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"Our lives are a book that has already been written. The brilliance of the plan is that we are only given a chapter at a time..." ~A. Drayton Boylston

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

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?

It took me a while to catch on to the internet. I even had a direct connection in my dorm room for a year in college and didn't use it at all (my roommate, a pre-med student, did). Before I sent my first email, I remember I used to give my friend Lisa money to email people for me.... she was on Compuserve which charged a certain amount per email (ridiculous if you think about it now).

It was my boyfriend Eric (who was a Freshman when I was a Sophmore), an electrical engineering major at UNH, who introduced me to the internet and helped me create a web site. I thought the concept of having my very own page online pretty cool, and I remember I just had to learn how to do it. Eric taught me HTML from scratch (which actually helped me to get my current job because it was kind of a rare skill, not needing an editor), since there weren't any editors back then, and whenever I had questions about how to do something, I'd ask him. I also had a book on writing HTML, which I still have in my bookcase.... there isn't much in the book that still applies, but its tattered and well-used, and I don't really have the heart to part with it as it brings up fond memories. I actually owe a lot of my computer related talents to Eric...he was the one that started all the interest in that stuff. I think I spent more time working on my web site and sending emails than studying for my courses.

Once I started emailing in 1994.... that was it... I was forever hooked. I remember my first email was sent on a no-frills UNIX terminal in a computer lab. Back then, whenever I emailed someone in a different country, the email would take hours to get to its destination. Email wasn't always instantaneous like it is today.

As great as email was, I find it sad that handwritten letters are almost unheard of now, and I used to send them all the time when I was younger. At one point I had over 30 pen pals from all over the world. I shudder to think of how much I spent on stamps and packages in those days.... but there was definitely something a lot more personal and special involved in getting something in the mail. I used to practically babysit the mailbox everyday waiting for letters. There were days that I would get ten or more letters... and it was so fun and exciting to open them and respond. Most of the pen pals I had were creative or artistic in some way... so each letter and envelope was like a work of art.

To this day, whenever I have the opportunity to hand-write a letter, I try to make it special... with some creative lettering, rubber stamping, or drawings/doodles. Some people have told me they've kept my notes because not many people actually try to make them look unique.

It also means a lot to me to get something thoughtful and handwritten, since it so rare these days. I tend to keep it, even if its a short note about something simple and unimportant.

I still have a huge collection of letters I've received over the years, which prompted me to start my online letter gallery: http://www.starfirescircle.com/lettergallery.html

I'll be putting a lot more up there as soon as I have the time. My first love, Brian, who was originally a Pen Pal to me, decorated all of his envelopes - and I really want to put them up on the site for people to admire and enjoy.

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