I graduated from high school at the ripe age of 14 and after some time in college, I landed my first significant gig.

 

It was spring of 1999, and my 16th birthday had passed just two weeks prior. I was very nervous about hopping on a plane and flying 600 miles to a place I'd never been, to work for someone I'd never met, for a business I'd never heard of. But just two days later, after a thorough phone screening by my parents, I found myself flying over the Sacramento valley on my way to southern California for the first time. I had a huge smile on my face and everything I owned packed away in a suitcase under my feet. I knew this was the start of something great and I couldn't wait to get off the plane and meet my new employer, roommate, chauffeur, mentor, and friend.

But before we go forward, let's take a step back.

I come from a small town, born and raised in Mt. Shasta, California. My siblings and I grew up on 50 acres on the outskirts of town. My brothers were 10 years older than me, and I used to love going out in the woods with them, helping them hunt game, catch fish, climb trees, and build forts. But, as the years passed, and they moved out, and we moved behind a truck stop in Pollard Flat, California (population: 22), I found myself growing bored and lonely.

Most of my friends and the rest of civilization lived 30 miles away, and I was too young to drive at the age of 13. Whenever I had the chance, I would try and get my parents to drop me off at my friends house, where I would often stay several nights at a time, tinkering and playing with his new computer until the sun came up. He had this new thing called "The Internet", and together we'd hog his phone lines for hours, scouring the results of Yahoo and Alta Vista for anything and everything we could. Needless to say, I was hooked.

A few months later I remember coming home from school and there was a rather large, unopened cardboard box in the living room. My dad turned to me and said, 

 

"I know you've been spending a lot of time on the computer lately with your friend, so I thought we should get you one of your own."

 

 I was thrilled. I immediately set it up and popped in one of the many AOL discs I had been collecting. It had 100 hours on it, 100 hours of discovery and escape from boredom. Our phone lines were a little dated, so many times the best connection I could get was 7200 baud. But hey, who was I to complain, I had "The Internet"!

A few weeks pass, and I come home from school one day and immediately go to the computer as I had done many times before. I would've never guessed how the following events would change my life forever.

While messing around on a site, I'd accidentally hit the "View Source" button in Netscape Navigator. "What's this?", I wondered. So, I saved the strange text to my desktop and was amazed to find that the website would appear when I reopened the file, even if I wasn't connected to the internet. I began tinkering with the code in Notepad, trying to figure out how it all worked. 

To be continued...

Image Top: Mt.Shasta from Chaos Crags, Cory Poole Photography