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1999

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					Josh Shainin                                                                             1999


       1999 has been the best year of my life thus far, and was one of the best years in

human history, period. My 18th birthday on January 14th, an important milestone in

anybody’s life. Super Bowl XXXIII on January 31st, possibly the best moment in my

life. Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace, taking the world by storm throughout the month

of May. Graduating from high school – the school I had attended for the previous 5 years

– and moving on to the new and expanded world of college. Entering and experiencing

the exciting world at Sandia National Laboratories, joining their Student Internship

Program and working on their Computer Science projects. Starting college at UNM, and

making the transition from a small high-school setting to an expanded college setting.

Everything dealing with the turn of the millennium and Y2K, ranging from the Y2K virus

to end-of-the-world fears to exciting celebration preparations. Clearly, Prince was right

when he said, “I’m gonna party like it’s 1999”, because 1999 was a year full of major

events to myself and society.

                                  ----- 18 and Counting -----

       18 years old – an age old enough to vote, and an age old enough to enter the draft.

I wasn’t sure what to expect on my 18th birthday. “Is this the day I become a man?” “Do

I suddenly have a ton of additional privileges and responsibilities?” “Will the Denver

Broncos defeat the New York Jets and make it to the Super Bowl for a second straight

year?” Sure, the final question might not exactly fit in with the others, but that was

something which was definitely on my mind at the time, being one of the biggest Denver

Broncos fanatics in the world, and with my birthday occurring around the time of a huge

playoff game, I was hoping I could in some way transfer some of my luck to the Broncos.

My special day came and went, without really altering my life and without truly changing

me. I was ready for a change, and I was ready to be changed. All the excitement of


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Josh Shainin                                                                           1999


becoming 18, all the new opportunities and new encounters I would experience being 18.

Yet, on that special Thursday, I started the day as a typical high school student, and on

the following day, I returned to school the same, with the same duties, the same

homework, and the same life. However, little did I know how much excitement would

occur during my 19th year of life, even if on my 18th birthday, nothing really new and

exciting happened. Sure, I had a nice celebration, received great gifts, and had a blast.

However, not until weeks later would I really see how cool it was to be 18. Not until

weeks later would I realize my dream as a Denver Broncos fanatic. Not until weeks later

would I be at Super Bowl XXXIII.

       My birthday was very similar to Y2K in that on my birthday, nothing really

changed, in the same way that nothing really changed on January 1st, 2000. However, the

21st century has been much different than the end of the 20th century, with terrorism and

stock market hysteria changing many aspects of society, even though the first day of the

21st century was relatively normal. In that same way, my 19th year of existence was very

unique, with Super Bowl and Star Wars memories, advancement in school and work, and

dealing with Y2K excitement, yet on my birthday, I really hadn’t changed. It was just in

the days to come in which I would realize how different this year would be, starting with

my experience at Super Bowl XXXIII.

                                     ----- Wide Left -----

       The guy throwing passes to kids jumping on an inflated mattress. People kicking

field goals from an outrageous distance of 40 yards. Marketers selling everything

everywhere, ranging from Super Bowl towels to Super Bowl hats to Super Bowl shirts to

Super Bowl pictures to…the list goes on and on and on. I hadn’t seen anything like this

before, and this wasn’t even Sunday! This was Super Bowl Saturday – the day to go to


                                            -2-
Josh Shainin                                                                           1999


Pro Player Stadium and get an NFL Experience before the biggest game in the world. As

insignificant as Super Bowl Saturday should be toward the real game, I couldn’t help but

feel a strange feeling in the air. I couldn’t help but feel that some events on Saturday

could affect the outcome of the game on Sunday. One of those events, which I was

involved in, was the all-important field goal kicking at the NFL Experience.

       I had been waiting in line for almost a half-hour by now, and was only two people

away from my shot at glory. At the plate was a short, stubby fellow, with such short legs

that it was a wonder he could even move his leg in an attempt to kick a football through

the field-goal post which seemed a mile away. Needless to say, he ended up short on

both attempts, but did manage to kick the ball, an accomplishment in itself.

       Next in line was an athletic-type man, the kind of guy that you’d bet money on

that he’d split the uprights, making this field-goal with no effort. He would erase my

terrible memory of the guy before him. He would kick like a true professional. He

would…nearly shank the ball?! I couldn’t believe my eyes. He had taken a full wind-up,

and in an attempt to kick the ball around the world, barely made contact with the ball,

sending the ball perpendicular to the intended target line. OK, that was a fluke, a warm-

up, just to prove he was a mortal. Before I could recover from the fact that this athlete

had just shanked a field goal attempt, he did it again! Wow, suddenly I was next in line

to kick, with the heavy thoughts of two guys that had just embarrassed themselves in

front of hundreds, and myself, a skinny little 18 year old up next, feeling I had no shot of

making this field goal. I had attempted this kick at home, practicing for this exact

situation. At home it was easy – just stand back, run toward the ball, kick it, and watch it

go through the uprights. However, I was shaking as if I was in Minnesota and not Miami,




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Josh Shainin                                                                               1999


and could barely make a move toward the ball. I finally got to the ball, where in an

attempt not to shank the ball off to the right like the guy did before me, I made solid

contact…and sent the ball straight left into the crowd, hitting some poor lady with her

child. Well, at least the lady got up and was fine, and at least I had gotten that bad kick

out of my system. Now, I was relaxed, because I had completely embarrassed myself,

and was awarded another attempt at this field goal, so it couldn’t possibly get any worse.

Well, right as I got to the ball to attempt my second field goal, the thought of the guy

before me popped right into my mind, and I did the exact same thing again, almost

hurting someone in the crowd because I kicked the football so far left. I immediately ran

into the crowd, acting as if I was just on my way to another merchandise stand, and not

walking away from utter humiliation.

       So, what does all that have to do with Super Bowl XXXIII and my great

experiences in 1999? Well, believe it or not, Jason Elam and Morten Andersen must

have been watching us and picked up bad habits from us amateur field goal kickers,

because on Super Bowl Sunday, they both missed easy field goals badly. Two kickers

which, at the time, were the best in the world, missed routine field goals as if I had been

kicking them. Obviously, the Super Bowl in and of itself is purely exciting and

memorable. However, I walked away with the realization that dealing with

embarrassment is an essential part of life, and even though both professional field goal

kickers missed easy field goals early on in the game, they stayed focused, and made more

important field goals later on in the game. That taught me to put those two field goals

that I had kicked behind me, and focus on the present and future, a trait which has really

helped me since that experience, and something I always remember whenever another




                                            -4-
Josh Shainin                                                                            1999


embarrassing situation occurs, something I turn back to which happened in the great year

of 1999.

                                 ----- Super Bowl XXXIII -----

       Passing for 336 yards and running for the final touchdown of his career at the end

of the game, John Elway left Super Bowl XXXIII and the NFL at the top of his game and

on top of the mountain, winning his second-straight Super Bowl. Even though I wasn’t

on the field and didn’t have a direct impact on the game, I also felt like I was on top of

the mountain, not only because the Broncos won, but because I was surrounded by

Falcons fans leaving the stadium in disappointment.

       When ordering Super Bowl tickets for my birthday and graduation present, my

mother didn’t know that there was a Broncos side of the stadium and a Falcons side of

the stadium. Therefore, when we arrived at the stadium and found our seats, we were

shocked to see that we were surrounded by black and white – colors that are symbolic of

being a Falcons fan. Throughout the game, it was tough being supportive of my team,

because each time I jumped up, waived my “Broncos Thunder Towel”, and shouted in

jubilation, people around me gave me an evil stare which made me think I might not get

out of this stadium alive. Luckily, the Broncos did win the Super Bowl, Elway won the

Super Bowl MVP award, and I walked out of the stadium in one piece, but that feeling of

being alienated as the only person wearing orange and blue on an entire side of a stadium,

yet being myself and triumphing over everyone around me, is a feeling I’ll never forget.

                        ----- People From A Galaxy Far, Far Away -----

       “That is why the power of the Ewoks can never be underestimated.”

       That’s not a sentence you’ll hear too often, but that is a sentence I heard all day

waiting in line for Star Wars Episode 1 tickets. Imagine hundreds of freaks that have


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Josh Shainin                                                                              1999


been shunned by society, people that are considered fanatics at best, all congregating in

one place, letting their voice be heard by the world and thousands of people watching

television. Almost sounds like a terrorist camp instead of a bunch of Star Wars fanatics

anticipating the release of the first new Star Wars movie in theatres in over 20 years.

And just like a terrorist camp, I wasn’t sure I’d escape, with either my life or my sanity.

       “Thanks Bob. Do you have any more Star Wars stories you’d like to tell us?”

       Bob was a 300-pound storyteller that had hundreds of stories ranging from

Wookies to Ewoks to Jedis and so forth. He wasn’t the kind of guy I’d like to be found

with in public, but he was the kind of guy I’d love to listen to waiting 12 hours in one

spot for Star Wars tickets. 12 hours waiting in one location isn’t my idea of fun, but for

Star Wars I’d do almost anything, and there was plenty of entertainment surrounding me

during those 12 hours which helped to pass the time. People driving their huge pick-up

trucks, delivering sofas, boom-boxes, and dozens of pizza to their friends who had been

saving their place in line. It seemed like a typical dorm party, with the major exception

that most dorm parties are not outside in freezing temperatures with a bunch of people

that are considered crazy for being so obsessed over Star Wars. Being young and

enjoying the lively atmosphere, I couldn’t have enjoyed this environment any more.

However, there were some people that weren’t in the same shoes I was in.

       “Turn that damn music down. Can’t you see I’m trying to sleep?!”

       “Sorry ma’am, but you’re not my mother.”

       “Yeah, well, you’ll wish I was your mother, because mothers tend to show some

sympathy when punishing their children. I’ll just come over there and kick your ass.”




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Josh Shainin                                                                            1999


       It was getting really ugly. Many children couldn’t wait in line for Star Wars

tickets like I could, because school was in session, so they had their middle-aged mothers

wait 12 hours in line for Star Wars tickets. They didn’t see eye-to-eye with the majority

of fans waiting in line. The majority of fans were college-aged students who came to

party, drink beer, have fun, and enjoy the experience of waiting in line for something fans

had been waiting many years for. These fans wanted to play loud music, dance, and

make themselves known to others, which was fine with the other fans, but wasn’t

tolerated by the mothers. The mothers simply wanted to read their boring Danielle Steel

novels, sleep, and get this thing over with. It was a conflict which was persistent

throughout the whole day, but a conflict which I believed was won by the fans, since the

fans would temporarily turn down their loud music, only to turn it up again after the

mothers fell asleep or were otherwise not paying much attention.

       Waiting in line for Star Wars tickets – an activity which many people would

consider boring and a waste of time, but an activity which I will never forget for many

great reasons, such as the partying and storytelling which took place during that wait.

Unfortunately, in some ways, waiting in line for the Star Wars tickets was better than the

movie itself. I love Star Wars and refuse to think Episode 1 was a terrible movie.

However, many people thought Episode 1 fell way short of expectations and overall was

not a good movie. This sort of hype and disappointment wouldn’t be unique in 1999, as

Y2K generated this same type of hype and disappointment. However, many people

including myself did enjoy Episode 1, which is why I believe Y2K was a much greater

disappointment than Episode 1. Even though I enjoyed Episode 1, though, I definitely

thought the waiting in line was more exciting than half of the movie, the half of the




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Josh Shainin                                                                            1999


movie which was boring and forgettable dialogue. That is why regardless of how much I

enjoyed Episode 1, what I’ll remember most from 1999 is not the movie itself, but

waiting in the most exciting and craziest line I’ve ever waited in.

                                ----- The Educational Leap -----

       13 years before, I had thought this day would never come. 13 years before, I was

in kindergarten, learning the ropes of being a student (sure, kindergarten really isn’t like

any other grade in school, but it’s a start). Now, here I was, getting ready to graduate

from high school and enter the exciting world of UNM.

       I was so ready to graduate it is beyond description. I had been at Sandia Prep for

5 years, starting in 8th grade, and as much as I learned at Prep and as much as I enjoyed

Prep, it was definitely time to move on. Sandia Prep, being a small school, couldn’t offer

all of the classes I would have liked to have taken in high school. Sandia Prep, having a

small and constant student population, meant that each student pretty much knew every

other student at the school, but that also meant that there were never any new people to

meet at Sandia Prep, which was something I was ready for at UNM.

       I knew that this graduation would mean more than just advancing to another

grade, or just being able to attend another school. I knew at UNM I would be able to take

classes not even imaginable at Sandia Prep, such at the Theory of Football and all of my

Economics courses. I knew that attending UNM would advance my education beyond

anything I had ever imagined. Looking back, it might be a stretch to say that UNM has

completely changed me from when I was at Prep, but UNM has really opened my mind

and expanded my horizons, in terms of knowledge, opportunity, and overall satisfaction.

And I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that I’ve learned and progressed more in 3

years at UNM than in 5 years at Sandia Prep.


                                             -8-
Josh Shainin                                                                            1999

                  ----- I’m Sorry, This Information is Strictly Confidential -----

       Right after graduating from high school, I quit my job at Go Golf and started my

student internship at Sandia National Laboratories. Boy, what a shift! One day I was

labeling, stocking, and cleaning inventory for a golf equipment store; the next day I was

working at a place where only limited and privileged people get to work, a place that

increased my responsibilities, my importance, and my excitement a thousand-fold.

       Sure, I enjoyed my time at Go Golf, being a golf fanatic. However, I knew that

stocking inventory was not my future. I’m still not sure I’ve found my future at Sandia

Labs, but switching from Go Golf to Sandia Labs was certainly a step in the right

direction. Working with classified information, programming for an important national

cause, and getting an “inside scoop” with important national issues and projects are all

things that Go Golf couldn’t even get close to offering me.

       However, I’ve learned through the years that, although the people at Sandia Labs

are extremely brilliant and important, they are people, too, and take an enormous amount

of breaks and vacations. In fact, each regular Sandian must take a month of vacation each

year, or forfeit that vacation time. Before starting at Sandia, I would have thought that

everyone worked a 60-hour work week, essentially living out at Sandia, because of its

importance to national security. Boy, was I surprised that Sandians are some of the

luckiest people in terms of the leisure time they get. That is something I’m looking

forward to as I approach becoming a regular Sandian – lots of vacation time, an important

occupation which affects the world, and a healthy salary – no wonder my dad always told

me to get my “foot in the door” with Sandia Labs, because now that I work there, I’m

finding more and more great things about Sandia, and because of that, I’m not sure I’ll

ever want to leave.


                                               -9-
Josh Shainin                                                                             1999

                                       ----- Y2-OK -----

       With all of these events which had already taken place during 1999, how could

the end of 1999 match this kind of importance and excitement? Actually, it was simple –

people started talking about the new millennium and the end of the world.

       The Y2K virus had everybody paranoid that the economy would collapse, all

computers would become worthless, and society would have to return to a horse-and-

carriage society. It was the end of modern society as we knew it – all because computers

would think it was 1900 instead of 2000. Even though a lot of work went into

reprogramming computers to fix that bug, the fact that absolutely nothing happened, even

to companies that couldn’t reprogram their computers, leads me to believe people were

overly paranoid over absolutely nothing.

       How about the turn of the new millennium? With the constant conflicts in the

Middle East, 2000 years having passed since Christ roamed the Earth, and people simply

having the feeling that something huge would happen at the turn of the millennium, the

turn of the new millennium would have to have some major, catastrophic global event

which would mark an important point in history, right? Well, many countries held large

firework spectacles and other kinds of new-year parties and celebrations, but once

January 1st arrived, I felt absolutely no different that I had the day before, and this was

the same for billions of people around the world. The turn of the millennium was just a

huge celebration, with the anticipation and results of Y2K falling much shorter than the

anticipation and results for the new Star Wars movie that came out in 1999.

       Sure, the period which has followed Y2K has been pretty unique, with the

devastating terrorist attacks on September 11th, 2001, with the stock market in disarray,

and companies performing all sorts of fraud…and getting caught. However, on January


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Josh Shainin                                                                              1999


1st, I was expecting something different, just like I was expecting a change on my 18th

birthday. However, these two events wouldn’t be important for their impacts on a

specific day, but would mark a point in which things would change in the future, which

make these two events – one occurring at the beginning of 1999, and the other occurring

at the end of 1999 – important to 1999 and the time to come.

                                ----- 1999: Year in Review -----

       1999 – a year unlike any other. Even though a lot of events that happened in 1999

specifically affected me, people can at least relate to what happened to me in 1999, and

with the major events in 1999 that affected everybody around the world, 1999 wasn’t

only an important year for myself, but 1999 was an important year for everyone. I think

the Y2K thing alone is something which affected everyone, making people think about

what might happen at the turn of the millennium, whether their lives would completely

change, or if it would just be like another new year, with January 1st being relatively

similar to December 31st. With the exciting release of Star Wars Episode 1 and another

thrilling Super Bowl, with many people graduating around the world, and many people

entering a new and exciting world during and beyond the summer of 1999, 1999 truly

was an exciting year which will be more than just another year in history to many people

around the world. Sure, 1999 had different impacts on different people, but I hope I was

able to help you realize and remember what a truly great year 1999 was, and at worse,

help you differentiate 1999 from all those other recent years of human history.




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