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.