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Add one more to the Blogosphere.

Byline: Bob Welch The Register-Guard

It was the late '70s when word came down from our publisher at The Bulletin in Bend that we were shifting from typewriters to "word processors."

"There's no way you're getting me to put out a newspaper on one of those blanking computers," said our news editor, a 50-something guy who would already have a couple of cigarette butts mashed in his ash tray by the time I arrived at 6 a.m.

Though I, not yet 30, chortled at the geezer's unwillingness to change, I quietly grieved losing the chk-chk-chk sound of a typewriter. Writing without the poetic sound of clattering keys seemed wrong, like the Beatles without Ringo's drums.

But the news editor survived and I survived; in fact, I can't imagine having to write on a typewriter now. Ambiance is nice, but when you discover you've misspelled a word 81 times in a book manuscript, there's a lot to be said for the search-and-replace function.

Now, some 30 years later, I'm a 50-something guy - "geezer" to my young colleagues - and today I will begin a Register-Guard blog.

At first, I wasn't coming willingly to this party, mentally squashing a cigarette in my curmudgeon's ash tray. But then I remembered what a colleague had told me long ago about computers.

"They're just a tool," she said. "The words are still yours."

She was right, of course. What initially soured me on blogs - a conjunction of "Web" and "log," as in logging thoughts on the Web - was how some people used them.

A faraway friend had started one; in fact, sent a tome of life philosophy daily. When I e-mailed to ask how he was, the reply stung. In essence: Check out my blog.

Later, after a similar exchange, I felt like someone calling a friend to have lunch and being told, "Have your people call my people." Like, suddenly, I wasn't dealing with a person, but a persona.

I wanted to exchange e-mails, you know, one-on-one conversation, the grit and grist of a relationship. He wanted to send me a 365-day-a-year Christmas letter, telling me what he told everyone else.

Meanwhile, though, something else happened: I started reading the Duck football blog of barely-30 Register-Guard reporter Rob Moseley. Hey, this was cool stuff.

Bottom line: I'm now looking forward to blogging - did I just say that? - but I want it to be supplemental to, not a replacement of, our regular relationship.

Yes, we're dropping the Monday "Where Are They Now?" column to give me blog time. But if the in-print column represents three square meals a week, the blog is between-meals snacks. Yippee!

It might include info I couldn't fit in that day's column, reactions from readers, not-ready-for-prime-time tidbits, even photos.

For example, my opening pitch is more insight, including photos, on Monday's ride with the snowplow operators. And a new twist to Marcola's squirrel controversy.

Clearly, the blog is a work in progress, like riding a bicycle while putting it together. But I think it'll be fun, insightful and interactive - because of you, dear readers.

I invite you to add your thoughts as, together, we try to figure out this place called home. Wherever you're rooted in the glorious county of Lane, I hope you'll visit blogville from time to time. And those of you beyond: feel free to join in as we try to make sense of a place that, at least at its Eugene epicenter, sometimes defies understanding. (Is it possible for a city to lose two hospitals to the same neighbor?)

I might blog all day long. I might have blog-free days. I might blog three times from 6 p.m. to midnight, which would, of course, make it a three-blog night.

Regardless of the number of entries, I'm ready for the new frontier. Because, as my long-ago colleague said, they're still my words. And, I hope, your words, too.

Welch's blog is at Welch can be reached at 338-2354 or
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Title Annotation:City/Region Columnist
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Feb 10, 2008
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