Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Ned the Betta Fish

About ten months ago, my son arrived home with a pet betta fish his grandpa and grandma bought him as a way to encourage responsibility. Of course, some how I've carried that responsibility.

Ned has been a great fish. Bettas aren't high maintenance fish. As long as you keep them fed, they are pretty happy. At times, Ned would get excited when he saw me walk to the table as if he recognized me. Sometimes at night, I would look over to Ned and it seemed as we were actually communicating.

I shouldn't use the past-tense when writing about Ned. He hasn't passed on, yet. His health, however, is not good.

A few weeks ago, we got a cold front. With the cold front, the temperature in Ned's water dropped to 60 degrees fahrenheit, which is too cold for a tropical fish. Ned went into shock.

The following day I bought a heater for his aquarium. I removed the lethargic fish out of his aquarium, changed the water, and installed the heating pad.

After reintroducing Ned to his now-warm aquarium, he became recluse hiding inside his house. A few days ago, I decided to remove his house so that I can monitor his health--he rarely swims, barely eats, and spends his time at the bottom of the bowl.

On Tuesday, my five-year old look inside the aquarium and noticed Ned. I told him Ned was sick. He asked if he was going to die. I replied, "Yes." Of course, he responded by cry, "I don't want him to die."

This was all taking place Tuesday morning before school--the same day he won his new BMX bike. As it is, we were running late to school. This added more time to his tardiness.

I have to admit, I made the mistake of discussing the meaning of death as it applies to a "family pet" to my son before school. It was a terrible idea and I regret it.

Oh well...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A New Bike

My 5 1/2-year old boy won a raffle at his elementary school. The cafeteria entered all elementary school children who paid for their lunch in a drawing, and my son's name was drawn.

Yesterday, I received a call from the school to inform me that Jonathan had won the bike. At first, I was skeptical and expecting them to say they had the wrong kid. After we had hung up, I did get a call again from the school. I thought to myself that they indeed made a mistake. Nope. The follow up call was to tell me that Jonathan didn't know and thought it would be great to keep it a surprise.

This morning, we were running late to school--I'll elaborate on why in a future blog. After dropping him to his class, I walked over to the assistant principals and told them that I received a call regarding my son winning a bike. They were excited.

As we watched the morning annoucements on the closed-circuit TV, my son's name was called out as being the winner of the raffle.

I joined the cafeteria lady to his classroom soon after to deliver the bike. Needlesstosay, he was excited when he saw his new Kent International BMX bike.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Miss California Carrie Prejean

Amazing that I have had 5,000 views of this cartoonI uploaded earlier this year by Rex Babin.

The editorial cartoon protrays Prejean as meeting Andy Warhol's 15 minutes of fame. The funny thing is that Prejean surpassed her 15 minutes. According to the RadarOnline (, Prejean has several sex tapes and revealing photographs.

Monday, July 27, 2009

What should I do about Ned?

I found shelter for our family dog, Chato. He'll be staying at a doggy hotel at $30 the night. However, I totally forgot to find a place for one of our most important pets--Ned.

Ned isn't demanding. He flutters about when he thinks I am looking at him. At times, he does talk to me. He tells me about his day swimming around the tank and the annoying noise coming from the cheap pump.

The one thing he hates most is when my five year old son or I tease him with a finger puppet of a fish. He hates it. The thought of another fish around his territory simply angers him.

But what am I to do with our pet betta, Ned.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

North Korea and Hawaii

I was flipping channels and came across a report from Fox News regarding North Korea's Kim Jong-il's interest in launching a missile towards Hawaii this July 4th weekend.

The Christian Science Monitor raises the question as to whether a North Korean missile can reach Hawaii on their headline. The article further cites a US Congressional Research Service (CRS) report:

In theory, yes. Pyongyang has ballistic missile technology that technically, if it worked to perfection, could throw a small payload across the 7,100 kilometers or so that separate the Korean peninsula from Honolulu...

But later ensures the reader that a missile endangering the islands is "quite small." Furthermore, according to reports, US has deployed antimissile interceptors to the region and islands to stop such event.

The tension is also being felt in the surrounding area as Japan fears they are in the crossfire of North Korea's threats towards US. Russia and China are willing to open dialogue with North Korea and it's nuclear programs.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Michael Jackson Dies

This is an absolute surprise. The global icon I grew up listen to passed away at age 50. He suffered a cardiac arrest earlier this afternoon at his home in Los Angeles, California.

Despite his eccentricities, his contributions in music, choreography, and his humanitarian outreach will not be forgotten.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Facing the Job Market

Facing the Job Market
Originally uploaded by GCAUSTIN

When is the economy going to get better? Usually around this time, if you are like me, combing the help wanted ads are a must during a Sunday morning. However, the job classified have been a joke.

One column for Professional? What's the deal? Where are the jobs?

Job searching use to be fun. The job classified were filled with help wanted ads. Submitting applications became the norm. A call or two was thrilling. An interview was unbelievable. An offer was amazing.

Let us rewind nine years. I was about 24 years old. I had barely met my wife. I was about to finish graduate school. The ads were filled with promising positions. The job market was hot. Employers were offering good salaries. The ultimate decision came down to the employee to determine whether a job in DC outweighted a job in Austin.

Fastforward nine years. After being married for over five years, with a graduate degree, the ads are slim to nothing. The job market is cold. Employers are wanting to weather the storm and hold off on hiring. If a position is offered, expect a lower-than-expected salary. Now the decision lays on the employer and the company as to whether adding an addition person will make or break the company.

In a previous blog (HERE), I discussed a recent cartoon editorial of baby boomers. In it I argued that baby boomers should begin to train their subbordinates in order for a smooth transition for the organization. Shy of asking baby boomers to retire, because of the recognition of their contribution to the organization.

Honestly, if we were to step back and view this situation on a macro-perspective, we would see a society of an older professional group. However, a vested career in an organization should have a limit; shouldn't it?

The average employee with tenure in an organization may have the equivalent productivity of a middle-management (mid-level) employee. The difference? The employee with the tenure's salary is probably twice of that of a mid-level employee.

Again, terminating our senior level employees may not be the answer. However, it should be a practice within an organization to train and prepare mid-level employees for the possible challenges they may face if they indeed decide to retire and leave an agency.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Baby Boomers and the Economy

Baby Boomers and the Economy
Originally uploaded by GCAUSTIN
This editorial cartoon by David Fitzsimmons seems to be getting a lot of visits lately. Could it be because his message is a strong one?

Let's look at this in a macro-sense. The U.S. economy is struggling. Our new graduates are going into the workforce competing fiercely against one another for low paying entry positions.

The babyboomers, my parents, who have been in the workforce are deciding to stay working and not retire--although, many are over eligible to retire. Probably they are avoiding retirement because of the economy. However, this is placing a burden on our young generation.

Those of us in middle-management positions are unable to advance, preventing others from move up the ladder, and eventually limiting openings to new employees. Put aside the office politics, this is causing stress in the job market.

Should we ask our babyboomers to retire? I wouldn't. There is a reason companies, agencies, and businesses succeed. It is because of the establishments--those individuals who have dedicated years of their lives to the profession. The foundation of a corporation is in those individuals who have been the seeds of the organization since its inception.

On the other hand, babyboomers should realize that retirement is inevitable. Passing that baton of knowledge to the next generation can help a company's legacy continue onward to success.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Kamp Kumbaya

Kamp Kumbaya
Originally uploaded by GCAUSTIN
Ben Sargent, editorial cartoonist, summed the Texas' Legislature's Session up quite well. However, it seems chaos occurs under anyone's leadership. This is Texas, remember. It's a large state with many different perspectives and ideologies.

As the session comes to a close tomorrow, we can summerize this session as being challenging--similar to others; especially, for the new Speaker. However, no one can ignore that this Speaker worked with both sides to reach many compromises and lead the House with dignity and respect.

Probably the largest thing to create so much tension between the parties was the infamous Voter ID bill. Democrats hated it. Republicans felt it was necessary. Democrats used the noncontroversial calendar of bills to stall debate of the Voter ID bill and succeeded. However, in doing so, a lot of important bills died.

Some Republicans thought the Speaker gave too much power to the Democrats; while, the Democrats felt he did what he was supposed to do--administer and lead the House of Representatives.

It's too early to tell the effectiveness of the Speaker's leadership. I'm sure there will be many analyses provided by journalists, historians, and bloggers.

Monday, May 25, 2009

A family of cardinals

Across our house, in our neighbor's Live Oak, lives a family of cardinals. A couple of mounts ago I noticed a pair of cardinals hanging out around our backyard. Both would feed from our bird feeder. They were never without the other.

Then I didn't see much of them. I figured, being spring, they had found home and made a nest. Sure enough. This afternoon, while my son and I were playing soccer and baseball in the backyard, I noticed three birds flying. The little chick flew into the pine tree. The parents perched nearby and called for the chick.

I held my son as close as I could without interferring with the chick. Then just like that. The chick made his flight back to the neighbor's tree. Amazing.

Cardinals remind me of my grandmother, Nana. She loved cardinals. A person could find curio of a cardinal somewhere in her house. She loved how they sang to each other.

Somehow, the cardinals presense makes me feel as if my grandma is watching over me and my son.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Blocking Voter ID bill

Texas Capitol
Originally uploaded by GCAUSTIN

There is always excitement under the Pink Dome.

Eight days left for the Texas Legislature to pass bills that affect the citizens of the state. Some bills have died; but many important ones still remain on the to-do-list.

The bills left are those controversial measures that affect not only the citizens but also the respective political party. The most controversial bill waiting to be debated is the Voter ID bill. Democrats feel the bill, authored by Marble Falls Republican Senator Troy Fraser, dienfranchise minority voters; while Republicans believe there needs to be more aggressive standards for voters.

In a attempt to bring the Voter ID bill up for debate, Republican House Calendars Chair, Representative Brian McCall, placed the bill for consideration on Saturday. When House Democrats learned of the posting, they decided the only option for them was stall the calendar by debating noncontentious bills.

The House has until Tuesday midnight to pass out Senate bills, including the Voter ID legislation. Sofar, the House Democrats have successfully stalled the calendar.

It's actually quite entertaining to watch legislators debate nonsense bills that have no affect on statewide laws. It's even funnier to watch House Democrats exaggerate that the nonsense bill is "important" for their district. What does El Paso County reporting have to do with Austin, Texas?

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Star Trek and my 5-year-old

Today was my son's fifth birthday. What better way to commemorate this milestone than to take my son to watch Star Trek. Although, I have to admit, I've watched the new movie twice before taking my son.
I debated for several days as to whether to take my son to watch this movie. There is violence and adult situations, but nothing graphic.
I picked my son up from daycare early to go to the 4:25 viewing of Star Trek at the theater near our house. We got a small bag of popcorn, orange soda and diet coke, and Airheads candy.
Since my son does get a little scared, we made sure to bring his baby blanket and sat at the very last row in the back. This pleased him.
There was one scene I was a bit concerned with his viewing--Kirk makes out with an Orion woman and Uhura is seen strip to her underwear. We seemed to survive that scene easily.
When we were walking out, I asked my son who his favorite character was. He responded, "Kirk." I wonder why? Ha!

Thursday, May 14, 2009


Originally uploaded by GCAUSTIN
It annoys my wife that our dog wakes up exactly at 3 am each morning to jump onto the bed and snuggle with me. In the process, while struggling to get up and get comfortable, the movement wakes up my wife.

The movement does wake me up, but I quickly return to dreamworld in no time. So does my dog. It's a different story for my wife.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Cinco de Mayo

Tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo. Celebrations are still on schedule for many parts of the United States and Mexico. The Swine flu hasn't made a dent on this Mexican holiday--and it shouldn't.

Feliz Cinco de Mayo.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Government Motors

Originally uploaded by GCAUSTIN

For the past couple of months, we've been plagued with bad juju with our vehicles--knock on wood. It's come to a point where I've thought about purchasing a new vehicle. It's tempting, especially with our President's recent sales pitch. If we purchase a new car we could get a tax credit. Of course, the question is, "How much?" Regardless, it's tempting.

Friday, March 27, 2009


Originally uploaded by GCAUSTIN
So, although I have registered on twitter, I have no idea how to use it. The "twitter" I use is on Facebook; however, I don't think this is the real twitter. Regardless, everyone seems to be twittering, especially the legislators. But where are these twits?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A long day

Tuesdays are generally long. I've come to experience that since moving up to Austin and working for a legislative committee that met on Tuesdays. Ten years later, that still applies.

Today was a busy Tuesday. I was asked to accompany one our our experts to a hearing. The hearing was supposed to start at 1pm; however, the Senate was in session until 5:45 pm--they were debating top ten admission to state schools.

Our expert and I waited patiently at the committee hearing room until I decided that we go back to the office and wait and see what happens in the Senate. A couple hours later, the Senate adjourned and we made our way to the committee hearing room.

Two hours later, and after several unrelated bills to our agency, our bill was brought up. There were no questions from the Senators, and the bill was bill was left pending. That was the conclusion to our bill.

When we walked outside, the dusk was just setting. The end of our day was indeed busy, but not as busy for others who had to juggle two committee hearings into the night.

March Madness

Originally uploaded by GCAUSTIN

Friday, March 20, 2009

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Adapting to Uverse

First of all, I am enjoying my Uverse. However, there are a lot of things I still need to learn to adapt with. For example, unlike Dish Network, Uverse turns completely off. That means that when the TV alarm turns on, it opens with a blue AT&T screen. That happened to me this past Tuesday when I woke up at 7:15 instead of my usual 5:30am. After a few clicks here and there, I think I've figured the TV's alarm. In addition, I use the cell phone as a back up.

Another thing to get use to is the DVR. I've never had a DVR before. I've heard of TiVo, but this is the first time we have experienced DVR. What a fantastic idea. Today we tried the DVR and watched The Office, which we set to record the session. Of course, I first attempted to record the show in HDTV, which causes other TVs to not be able to watch other HD channels.

Regardless, our experience with AT&T's Uverse HDTV channels have been absolutely wonderful; especially when watching Bikini Destinations.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Accident

This past Saturday, my wife and son were in a car accident. At the intersection exiting our subdivision, my wife calmly waited to turn left on a green light. The other car failed to stop on the red and crashed into my wife's front-left.

Everyone was alright. My wife was a bit shakened up from the experience, and my little boy was amazed by the experience that he shared everyone his story. He also liked riding in the fire engine and getting fire fighter and sheriff deputy badges.

Now, the main concern is the repair for the vehicle. Our insurance company is expected to provide us an estimate within the next couple of days. If they total it, then that means my wife--or I--will be without a vehicle. This not good for me, because this is probably the most busiest time of year for me--the state legislature is in session. This also means that we may need to purchase a new or used car, which means a new car payment.

If the insurance company decides that the damages are minor, then the cost for repair may be a bit high. Of course, we'll need to put down our $500 deductable. Still, we'll be without a vehicle for a long while.

So, we are left waiting and wondering what our future will bring. In the end, there is a cost involved. A very high cost, which I was not planning for.

Friday, February 27, 2009

AT&T U-verse

Tomorrow, we are getting AT&T's U-verse. I am totally excited. Not only am I getting 52 HDTV channels but I am getting 3mbs download Internet. Wow! I've never been this tech-trendy before.

A few weeks ago, I purchased my first flat screen LCD Sony Bravia. I struggled the first few days as I tried to set the color and tone. After a few tries, I think I have the perfect image. Well, almost.

Now I am catching that next thing bug--should I invest in a $300 Blu-Ray player? It would be nice to watch Wall-E in HD, or even Iron Man. But $300 is still pretty high. For that price, I can purchase a Sony PS3.

Then I have to think about reality. What if the economic downturn gets worse? What if my wife loses her job? What if I lose mine? Maybe taking babysteps in my home entertainment advancement is the best policy.

But, it would be nice to watch HDTV U-verse and movies. It would be nice to enjoy clarity in action films like Iron Man.

Either way, my wife and I are excited about U-verse. Installation is scheduled for tomorrow between 10 and 12. Of course, since there will probably be a need to rewire, the installation process may take the whole afternoon.

Ben Sargent: Stimulus Soup Kitchen

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Stubbed Toe

After a night of fun sans our son, and while we prepared to call it a night, my wife asked me to get her a roll of toilet paper. Of course, I jumped from my comfy position on my side of the bed and ran to the second bathroom to steel my son's roll of TP to take to Pam.

In my quickness to waste no time, I ran from the second bathroom to the master to deliver this important item; however, on my delivery, I rammed my right foot on the bed post.

I heard what sounded like pops. Maybe it was just my imagination, but it did sound like I cracked the wooden bed post.

I hopped my way to my wife to deliver her toilet paper. In pain, I crawled my way into bed and dug myself under the covers.

The next morning, while my wife woke up to go to the gym, I struggled to get out of bed. The pain I felt was everywhere. Could it be the alcohol? I didn't think I drank too much. As I walked down the stairs, the sharp pain on my foot reminded me where the pain originated.

Now, after two days, I wonder whether I should visit the doctor's office. Maybe I broke my second smallest piggy. There is a bruise that spans the four toes. How did I manage not to get the big toe? In retrospect, I'd rather be suffering from a big-toe-injury than my little ones.

Regardless, the pain is troubling. Or maybe I am just being a wimp.

The Myoflex is working.

Thursday, January 29, 2009


Although, this editorial cartoon was for the Denver Post, I think many states in the union are experiencing similar difficulties in balancing their budget.