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Life Begins at 80...on the Internet
(Casting the Net from Au to Za)

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Senior citizens around the world are learning how to find their way around the Internet by reading articles in this free electronic book, Life Begins at 80 .. on the Internet, written by retired Australian journalist Eric Shackle, and posted on Barry Downs' South African website.

"It's an ever-expanding collection of stories that make us think, laugh, and learn," said U.S. wordsmith Anu Garg, mastermind of the newsletter A Word A Day, which goes to half a million subscribers, and of which Shackle is copy editor.

Hundreds - probably thousands - of seniors enjoy reading the eBook, which  presents four or five new stories on a wide range of topics every month. The March edition featured articles headlined FIVE LORDS A-FLIPPING AND AN MP IN A WHEELCHAIR, SPAGHETTI BRIDGES, MAD  AS  MARCH  HARES and AMAZING GRACE AND THE TRAIL OF TEARS.

The book links dozens of stories Shackle has written in the last two years, posted on websites in Australia, Bangladesh, Canada, China, England, New Zealand, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, Sweden, Thailand and the United States.

From Berkeley, California, Anita Goldstein told the 82-year-old Sydney author: "I teach seniors (that's anyone older than I am!) how to use the Internet and email. Another woman and I formed a volunteer organization called CLICKSILVER -- we go to senior centers, skilled nursing facilities and residential retirement communities.

"Your website has been a source of much amusement, amazement and awe for my senior learners. They loved your articles and your website -- and were mightily impressed  with the breadth of topics you cover."

Helen Gelish teaches a basic computer course at  the Huntington New York Senior Center, on Long Island, 40 miles east  of New York City. "I had intended to teach them how to navigate the net by playing in the health and medicine field," she wrote. "Then I found your site. It's fun and informative at the same time."

Kermit McKemie, of Concord, California emailed: "Excellent website. Keep up the good work! I'm active in a seniors' computer club. I plan to identify your site in a future issue of our club newsletter Press Any Key. Thank you."

From England, Christine Ball, of Gnosall, Staffordshire, e-mailed: "I admire your ability to grasp new technology and communicate with people around the world at such a grand age. I run a goat chat group in the UK (the only one here at present) but I have members all around the globe (including Oz), one of whom posted your story to us.

"I write a column for the British Goat Society called Web-Chat and wondered if I could mention you to encourage other senior members to consider the benefits of becoming computer literate. So many think they are too old to learn new tricks!"

Anne Sakai, who teaches English to foreign students in California, wrote: "I can't believe you are over 80! See how wonderful the internet is? It makes you younger automatically if you write engagingly. If you didn't tell me, I would assume you were young. The ageing brain is a marvel. You need to kick start it but it can work.

"As you say in the preface to your e-book, you were ecstatic when you 'took to' computing. I think as one gets older the keywords are: meaningful, useful, fun, stimulating and of course, limitless. Older people have more time to spend on the Internet and computer than young people. I don't see why more of them don't use it. Oh yes...the part of the brain that learns new things is full of cobwebs."

From Seattle, Washington  (U.S.)  Jack E. Hepfer wrote cheerfully "Just turned 80 myself and not quite dead -- yet." Another happy American, Laney Darnell, said "You are terrific! I have six years to go before I reach the eighty mark. In the meantime, I've gone back to college and will graduate soon with honors. Who says you can't teach an old dog new tricks, right?"

Lorraine Skrinak, "blissfully retired in North Carolina" (U.S.) wrote: "Thank goodness there are actually people over the age of 15 on the Web -- articulate, funny, interesting people -- and you certainly are up there in the top 10!  I will continue to read what you write... A great, big 'Thanks!' to you and your cohorts for delightful reading!"

From Nanjing, China, college educator Delly Liao emailed: "I am happy to read your new edition of your eBook. Congratulate you! It isn't easy for you who are already in his eighties! You are great! I hope more and more people will read your eBook and enjoy it."

And from Mary Longman: "Just discovered your eBook... It's great, and I look forward to many happy hours reading and linking to the various sites. I'm South African born, living in Canada, and love the ability the net has to allow one to communicate all over the world, quickly and easily."

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