QotD: Reminiscing about the Internet

Do you remember the things you did when you first started using the Web and how it has changed your life?

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The things I first did on the web did change my life, mostly for the better. I only used it now and then from about 1993 to 1996, when we got our first home computer and a sponsored CompuServe account. That's when I became merbelle, a name I kept and used for all internet dealings until Yahoo literally screwed it up. But that's another story. 

I joined two forums at first, a poetry forum, and one that talked about old music. The music one, populated with radio djs and music collectors, taught me so much. First, it was encouraging that the people I spoke with online were just people; I never had any of that fear people developed about how the web was full of evil or whatever. And the people of that forum, mostly men, were kind and generous with their time and knowledge. I owe a great deal of my current music interest and rediscovery of good old music to them. I hope that they enjoyed speaking with me as well, though I did not have as much to contribute. 

The poetry forum, I owe so much to that! I still talk with a couple of those people now and then, and peer into the forum they started elsewhere when CompuServe began to change. 

The man joined it first. And at the time I thought he was more literary than me, and talented in a way that I was not, so I was afraid to join in. (There were other reasons, but not relevant to this post.) I wanted to share a poem I'd written, though, with people who might tell me whether it was interesting and worth continuing effort in the medium. 

This is that poem. Okay, it's not actually a poem, and I knew it then, but I also knew it had poetic devices, and wanted to learn more about that kind of writing. 

if you teach a man to fish, 

when will arthritis prevent him from reeling in a catch?

you never cut your hands slicing potatoes, but the slices are thick and uneven 

and some of them fry up brown and crisp while others still seem cold in the middle.

you’re so thin i could rock you as easily as i rock my own children, 

but you’d never admit you need my touch just as you’d never let me buy you some fish as long as you can still cast your rusty hook into the water.

you don’t think i know that you eat those potatoes with nothing but store-brand cola to wash them down because it’s cheaper than coffee and you have no bait for that rusty hook of yours.

you proudly display that laminated name badge pocket protector wherever you go. 

but it’s yellow with age, and your once stiff canvas shirt is soft and rumpled; worn through at the elbows.

your myopic eyes, large and faded through those thick goggle-like spectacles, 

sort out the change for the generic antacid that food stamps won’t provide for.

i imagine you carefully wiping your dish dry after your meal, 

and i think of calling my dad.

So I dove in and shared it. You had to do it in just the right way; there were sections for people with a lot of experience and knowledge about poetry, and others for chatter, and some for just sharing poetry you didn't want feedback on, and of course there were developing rules for giving and receiving praise, etc. 

It went over well, I mean, of course it isn't very good, but it does have a sense of balance to it, and it's kind of touching. A couple of the experts were kind, and told me what they thought was worthwhile about it. So that encouraged me to write more, and get to know the people, make some friends, watch so much romantic drama being played out onscreen, which sometimes fueled more writing, etc. There were three men there I'll never forget, all wonderfully talented, all British, though two of them lived in other parts of the world. They each taught me something about how to read and write poetry, and occasionally took a personal interest in my efforts. 

There was another man I met there with whom I had an ongoing online and occasional phone call friendship from that time nearly to this, though we haven't spoken now in over a year. I will always remember him with more fondness than most other people I've ever known. 

Most of the women seemed kind of like they were on the make. And there was less talent among them. I do not believe this is because women are less talented at poetry, merely that the ones in that area were probably less focused on it. So I didn't really connect with any of them. But I learned to take poetry seriously, and learned so much about myself and my talents, how to develop different styles of writing and communication, and how to engage people for conversation. 

I wrote a sonnet to share there, my first one, that I was just so proud of, and now it is lost somewhere in the ether of the web. I don't know why it's not saved in my poetry files with all the others. But wow, realizing that I could write one gave me a real sense of power that I've never forgotten, and that I do try to remember to apply to my ongoing efforts. 

I was 31 when I began using the web to learn about writing and other subjects, and to make friends. Thinking about it that way, it seems like a lifetime ago. These past 13 years have been filled with a great deal of extraordinary pain that is still not resolved. But I have an awful lot of fond memories mixed in with all that, and I can thank access to the web for many of them. 

QotD: First Things First

 What’s the first thing you do when you log on to your computer every day?

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I don't "log on," since about 2000 or before. I just open the computer and there it all is. 

I delete most of the new mail first. 

Catch up on other time zones in Brizzly; stuff westwardly that happened during the night and eastwardly that happened in the morning, which are both the same period of time, of course. 

Read news at myway.com. Become annoyed at someone interfering with someone else's personal liberty. 

Look at the headlines at BBC News. Repeat above. 

Answer mail that might be real and want answering. 

Tell people on Twitter what random goofy song is in my head this morning. 

And proceed from there. 

QotD: Staying Organized Online

With so much information on the Web, how do you stay organized online?

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Er, huh? If this is strictly about the web itself, it pretty much organizes things for me. If I want to regularly visit places in it, I bookmark them in relevant folders, or in the toolbar. Safari shows me the places I go to most often when I open a new tab, or when I click on the little icon made of tiny squares up there in the toolbar. 

I think this is one of those questions I don't get, or maybe you mean something other than the "web," Yahoo!. Or maybe you mean, how do you use the web to stay organized? I mean, in that case the answer would just be that I don't, though I know there are people who use the internet for that. I have no need of it. 

::pushing glasses firmly up against bridge of nose::

QotD: Kids & Social Networking

How old do you think children should be before they join social networks like Facebook and MySpace?


But you're kind of behind the times. The children have been abandoning those networks, as usual, to the old people who took them over. And I won't betray them by telling you where they hang out now, since you'll just co-opt that as well.

And now, here's a song.

Kyu Sakamoto

QotD: Trapped in a TV Show

If you had to be trapped in a TV show for a month, which show would you choose?

I've been mulling over this "stuck in a TV show for a month" question. Unlike some, I am not a snob about TV. I am a snob about most "reality" programming, but that's another matter. 

I love TV, as you may know. I go through periods where I watch a little or a lot, but I do not believe it has harmed my brain or my attention span. They are pretty much what they were always going to be. TV teaches us stuff, if we want to learn, and entertains us besides, which is an awesome evolutionary prize. 

First I considered what I would have chosen to see on my own, up through about the age of 7, when life was sweet and idyllic. 

The children's shows I watched were Captain Kangaroo, Mister Roger's Neighborhood, Sesame Street, The Electric Company, (and later, ZOOM.) The afternoon reruns I (sometimes) watched were Star Trek, Lost in Space, and The Munsters. The Dick Van Dyke Show figured in there somewhere, but I don't quite remember how. I also liked Hanna Barbera cartoons, old ones and new ones, mostly on Saturday mornings. But I mean, I also played outside and with my toys. And read zillions of books. 

Anyway. The Dick Van Dyke Show might be a cool one to spend a day in, but I think not a whole month, unless I could just be Laura Petrie before she had the kid.

Laura Petrie Dick Van Dyke Show

After all that, in the 1970s, a lot of evening broadcast TV was fantastic. But also gritty and argumentative, so I wouldn't want to be there. And then after that, TV was very, very demented and knuckle-dragging for the most part, until the late-90s or so, with only a few exceptions. 

One of those exceptions is Star Trek: The Next Generation. It had a slow start, but you could see potential from the beginning. When it started to get good was when it lifted off from the original episode themes and began doing its own thing. Eventually it was very, very cool. Most of the time. 

So I'd want to be female, of some rank enough to waste time on the Holodeck like the other officers, have a lot of sex with Picard or possibly Riker before he got to be a bit too much, and not have anything at all to do with Counselor Troi, unless we were eating chocolate together in Ten-Forward

QotD: Premonition...

Have you ever had a premonition? Did you heed it? 

Submitted by aynge.

Oh, who doesn't have those? Sometimes you heed them and sometimes you don't. Sometimes it's not about heeding, like on Sunday when my daughter was handed a raffle ticket at the NJIT open house and we both just somehow knew she'd win whatever the prize was—we'd gotten there late and weren't completely on board yet. Her number wasn't called, hers ended in 50 and it was 30 and I kept thinking, the speaker should change that, the 3 should be a 5. It was weird and made me crinkle up my face. That ticket holder wasn't there to win the prize, nor was the next one. And then my daughter's number was called. They're mailing her an iPod. 

The night before last, my phone was dying and I knew I should charge it, but I was so sleepy, so when it jingled at me a second time, I shut it off. I laid there for awhile thinking, "this has portent. something isn't right." but then told myself I was paranoid. And then when I charged it in the morning, there was a voice mail from my brother saying he'd been in a car accident, someone had stolen his bag out of the back of the smashed car while he was being put on a stretcher, and he couldn't remember if my bank account number was in it. 

He is, apparently, okay now. So is my bank account. But I won't shut the phone off again.