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The Wide Angle: Four decades of stuff, or 40 years of playing with pencils

We are officially in 2020, which means that I have now officially been part of six decades.

This is somewhat distressing as I’m only coming up on 45 and the math seems to be mocking me and unnecessarily depressing me. It is a bitter reminder that I have yet to win the US Open, which is equally distressing given I don’t play tennis.

I was born in 1974, a good day for the Earth or at the very least a good year for my parents as I have been led to believe. That makes my official first full decade as 1980.

So I thought I would go back and highlight a few of the things I remember from each decade’s beginning prior to 2020 and then relate a few things of significance that happened during that year.


1980

I was a precocious youth nearing my seventh year of tormenting my parents with a vivid imagination. This would continue through most of my early school years, where I quickly became known as a weird little kid of some renown.

This weirdness was usually in conjunction with my imagination, making it common place to see me using my pencils as rockets, airplanes or swords.

I imagine this was somewhat exhausting for my teachers who sought to level some sort of discipline on me while simultaneously attempting to educate me without asking me directly, “what is wrong with you?”

Events of note from 1980: Rubik’s Cube debuted at the International Toy Fair, going on to achieve a worldwide frustration level of epic proportions and ultimately videos of people solving them behind their back; Mount St. Helen’s erupted, John Lennon was murdered and far too many people tuned in to find out who shot JR? Spoiler alert: It was Kristin Shepard, JR’s scheming sister-in-law nobody remembers.


1990

It was at the start of this decade that I was nearing a certain level of maturity, brought on by the fact that I was in the latter half of my sophomore year, which would be replaced by my junior and senior years, in which I would have to serve as some sort of role model to those younger teens following me.

Hahahahaha. No I wasn’t. I was still playing with pencils, only now they were serving as drum sticks as I suffered through trying to learn Spanish. In the grand scheme of learning, Spanish and trying to learn it, was right up there with trying to lock down some sort of intricate knowledge of math. So, instead of trying to learn Spanish, I drummed out the beat to Alice Cooper’s “Poison,” which had just dropped the year before.

Something to note: I was horrible in band as well so it probably looked more like trying to grab rice with the two pencils.

Events of note from 1990: The Hubble Telescope is launched and subsequently gives us our first pictures of a broader universe. Granted it had to be repaired right away, but still — cool; troops are deployed to the Middle East for Operation Desert Shield and East and West Germany are reunited under one flag.


2000

I was now halfway through my first first stint at a real big-boy job, working as a sports reporter and then photographer for the Huron Plainsman in Huron, South Dakota.

Luckily, I had finally dropped the habit of playing with pencils, marking me as a real grown-up.

As first jobs go, not counting a stint as a Domino’s Pizza delivery boy right out of college, Huron was a great start. I met Quiet Riot before the untimely death of Kevin DuBrow and got to hang out with Kenny Rodgers among others.

Personally, I don’t remember much from 2000 that was of real significance so I’m going to guess it was another dull year of being awesome, or at least that’s what I’m going to assume because I don’t remember anything else.

Events of note from 2000: World population goes over 6 billion people; the Concord jet airliner crashes; George W. Bush defeats Al Gore for the presidency in such a close race that officials were looking at “hanging chads,” which sounds like an unfortunate med … moving on; Elián González becomes part of an international custody battle and sadly, Minnesota’s own Charles Schulz passes away.


2010

This year marks the sixth year of being in Austin as the Austin Daily Herald’s photographer. By this point it had already been a heck of a ride, before I started inundating you with stories about our lovable cats.

I spent much of this time roaming from one event to another, thoroughly enjoying being out of the office to capture some pretty sweet events.

I’m still here, obviously. I’m not cool enough to have a ghost writer and Dan Brown refuses to write me back.

Events of note in 2010: A massive earthquake ravages Haiti; Deepwater Horizon, which sent millions of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico, becomes the worst spill in U.S. history; 33 trapped Chilean miners are rescued; an Earthquake and tsunami kills over 400 people scientists successfully trap anti-matter, which is probably the most James Bond villain sounding thing ever.