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From the day I have been regular on this site, I have become almost addicted to it. Daily morning I check for new post and the same I do in night.
Shabnam said this in her reply to andromacha's thoughtful post. I have experienced the same phenomenon. So what is it that is so addicting about NAO? I will hope to see your thoughts about this subject in replies to this post. Here are a few of mine.
The recent post by Null "Impeach Bush" has been one of the most fascinating things that I regularly check here. The specifics of the conversation about the issue are fascinating, yes. But just as and possibly even more fascinating are the passions of those embroiled in discussing the issue, the perceived insults to themselves or their countries, the posturing and head butting, and the attempts at peacemaking. In these you have a microcosm of human beings relations and perhaps (in a much less complex way) the same action/reaction as the dispute between the USA and Saddam's Iraq. But the argument and discussion here is very beautiful and positive, I think, even when it is heated. The USA/Iraq conflict on the other hand is very, very ugly and deeply disturbing.
What is the difference? I think that the difference is that in the former the motivation is communication, but in the latter it is greed. Regardless of what may be argued about threats, safety, human rights abuses, etc., I think that unfortunately the spoils of war weigh heavily on the accelerator pedal of this conflict.
What happens here at NAO, thanks to the internet and the creators of this site, is a world platform for communication. Greed is expressly forbidden in number 9 here. Admittedly, some of NAO's users have put forth more effort to communicate than others in that they have learned a second language, English, in addition to their own. For this they are to be complimented and thanked!
Another aspect of NAO is that it provides a forum for communication that bridges widely different age groups. If we were to all gather in a room, the age differences alone would create a barrier to communication. Here they don't. NAO also bridges a potential economic barrier, in that all you need to join is access to a computer and the web. Certainly, these two things are also a barrier to communication with people without this access, but the exclusion is not intentional by NAO or anyone involved. I think that it goes without saying (though I'll say it) that listening in to other people's conversations that are sometimes really quite intimate is a universal fascination.
But surely, there are many internet chat rooms, discussion groups, etc. that do all of these things. So again the question - why is this place so fascinating and addictive?
My only answer is that it's a combination of the site design and the people involved here. By some amazing circumstance, whether it's completely accidental or by more than an accident (depending on how you view such things) we have all arrived here, and if I do say so myself, we are a really interesting bunch of people. (I'll come back to the site design observation momentarily.) I have greatly enjoyed reading what all of you have to say and how you have replied to things I have said.
Now back to the site design, my own initial attraction to NAO after I stumbled on it, was that the design itself was very interesting. The home page immediately intrigued me because the writing there was presented as "the best of." I thought to myself, "if this is the best of, what else is here and how did this get to be the best of? Are these reviews? What is the mechanism? There are obviously Europeans here. I wonder who else is here. Who are these people discussing an NAO meeting, and with such interesting nicknames - oxygenius, Annida, jaz, andromacha, ReallyCoolDude..."
This feels like a very special place with special people at a special moment.
Following Shabnam's lead, but in less detail, here is a bit about me. I am originally from Texas, though not the Texas of G. Dubya Bush. I left long before he had anything to do with the state. I lived in Austin where I studied and played music. Austin is a very cool place, and I highly recommend it to you. You may already be familiar with the music scene there - Stevie Ray Vaughn (God rest his soul)and many others have been a part of that scene.
There was a part of Texas that really bugged me, though. Austin is an island in a sea of red necks, religious fanatics, and ignorance. Much of the state, though beautiful physically, is spiritually and politically bankrupt in my opinion. I had another burning interest beside music -- music recording -- and I had also done some serious study and practice in recording.
So in 1978, I moved to Washington, DC, to take a job as a recording engineer with a non-commercial radio network based there called National Public Radio (NPR). At the time my greatest musical interest was in jazz. I had been a pretty fair jazz drummer in Austin, though I played many other styles as well. But I knew deep down that it wasn't in me to be a great player, so I pursued recording. NPR produced a pretty cool jazz radio series called Jazz Alive! I had the good fortune to become one of its main recording and post-production engineers. It was a dream come true for me. I got to travel to many clubs and concerts all over the country and record my heroes in performance. I even got to go to the Grand Parade du Jazz in Nice once! That in itself was an amazing experience! We were there for Bastille Day! I'd never seen anything quite like it, with drunken revellers dancing in the streets to live music! I, of course was one of the revellers. It was a blast.
I lived and worked in Washington for 16 years, though not always for NPR. I free-lanced some of the time, and also worked at a radio and television station that produces programs for both NPR and its television equivalent, PBS.
I married and we had three children -- first a boy, then a girl, and finally another boy. They are a hilarious bunch and I love them dearly. They are now aged 13, 11, and 9.
My whole life I had experienced radical mood changes. Sometimes I seemed to be a speed freak, with incredible energy and capacity. But alternately, sometimes I was utterly distraught, believing myself to be worthless, sorrowful, and very difficult to be around. During 1986 I became an almost complete insomniac and very unstable. I was finally diagnosed as being manic depressive, or as they now call it, I had bipolar disorder. A long period of therapy followed, both with medication and psychotherapy. At the time this was very difficult and I often wanted to quit and run away or disappear. With a lot of support from my wife, I came through, and I'm now a much better, stronger person for it. Somehow I was always able to work, though. Working was my passion. As Duke Ellington said, "Music is My Mistress."
After living in Washington for so long, and becoming more stable empotionally, I was ready for a major change in lifestyle. We decided to move the family to Santa Fe, New Mexico. I won't go into the exact reasons we chose Santa Fe, but access to family played a large part in the decision.
So we moved. It was A great adventure, travelling across the country with three small children and a van packed with stuff. The kids were 4, 2 and 6 months at the time, and the trip was sometimes trying, but usually a lot of fun with many stops along the way.
Having just reviewed what I've just written, I think my promise of brevity is pretty much blown! So I'll wrap at this point and post this. I'll see if anybody reads this or if I've put everyone to sleep with my tale before I decide whether to continue.
In closing I'd like to say that I think that NAO is quite a remarkable invention, and I've not seen anything quite like it on the internet. The site design and the sort of game that is created by its functions are, I think, quite ingenious. It has held my attention since I found it accidentally while I searched with Google for information on the Earth's magnetic poles possibly changing. I've greatly enjoyed reading the posts, checking out people's individual web sites, and watching the intimacies, tensions, distractions, and the beautiful and odd sort of international cyber-community that exists here. I hope to continue to become a part of it, if I am led that way.