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Ma Faiblesse, July 2nd, 2000 :: Ben Turner's Soapbox

 

the soapbox @ benturner.com
archived soapbox: July 2nd, 2000
"Ma Faiblesse" [permalink]
    keywords: life, relationships, growing up
    soapbox #: 248
    written: August 18th, 2000
    words: 2414

"Ma Faiblesse", an Essay

Reaping in My Kitchen

My parents left for two weeks to go to Hawaii. They'll get to see my brother, who lives in downtown Honolulu. I got to stay here and take care of the dog and cat, and to recuperate from travelling.

The day after my parents left, our dog, who was old and deteriorating, finally lost it. She had a series of seizures and strokes and her brain was completely gone. After a few hours of watching to see if she'd recover, which she didn't, I drove her to our veterinarian, who, after I had consulted with my mom over the phone, put her to sleep. I was not particularly close to the dog, as she smelled really bad, had all sorts of things wrong with her, was mean/annoying at times, and needed a lot of attention or else she'd make a mess on the carpets.

But seeing her on the kitchen floor, as she shook uncontrollably such that her mouth frothed up, her eyes completely unresponsive to stimulation, unable to contain her bowels or bladder, unable to move or get up from lying on her side for hours, one is overcome with sadness and questions as to why this sort of thing can happen to creatures on this earth. Her mouth was clamped shut so I couldn't have administered pills to her to help the seizures, and she looked exhausted after one of her fits had subsided, her body limp every once in a while after being rigid and stiff from a shaking fit. It was nasty and disheartening to watch. I did not question putting her to sleep. She was very old and lived a long life, hopefully not painful at all. No one should have to die like that, or even worse, live like that.

It would have been worse if I hadn't been able to get in contact with my parents. Then they would have come home and it would've been a complete surprise and they would have had no say in the decision.

I felt overcome with sadness on the drive back home after leaving her at the vet's.

Fleshy Fingers vs. Sharp Steel

A few days later I received my Sound Blaster Live Value card so I could begin installing Windows 2000 on a dual boot with Windows 98 SE. It was not uneventful.

I spent the next three days with various problems, starting with my floppy drive that stopped working. After trying different ribbons and power cables and even another floppy drive, I concluded that the floppy controller on the motherboard is fucked.

I wanted to flash my BIOS by booting up off a floppy, but that was out. I needed to flash my BIOS because only the latest version fully supports ACPI, which Win2k needs. Later I found I could flash BIOS off real DOS mode from Win98SE.

A few Win2k installs went okay, but then Win2k died twice upon installing Service Pack 1, and once by me trying to add ACPI manually without the BIOS supporting it. Yes, I was learning as I went along.

I ran fdisk /mbr once and it removed the boot records or whatever from the hard drives. I was lucky it didn't remove it from my C: drive or else I would've had serious problems. As it was, my MP3 drive was disconnected (as I had copied it over to my new Maxtor 7200 40.9GB and could thus remove the old drive) so I still have those 10 gigs of MP3s. Close call.

I found out, after much struggle with the Abit BH6's lameass IRQ sharing that the SB Live Value would not work in either Win98SE (which royally sucks compared to Win2k, I must say) or Win2k because it was DEFECTIVE. Fuck. I have to send that shit back. Defective parts are a bitch to discover in Win9x. Win2k detects things almost flawlessly so it's easier to tell.

Eventually, after much consternation, I got Win2k running. I can't install SP1 (I think, but I'm not gonna try) but that's okay.

Win2k rocks hardcore. It takes care of so many little willy nilly issues that you had to handle manually in Win9x. It has up-to-date drivers. You can connect via cable/DSL instantly after Win2k's done installing. It keeps programs in physical memory so they won't take over all your RAM. The benefit is that your system can run for weeks without reboots and closed software has all its memory reclaimed for Win2k.

Win2k is also FAST. It doesn't get sluggish after you're using it for a while. I love it.

But those three days consisted pretty much of non-stop worrying and tweaking of the system. What if something went dreadfully wrong? How would I get this to work if it fucked up on me? How much MORE money would I have to spend on this? (I thought [and still suspect I might] have to get a new mobo and case) What a headache. I skipped trading for a bit and slept in after staying up late. I was accompanied by some Aphrodite remixes of Aaliyah, the Fugees, and Dillinja, as well as a live Leftfield album, some Groove Armada, Olive, and Fiona Apple.

Computer hobbyists can and will spend hours on this shit.

Piling on Problems, Combining Them with Memories of Better Days

So I was really tense and pissed after all that shit that went down (not Win2k's fault, I might add). Summer trading has been tough and I think next summer I'm just gonna take a few months off completely, or maybe hold some positions in stocks that got crushed unjustly. Anyway, it's a waste of time hanging around in a trendless market. Ugh, trading an extended bear market won't be fun...

I got a bigass credit card bill. My broker, Datek Online, had problems with its order servers so I had a short on AMD for over 2 hours because I couldn't get it filled, and that pissed me off because I talked to their order desk and they told me shit like "you need to be more patient" and then I snapped back, "this order's been open for half an hour already, how much more patient do you want me to be?" and basically the guys were helpless and not helpful. At Datek Online, the rules...are changing. My ass. I felt like telling them, "Hey, go ahead, fill this order whenever you want. No rush."

Then last night I had a dream about Anna. Which is weird because I haven't really talked to her at all recently. Maybe it's because I was talking to my old roommate about girl issues. For whatever reason, I had a dream about her. I went to visit her, and it was summer, bright and hot, and as soon as I got there, there was a party with her friends and family, and she told me that she didn't want to be near me during the party so she sat over there with her friends while I sat there wondering why she didn't want to sit near me. Then I was talking to her parents about their house and I commented about how high the ceilings were or something dumb like that. I remember a flash of Anna's face, which wasn't her actual face, but a very small face with cute features and one green eye and one blue one. Very strange. Later we went out somewhere and she walked across the empty street at a different point than me, as if it were more important for her to get to where she wanted to go than it was to walk with me.

It's not that I'm still clinging onto my memories of that relationship or anything. Dreams just work like that. I do think that sometimes dreams can be very important as guides, but also I think that the brain chemistry while you're sleeping can be impacted just by a single conscious thought you've had about a person or place you had that day. Nevertheless, she was my first and only girlfriend, and so I think about it often and reflect on its meaning to me.

Romantic Contact

All this shit reminded me that I'm alone. Being in some parts of Rome and Italy was hard because I was constantly reminded by other couples that I was not with someone else at the time. It would have been so nice...

Not being overly social, the few encounters I do have with women tend to end up being a mystery. I find myself wondering if she's telling the truth or if she's just protecting my feelings. Naturally I assume the worst and move on. They have someone else they're "kinda seeing" or they "don't know if this is the best idea" and shit like that. You know, shit you say when you're not really interested in someone, because if you were, you'd do just about anything to spend more time with them.

At times like these, what I want is someone who will hold me and just tell me she's proud of me. This is not anything a family member or friend can resolve. It requires someone who is proud to love you because they respect you to the utmost, and because they're genuinely interested in watching you grow and succeed. For me this has been largely a solitary process, one requiring complete inner affirmation that I am on the wrong path.

I like to think that I am growing and becoming a more complete person in all respects. I like to think that where I was a year ago is so far away that the only reason I remember it is because it just happened. I like to think that what I do all makes sense and it all is exactly what I should be doing in the large scheme of things. But, you see, I would like to hear it from the lips of the very person my heart would die for without her presence. If you have someone you love, you should sit down with them and whisper in their ear everything you are proud of them for. You should remind them of why you love them and why they are so deathly important to you. You shouldn't take it for granted, you shouldn't pass up the opportunity while it lasts. Examine yourself and imagine how wonderful it would be if your significant other told you why they were so proud of you.

To some degree it pisses me off that many guys get and keep girls without any effort at all. They do not take care of them, they say mean things to them, they're rude in front of them, they are just the worst you could imagine...and yet their girlfriends love them. It is a slap in the face. What it has made me adjust to is that I cannot prepare myself or groom myself such that someone else would find me attractive, because none of that shit really seems to matter. All this stuff I do, I do it for myself and myself only, because it seems as though I am the only one who appreciates it.

I must say though that I am gradually being able to be a better friend to the people I call friends. I think I was pretty bad at it, but am getting better with lots of effort involved. It's not easy for me. They are all I have right now, really. And they are so continuous and uninterrupted in being helpful and nice to me, and I really have come to appreciate that.

Roughing It

So that's where it stands. I was very pissed with almost everything being a hassle lately, and the cure for it was to run myself into the ground with some basketball and a mile or two of running, then writing this. And late-night sessions reading the dozens of web sites I hit daily for tech/hardware/market/cultural news and specs for various things. I don't tend to read books avidly like my parents. I read tons of online articles though. It helps with tech investing and with emerging trends. Although I did finally read Thomas More's Utopia (in English), a daytrader book, and a collection of Guy de Maupassant's short stories (in English). As with other loners, my cure for loneliness is pushing my body and mind to the maximum until they just get exhausted. Working, studying, reading, exercising, whatever. Perhaps it's mistreatment of the body, torture testing it like that, but it's the only way to finish an infinite list of life tasks that one thinks about more when they have no one better to care about than themselves.

Times like these come along every once in a while, more often for the people who are less fortunate, less often for the etc. etc. What's important is sticking to one's guns and not straying from what works. Everything seems to go wrong at once and one can't collapse or give up. This is the test of when you do the right or wrong thing. This is when you become weak and susceptible to doing something wrong. If this were trading, this would be when a stock's heavily oversold, seemingly bottomless, and you have to decide whether to buy for the bounce or chicken out because everything looks bad. Eventually the stock snaps back, panicking buyers to come back in at market, and those who stepped up to the plate at the right time got the fastest, greatest gain.

One must have unwavering trust in oneself. A person who questions his ability to make a decision is doomed before he even chooses one way or the other. I understand this, and I trust myself. This is all for me. This makes me stronger.

But yet, I still long... And there's nothing I can do to cure that ache. Not on my own, anyway.


 
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