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I began blogging in the early sixties. You read that right. That revelation occurred to me only today. It is amazing how a word, name or place will pop out of a page and events will come wafting back. The words today were “Lynn, Massachusetts” on Mark Sardella’s blog.

 

I suddenly remembered someone who lives (or lived) there. The Boston Strangler stalked somewhere in that vicinity. She used to talk about it. Her name is lost to the years and this is the first time I had thought of her in over four decades. The mystery person from Lynn was only a voice to me on a tape recorder. An 8-track? I don’t remember, but it is possible. Soon after another nameless voice came to me. This one a woman from Long Beach, California – then another from some western state where he was a radio personality. I was a young mother living in Richmond, Virginia. What did all of us have in common? Writing—entering contests to be precise where we finished jingles, wrote 25-word statements and named things.

 

The early sixties was a fertile time for contests and sweepstakes, which we considered poor stepchildren to what we called “skill contests.” I belonged to the Gold Dominion Contest Club which met at the Richmond Public Library once a month. In my early twenties at the time, the next youngest member was at least twenty years older than I, the oldest in her seventies, but we shared a love of creativity and writing. All had won a lot of prizes. Tempa Blanton had taken advantage of rampant contests after World War II ended and won everything in her kitchen—including the kitchen sink. She said in her youth she was told she looked like Judy Garland. If you squinted your eyes just right, she still did.

 

Oh, back to the early blog——  From a national contest newsletter, I hooked up with contesters from across the country. Soon a tape arrived in the mail. I listened to each tell of their lives and contesting experiences, then added my story and mailed on to the next in line. The tape continued to make its circle for several years with long gaps between arrivals. One day it no longer arrived and I never heard from them again.

 

Could they still be out there? Still contesting, or gone on to other writing, as I have? More important, do they know they might be among the first bloggers on earth? Okay, so it was a round robin tape, but a forerunner of coast to coast communication with strangers, don’t you think?

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What did you do before with the time you now spend on the computer? My husband sprang that question on me the other day and now I’m springing it on you. I do spend hours at this screen every day. I’d never thought about what I was doing before with my time. So here is my list of things I have given up or spend less time on:

 

  • TV—That’s the activity that has suffered the most and I don’t miss it at all. As a matter of fact, when I try to find something to watch while relaxing I wear my thumb out channel surfing. TV has gotten worse. My time is better spent on the computer for sure.
  • Shopping—I had to dig to come up with this one. Surely I did more than watch TV before, and I did. This revelation surprised me. Shopping used to be an enjoyable sport to me. Now what I don’t order online I save up to buy in one trip as quickly as I can. When did that happen and why? Who knows, but I see the UPS man more than a store clerk now no doubt.
  • Finances—I wrote checks by hand, balanced my checkbook (sometimes) and subtracted until the money was gone. Now Quicken shows my finances at a glance, bills are paid online, bank accounts handled the same way. I’ve saved money and time in this instance, and best of all kicked the little voice from the FUKOWEE Indian tribe. If you read Kurt Vonnegut I won’t have to explain that last one.
  • Writing fiction—This is the one downer. I realize my writing urges are being too satisfied with this blog, leaving my serious writing over in a corner somewhere.  

 

That is it as far as I can tell. I still exercise (biking, walking and yoga) though no longer at a club. I certainly read as much as ever, if not more. And photography? I take way more pictures now. The instant gratification of seeing them on screen or printed immediately enhances that activity. Now that I have pinpointed the one area I need to attend to, I plan to do just that. Of course, that will mean more time here on the computer. It all comes back to Big Hal, doesn’t it? 

 

What have YOU thrown aside or slighted for your relationship with the computer? How has it affected your life? Perhaps you have thought about it; I hadn’t. If computer is as big a part of your life as mine I think you should. I would really like to hear your views.

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