Unstuck in time: Random tidbits from my life

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Way back when the web was an infant, I put up my first web site. It was November or December of 1994. Some of today’s web sites estimate that I had one of the first 10,000 sites on the web, which seems like a lot of company until you realize that the estimate right now is about a billion, give or take 10,000. At first, you couldn’t get your own URL and all backgrounds were rendered gray by the first graphical browser, Mosaic, the predecessor of Netscape, which was the predecessor of Firefox. Also, at that time there were some folks in universities — the main users of the early web — who didn’t want to allow commercial sites like mine (it was for my consulting activities) on the web, so there were actually two webs, one to which businesses were relegated. Finally, I created the first-ever web home for the School of Mass Communication at Virginia Commonwealth University.

I was a youth soccer coach for 18 or so years, many of which as a licensed and paid coach and trainer for advanced and “travel” teams from under-9 to under-17. I have a “D” license, which is the highest state-level license. Above that they are all national licenses. Started out as an unpaid “Dad” coach, but really got into it! BTW, Eddie Johnson, of the U.S. Men’s National team and Major League Soccer frequently played as a “guest” with a team I was assistant coaching (clearly I didn’t hold him back too much…), and we played against his regular team many times. He was good as a 12-year-old. Back then he went by Edward.

I am in the Internet Movie Database, the go-to site for films and actors. I am in there as the off-screen narrator for a short film. “The Injuries to Tim Dale” by my old college pal Harry Moss. Last year the film was selected for the Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival. I also could/should be in there for a 70s movie called “Super Seal” (starring Sterling Holloway and Foster Brooks doing his famous drunk routine). I was helping out with some of the chores surrounding the making of a feature film when they asked me to do a stunt, a reaction shot to a seal driving a car, that involved riding my bike into a parked VW bug. The first take — yes, there were two — didn’t satisfy the director, but I had given it my all with a low flying-W over the handle bars onto the hood. I ached all over and the bike was even damaged a bit. But I did it again (the show must go on!), although with less enthusiasm and with a lesser result. But it made the film.

Back to the web: in 1995 people were just figuring out the opportunities with it. I was already writing about web design and how it needed to differ from print design when I was approached to be a panelist at the following year’s International World Wide Web Conference in Paris. I really wanted to accept the honor and go, but I had just started as chair at the University of North Florida’s Department of Communications and Visual Arts, and I could not go. UNF also said they would not help me financially to go to the clearly prestigious event, and I had just incurred the cost of a move. But that’s OK. The web and I will always have (a) Paris (invitation)…

The President of the United States sent me a kind letter on Nov. 19, 1969, requesting that on Dec. 5, I appear in downtown Cincinnati, Ohio, for a delightful little ceremony. An induction ceremony. Yes, it was the famous “Greeting” letter from the president that ordered me for induction into the Armed Forces. Drafted big time. Luckily for me, I had applied for and received an extension of one more year than the normal four years in college or else I would have been drafted already. (I switched colleges every year, thus extending my time, and it paid off….) Right after I got the greetings-from-the-president letter during my “extra” year, they held the first draft lottery. Out of 365 possible draws for birthdays of men to be drafted, June 24 came out of the basket 358th. WHEW! I had lucked out and did not have to go to Vietnam. Interesting statistic: In 1969, the percentage of Americans who personally knew someone who had been wounded or killed in Vietnam: 52 percent (11,616 killed in 1969 alone).

That’s enough for now….

2 thoughts on “Unstuck in time: Random tidbits from my life”

  1. What timing I have to talk about the dawn of the web — the 20 years ago today connection! Great story in the Globe. Thanks, Robert. I especially liked that it validated the numbers and facts I remembered. That doesn’t always happen! Hope the WaPo is treating you well and that the humidity isn’t making you think crazy thoughts….

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