someone years ago in high school and now someone's in prison
Tuesday, October 9 2007
Darren is the gentleman who did the drywall job for our upstairs and who later did drywall in a house on Eagle's Nest while I did the electical wiring. He's been back in the area since spring, having spent a few years in Orlando, Florida. He's visited me a few times and talked to me on the phone and our conversations always have the same essence: he wants more out of his life than what he's getting, but it's damn hard to get anywhere living in a town as corrupt as Kingston. He lives in one of Kingston's more desperate neighborhoods near the Rondout and works now and again either as a parking valet or a building contractor. He has two kids whom he would prefer to steer in some successful direction, but that isn't easy among the indolent and criminal of his neighborhood. I get the feeling Darren sees me as a connection to a world where the limitations he faces don't exist, and a reliable connection to me is his problematic computer. This connection doesn't take place so much via ethernet as it does with me either going to his house or him coming to mine. Yesterday he'd come by unannounced to drop off the computer before either Gretchen or I were yet out of bed. This morning he came by to pick it up in exactly the same way. It's a good thing I'd found the time to fix it last night. (His computer had a nasty infection from something called fmideploy.exe.)
Once he'd picked up his computer, though, Darren came into the kitchen and talked to me nonstop for an hour and a half. I didn't expect him to stay quite that long, but I knew it would be awhile, so I made us a pot of coffee.
Darren must have been saving up this conversation for a long time, because it came out as a relentless torrent, with no opportunities for me to respond other than to maybe grunt, shrug, or chuckle. Most of what he talked about was small-scale conspiracy theories: someone did something bad to someone years ago in high school and now someone's in prison and someone else is keying somebody's car, and so now someone can't walk through some neighborhood without either getting hassled by the cops or jumped by some thugs. At one point Darren, who is of Italian extraction, made an odd observation, "The cops are just the Irish Mafia - and they wiped out the Italian Mafia."
This conversation (including its one-sidedness) reminded me of similar conversations I used to have with my old buddy Josh Furr, who was similarly ground down by circumstances and similarly eager to socialize with those who were not part of his compromised world. (Josh, whom I always considered irrationally paranoid, was the one who was living with the Fauber family in Staunton, Virginia when the remains of its patriarch was found sealed up in a makeshift concrete vault in the basement.)
At one point I did have to disagree with Darren when he started railing against transexuals. I mentioned a common form of deviance that he himself practices and asked why it would be fair for him to be discriminated against based on it, especially considering the fact that, like being a transexual, it wasn't harming anyone.
The conversation didn't end until I said that I had to get ready for a conference call with California. It was 10:30 AM EDT.
I've been working for the past few days on a system that communicates between a web server and a cell phone using the mBlox cellphone network gateway. Today I got so weary of bothering my colleague in California with test SMS messages that I built a phone simulator using two database tables and a handful of PHP scripts. By flipping a switch in my web phone software, the text messages are redirected from the phone network to a table in the database, where they await me to "receive" them, something I do by visiting a web page. At that point I can type in a form to "respond" to them, and the data goes back to my website as if it was coming from a phone. It was great for testing the communication protocols and the specifics of the messages. But later in the day I found out that the binaries would have to be delivered to phones by something called WAP Push, a technology that my simphone couldn't emulate.
I spent most of my evening teaching myself what I needed to know about WAP Push and writing some code to turn URLs and brief messages into WBXML hexadecimal codes. WBXML is the format of data needed to initiate a WAP Push session.
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