Sunday, November 25, 2007

Getting Ready for Mark's trip and backstory on the move

Mark has been getting things ready for his trip - and we're getting to where he will probably take off sometime this next week. He now has a mobile internet connection, as well as new tires on the vehicle, updated driver's license (his birthday is in the first week of December) and will be looking into getting his glasses updated before he travels as well.

The mobile internet connection was quite a big deal. That should let us do our Ebay auctions from anywhere in the country.

That leads into this:

For several months, (nearly a year by some measures) we have been telling Mark's father he does need to get a new tech to manage the network system for his company. Up until recently, we also ran our Ebay pictures and some email off that same system. That system has been breaking, systematically, over the past several years. Usually Mark creatively 'tapes' the sytem back together or buys parts out of his own pocket to fix it if he can't get money for parts from the company.

Our computer network is a complicated beast - it has lots of different parts that all run together to make the whole. A few months ago a major hardware part of the system broke, and right on the tail of that, another machine began to fail as well. They didn't affect immediate productivity (everyone still had email, internet, and most of their files), but they have affected things more and more as time goes on. We can't fix them, without a lot of scrambling and restructuring. We just don't have the time or energy to do it anymore.

Mark's father has looked some for that new techie, but hasn't found anyone yet who can and will take on the job. Two weeks ago Mark stopped monitoring the things that are breaking. He had been watching system messages since September 1997. He can translate the messages from the system (attempts to connect, files not found, errors, memory allocations) into potential risks and alerts... This is no small task - as it requires constant diligence. He said it is terribly depressing to know what was breaking when he couldn't fix it. He will also be gone for several weeks and not here to fix it even if he wanted to. He shut down the messaging terminal with all that in mind. So, we are no longer fixing things OR monitoring the broken pieces.

Mark's father called last night with another problem on the system and we really couldn't tell him anything. I felt bad, but he really needs a new tech to be able to call. Mark is going to be gone for several weeks - and I wouldn't know how to fix problems that deep in the system anyway -- I'm a software and internet geek, not a hardware geek. This system needs both. Most of this equipment is over 10 years old and running custom code and open source software. Some of it uses more electricity and puts out more heat than you could imagine. But, for the most part it works - and like a car held together with Bondo - it has done what it needs to do long enough to get us here.

*sigh* but basically, this is the time we ALL (us and them) have to learn how new systems work, and how to get the same jobs done with whatever is out 'on the market' nowadays.

We're doing that with our cellular modem and laptop. Mark's father will have to do that with whatever new tech he finds. Hopefully, this won't affect our family relations. If we continue to try to scrabble up fixes for the dying network with as little resource and time for other things -- that will surely break us down. And it won't help them in the long run either - as eventually we won't be here to call up and ask for repairs.

If we don't stop doing things around here sometime, when will it ever become someone else's job? That sounds harsh... but there isn't any nicer way to say it.

For years Mark lived what he describes as a 'monkish' existence. He thought he was building equity in a family business that had an honorable and attainable goal. He was helping provide technology services (internet publishing, email etc) to people in the property rights movement, to help them get their message out to the public. This was back in the very early 90s, when lots of people still didn't know about the Internet or how big it would become. Their family's website and magazine gave a voice and a forum to people who wouldn't have had it otherwise. He worked 24/7 on maintaining and monitoring the website and office network. It was a job that required constant upkeep and quick response time, and he gave it his all for ten years.

Up until a year or so ago, he didn't even take salary above his household bills, assuming he was paying into the mortgage on the property he lived on in lieu of other compensation. That made for some interesting and frustrating financial problems for him, then and now.

Now, he is disillusioned about the equity and partnership he was originally told he was participating in. He can't get a straight answer about things that were once said, and doesn't want to wait any longer for others to decide what they want to agree was the actual case. He is also upset that his father always wanted him to make his projects happen smoothly, but Mark's ideas and projects never got support. Or, even worse, the support was pulled from them after Mark had done a large amount of the work. It made him bitter and frustrated. This house we currently live in is one of those projects, although the building itself was successful. Mark built it on his own design, as the place he would live and work. He also put his own handwork into its construction. Now, he is told it isn't 'actually' his. He cannot get a deed to it because it 'belongs to the company', and was paid for partially by a grant given to the company.

It has come down to the point Mark just wants something he knows is his, that he can put his hard work, heart and soul into and know that someone else can't take it away arbitrarily. He has 'burned out' on this dream, and I want to help him in finding one we can both share. With Esme, we feel we have to take that action now, and start building a solid future.


Chris said...

Thanks for the backstory about your move. I can only imagine how frustrated Mark is - this move sounds like a good thing for him.

Ladeewolf said...

I can relate, I hope you can find what your looking for, It does sound like starting over is a good idea, It will be pretty exciting for you. I hope that Mark and his Dad can come to an uderstanding.

Anonymous said...

Wow. Thanks for sharing that story. The move and the change that will follow sounds like just the thing for you're little family.

mrspao said...

I hope you find somewhere good!

Lynn said...

It is always hard to make the difficult decisions when it comes to family.
I think everyone, in their lifetime has a wall like this to climb.

You wanted to know about the sound on the Asus Eee...The sound is good.

Anonymous said...

Oh wow, that puts it into perspective. Mark is probably right to pull out now - he'd just sink more and more of his time, talent and life otherwise.

Families. The unspoken contracts, the broken promises, the expectations.....although you don't have to be related to sucked into one, it sure helps.