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My name is Algis Ratnikas
and I was born in a refugee camp in Munich,
Germany, in 1947 to Lithuanian parents. Our family emigrated to the
States in 1950. I remember waking up to the sound of an engine and
out an airplane window. Below me I distinctly remember seeing the
of a large woman. I had just turned 3 years old. My father had a
for a job picking tobacco in North Carolina. The job did not wait, but
he was quickly able to contact a school friend, already settled in
to act as a sponsor. I grew up on the West side of Detroit and attended
McCarrow public grade school through the 3rd grade and then transferred
to St. Cecilia's through the 6th grade, where I also took piano lessons
for 3 years.
We moved to Dearborn in 1959, where my father had advanced to work
as a draftsman for the Ford Motor Company. In Dearborn my mother
her 4 school-age children at Sacred Heart School, which was taught by
same IHM Sisters as we had at St .Cecilia. I soon began playing the
because our old piano had been left behind on Tuxedo St. In Dearborn we
a mile or so from the Greenfield Village Museum. One summer I happened
upon the deserted Ford Fairlane mansion, while hiking in the woods
the Rouge River.
I graduated from Sacred Heart High in 1965 and was accepted to the
Univ. of Michigan with a small state scholarship. There I pursued a 4
pre-med program and concentrated in cell biology. I was very interested
in immunology and had spent 2 summers working for Dr. Poulik, a family
friend, at the
Children's Medical Center on Detroit's near East Side in the
At the end of 4 years in Ann Arbor (1969) I received my graduation
certificate and draft notice in the mail on the same day. I chose to
and selected service as a laboratory technician. I was very much
to the war in Vietnam, but figured that my time would be better spent
within the system rather than outside it as a fugitive.
Boot camp was at Fort Knox, Ky., and in the 6th week I contracted
meningitis. I was fortunate enough to recover and was sent home for a
months recuperation before returning to start boot camp all over. I
went to San Antonio, Texas, for advanced training as a laboratory
Most of my class went on to Vietnam, but I was held back for special
for paratrooper jump school, which was part of my initial delayed
signup deal. Since this was a volunteer assignment, I respectfully
my mind and was placed on another hold for new orders. This time I was
assigned to Fort Carson, Colorado. After one year in Colorado I was
to the 2nd General Hospital in Landstuhl, Germany.
In Germany I had a little opportunity to travel and spent a few weeks
in Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and London. I bought an old VW bus and
to wine and beer festivals just about every weekend. In 1972 I received
an early out and returned home and soon I enrolled at Wayne State Univ.
for a Master's in the Humanities Dept. My interests in the sciences had
severely waned and my lifelong love of reading and music, coupled with
new interests in art and history made this a natural choice.
During my 1st semester in graduate school I found a large roll of
paper, perhaps 20 inches wide. I extended some 20 feet of this across a
wall of parent's basement, where I had established my temporary
quarters. On this scroll I created my own timeline to help me visualize
and study the various art movements, major dates, artists, events etc.
that my new studies threw up at an alarming rate. The scroll quickly
filled up with numerous scribbles as well as erasure marks due to
miscalculated spacing. The utility of the endeavour soon waned as the
paper fell apart from the frequent erasures.
At Wayne I connected with a group active in publishing the Fifth Estate
Newspaper. The paper had gone through numerous changes and at this time
was settling into an Anarchist phase with no external advertising, no
a monthly schedule and bills paid through fundraisers and subscriptions
along with some book sales. I wrote a few short articles and helped
the paper and learned some of the details of the whole publishing
as well as a lot of history on left wing politics and the labor
Upon graduation in 1976 with a Masters Degree in Humanities I found
myself working in a rubber molding
plant, where the products included gaskets, rubber bottoms for car
racks, and gas masks. It was time to go. A girlfriend helped departure
along and our travel plans focused on Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and
San Francisco, with preliminary side trips to Iowa and Florida.
In San Francisco I settled into a single rented room in Chinatown for
$50 per month and lived off of unemployment benefits and food stamps
some 6 months while completing a novel I had begun in Guatemala. Funds
ran out and I began working for the manager of the hotel at odd jobs
then as an assistant tile setter. The manager was a major alcoholic. I
soon connected with a plumber and learned the tile trade enough to
taking jobs on my own.
I moved to a house in Bernal Heights with a new girl friend and joined
with a small group of people to found "Yellow Phone, Inc." an
service that attempted to link customers using the new personal
that had just become available. The service generated money only by
computerized dating. At this point I lost interest in the business but
was excited in the hardware and enrolled in a SF electronics school.
one year I took on a full-time job with Oakleaf Corp. servicing small
in the sales offices of automotive dealerships across northern
One year later I married my girlfriend, became the father to a
daughter, and hired with Becton Dickinson Corp. to service their
Radio-Immuno-Assay laboratory equipment. I continued to work for BD to
the end of 2004.
In 1995 I revived my old graduate school timeline project. My intention
was to create a reliable
and easy to use timeline that began right from the Big Bang. Numerous
all fell into place that made the project work: the computer, the WWW,
my own background and interests, and then search engines and other
web page tools. The project quickly grew to a large collection of
Web page counters, search engines and e-mail proved the project useful
to a wide variety of users.
In 2001 I began to host a user's newsletter. In Aug 2001 my site host
theGlobe.com underwent major restructuring and suddenly dropped all
web sites with almost no warning. Fortunately I had a spare blank site
and managed to transport all my files one day before losing all contact
Updates on the Timelines site can be
seen in the NL Archive file.
In Dec 2004 I took an early retirement in order to devote full time to
project. In 2005 I took on a partner to form a database version of the
project. If you would like to provide support please let me know.
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