While writing the estimating program with the crude tools of the time, it forced me to think of ways to perform things at a very low detailed level. Little did I know at the time how much learning that tedium would contribute to big picture clarity later on. Today, many of those things are automatic in object oriented programming. But at the core of it all is the relational database concept, which is the foundation of everything we do today, including writing and reading this post and everything else nowadays. It's a structure of information interjoined at certain points in a nutshell. I mention this because it is something that empowered me to move to the newer technology easily later on.
At the same time, while computerizing the Art department, I met my friend Darrel, who had a small business building custom computers and basic networks, and that interested me greatly because it was really good money and there were few people who knew how to do that sort of thing on a small office scale since it was relatively new. So I started my first company called Bitwise (part time of course), which was an S-corp. That's when I learned just how behind the times and inefficient government is and wastes a great deal of money that I could have used productively. Even if they had the newest technology, it would have made little difference. It's the natural culture of no accountability. Thankfully I live in Indiana and the state portion improved greatly! People from big cities often make fun of us while we run circles around them in statistics... fascinating.
So with these three big discoveries, it altered my long term plan knowing now that I didn't really know much about the steps it would take to get there. "Always be prepared, and responsible." and "Learn everything, then they can't bullshit you and neither can they take it away" was my parents advice my whole life which I am forever thankful for. (all scriptural principles BTW) So seeing that combination work effectively gave me confidence to take a chance and make it happen. I was excited because then I could teach my kids basic life skills by showing them instead of just lecturing (which was a bad flaw of mine then). But as things turn out, domestic issues brought that all to a halt quickly, so things had to be put on hold for a long time. Stress levels tripled from that point on, so it was time to move from the craft portion of the business to the technical. I thought that would be less stressful...
Shortly after I went to a large format digital printing company (Sungraf) for a temporary assignment of 6 months in Miami, FL. City life was a whole new experience. At least it was a nice city, by far better than NYC and Chicago. Snow sucks, and the people are far less friendly. Flying back was always like leaving a color photo and returning to a dingy grey one. I learned that for me, city life would be worse than sliding down a razor blade into a pool of alcohol. Anyway, while there I set up a basic database system for their operations, and began gaining experience in other areas on the accounting/billing/purchasing/shipping sides of things besides estimating. At the same time I was tasked setting up their T1 line and improving the mail system. (T1 is ancient telephone company internet having a whopping 1Mb bandwidth! for a grand a month....)
That combination of skillsets is what would eventually become the 'other woman'. It was more pay as well as no heights and weather exposure, as well as being a brand new frontier to explore at the time. During the time at Sungraf I was in negotiations with my next employer back home which was a national sign company (North American Signs). Much larger than any I've worked in before (120+ employees then), and run by some of the most exceptional people I've ever met. Honest as the day is long, always encouraging, calm, and having community motives besides just the necessary profit. The atmosphere was far less stressful, and was a most welcome change in life at that time.
But... everything is a two edged sword. That's for the next part.
Until next time, peace.