This blog is basically going to be my online journal. The style of my journal, modus operandi of my writing, is that I write 15 minutes straight without stopping. I don’t prepare an outline in advance, I just write for that period of time. I learned that style from a book by Dorothea Brande called “Becoming a Writer”. I first read that book in 1986 when I first got all hot and bothered about the idea of being a novelist. I’ve been keeping a journal since 9th grade in high school when my English teacher, Mr. Kapral, first forced me into it. Our daily assignment was to write 100 words in our journal. He came around and checked every morning that we had completed the entry, and every few weeks he would collect the journals and read them. We were allowed to write on any topic we chose as long as we wrote at least 100 words. I’ve been keeping a journal off and on ever since. I’ll have to remember to burn them before I die, because I have admitted to some pretty base deeds in those pages. In the past couple of years, I have taken to keeping my journal as plain text files on my PC. Once a week, I zip my journal and upload it to a network server for safe-keeping. That series of entries will be much easier to delete than the old paper ones, but I’ve committed fewer foul acts in recent years so there is less confessional material to worry about in the current entries. It’s the late ’80s and early ’90s that I worry about the most when I was at most most insane. I’ve said it a thousand times, but it bears repeating. Most people could probably be considered insane from about the time of their mid-teens to their late twenties. I don’t know if it is the rampaging hormones or just lack of experience that impairs one’s judgment, but I just don’t expect responsible personal behavior from anyone in that age group. Studies of criminal statistics would seem to bear that prejudice out to some extent. Most crimes are committed by young men between the ages of 14 and 25 (forgive me for failing to cite my source because I just don’t feel like looking it up at the moment.) so when a baby boom or population bubble occurs the crime rate will skyrocket when the kids reach adolescence and will decline again as the bubble passes into middle age. Well, that’s enough rambling for one day. I realize that it has been more than a week since my last post, but I have every intention of keeping this blog up on a daily basis, so I should write something again tomorrow.
Hi. My name is Trent Douthat. I am a 36-year-old computer programmer from Independence, Missouri. I’ve kept a journal for a number of years, and I’ve harbored a pipe-dream of becoming a writer since 1986. So, here I am keeping my journal in a public place which I guess makes my pipe-dream come true. I intend to write about a myriad of topics, and I hope the type of stuff that I generally write in my private journal doesn’t leak into this forum. My innermost thoughts are mostly insipid analysis of my neuroses, and nobody (not even me) wants to read that crap. My interests vary widely and include AS/400 programming, hacking (in the old-school sense, not the script-kiddie sense), atheism, Zen Buddhism, baseball, evolution, and politics. Any one of those topics would be sufficient to provide daily material for a blog, but I refuse to stick to any one topic. My current obsession is to teach myself the C programming language. I’ve been a professional programmer for the last 5 years and in that time I’ve coded for money in COBOL, CICS, DDS, JCL, CL, SQL, Easytrieve, SAS, and Rexx on IBM mainframes and AS/400’s. I started my amateur programming in 1979 when my parents bought me first computer, a TRS-80. I took the BASIC programming class in the backroom of the local Radio Shack and spent most of the summer of 1979 shut in my bedroom typing games into the computer from the pages of magazines. I moved on from the TRS-80 to the Commodore 64, and in 1985, I spent my college scholarship money on a 512k Macintosh. I spent 1985-1993 earning a bachelor’s degree in history and a law degree. I bought a Packard Bell 386 PC in 1994 so that I could run my law office, but used it to discover the internet and put up some lame web pages. I quickly discovered that I was a really piss-poor lawyer, but what other job can you do with a law degree? After holding a few jobs I didn’t like much, DST Systems was good enough to hire me in 1998 as a programmer trainee. They taught a couple dozen of us career-switchers to be mainframe programmers over the course of 4-5 months, and I haven’t looked back since. Sure I could’ve gotten a computer science or engineering degree by 1989 and have been programming professionally much earlier, but the humanities had much to offer that I would have missed otherwise, and I’m not sure I would’ve known how happy I was to be programming, until I got to know how unhappy I was as a lawyer, Pizza Hut manager, or AT&T customer service rep. So, here I am in 2003, trying to learn C. Why C? Well, C++ and Java are based on C, and the operating systems for the AS/400 and Unix boxes are written in C. If I ever have any hope of becoming a “real” hacker (wizard, guru, whatever…) then I need to learn C. I’m going about it by using the web-based training classes that my current employer, EDS, offers to employees through Digital Think, as well as the wide number of publicly available tutorials on the internet.