Part 2Stars Come Out
Saturday morning. Nothing in my inbox. Well, Natasha was a college student, right? She probably had things to do Friday night than answer strange, unexpected e-mails from her family, to go with the regular deathly dull weekly phone updates on Sunday. I still got on the phone dutifully, but how are you supposed to talk properly with Mama hanging on your shoulder? Some things you just can't tell your parents, right?
That was nice of Mr. Wong. We went to the same church, and he occasionally played a round of golf with my Papa. I wrote a little note to myself to say thank you if I saw him the next day, and went about getting the dialer set up. Mama and Papa didn't really like the telephone, they preferred writing letters, so I wasn't surprised when they didn't mind it.
What was that number Mr. Wong told me again? I went back to his message and wrote it down carefully on a spare sheet of my sketch pad.
And nothing happened.
Huh? I opened the message again, and sighed. 698, not 668.
More noise. How do children these days form any attachment to technology without these kinds of noises to latch onto? That amazing sound. Whale-song played through a crackly VHF radio. I sat there in rapture, and then it appeared.
What was it supposed to be, anyway? Uncle Peter had told me the theory of a BBS, but still. A lot of the time, you need to see something to understand how it works. Or I do, at least. Papa was quite astounded when he heard that Mama had let me take the toaster apart to find out how it worked, but he was even more astounded when I put it back together again and it carried on happily toasting bread as though nothing had happened; and from then on we bonded together by taking things to bits.
It asked me for a password. I thought for a moment for something meaningful.
And I was in.
Now it was starting to make a bit of sense. It was really the same as e-mails, except instead of just e-mailing whoever, your messages could be seen by anyone. I wish I could say that I understood immediately what it meant for the world.
Anyone who says that is probably lying, though. I mean, what happens now when something new comes along? We just go "hey, looks cool" and we get on with it, don't we?
Well, okay, the FAQ helped. There was a message in my inbox, too! I couldn't click quickly enough, but it was just a pre-generated acknowledgement.
Of course, I didn't understand that at the time, so I replied, thanking the system for thanking me. Then I went back to the public messages and checked them out.
Who shares their poetry with a BBS, anyway? Of course there was some in the back of my sketchbooks, and of course I shared it with my sister, but that was different.
Well, now that I think about it, it was her who told me to be careful who I shared it with. But still. Showing just, like, anyone? Huh. What a weird idea.
I enjoyed that one. Seemed like useful information. Scary, too! I wrote to *Blue Sky, thanking him.
Message to: *Blue Sky
Thanks for your message about computer viruses! It's really interesting stuff.
Uh, just one question, I hope you don't mind. What's ARPANET?