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July 14, 2005

Nora Jean Stone (Gatine)
San Francisco, CA, 94132

Surfing the web since 1994
Home, Work and Play effected by the Internet.

10 years ago when I was making effort to get off of welfare and be employable I used to read for the blind. A friend introduced me to Manny Lucero who had a cable TV show called "Computer Hotlines".  There he would showcase different hardware and software and have the public in Silicon Valley call in and give their opinions. He was going blind and needed a "Seeing Eye Girl" to accompany him to Computer Fairs. He couldn't pay me so I asked for a computer and for him to teach me what he could. He did and then he died.

From there I told my employment agent I only wanted to be interviewed by companies who were involved with computers, R&D or high tech.  My employment agent didn't understand high tech and I had to explain to her what the difference was between email, telex and fax. I convinced her to get a website for her business and her life was changed. She rode the Dot.Com bubble by opening a High Tech department.

I was hired by AOL in San Francisco in 1995, before they reached a million members. I got the job over other applicants who had longer work histories and had more education because "Computer Hotlines" exposed me to Java, when it was being developed in a run down strip Mall in San Jose. I knew what a Java Applet was and that got me the job. I supported the Director of New Technologies. I was the only staff member who was already an AOL member, paying over $300 a month in phone charges to be online. Getting the job saved me money because AOL was over $3.00 an hour in those days.

I was supporting the former employees of WAIS, (Wide Area Information Search), the search engine that is used by the Library of Congress. The developers of WAIS were the "grandfathers" of the internet, having convinced Grolliers Encyclopedia to go online, one of the first to do so.

I was laid off 4 months before the last of my stock options were fully vested in 1999. I had cashed out each stock options as they vested for my 500 shares had split a number of times in the time I was employed. All of the money went to buying computers for my family and friends. From Tech to Tech was my intent. Those computers got people hired, got them off of Welfare and changed their lives in a positive way.

It was when I got laid off from AOL in 1999, that I started experimenting with polymer clay and I started running a Yahoo Group focused on teaching art for free online.

This list was the driving force for me to get a grip on my clay, learn how to use a digital camera, work with PhotoShop, find online photo storage, start a website, learn how to give live webcam demos through Yahoo Messenger, and continue to upgrade my computer.

Now I'm learning about video blogging to share tips and tricks about polymer clay. My webcam demos done in Yahoo Chat were "snagged" by ClayMates in the USA and over seas. Some are loaded on my site for those ClayMates who couldn't attend the twice weekly demos.

Because of this list I've met some of the most wonderful people in my whole life. People who invited me into their homes, drove me around, fed and cared for me when I went on Tour doing my "Johnny Appleseed" routine. All of whom I met online. I had to tell them "Find the tiger stripe cowgirl hat and who ever is wearing it, take her home with you." That's a picture of me when I was on tour.

Because of this list I've had the honor to work with the best team I've ever known. Volunteers who in spite of their own financial and physical difficulties still find it in their heart to be charitable with their time, energy and resources.

I find my sites being linked in Russia, France, Holland, Israel, Germany, just to name a few. I find my pages being translated each month by those who have found my goofy tutorials from across the world.

I find my Rambles being read month after month. Rambles about aging gracefully and how to deal with death and raising self esteem. As my life has been changed by this list in a role of a list leader, sharing what goes on for this list on my sites has given outward to other countries, to other clayers and crafts people. It ripples outward in a way that makes me catch my breath. But it's a group effort, ya know? Without new clayers asking questions, artists needing nurturing, folks enjoying good fellowship, sharing our lives in love and trust, there wouldn't be any rambles or tutorials to share.

Today is the anniversary of when my husband James and I met at a picnic 9 years ago. We met through a BBS, connecting online through one of the earliest forms of text based dial-up communities. It was a meeting of the minds before it was a face to face meeting. He had never used a computer with Window before, since that time he taught himself PERL and got a job with one of the first Anti-Spam companies, BrightMail and now works a computer related job with the Academy of Art.

So getting online has not only changed my life, my husband's life, the lives of my friends and family who got their first computers with AOL stock option money, but also the 1,427 list members who log on each day to read my rambles and be nurtured.



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