- The Internet is the worst place to go if you have something to say.
- Activity is not motion, but motion is an activity.
- Don’t bring signs to a battle of words. They are inflexible and can be used against you.
- If you’re fighting on two fronts, you’ll have to watch your own back.
- Keep off the grass, especially when requested. When asked twice, doubly so.
- Just because you’re seated does not mean you are immobile.
- Educate yourself about the enemy, but resist the urge to use that knowledge to become the enemy once he is vanquished.
So. Welcome to the new Phaysis-point-oh. My nine years with Prohosting have drawn to a close, and with the change in webhost comes a change in journaling engines. After 9 years of trying, and failing, and trying, and failing, and trying again (and then failing), I have given up on building my own engine and have finally decided to take the path of least resistance. Phaysis.com is now powered by WordPress. Resistance is futile.
During the site’s downtime (you did notice it was down, didn’t you?), I took the opportunity to convert all my old journal entries from the original engine (and a long-lived hack) called “Sojournal” (clever, ain’t it?), into a format suitable for importing into WordPress. Took a week of work to build the conversion script. So after installing WordPress on my new webhost, doing some basic configuration, and selecting the temporary design theme, I imported all of my old entries.
Now everything I’ve written over the 6 years I used Sojournal are instantly accessible by tag, category, archive, permalinks, and by the nifty search box to the upper right. Amazing how handy that stuff is, considering that for years the only way to read specific entries in Sojournal was to step through the pages sequentially…aaaaall the way back to the start. I know a few of you who did that, and I apologize for never fixing that design oversite for so long.
In the future, I plan to post an import conversion how-to with code and samples. Because I’m pretty damn proud that I was able to identify the need, start the project, plan the solution, and implement the code necessary to finally, for once in my unproductive hobbyist career, finish the damned project. (I have to celebrate my victories, no matter how insignificant they are.)
The upside to using WordPress is that it’s one of the most widely-used blogging engines around, so there’s a ton of support, themes, plugins, widgets, debugging, etc. So the heavy lifting has been done for me already. And that’s intensely liberating, because after years of groveling at the text editor with no less than five journal-engine abortions — “Glyph”, “Raganotes”, “Craftix”, “Ph::Thing”, and most recently “Munde” (the names are more clever than the code) — I can move on with my life and get to posting. Which is why I started this site 9 years ago (I promise you).
The downside? Spambots. Common attack vectors. Well-published vulnerabilities. A treadmill of upgrades to fix problems. Actually, the upgrades are fine, since the pen-testing is done by the developer community instead of me. And the final downside: homogeny…that’s a tough one to overcome. Everyone has a blog; what makes mine so special?
This is my blog.
There are many like it, but this one is mine.
My blog is my best friend. It is my life.
I must author it as I must author my life.
My blog without me is useless. Without my blog, I am useless.
I must write my blog true.
I must shoot the shit straighter than my blogroll who is trying to ping me.
I must bullshit him before he tracks back. I will….
My blog and myself know that what counts in the blogosphere is not the flames we fire,
the noise of our posts, nor the threads we make.
We know it is the blog hits that count. We will hit….
My blog is human, even as I, because it is about my life.
Thus, I will learn it as an author.
I will learn its permalinks, its categories, its tags, its comments,
its pages, and its blogroll.
I will ever use it against the ravages of annoyances and indifference.
I will keep my blog clean and ready, even as I am clean and ready.
We will become part of each other. We will….
Before RSS I swear this feed.
My blog and myself are the defenders of my personality.
We are the writers of our emotions.
We are the presenters of my life.
So be it, until there are no more emos. PEACE.
Technically, I am in-between jobs. As of Thursday, I am no longer a contractor, and as of tomorrow, I will be a full employee. And it’s about time.
But not without a thrillride, first.
See, on Tuesday, the manager responsible for my conversion got a call from Human Resources, and the message was to walk me out the door immediately. They got the results of my background check and did not like what they saw. That caught him by surprise, so he called my manager and told him the news. My manager threw the time-out signal. He remembered a conversation he and I (fortuitously) had in passing last week about how there’s another guy with my name in this state who’s apparently a criminal. So they immediately grabbed a conference room and phoned the HR staff again to discuss his conversation with me.
Shortly thereafter, he pulled me into the room for a chat, and HR agreed to have the background-check vendor send me a copy of the results. The determination that day was to keep me on as a contractor until a formal dispute could be launched and everything discovered once and for all.
So, Wednesday, that’s what I did. I reviewed the background check and found four notes regarding the criminal record of a man with my name, my exact birthdate, in Baxter county (where College Station is), who apparently has a major problem with drinking and driving and is currently serving the last of his 7 years in state prison for his third conviction. Coincidentally, he’s been in jail during the entirety of my time as a contractor. So I brought all this up to the HR rep, and he prompted me to call the vendor to begin the dispute process.
I explained to the vendor’s operator that I was not this guy, that I’ve had difficulties before with his name, birthdate, and felony record screwing me over, and that I have never been to Baxter county, so she took down some extra info like my driver license number and my biometric info (weight, height, eye color, hair color) and said she’d forward the info to the researchers for reevaluation. They’d let me know in three business days. After the call, it became a sit-and-wait game.
Luckily, they did their work quickly (because it really should’ve been a no-brainer) because they contacted me the next day to announce the other guy’s record has been expunged from mine, and that there’d be a note attached to my record (should they have to do another check on me in the future) stating what happened. I also got a call from HR telling me the head of security reexamined my case and gave me the green light to conversion, that the company apologizes for any potentially embarrassing (read legally-actionable) inconveniences, and that Monday would be my first day as a fully-badged employee with all the rights, duties, and responsibilities thereof.
And it’s about time.
I kinda feel like celebrating, but with the roller-coaster of this past week, I think I’ll hold off until I get my first paycheck. Just to be on the safe side.
Woke up early this morning without an alarm clock; I guess I’m getting trained, which makes it all that more important, I suppose, to get to bed on time even on weekend nights. That happens, mostly, since I tend to turn into a pumpkin after midnight. I blame the post-coffee fatigue.
I’m heading up a posse to go see “The Watchmen” tonight at the Drafthouse. More like a double date. I’ve written about the Watchmen movie before, and that underscores how excited I am to be watching it tonight. I really, really hope it lives up to the book and does it justice. The ending better be intact; that’s what hit me the hardest about the book, and if they change that, or shift one small bit on the premise, so help me I’ll just…I’ll just fucking blog about it.
Had a thought yesterday on the road home. I was zooming past all of the new construction that’s going up everywhere. As I descended into the river valley, I could see 10 cranes in the sky; new condos going up where there used to be decay. Most would call that progress. I call it a travesty, and there are quite a few of you out there who would agree. This isn’t the town I moved to. But, in actuality, the town I moved to never really existed. It’s true that Austin has changed immensely during the 8 1/2 years I’ve been here; I’d expect no less than change…but not at the cost of the soul of this town.
The buildings and shopping centers and strip malls that pop up all over the hillsides…they multiply like bacteria across the landscape, like an E. coli bloom in the fertile petri dish of central Texas. And they lay to waste the precious resource of space, materials, community. And even though they try to buy the appearance of being “local”, they all look the same: large parking lot broken up with a handful of native, transplanted trees; planters lined in local limestone bricks; and the buildings are all made with steel beams, steel studs, and clad in stucco or thin limestone “bricks” for the façade. The shops that inhabit these places have no root here; they are chains, and they have no stake in the health, heart, or soul of this community. There is no soul to be found in them. It’s all money.
I’ve considered all of this before, but what’s unique about my train of thought yesterday is this: those of us who cry about and bemoan the loss of Our Olde Towne, we’re holding onto a stylized memory. When I think of old Austin, I think of a time that existed before I moved here, when abandoned auto dealerships were converted into coffeeshops, when punk-rock dive bars existed in converted garages, when people met in the marketplace instead of the marketplace moving out to the people. And people walked everywhere because everything was local, and people my age listened to indie rock and punk and blues and country. And the vegetation in the hidden spaces downtown felt a little wilder, the landscape was greener. The cold days felt warmer, the summer sun was brighter, the beer was cheaper, and the soul of this place was alive. The halcyon times. And that’s all the halcyon times are…warm fuzzy feelings on top of a communal memory.
Those places and scenes may have existed and flourished to the extent that we remember them, that’s a possibility. Or maybe it’s no more than an extension of our innate ability to artificially remember an idealized past that didn’t truly exist, to feel melancholy for what could have been, to feel nostalgia for the brief times that things were all right. Life was still tough then. The long-term memory of The Drag still had a four year timespan, and then everything’s forgotten. Everything is forgotten still, and all we have are the pictures, videos, movies to help us remember the warmer, happier times.
That Austin doesn’t exist anymore, and just like any other history of any other place, it’s an ideal. The same things happen now that happen then. People hang out, and the spaces they inhabit gain a bit of soul. People move on, soul dies. It happens. New spaces were built then, and those buildings are an integral part of our current environment. New construction today will be integral tomorrow. It’s the change that hurts. It’s the painful lesson that everything is temporal, and that what we cherish today will at one point die. That happens with life, and to some degree that happens to places. You can’t expect Mojo’s or Les Amís or Sound Exchange to exist and flourish forever. You just can’t.
But what you can do is get involved in something, some place, some scene, bring a bit of soul to the party, wherever it happens to be. Accept the change and be the change.
My new job…oh my god, my head is constantly on the verge of exploding. Not a day goes by that my eyes don’t glaze over from being overwhelmed by new information. It has been a long time since I’ve needed to use my brain to hold bits and pieces of minor and major data. My old job was mostly physical and partly figuring out what a machine was doing and how to make it do it better. Once the weekend hit, I forgot the week; now I don’t really have that luxury. It will take me a long time to rebuild the mental faculties that I’ve let slip away in the past N years. I guess that’s the hardest part of the new job: the trying to keep up, trying to not crack. Gives me pause to wonder.
But the job is good, more or less. Pay is respectable. Coworker environment is pleasant but determined, hurried. We have a product hitting the market in a few months, and right now my lab is busy trying to come up with performance numbers that will go into the finalized product. The longer we take, the later the product ships, so we’re pretty damned busy. Helluva time to start training.
I’m wrapping up my second week, and I’ll admit that my manager’s words are true: “The first two weeks are like sipping water from a raging firehose.” I’ll most likely feel that way for another two weeks as I’m taking the time to get up to speed on things. I’m catching little bits, jumping in and helping my trainer by doing some of the more mundane things; but what I’m missing is the bigger picture, the outline of the workflow, what is expected when testing a new part, what numbers are required, what tests are required to get them. I’ll learn all that in due time naturally, but I sense that I’ll have to insert some initiative to learn them faster. It’s not really a job where all relevant data is fed to me automatically. I have to ask the right questions.