Saturday, October 13, 2012

'Akaka Falls, Fall 2000

'Akaka Falls
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Today's adventure involves a trip deep into the archives, i.e shuffling through a box of old film photos I retrieved from a high shelf in a closet in the spare room. In order to explain the place these rather crappy photos were taken and what I was doing there, I need to relate a quick tale from another life in the distant past. If it's too boring, feel free to jump ahead to the last couple of paragraphs if you want.

Back in the fall of 2000, I worked at a tech company with "Dot Com" in the name. Our story was similar to most companies of that sort: We'd gone public some months earlier and were both stupidly flush with cash, and losing money at an extraordinary rate. Which led to a lot of decisions that seemed perfectly normal at the time and look bizarre in retrospect.

The company was also a little light in the new ideas department, so when I dreamed up a random concept for a new product, Marketing latched on and ran wild with it. The resulting product got marquee billing at a big trade show which I got to attend, and I got a few patents out of the adventure. The product hit some key industry buzzwords, and analysts seemed to like it, and it boosted our inexorably declining stock a bit, temporarily, and it was great fun to work on. But it also wasn't a terribly useful product, it turned out. That would've been ok if we'd had the sort of marketing people who could sell things people didn't actually need or want, but we didn't. In short, the thing made roughly zero dollars over the course of its short life.

In short, this little app of ours that had somehow escaped the lab was doomed from the start, and we knew it, and it's not like the company had any other profitable products that could subsidize ours while we waited for it to "gain traction". So it was just a question of when and how the end came.

This being, as I've noted, the Dot Com era, the only logical way to break the sad but unsurprising news to the team was to fly us all to the Big Island of Hawaii for a few all-expense-paid days of fun, and break the news to us at dinner the day before we flew back, after a few rounds of swanky drinks. It actually kind of worked; everybody just sort of shrugged at the news, and it bought a few solid weeks of apathy before the mass exodus began.

In any case, I had one of the rental cars and I'd struck out on my own that day before dinner, driving all the way across the island over to Hilo, stopping at a few points of interest along the way. In 2012 I'd be posting Instagram or Tumblr photos at each stop so friends across the globe could follow along as I had Various Exciting Adventures. But in 2000 I didn't even have a mobile phone, just a PalmPilot with a primitive CDPD wireless connection, and it turned out to be useless on the trip since the Big Island only had analog voice service back then. Truly, it was a dark and primitive time.

So this is 'Akaka Falls, a picturesque 422 foot waterfall a few miles outside of Hilo. These photos really don't do the falls justice. I knew basically nothing about photography at the time and owned a cheap fixed-focus point and shoot camera someone had given me for Christmas many years earlier. And that was compounded by my using cheap film and a cheap photo lab, such that the prints picked up a peculiar greenish-cyan tint over the years. So I scanned them earlier today and tried to fix the colors a bit, with limited success. My color correction skills aren't the best, but I really don't think there's a lot anyone could have done to turn these into quality photos. I even tried desaturating them to see if they'd look better in black-and-white, but they really didn't.

I'm posting these now because we just made reservations to go back to the Big Island, which will be the first time I've been back since 2000. Obviously I'll be taking a better camera this time. We may or may not go driving around the island; it's possible we'll just hang out at the pool and sip mai tais and relax. But there'll be photos regardless of what we end up doing, and some of those photos will end up here. And if I take any new ones of 'Akaka Falls, I'll link back to this post for comparison, and we can all have a hearty laugh at the expense of primitive year 2000 technology.

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