Thursday, 27 September 2001

Radios blaring, sirens wailing, bells ringing, trucks hauling, planes flying, phones ringing, tires screeching. I can’t take it! What I would give for just one day of total, blissful, silence.

Unfortunately, that’s something I can never have, not any more. I have what’s called tinnitus, a constant ringing in my ears. My left ear is worse than my right, although it is audibly present in both.

Tinnitus is preventable, at least it was in my case. In high school I drowned out any intrusion from the outside world with a Walkman turned up just shy of distortion. Later it was dance clubs and concerts with no thought given to ear plugs or other hearing protection. In short, I have only myself to blame.

The ringing isn’t the only price I’m paying for sins past. I’ve been slowly going deaf for years. It’s a gradual, agonizing slide towards silence. The sounds I used to hear, the sounds I want to hear, replaced by a ringing that won’t go away.

Music is a big part of my life. Few things bring me more joy than sharing a new find or even an old favorite with friends. I’m constantly picking up new CDs and looking for new artists to enjoy. When I’m working on my model trains, or at my day job, music is playing in the background. I notice what song is playing at a restaurant. It’s hard to imagine a life without.

I’m scared. I don’t want to live in silence, feeling isolated from a world I used to be a part of. It’s even more frightening because I can see it coming and there’s no way to stop it.

Wednesday, 26 September 2001

So I’m standing at the bus stop, minding my own business, when this guy wanders over and says “Nwhnmkajdncminbak.”

Finally, after the third repeated mumble I said, “Look. I can’t understand a word you’re saying. You’re going to have to stop mumbling.”

One more try, which he managed only slightly better. He was asking if I knew when Michael Jordan was coming back.

“Sorry, I don’t pay attention to pro-ball.”

His response? Another near mumble, “Oh, must be a loner then.”

Monday, 17 September 2001

Yes, I work with computers, but please understand when I say “I can’t help you. I’m sorry.” It’s not that I’m trying to be a jerk, but computers are my job, not my life.

Simple issues are not a big deal. Unfortunately, it often turns out to be anything but “just a quick question.” Sure, not every question is a study in quantum physics, but most require background information. That background works on both sides, for me to grasp the question and for you to absorb the answer.

In my younger days, and in my own mind, I was an expert in all things digital. However, there was less to know back then. It’s been said that a wise man understands what he does not know. One thing I don’t know is everything there is about computers, no one can.

Computers have evolved into simple tools. Like hammer and nails to a carpenter, computers help put food on the table. And, like paint and canvas to an artist, they are tools used for self-expression. But like a carpenter or an artist, computers are not my entire existence and reason for being.

Finally, all of those “quick questions,” five minutes here and an afternoon there really add up. Even if it were possible to help everyone and solve every issue, I wouldn’t have time to fix the problem with my computer.