IMR: 2000: May: 07 — Sunday, 11:13 p.m.
Our Apartment, Makiki, Hawai`i

Jen and Katie leave for Ocala in just over a week. And they will be visiting Jen's parents for six weeks.

I'm still trying to get used to the idea. Even though The Big Meeting was almost two months ago, I still feel like I'm trying to regain some balance between work, school, and family. These last few weeks, I've actually been getting out of the office before 6 p.m., sometimes leaving enough time for me to take Katie down to the park. I've been getting mushy again, digging through five-year-old love letters (and e-mail) and bringing home little treats.

And now they'll be away for almost two months.

How easily the most active, "productive" weeks of my life as of late can also seem somehow wasted.

Still, even from this far away, I can tell how bright a sun our Katie is in my father-in-law's life. And I've always felt guilty that Katie lives here, not twenty minutes away from either of her grandparents on my side of the family, while Jen's parents are rarely closer than a sketchy long-distance phone call or a tattered photo album.

They deserve this quality time with their granddaughter. And given what I think they paid for the two round-trip tickets (even offering to include me), it's clear there's little they wouldn't do to get some.

Besides, part of me thinks I could use some 'selfish time.' I always make an effort to take Katie out and give Jen a break from maternal overload, but I rarely seek out opportunities to give myself a break from... well, everything.

Of course, I'm not sure I'd be able to relax. These days, any moment I'm not working to support a family, I'm working on things for which I'm not even paid.

I've officially given up on Hawai`i OnLine.

It's no small decision, common sense as it might seem to most who know the company today.

I've been a customer since 1995, since they first became a statewide ISP rather than a small Kaua`i BBS. I hooked up with them while in Hilo, in fact, posting my first web pages on their servers. They gave Nate one of his first tech jobs, and hired many other cool local kids.

But in the years since, they've been gobbled up by a West Coast monster known as GST, all calls and queries routed to a monstrous bureaucracy on the Mainland, and their local office has lost most of its notable talent. (Their sales staff famously visited my office downtown trying to sell us internet access, completely unaware that it was already a customer. We switched to GTE a few weeks later.)

In the years since, I'd also become aware that the only remaining quality- and service-minded local ISP was Lava.Net. But because HOL, through GST, made a deal with the state, its discount student rate for unlimited access simply could not be beat.

In short, my wallet kept me, not my heart.

Well, late last week, with no notice or warning, they canceled my account. Only when Jen called them on Friday did we discover it was because their records showed we owed them some $100.

Never mind that I've barely even been late with a payment in five years, because I've always let their machine automatically suck money out of my checking account. And they couldn't say exactly where the past due amount came from, only speculating that it was carried over from some older, canceled account.

They asked me to call back this week, but I don't think I will. They can have their "justice" purging my account. This just gives me the excuse I need to find friendlier faces elsewhere.

In the mean time, my access addiction is being fed through the most unlikely temporary source: the outdated 'preview edition' of AOL preinstalled on my laptop that I never got around to deleting.

When using AOL is more fun than dealing with a regional ISP's customer service system, you know something's wrong.

Gastroenteritis. An ugly word for the almost-as-ugly stomach flu.

I came down with it big time Friday night, right in the middle of my bout with the sore throat and fever that had already attacked my wife and daughter. When I woke up in a cold sweat at 3 a.m. Saturday, death was starting to look like an attractive alternative to trying to get back to sleep.

I spent the entire morning curled up on the carpet near the bathroom, ocassionally rolling in to make terrible porcelain-amplified noises. Jen, bless her soul, took Katie for a walk after my dear daughter decided a prone father would make a good trampoline.

Wonder of wonders, upon her return, Jen also discovered with but two phone calls that the Straub clinic on Kapahulu was open and taking walk-ins. Yes, even after 3 p.m. on a weekend. I dragged myself to the car, strapped everyone in tight, and drove at a constant 17 m.p.h. down South King Street. Fortunately, the area's elderly churchgoers were also on the road, so I blended right in.

A quick check by the doctor on duty, and I was soon out the door clutching a pair of prescriptions and a cartoon-festooned handout on "Restricted Diets" and "Diarrhea."

I had to argue a bit with the grumpy pharmacists at Long's (I think she gave in only because of what she feared I might do to her clean counter), but nonetheless got my pills and sucked down the maximum dosage of nausea-inhibitors and antibiotics during the drive home.

I promptly passed out.

When I woke up, the first thing I saw was Jen and Katie relaxing on the floor, coloring crayon flowers on my "Diarrhea" pamphlet.

But I felt pretty darn good. By the next morning, I was able to enjoy a tasty package of soda crackers. And later that day, I ate a messy teriyaki hamburger at the Kaimuki High School craft fair.

Ah, modern medicine. Where would America's junk-food industry be without it?

© Ryan Kawailani Ozawa · E-Mail: · Created: 08 May 2000 · Last Modified: 08 May 2000