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A Wild End to an Important Year, December 5, 1999 :: Ben Turner's Soapbox


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archived soapbox: December 5, 1999
"A Wild End to an Important Year" [permalink]
    keywords: stock market, Christmas
    soapbox #: 216
    written: December 5, 1999
    words: 1901

"A Wild End to an Important Year", an Essay

I should be studying for finals. I mean, more so than in previous years. I have all three on one day and two of them I really need to work on. Then again, I'm also way behind on Soapboxes. And everything else in my life. Oh well, I guess my interests just don't lie in those places right now. I'm distracted by what's happening next week. I'm also' kind of in the middle of digesting what I'm learning right now into something that I can talk about intelligently.

I'll be out of this pit by next week and heading home to a fun-filled end of year. Basically, I'm ultra psyched to see Anna, and she's pretty much all I've been thinking about lately. I'm consumed with wonder and curiosity and delight.

So I guess I should get this end of year stuff out of the way now, since I'm not going to be very active on my site once I hook up with Anna.

Spending the so-called first year of the millennium with her is just what I wanted and all I asked for. Who knows what all we'll do? But it's gonna be a shitload of fun. And I'm paying for it myself, which I'm sort of proud of.

I'm proud of it because it's reaping the rewards of my efforts and hard work this past year. In the course of the year, I gradually worked more and more on web sites and probably burned myself out a bit. As you might recall, the last site I did took a lot out of me since it was such a challenge. I still don't know whether I conquered it or it conquered me. :P At any rate, it was a huge learning experience, but it also consumed me throughout the first half of a semester of school, knocking my grades down quite a bit.

After that, I decided to take a break from web design and concentrate on school and on stock trading, and most importantly, on being a young punk who wastes a lot of time doing dumb stuff and ooh ooh, violating and encountering the law.

And of course, all of that doesn't require me to be responsible to anyone, which has given me time to think about what I want to do with my life once I graduate. It's much better when you're not so busy worrying about what someone else needs done from you. :P

Well, I still have no concrete ideas on what I want to do with my near-term, but I have a much better idea of how it will actually turn out. One thing I discovered about myself is that I don't like dressing up someone else's ideas. By no means is this unique, but there ARE people who do web design and marketing and that sort of thing, who have NO interest in the actual client they're working for. They don't mind it one bit. I do though. Everyone should mind.

How can you truly do something great if you don't believe in it, if you don't share the vision and ideas? Maybe the ideas are great, but you just don't believe in them. It's not an insult to anyone, just a difference of opinion. But can you really share the experience if you're just an outsider who comes in temporarily? When the rewards you reap are not really the client's success, but your own pocketbook?

So I decided I either want to work at one of my favorite companies (of which I have a lot more, now that I've been poring over companies' 10-K forms and consuming more products online) or I want to work at a firm that has clients, but the big famous clients. Those are established brands with sound financials and, more importantly, sound ideas and implementation.

As an aside, Internet company 10-Q's (seem) (to) (use) (more) (parentheses) than I do. :P

Of course, the big dream is to either form my own start-up or become part of a huge start-up full of the best people in the business. I need to get behind the company I work for in order to do any sort of productive work for it. If I can't do that, then I just shut down. I know it's spoiled and I know many people don't have any say in that matter in their jobs, but that's what I desire.

I also realized a while through that I'm interested more in designing sites or presentations for companies that are involved with some type of media, or with something visual. I don't think any web designer's gonna disagree with me when I say it's a pain in the ass designing a site for a company that has nothing going for it visually.

I don't know if I'd be any good at building a brand for a company.

I've also become more deeply fascinated with infrastructure and server-side foundation building. A lot more goes on back there than one would think, and you can't survive in this industry any more if you don't know anything about back-end technology. Studying business to business companies recently has added to my exposure to building high-traffic e-commerce sites. I know that's all buzzwordy, but it's more complicated than you think. I snorted at it all at first, but was left reeling the first time I actually had to do it.

So next semester I'll be gunning for very specific companies and hoping that they'll pick me up. If I don't get a job there, I'll be very disappointed. So disappointed maybe I'll finally put all the pieces together I've been collecting and come up with an idea that will change the way business is done and that will shut down all these half-assed .com companies for good.

I'm really psyched about the way things are shaping up for me. I'm glad that I've been able to make the decisions and sacrifices I have and not been thrown into a hopeless state. I have a lot of support underneath me, though, that will let me screw up a lot and find out what I need to do to grow up and be happy. I'm extremely happy about my exposure to all sorts of things that most people won't ever get their hands on. I'm happy that I've been able to juggle it all and still be myself. A more refined self, a more relaxed self, a self that understands more how to enjoy living.

Right now I'm incubating again. I think the last time this happened was when I was in high school. I wasn't really producing anything big or anything with much result, but I was learning. Furiously. I was playing with HTML and all that shit when no one really knew what the fuck was going on. Eventually, it all paid off and I scored big for a start, and I expect to achieve more with it in the future.

But now I'm big into trading and investing. Yeah yeah, big deal, so is everyone else. But it's exactly what I wanted. Combined with the Internet, the vast, changing, mutable universe, it provides me with an endless stream of information I will never be able to completely soak up. I think this is why the Internet struck me so big in the first place. It is diverse and complex, too big for any one human to consume. There are different ways to approach it, different communities to be sewn into, chaotic systems, orderly progressions, endless opportunities. If I could, I would lose my body to the Internet and shift about digitally, collecting massive amounts of information like a sponge, digesting everything known to man into the same small, insignificant space taken up by a once-organic avatar known as Ben Turner.

I like the market because it's efficient and logical. Millions upon millions of people placing their value on a commodity or company. It's a vast, complex network, which many say takes its own breaths and moods and other characteristics of a living being. Indeed, with the rush of money into the greatest bull market we've ever known, there are more people thinking about what the future can bring for doing business and exchanging ideas. Part of the whole thing about the hot business to business stocks right now is that they're striving towards a sort of auction system that will make businesses more efficient -- they'll be traded more like stocks are, and not purchased blindly without the best information and price options. James Cramer of described this much better in this article (sign up for a free 30-day trial). The success of both the Internet and the stock market, and then the combination of both, are going to heavily influence our future. And of course, I want to be a part of that. It wasn't really a conscious decision to get involved in either of these things. I felt a compelling need to do things a certain way, and what I had before lacked what I really wanted. When I found what I was looking for in the Internet and the market, I just fell into them. It was natural for me. Do you understand what I'm trying to say?

It's natural for me.

So here I am. It's December and I'm going to see my precious baby. A welcome break after some pretty intense lessons learned this semester. This is purely for us, this couple that has defied everyone's naysaying and that deserves more than just these periodic meetings. From it I will gather strength to pull into my last semester of school, and (hopefully) I will begin to capitalize on what I've learned about trading and investing to begin seriously profiting from it (I don't believe in my own ability to make decisions on stocks yet). Who knows when that'll happen. Eventually I will move somewhere and get a job, and encounter all the hardships a fresh graduate must go through. Anna will still be there. She is my constant, no matter what I'm doing in my own life. There's something special about that.

I'm sorry to not know what to say, to not have all the answers for my life yet. There've been other points in my public life here at where I knew what to say and where I could speak with more certainty. But as I said, I'm experiencing worlds I'd never cared about before, and it's going to take some time before it truly makes sense to me.

And when things DO begin to make sense, I'll still be right here, ready to write it all down. I'm not a quitter.

Have a nice Christmas and New Year. I'm out. AOL, AMD, Best Buy, Efficient Networks, Bea Systems, Proxicom, Internet Initiative Japan, Ditech, The Gap, Allaire, California Amplifier, Apple, IBM, Motorola, Lucent, Rare Medium, FedEx, Satyam Infoway,, Korea Thrunet, and RazorFish, among others. :)


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