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.