The Trailer is Here

Time to start loading, the trailer is outside. Little close to some of the cars, but if people are pissed I guess they’ll just have to deal with it.


Ouch

Whirlpool to lay off 730 employees from its Fort Smith plant. Ouch. It’s really time we start really attracting more large employers to the city to help soften the burden when someone like Whirlpool or Beverly decide to do a large layoff.


File this under dumbass

Fort Smith City Administrator Bill Harding stopped twice for driving while intoxicated. The first time, he hit a parked car, twice and then drove around an off-duty police officer attempting to stop him.

This is exactly why Fort Smith’s form of city administration sucks. If this were the mayor, he’d have been lynched by now, but he’s just an employee. Hopefully the system will prove its worth and fire his ass, after all that’s the only advantage our form has over an elected head-executive.


In Memoriam

Rest in Peace Edward MacManus, who passed on November 12th, 2005. I read his grandson’s blog, and his story of redemption and resolution with his grandfather has really captured my interest. I came across him originally because of my Technorati feed on a search for “Fort Smith”, where his grandparents live and where he grew up. I’m not usually one to read personal blogs, but he’s an excellent writer. If you’re interested in a guy in his mid 20’s who’s stumbling through life the best way he knows how, and has no shame in telling you the ways in which he’s fucked up, I highly recommend his blog.

I’m sorry for your loss Declan, and I wish you the best over the holidays.


“No man is a failure who has friends.”

My wife likes to make extensive fun of me for reading Wil Wheaton’s blog, mainly because of his former stint at Star Trek TNG. However, the frequent posts full of brilliant writing keep me coming back. A good writer relays to you a story that not only keeps you entertained, but causes introspection and thought for days to come. Wil is a good writer. In a recent post, Wil says:

On the way back to the freeway, we passed this lumber yard on Ball Road that always has interesting sayings on its sign. Yesterday, the sign said, “No man is a failure who has friends.”

The truth is, for a couple of months, I’ve felt like a huge, colossal, stinking failure in a lot of things that I’m not willing to go into right now. But spending a weekend with my friends, and a surprise Monday with my wife reminded me of some advice I’d been given and forgotten: Don’t let your work become your life, because when work isn’t happening, then what do you have?

Work may be frustrating, but life? Life is good.

I’m thankful that I can use Wil’s words, as mine often fail me. This sums up very well exactly how I’ve been feeling recently. Things are looking up for me though. Job prospects are good, lots of cool stuff happening on the personal front, including the move back to Fort Smith. I’ve felt like I’ve been a slave to work for so long, and I’ve really had an epiphany recently that I think it takes a lot of people well into their 30s and 40s to understand, which like Wil says, I need to work to live and not live to work. This is exactly why I’m moving home. I was asked recently on IRC why I would consider moving back to Arkansas from an area that offers considerably more options for entertainment and culture than Arkansas. The problem is, I’ve lived here two years and done none of them. On top of that, I’ve not cared that I’ve not partaken of the fine dining experiences, theatre, art galleries, and live music scene. It’s too much effort. I’m a homebody. My idea of a good time involves doing exactly what Wil did over his weekend, which is hang out with some friends, cook some food, drink some wine, maybe toke a bit, and chill for the evening. My idea of fun for a Saturday? Put on sweatpants and watch bad movies with my wife. I can do that anywhere, and I might as well do it where I can be my own boss, be near my family and friends, and afford to own a nice home.

I’m so excited about the way things are going, I can barely contain myself. This is such a stark contrast from where I was even a month ago, that if I was asked what advice I could give for such a turnaround, it would have to be to take control of your life and your destiny and stop letting your job, your income and where you live control it. Simply taking control of my future and my employment has liberated me. Am I concerned that I won’t be able to provide for my family? Sure, but I have more faith in my ability to run a business than I have faith in my employer to not decide to up and lay me off any day.

More exciting news about the move to come in the next few weeks I hope. The report from this writer’s desk is: Life is Good.


Follow-up to the last post

In my last post, I hilited a letter to the editor in the local paper from my hometown, the Southwest Times Record. Adam, a friend of mine from Jersey, left some comments that caused me some thought which I thought would be best fleshed out in a blog post.

The letter in my last post was not so much an example of racism as it is a pervailing attitude of fundamentalist Christians that they have the lock on the true path to righteousness. Unfortunately, this kind of attitude is generally passed down generation to generation, and the only way to break the cycle is, in my opinion, education and exposure to the people and things they find so abhorrant. This man has likely never been to New Orleans, never likely been farther away from home than he can drive. He is a victim of an education system which does not force him to think and reason and a religion which spoonfeeds him the opinions he recites so dutifully. His opinions are not based in racism, they’re based on the fact that people in New Orleans live a lifestyle that is fun. Fundamentalist Christians believe fun is equivalant to sin. New Orleaneans have wanton sex, they drink, they do drugs, they stay out late, they live life for the now and most offensively they give not a care for the ideals and morals that organized religion was supposed to have pounded into them. Fundamentalist Christians are, were they to admit it, less apalled at the behavior of others, but scared most of all of becoming irrelevant when people who are outside their sphere of influence realize, that if you reject the idea of paying pennance in this life for a life which may not exist after death, that you might actually enjoy yourself in this life and ignore those which have chosen to throw away the only life they know for certain to exist on living for the next life.

Bringing this back to my move and Adam’s comments, I never took time to know those people. The difference between where I live now and where I’m moving to in these terms is only that I am now geographically closer to a higher number of these people, but in terms of affecting my day to day life, they just don’t. I know they’re there. In politics, they’re definitely the squeaky wheel, but 99% of people do not behave in the manor of this person, and the reason the local paper chooses to publish such letters is to allow people like that hopefully to see what asses they make of themselves. Most Christians have a bad taste in their mouth reading a letter like the one from this person, and they’re just as outcast by those members of their religion as they are by the rest of society.

Honestly, I’m not going to say that racism doesn’t exist in the south. In the places where education still continues to fail the populace and poverty still persists in alarming numbers, racism is a real problem. I’d like to try to help fix that problem, because Arkansas has more people below the poverty line than just about any other state (save maybe Mississippi, Kentucky and West Virginia). It’s one of those unfortunate statistics where we rank in the top 5 instead of the bottom 5. There’s no reason that problem isn’t solvable though.

I’d rather spend an entire life living next to people I despise and attempt to educate them in the ways that human beings should behave, attempt to change the political system to help the next generations improve, and build a life where my children will be examples to the ones who spread hate than to spend an entire life living next to people with an entirely different set of problems. I care about the people where I’m from. I identify with them, and I feel like my life will be better working with the system from within than criticizing from afar. I could instead choose to live the coastal lifestyle of not really getting to know anyone, keeping everyone at a distance, especially the ones you work with since those are your competitors, continually trying to improve my material situation (god knows everyone needs a BMW), only associating with people at the right restraunts and the right bars (because we don’t want to be seen in a dive), making sure I’m dressed properly, knowing the right people at the right parties, and trying to climb my way up the social ladder. I could be successful at that, and then at those same parties I could discuss the plight of the impoverished, how those poor people have been mistreated, while the in same breath obviously exerting my superiority over those people because I’ve been educated, I’ve seen the world, and I’m a better person. I’ll do this, all while not having gotten to know anyone truly, because I’ve been too busy worrying about myself.

Just because I’m choosing to move back near these people, doesn’t mean I can’t say bad things about them. Just because I choose to live near them, doesn’t mean I can’t shine a light on their faults. They’re certainly choosing to pass judgement on people they don’t know. I have plenty to say and dislike about a lot of people everywhere, but the end, my decision to move is all about family, friends, and being at home. There’s a reason most people die within 50 miles of where they’re born.


What am I getting myself into?

Of course, with all the excitement about moving back to Fort Smith, there’s still the sadness that overcomes me when I read things like this from local citizens in the Southwest Times Record Letters to the Editor:

NEW ORLEANS FULL OF SIN

My heart grieves with the righteous and poor of New Orleans, and I can understand their anger at the slowness of relief efforts. For days, FEMA, state, county and local officials knew that Katrina, a category five hurricane, was going to strike somewhere in that region of the gulf coast.

Emergency supplies of food, water, cots, blankets, tents, generators and so forth could have been requested and strategically placed near enough but out of the way of the storm’s path. Emergency caravans of buses, trucks and other ground transportation could have and should have been contracted and staged.

Hindsight is always 20/20.

But in their defense, New Orleans has for decades been a hotbed of spiritual and sexual idolatry, a place where Voodoo and satanic rituals are regularly practiced.

Who’s to say that the mighty hand of Almighty God hadn’t finally had his nostrils filled and with one mighty swipe taken it all out? If I lived in other areas of the country, where godlessness and spiritual and moral idolatry have become the norm, I think I would either start moving closer to God or I’d start moving.

God has created this world and he was pleased with His work, but sin has come into the world and turned it into a violent and wicked cesspool. My faith teaches me that Christ is coming again, only this time not as a little baby, but as a ruler with a rod of iron in his hands.

Christians can you not hear the trumpets blow “to arms, to arms”? It’s time the truth is preached and people’s eyes opened by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Denny Neff

Lavaca

It makes me sad that anyone could be so ill-informed, full of malice and hatred, and so far removed from his religion’s teachings. Residents of Lavaca, if you know Denny Neff, please give him a swift kick in the ass for me and tell him what a shithead he is. Denny, you make me sick.


Rural Broadband in Arkansas

Doc Searls writes:

A friend is moving to rural Arkansas to be near his ailing mother, among other things. While getting ready to go, he’s seeking broadband recommendations. There’s no local broadband, from cable or DSL. Cell service is also out. Dial-up doesn’t work, and suffers a lack of local numbers anyway. What’s left? I’m thinking satellite. Beyond suggesting a perusal of Broadband Reports, I’m not sure what to suggest, exactly. How about the rest of ya’ll?

Doc, there’s plenty of options, even out in the rural areas. Arkansas is still a fairly big state, so I’d have to know exactly where he’s moving, but if he needs some help please have him get in contact with me. I worked for an ISP that eventually sold out to Earthlink that offered service all over the state so thusly I’ve visited every major town in the state, and I still know many people there working in the Internet and telco areas. Have him send me an email or give me a call and we’ll see what we can do for him. I’m also planning to move back there as well. It’s a great place to live.


Fort Smith

This is going to be a long post, so be prepared…

Firstly, I have some exciting news (well I’m excited about it) to announce: Melanie and I have decided to move back to Arkansas. The time frame is looking like around late March, but could come earlier or later. Employment is still tentative, I can’t make any announcements about that, but there’s some stuff I’m incredibly excited about that’s wrapped up in all of this and I can’t wait until I can. It’ll probably be some months before I can speak publically about the whole picture around my future employment.

Why would I make such a drastic move? I’m sure the people reading this who aren’t from Arkansas are probably thinking I’m nucking futs. If I was one of those people who was continually down on Arkansas while I lived there, I’d probably agree with them, but honestly I never minded living there while I was there. I’ve now experienced a new place, a bigger city, and I’m keeping my options open for experiencing that again, but for the time being my thoughts are that being near my friends and my family is more important than any job I could have anywhere else. Some say I’m being wise for my age, to realize so young that it’s the people in your life that matter, and some I’m sure think I’m incredibly foolish to pass up what is likely to be a promising IT career where I could have esteemed positions with esteemed companies. Frankly though, I don’t give a shit about esteemed companies. I like interesting challenges and problems to solve, but there’s plenty of those to solve near the people I love. I have been growing more and more tired of feeling like a cog in a wheel, and nearly every opportunity that required me to live and work in a bigger area seemed like yet another extension of being a corporate drone. I have come to the realization that I’m an entrepeneur at heart, and at the very least I have a strong preference for small business as a working environment. I want to be able to walk around the office and scream FUCK without worrying about what HR is going to think about it, I want to have more control over the direction of my company, direct control, I want the challenge of running a business and not just fixing some machine someplace so that people can access some information, and I want the sense of accomplishment of building relationships with my clients that are mutually beneficial and add to the bottom line, in terms of dollars and not gigabytes stored and served. The best place for me to culmenate those relationships is in Arkansas, where I semi-successfully ran a business prior (we won’t get into the failure of that business here, but I will say I learned a lot from it) and where I have 23 years of connections built and 40+ years of familial relationships to build on.

Being a new media proponent and someone who is excited about how self-publishing is changing the world, I’m a strong proponent of the fact that it’s now possible to have interesting content published in a hyper-local verticals, and I want to bring that to area not known for its technology adoption. I want to drag Arkansasans kicking and screaming into the new media world of the 21st century and make it a place known for it’s adoption of new media publishing and subscription. There’s no reason it can’t be that, it just means a lot of work to prove to people the model works and is superior to what exists now. There’s no lack of Internet access there, it’s just a matter of showing people how to use it effectively to build their businesses and enhance their lives. If I’ve learned anything about New Media, I’ve definitely learned that there’s power in numbers, and I plan to bring my experience back to my hometown with a furvor and build that area as an example of what a connected culture can bring. Will I be successful? The odds are definitely stacked against me, but I’m used to being in the minority on many many issues and I’ll happily keep telling people that I’m right until they listen.

That being said, I’m incredibly disappointed in the web presence emmanating from Fort Smith right now. I wouldn’t be surprised to see this post in one of the first two pages on Google (in fact, if you can make some links, del.icio.us or whatnot, link to this post and help me grab people’s attention in Fort Smith as to what blogs can do for getting people’s attention on the Internet). I can’t find any political blogs or more than one or two personal journals from Fort Smith. Most of the web pages look like they were designed in 1999, and I can’t believe people are paying for some of the websites I see. None of the pages are updated frequently, and it’s really sad at the lack of information you can find about Fort Smith from the Internet. It should be better. It has to be better. The talent is there, there need only be a catalyst for change to help people understand how it will benefit their lives. I’m planning to help be that catalyst.

I’m very very excited about what I can do back in Fort Smith. The realization that moving back was a possibility clicked one evening, and the decision was made less than a week later. The thoughts of what I could do while back there and the excitement about the possibilities of what I could do for New Media and the technology in that area were so overwhelming that nearly everything else I thought of was merely logistics of how to make it happen. I think most of the necessary decisions are made (where to live, how to support myself, etc), and now it’s just a matter of starting the work to get it done. So friends, family back home, I look forward to seeing you again and working with you again. Friends here in Seattle, I’ll miss you, and I’m sure I’ll be back to visit. Friends elsewhere, please wish me luck (and give me some link love on this post to prove my point please 🙂 ).