My internet was down for most of this week, forcing me to sneak bandwidth from a stranger's WiFi network with my laptop. Unfortunately, my laptop isn't good for a great number of things, as it is a Celeron 366 with 4 megs (that's right megs, not gigs) of video RAM and only 219 megs of system RAM (it actually has 256 megs of RAM installed, but it won't recognize more than 219 for some reason). As my laptop is my only really portable computer - ADAM being tethered to about 100 things in my room and Killing Machine being a 200 lb. cabinet now - I have very little choice when I need internet service but to use it out of the house (when I say that it's portable, I mean that my laptop is slightly less heavy than carrying a CRT monitor and full-sized tower case around with me. Despite its hardware limitations my laptop is actually very formidable... by the pound...).
A good place to make use of this portability is the Beehive, which is the coffeehouse that I have been frequenting since becoming unemployed. Other than having reasonably priced gourmet iced tea and somewhat expensive but otherwise damn good baked products, they also offer free WiFi to their patrons, and relatively unguarded power outlets (my laptop's battery has been offline for about five of the nine years that I've owned it). Last night I decided to make use of this feature to check my e-mail and to revamp my resume in the hopes of snagging a job fairly soon.
My friend Bill was there, though he was meeting other people, so I offered him a ride home once I was done with what I was trying to do. As soon as I sat down to use my computer though, something was amiss - the network card had stopped working mysteriously, even though the device manager was showing it as being connected and working properly. For some reason the driver software wouldn't acknowledge that it was plugged in. I had to reboot and re-install it about ten times before it finally took, and even then I'm not sure that I did anything special - it just decided to start working again almost magically. This is why I hate computers.
Anyway, once I had it up and running again I began to update my resume, being careful to take all of the blatantly negative things off of it, and recreate them as "learning experiences." It is because of this that such statements as, "I found that I couldn't deal with customers" became "I learned that retail customer service and I were not an ideal fit."
While I was doing this, two girls sat across the isle from me. One had her back turned to me the whole time, but out of the corner of my eye I noticed that one of them had the most absolutely brilliant smile I had ever seen. It wasn't a matter of white teeth, it was wholly a matter of expression - she just had the most pleasant, cheery demeanor that I had seen in quite some time. Bill came over and began talking about things, but I found that I kept waiting for a break in his conversation so that I could go over and ask the girl for her picture. I hated to seem distant and distracted, but I was.
I took out my camera and walked over. I explained to her that I had a weird and unusual request, and then I told her why. Despite being cornered by this strange, ugly, old person she gracefully accepted my proposal, and she seemed genuinely concerned that she didn't photograph well. "Poppycock!" I explained (or words to that effect), and with only one picture I captured her beauty forever, and showed it to her and her friend:
Unfortunately, my camera's CCD tends to wash out "flashed" objects, and so this morning I did some color correction in Photoshop - not just to the colors, but to the mood as well. The Beehive is a seedy, poorly lit place, but her smile brightened it up, and I took some of the glare off of her face that was brought on by my camera's flash. Now you can see her deep brown eyes stand out in contrast to the whites, and I whitened her smile a bit for emphasis. The background is now more subdued, but I feel that the falsification matches the mood far more than the plain picture:
So that is what I did last night. To the girl that I took the picture of, I may not know your name, but your smile will stick with me for a while - keep doing it!