Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Goodbye, 75152,3640

A dozen years ago, after several months using bulletin boards, I signed up for CompuServe. In those far-off days, the service CompuServe offered was invaluable. In addition to research, email, and eventually Web service, it had forums on every conceivable topic. A CIS forum offered up to 23 bulletin boards (called sections), each with its own library and chat room. The Cooks’ Forum had sections on meats, vegetables, baking, spices, desserts, holidays, gadgets—fascinating discussions, places where you could ask or offer advice. In addition, most forums had a few scheduled real-time conferences, and they all enabled live private chats.

Different forums emphasized different features. Some were mainly libraries for files to download; others had lively discussion boards but few conferences; still others were chatty places where nobody ever looked at the section messages.

CIS users tended to be intelligent people, and many of the forums became solid communities. The support forum where I served as sysop certainly was; in one calendar year, there were a dozen marriages between people who had met there—and that didn’t include the non-legalized relationships. And we weren’t the only ones. After a gap of 8 or 10 years, I went back to the Litforum. Many of the same users were still there.

It’s been a few years since I was seriously involved in the CompuServe forums, and the main support forum I frequented is gone, killed off by the explosion of the Internet. So today I reluctantly cancelled the account I had held so long. I was proud of the CompuServe Classic account, all numeric and starting with 7, that showed how very long I’d been online there. Now it’s closed.

CIS changed my life. Without the tough, honest feedback of other people in a medium I could handle, I might never have found the strength to get out of my marriage. I wouldn’t know Michele or many other old friends I met in the forum. I wouldn’t have moved to California. My life would be unimaginable.

Goodbye, 75152,3640. You served me well.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


What if Osama Bin Laden bombed London? What if a tough, honest East End woman wrote a letter to Osama Bin Laden, telling him her feelings about the deaths of her son and husband in the bombing?

What if a novel based on that premise was published in England on July 7, 2005?

Chris Cleave is the author; Incendiary is his first book. There are still posters for it in the Tube, because the Underground workers are too busy digging out bodies to take down ads, even ones that have become painfully tactless.

The first chapter is up on his web site. I think it’s wonderful—grimly funny, heartbreaking, horrifying.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Heartbreak in Texas

Someone set a black cat on fire. And laughed.

This has got to be some kind of . . . nightmare. Please wake up. Schro never scratches or bites, not even when you grab him in an awkward way. He just lays back in your arms and tilts his chin up for scritches. And purrs. Why? What's the point of hurting something weaker than you are, of hating a creature of pure love?

The cat will live, but the vet bills will be huge. Paypal donations (only if they cause no hardship) are being accepted.

I can't even begin to find the words. I am sick--literally nauseated.

EDIT: Someone is organizing an auction for Schro's vet bills. I'm donating a cross-stitched coaster in the colors and initial of the winner's choice. Donate, buy, spread the word.

UPDATE: No more need, folks. The community (and the dad) has come through.

We're all off the hook now, especially Schro. And there's no way it would have been possible without all of you. Thank you, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU. You are love.

To those of you who were in the process of getting together donations, please use that funding for the benefit of your own loved ones, be they furred or not, for your personal pleasure, or for your charitable cause of choice. My cup runneth over.

FINAL UPDATE: It was a hoax. I have removed the PayPal information. The friends who know this woman in person, and who vouched for her, are horrified and sorry. The woman claims she was trying to prove that people on the Internet can be decent. Yes, well.