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Summer, 1999, May 9, 1999 :: Ben Turner's Soapbox

 

the soapbox @ benturner.com
archived soapbox: May 9, 1999
"Summer, 1999" [permalink]
    keywords: summer, education, school
    soapbox #: 186
    written: May 9, 1999
    words: 2152

"Summer, 1999", an Essay

The semester is winding down. I have two full semesters left next academic year and I'm done. I started counting down the weeks remaining about four weeks ago. And now summer is almost here.

Most excellent.

So here's where I've been the last few weeks or so that I've neglected updating the site. The majority of my free time has been spent working on a web site that's actually online and active now. (see my resume) It took longer than I expected, but it was received well. I enjoyed doing it too. Low-stress and good communication from all parties. That makes a web site more enjoyable to work on. And being a control freak, I enjoy having full rein to make the design decisions I want without having to compromise. I'm sure you know losers like me...we yell and scratch and claw whenever someone criticizes a decision we made -- how dare they question our judgment! :p But this project worked out well, and it looks as though I have enough work to keep me busy for quite a long time at the current rate. It's comforting not having to advertise, whoring yourself out, in hopes of getting a nibble, or if lucky, a bite.

I'm pleased with how work is going. Once I get up to my target rate, things will be perfect.

The school semester has been fairly painless except for those periodical days when papers are due and I bullshit as best I can with limited instructions and little motivation from the professor. My ancient Greek class is done with and I've completed a year of study -- we got to read a little of Xenophon and Lucian and even some of the Bible by the end. The marketing course material is fairly basic and I've picked up a lot of it just through working with web sites and developing ideas and concepts for online campaigns. Philosophy class was a trip, although I think it skirted discussing eastern philosophy or recent philosophy in any depth.

I'm still learning about the stock market and company statistics -- it seems to me that those business courses that I've taken, accounting in particular, could benefit from some sort of semester-long project in which you paper trade the stock market and receive a grade at the end of the semester based on the quality and written justification of your portfolio picks. It allows you to research companies you're interested in, so you learn about concepts and terminology and ledgers and such in a more motivating environment. I mean, you might as well learn this stuff in a context you're likely to use in the future. Besides, it motivates kids to invest and save at an early age. Anyway...I guess most low-level courses are taught by professors who don't really care to go through the effort of getting 400 students a class to do something useful. The exception to this for me was Professor Cleveland, who in last fall semester got my class to split up into smaller groups to come up with their own businesses. We were to develop our businesses to the point where we could present our products or services to judges at a large business fair at the end of the semester. We learned about cooperation, dividing workload, and marketing a company, among other things. Even for someone as cynical as I am about group efforts, this whole project turned out pretty well, as I said in a post mortem afterwards a few months ago. Business courses would be so much more useful if they used textbooks in tandem with hands-on projects.

So, summer, yes. As of today, I only have two finals to take, but I also have to write a lengthy paper, in which I create a world and describe some of its physics and characteristics, using literary fantasy worlds as guidance. Not too difficult. Practicing writing and finding it easy has its advantages, because you don't get too stressed out when you have to type something up. Some people do not like writing one bit, so when it comes time for them to type up a paper, it's a difficult process for them. For me, it's merely a sacrifice of time...I don't usually feel spent after writing a lot.

So my semester's basically over now. I'm not too worried about what's left. I'm mainly getting ready for this summer, which should be cool. I'm really looking forward to it.

And why is that? Well, because the summer will give me more free time without the bizarre schedules and commitments of schoolwork and classes. I've basically been juggling all sorts of different spheres of interest in the air this semester and it's school that's gotten top priority. But now that I have a few months to only have a summer school course or two to think about, it gives me much more time to concentrate on other things.

And what other things are those? Well, work, primarily. The projects I have lined up are not cooperative ones, which means I'm basically going to be doing all the work. While that's the way I prefer it, it requires a lot more time and attention. At any rate, I love doing web design and freeing up big blocks of my day in order to be able to futz around with Photoshop is definitely a plus.

I'll also be able to spend more time researching and watching stocks during the trading day, trading being my serious hobby at the moment. I'm probably going to talk more about stock trading as I learn more about it and have more opportunities to write Soapboxes. You might be thinking, "Why the big deal?" Well, for me, I'm young, and it's interesting to play with the big boys. Online trading, despite all its growth so far, still has yet to explode, and you'll be hearing a lot more about it in the future, just like you've heard about online auctions and online banking and all that good stuff. Just wait; it will get even bigger, and I imagine those online brokerages will become highly visible. This is the Internet at its finest, lowering the barriers to entry and making the whole process easier and more accessible to regular Joe's like you and me. The Internet lets people my age and younger do things that our parents couldn't until they were much older.

I should get access to cable TV (financial channels and basketball playoffs -- as much as the Spurs and Lakers disappoint me, I want to see Charles Barkley and Karl Malone lose YET AGAIN) and even a cable modem. Speaking of basketball, read this article about the war of words Charles Barkley and Allen Iverson exchanged with each other. Heh, fun shit...personally, I agree with Iverson. Anyway... Yes, finally I'm going digital, baybee! Well, I hope so, at least. I have to basically hook up two or three computers to a hub using long coils of ethernet cabling. It should be fun -- I hope it works without a snag. After suffering on a modem for so long, I'm dying to download even more crap than I do now, at an even faster clip. Word to the wise ladies out there with geeks as boyfriends and husbands... Don't forget to compliment their bandwidth. ;) After the summer, I should have ethernet at school at last. So perhaps this is my goodbye to my loyal modem, which has been there through thick and thin, struggling to download as fast as its little chips and transistors can...

But perhaps most of all, what I'm looking forward to is the hot weather and the radiance and happiness and fun that comes from constant sunshine. I definitely dig southern summers. Some people don't like sweating all the time or having to stay indoors most of the day, or seeing dead animals simmering on the pavement. But hey, it's what I grew up with. Sports, outdoor festivities, less clothing on women. Summer's definitely the best time of the year for me. Sometimes I say that the fall's the best time of the year, but only because it's slightly cooler weather and not so intense. But how can you hate summer when you have memories of playing baseball with the neighborhood kids in the park, or fishing at ponds around the city, or travelling to other areas of the country and enjoying the weather there too? These are the simpler things in life, and some of the more meaningful ones, too.

Know one of the best things about summer? Animals. All the little babies have been hatched and born, so they're opening their eyes and getting used to this harsh world they've been born into. But they certainly make the world a better place, if you ask me. Example: walking to school, I get to pass a house with a hole in its foundation where a cat and her kittens like to hang out. Just brightens your day to see the mother watching on from a distance while her two kittens play-fight each other. I also got to see a small baby bird flapping its wings trying to fly, while I was on campus. I'm no animal fanatic, but I do find observing animals to be in many respects watching creatures more pure and honest and innocent than the human beings who walk by without even noticing them, because they have thoughts of sex or hate or stress or something else in their heads. "Humans are a virus."

I guess I should travel to at least one place this summer. Any invitations or suggestions?

In preparation for summer, I have of course neglected to answer any e-mail for the last two months. So I have about 80 e-mails to get back to from people who don't even remember me anymore, for the most part. I guess I'll answer them this week, since I'm supposed to be studying. :p I also have a couple more Soapboxes to write after this one. I have to buy all that network shit for when I go home. And I have to work out how I'm going to see Black Mask (Jet Li kicking more ass), Phantom Menace, and Entrapment. (it is our collective belief that the Entrapment commercial should just replay that one shot of Catherine Zeta-Jones's ass in order to best promote the movie)

Okay, so why am I telling you all this? I guess because I haven't really thought about much recently that I want to discuss in a whole Soapbox. (Kosovo is tired, the Chinese and Russians are mad at the U.S., and Q3Test is coming soon...so what else is new?) These little updates are my rare jaunts into the epistolary/diaristic style, as poor as they may be.

One last thing, I guess. It's Mother's Day today. As usual, my mom's been ultra supportive and helpful to me, far more than I could ever repay her. She pushed me over the edge earlier this year to get me to fly and take some independence in my finances and investing my money into the shark tank we call the stock market. Hell, I even started using Quicken. How's that for getting old? My god. And I remember the days when I considered playing Double Dribble and RC Pro Am on the Nintendo heavy stuff. Quicken, by the way, is one of the most impressive programs I've ever used. I honestly must have over 200 programs installed on my computer right now, and most of them have absolutely shitty interfaces. But Quicken is intuitive and aesthetically pleasing as far as interfaces go. It also makes setting up your accounts easy and painless. Now, if only the rest of my software was like that...QuoteTracker, OmniHTTPd, Visual Studio, and ICQ, anyone?

But again, thanks Mom. A lot of people aren't lucky enough to have mothers who make the sacrifices you do for me, like painfully watching me play baseball and tennis so long ago (heh) and making sure I don't do stupid things like forget to clear my tuition bars or procrastinate on deadlines. I hope that I can make you proud of me in the future.

So that's it. That's what's up here. Feel free to e-mail me with stories about what's been happening to you recently, if you like. I love reading e-mail...I'm just so lazy in responding to it. Heh. More to come soon. And don't forget to enjoy the summer. It's the last one before the new millennium.


 
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