What’s this Virtual Lab Rats thing, anyway? Where did you come up with that name, what does it mean? Blame it on NPR.

Desolate Texas freeway 2 lane

VirtualLabRats.com started sometime early in the year 2000, nearly twenty years ago as of this writing.  I worked a few years as an over-the-road truck driver, between Military Police School in the Army at Ft. McClellan, Alabama, and being a Yellow Cab driver in Cleveland, Ohio.

I drove a tractor trailer for two years.  About a year for Schnieder out of Greenbay, Wisconsin, the big orange trucks, and then about a year for J.B. Hunt out of Lowell, Arkansas.  I was in my early twenties, single, my mom had just died, and I was just kind of floating through life. There’s a Modest Mouse song that goes something like that.

When it happened, Texas, NPR

I remember it was a very warm bright sunny day.  I was driving east across the expanse of rural Texas. Somewhere in the middle of nowhere. I can feel the air conditioner as I stared into the horizon, but it didn’t work the best, still had intermittent reminders of the heat outside.  It was a relic International JB Hunt International 9670 Cabover tractor.  At the time, I think they were regulated to 56 MPH or something like that. (Shortly thereafter, they increased it to 64 MPH, which was a big deal for us drivers! haha) I was listening to NPR Radio.  The NPR commentator was jokingly referring to JB Hunt tractor backing up to 53' trailernew technology using the term Virtual Lab Rats, and I was thinking, yes, here I am – the 56 MPH experiment – only it’s not virtual. (I think this might be the story, not sure.)

And so I drove down the road thinking Virtual Lab Rats would be a great domain name, back when domain names were still only a few years old.  I hoped nobody already got it. haha.  This was a time when PayPal.com was just getting started, it was known as x.com.  Sites like Lycos, MapQuest and MySpace were a thing.  I didn’t have any websites or blogs myself. I didn’t know when I would have a website.  But I thought VirtualLabRats.com sounded really cool. Perhaps I was wishing there was a virtual truck driver who could finish the 56 MPH drive for me across Texas.

The Domain

Domain records for virtuallabrats.com indicate Creation Date: 2000-03-01T02:51:02Z.  That’s Wednesday, March 1, 2000 at 02:51 Zulu time.  Translated, that’s Tuesday, February 29, 2000 at 9:51 PM Eastern Standard Time. It was a leap year. An extra day. And it was mere months after the hyped up Y2K world ending emergency – which didn’t cause many problems. The world did not end.

I still have most of my old driver log books, detailing my every hour, every minute. Sometime I’m going to find them and look where I was on that day.

And ever since, I’ve been paying my dues on VirtualLabRats.com.  And that’s that.

(By the way, these pictures were taken the old fashioned way. With film.)



Grown up in Cleveland, Ohio, USA., previously lived in Phoenix, Arizona and Tampa, Florida areas, and recently co-located to Asheville, North Carolina area. Trained as an Army MP, but bit of a renegade career wise. Phil has owned businesses in insurance, private investigations, surety bail bond industries, and has experience in computer network engineering, hospitality in-room advertising, asset recovery and repossession, and even a few years traveling most of the lower 48 states, Ontario and Northern Mexico as a commercial over the road truck driver. Career long entrepreneur, property investor and rental manager. Phil loves sharing his experiences of great food, travel, experiences and products.