In a single moment, a plate shifted and jumped. Moments later a wave was born. This wave raced and spread. There was little warning and no time. Planet Earth has lost, as of now, 0.00002% of it's people. Some islands have lost their entire population.

I know you've read it. I know you know the stories. This isn't an NPR pledge drive. This is what you do as a citizen of Earth. Help its people.

Now, I've heard that it provides faster relief to donate to the International Red Cross rather than the American Red Cross but the ARC said they would be as seemless as possible to get the money to the places that need it.

Either way, give something. Don't give coats or blankets or food, we can't possibly know what these people need. Let those who know how to handle this make the choice for you, but make sure they're funded. Donate. The world helped America's people after September 11th, make sure they don't regret their decision.

Donate American Red Cross

Donate ICRC


Half Life, All the Fun.

This holiday season saw to it to bring me one giant time killer in the form of the highly anticipated offering from Valve Software, Half Life 2.

Before I go on, there will be spoilers below. If you like the game and are planning on playing it or are already playing it, do not read. Scan down to the picture below and you can pick up there.

Half Life is the story of a up-and-coming MIT grad who has a secured a job at a facility called Black Mesa. I'm not going into detail about the story because frankly just playing the game didn't make me feel like I knew what was going on, so here's a timeline. Half Life 2 picks up several years later where Gordon is reawakened or brought out of limbo to again pick up a gun and shoot some stuff.

Honestly, if it wasn't for this little website that I just found, I wouldn't have any idea that there was a story behind the game. I mean, I did a lot of shooting and blowing shit up, but if you asked me who the bad guys were, I don't think I could have given you an intelligent answer. I'd have said, "Well, there was apparently this other scientist who sounded a lot like Richard Dawson and looked like The Architect from The Matrix, but I don't think he was actually the bad guy. There were some aliens, but they were friendly. There were head crabs! Yes, head crabs had to have been the bad guys."

Seriously. Now, I'm a relatively smart guy. I'm not Chaucer or Hawking, but I should know after playing 5 straight days of this game, who the bad guys were. Come to think of it, I don't think I knew who the bad guys were in the first Half Life game. It all seems so nebulous.

And I know why. The main character, Doctor Gordon Freeman, is really good at putting hot lead into shit and following instructions. For a first person game, there's really no other alternative. You have to limit the amount of choice the player can make and ultimately make it for him. It cracks me up to see characters in the game say, "You didn't have to be here," or, "This isn't your fight." Well, crap honey, now you tell me. See, there was this cinematic about 20 seconds ago that dropped me off here. I can't make any choices. It's my fight whether I want it or not.

So now, just like when I watch West Wing, the only time I'm sure something important is happening is when the music changes. If there wasn't that cue, I'd be lost. "Oh, crap. Better pay attention, the techno-beat just fired up. Something's gonna go wrong."

Now I don't want to get down on this game simply because I may not have the mental faculties to deal with a complex story line such as this in a video game, but what happens when you reach the end of a game like this is that you don't feel you done much aside from max out your brain from all the pseudo adrenaline you've pumped into it. The game ends with you lobbing energy cores into a portal that the tweed jacketed scientist is trying to open. Where's the portal going? Don't know. What's on the other side? Um, bad shit would be my guess, but I don't have a name. So why are you doing this? Well, honestly, there's the rough and tumble chick who has needed my help and is good with a gun and I'm just hoping she'll take her top off if I win.

Yes, yes. Sad day.

So you blow this portal up. The scientist is gone and there is a massive explosion that is paused suddenly. A G-man shows up and talks some philosphical deepness whilst you wonder what's going on with that explosion and that girl. Then the game becomes the end of 2001: A Space Odessy and the G-man leaves through a white door opened in the blackness, followed by credits. My first thought was that I'm now a bigger pawn than I thought. So I went from being a scientist to a one man killing machine in a hazard suit.

I don't know. I guess the thing that sucks the most is that the game is done. A movie you know has a limited time so you're sort of geared for that. A book you can see how many pages are left and can tell how long you have to enjoy the story and characters. With the game, you can kind of guess how far along you are, but it'd be just a guess and it could end at any time. I honestly thought the explosion was going to open a gate to Planet Trouble and I'd let millions of angry Something-Or-Others in and have to deal with them. The way the game was going, it was a possibility.

Well, maybe that's what they'll do for Half Life 3.

Nothing to see here, just seeing if you'd skip this far down.



Stuff your own stocking.

Happy Yuletime!

I thought I had another post explaining the beliefs Mrs. Austin holds and in which she is raising the children, but I don’t. I’ll let Wikipedia do my work for me.

What came up this year, as it has the past few years, is when to celebrate this winter festival. I call it Christmas, Mrs. A calls it Yule. However, her beliefs in this are stronger than mine so she gets last say and the say in how to portray it to the kids.

I keep having problems trying to wrap my brain around it. You open presents Christmas morning, not on the 22nd. What about all those songs with the word Christmas in it? I have to replace vocabulary and adjust a few dates with this one.

But I will say that now I can appreciate what Jewish/Christian couples go through every year until they can come up with a compromise. Our compromise is we celebrate Yule on the 22nd with our family and then Christmas with her or my parents, depending on where we are. And to be honest, and extraordinarily shallow, anymore the holiday is about presents to me. Yes it’s materialistic and sad, but I really only have faith in myself, family and friends. To exchange gifts with them is the only reason I need to have a celebration. If you want to go to mass or circle to receive the body of Christ or stand a vigil to make sure the sun rises again, that’s your thing. Me? I’m jumping out of bed with my kids to see if Santa has eaten the cookies and left us stuff.

But I won’t go any farther into that. I don’t want to start a flame war over what amounts to just another day. At most I get a day off of work, and that is reason enough to have a party.

In the midst of all the reverie that was Christmas at Casa de Conroe, we were visited by Santa on a Jet Ski. That’s right all you Northerners, the great winter elf himself graced our driveways on a Kawasaki. I remember seeing this last year and though, “What an odd, bassackward, Hicksville thing to do. But guess what, it’s Conroe, it’s not Houston. See, in Houston they pull Santa on a giant float that symbolizes Suburban Sprawl. When you have a smaller city by a lake, you pull Chris Cringle on a jet ski.

It’s not the city that did it either. No, that’d be down right O-fficial. This was just some palooka from down the block.

But oh the kids they come a’ runnin’. Older kids, smallish kids, kids with hardly any clothes on. Luckily the Casa is close to the corner so we could see him first and take some photos. A must snapshot for anyone seeking Americana and traditions of the south. We went inside and fried up some pickles.

Then Mrs. A went and broke her foot. Jumping off the trailer with the Santa Ski, she partially fractured the pinkie toe bone high up in her foot. She gimped around in pained for a couple of days, then yesterday went to the doctor to get it looked at. So now she’s wearing a little boot and is supposed to stay off of it. Not likely but that’s what the doctor said.

I hope you all have a good holiday. I hope Santa is good to you, or that you find peace in whatever traditions you celebrate. I’m off to play Half Life on my new flat panel monitor, so at this point I’ve lost the ability to care about the outside world.

Have some pictures.

”I’m absolutely stuffed. I couldn’t eat another bite.”

Was that me? Oh that was awful, I’m so sorry.

Do you like my hat? Yes I do. I like your party hat!

He’s developed an eating problem, he sleeps through it.

Ah, Texas. Where else could you find a giant illuminated snowman.

I’m raising her right. Don’t believe the lies.

No words.

Again, no words.

Dear Santa, for Christmas I’d like to not break my foot. Oh crap, too late.

I don’t think it’s narcolepsy. Maybe he just really likes socks.

Happy Holidays


Freeze Frame!

Sort of belated news. Mrs. Austin got her mailers out and has already received a few calls for weddings. She's also going in to talk with the Austin American Statesman for freelance work.

For those just joining us, Mrs. Austin quit her job at "Swell" Computer Corp. to be with a sick little Mini Mr. Austin after he was born. A few months ago she decided to pursue her interest in photography by signing up to do freelance work with several local and state magazine/newspapers. She also registered to host a booth at the up coming Austin Bridal Expo in January. That was accompanied by a list of people registered to get marraige licenses to whom she sent mailers.

I'm very psyched for her and a little melancholy. She's done in 6 months what I've been trying to do for years. Admittedly she only has to rely on herself where as I would require at least 3 other people. Also, she has a ton of gumption and aggressive marketing and networking skills that I don't have. She's done a lot of work and has sacrificed a lot to make this work.

So her first call came the day after she sent out her mailers. The wedding isn't until August, but still, some up front or payment plan means our babies can eat. Yee haw. She got another call that night.

I'm doing my bit to help out. I've successfully not set up her website, but I have designed her ad. The website thing is killing me. I spent the last week messing with this machine that didn't like me downgrading the operating system. Then she sprung the "this email has to work by tomorrow" card which sent me into a panic. I haven't felt like that since college when I knew a report was due the next day. So far it's all come together and she now is able to do what she likes to do.

The hope is to get X amount of bookings by January or she goes back to Swell Computers. Before you send any hate mail (you two) this was something we came up with together. I was all for her sticking it out until she turned the corner into the black, but she had some practical arguements that I had to agree with. So, if you have an upcoming wedding, or know anyone who does in the Austin area (or even Dallas/Houston/San Antonio) don't hesitate to email her and set up and appointment or ask questions.

The site should be up shortly, so you can check back soon to get the info.


Pilgrim isn't sleeping. I think he's teething now, it's about that time. Lil Miss Austin started up right about 6 months. Actually she had a couple chompers by 5 months, then nothing else for a long time.

We also finally gave up the guest room. Pilgrim finally got the British Indies room and I'm sure LMA can now sleep peacefully knowing her little brother isn't going to scream at 11, 2, 4:30 and 6. (Six months, shouldn't he be sleeping through the night by now?)

That's all we have going on right now. No plans for Christmas/Yule other than sending out cards and pictures. Have to get up those damnable lights.

(some cute pics coming soon.)