Part 2...A long ago story to tell about technology...Tom's story...

Tom asleep on the locomotive, early 90's, while deadheading (being transported to another location while not on duty).
"Sightings on the Beach in Bali"
Buffalo swimming in the river next to the villa.
Using the Internet stretched far beyond shopping and playing games.  For both of us it became an integral part of our work and daily lives.  Did it essentially save time?  In many ways it did especially in relation to our careers. 

However, the distractions and diversions of the increasing interesting online data kept us online longer than either of us ever intended when over time our brains became like sponges hungry for more and more learning and mental stimulation. 

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Keypunch card/hickey card used in the railroad as early as the 1950's.
Now, as we travel the world we not only "need" it for research for travel arrangements, banking and financial matters but also as a means of communicating with family and friends on a consistent basis. 

At any given moment, time differences provided, we can say hello to any of our family members and friends.  Often, we're engaged in lengthy "chats" through the private chat module in Facebook, let alone utilizing face time and voice on Skype, all without incurring any cost. 

With a Skype private online phone number in our home state of Nevada at a cost of only US $5, IDR $66,738 a month, we can call phones anywhere in the world for slightly over US $.02, IDR $267, a minute.  By adding a SIM card to one of our unlocked phones, we can easily make local phone calls on-the-go when we don't have access to the Internet. Technology.

Tom's story begins in the 1960's when he was about 10 years old.  His dad, an employee of John Deere had built a new building in Bloomington, Minnesota.  All employees and their families were invited for a tour of the facilities and an "open house" party.

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"Hanging chad."
When Tom entered the massive room filled with floor to ceiling Univac machines, tapes behind glass and teletype machines, he was in awe.  Later when he was 13 years old in the fall of 1966, during the student council election, again he was intrigued by computer technology when key punch cards were used for voting. 

Ironically, at that student body election, 34 years prior to the 2000 US election in Florida, there were no "hanging chads."  Hummm... Working at the railroad, beginning in 1970, his exposure to computer technology increased over his 42.5 years on the job. 

From the use of keypunch cards fed into a teletype machine entered by clerks for system wide information  for all train activities, staff, shippers, classifications and destinations, to the eventual use of sophisticated computer systems, overall the railroad was on the cutting edge of modern technology.

Old photo railroad mainframe computer, circa 1960's.
One hot summer afternoon in Minnesota with temperatures in the high 90F's, high 30C's, he entered the computer office surprised it was air conditioned.  He commented to the clerks, "You guys have it rough in this air conditioned comfort!"

A clerk replied, "The railroad didn't put in air conditioning for our benefit.  It's to keep the computers cool from the heat and humidity."

In 1975, the railroad opened their flagship state-of-the-art computerized Hump/Classification yard, unlike any other in the USA at a cost of US $45,000,000, IDR $600,637,500,000. 

Of course, at this day and age, many of the bugs hadn't been worked out.  As a result, one night in January, 1975, Tom and two co-workers were inside the cab of a locomotive, a 100 ton boxcar loaded with steel misrouted into the wrong track, the track in which we were situated.  We had no advance warning.

Dispatcher board for central traffic control (CTC).
Upon impact, the three of them were knocked off their seats and thrown about the cab of the locomotive.  Tom incurred a serious back injury keeping him off work for four and a half months, still persisting to this day.

Yardmaster or Switch Tender workstation, through present day.
In the late 1970's the company installed PCs to be used by many office personnel.  At that time, he was a Yard Master using those computers to issue work to train crews.  Over a period of several years, those of us using the computers were trained and retrained in their use as systems were upgraded.

As time progressed, Tom and his co-workers found themselves using more and more sophisticated computer systems on an individual basis and less by office clerks.  Hands on use escalated exponentially as technology moved in the millennium. 

In the last 10 plus years of his career on the railroad, there were no longer engineers on some locomotives when many employees have been required to wear heavy remote control computers attached to an uncomfortable vest.  This made Tom and his co-worker's jobs remaining years until retirement in 2012, painful and uncomfortable.  Retirement couldn't come soon enough.

Remote control operators box (RCO).  Required vest not shown.
Amid all of his required work exposure to computers, he went kicking and screaming into the new era of home computing.   I encouraged him to look at  home PCs as a device for entertainment and a phenomenal source of information. 

As a history buff, aficionado, an avid fan of Facebook,  a news junkie (especially now when we have no TV) and a madman with the stock market, over the years he embraced the concept and now he can hardly put it down.

Beside, as we travel the world, as long as we have a decent Internet connection (not necessarily here in Bali) he can continue to watch for a fee, the Minnesota Viking football games on the NFL's Game Pass, an app only available to watch live to users outside North America.  He's not complaining about that!

As for learning to install and/or use software, repair computers or the general technological aspects of computing, Tom is oblivious, not because he's incapable, he's just not interested. 

He'd prefer computers to work like a TV, turn to it to find what you're looking for.  He wonders why its often so complicated leaving all of that to me which   I find interesting, nerd that I am.

Have you ever thought the same thing?

Photo from one year ago today, June 11, 2015:
Our ship pulled in to Sydney Harbour for this fabulous view of the Harbour Bridge.  For more photos and details of our arrival, please click here.


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