I was born in Bay City, Michigan in the year 1966. At the age of 3-4 we moved to Milwaukee Wisconsin and there we stayed for about 5 years. We later returned to Michigan again.
My whole life I have always been amazed by electronic items and gizmos. I have always felt a need to have that neat new toy or item that consumed more time learning how to use it than it saved me doing the task by hand. For that reason around 9 years old I developed an interest in electronics. After using the item I wanted to know how it ticked. It was not good enough to know it just worked. I started playing with all kinds of digital IC's and parts from every which kind. Building this and that... a few of them actually worked and WELL.
When signing up for my classes at Western High School, I signed up for a class in Computer programming. At this time I knew just a little bit about computers but what I had learned playing with counters and other electronic do-hickeys helped understand them. With Christmas around the corner, I was hoping for a computer. Sure enough that day came and I was the proud owner of a Tandy Color Computer I. I found out later my dad was taking it out of the box each day to play with before Christmas, he too was addicted. Well he and I wrote a huge program (in those days anything over 3k was large!) and lost it on the cassette. Within four days dad decided to put in some overtime at work and we had a disk drive. I wasn't complaining! Well we played with that computer till the keys rubbed off. (didn't take long) When it was time for the computer class I signed up for, I knew enough to make myself look like a certified "geek" (No pen protectors or glasses, just knowledge). I got an A in the class with zero effort. Oh sure I ended up with some friends in that class with the help I gave to others. Ya you guessed it... Mostly girls!
I Jumped into Green
Me being a young kid with such a appetite for electronics I decided that the cheapest way to get a good education and get to play with electronics was to join the Army. Man those Army recruiters sure do talk smooth! I graduated from Western high School on June 4th 1985 and was in green by June 10th. I went to Basic training at Ft. Knox KY. NO I didn't see any gold bars or money, but I did see alot of the dirt there close-up! 1.... 2.... 3... Even after Basic training, I was living my life out of a locker. So, I needed a computer system that would fit in that tiny space that I was forced to call home. I bought a Tandy Model 100 with 24K for $599.95 (great price at the time), I put 96K in there for a nice system. At this time 96k was like a 1 TB hard drive by today's standards! I bet I even paid more than you could get that 1 TB for today for that 96k of RAM.
I went On-Line
After I finished my Basic training and was sent to Ft. Gordon, GA for Advanced Individual Training (AIT) in Satellite Communications. While there I bought the direct connect coupler for the modem built in to the model 100 and I was headed for the world of telecommunications. At 300 baud, CompuServe was doing a house cleaning on my wallet, so I looked for another source of telecommunications. I discovered local BBS's. For you younger kids, this is a host computer connected to a modem (or 2 or 3,.. etc) that connects when you dial it. Oh man, this was a lot cheaper, so I used them even more. Well that created an "On-Line junkie" out of me and being that BBS' were not a controlled substance.. I had found my drug. Incidently, this was the only "high" I ever had because I have never used drugs.
The Pentagon Wash D.C.
Armed with my new knowledge of satellite systems my first military assignment was The Pentagon! Wow this place is a real mess! Look out for falling plaster and Asbestos removal! Really gets you thinking when you see all those asbestos monitors hanging on doors and plastic walls everywhere. Our first real PC came the day our office received a Wyse CGA based computer system with a 20 Meg hard drive. I thought OH MY GOD THIS IS HUGE!, well remember the time. I played with it even on some of my off hours. My girlfriend seen less of me but was very understanding. Then came the day we received a 2400 baud modem! This is when the "HS" LED (on the modem) really meant HIGH speed. I was NOW a "BBS-Junkie" and BBS Anonymous was no where to be found.
I started a BBS
Some of the bbs's I was calling were not what I called the best ones so I decided to try my hand at it. I downloaded a piece of software called "PC-Board" and didn't exactly like it.. "WildCat" ditto, and many more. But, when I downloaded "RBBS-PC", Ah now this is much better. I found Rbbs-PC version 14.1 and liked it. I called my new BBS "Sat-Elite RBBS" as my job in the military was Satellite Equipment Repair. Well with the "Huge?" 20 megger in that sucker, I would never need more! Man what a disillusioned person I was. After one month the bbs went from 19 Megs free to 112K left and had more than 500 users. I was told that the "Office PC" may be used by me but in this condition it was no longer an "Office PC"... "Start deleting.." so I whacked off 5 megs but that lasted only for about 2 weeks. The cycle repeated many times. I was glad the NCOIC (head dude) except for the OIC with the stars was enjoying the BBS as much as had.
The White House "Hello Mr. President"
Later while still working in the Pentagon, somebody ran up to the satellite van where I was on duty at the time and told me there was a pair of suits (Secret Service Agents) down stairs waiting for me. After the hot flash I experienced, I probed my memory for any possible bad events in my life. What really worried me is that I could think of none. Once I reached the office of my OIC (Dude with the stars), He explained how he was impressed with me and recommended me for assignment to White House Communication Agency (WHCA). I about lost it and shouted for joy! 1 year later (Ya they investigated me for a Year!, even talked to the lady I used to cut grass for!) the orders were in hand I was bound for the White House. This was great but what about my BBS?? I was already addicted to sysoping. I talked to the sysop of "Williams Rbbs" (what a name sheesh, BORING!) a in the rut system that was on its way out cause he ran it at work and was losing interest in running it. You know the type with mostly Dbase III files (database info files) and no fun. I told him that I would place all my files on his system and sysop (System Operator, The guy that runs the system) it for him. This was great I asked him how much disk space was available to me and he went through a lengthy description of how it was connected to a server and had near 1.5 Giga Bytes (This was almost unreal at this time when a 40 meg drive was really big) if I needed it! The word was placed and the system was ready, in three days the new bbs ">>-Micro ACE->" had over three hundred users! this was great and lasted for two years. Then came the day, the host computer for the bbs was affected by lightening. It was not a pretty sight, even the monitor was scorched! >>Micro Ace-> was surely dead. I loaded up my car with 520 720K 3.5" disks and copied what I thought was the best of all of files and sorted them out and placed the best on my system and a new bbs was born, "100+ Rbbs" running on a 16Mhz 286 with a SI of 17.9 (Norton System Info, benchmark) and all in my apartment! I was now a star! I was written about in "Portable 100" magazine, I was receiving callers to the BBS from other states and soon other countries for the support of the Model 100 computer system. I was high on life. Sounds really kool but I forget to mention that there was only CompuServe and three other BBS' I knew that supported this Model 100 computer. Meaning that there were not a lot of other choices.
OH NO Don't send me to Honduras!
I received orders, the military decided it was time for me to move again but I was headed for Honduras! OH NO! what about my bbs? I don't think I will have too many callers anymore. I had four weeks to close down and be off to a strange foreign land. As it stands I popped for a Tandy 1400LT and put a 20 Megger in it to keep me from going insane until I may return to my beautiful homeland where/when I may start up again. I landed at what looked like the middle of nowhere. It was a tiny six mile perimeter that was fenced in and because of the shooting of six military personnel one month before, I arrived and was not allowed to venture outside the fenced area. Life was hard there. We called it "Soto Cano Prison "believe me it was fitting. While there I worked nights as a DJ for the rock club "The Red Garter". Funny name being that there was about 2500 GI's and only 50 of them were female. Hence "prison"!
Panama Central America WOW KOOL!!
While I was in Honduras, They noticed that I had computer skills (maybe it was because that was all I had to do with my time!) They decided to let me automate just about anything and everything. When I was done with them just about everything was on computers. Word of this automation lead to our finance center in Panama, Central America (not Florida). The civilian there was requesting a computer talented person for about a few years and when she heard about me she wanted me. She cried the base commander's ear off until she got me. Trust me I was not complaining. I went from prison to heaven. Ya see in Panama the ratio of male to female was MUCH better and I enjoyed it too. I was out being a bad boy (nuff said here) and then came "Lisa" Wow what a great girl.. Well to make it short ... after about $3000.00 and a mountain of paper work I married her.. Because I was technically still in stationed in Honduras, the military refused to acknowledge that I was married. So she didn't get any privileges as the others stationed in Panama where I was. So I decided to get out just as soon as my term of service ended or "ETS" This was only 8 months more.
Alright home again
Again back in the Good Ole' USA this time for good. With hair and a modem I was again headed for the world of BBS'ing. What?, I can state my opinion again? Awesome! Couldn't do that in the Army. I was lucky to have a family that I really loved and we always supported each other. So it was a real treat to move back in with Mom and Dad again for a short while. Back at home, Lisa got to meet the family and everything went well. I was working on finishing up my college education and Lisa was working on her new language English, in the process I learned Spanish.
BBaSm ?? What?
I had programmed in Assembly language on every machine I ever owned and I finally bought Borland's Turbo Assembler. I found this a very easy to learn because it was about the same as the Model 100 I was programming on. The one I kept in my locker during the Army years. On Nov 11th 1991 I started working with some serial port routines and thought hmm what about a BBS.. That was the start of what I called Bbasm it's a 100% Assembly. "BBS" + "asm"embly = "BBaSm" I'm a good programmer but not really a language expert, tee hee. In the first 6 months I had sold 5 copies of this program and during the five years of writing this program I actually sold 50 of them all at $69.00-$99.00ea. Hmm that's only $5,000.00 for five years of work. Darn that terrible! Well I learned a lot doing it.
Larry helped me out
With my BBS up and running I was meeting a lot of people.. One person I meet on-line was Larry Wielen. He was from Florida but was down for a few months visiting some family. He talked me into heading up to West Palm Beach, FL where he lived. On Jan 20th, 1992 I took him up on that offer and that brought me to Florida. I found a job with Eastern Micro Systems where I was their lead on-site tech repairing computers and Novell Networks. To this date they still owe me a month's salary but I will never see it. SZL Sportsight, what a crummy company. Even when I look at my Social Security today, I still see 0's for the withholding I paid to them that they did not pay to the IRS. Frigin.. pieces of...^$#%@$. <-- You know what goes here.
Let's go programming
I later found myself working as a programmer which I enjoyed much more compared to the networking. The pay is much better and I find it stress relieving to sit at the computer. It's truly what I enjoy doing. With the increase in pay I worked my way into buying a my first new car. A 1996 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP, with every option except the leather seats and the engine core heater (which is a dumb option for the state of Florida). For me this was a trophy that had marked a point where I believed that I can obtain whatever I want if I work hard for it.
A touch of the good life!
I started working for Bell South Mobility as a project leader and Sr. Programmer. This place was absolutely a great place to work. I earned the respect and loyalty of many truly good friends. I enjoyed what I was doing and it was a complex enough job to keep me happy. I learned a lot about myself while I worked here. This was also the first time I had use of a cellular phone and it was free. I liked that a lot! It was a pretty cool Nokia.
I later received an offer to work at another company where I was the MIS Department Manager. This job was pretty good and a hugh pay increase (about 20k more!). It gave me the extra income where I could now start construction of a new house.
Bought my first new house!
It was 1998 and things were still working out great for me. I found a spec house sitting waiting for an owner and burning a hole in the builders pocket. We made some really nice deals and worked on getting a pool in there plus some really great upgrades. I bought my first newly constructed 4 bedroom house with all the trimmings. Wow I would never had thought that my first house would be so nice. I lived in it for about 12 years. At one time it was appraised for 645k even while we were cleaning up after a hurricane. We had no power, the carpet in the dining room was pulled up and rolled on to itself. I even had car batteries laying out connected to my 1400 watt inverter running my chest freezer.
My beast of a Truck
These pictures say it all..
Some rain must fall on every party. 
About the same time I was buying this house a new member of the family joined us. Johnny, he was the wife's son. At this time he was 16. I brought him from Panama, Central America. About a year later the wife herself gained citizenship. Thus so did he. Our relationship seemed to start to change. You know as if a light switch had flipped off. As you guessed... The change was not for the better. Johnny and me had a good relationship but Interesting as it maybe I found myself filing for divorce 1 year later.
She fought hard trying to take things that she couldn't even afford. House, truck, .... list goes on... the short of it all is she lied to the police an somehow got the gullible courts to give her a restraining order to keep me out of my own house.
We agreed that I was to get the house. Sheesh! Remember we just bought the house so it was pure debit and no equity. Thank God for Rob and Stacey they took me in when I was out of luck. It was a real legal battle. She proved 8 years of taking care of every need had been for nothing! Nah, not what you think. I really did take care of her. She had nice clothes, freedom to go where-whenever she wanted.... and IN STYLE. I bought her a 99' Trans Am. Nuff said.. Many of her own friends dropped her as a friend for what she had done to me.
HEY! This isn’t HALF!
Mediation was scheduled for Sept 10th, 2001. Lawyer explained how I had better make mediation work else what I tried to "keep" would be traded for some pretty stiff legal fees due to my ability to make just as much as he did. So I made sure we struck a "deal" I even had to sell my IRA’s to pay her. I got the house and my new F-350 (all 0 equity). She got everything else including a loaded 99’ F-150 Lariet. Really! I was to sell the IRA's the next day and pay what was agreed to. Called broker and learned that some !DICK! flew a few planes into the World Trade Center. By the time the sale went through days later, I had lost 80% of the value of the accounts. Surely this was nothing compared to the horror those families had experienced. 15,000 in bills and fees left me knowing that 2001 was the worst year of my life.
A Better 2002!!
Moved on and repainted the insides of MY “new” house and cleaned it all up. Lessons learned in the past years can now be put into my box of wisdom. Hopefully they will guide me in the years to come. Of those lessons the best is that true friends are ones that stick with you when you need them the most! Thanks everybody!
Just like everybody else we are treading water until we see that the economy starts to bring the water level below our necks. I am a technology consultant and I have been for the last 10 years. Going from job to job leading the projects that their normal staff can’t handle or want to. When the economy slacks so do the opportunity for new projects. The combination of the economy and the divorce has leaded me into a life change both for the better and the temporary worse. Emotionally, I am better but $$ … ouch!
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