My 20 Years of Email

It recently occurred to me that I’ve been using email for 20 years! Back in the late 80s/early 90s, I used to dial up to connect to local area Bulletin Board Systems. I have fond memories of using the BBS systems in Wilmington. (I may write an entire post about that sometime.)

In the later part of my BBS heyday, around 1992 or 1993, I was a member of one called The Backdoor. I recall that at some point the sysop (admin) added the ability for users to send real email over the Internet. Up until that time, we could only send messages to each other within the BBS itself. This was the first time I had access to true email with an “@” sign.

Not so fast, though. It could take up to 12 hours to send and receive mail. The reason for that was that the Backdoor computer only called up the Internet and retrieved email for all users twice a day. Running a BBS cost money and it wasn’t cost effective to exchange mail over the Internet more often than that. People didn’t have always-on data connections in those days. The Backdoor computer had to dial up to retrieve emails itself and then pass them on to the users as they logged in.

I certainly don’t remember what my first email address was, that has been long forgotten, but I’m fairly sure that the domain name was Not many people had email addresses back then. I remember having to go out of my way to find people that I could write just to test the system. Email was extremely basic back in those days, too. It was text-only. Without fonts, colors, or file attachments.

It’s hard to believe it’s been 20 years since those early days. I went from using the BBS for basic email, to early editions of America Online, then to my first real Internet service provider (MindSpring), then later on to web-based mail at Hotmail, Yahoo mail and Gmail. By the way — do you remember MindSpring? Ah, those were the days.

I wish I had made a serious effort to save all of the emails I’ve received. I didn’t get serious about storing all of my mail until around 2003. That gives me a decade of archives, but I no longer have the messages from my early Yahoo or Hotmail accounts, for instance. At some point long ago, the accounts became overrun with spam and I went in and deleted them in haste, and created new ones. I wish I hadn’t done that. I’d love to be able to peek through the mail I’d received from way back then.

A lot has changed in technology in the past 20 years, but email survives. I’m happy that it is still alive and well. Will it exist in its current form 20 years from now? I hope it does, but there is room for improvement.

Sorry! Isn’t a Sorry Game After All

I’ve found myself recounting this story countless times over the years. Let me say, before I even begin this tale, that the technical name of the game I am writing about is called Sorry! (with an exclamation mark.) In the context of this text, using the exclamation mark when I write the name looks crazy, so I’m not going to.

The sight of the board game Sorry always takes me back my days of being a kid. It’s not that I have fond memories of playing it when I was growing up; quite the opposite. As a kid, I’d never played it at all. Sorry wasn’t in our family game collection. It was, however, in every other persons home that I could remember. My brother can probably back me up on this. It seemed as though every household had this game at some point or other.

Despite that level of penetration into the masses, no one ever wanted to play it. Ever.

I can still recall my childhood days, hanging out with other kids in the neighborhood. When we’d sit down for a board game and Sorry was mentioned, it was consistently shunned. “That’s an awful game,” they would say. This has been the consensus with most everyone I’ve ever met — to this day. It has always baffled me that the same people who have repeatedly shunned the game actually own it themselves. Why did they buy it in the first place, I’ve often wondered?

Many moons ago, I coaxed my girlfriend at the time to play with me. After the game was over, I agreed that the gameplay of Sorry wasn’t all that fun. Still, it was momentous to have finally gotten the chance to play it after a lifetime of wondering what it was all about. It’s funny, I’d seen the Sorry game box at friends houses all my life but didn’t get to actually play the game until I was in my mid-twenties.

I’m bringing this all back around again because my friend Agnes has Hasbro Family Game Night on her Nintendo Wii. One of the games in the Hasbro package is Sorry! I told her my Sorry saga and we laughed. We played. And we have since played the Wii game a few times now. Once I got the hang of it, I found it not to be sorry at all. Dare I say, it’s fun! At least the Wii version of the game is fun. Perhaps I’ve been swayed by the catchy special effects in the game, but looking past that, the premise of the game itself and rules of Sorry do indeed make for a fun experience.

Whether you have a digital version of Sorry or the old fashioned board game, I suggest pulling it out and giving it another go. If you don’t own Sorry, chances are you know someone who does. Play it. Who knows, you might actually enjoy it.

Sorry! Game

Most Cereal

Kellogg’s introduced Most back in 1979. I remember eating this cereal many times as a kid. My grandmother often had a box on hand. It was one of her favorite cereals. Sadly, Kellogg’s discontinued Most at some point at some point in the late 80s or early 90s. I haven’t been able to find the exact year it was taken off the market.

This once classic cereal popped in my mind last week. I did some research. The most detailed information can be found on the website of MrBreakfast. On that site, there are several people calling for the company to bring it back. It’s nice to see that there is still interest in it, but I doubt that would ever happen. I wasn’t able to find any mention of it on Kellogg’s website. I wonder if people would buy it if it came back.

Most cereal box

Legendary Legs in the Dirt

Way back in the day, my family pulled a legendary April Fools Day prank. The year was 1990.

At a road construction site in Wilmington, there was a large wall of dirt that had been piled up. We took a pair of jeans, put them over some 2x4s, and nailed on an old pair of shoes. On the morning of April 1st, we took the mock legs to the site and buried them in the dirt, sticking out for passersby to see. Once we had the legs firmly in place, we went back to the car to take some pictures. While at the car, a surprised motorist stopped and got out of his car. He pointed to the legs and shouted, “It’s an effin’ dead body!” It was all we could do not to laugh. Classic!

I don’t remember how long those legs stayed there that day. I’m sure that we drove past the site a few times to check on them. This was the best prank that we ever did. I’m so proud of this stunt. The legendary photo of the legs is below.

Legs in the dirt

Super8 Family Films Digitized

My family has a large collection of old neglected Super8 movie films that have been boxed up in darkness for years on end. The films span a few decades, ending in the late 1980s. My brother and I are in many of these home movies from the 80s. We once even made some our own magic movie spoof, a theme borrowed straight out of the TV show Bewitched. That movie has always been my favorite, and still cracks me up when I watch it today.

A few months ago my brother and I set out to get the bulk of these old films digitized for their preservation and our enjoyment. After researching several online companies, we settled on CJS Technologies. The benefit of using a professional service is that they physically clean and scan each individual frame of the film and create a remastered digital movie. CJS offered a free trial offer to digitize a single five-minute film reel at no cost. We mailed off a test reel and were very impressed with the results.

My dad later mailed off our entire family collection of 27 film reels, all of which were shot in the 70s and 80s. CJS spent a month cleaning and scanning all of the film and we received the completed package just in time for Christmas. It was a wonderful, lasting gift for the entire family.

It is wonderful to have all of our old family movies preserved, and in a modern format that everyone can share and enjoy. I have to commend CJS on doing a fantastic job restoring our films. I would recommend them to anyone looking for such a service. Their company not only outputs your restored movies to a playable DVD, but they also send along the pure digital output files in uncompressed AVI format. Most impressive! Job well done.

Evil Dead 2: Indy Theater Review

Last night, I went to the theater to see the classic campy horror movie Evil Dead 2, a film I’ve seen many times, and own on DVD. It was playing one night only at the Colony Theater here in town, which is a small Indy movie house. Only $5 admission! I can’t believe how many people showed up. The theater was awesome in a very retro way. So old school. Cash-only purchases all around, no pre-orders or debit cards were allowed throughout. You can buy beer and whatnot at the concession stand.

Evil Dead 2 came out in 1987, but it is so low-budget that looks even older than that. The previews that played before the movie were all for horror movies that came out in the late 70s or early 80s. In fact, Halloween 2 was one of the previews. So cheesy. All of the audio came from the front speakers; no surround sound to speak of. It was retro all the way. The film itself was so old and worn that it had countless artifacts, distortions, and reel changes. Awesome!

As soon as the movie began, the film broke. Everybody laughed and cheered. It was much like watching a public production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The crowd obviously knew this movie inside and out, and had probably had seen it countless times before. It is likely the craziest movie I can think of. Everyone in the theater truly ate it up. It was so awesome to see it with a large crowd of fans. Everyone present was there simply to have a good time, and we all did.

Every cheesy line that Bruce Campbell delivered and every god-awful special effect was met with cheers and applause from the crowd. It was a giant party. The audience loved every minute of the movie, which by any modern standard is truly a terrible production. But it is the overall bad production quality that lends Evil Dead 2 every ounce of its charm.

In a funny twist of contrast, I brought my friend Amanda, who is only 23 years old. It’s hard to imagine, but she was born after this movie came out. I wasn’t sure if she would dig the retro experience, but she certainly did.

It was all so retro last night, much like watching a movie back in the 70s. So awesome. I enjoyed it more than the blockbusters of today, by a mile. I want to go see more old movies in this kind of setting.