Goes with the territory, man - html coding woes

I wonder how long the average (typical/normal/usual...whatever) web-developer-type-person will spend troubleshooting what seems to be an easy page width problem? Sheesh! I have built more than my share of web pages and while I don't begin to think of myself as advanced - there's far too much I don't know, and likely never will - I shouldn't be having this type of diversion.

Or should I?

I've watched other developers struggle over seemingly-simple issues for far longer than the non-developers around them seemed to have the patience to deal with. I take comfort in these memories. And at the same time, herein lies one of the struggles of working in a field in which most of the like-minded persons I "know" are known only through web development forums and discussion boards. The single person I know, with not a shred of doubt, could take a look at my page and tell me what to do in a nanosecond is no longer alive, God rest his soul.  It's at times like these I'm again reminded of my loss. But this isn't about my dearly missed friend.

I'm just saying that this endeavor is like nothing I've ever known. What can be, at first glance, an easy-as-pie task can often turn into the cruelest of hoaxes by the computer that aids and abets my progress most other days. I suspect it has much to do with my slower-than-advisable transition from traditional tables-based html layouts to the incorporation of the infinitely superior css ones. When you're still trying to straddle the line between that-which-you-could-do-in-your-sleep and that-which-you-know-to-be-new-and-improved-but-still-sometimes-eludes-you, that line will sometimes drop you on your butt.

Like I've been dropped today. For a bloomin' HOUR, trying to make a simple section of this web page that should be sized per my specifications so that the surrounding background is still visible but only enough to be tasteful and complementary rather than overbearing and intrusive DO WHAT I WANT because it is not the boss of me!!!

Or is it?