August 13, 2010

A Farewell to Blitz

For those who haven’t heard, the College administration recently decided to phase out the use of Blitz over the next year. Soon, all Dartmouth students, faculty and staff will be using e-mail and calendar services provided by Microsoft.

Generally speaking, moving away from BlitzMail is probably a wise decision. The program’s inability to handle HTML formatting, combined with its unaltered (some might say unadulterated) 1980's layout, make the program distinctive but sorely dated.

Perhaps BlitzMail has run its course. It lived a long life – 23 years, ancient for any software – and, as the adage goes, all good things much come to an end.

Accepting that the pill is necessary, though, doesn’t always make it easier to swallow.

After reading a piece in the D, I felt guilty for how neglectful I had become of my old friend. (I didn’t even have the client installed on my new laptop!) So I rushed over to Dartmouth’s computing webpage, downloaded Blitz, and logged into my alumni account.

Staring at my screen, with the ugly, pixilated little mailbox in the upper-left corner, makes me ache for Dartmouth more acutely than I have in a good while. Something about my Blitz inbox takes me to the terminals in Novack Café, the FoCo lobby, my sophomore year dormitory on Wheeler first floor, and the bench on Main Street right in front of Dirt Cowboy.

Sitting in this downtown loft apartment, thousands of miles from Hanover, I can smell coffee and Keystone; I can feel the chilled winds whipping across the Green; I can see the trees, molting blankets of gold and orange; and in this moment, I can feel the rush of reuniting with old friends, of the first syllabus of the term, of long nights with my nose pressed against a deadline. If I close my eyes and stand, I am sure I could feel the granite beneath my feet.

Remembering the countless blitzes to friends makes me miss them more keenly than ever. Today they are scattered – from the marble halls of Washington to the gorges of Ithaca and the cornfields of Iowa. Lost in this moment, though, I can almost pretend that they are just a jaunt across the Green.

With nostalgic ruminations stacked one atop the other, I can forget the flaws and frustrations of the ‘real world’ which, for all its wonder, cannot quite satisfy the yearning for comfort that the Dartmouth embrace always provided.

And while it hurts to acknowledge that those days are behind us, it still makes me smile to remember that they happened at all.

BlitzMail, for all its quirks and shortcomings, still strikes a powerful pose in the College psyche. Even as its time comes to an end, it lives on in the shared consciousness that we built, together, in our time at the College on the Hill.

So if you, like me, haven’t checked your Blitz in a while – do it today, if only one more time, for the love of Dear Old Dartmouth.


  1. It's sad to think that future years won't share that memory of Dartmouth, that particular aspect of the experience. It makes me wonder what past alums know so well that we don't?

    I still feel like I'm on an off-term... something tells me I'll be back one day... damn I wish the Govt Dept had graduate degrees...

  2. Jamie '0110:53 AM

    Thanks very much for this reminiscence. I definitely feel very much the same about Blitz and will miss it as well.