1999-07-16 The Farm: projects (from the archives)

Part of a series of posts from my old website archives. Enjoy!

“idle hands are the tools of the devil.” — cool.

My projects are coming along fairly well. I’m spending a lot of free-time on my computer, and it’s starting to show. Aside from working a bit on this site and doing stuff for my future website, I have bounded a large leap towards my goal of finishing the [Gutterhaunt] website. Go take a look at it. I have, finally, done something beyond the first page of their site.

I finally drummed-up enough creativity to sketch-out the basic framework for each page and coded them to HTML over a few days’ time. I spent quite a bit of time on the graphics as well. Everything is in place, and looking better. Now comes the next stage in the project: filling those pages with content. That’ll be fun.

It seems a lot of my friends are asking me for help with Paint Shop Pro 5. Apparently I’m a guru at it. I don’t mind helping them out; they ask, and I aid. Ignorance is a big bad thing to have, and if I can help someone find their way out of the dark, I’m there lending a hand.

I don’t mind helping out. Lately, I’ve been getting better at teaching people how to do things with their computer. Hell, I’m having fun teaching myself with new things. On occasion, I’ll fire up my Apache webserver on my pc and serve stuff temporarily from my computer. I found a copy of it compiled for Win32, installed it, and had a fun time configuring it to run. I still have a ways to go before I’m literate in it, but I have a clue, and that counts.

When I got PSP5, I had been using Paint Shop Pro 3.11 for the longest time, and had exceeded its capabilities. I had gotten well-versed enough with it where I was doing complex layering effects and the like before I had gotten my hands on the layer features of PSP5. I started into this new version and was amazed that all those extra steps I had been taking were a thing of the past. I set a lot of attention into learning it all. I’m still a ways off, but most of the main features I know fairly well.

I know them well enough where friends are asking me for tips, tricks, and advice. I like that.

You know, if you ask me nicely, I can fire up my webserver so you can see it. 8)

But who’d wanna do that?

Ah, this the current state of things. I’ve been doing a lot of stuff online and on my computer, and that, I believe, is where I’m happiest.

Here’s to productive happiness.

1999-07-16 The Farm: current news (from the archives)

Part of a series of posts from my old website archives. Enjoy!

Ongoing Goings-On: current news

The move is over, the phones are connected, and I’m online all the time.

Sounds like things can start happening again.

I’m setting myself to the task of getting a job again. After the last few weeks of putting it off so I could pack up the house, then move, then wait on the bastards from GTE to get their stuff straight, come over, and connect my modem line, I can finally get out of the house during daylight business hours and get a job.

In the past few weeks, I have had to wait, during business hours, on the techs from GTE to arrive at my house so they could install my new phone line. This house was originally wired for one phone line, and I wanted to have my own line installed so I could use my modem without tying up my main line. Due to GTE policy, which makes sense, someone needs to be at the residence when the tech shows up to install. Just before I moved in, I called GTE to arrange for a service transfer to the new residence. I gave them the address, and we set a date for installation of the new line. That date was June 29th. That day rolled around and no one showed up. I was furious. I checked my records, and sure enough, they were to have been here. Then something caught my attention: I gave them the address of the house exactly one block up the street. Ah, the finger turned to point at me.

I called GTE, explained the problem, and we re-scheduled the installation date. Meanwhile, I was still having to use my voice line for my modem, which meant call-waiting (which I can’t turn off – that’s an extra cost) kept kicking me off. So, a few days later, I receive a message on my machine stating they’d be here thursday, but no later than friday afternoon. “Oh, well, they’ll be here a week earlier,” I thought. So, I stay home, away from job-hunting, on thursday. No sign of the installer anywhere. I’m angry. Friday afternoon, another day away from job-searching, no one shows up. I’m furious. I then call GTE to question them. That message was in reference to the thursday and friday of the next week. I’m sick.

So, I get another phantom message on monday stating they’ll be there much earlier than scheduled. Hmmm. Did I trust this message? Yes. Tuesday wasted. Finally, later, on friday afternoon, after two more days wasted, the installer shows up. Great, good. I finally got my line.

Never look a gift-horse in the ass.

The new line had so much noise and distortion my modem refused to connect at any speed greater than 19.6 kbps, and refused to stay connected for longer than 15 minutes. I checked wires, I checked phones, I called my main line from my modem line and just listened to the static: I heard a loud AC hum, with harmonics, that popped in and out, and I also heard loud clicking which sounded like interference from my neighbors’ ringing phones. Completely unacceptable. Monday morning, I called GTE and explained the problem, and they dutifully scheduled another tech for tuesday. Tuesday comes, it’s a no-show, and I get a call from GTE, just fifteen minutes before the guaranteed time of repair, asking if a wednesday service call was acceptable. “Sure,” I said. I just wanted my line. It’s not like I have any other phone carrier I could take my business to. So, with six days wasted so far, I wait for them wednesday. Finally, they show up, replace my demarc, test the lines one more time, and now I’m set.


I keep having this vision where I’m standing in front of a tall tree with low branches. I’m reaching up to climb the branches, trying to get up into a higher position in my life, but below me are thousands of little tiny hands clammoring at my feet grabbing onto me and trying to keep me pulled down.

This is one of those hands.

Do you have a utility horror story? Has a major service let you down? Send me your story at [dead@email].

So, I continue trying to pull myself up into the tree. Things around the house are getting squared away, stuff is getting put-up and hung in the right places, and my duties as handyman-O-the-house are leveling off. I’m wrestling with myself in small ways, and I think I’m winning. I’m keeping myself busy in my off-hours with my projects and hobbies, which, thankfully, don’t cost that much.

Things can only get better, I hope.


1999-07-16 The Farm: page2 (from the archives)

Part of a series of posts from my old website archives. Enjoy!

page 2: what’s on my mind

Job insecurity

Unemployment is a bitch.

It ravages the mind. It ravages the body. It ravages everything in your life you hold dear. It changes your feelings on everything.

Most people, after losing their job, quickly find work somewhere else. Sometimes, it’s in the same field. Sometimes, like now, it’s in a line of work completely different.

Therein hides the bitch.

I have discovered, yes it is true, that I am too picky. I am much too picky. Several opportunities have presented themselves to me, and I passed them up after a small amount of thought. “I don’t think I’ll be happy with it.” “I don’t want that kind of work.” “I’m waiting for something better.” Picky. This is the very reason why I was forced to come home after living decently for fifteen months in Greensboro, North Carolina. After losing my job there, I spent all of two months unemployed, broke, and depressed. I met a hell of a lot of good people during that time, but I couldn’t survive. I came home.

I’m home now. There’s nowhere else to fall to.

Previous jokes and comments aside, Texarkana is not a ghost-town. There are webwriting jobs to be had. There are system maintenance jobs to be found. There are entry-level positions available at a lot of companies here. It’s not barren. Conversely, it’s not a bustling just-about-to-explode growing metropolis. The demand for people who can do these things is smaller than the number of people who can do these things. Those who apply may possibly get those jobs, but Texarkana works on the incumbency system: once you finally get a job, you sit there and refuse to budge. People get jobs and they stick with them. Not too many positions fall off of the Old-Boy Network table.

I’m having a time dealing with that. Do you need somebody to do n? “No, uh, not right now.” Are y’all hiring anyone? “No, uh, not right now.” Why not? “Eh, it’s the slow season, but come back in September we might have something.”

That’s too long from now. Creditors don’t wait.

Unemployment is trashing me, and hurting me in a big way. I’ve been very down for a while, and that’s a hard thing to live with. For the past few weeks, I’ve had the heartache of dealing with what’s wrong with me and why I don’t have a job yet. It’s a time when your own personal worth is based on your ability to support yourself. It’s called being a grown-up. My pride is hurting, and my self-esteem is on the skids. I feel I’m two inches tall. What’s wrong with me? Where is my motivation? Who is to blame?

Ah, there it is: BLAME. In my mind I see countless people I have known look at me and speak comments like “It’s your own damn fault. If you wanted a job bad enough, you’d have gone out there the day you lost your job and found one. But, it’s five weeks now, and you’re still not working. You must be a loser bum.” I also see countless people, in my mind, saying “Well, it’s hard working a job you hate, so go out there, try your best, and you’ll get that dream job.” I’m stuck in the middle between the hard-asses and the dreamers, and I’m feeling two inches tall.

I lost my job because of something that I was as a person. I lost it because of a personality trait I have that doesn’t reflect too well on my job performance. It says something about me as a person, about my sense of responsibility, and I want to change that. I think about myself and list off countless reasons why I have this personality trait and count off even more ways to change it, countless more solutions I somehow choose not to follow. It’s something that I can change and it’s something I cannot change. I’m not a company man, but I’m a good worker. I work hard, I do my job right the first time, and I do it the best I can. But it’s not on their time. Somehow, it’s not up to their expectations. If I’m habitually late, there’s nothing I can do to get back into my employer’s graces except become habitually early.

That’s something I’m working with. That’s something I’m dealing with. Going to a job is a big thing to me, and it’s something I approach with a small amount of daily fear, dread, and hatred. The type of job I may be working is inconsequential: in my whole life of working, I have had only one single job out of all of them I enjoyed going to, and still, even then, I hated going to work. Putting myself on someone else’s time-clock is not something I’m comfortable with. Dedicating a large portion of my time to putting money into someone else’s coffers does not bring me any joy, especially if it is a job I care little about, have no interest in, nor anywhere where I can convince myself that I’m doing something worthwhile, interesting, or (gasp) fun.

What I want to do as my job description, wishfully, is write websites. I want to manage them. I want to deal with web servers. I want to take a company, business, or group, and put them on the Web. I want to have to deal with hardware, I want to deal with vexing myself to figure out why terminal A isn’t talking with printer X. I am happy when I am at my computer working on HTML. I am happy when I am writing Javascript. I am happy when my programmer’s mind has any chance to play. That’s the happiest I can be.

This is what I would like. It’s my goal, if you will. Understandably, that may not happen for a long while. It’s my dream job, but I have to pay bills now. If I can get a tech job, fine. If I can work with something resembling a keyboard and a monitor, fine. If I can be somewhere that will pay me decently enough to catch up and maintain my monthly payment responsibilities, fine. I have to have a job NOW.

This daily reckoning with myself is growing old. This daily reckoning is wrecking me, and it’s something I have to push past to get anywhere in my life.


1999-06-28 The Farm (from the archives)

Part of a series of posts from my old website archives. Enjoy!

The Farm!
my place to get away from it all

“In choosing your dwelling, know how to keep to the ground.
In cultivating your mind, know how to dive in the hidden deeps.”
– Tao Te Ching, #8

If it moves, kill it.

I had forgotten how difficult moving was.

The dirt, the mess, the forgotten STUFF. I never would have guessed that so much stuff could have accumulated in three and a half years. That’s a damn long time living in a house. I couldn’t imagine living any longer elsewhere.Just a few more loads, a few more odds-and-ends, a lot of cleaning, and a bit more stuff to be sent to the lock-box, and we’re good to go.

At least we’re no longer living in a parsonage.

This new house is smaller, more “quaint”, and fraught with “personality traits”, e.i., the floor leans in places and doors don’t like to shut completely. But hey, just about everything about this new house tells me, “Hey, Shawn, don’t you think it’s time you moved out on your own?”

As soon as I get this nagging little job thing out of the way.

Ongoing Goings-On

Things are going fine, if that’s what they’re calling it these days. Moving is a drag, regardless of how far the move. The addage “the more, the merrier” does not hold true when someone is moving. Not only are you moving your own stuff, but other people’s stuff as well.

I dare say that the hardest part of moving is not carrying the appliances, it’s not dragging everything you value as “your stuff” to a new place; it’s not telling everyone and their brother you’ve moved.

It’s taking your pets.

Five cats, one dog, and the scratches to prove it. Three trips: two cats, two cats, then one cat inside the cab of the truck, and the dog, with me, in the back. Once it was over, it wasn’t so bad, but damn, all those claws hurt. The pets are starting to adjust just fine. One of our older cats, Precious, managed to hole herself up behind the stove. After 48 hours, she decided it was safe enough to come out.

Silly thing.

It just occurred to me. We now live only a quarter of a mile from Texas. Funny thing is that the only thing standing in between my house and the state line is a big cemetery. What do you suppose the symbolism is there?

This is ponderous, man. Really ponderous.

Now. On to the job thing. This week marks my new re-emergence into the job hunt. I took last week off (sounds funny, doesn’t it? “…last week off [from job hunting]….”) to pack, prep, and move. Now that the last niggling bits of moving are well-nigh done, it’s my time. In the last week, I’ve gathered a few job prospects, and this week, I hope to nail them.

My friends are doing a fine job in pointing me to jobs that are ripe for the picking, and I take their advice in heed. They say, “Shawn, you could be a manager at Whataburger,” and I say, “Uh, no.” You see, I think I deserve the right to demand the kind of job I want. For the past four years, I have attempted, time and time again, to get into the IT field, and without fail, I end up with a job that falls short of that, something that is as far away from the computer as you could get. Dammit, but no, this is my time. If I want a job working on the internet, I will no longer settle for less than that. If I wanted to waste my time managing a restaurant, telemarketing, selling shoes, or waiting tables while I used that time “looking for the perfect job,” then I would. I’ve tried that.

Children, gather around, because Uncle Shawn will tell you a story about how that doesn’t work. As sweet as it sounds in theory, it doesn’t work.

Unemployment is running rampant among my group of friends. It must be something in the water. Just as well, those of my close friends who have jobs in which there is an admirable amount of “job satisfaction” are scant. What is it about the way things are which prompt us into taking jobs we hate? The New Economy tells us to “work for the money; job-satisfaction can go to hell.” Sorry, I’m a little more old-school than that. If I’m not happy with my job, then dammit, I’m not going to perform at 100%. My last boss even acknowledged that fact in a little post-partem conversation we had. “It’s hard making yourself get up and go work a job you absolutely hate every morning, day-in, day-out, and expect to get there on-time all the time.”

I totally agree.

So, with my handful of job leads, a good night’s sleep, and a fresh shave, I swim back out to the desert island of job-opportunity. We’ll see whose coconut trees I can shake.


I absolutely regret missing the chance to see the boys of Gutterhaunt play their first-ever gig outside of Texarkana. Friday nite, the 25th, they played at The Vault, a new club in Shreveport, LA. The station 99X had a rather kick-ass promo for the two-band event. I haven’t talked to the guys yet about how it went; and, just as well, explained my absence.

I would have loved for nothing more than to go. But no. I was moving. The carpool caravan left town at 7pm friday night. At that very time, I was unloading one of our trucks before the rain fell on the furniture.

Rotten, just rotten.

So, now that the move is just about over, I can finally devote good time toward completing Gutterhaunt’s site. A lot of people (friends and band-members included) have asked me constantly about the current state of affairs regarding the site. I would love to get it done. It’s perfect resume material, and I absolutely adore looking at a job well-done by my own hands. Pardon me; when it comes to my own work, I’m narcistic.

Gutterhaunt is a good band, and they deserve a good site.

Here’s to well-satisfied days and nights-

1999-06-13 The Farm (from the archives)

Part of a series of posts from my old website archives. Enjoy!

The Farm!
my place to get away from it all

“In choosing your dwelling, know how to keep to the ground.
In cultivating your mind, know how to dive in the hidden deeps.”
– Tao Te Ching, #8


Now, I have some time to live my life. Yes, friends, I am now gainfully unemployed.

It’s a hard pill to swallow.

My full-time job is now job-hunting. I make it a point to go to five places of employment a day until I find a job. By job, I don’t mean “just a job,” I mean a career. This here, what you see here, that is the career I hope to find. My options are wide open.

I would love to make a career out of my life-long hobby, computer science, and get paid for it. I’d be much happier. There’s a lot to be said for “quality of life.” Working with a team? No problem; that’s preferred. There’s no better feeling of on-the-job peace than working with other people who speak your language, who understand you when you mention <TABLE> tags, CSS, Javascript, transparency, and FTP.

It’s disheartening to hear a coworker, after my short discourse on the difference between PCI and AGP and which they should get for their own home system, say “What?!”

I know what workplace comradery feels like, and I miss it.

I want, finally, to be happy with my job. This unemployment is my chance to do something towards that goal.

Ongoing Goings-On

Currently, as you may have gathered, everything is in limbo. I’m in the process of moving to a new house, and that’s full of snags, snares, and general foibles. Add to that my unemployment, the bills that don’t wait, and whatever else, and I’d say I had a recipe for disaster. But I’m keeping strangely cool about it all. Things will work out, and I know they will.

On a positive note, my friend Stacy is moving back to Texarkana this friday, and it’ll be good to have her back. She’s been gone for half a year, out of state, on her own, and she’s come a long way. She’s grown up a little more. I’m very happy to know that.

She has discovered, like I have, that it takes some time away from home, away from your family, away from everything you have grown up around, to make you more mature than you would have been otherwise. It took me moving to North Carolina to see that. Now she sees that, and she chooses to bring her experience home to share it with us, her friends.

We’ll be waiting, Stacy.


Gutterhaunt did a killer job at Azanstock last weekend. After hearing them in the practice room so many times, it was excellent to hear them in the open air, surrounded by a lot of hot, tired, and drunk fans and new converts dancing their asses off.

Currently, the last update of their site I’ve posted was on 5.23.99. I’ve been doing much since then, but it’s not complete enough to post online; I’m a perfectionist. Plus, given the current limbo and busy-ness of my life, it will take a while before the next update is ready. Take a moment, however, to see what’s up anyway, ‘k? Give me feedback.

Until then, keep your unit on you-