Part 1…A long ago story to tell…Beginning in 1972 – Jess’s story…Tom’s story follows…

Beautiful colors and scenery at high tide.
“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”
Today, dozens of school kids walked along the beach while on the equivalent of a field trip to celebrate the end of the school year. In the next few days school will be out for a one month holiday. When they return, they’ll enter the next grade as they continue their studies. Wearing school uniforms is required with a color change on different days of the week.
The kids were happy and playful as they chatted with one another on their field trip.

In 1972, as a young mom, I got my first “corporate job” working in a small real estate investment firm in Edina, Minnesota. I’d be hired as an assistant to the president of the company. Within a few months, I became property manager and a few months later I received my real estate license to begin working in the process of acquisition and sale of both residential and commercial real estate. I was 24 years old and was excited to have landed a career.

One day, when the owner was leaving, he asked me to enter the day’s transactions on the computer system. I’d often wondered about the room with the locked door, filled with floor-to-ceiling machines with endless reels of tape, as daunting and untouchable.

“I have no idea how to use that,”  I said in a panic.

“Don’t worry,” he said, “I’ll show you!”

The colors and shadows change in the constant daylight sunshine.

Thirty minutes later he left me with handwritten notes as to how to operate the complicated computer system.  I was the only person remaining in the office. I nervously stared at an extra-wide keyboard with the documents at my side, knowing I had to enter the vital information. 

As a poor typist (still today), I began picking away at the keys frequently referring to the handwritten instructions hoping I wouldn’t make an error. Making corrections in those days wasn’t as easy as it is today. 

My knees were knocking, my heart was pounding. But soon, I realized it wasn’t from fear but excitement. After I’d entered the information, I noticed a file folder labeled “Computer Entry” noting numerous files had yet to be entered. Immediately called home to tell my then-husband to make dinner, put the kids to bed, and expect me home at a very late hour. I was hooked.

This breathtaking view never ceases to amaze us.

At 6:00 am I pulled my car into the driveway, exhausted with bloodshot eyes but excited beyond belief. I was anxious to shower and dress, make the kids breakfast and head back to work to see how my boss reacted to my self-imposed additional project. As soon as the babysitter arrived at 8:00 am, I was out the door, alert and surprisingly awake.

As soon as I walked in the door of the office, he was standing there, obviously waiting for me. He shook my hand as a wide smile spread across his face, “Well, kid,” he said, “You have an even brighter future ahead of you than I thought. I’m impressed.”

Less than 18 months later, I owned my own real estate company, was the youngest broker in the State of Minnesota, and on my way to an interesting and illustrious career as a business owner. 

Each day, we’ve rescued many grasshoppers who are drowning in the pool.  Once we take them out, they dry off for a while and then fly off.  Some appear dead but often come to life after a while.

Unfortunately, the cost of filling a room with computers was outrageous at that time and beyond my reach as a fledgling company. I knew in time it would change, as other technology had been changing in the ’70s and later in the ’80s and ’90s. My first microwave was US $800, IDR 10,640,000. Our first VCR was US $1200, IDR 15,960,000 and it went on and on.

Divorced during this period, my kids and I glommed on to anything to do with technology; movies and video games especially at arcades where we could play pinball machines, more fascinated with the technology than the game itself.

Our first at-home video game, Pong, was pricey when purchasing the complete Atari set.  \My kids and I spent hours together and with each other, staring at the rounded-faced TV screen as we bounced the imaginary ball back and forth. It was all just the beginning. 

This grasshopper was lethargic after I rescued him/her from the pool but soon flew away.

A decade passed as more and more technology became available. In the 1980s I had my first personal DOS-operated IBM computer, more fascinated than ever over the ability to keep valuable records for the business.

It was in 1991, the year Tom and I met, that I purchased my first modem which was the size of a large word processing machine (which I also had) along with a new 100mhz personal computer. 

My friend Brian, married to my dear friend Lisa, was a nerd like me.  \He gave me a phone number I could call telling me to be patient, using the phone handset attached to the modem to gain access to the Internet. I had purchased a designated phone line for this sole purpose. 

Over the past few days, we’ve seen the highest tides since our arrival.

I’d often dial that phone number over and over for many hours in the middle of the night, attempting to “get in.” When I’d finally gain access, I’d often be “kicked off” in minutes. I devoured the “library type” information that popped up on the screen, in awe of how this whole thing worked. I was obsessed, to say the least.

As my and Tom’s relationship developed, eventually, he became interested along with me in an online  BETA game, called Netplay. This was one of the first online interactive multiuser games on the Internet. It took eight hours online to download the game which we did overnight. When updates occurred, it required an all-new eight-hour download.

As the technology improved, we purchased a second 500 MHz PC, giving Tom my older PC, again downloading the game. Subsequently, we installed another designated phone line, spending hours (in our off time) playing that game. We lost an entire summer in 1992 playing that game in the breakfast room at our individual desks/workstations.

The view directly in front of our villa as the tide rapidly washes closer to the edge of the infinity pool. Logs and ocean debris often accompany the incoming tide which later disappears as the tide rolls back out to sea.

The game required the user to snail mail the company, then Broderbund Software, a headshot photo of the player which they scanned on one of the first scanners that were the size of a ping pong table. A week later an avatar popped up in the game with each of our faces atop a cartoon-like character. Wow, this was impressive! We couldn’t help but show it to anyone who came to visit. For the era, it was hard to believe. Today, it’s commonplace.

The game was simple although advanced for its day and age, a place where one’s avatar could play a variety of card games. We choose to play poker in any of a few poker “rooms” which included green felt tables, chairs for eight players, and a picture on the wall of dogs playing cards.  \We were able to communicate with one another via word balloons.  \We were totally hooked.

In a short period, we embraced the Internet, even going as far as in 1997 when each of us purchased new 1998 model cars all online, choosing all the options, negotiating the pricing while awaiting the email notifying us the cars had arrived at the dealership ready for pickup. It was fascinating to both of us.

A praying mantis on the glass door.

I was one of Norwest’s Bank’s (no longer named) first online BILLPAY customers in the early 90s when all the kinks had yet to be worked out. I had no fear of the technology and we continue to use this service today, which is vital to our world travels.

We’ll continue this story tomorrow as we moved into the next technological era, day by day, piece by piece, making every effort to stay abreast of the latest innovations. 

Today, we read about technological advancements online in computing, science, and medicine, finding it helps to keep us informed of what’s transpiring in the field and how and what will be available to us in the future to aid us in our ongoing travels and daily lives.

Tomorrow, we’ll be back with Tom’s introduction into the world of computing and how he’s adapted in the process. See you again soon!

Photo from one year ago today, June 10, 2015:

A passenger on the ship became ill and had to be airlifted off the shop.  He was wrapped in exterior covering over the basket with a paramedic holding onto him. Looked scary to us. For more on this story and photos, please click here.

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