Right Column Redux:  David Strom's Web Informant
Start of August 29 Column

All The Different Me’s: 80s Paul

The 80s were the decade of family for me: I settled into a mutually comfortable marriage with Vicki, and we had the two children we wanted, both girls. It is moderately difficult for me to write about them (for the same reason fish have trouble writing about water), but it is no exaggeration to say my family made my life worth living. I enjoyed every minute of fatherhood. I was advised to: “always enjoy the age they are, don’t spend time anticipating the next age.” I feel confident I followed that advice to the letter. My daughters were, and continue to be, one of the greatest sources of joy in my life.

This was the decade when I tasted one of my childhood dreams. I was a west-coast reporter writing, first about minicomputers, then mainframe computers. Despite having poured water on my youthful dream of television, I still mentioned it occasionally. A PR woman I knew heard that The Computer Chronicles, a weekly PBS program, was looking for a software reviewer. It came down to me and Esther Dyson, and I came across better on camera. For eight years, I lived my dream of appearing on national television. I was no Art Linkletter; mostly I sat in a chair and wore funny hats while doing software reviews. But TV is TV.

Sometimes, I co-hosted the show (check it out at the Internet Archive). And eventually came to realize that I had made the right choice in going into print. Less work, more money, more time at home (for years, I was CMP’s single WFH employee, out of a staff of 1,000). I never missed a teacher conference, play or soccer game.

I started out sending stories to headquarters in Manhasset, NY on a rotating drum fax machine that required a human being on the other end to feed in sheets of thermal paper. “Read it fast, before it turns brown.” I also bought my first pair of blue jeans in decades. Lots of joy. Very little contemplation and gratitude.


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