/A/ /M/A/G/N/I/F/I/C/E/N/T/ /P/L/A/C/E/ 

May 2012

01:54 Wednesday 23 May 2012

Where do I go from here?

In March a friend told me he'd spoken about my coding and website to an IT company who seemed genuinely interested in what I was doing. I couldn't help feeling sceptical but after exchanging a few emails with the contact given I soon felt very positive about it - they had seen my website and not run a mile - the job must be mine!

After sending my CV I was asked to complete a pair of programming tasks, one in the C++ language and one in PHP. Both tasks were to process the same data and provide output showing the data arranged and sorted.

Because I am not very familiar with C++ I coded the PHP version first to get a good idea of what was required. Some days passed and I had an interview. The code I returned to them was amongst the best received. I'd dotted my Is and crossed my Ts. I was competing with university graduates.

Some time later they contacted me for a second interview. I had been very negative in my last interview they said. They would (if they were to offer the job to me) pay for me to go onto a computer science course at the local university. Where do you stand on intellectual property rights I asked? The answer shocked me. All code I would write in their employment regardless of whether it was written in work hours or not would belong to them. Exceptions would have to be arranged, but they would prefer for my focus to be on their work not my own or the projects of others. I'd need to be 110% dedicated and spending large portions of my own time outside of work was a given.

I'd need to get over my confidence issues in order to grow.

Despite the alarm bells clanging away and being unnerved by the seriousness of the picture presented to me, at some point not long after the second interview I had put my concerns behind me and was feeling positive once more and ready to give it my best shot.

But at the back of my mind still lurked those nagging concerns over intellectual property and so I decided to seek out a solid answer because of the doubts expressed over the precision of the answer given to me in the interview. I went on holiday and went mountain biking almost every day. I worried about having to give up cycling for the job.

In the end I decided that databases and web development just wasn't worth the sacrificing of my freedom over. I just can't get that excited about these things. The whole situation reminded me of how a BTEC National Diploma in Computer Studies course had turned me off of IT back in the mid 1990s.

So why were this company interested in me? I have a rare skill combination, IT skills with an arts background. They wanted to exploit this for my creativity. Programmers are traditionally methodological and work in an ordered and sequential manner. Creatives traditionally have a more scattered approach making links between unlikely sources. They hoped I would be situated somewhere between these two. I found all this rather flattering.

Unfortunately for them and my bank manager things don't quite work out like that. With my arts background leading me to question and be critical of society, is it any suprise I became involved with free and open source software? Software which gives the user the right to redistribute modifed versions of itself is the antithesis to intellectuall property and patents. It's the type of software I now choose to use out of principle and live with it's faults.

What I have since often wondered, is if the company expected my reaction to their stance on intellectual property or not? They let me stew over it for two full weeks before responding with what was for all practical matters, a carbon copy of what I had been told originally.

It was a blow I was unable to respond to until a further two weeks when questioned. I decided to tell them I had lost interest in an IT career and told them why. They proceeded to advise me on what not to do in interviews, which, from my perspective, boils down to this: do not under any circumstances be loyal to who you are.

Personality transplant anyone?

This is what bothers me the most about all this. I won't be accepted for who I am because who I am is full of defects and holes and negative charges. You see this elimination process running through all of society especially the mass media. The reduction of scope of who we can be. An abundance of dichotomous definitions painting everything in black and white. Doubters need not apply. There's no room for negativity. Only the enthusiast of cleaning toilets will get the jobbies.

There's some pathways in my thoughts I've been treading recently concerning this thing called life. It leads me to think how surreal our society is. It leads me to think how surreal life could be. How absurd is it what we are? How surreal is it to look at ourselves going about our daily business as if nothing else exists. As if nothing else exists. No other potential.

So every day I go to my minimum wage job. The type of job which guarantees I'll never earn enough for automatic deductions from my wages to be made to pay off the student loan I took on in order to graduate as a batchelor of arts in fine art. The type of job where I perform the same minute long routine every minute for seven and a half hours a day (the routine changes from day to day). A dead end job through and through.

You'll quickly discover on browsing my website my interest in Art, and yes, an artist is another career I once believed I wanted.

Running in the dark.

A few nights ago I dreamt I was running in the dark. I knew the roads and for a while at least knew where I was and where the corners were. I had a bicycle light and was holding it up above my head trying to see ahead but it's light was dimming. I could see nothing around me it was pitch black and still I was running and running. A cyclist was up close behind me and could be heard huffing and puffing. I slowed to let him pass and just caught a flash of his bicycle frame as he did. I no longer knew where on the road I was. I could expect to run into a building or a ditch or parked car at any time now. It was pitch black and I was running in the dark.

A few nights later I bore my dream in mind as I cycled home from work in the dark. This time my lights worked, but, only a small circle of light surrounds me. I can't see for far but out in the open can be seen from far. I turned my lights off momentarily to see how dark it was. Almost as dark as my dreams. Stopping while cycling home in the dark - it's an hour's journey - usually leads me to wonder what I'm cycling at night in the dark for. Because I can is the closest answer.

In a few years time I'll be forty and the question is, where do I go from here?

09:06 Wednesday 9 May 2012


dear internet spies

this morning i dreamt of what seems to be a recurring haunted house
dream. the house almost entirely consists of large open stair wells
linked together by poorly lit claustrophobic rooms with offshoots of
small winding stair wells. some of the rooms are near empty, others
have scattered belongings strewn around.

this morning the entrance to the haunted house was via a small
service building. a dirty building, following two other workers in.
i never saw them again: literally out of sight, out of mind, out of

where the service building became the house, i was admonished by -
i'm unsure know who or what - to ensure to bring back some jewellery
with me. now, whoever the person, female, bossy, manipulative,
uncouth, common, example of victorian working class... was it really
so? the inference of this person being a spirit in the house did not
come until later.

on drawing myself further inside the house. i passed another 'spirit',
a more modern woman, and friendly, smiling, wearing denim. her status
as a spirit of a dead person came again, after the event, but before
the first person.

back in the real world, it's cold in this house. for the umpteenth time
this year i regretted making the decision to not turn on the storage
heaters before going to bed. it's 830am and the traffic is still
passing by noisily.

i'm pretty much convinced the haunted-house dream is caused by the
traffic. it would explain the recurrence... and why i forget about it:
shift patterns mean i only suffer the rush hour traffic every other
week. inside the house the traffic is mainly loud whooshing noises with
large lorries and trucks rumbling by and the especially large shaking
the house.

it's yet another dull grey damp morning of blanket-cloud.

back in the dream i have passed through a poorly lit room and am
looking out onto one of the large open stair wells. something reminds
me of past experience this way. it warns me away from something
expected to be supernatural and malevolent. i am fearful of it.

i turn back into the room behind me. when reaching the double doors at
the opposite side of the room, one of them is blowing back and forth
never quite closing. cold air is whooshing through. it's very cold. i
struggle with the doors but the force is too strong and i can't keep
them open for long enough to pass through.

wake up here. the traffic is heavy outside, whooshing by. it's cold, my
shoulders exposed from the duvet, cold. it's the traffic causing the
dreams i realize.

an opportunity here. face my fears. to take control like what almost
happened in the previous night's cycling dream. the traffic could be
used as a trigger for lucid dreaming.

08:56 Wednesday 9 May 2012


I wrote the first (quoted) part of this while at work. Ill advised I know. The second part I wrote when I got home. Both parts I posted to the mailing list.

Dear Internet Spies,

Now I am at home, I would like to add further detail to the statements
I wrote earlier.

> Dear internet spies,
> I dreamt last night of cycling up too far from any ground on my
> bicycle. Quite disconcerting but I recalled similiar past experiences
> and willed myself to calm down. 

I was cycling around a busy town on a sunny cloudy Spring day. I cycled
over something which triggered my launch into the air but I'm not sure
what it was. It may have been the join in the road of a bridge, or
a manhole cover or something else. I would estimate I was floating
around 30 feet in the air. On bringing myself down I skidded on the
roof of several cars and was launched back up again. Each time with less
height than before.

> My enthusiasm for anything is in very short supply and motivation is
> heading the same way.

The decline in enthusiasm and motivation is probably a symptom of all

> I spent a lot of time over this bank holiday weekend playing OpenRA
> against the robot AI. I then attempted to play on the LAN with my
> desktop and Karly's laptop but had problems so setup both to have
> static IP addresses on the LAN. Using telnet I discovered a version
> difference between that running on the laptop and that on the
> desktop. Updating solved problem.
> I'm writing this inbetween making buckets at work. Making a bucket
> imnvolves putting a handle on a bucket hot out the press. Cold
> buckets are much less flexible.

The text probably took over an hour and a half to write in total. I had
been stacking up ideas in my mind to write about but the more I wrote
the foggier the original ideas for content became. The injection
moulding machine runs fully automatically. A robot lifts the bucket out
of the machine and drops it behind me on a ramp/platform. These
particular buckets require hand-trimming using a sharp knife and a
deburring tool. Around one bucket produced every minute. Every sentence
written requires catch up time. It means being able to work faster than
necessary. To perform the actions automatically without thinking but
still able to spot the occasional problem.

> Stacks of buckets often give static electrick shocks. Wearing in-ear
> headphones with metal chasis delivers the static shock straight to my
> ear.
> I frequently fantasize about becoming homeless due to bringing upon
> myself a high level of unemployability.

Living in the woods somewhere, off grid, off the land, away from
people. But I don't think there's anywhere remote enough around here
where that would be possible. Besides which as long as I keep going to
work and doing my job I will be ok. 

> I have tendencies to be socially isolated. My job strenghthens these.
> People react by leaving me alone I suspect.
> I'm socially inept.
> After showing Karly how to play OpenRA she defeated me.

The defeat surmised as proof of my social deficiencies. There's
something I'm missing which causes all my problems. Something which
means I don't see something obvious to everyone else. It's only a
fantasy, not anything which can be fixed - despite what might be wanted
to be believed. A tactic for dealing with people, for negotiating.

> I have major confidence issues and speak only in negatives in job
> interviews (or so I'm told). I tell them things they don't want to
> hear.

The logic being the interview works both ways. If they don't want
someone like me then that's not my problem. Perhaps job interviewers
need a reality check? The reality being we all aspire to not work! I
don't have enough experience of lying to people to say the right things
in a job interview. I've always worked in low paid jobs at
shit holes along with (as someone at work said the other day) "people
who can't find work anywhere else". It's because I can't be bothered
with the whole job hunting/interview process and use an
recruitment agency to find work. 

> I decided it better to tell the manging director when he caught me
> using my mobile that I was "googling how to make buckets better" than
> the truth. I didn't expect him to understand what C, GCC, Linux and
> SSH were. (His understanding of mobile tech seemed limited to
> texting).

He was insistent I was txting which I denied. My response to a
perception of a push by him. Enlightening him to technology's ability
to go way beyond mere txting (I doubt he's such a 'luddite' as all this
makes out). Enlightening to the consequence of me spending time doing
other things while I work: it requires better efficiency on my part to
have enough time to use my mobile while in addition, it takes my mind
off the reality of how dull, repetitive and low paid my job actually
is. I perform better when I'm not focusing on the negative aspects of
the job. Fact. (Though sometimes performing the job in an angry manner
can help when struggling to keep up with a fast machine).

> I've been recently worrying about turning forty in three years time.
> It's difficult to believe!

Surely it can't be true? Suddenly I'm nearer to the people I
thought of as in an older age-zone than I'd realized. I've given
others too much age-related-credit. Starting to see people as... not
older. As people. Feeling less insecure. People at work all. A year and
a half in this place. That's how long it's taken. I am slow. A slow
learner. Slow to adapt.

Career wise, let's look at the my successes: as an artist, in the
eleven years since graduation, I've participated in two exhibitions.
Two exhibitions open to anyone and everyone - I couldn't really be
refused! So I've not gone out of my way or taken any risks.

My success in an IT career amounts to two failed job interviews. Woop

> Well now internet spies I think that's enough for now, until next
> time, best regards, semaj sirrom.

Sirrom Semaj.




A page detailing new stuff and other random noise.

The journal is a general place for writing about what I am doing, or for making more official announcements concerning the things I do. It's also a place where I can write freely about my ideas, or just play with words and language.

DISCLAIMER: The opinions and attitudes of James W. Morris as expressed here in the past may or may not accurately reflect the opinions and attitudes of James W. Morris at present, moreover, they may never have.

this page last updated:29th April 2013 (C) 2003 - 2017 James W. Morris

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