Happy Birthday, Joe!

My brother Joe, or Mr. Denver or Manservant Hecubus, turns an unspecified age today. Let's just say it's not quite 30.

So on this day, please join me in wishing him the best. We'll raise one for ya, mon frère.



I don't plug places very often. If I deem it worth my time, it'd be part of the links section. However, my Livejournal page and my comics page all have different links catered to the type of viewer I think will be trapsing across the cyberwalk.

Anyway, I've read PVP for a good many moons. Scott Kurtz is in Dallas, so there's some sort of weird "I have to put up with it too" feeling, even though I know him not, and he knows me less. His stuff always makes me chuckle.

Add it to your bookmarks, haters.


Arkham Asylum

So I sat down to write about how crazy it's been here the past week, how everyone is sick and tired and overworked and crabby and in serious need of a break, then I read back a few paragraphs and realized I sounded like a complete ass and I'm pretty sure no one wants to read Life In Assville.

So with my malicious diatribe behind me I can focus on things of a more banal nature; just the facts, ma'am.

Fact one: This house is bat-shit crazy. I mean it. I know my parents moved from a duplex to a house when I was about four and my brother was one. What the hell were you guys thinking? This is complete and utter, gibbering monkey, fiddling fish, insanity. So...so you know what I did to help matters? I built a fort. That's right, a fort for Lil Miss Austin. Seemed like a good idea at the time. She was sick and had to stay home so I built her a little fort with blankets and chairs. THAT WAS THREE DAYS AGO! For some reason, the fort has yet to be taken down. You know why? If I do, she'll cry until she's twelve and I can't take anymore crying. So, the fort stays up until the Mexicans come after our canon.

Fact two: This house is sold. We signed the papers today. We're officially homeless. We paid the new owners the lease money and we will close on our new house n the 20th of July and move the following weekend. No more lock box, no more sign out front, no more trying to keep the place liveable. It's moving time. The boxes have been broken out and taped up. The items that haven't been touched in a year are shivering with anticipation at being kept in a warm box in the garage for another month. My Legos are going to kill me.

Fact three: This house is one sick puppy. Just when we think we've seen the end of the Stomach Bug that Ate Cleveland, I get it. Friday night, at the movies with Mrs. Austin, I start to feel like Violet Beauregarde. Could it have been the soda and licorice combination? Surely not. I know, I'll spend 2 days in the john just to test my theory. Ah HA! Stomach Flu! Brilliant! So I walked around like a zombie for two days. Yogi cried incessantly, LMA flamed on with a week's worth of fevers and now Mrs. A's stomach is starting to cramp. I've already emailed HR explaining that there's little I can do with sick kids when daycare won't take them, luckily they're very understanding.

Fact four: This house is busy. Did I mention we're packing? And hosting a couple sick parasites disquised as children? Well, we're also drawing slowly for a convention in just over a month and staying up with tech support till 3am fixing new laptops and almost losing months of art and photos. I told Mrs. Austin that I would feel much better offloading all this hosting stuff to a company. I mean, it was cool and all when I could say, "Yeah I have my own web server." But let's face it, I did very little work to set it up, and I've done even less work to keep them running. I don't know enough to make her business run the way she wants. I don't even know enough to allow one machine to talk to the other for more than a day. Plus her laptops just aren't working. (That's right. Plural. She bought another refurb to replace the damaged one. It's a business tool, not a plaything. Unfortunately.)

Did I mention I did away with the old entry for this one? I must have been crazy.


The Good, The Bad and The Sick.

Have some slices of life.

There is a mechanism in your brain that shuts off all voluntary muscle activity when you sleep. It’s to prevent you from hurting yourself when you dream. Your body and brain apparently haven’t worked out that signals sent from the brain during sleep shouldn’t be interpreted, so nature created this stop gap.

This manifests most commonly when you wake from a nightmare and can’t move. It’s not because you’re paralyzed with fear, but that your brain forgot to turn the body back on. It’s also not entirely full proof and occasionally you can tell when your dream state performs a physical action and your body responds, usually jarring you awake.

As you get older, this mechanism, like all others, breaks down. Some of the most common injuries of elderly women are due to their husbands reliving a wartime scenario in their dreams and acting them out on their sleeping spouses. It’s pretty frightening and wonderfully intriguing at the same time. Not the old wife beating part, but the part about the brain having this valve to activity in the first place.

Why all the info? Well, my switch was left in the on position the other night when I was having a dream about adopting a new dog. All I remember is the dog running up to me and me giving it a good lovin’ on it’s head; i.e. furious petting and scratching. The next thing I know, Mrs. A is shouting, “Get the fuck off me! What am I a dog?!”

Uh, well, you were for a split second.

There is a new trend now for grease monkeys to hawk their trade on busy thoroughfares, waving, giving thumbs up, and carrying balloons. (Incidentally, do you actually carry balloons? Aren’t you really restraining them?)

Anyway, there they are, always happy at 7am to stand under your dirty car, pumping it full of fluids and lubricant. I’ve written about this already, so I won’t delve to far.

The fact of the matter is, I drive by one on my everyday route to take Lil Miss Austin to school. I almost wrecked the car when I saw a cardboard cutout of Chewbacca holding up the sign and wearing the company’s hat.

Apparently, times are tough for the wookie.

Cars are metallic colors for a reason. The reason is, people don’t wear metallic colored clothing. If you have a yellow car, you must never wear a yellow shirt. If you do, you’ll end up looking like you’re selling something or part of a cult.

On to the house front.

Yesterday I was home with two evilly sick children and trying my best to network into the office and do some work. I didn’t get a lot done, what with the constant pooping and puking and fevers and aches and potty accidents.

What I did get done is some cluster-fucking with our realtor. And now it burns when I pee.

For real. We’ve been kind of in a holding pattern over New House International Airport while we wait for other parties to figure out loan paperwork and find new houses. The whole time our agent has been MIA. He made a big deal about contacting us twice a week with updates, that hasn’t happened.

So the last we knew before yesterday was that the buyers of our new house had just past their option period during which they could back out. The sellers of the other house had yet to find a place so that closing was still unknown.

Yesterday afternoon, I called the realtor. I needed info on closing dates for our loan company so they could process the paperwork and be ready. Our agent said that the buyers had already closed and were waiting to move and the sellers found a place and could close any time. In a 10 minute conversation we went from being the waiters to being the bottleneck.

So, our closing date for both is the 27th of June, but we can’t move until the 21st of July, which means three weeks we have to pay a lease to the buyers, a sum that equals 3 times what our current mortgage is. They have reasoning behind it, and the sellers have already signed a contract saying they won’t pay for any time they live on the property after closing, so we’re out a couple grand.

Why is this? Well, the first problem was the timing. We thought selling our house in one day was a wonderful thing. If the sellers had a house ready to go, we could have closed and move next week. But because they didn’t, we had to wait. Not our fault.

Second, the realtor didn’t tell us shit. Every conversation was initiated by us. If I hadn’t called them yesterday, we’d still be waiting to hear when all this was going to go down. I mean, the buyers of our house already closed weeks before and were waiting for us to move! Isn’t that something, as a realtor, you would tell your clients?

This relationship with this agency has gone really sour. I don’t trust them anymore to speak for me, I don’t like them anymore for not having my best interest at heart. When I told them that we couldn’t afford and extra 4x our monthly payment for the lease, their response was, “The buyers won’t budge.” Well, then, what the fuck do you want me to do? This is your fault we didn’t know about it, and if we’d have known, we would have found a vacant property and moved in right then. But because we hadn’t heard from them, now we’re out money.

It’s not fair and unfortunately we have few options.

Not to totally burn all my bridges, and Mrs. A has been just as stressed out about this and other things as I have, but we also haven’t agreed on much of this lately. I think we’re being screwed and am stubborn about not paying anything extra due to no fault of our own, and she is wanting to bluff them into thinking we’ll walk away from this whole deal while at the same time saying that she’s going crazy in our house and needs to move.

Add to that the following factors: Mrs. A’s laptop died, with a wedding full of pictures. I’ve got 42 days until Chicago and I need 12 more pages drawn, then lettered, then a cover (colored) and back page material. Both kids have been out for 3 days with stomach viruses. Both our jobs have major personnel and project-oriented problems.

And there was no hockey this year.

Surprisingly we’re not complete basket cases, but neither of us have had 8 hours sleep in months and you can tell. I don’t want to jinx this home buying endeavor with negative thoughts, so this is the last you’ll hear of them. I still like the house, and I still would like to move there. I think selling our house in one day spoiled us. The house we’re in now we didn’t have to go through and agent and we didn’t have to sell the place we lived in, so it was a breeze. This is probably just par for the course.

Still, Chewbacca wants you to get your oil changed, life can’t be that bad.


Years One and Four

I just got done scanning their "school" pictures and I thought I'd share. I'm actually drawing as much as possible this weekend, but while I was in the computer room doing some tech support for my wife's photography site, thought I'd scan some photos. I'm sure these will go on the flickr site soon enough.

I'm biased, but I think they're pretty cute.


Ah, normal life. How I've missed you.

Amidst the hullabaloo of house buying and selling and business running and comic book making, it's hard to remember that you have to deal with normal things in life.

Normal thing one: Traffic violations.

That's right, three Austin Police were waiting for scofflaws like me at a bottle neck where a road dead-ends onto a feeder and you have to stop and wait for traffic. Perfect place to be yanked out of line and told your stickers expired, two weeks ago.

Really, I got a ticket for a two week old expired tag, the other tag is current. For those living outside Texas, we have two windshield stickers: One is the vehicle registration (current) the other is the safety inspection (expired). In Colorado, your "tags" were on your rear plate so cops could bust you from behind (naughty, don't go there) but in Texas, they're both on the windshield. I'm not sure if emissions and safety inspection are the same thing. Mrs. A seems to think they're not, but I'm too lazy to follow up.

Normal thing two: Sick kids.

Man, these kids are ill, and not like the Beastie Boys. Lil. Mr. Austin just keeps finding new ways to make his mom freak out. Yesterday we thought he had pink eye because his eyes were gooey and he was running a little fever. I took the day off, ran to the Doctor and found out he was fine...

...except for that ear infection that hasn't gone away...

...and that heart murmur.

That's right, heart murmur. Now don't panic, it's not a major deal. The doctor said she's not a train pediatric cardiologist so we'll have to get Yogi checked out, but she said it was enough to cause her to tell us about it.

That and his ears are keeping up awake at night. Lord, let it be his ears and not some crazy sleep pattern. He's on antibiotics, still, for his ears. He's up every hour until about 4am and then you have to grab him by his ankles and swing him around till his head hits a door before he wakes up...because he's exhausted from staying up all night.


Normal thing number three: Sports.

To me, there are no sports until hockey comes back, so I have to watch basketball. I just wanted to point out that just because I live in Texas, doesn't make me an automatic Spurs fan. I like the Spurs if they're playing anyone else, but I like the Pistons better. I'm glad they won last night.

No new house info as of yet. We had another appraiser come by last night which made me a little nervous. How many of these things are required? I sure hope nothing bad happens.


House Update and fun things.

It a twist of fate, the people we're buying the house from won't be able to close on June 30th because they haven't decided on a new house yet.

Let me remind you that these were the same people who didn't want to wait until July 22nd and so we had to remove the contingency portion of our offer. Their reasoning was they didn't want to have to wait for our house to sell.

The realtor's words were, "They can't agree on a house." So they have a couple in mind, but are being finicky.

It makes me want to hurt people.

Here are the reasons why this makes me nervous and upset. First, most people will close close to the ends of the month. Since June 30th is out, it's now July 31st. June 30th, other than being my birthday, would have been perfect due to the following three day weekend. Good time to move.

Second, the Chicago convention is the 4th of August. Let's say we now close on the 31st, which is Sunday. That means we have to move Mon, Tuesday and Wednesday, days we have to take off of work, because Thursday we're leaving town. When we get back, it'd be to a house that's not unboxed.

Now, if they are cool and decide that the original close date of the 22nd works out better, then we have a good week buffer before things get crazy.

The final reason being, these guys were so anxious to sell their house they wouldn't entertain a contingency offer AND the price was so low as to almost ensure a quick sell BUT they didn't have a new house lined up yet. I don't think they planned this well, I don't.

So, not moving on my birthday probably unless they find a house tomorrow, and even then it's not likely. Plus now we have to pay a months mortgage to our buyers as rent, if they fly with that. Knowing how things are progressing, I wouldn't be surprised if our buyer said, "Nope, sorry. My place out. Hit the skids, people!"

So we're in the computer room sorting through documents, when Mrs. A opens up an old envelope from my last company. After looking and looking and several explatives, she hands the check -that's right, the check- to me and says, "We should open the mail more often." Turns out I had two checks sitting in a pile of tax information. They totaled roughly $1,300.

I don't know why they were sitting there. I had direct deposit and the pay stubs I received were handed to me. These came in the mail, at the end of Janurary. I probably assumed they were tax documents. Low and behold I think I was just cashed out of my vacation. Had I opened those earlier I wouldn't have had to sell my body back in April.

Yeah, I didn't raise any money with that.

So with our new found liquidity, we got a new washer and dryer and a Dyson Ball. The washer and dryer were a must. We'd been clinging to a dryer Mrs. A's brother lent us over 5 years ago and a washer we got at a scratch and dent from Best Buy. It was time to trade up. The dryer didn't run well if we vented it outside (like you're supposed to) so it just blew lint everywhere. Aside from being a huge fire hazard, I think we had a few unwanted guests using the little outside entrance.

The vacuum is amazing. First off, the color scheme is wonderful. I may use it to revamp my web sites. Next, it seems very well put together. Finally, it could suck the chrome off a tail pipe. We filled the damn thing up just going over a rug. It should be a wonder in the new place with all that carpet. It's a very exciting purchase. The wonder-hoover we have now couldn't pick up anything larger than a proton and smelled of burning dog hair, so I'm glad, again, we were able to trade up.

Moral of the story, open your mail.


In Russia, he'd be called Grigori.

Amidst all the chaos that is New Home Buying and Old Home Selling, our fine readers should not forget the fact that there are two kids involved in this Life we call Austin. Mrs. A would contend there are three children in our house, but that's for the therapists to decide.

I officially started LIA when LMA was about 14 months old, having missed most of her "firsts," a fact I'm not particularly proud of. But what we lacked in quantity at that time, we made up for by having another kid.

I realize I haven't talked much about Little Mr. Austin much and that got me thinking that I also haven't given him much. I haven't spent every second with him while he figures out how to use his hands or plays with his toys. The evening hours are spent just trying to get him to be quiet and placid. Not having a written record of what LMA was like at one year, it's hard to go back and say, "Huh, well, crap. He's just like she was," or "Yeah, she never did that." Mrs. Austin and I agree that both kids are vastly different both physically and mentally, but it's hard to go back just a couple years and make a spot on comparison.

It's also terribly unfair to him.

Gregory, and I'll just use his name here, because that's who he is, is a wonderful little kid. He's a pain in the ass sometimes, but none-the-less a fabulous mini-human. He's sweet and funny and cute. I see in him a lot of what makes me who I am, kind, gentle, friendly but tempermental and prone to outbursts. In fact, I'm probably more like a little kid than I am an adult in that respect. He head butts things a lot -things like floors, cabinets, people's faces- and he still cries a lot at night. One of the reasons I've gone back into the archives is to find out when LMA started sleeping through the night. Like a scientist checking the logs for anomalies against a control, I've been unsuccessfully researching when we can expect Yogi to finally just say, "You know what, I'm fuckin' beat. I'll see you cats tomorrow."

An example, last night he went to sleep around 8:30. He was awake at 11 at which point he was changed and given a small bottle of water. At 3:30 he was awake again, another small bottle of water. At 5:30 he was awake again but was left to fall asleep on his own. Each time he wakes up, Mrs. A and I lay in bed, grumpy and awake, waiting for the other to get up or make some kind of deal. "I'll get the bottle if you change him."

The problem is, we've done both coddle and ignore and neither work real well. We've let him cry for almost an hour at times, we've picked him up immediately others. Neither seems to work well for any given length of time. Plus, even though this is #2, we're still running into the age old baby questions: Is he hungry? Sick? Wet? Lonely? Probably a combination of each, plus a dash of Pissy Baby.

(Man this entry has to be boring for you guys.)

But he's not a baby anymore. Last week his daycare officially moved him to the toddler room. He wears shoes, walks around with other kids, eats big people food and no longer requires that we bring formula or milk. He's off breast milk and formula at home and we're slowly moving away from bottles. He can walk...pretty well. Sort of like a drunk at a fun house, but there are still steps. He doesn't have any real clear words yet but "hi" and "achoo" are really close. I think he even knows what "hi" means. He can wave, point, grab small things and use a fork to come Spaghettios into his hair. He can crawl up into a chair and lower himself off the couch.

He crawls like his pants are on fire.

Lord o' mighty I've never seen a kid crawl that fast. One of my favorite things to do is wait till he's going full tilt then start stomping and teasing from behind and watch as that extra gear kicks in and he leaves little flaming marks on the floor.

For all the sleep and crying crap we give him, he loves to hug people, namely his big sister, and he's just about the cutest kid I've ever seen. He loves to smile and play and squeal. He's a good kid.

For now.


House Update

It's hard to keep track of who knows what, but I think my parents are covered.

To update everyone, here's the short version. Our house has a contract pending on it. We accepted the offer placed and now are waiting for the option period to expire and set a closing date.

The new house accepted our offer and we're waiting to here if an earlier closing is possible.

Now the long version.

Our House

We're working with the realtor who showed us the new house. We said we needed someone to sell our house so we got him to do it. So we signed all the paperwork to sell the house (see a few entries ago) while my mom and aunt were in town, so that was Sunday. Mon-Wednesday we spent cleaning the house and got someone to come out to do the yards on Thursday. We tried doing the lawn but dammit that takes a long time to do when you have to tag out to watch kids and your knees and backs don't work like they used to. I don't care, these guys did a bang up job.

So we get the whole thing cleaned up. Family pictures taken down, flat surfaces uncluttered, kids' rooms cleaned, floor swept and mopped, bathrooms scented and polished, the whole shebang. The kitchen has never looked better.

The house officially goes on the listing service Saturday, just in time for the long weekend. We get a couple calls that morning asking to show the house. We had planned on this and we split up, Mrs. A doing some needed photo work and I took the kids to various shops and restaurants. We left about 09:30. At 12:30, eating Chinese food, we get a call from our realtor that the first person that came by submitted an offer. Full asking price, assuming all closing costs. Only thing they required was we get everything that's not nailed down out of the house. It's an investor that will buy it and rent it. Other than a straight cash offer, our realtor says it's the cleanest deal he's ever seen.

Asking price, the first day listed.

Amazing. So, you'll notice our status is now Pending - Accepting backups. We've had one showing since that day. It's hard to keep the house clean, but it's a small price to pay and it's a short time comparatively. An old friend tried to sell his house and it was on the market for 6 months. He had lake property as well that was listed for 18 months. My long time coworker friend is selling her house, it's only been a month but I'm pretty sure she hates me now.

Our New House

I feel like I may be jinxing it a little by calling it our new house. There are still things that could go wrong; financing problems, seller backs out of our deal, the world could end, etc. However, I'm fairly confident that by this time July 1st, we'll be all boxes and unarranged furniture in our new pad. It's a great little place and cute up front to boot. The backyard is nice with a great covered patio. The cost per square footage is wonderful. It's heavily carpeted, which may have to change, but I don't mind right away. I remember when Mrs. A and I did the floors in our house and how it only took a few days with both of us taking time off of work, but man it was a big pain in the ass. We busted hump getting it down and still had to call Lowes to come finish the parts I was too lazy to do.

But other than the carpet, it's what we need in a house. It has plenty of room, island in the kitchen, office space, entertainment room space, nice living area, good backyard, and if you mapped it, it's about 5 blocks from our current location.

Oh, and we get to use the realty companies moving truck for free.

Yay for us.

Little Mr. Austin is moving up in the world. We had a meeting today with his care takers and he's moving from the Infant Room to the Toddler Room. He's got little shoes so he can go outside and play and he's officially off formula and breast milk. Unofficially he's been off breast milk for about a month, just kind of lost interest. The hard part now is the bottles. He loves the bottles, so moving to sippy cup is going to be hard.

Both he and his sister are doing well. We seem to have shaken our colds, though Lil Mr. A has an ear infection that's keep him up at nights.

Mrs. Austin has some news that I was not aware of. It involves photography and book deals and magazines. I don't know that she'd like me to hand out specifics, but if you'd like to leave a comment that you're interested in hearing about it, I'm sure she'll tell you about it.

For some reason I didn't know about any of it till this last weekend, so I don't have all the facts.

But that's not really anything new.