June 21, 1996

Yard Sales.

I can remember back to my childhood when other people had garage sales just prior to moving their household to another location. It was a convenient way of getting rid of the surplus stuff they'd accumulated over time, telling the neighborhood that they were moving without placing ads in the local paper (aside from the SOLD sign in the front yard), and making a few dollars from the sale. But I don't ever remember the fervor of people for so many yard and garage sales that I see now in York County, PA. It's almost scary.
On my way to work at 5 or 5:30am on Saturday and Sunday, I see hundreds of people setting up tables, draping them, pricing items, arranging things, making signs, bringing out more stuff from their attics, basements or garages to display, price and sell. They even have food and refreshments for sale to the thousands of people who might stop by, depending upon their home's nearby traffic flow and off-road parking capability. People clogging the yards, driveways, sidewalks and streets to buy junk.
Where does all this stuff come from? And what's worse, where does it all go?
The junk has a life; it travels around the county from home to home, sale to sale, year after year. It becomes a tanglible centerpoint in a deliberately, pre-planned social event for many thousands of people around here. I wonder how the intrinsic value of junk changes after it's been collected and re-sold by "X-number" of people.
When I first moved here six years ago, I asked some people shopping at my Garden Center & Nursery what they were doing on a particular weekend in mid-June. "Oh, we're going sailing", was the reply. I asked them what kind of boat they had. "No boat, we're going sale-ing, yard sale-ing. It's our favorite sport." Who knew?
I guess the opportunity to shop, bargain and finally purchase some real treasures for 30 or 40 cents is irresistable to many. I've stopped and looked around in amazement at what goes on.
The conversation and social activity are impressive. It's an actual sub-culture of the lower and lower-middle class in process. People dealing in their own and other people's junk.
A whole new branch of psychiatric medicene could be developed just to help people not get involved with junk, or help them get un-hooked and stabilized back to a normal existence once they are involved, and establish a maintenance program to keep them from returning to a life of junk, also know as stuff.
I find this all quite amazing and very, very humorous. Indicative really, of peoples' need to collect this and dispose of that, barter for these and bargain for those, interact with some and socialize with others, and conduct a business function and transaction at the retail level. Hmmmmm...


Until opening this business, I had no first-hand experience with anyone who could be classified as an "obsessive-compulsive" personality. Or at least none that I recognized as such.
Now, it's very different. I have met some of the most godawful-driven, anal-retentive people through residential landscaping jobs. People who can drive you absolutely crazy in a matter of seconds because they can dwell for hours, nay days, on the insignificant things in life. And I don't mean the
details. Just minutiae and trivia. The absolute pinheaded nothingness of life itself. Freud would have a field day with these people.
Some can dwell on the number of grains of sand between the stones in the elaborate broken-flagstone patio or sidewalk we've just completed, giving me a daily report by phone of FAX on the predisposition of that sand. Counting the actual number of grains each month for an average, and then calling us to order more material so the level will be perfectly maintained throughout the year. Or perhaps ordering azaleas, rhododendron and other plants from those stupid mail order catalogs because the picture colors matched their drapes and shutters, but then coming to me to complain that when they received the actual plant material through the mail, it wasn't as advertised. And then expecting me to trade them one of my special plants for that piece of shit they got from a mail order nursery. Do they ever get a shock from me when I tell them what life is all about! That's why I don't do mail order. Or maybe other people having the psychotic need to be told the same information over and over for several years about a simple proceedure, and doing nothing to fufill the information's purpose, like acting on it in a positive manner. Well, there are dozens (out of tens of thousands) of examples of this very atypical customer. Hey Sigmund baby, come back: there's lots of work available these days!
The situation makes me wonder: is it this business that attracts that type of personality? No, I don't think so. Or is it a facet of everyone's personality? Perhaps. Or maybe... I think I'll just drop it, as it's not worth going into any further.


Shortly after I put up my WebSite on January 26th, 1996, I began to see all kinds of Pages sporting HTML variations called frames. This is a Netscape extension to HTML, allowing a greater degree of flexibility in viewing content on a WebSite. What they don't tell you is that it can whack you.
About two weeks ago, I got this stupid idea of trying a JavaScript Navigational Bar with a little red dot that moves on the "tree" or, bar graph, of Pages, effectively telling you where you are and where you've been. Many high-end WebSites are now using such a navigational device, but it's tricky to do. You need things like Adobe's PhotoShop and Illustrator, a basic working knowledge of Java and JavaScript and a firm grasp of HTML. Well, three out of five isn't bad, but not good enough for me to do it successfully.
I wimped out. How could I accomplish the same basic thing without spending all of my waking hours learning JavaScript. Well, I could pay someone to do it. Or... Frames, that's it! With a NAMEd INDEX style of frames, a nav-bar can be created in a fraction of the time. Or so I thought.
Okay, okay, I'm too stupid to do frames. It's much worse than a tax audit. I spent five days and nights on and off playing around with content, targets, scrolling, noresize, more bullshit, shit and doo-dah, doo-dah, doo-dah until I almost went blind. And nuts. I was 95% there; the last 5% was Killing me.
Finally, I went back on the Web and found some Sites that offered tutorials on how to do the frames stuff. I studied every nuance and construct. I still couldn't get it right: the left frame's links would always open the content page in the wrong frame. Several pages make up the series of frames and a precise targeting formula (semi-HTML) is required. Finally I emailed a graduate student at BYU who had a great tutorial page and asked if he'd help me. He laughed. I offered to make a donation to his educational fund. After several emails, he sent the correct HTML, found the glitches and I fixed them. The check went into the mail that night at 11pm on my way home.
Here's my much-labored over draft one of my Garden Center & Nursery's frames page. KEWL. Simple looking, isn't it? I'm embarassed not by how simple it looks, but rather by how complicated and devilishly tricky I made it seem! I probably won't be doing this again anytime soon. I think I'll stick with the easy HTML stuff, thank you.

New Toys.

After looking around at the beautiful WebSites with unusual graphics and stunning layouts, I decided to learn the basics. I went to Adobe's WebSite and found a whole pile of
great software tools for Web Page authoring and graphic layouts. You should really visit them and see what's available. I wound up buying PhotoShop, Illustrator, Gallery Effects and a starter font-pak of 65 typefaces. After installing everything, I opened them up. Holy moly! This stuff isn't easy and sure isn't the easy-to-learn tutorial that comes with HotDogPro! Time for some real help.
Through a friend, I found a technical graphic artist from a local York ad agency who has worked with Adobe PhotoShop and Illustrator for four years now, and she is coming in twice a week to teach me the nuts and bolts of this software. Oh sure, there are very detailed manuals and written tutorials available, but I don't learn from that stuff, I learn from watching and doing. Why don't these software manufacturers save the paper and trees, and put good help tutorials on line where they would do some good?
I just finished the first two hour session with Kristin Myers of The WIT Agency, here in York, PA. She's very good at this stuff. Jeeez, but what a struggle for me to accomplish one single task! Now I know why all the art directors that worked for me in the New York ad agencies were cranky; having to initiate ten to fifteen steps to produce a single piece of art would make me nuts too. And talk about eating up memory: I have 64meg of RAM and either of the programs wants every drop of memory! Even Windows, which is a major memory hog, can't compare to PhotoShop or Illustrator for eating-up RAM. I've heard from people who use Macs that this is a problem, but now I know it firsthand. I guess another 32megs is in the cards very soon.
My whole reason for acquiring these programs is to re-make the headers and graphics on my own and friends' Web Pages. So, if I keep practicing the correct procedures, and not screwing up things too bad, maybe you'll see one of my finished pieces here soon. Here's the test2.gif that I did last night:

Okay, okay, it's pretty lame. Several major flaws and graphic problems, but I'm learning. The artworld has nothing to fear from me. But for my first effort in Illustrator and PhotoShop, it's a watershed effort.

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