Wow, that sucked: A look back at the “naughty oughties”

31 12 2009


Unopened bag of 2004

Originally uploaded by N-Sai

This is a year-by-year look at the decade that saw me becoming a journalist and solidifying my identity, as well as blossoming from an awkward teenager into an semi-awkward adult-ish being.

There is a lot to go into here, but I will start out just going year by year. And, a look at my love of beer. It changed, you’ll see here.

I hope you enjoy this look at history through the lens of me. I mean think about all the politics, the economy, it’s all interrelated. I mean we started out with the attack, then the war, then the cycles of optimism and fear. Interesting decade.

  • 2000: Wrote for the school paper. Was the assistant fine arts editor, and then became entertainment editor. Was known as “Slim Saidi.” Dreamed about graduating from high school and hitting the big time, going all over the place, rocking the world. But first, settled on ASU.
  • 2001: Went to Office Max for Senior Ditch Day, a momentous milestone in my life (and the day I purchased Incubus’ Make Yourself at a Sam Goody-type establishment). Actually graduated from high school. Went to ASU, majored in computer science. 9/11 happened. I found out about it by overhearing conversations in the dorm restroom — about cars on fire, the world burning up, explosions everywhere, they said, and it was simply terrifying. It took a while for classes to be canceled, and I remember everything was so quiet.
  • 2002: My kitty-corner downstairs neighbor in the dorm died and it took three days to find him there — it was really sad. He had the room to himself. There was a burglary and ID theft at the family house while I was away at school, but reality didn’t hit until I was home for the summer. Had major ID theft problems for the rest of the year. Got my first real-ish job, by becoming a road service phone schlock at U-Haul HQ. Lasted a whole two months, but learned a lot and met some cool people. This experience convinced me that I was capable of holding down a job at a national company.
  • 2003: Snuck in through the back door of The State Press over winter break (figuratively speaking) and became the associate Web Devil editor. Decided I no longer wanted to be a computer scientist, and instead wanted to be a journalist, a humanities major, a geographer, a cartographer, a computer geek, maybe an engineer or scientist, really I couldn’t decide. Identity crisis a-go-go. Interned for the media office at the Desert Botanical Garden. Had my first beer this year, thankfully not around any cacti. Somehow I’d avoided it that long.
  • 2004: Became one of two “campus and administration” reporters for The State Press, and discovered I was obsessed with reporting. Worked at the City of Chandler a couple days a week, which created an insane schedule for me given everything I was doing. Turned 21 just before summer and right in the nick of time: Over the summer, traveled to Washington, D.C., and interned for Common Cause’s press office. Learned a lot, had a great time, decided that Budweiser was my Beer. (Not Bud Light) The third presidential debate was held at ASU in October of this year and I got to report on it, and even interview Triumph the Insult Comic Dog for the Web Devil.
  • 2005: The economy was still booming and ASU had ideas and new buildings practically coming out of its orifices. Got a reporting internship at the not-quite-defunct East Valley Tribune and then became Web Devil editor. Couldn’t find ONE job, so I got TWO jobs instead: Media specialist at Pan-American Initiatives at ASU, and also as a writing intern for Choice Hotels International. Drank.
  • 2006: Continued with my jobs but then at some point decided that the current situation was OK, but it was time to move forward. I somehow stumbled on CNN.com, applied on a whim, was accepted, freaked out, grabbed my father and four suitcases, flew out to Atlanta, found a lot of bad apartments, found a good apartment, said goodbye to my Dad, cried a lot, grew up and became a multimedia journalist in Atlanta! Drank a little, here and there.
  • 2007: Moved to a new user participation group that did mysterious things with “iReports” and “Exchange.” Got hired on full-time, and then became the first associate producer (full-time) for the budding User Participation group. Got my first taste of gourmet beer, in the form of a Blue Moon served at a going-away party for a colleague. A coworker explained to me that it was a “Belgian White” and I nodded and said mmm-hmmm-wow-awesome and then went home and did some research. Tried the Sweetwater Georgia Brown as well as the Hummer, and I was well on my way to beer snobbery.
  • 2008: The economy had been teetering a bit, but this is the year it really started going into the pooper. On the plus side, iReport started coming into its own, and I became a Senior Associate Producer. Moved out of my apartment in Dunwoody to a convenient place in midtown. Dealt with serious cockroach problems, moved to a less-convenient and more-expensive place and then went to Los Angeles to chill with the Murray scholars. While there, I met Kato Kaelin. He was pretty chill. Right after that, President Barack Obama was elected on a historic election night. Meanwhile, my taste in beer became increasingly snobby. Phoenix light rail launched December 27.
  • 2009: President Obama was inaugurated and the whole event was a big global Thingy that seemed unprecedented. The economy was much further into the pooper and we called it a recession. I didn’t seem to notice, as I single-handedly held up the country’s gross domestic product by traveling a ton and visiting San Francisco, Paris and London for the first time. Saw Cousin Julie get married in Wisconsin and was reunited with the family, most of whom I see maybe once every five years. Saw the World’s Largest Six-Pack in La Crosse. (Well I mean, just look at the Year in Review. You’ll see what I did in 2009.) My circle of friends practically doubled. Beer snobbery got even worse and maybe a tad pretentious, and the beers got darker and darker. Light rail celebrated its second birthday.
  • 2010: Let’s see what happens!




San Francisco, finally!

29 07 2009

I guess today was a blessing in disguise (a very convincing disguise) as I got to experience a great cross-section of the Bay Area region. My original intention was to get up early and get to San Francisco before noon so I could relax, take in the sights, get a feel for the lay of the land and such. But the city that I’ve wanted to visit for oh-so-long had other plans for me.

So I got up bright and early, packed up my stuff, nearly lost my hat in a rush and headed out into the mystic. I ended up at the airport, went through security in a chaotic rush and was told there were delays due to low clouds. Long wait. We finally got on the plane and waited some more. And then we took off!

Only we didn’t. The plane started to go up and the pilot pulled it DOWN. And then we waited for a while and then we got off. And then I waited in line for a long time. It was 6 hours after my first flight that I finally got through a line of people with a ticket for a new flight on a tiny commuter jet to San Jose, not SFO. I said OK, I’ll take it vs. waiting another three hours to catch a direct flight.

So I left the secured area, ran to a bus stop with all my stuff, hopped on a bus, went back through security and headed on over to the commuter area. The commuter jet was one of those tiny jobs, one seat on one side and two seats on the other. No propellers but still small. I even walked out on the tarmac to get to the plane. The ride itself was fine, smooth, about an hour long, complete with cranapple. I shudder to think that a ride on that little thing was deemed safer than on the big thing, but I guess a functioning plane is best.

I always seem to have these mechanical issues on Star Alliance flights in particular. Maybe I’m on crack, or maybe they all do it. Who knows? Anyway I have a $150 certificate now for a United flight.

So I got to San freaking Jose and it was all desert-y and hot and sunny. Weird. Almost like Palm Springs. I didn’t expect the Silly Valley to be like that. And then I got on a shuttle bus to Santa Clara, where I saw a model train museum that was pretty cool and then hopped on the double-decker CalTrain commuter rail. From there, I got on BART and then I wandered downtown to my hotel. After that I wandered to the Embarcadero, the SF Bay Bridge, Union Square and the general area around my hotel. All in all, I got a pretty good summary of the Bay Area given that today went so horribly wrong.

I’ll have more on impressions of the city later, but suffice to say it’s lovely. There is lots of music and activity and cable cars and pretty Gothamistic skyline-ness. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced a moment so wonderful that you didn’t want to taint it, but at one point I was walking and there was saxophone music playing and a cable car passed by me (one of those retro buses, glowing in the night) and it would have made a postcard picture, but I didn’t reach for my camera. I just savored it. The sounds and smells of this town change and morph as you walk by. It’s a great place to walk around with a recorder, taking in the changing sounds of the traffic signals and the squealing whale calls of the BART trains.

One thing though: transit is way expensive and I’m scared of the Muni and all the different breeds of buses and cable cars. There’s always tomorrow, but I’ve got to figure out a way to get around.

I think this qualifies as an epic fail today, but it turned around to become an epic win. The blessing in disguise is I really got to see a cross-section of the city: from the sunny, desert surroundings of Silicon Valley to the foggy, touristy, romantic, romanticized, almost New York-like pulse in the urban heart of San Francisco.





Sweet, the embed code works…

5 01 2009




The view over the lake

28 12 2008

Here’s what it looks like as you’re going over the lake. It’s truly a sight to see. The sunset was magnificent. You can also take a look at a video view of the city that I got.





My first PHX light-rail ride

28 12 2008



Crowd reflected on train

Originally uploaded by N-Sai

Man, I am floored about the implications of today. We’ve been waiting so long for this to happen. Finally. Saturday, December 27, was the first day the general public could board the light rail trains running through Phoenix!

I’m just waiting for things to settle down a bit so that I can ride without too many hassles. Going to have to visit in February or so just to check in and enjoy a much-quieter situation with the transit. I couldn’t really enjoy all the festivities with all the people.

We boarded at the Montebello/Christown/Spectrum stop and the wait was about 3 hours for us. The news reports of 1.5 hours seriously underestimated the wait time. The photo shown here is a picture of the train at the station with the crowd reflected in the window. Lots of people!

The ride was good and smooth and I think everyone is really jazzed. I can’t wait to see what happens.





Rail on Camelback Road

22 12 2008


Rail on Camelback Road

Originally uploaded by N-Sai

This is what it is like to drive by the light rail, as during the last trip to Phoenix we visited and ended up going alongside it during its brief appearance on Camelback Road (roughly between 19th Ave. and 7th St. if my memory serves me correctly). We were just coming back from the Tokyo Express at 12th St. and C-back. I loves me some Tokyo.





Seasonal cheer…

30 11 2008


Annoying Christmas music

Originally uploaded by N-Sai

It is so odd to be looking around the train station and seeing invalids and homeless folks sitting all depressed and then hearing this Christmas music… and it’s not even GOOD Christmas music… the whole thing just feels creepy.





Good to have you back

19 12 2007

Today, thanks to the efforts of a kind stranger, I was reunited and it felt oh, so good. Not reunited with an old friend or a black-sheep relative, but reunited with my lost wallet. That pocket-sized polyester casing holds the keys to my identity and finances. Whether or not carrying such a valuable item on one’s person is a prudent idea, I can’t say, but it’s good to have you back, old friend.

Looking at it, you can tell it’s had a rough journey. (Of course the majority of this damage came from the inside of my purse(s)). The MARTA monthly pass and small bit of cash inside were stripped from it, and everything else was left intact. Who knows what filth it went through, what cockroaches and other vermin crawled over it while it sat so destitute at the bottom of the train tracks.

It’s hard to say what happened to it, really. After disastrous experiences like this, wallets rarely like to speak of the horrors they’ve seen. I can only go off the anecdotes of witnesses such as the credit union representative who left me a mildly unsettling message on my voice mail at work:

“Please call back immediately. It is imperative that you contact me as soon as you receive this message.”

After I listened to the message, my heart was racing and my adrenaline was surging. I was certain for sure that someone had broken into my financial fortress and tried to make hell for me. Unfortunately, I have past experience with such things, and have little desire to improve upon that experience. I was on hold for a long time, freaking out as I contemplated all the forbidden charges being racked up on my account. My mind went wild in those few minutes, imagining wild spending sprees and Duck-Tales-inspired dives through piles of golden coins. I could see my Web account access showing massive amounts of money being deducted (since, of course, I have massive amounts of money).

So I eventually got through and she told me that my wallet had in fact been found. Or rather, that a man had called to say he found my wallet and wanted to talk to me. She then proceeded to tell me that this man had basically defied death by jumping into the track area to get it and then quickly getting out before the next train came. (Well, this is MARTA we’re talking about.)

This kinda floored me, so I got the digits for this dude and called him. He seemed to be an average Joe. Or Jimmy, rather. That was his name. He said he did it because it was the holiday season and he didn’t want anyone to go down into the track area and use it for ill purposes. He told me he would take a bus and then a train to get down to where I work. He had just moved to A-Town and didn’t really know his way around. This was actually going to be his first trip to the Centennial Olympic Park area. I thanked him and he said he would come over to my workplace. In the meantime, I dashed off to the gift shop to buy a small gift. So he found his way over and called from the concierge, and an accomplice accompanied me down to the floor for safety reasons.

And there he was. An average guy who felt it was necessary to get that wallet. He told me that he’d gotten to Lindbergh Station (a point where the north line splits off into a Y, and typically a very busy station) and seen a wallet down there. That’s the same place where I realized I’d losst the wallet. He passed by it and then came back again and saw it. At that point, he decided the risk was worth it and got it. It’s a considerable risk, especially given that there is an electrified bar on one side of the track. Luckily, the wallet was not on that side. And if a train comes, it probably won’t be able to stop in time. Plus, I’ve been on trains on a few occasions where the operator has BREEZEd right through the station by accident. So he got the wallet and called my hair salon (yes, I have a poor-woman’s hair salon for my monthly trim off the ends of all five inches of my hair) and the credit union to see if they would make some effort to reach me.

Gotta say, I was touched. I gave him a gift basket and a $20 bill as a token of my appreciation, and my oft-tested faith in humanity was restored. I already have a new driver’s license and have applied for new cards, so that part isn’t so much of a big worry for me. Those cards were set to expire anyway I guess, so we’re just taking care of that a little early. It’s more the identity documents I wondered about. My only question now is, what happened? And how can I prevent this from happening?

On the way home tonight, I coincidentally saw a man get down onto the tracks and search around and then get back onto the platform. It’s quite possible to get something off the tracks and live to tell the tale, apparently, so just leaving it there on the tracks could have still led to ID theft. This sight seemed odd because that’s something I just never see, except on this day. The track area is so full of garbage and rats that you don’t want to go near it.

My inner non-cocaine-using Sherlock Holmes is currently conducting an investigation. Retracing my steps last Thursday night after work, I last remember seeing the wallet at Peachtree Center as I entered the turnstile and sticking it in my pocket (or — I hope not — setting it on the bench next to me). By the time I was exiting the train at Lindbergh, I knew I didn’t have my wallet anymore. So, if someone found my wallet strewn about the train tracks of that station, it’s probably because a person found the wallet and took what they wanted before discarding the rest. There’s also a slim possibility that someone picked my pocket along the way, but I’m not sure. One thing is certain, I think it’s highly unlikely that I dropped the wallet between the crack of the train and platform as I was getting out at Lindbergh. By that point, I knew I didn’t have it anymore.

It’s a mystery. I will try to be more careful from now on, and thank my lucky stars that everything has gone smoothly, so far. That wallet threatened to ruin my weekend (although that didn’t quite happen beyond some hours in the police station and on the phone) and possibly a little more. Nothing materialized though. Good to have you back, wallet of mine.





I scream Sunday

17 09 2007

One of the joys of Sunday for me is working the early-morning shift, which inevitably is slow-going. Well not today. There was actual stuff going on, which was nice, I guess. I felt useful.

Anyway, on the way to work, I was  riding the TRAIN. (Come on ride the train, and ride it! Come on ride the train….) As per usual. But it was going really slow. Like 5 mph or something, it seemed. It took me an hour to get to Five Points (city center), which was absolutely Rick-diculous considering we weren’t even single-tracking. Man, oh man. It should only take 25-27 minutes on average. (Yes, I have it down to a science.)

And… I went to the mall in the evening and sat out on the patio to enjoy the nice weather, and then I went in and looked at clothing with alien motifs. Like, glittering colorful neon/gold-studded aliens that would make 50 Cent pause and sign up to go to a Star Trek convention. Yes, folks, aliens are *in* this fall fashion season.

In light of this, I thought I would write another bizarre poem:

Roswell’s just a few miles away
Roswell, Georgia, not New Mexico
So I don my alien apparel
And try not to go over a barrell
With extraterrestrial lexicon.

You probably saw me at the Dragon*Con,
Keeping one eye on the guy dressed for robotic cosplay
With a Macintosh cardboard-box codpiece on,
He put his geekish manhood on an LCD kind of display
But I was too busy listening to my old-school iPod Nano to stay.

Alas, it were that I had to board the train to nowhere in particular;
And I felt faster pumping through my heart’s ventricles
I was offered a free hug by a man covered in fake blood
And it was then that I understood
That my trips on the train were getting pretty spectacular.

Indeed, many a frustrating trip can inspire colorful vernacular
For while stuck in the train, we encounter an interesting population;
It’s a tough adjustment for those who prefer their interactions to be insular;
For you come into contact with every segment of societal persuasion.
You’ve got to factor the uniqueness of the experience into the overall equation.





Bleed American

7 09 2007

So where have I been all my life? Or at least this past week or so. That’s a good question. The answer is I’m currently ready to start sleeping off a long week. See, it’s Labor Day week and that means … you know what that means. So recent highlights include:

  • Working some heavy hours due to reduced holiday staffing and a desire to keep things at a reasonably productive level
  • Celebrating the contributions of the Working Man to the United States of America over Labor Day weekend by
    • A. Working (To be honest, everything is either closed or crowded, so I don’t mind working on this kind of holiday.)
    • B. Checking out the Dragon*Con (sci-fi/fantasy/anime/Star Trek/everything convention).
  • Riding the train home from work on Sunday and meeting a guy covered in fake blood holding a sign that says “free hugs”
  • Watching that guy and another guy not only engage in physical contact of the friendly-male sort, but also eat some of the bloodstuff
  • Finding out that the blood has a strawberry-mint essence
  • Getting “evil energy” drinks for free
  • Waiting in line
  • Fighting my way through crowds
  • Eating tasty Willy’s Mexican Grille chow in an eating area full of Storm Troopers
  • Watching a storm trooper trying to buy sundries in the souvenir shop without removing their costume.
  • Watching a storm trooper rip his helmet off in disgust and say to the security guard telling him to go to the other door: “Awwww, man!”
  • Not being able to tell friend from foe from security guard because everybody looks evil and weapons-equipped
  • That guy dressed as a robot with a cardboard codpiece made out of an Apple Macintosh box.

I like codpieces. They’re the best part of Ren Faires, which are otherwise typically hot, dusty, expensive and generally difficult, with often nightmarish traffic.

There’s a certain society in these Cons (at least this one) and it can be a little odd for people like me who feel sort of like outsiders. On the other hand, I saw a good deal of people doing Cosplay that wasn’t really true sci-fi or fantasy. There were Spartan cheerleaders, and I couldn’t count the number of “Clerks 2” work uniforms and Silent Bob wannabes. (Granted, there is a tiny bit of geekery present in these fandoms)

I think a funny storyline for a movie (of the cheesy romantic comedy sort) would be a person who tries to geek themself out to attract someone. I mean think about the humorous possibilities of Joe Cool…

[Pause to kill speedy roach intruder. Seriously.]

…trying to learn about D&D and putting on a fur suit at a convention. I think it would be totally sweet. Hell, I’m going to write it up.

It’s about time I got back to work on the Great American Novel. Until later, I bid you adieu. Anyway why am I dinking around on teh Internets at 3 a.m.? Shame on me.