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 new technology using the term Virtual Lab Rats, and I was thinking, yes, here I am – the 56 MPH experiment – only it’s not virtual.
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.
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.)