So many things I mean to say, but when I have paper (OK, keyboard) in front of me, it goes away. I signed up for this blog near a month ago, and it’s still empty. Not to mention my cranky old laptop is deciding to “not hear” some of my spacebar strikes, so I’ll have to go back over this and break words apart. Apologies if I miss a few. At least the “ertyuio” and mid-number keys feel like working. And the “-” key–very annoying when it goes on strike. (Try typing “55-60 mph” when neither your “5” nor “-” keys are working.)
You may wonder why I still bother to struggle with it instead of simply getting a new computer. Well, the short answer is my desktop won’t power up, this laptop’s predecessor has a dead hard drive (and being more than ten years old with a deteriorating touchpad and a tendancy to ignore external mice, I’m not to sure it’s worth fixing), and I don’t have any money to fix either of them, much less go shopping for a new (or even “newer”) one. In fact, I had to raid my state quarter collection just so I could have my Saturday afternoon cuillinary treat (Mongolian grill, sushi, crab rangoon, and other things that trip my palatte’s fancy at Emperor’s Buffet). The longer answer goes to why I decided to do this blog in the first place.
From that last paragraph you’ve probably gathered that money is an issue. Right now, I’m pulling down 8-15 hours a week at near-minimum wage. Like a lot of graduates that didn’t land a career fresh out of college, I ended up back with my parents. I had the idea that I would get some job, get enough to buy a computer, then take my Technical Communications degree and freelance over the internet until I built up enough of a nest egg to move out on my own. Part one worked just fine: I got a job (and finished my internship for my degree) as the production coordinator of a weekly newspaper, and that got me enough money to buy a brand-new Compaq Presario 1600 notebook (Yes, it’s the one with the now-dead hard drive), and a Nikon FG (I always wanted to get into photography, and working for a newspaper gave me an excuse to get a “real” camera).
So far, so good. Now at the time there were basically three ways to aquire internet in my hometown: whith a phone line, with a cable TV line, or with a rooftop satellite dish. Since we don’t have cable, I thought my best bet would be a DSL line. I’d be using a part of the phone line my parents had no use for (totally NOT tech savvy, they still don’t use a computer and wouldn’t have a clue how to even open a web browser), and I could telecommute during odd hours when my family or a “in-person” job didn’t need me. (I planned on keeping my part-time job so I’d have some kind of income during lulls in contracts.)
So I started looking into DSL services. For better or worse, I mentioned my search to my mom. “That computer is not going to be on the phone!” My argument that a DSL connection would use a part of the line they had no use for and wouldn’t interfere with voice use of the line was irrelevant. It was my parents’ line, and my parents had decided there would be no computers on it. End of discussion. At least she put her foot down before I shelled out money on a service. As I said, we didn’t have cable (and it would have been a considerably more expensive choice, anyway.) And I didn’t own the roof any more than I owned the phone lines. My only intenet access would be through the public library, which, at the time, had two computers available for up to a half hour per day. And sometimes the machines would be so screwed up you’d spend your whole half hour waiting for two pages to load. Not a reliable connection for someone who wants to telecommute.
Not long after that, Blackberrys made a splash: I nearly bought one from the first ad I saw, then realized I should check coverage, first. I went to the map page and typed in my zip code. Wisconsin was mostly white, with blobs of yellow marking Madison, Milwaukee, and the I-43 corridor. I zoomed in on my zip code. There was an odd yellow shape, but where, exactly? I zoomed in more, and more, until it became a street map of my hometown. Then I realized the yellow was the shape of a pushpin, indicating “you are here” on the map. There was no Blackberry coverage within 50 miles of me.
And by this time the newspaper had folded. I had gotten a job at a bakery, with hours that varied from half-time to overtime, depending on season and crew size. But the manager had a tendency to use mothering tactics to manage her employees, and constantly being reminded to do what I was already doing was seriously aggravating me (and she reacted to my telling her that I found her behavior irritating and insulting in the exact same way a mother reacts to a rebellious teenager that gives her backtalk). So I sought out a job with a manager the didn’t confuse employees with offspring.
But this job didn’t have so many hours. And while those hours wouldn’t interfere with a 9-5 job (8-4 here in Wisconsin), I haven’t found one in walking distance yet. “Walking distance?” you say? Well, that part of the “longer answer” is a blog entry of itself.
Continued: Begin the Blog (Part II)