Where were you?

I was at Barnes & Noble. They had just opened for the day, and as I was walking up to the cafe to order a chai, another customer who I didn’t know asked me if I had heard the news and I said no. She told me but I wasn’t sure what to believe because I didn’t know her and she had heard it from someone else. Then another customer confirmed it. This was before most people owned a cell phone.

I took my drink and walked over to the mall to the Sears store. I figured they’d have it on in the television department and they did, on several TVs. I watched the coverage with about a dozen strangers, all of us shocked, of course, one of those moments that bond even strangers for a short time. I watched for about an hour and then left and walked across the highway to Borders Books and they had the radio on in their cafe, something they never did. I spent the rest of the day there.

I later went home and like everyone else watched the TV coverage for the next several days.

25 Years!

This week marks the 25th anniversary of this site. (Here’s the very first post.)

A quarter century! That means it’s older than Google, older than the iMac, older than the word “blog” itself. We called them online journals or homepages back then. This was way before social media, clickbait, and autoplay videos screwed up everything. I went online via TIAC (The Internet Access Company) and my phone line was constantly tied up. AOL ruled the web in 1996 (thanks to those “10 Free Hours!” discs we all got in the mail), there were thousands of Blockbuster locations, and Judge Judy hadn’t even debuted yet. “Macarena” was the number one song, everyone still had a landline phone, and I had a lot more hair.

How long is 25 years? When I started this site, “content” was still called “writing.”

Every once in a while I post something to tell newcomers who I am and what I’m working on. I write a weekly column for The Saturday Evening Post (every Friday morning) and I created the pop culture magazine/blog Professor Barnhardt’s Journal in 2002. In 2003 I published Book, with Words and Pages, a collection of essays and short humor pieces. You can read it for free here. I’m currently working on another book and other projects. (Here’s a more detailed bio, if you’re interested.)

I’m not on Facebook or Twitter. I consider this my home on the web and I update it all the time (don’t tell me blogs are dead). If you’d like to contact me you can send an e-mail or leave a comment on a post. You can sign up to get notified when I update the site by entering your e-mail in the “Don’t Miss A Post” box on the right.

I take tea over coffee, dogs over cats, and cold weather over warm. My favorite TV shows are The Dick Van Dyke Show and Mad Men and my favorite movie is It’s A Wonderful Life. I need to lose some weight, I still send handwritten letters, and when I was 10 I accidentally punched a nun. (It’s a long story.)

And now, a flashback. Pay attention to what Katie Couric says at 1:25. She knew what was coming.

The Incredible Shrinking Five Things About Media and Technology Right Now

(I don’t know why I started giving these posts classic sci-fi/monster movie titles, but sometimes things just happen. Here’s Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10Part 11Part 12, Part 13., and Part 14. Whew.)

1. Well, it looks like we’re going to be living with this for a long, long time.

This disease, this virus, this cancer, this thing that has hurt so many people in so many ways. It looked like it had vanished for good, but now it has made an ugly comeback. We all thought it was safe to go out in public again, unprotected, but now we know that’s not quite true. If anything, we have to be more vigilant than ever. If we’re careful and we take the proper precautions to avoid it, it doesn’t have to affect our lives the way it did before.

I’m talking, of course, about the return of Gawker.

2. Mike Richards wouldn’t have been my first choice for Jeopardy! host (my favorites were David Faber, Anderson Cooper, Ken Jennings, Mayim Bialik, and Buzzy Cohen), but he was quite good. He’s a natural in front of the camera. But fans are up in arms because they think he stacked the deck in his favor by being the executive producer of the show. They started to film the new season today (the new season launches in September), but let’s see if any of Richards’s past comments and actions will derail any plans for him to be the permanent host). (Update: He’s out!)

3. Congratulations to Facebook for their new technology that will let companies create virtual conference room meetings. It’s like Zoom only 5000x more creepy (though it only shows your avatar from the waist up so Jeffrey Toobin might like it).

I’m upset about this because if I ever had to do it I’d have to give my avatar a bald head and that never looks quite right.

4. Doesn’t my local TV station understand that I don’t want to take out my smartphone (I don’t even own one – I have a flip phone), walk up to my television set, and scan some code they have on the screen? JUST TELL US WHAT THE WEB ADDRESS IS.

5. Sad news: WGBH’s Beat the Press has been canceled after 22 years. I was actually going to start appearing on the show starting in September. Here’s to host Emily Rooney and all of the panelists. It was a fun show, one I looked forward to every Friday at 7, and I’m sad to see it go.