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History now tells us that the dot-com bubble actually peaked two weeks before that fateful trip to Austin, but it was still easy to believe at that moment that the party could continue forever. So I packed up and went to California for what I thought would be a permanent move. But it turned out to be a front-row seat for a great unraveling. Rude awakening From the beginning, working at a "new economy magazine" was not all that I had dreamed that night in Austin. The people were nice, but my chops weren't yet well-honed enough to be a business reporter and I spent lots of my time copying text from the print magazine edition and pasting it on to the Web site. Not exactly the glamour I was hoping for, and how come we couldn't write some code to do all that anyway?.

My living situation iphone screen protector effectiveness also proved interesting, Eventually, after time in hostels and finally being grilled rather intensely during an interview with my future roommates, I moved into a three-bedroom house where I was one of five tenants (the garage had been converted into two more bedrooms), The setup was unexpectedly quiet, however, since the room next to mine was never actually used by the chief operating officer of a major networking company who rented it as an emergency crash pad much closer to San Francisco than her large home in San Jose, farther south, I never saw the other person living upstairs, who also worked for a dot-com, I never even found out which one..

There were high points at the office, like writing a story on Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, who seemed to epitomize the spirit of Silicon Valley I was in search of, but ultimately I wasn't happy and things quickly got weird around the office as it became clear that the epic ride of the last half-decade was beginning to run out of fuel. Particularly after we moved into a new office space near arguably one of the worst neighborhoods in America, it all seemed to come unglued very quickly. At a mid-summer staff retreat in the coastside town of Monterey, the tension was palpable, at least until it was all released in what may have been the largest collective binge I've ever been witness to. My editor ingested multiple mind-altering substances that weekend, broke one of hotel's windows (with his head, was the rumor), and spoke in a Beavis and Butthead voice for several hours straight. And he was one of the more well-behaved of my superiors that weekend.

It's hard to say exactly how many people moved to the Bay Area in search of that same dream during that time, but we do have a sense of how many ultimately joined me in abandoning the dream, iphone screen protector effectiveness An oft-cited figure places the number of people that quickly vacated San Francisco between 2000 and 2002 at 30,000, eventually making it the fastest-shrinking city in the country for a moment, I went crawling back to college, and to Ironminds, which was ironically in the midst of being purchased by a group of "new-media investors" who moved it from Missouri to New York, rapidly poured millions into it, even after the bubble had clearly burst, and then shut it down just as quickly (although it did eventually lead to the creation of Deadspin via former Ironminds editor Will Leitch)..

The dream that had helped me retroactively justify the self-imposed isolation of my adolescence seemed to be dead. Set adrift I turned my energies to improv and stand-up comedy, lazily finished my journalism degree, and began to see the value of drinking as a hobby. At the same time numerous ruined dot-com prodigies were retreating to yoga ranches and beyond, I took a gig living on a houseboat in the Florida Keys in exchange for -- what else -- Web design help. I sometimes woke up on the beach after a long night at the bar on Big Pine Key and wasn't sure if I was having a good time or too depressed to even recognize it.

That fall I moved into a house in Denver with a few friends that I had grown up with to try and find iphone screen protector effectiveness a little grounding and figure what to do next now that Web design was providing me far less (I had to share that houseboat with 11 other guys and no air conditioning), I delivered food and worked for family while still dabbling in Web design and writing jobs that suddenly paid next to nothing, 9/11 happened, the world seemed to be turned upside down, and that glitzy fantasy I encountered in Austin just 18 months prior felt like it had never even existed..

After months of sending resumes to anyplace that might be vaguely interested, I received exactly one job offer -- from a tiny public radio station in the Alaskan bush that was not even reachable by roads. I signed a two-year contract sight unseen and flew to Alaska. I did not bring a computer or cell phone. Perhaps it was time to grow up and put away those childish things. Without being too hyperbolic, I think the dot-com bust may have broken my heart more than a little bit. Those digital dreams had been banished to the wilderness, and now, so had I.

Please share your own memories of the dot-com boom and bust in the comments section, and on Twitter at @crave and @ericcmack, In our next installment, I'll celebrate the 25th birthday of the Web by looking at those years that I spent watching from a distance as it continued to develop and eventually began to reassert itself, In iphone screen protector effectiveness part 2 of a four-part series tracking a colorful quarter-century of the Web, Crave's Eric Mack drops out of school to join the dot-com madness of the late '90s, only to get drop-kicked back to where he came from..