pole, but I think it requires crawling through insulation and hot.

So, screw that light, it doesn't work.

That's the news.

Oh, the name of this post? Apparently Lil Miss A has a few imaginary friends. One named Honey and one named Duke Gardlebean (I'm guessing at the spelling.) She also does a pretty creepy impression of an adult talking on the phone. She answers her little toy cell phone like she's just found a long lost college roommate. Weird.


Is it so hard?

I just don't understand, someone help me.

The media has hundreds of people out there seeing all this tragedy and they have choppers flying around looking at people on houses. Can we not suspend our glut for news coverage and start helping people? Why can't new's people pick up a few stranded folks and ferry them somewhere safe?

Why has it taken four days to help in some places? I know New Orleans is a big place, but surely the amount of resources we have would allow the US to get some help there in four days. I saw a report that the National Guard will arrive in 'days to come.' Isn't that a little late? Are they going to be there to push floating bodies out to sea?

And not to get on the suffering folks in what's left of the city, but if I didn't see a white van with a red cross, or a helicopter or an army humvee in like 2 days, I'd have started walking. In four days some of these folks could have been in Texas. But whose fault is that? We can air drop supplies into Baghdad, but not our own cities?

I'm just frustrated watching all this news about all these poor refugees stuck in their dying city. I've posted that our home is open for people if they need a place to stay, we're rebudgeting so we can contribute to the red cross, but I know it's not enough. It just isn't. I got an email from a friend who works at the ASPCA about how to help with pets...pets. Just think about all the cats and dogs misplaced by this. And the kids and single people and married people and catholics and baptists and voodoo priestesses and old black blues players and middle aged white gardeners and...fuck me, CATS! Fucking cats! Cats hate water! God, man, what are fucking doing about the goddamn cats?!

Meanwhile, NBC is doing it's part, not by giving money or getting down some supplies or transportation, but by organizing a benefit concert, and Leo will make an appearance.


A concert, great. I don't give a shit about a concert. You want to help? Leo? Look what Harry Connick Jr. is doing. Get your famous ass down there and bring some fucking donuts.

Actually, don't do that. Give 20 million to the Red Cross so they can bring the donuts.

Just watched a guy get arrested for taking a car so he and his family WITH LITTLE BABIES can get out of the city. Good thing the police are there to arrest people instead of getting them out of the region. Where are they going to keep him? The prisons are shut down? What happens now to the family? Good god, people. Suspend it all and get those human beings out of there.

Ugh, I can't take this anymore. I have lost faith in humanity for some of the stupid shit we sit through day after day. Benefit concerts, political backspeak. Rwanda, Niger, New Orleans.

Fuck this planet man, I give up.


Garden Spider

I need to get these pictures up, but the most interesting thing that's happened to me in the last week is the giant garden spider in our back yard. Just do a Google image search for argiope spider. For those who don't like spiders, don't do it. I didn't post a picture here because I know there are some Marys out there who run for the hills when they see a little white-spotted jumping spider, so this thing'll scare the piss out of you folks. Me? I ran screaming like a little girl when I saw it, and I like spiders. I was mowing the back forty, head down, focusing on the task at hand. I dodged a pair of crab orb spiders and proceeded along the back fence when I tweaked a web that tied the fence to the ground. What scrambled and gyrated around in the web looked like a fucking helicopter in my peripheral vision. It was so black and so large I feared I ripped open a lesser gate to hell and loosed the Kraken upon the world.

Needless to say after leaving the mower running and sprinting 50 feet, I was able to calm down and assess the situation. I approached the curiosity to find the above mentioned Argiope, or Garden or Writing, or Zipper spider. The more I looked, the more my reptile brain was able to go back to managing the mundanity of everyday tasks and allowing my higher functions to appreciate the grace and beauty of the creature. I still got a small chill each time I got near it, but it was a manageable thing.

You have to understand, this is the biggest spider I'd seen outside a zoo and easily the biggest that didn't have a good inch of Plexiglass between us. It, at any moment, could have dropped into the grass and disappeared, waiting for me to walk barefoot and carefree through the lawn where it could sink fangs the size of my pinky-nail into a fleshy, unwary toe. So yeah, even I was a little spooked.

The days went by, LMA saw it, Mrs. A saw it, friends saw it. It became less and less a monster, and more a guardian of all things leafing. Garden spiders are great things to have in your garden. They eat a lot and are generally pretty docile. They don't see well and just sort of hang upside down all the time. I even contributed to her feeding. While continuing to mow, I disturbed a rather large grasshopper. The bug's bumbling flight took it directly into the spider's web and I was able to witness firsthand the ensnaring and paralyzation of the heedless insect. It was the first time I'd seen a spider wrap up and inject venom into another bug, again, outside of a zoo or the National Geographic channel.

I thought about catching it and calling Texas A&M to see if they wanted a good specimen, but then changed my mind. It's a common spider and does more good for itself and for our yard doing what she's doing that being a preserved curiosity.

Today was Yogi's first haircut. Even though both the parents agreed that his hair was cute when long and saddened when it was made short, we got him a trim and were allowed to keep the locks with a certificate stating that Mrs. Austin is allowed to cry when her little boy gets his first haircut. As if the Hawaiian shirt, jean shorts, playing in mud and constantly falling down aren't good enough boy indications, at least now his hair matches his gender type.

I just watched Kirosawa's Yojimbo with Toshiro Mifune. I'm now a big Mifune fan, even though I've seen him before in 1941 and Midway, I didn't realize who he was or that he was such a big name in Japanese film. Of course I've got a ton of Kirosawa movies on Netflix that I have to get through, most of them with Mifune.

House is coming along. All the rooms are done. Now we branch into side projects; planting trees and flowers in the back, finishing the attic space and set up all the Lego sets I have, painting kids and other rooms, etc. We really like and it, luckily, this month we can afford to live here. I'll keep you posted about next month.

I officially quit smoking about 6 days ago. Normally I would tell people I haven't smoked in X amount of days, but it was rationalization lies. Rationalization lies are ones you make that even you believe. I believe I'm a non-smoker because I don't have but 1 or 2 a day, maybe none on the weekends, thus, when people ask, I say I haven't had a cigarette in...blah blah blah . Short of it is, I haven't had a cigarette since Sunday of last week and haven't really wanted one. The hardest part is at work and every couple hours you need a break. Well there's ping pong and foosball and some video games and the net to surf or scripts to write, so I haven't needed distraction. What is needed is to get up and stretch your legs and get some fresh air, as it were. That I haven't found a replacement for.

I can feel the momentum of the Chicago convention slowly but steadily ebb and I'm starting to fear the eventual death of my desire to do another book until it's too close to a convention or show or other arbitrary deadline to use the time effectively. There's a local show in Austin in March for which I'm aiming and I hope to have two books done. However, I'm stuck and stalling and spinning around a frantic and yet stagnant combination of self imposed distractions, actual lack of hours in the day and a general feeling of "Who the fuck cares." That's not to say I need tons of affirmation or I quit, but I was talking to a Canadian friend (I don't think we should hold that against him) and he said that on the comic book message board I go to, more people should have bought it. I'm the second highest poster on the board and I moderate a pretty active forum as well as contribute to two or three other major projects on the board. I'm always available for a critique or advice or help, and when I announced my book was done and how to buy it, 7 people bought it online. That includes my father-in-law.

Now, again, I don't need accolades or tons of cash or the false words of millions, but 7? Actually, come to think of it, it was less. Another board I go to (all the Harvey Turnbolt guys) came through great. There's only about 10 of those guys and I think 5 bought something. Leaving just 2 or 3 on Penciljack.

Reason I think that's crap is because there are people on that board who were there in the dark times, before the Empire. They got their start there and owe a lot of their success to the fan base they generated on that site. And now, they talk of independent artists and writers like they're the life blood of the industry, but when push comes to shove, they don't support those who supported them.

That's what makes me upset. That and somehow, after "selling" maybe 15 books officially, I only have some thirty odd books left and very little feedback.

So, if you're reading this (and you aren't, cuz you don't waste your time with folks like us), for shame. For shame at not giving a small guy a chance by just reading his book. It doesn't make me want to rush out and by yours, I don't care how large the divide in production value.

Battlestar Galactica kicks ass.

Carry on.