Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Belated "Hello" and Housekeeping

Well, the holidays have come and gone (long gone, actually... I started this entry in early January, but got sidetracked by the predictable post-holiday cold), and it's about time I got back to this. I realize I sort of backed into this blogging business, so I suppose I should take a moment to introduce myself, and define (to the extent I can) just what in the heck this is going to be.

My name is Bill Dauphin; I'm 45 years old; I live in Vernon, Connecticut (in the Hartford area, more or less); and I work as a technical writer (proposals and reports, not manuals) for a major aerospace company. My wife teaches English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) at the University of Connecticut American English Language Institute.

The son of a NASA engineer, I was born in Florida and raised in the Houston, Texas, area. I graduated from Friendswood High School, received a BA in English from University of Houston in 1981, completed an MA in English/Creative Writing from Binghamton University in 1984 (we called it "SUNY-Binghamton" in those days), and finally, just for the fun of it (really!), picked up an MS in Space Studies from University of North Dakota's Space Studies Distance Learning program in 2003.

So why blog? Well, at first, it was because my 15 year-old daughter was blogging, and I figured I'd better get with the program. Then too, a favorite online haunt of mine, the Space Arena BBS, stopped taking new postings (you can still read the archives, if you're brave ), and I ended up reading some of the regulars' individual blogs to try to keep up. One day I wanted to post a comment at Jon Goff's Selenian Boondocks blog, and somehow managed to convince myself I had to have a Blogger account to do so. I was wrong, of course, but by the time I figured that out, I had the account, and it just seemed natural to use it.

When I told Andy, my best buddy and model rocketry teammate, that I'd started a blog, his response was succinct: "I detest blogs!" If y'all buy some rocket kits from him, he'll probably forgive me, but the comment did start me thinking about what the devil I'm up to here. This is not any sort of attempt at "citizen journalism" like the pro bloggers (my current favorite of whom is Eric Alterman at MSNBC.com): I don't have the facts, skill, or authority to do that well, and I'd really hate to do it badly. It's also not intended to be a public diary like my daughter and her LiveJournal friends have: High-school students really do care about the minutiae of each other's days, but can't imagine anyone cares about mine. And I'm certainly not interested in the kind of bottom-feeding stuff that must have prompted this cartoon.

So why waste the electrons, eh? Well, it turns out -- and this'll hardly be any surprise to folks who know me -- that I do have an opinion or two. I don't pretend that they're necessarily any better than anyone else's, but they're there, rattling around inside my head. I find that putting my thoughts into words helps me understand more clearly what I actually think... and this is a way to wring out those words without inflicting them (or at least, not all of them) on my poor family. Call it letters to the editor, without the pesky editor. Better yet, call it a cheap alternative to therapy.

If you stop by here and find me yelling, be of good cheer: I'm not yelling at you (well, probably not... depends on whether your name is Bush or Cheney or Rumsfeld... but I digress ). And if perchance some bits of my self-therapy happen to enlighten or entertain (or just bemuse) you, great!

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