I don’t remember exactly how it happened, but in the 1990s I joined an email listserve, The Carl Sagan Mailing List. I liked the Cosmos series on television and was enamored of the concept that there were “billions and billions” of stars in the universe and the likelihood that we were the only intelligent lifeform in the universe was remote. I commented occasionally – there were some really bright people on the site who intimidated me – and remember that the discussions went everywhere.
One discussion in particular, about what the plural of virus was, ended up being between two men who both went to Catholic High Schools and who each had a lot of background in Latin. One of those individuals was Ed Uthman who was a resident in pathology at the University of Tennessee in Memphis at the same time that I was working in my first position out of residency at Methodist Hospital in Memphis. I thought that he may have started the site, but his article about how Carl Sagan changed his life states otherwise.
The upshot of the “plural virus” discussion was that, while one might think the plural would be “viri” (bacillus/bacilli) the plural is viruses because the singular is a made up word; not Latin.
One of the members of that listserve was a Canadian woman who was a militant atheist. Most on the listserve had little use for religion, but this particular member turned every conversation into an atheist rant. I eventually tired of the conversations and left.
I began making pottery as a hobby in the latter 90s and became friends with a really good potter, Dale Duncan, who was living just south of Charlotte in South Carolina at the time. In the course of email discussions with him I began to also talk to his wife, Catherine. I didn’t know it until later, but Catherine had worked for the Charlotte Observer at one point and had some ties to writers.
In one of those emails she shared a link to a piece written by a member of Open Salon. I’m sorry to report that I can’t remember the writer’s name, but she wrote as though she was writing the script for a play, and the actors in the play were her mother and her mother’s friends in the assisted living center. The pieces were hilarious and I followed her until she suddenly quit as we all know bloggers do.
In 2005 I suddenly lost most of my eyesight, retired, went on disability, and received a lot of help in getting around in a different world. One of the lifesavers was a computer with top notch accessibility software. When I discovered Open Salon I joined – it must have been around 2008 – and began writing and reading other writers work. It was a heady time. Open Salon had a lot of readers and I had a few pieces that got tens of thousands of views and even a request to include one in the editorial page of a Louisiana newspaper (for free of course) and then the bots came, Open Salon became a morass of nonsense posts with titles like: “WHITE SOCKS WIN WORLD SERIES”, and real people couldn’t get on to read and write.
Many remember that the site then went to restricted membership, the bots were cleaned out and Open Salon became stagnant and Salon eventually closed it down as a money drain.
In the meantime, about a year prior to the shutdown, as I recall, a couple of bloggers suggested that I might want to join a new website, Our Salon, because of rumors that Salon was going to cut us loose. I did join, wasn’t very active at first here, but then began to write on both sites, sometimes cross-posting between the two. And then there was only one.
And so, here I am (warts and all).