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.