Who is This Guy Anyway?

by Ray Levasseur December 1999

Please allow me to introduce myself:

John Bigboote is only my handle, a takeoff on a character from the Sci-Fi cult classic, "Buckaroo Banzai". Bigboote's Area51 met the internet in December of 1995 as one small humble page. I do not spend nearly as much time online now as I did back then, but Area51 will stick around until I die or truly get tired of the web, whichever comes first. It's still a great place to dig for free information, but alas, the greed heads are quickly turning it into a cash cow and as much an eyesore as the billboards that pepper highways and byways.

My involvement with the net began back around 1983-1984, when a fellow coworker directed me to some internal computer BBS's at work and then to the Usenet newsgroups. From 1984 to 1987 I was a regular anonymous contributor to a few newsgroups, and during that time, was in contact with about 500 ongoing e-mail penpals. I lost interest in the net and curiosity got the best of me when I kept hearing all this hype about "the WEB"...what the %@#$#& is this WEB? Once again, a coworker told me how to access the web, becoming instantly "addicted", so much information, so little time. I weaned myself from web addiction and now access it at home. Work is no place to surf, so I signed up with my internet provider, "Ultranet".

I was born and raised in the once fabulous mill town of Lowell, Mass. where I grew up in a typical dysfunctional family, and equally dysfunctional Catholic parish. God and I were not on speaking terms for over 30 years, until I became active in 12 step recovery programs. I have now returned to the Christian faith with newer eyes; Jesus is my savior and not some sort of ogre. Now don't flame me for this as I won't preach if you don't fart or belch.

You might say I have seen and done a lot in my 52 or so years here on the planet. After high school and tech school, Uncle Sam showed up at my door and asked me if I would like to go to Viet Nam. I was not crazy about the idea, but he insisted. I spent 4 years in the United States Navy working on airborne data systems. I got to visit...oh about 18 countries and learn all about computers, which I swore I would NEVER touch again.

Upon honorable discharge I attended Lowell Tech, back in Jack Kerouac's "Strange Dark Lowell" and majored in Business, minor in Psychology. Once again, I was faced with computers and took 2 years of COBOL, which I swore I would never touch again. During and after college I worked for a number of high tech companies, finally settling in with the one remained with for 22 years. As fate would have it, it was a large High-Tech company. I have worn a number of hats here, finally finding my niche in, of all places, programming in COBOL. Well, not just COBOL, but VMS - DCL shell programming, plus a few 4GL's.

About a year ago, I got caught in the meat grinder of corporate downsizing after 22 years with Digital (or DEC). Soon after, I landed a job with a small company, which specializes in "risk management", or to the lay person, the insurance industry. They've been around for a century as an agency that investigates insurance fraud, among many other services, and are in the midst of catapulting themselves into the new technological millennium. Well, I wanted to learn new stuff, and am up to my eyebrows in learning Visual Basic, SQL Server, Active Server, Crystal Reports, NT, etc, etc. Yes! you can teach an old dog new tricks, "teacher, may I be excused? my head is full."

Some interests of mine:

I have too many interests and not nearly enough time for half of them. Some of my past and present hobbies are: reading (voracious), writing (mostly human interest and recovery articles), weight lifting, audio, video and general electronics tinkering, computers and programming, cooking, bicycling, music (anything except rap and opera or rap operas), self help issues, holistic medicine, religion (study of the Christian faith), disk jockeying, studying human nature (well I was a psych minor) and the list could go on and on and on........

Likes, Dislikes. What floats my boat

I was always out of step with society, and still am. As I get older, I'm turning more and more away from material things. When I lived alone, Paul and a couple of other friends referred to my small (cozy?) 1 bedroom apartment as "Ray's monk's cell". Bigboote's universe consists of a couple of comfy chairs, a TV, aging stereo system and CD collection, some movies, lots of books, my desk and computer stuff, simple (but hi-quality) cookware and of course a simple platform bed and chest. OK, I'll throw in a few (inexpensive) but nice prints. The only high tech kitchen gadget I own is a microwave oven, the rest is all manual stuff; well ok, a Mr. Coffee machine. Besides clothes (mostly jeans, Dockers, tee and sports shirts), I have a 21 speed bike an Toyota Corolla. I don't even own a house, which as I look back, wish I was much smarter with money in my youth. If I did buy a house, it would be a small, rather unremarkable Cape or cottage. Thank you greed, and the "Biff and Buffy" yuppie set for pricing us working stiffs right out of the market.

The rest of the world seems to be squirreling away possessions like there's a long hard Winter coming. I find rampant "consumerism" rather annoying and in many ways, a very sad statement about society's lopsided values.

I enjoy peace and quiet; curling up in a comfy chair with a good book, some herbal tea and quiet music. Many would consider this a waste of spare time, when I could be out day trading, playing the market and making zillions of dollars. A great vacation is taking day trips around Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Southern Maine. Most people I know say that I'm a WYSIWYG type of guy, no pretense, I say what I mean and mean what I say, no added frills. Being honest and speaking your mind does not gain you a broad circle of friends and admirers.

The few friends I do have are quite intelligent, without wearing their smarts on their sleeve, no pretenses.

I'll add more as time goes on...