Checking the stats, I see I've now been on Steemit for a little over 100 days. Wow. As the saying goes: time flies!
In that 100 days, I have met a lot of fine folks, gotten involved in the writing community which meets on Discord†, and even started making a little money—only a buck or two a post on average, but hey, it's a start.
So to mark this occasion, I thought I'd do another part in my Introduce Yourself series. I won't use the tag this time, but we can think of this as a sequel. It's also a bit of writing practice. These days with a more than full-time job, kids, and several side projects, I don't get to do as much writing as I once did.
So let's talk about my username: dbooster. What the heck is a dbooster?
Back to the Past
Way back when, nigh on thirty years ago, the online climate was a bit different than it is today. The internet was around, but few had access to it. Instead we had local BBSs (Bulletin Board System(s)). Someone in the neighborhood would host a BBS on their computer and we would all dial in, connecting over the phone line with our speedy 2400 bps modems (and yes, I do mean bits per second). I always pitied the folks who hadn't upgraded to this cutting-edge speed. They were living in the stone age, the poor fools.
Once we were connected, what was there to do? Well, download stuff. Shareware games like the amazing Wolfenstein 3D. Or leave messages for others to see, which is where the bulletin board in BBS comes from. (For all unfamiliar with the old technology called bulletin boards, they were kind of a proto-internet forum.∆) In practice, most of these messages were ads for local businesses or announcements of things such as D&D‡ events at the local comic book store. It really wasn't much, but we were all enthralled by the idea of being connected to a network, visions of WarGames§ dancing in our heads.
Every BBS was different and if you were lucky, your calling area might be home to several of them. If you were unlucky, you might have to call long distance to connect to a really smoking BBS that made the exuberant long-distance fees worthwhile.
Not all BBSs let you set a username—they were rarely set up to host user accounts, they were more just: connect, view, logoff—but some of the more fancy ones did.
So here we are. I'm a young boy, excited to be surfing the local network, and I am prompted with picking a username. Hmm... what to call myself? If you are familiar with all the Brat Pack films of the 80s¶, you can probably imagine some of the names that came to mind. I considered them all, I assure you. This was serious stuff, after all. I couldn't just pick a username casually! What if I managed to hack into a government database? When they traced the hacker it had to be a really cool name they found, one that would make those FBI agents bow their heads in respect and mutter "Now there is a good username!"
The Comic Connection
Let's flash back several years. A flashback within a flashback—whoa!
Like many boys, I enjoyed comic books. My family was poor growing up, so I never had many, but this just made me enjoy the ones I did manage to acquire even more. I would save my money and go buy one or two a week. To give me something to do, my mom used to pay me 50 cents to walk to the corner supermarket and buy her some supply that she needed.
Only 50 cents, you say? Adjusted for inflation that would be around a buck today. Still not a lot of money, but a not insignificant sum for a young boy. Boy, I had to work for that 50 cents! The store was a good 30-minute walk away and she often requested heavy things.
A pack of baseball cards in those days was 35 cents. I really didn't like baseball much—rather, I liked playing it, but didn't like watching it—but my dad had convinced me that buying baseball cards was something boys have to do, so I did. Plus I liked the gum (which was usually half melted to one of the cards, ruining it; I can imagine this drove early collectors crazy).
A comic, on the other hand, was 75 cents. Superman was 75 cents, anyway. Some other comics were over a buck. Those were for rich boys, I imagined. The Richie Rich type. Lucky bastards.
If I could convince my mom to send me to the store every day, I could buy a pack of baseball cards every day and have 15 cents left over (the local supermarket never charged sales tax on things under a buck) or I could save for two days and buy a Superman comic, having a full quarter left over. Oh the dilemma! Of course, she didn't send me to the store every day.
One day when I went to the store and spun the comic rack, eagerly searching for Superman issues missing from my collection, I stumbled across a new (to me) comic called Booster Gold. What a strange name, I thought. I decided to flip through and, lo and behold, this Booster Gold seemed to operate out of Metropolis and even mentioned Superman. I decided to take the risk and buy it.
I ended up loving the book. Booster Gold was more of a clown than the serious Superman I was used to, spouting off witty banter as he fought the bad guys, à la Spider-Man. Ah, Spider-Man. I would have loved Spider-Man as a young boy, but unfortunately my local supermarket seemed to be DC comics only. A wicked plot to keep young boys from knowing the House of Ideas, no doubt.
But I digress.
I enjoyed the book so much that the next time I went to the store, I searched for more issues from the series. Much to my distress, there weren't any more. I looked around in a panic! A store clerk must have guessed what I was after and hidden all Booster Gold issues! I could imagine him covertly watching me, laughing to himself, proud of his ploy to prevent me from learning more about Booster Gold.
I ended up buying a pack of baseball cards instead. The sugar from that old baseball pack gum slowly lifted my mood on the walk home and a new idea formed in my head. There must be a comic book store somewhere in this city. I would find it, go there, and buy all the Booster Gold issues within.
I'll spare you the ordeal I went through actually getting to the comic book store after finding it. Let's just jump ahead to the point where I had all the issues of the Booster Gold series, as well as many issues of the Justice League series, which is where Booster Gold moved after his own series was canceled.
Booster Gold was an unoriginal character with a not-so-wholesome past. A not-so-wholesome present, either. He was a university football star in the far future who gambled on games and was kicked out as a result. He then went on to be a security guard at a superhero museum. Deciding that he also wanted to be a hero, he stole several items from the museum as well as a time machine and went back to our time. In our time he acted as a superhero, but money was his ultimate goal, and it was money before being a hero in many cases. If I had discovered him today (difficult, since I no longer read comic books) I wouldn't like him, but something about all of it appealed to my young mind and he quickly became my favorite superhero.
Dbooster is Born
Back to my BBS name. After exhausting all the 80s culture names that came to mind, I turned my thoughts to comics. Booster Gold? No, I didn't want to just copy a name. How about Goldstar, which was an identity Booster's sister took when she also came from the future to the present? (I love how easy time travel is in comics.) While that would have been a cool name, again it was just copying something and I didn't want that. At this point, I was kind of tired of this entire name-picking thing and a little frustrated at my inability to find a really cool name. So more just to get it over with than anything I decided on d for David, my name, and booster, making dbooster. Not quite the cool hacker name I had wanted, but I was tired and it worked, and I decided it was cool enough.
And that, my internet friends, is how dbooster was born. Thirty years later, I'm still using the same username whenever I sign up for anything on the internet. Funny how that worked out.
†: Namely The Writers Block (discord link) and The Isle of Write (discord link). Lots of good folks in both places. If you are a writer of any type or have any writing tendencies, I urge you to check them out.
∆: But David, I hear you cry, bulletin boards are still in common use. Ah, you aren't thinking like a Millennial. (and yes, I am joking, don't send letters. If you know what a letter is.)
‡: Dungeons & Dragons, but only parents who were against the game (common thinking at the time was it led to Satanism) called it that. Everyone else referred to it as D&D.
§: Shall we play a game?
¶: Anyone not a child of the 80s probably only knows of The Breakfast Club. That was a great film, to be sure, but there were many others. Go read about more.
Just in case you want to go back and learn more about the fella who wrote this, here is my Steemit intro post.