June 22, 2008: In Ithaca for a Change

I was up at four thirty this morning. That is pretty early for me.  I got ready to go quickly but got paged from the office at ten after five in the morning.  Not a great way to get started for the day.  That delayed me from leaving until well after six.  Then I discovered that our regular overnight valet has left us and so it ended up taking an additional half an hour or more to get the car brought around.  I had been hoping to have used that time to go out and find some breakfast but I had forgotten that today is Sunday and there is no way to eat in downtown Newark on a Sunday morning.  So I was stuck.

It was almost seven when I finally got out onto the road towards Binghamton.  I couldn’t got the “fast” route through Scranton because the highway has been “closed” indefinitely due to extremely inefficient road work that has lasted nearly a year now.  So I drove up the Garden State Parkway (GSP) to US 17 and took that on the slow and winding, but scenic, route through northern New Jersey up through Rockland and Orange counties out to Sullivan and into Binghamton from the east.  It adds roughly forty minutes to the trip compared to the supposed time that it takes to go through Scranton if Interstate 80 was open.

I picked up John Stephens, a.k.a. The Surfing IT Wizard, and we drove up to Ithaca.  It was just after ten when I got to Binghamton and almost eleven when we pulled into Varna on the east side of Ithaca.  Almost four hours of car time!  The GPS was great and took us on some crazy backroads between Owego and Varna which shaved a few miles, minutes and gallons off of the route that I used to know.  I have known a good route through that area for a long time now but this taught both John (an Owego native) and I a few new tricks that even we didn’t know collectively.

This was John’s first ever time riding in a convertible!  Hard to believe.  We left the top down all day as the weather was very nice.  I had hit some severe rain coming through the western Catskills that slowed me down earlier but everything was bright and clear heading north.

We worked for an hour or so kicking off some long running tasks and getting ourselves settled in for a long day then ran up the street to the Nice ‘n’ Easy to pick up some snacks.  We got chips and energy drinks and ordered a pizza and went back to work.

Today was a very productive day and quite a successful one.  We got loads of good work done and didn’t leave Ithaca until well after eight at night.  A very long day but the work had to be done at some point.

I dropped John off around nine at his apartment and then headed to the local McDonald’s to get myself some dinner as it was going to be very late as I headed down the highway.  It was probably nine thirty or so when I got back on to US 17 and started the long, lonely drive home.  I hooked up the iPod that I had thought to take with me and finished listening to Scott Adam’s latest book “Stick to Drawing Comics, Monkey Brain!” which I recently got from Audible.com.  That kept me awake until I got home around one thirty in the morning.  Boy was I tired.

I got to bed around two.  I have to be “at work” at six thirty tomorrow morning a I am covering the early morning shift just for that one day.  Then Tuesday I have a class that I will be taking in Manhattan up at Madison Square Garden which will make for an interesting change of pace.  I will be in Warren on Wednesday which is, supposedly, my new schedule.

February 23, 2001: Eating at the Boatyard Grill

Sorry gang, it has been a busy and eventful week and it has kept me from being able to do much on the site. This weekend isn’t going to be any better. I will try to be back on top of things by the beginning of next week.

Nate and I had the opportunity to return to the Boatyard Grill in the West End last night. Last time that we were there with Bob and Tim, we all decided that we were going to be going there at least every other Thursday night because the place was so kickin’. Well, last night was just as good, the food is still incredible and the service was the best. We were very pleased again. They are definitely living up to their “Four Llamas” rating! I suggest that everyone goes there and checks the place out, you will be impressed.

February 21, 2000: Living in Ithaca

Today is my first full day of living in Ithaca, New York for the first time.  I have always loved Ithaca ever since Nate and I first came here on a church camping trip back around 1989.  We had camped at a boy scout camp on the west side of Cayuga Lake with our youth group from Brick Presbyterian Church.  We had gone into the city and got caught during a tornado up on the Cornell University campus and had to take shelter in the vet school until it passed and had gotten a tour from our youth group leaders who had both graduated from the school.  I remember being in a small 1980s Dodge Omni driven by Earl Hobbs.  Some kids opened the side windows and all kinds of debris just threw straight through the car.  It was crazy.

I came to Ithaca several times from 1994 until 2000 without having lived here.  Nathan Parker moved here in the fall of 1994 to attend school at Ithaca College.  I was able to visit fairly often during those first few years because our school schedules were so drastically different.  I had talked about moving to Ithaca for some time but hadn’t had a strategy to do so until this new project started and I no longer had to live in any particular location when not working on site at the client facility.  So Ithaca it was and a momentous decision it was in many ways.

Today we tried to get the apartment into some sort of order although there was little to be done.  In addition to all of my furniture I also had a giant Compaq Proliant 5000 quad Pentium server which took up all kinds of space and would move from apartment to apartment with me until many years later it was taken off of my hands by John Stephens (the Surfing IT Wizard.)  It was the prize piece of my collection at the time though.  In 2000, owning a real enterprise class Compaq Proliant was no small thing and it was quite an impressive line item on my youthful resume.  Even though I had started my IT career in June, 1994 – six years before – and had been the Director of Information Services for Nicklin Associates now since June, 1999 I was still building up my resume and laying the groundwork for my career and every little bit helped.

Additionally I had several desktop machines that I kept as “learning” machines – mostly running Caldera OpenLinux or Windows NT 4.  This list included by 1995 Digital Starion Pentium 75 computer that I bought to take with me to my second year at GMI (now Kettering University), a PentiumPro 200 Compaq DeskPro that we loving called “Oscar” and ran Windows NT 4 Server, three old Intel 486 machines (all Compaq DeskPros) that all ran Linux and a Gateway 2000 Intel 386 desktop that attempted to run Linux but did so very poorly.  I also, of course, had my Compaq Presario Pentium II 350 128MB which was my primary desktop that ran Windows 98.  I had received that computer and my main colour inkjet printer from Paul Binderman for whom I had done some consulting and he paid me by giving me the computer.  It was a fair deal at the time.  We were both very happy.

So there were many computers in the apartment and no Internet connection other than our AltaVista dial-up connection that was “free” dial-up Internet access that displayed ads to pay for itself.  I had my two paprika coloured leather Natuzzi couches which by this time had already become a bit famous amongst all of our friends. Nate had the big “Emily” couch so named because it came from Emily’s house in Perry.  We had my stereo which, at the time, consisted of a Rotel pre-amp and processor, two Marantz MA-500 monoblock amplifiers, an Adcom line controller and a pair of massive Paradigm Studio Reference 80 speakers.  Nate also had his own stereo system which included a pair of B&W 250 mini-shelf speakers and an Adcom integrated amplifier.  We both had laserdisc players as well.  My laserdisc collection took up no small amount of space either with about 350 titles amassed by this time.  (The collection was roughly at its peak here.)

Nate put his old television/VCR combo unit into his “master” bedroom and we put my Sony Trinitron into the living room.  The apartment had a nice deck too that we stored some stuff on.  We had NO space at all.

I remember very clearly how awful the shower was there.  It had some sort of “high efficiency” shower head that totally atomized the water and created a very dry feeling mist that shot out at you when you attempted to shower.  The mist had so much forced that it swirled as it came out but no actual water ever hit you.  It was very annoying.  I have never seen its like again.

The apartment, I also remember,  was an absolute cleanliness disaster.  Nate’s cousin Mandy had moved out from it some weeks or months before (his cousin Becky had lived there before Mandy did) but food that she had cooked (pasta) was still sitting on the rangetop and the fridge still had her old food in it.  We ate what we could and over several weeks the place improved slightly.

The main pastime was watching the extensive laserdisc collection.  Nate owned a few of his own but having my 350 titles there was a big deal.  People came over all of the time to watch them.

February 20, 2000: Moving to Ithaca

And thus the adventure begins…

We all slept in a bit after the party last night. I have nothing going on today except for the drive from Greece to Ithaca. The truck was all packed and the apartment just needs its final round of cleaning before we turn over the keys and walk away from Rochester. Josh and Amber had already moved and were done with the place. Andy was heading back to his parents’ house, I believe, until he found another apartment. They aren’t very far away from Greece and just as close to where Andy was working in Brighton as we were up in Greece on Lake Ontario.

Andy was wrestling with his future plans all day I guess. As of this morning his plan was to keep working at the Wellesley in Brighton (right across from Monroe Community College) and to remain in Rochester. Nicklin Associates had offered him a position working on the Waste Watcher project that I was leaving to work on but he had decided that he wasn’t ready for it and didn’t want to move for such a risky project.

But as we were doing the final pack and inspection of the truck and were getting ready to start off down to Ithaca (Andy was driving my Buick down for me while I drove down in the rental truck) he decided that he had had enough of Rochester and wanted to set off on an adventure as well.  So he quit his job.  I can still remember him calling on the cell phone and getting Esther who was working at the time.  She was not happy about having to deliver the message to his boss.  We had been working at the same place but I had done my last day on Friday, if I remember correctly.  And off we were to Ithaca!

It was dark when we arrived in Ithaca and drove up the east hill on route 13 to look for Nathan Parker’s apartment where we were going to be roommates for the next month.  Nate and Bob Winans were there and helped us to unload the truck which was pretty full as I owned, even then, a significant amount of stuff.  In fact, I had much more stuff going into Nate’s apartment than he had had there before.  Luckily he had a two bedroom apartment but, once again, only one bath.

There was no space at all to deal with all of the furniture and computers that were pouring into the apartment.  We ended up using as much furniture as we could in the living room and putting the rest into the dining room and just counting that space as lost to us.  The second, smaller bedroom was used purely for storage and everything that could go in there did.  I just slept in the dining room on the floor and Andy slept in the living room on one of the couches.  For the first time in quite a while we had a place to actually set up my 32″ Sony Trinitron CRT television that I had bought when I first moved in to Greenleaf Meadows and had had no television of my own.

It was a very tiny amount of space for three people with so much stuff but we managed.  We had no real plan of how this was going to work long term or if it could at all but at the moment it was purely temporary.  Andy and I were only scheduled to be in Ithaca for exactly one month so we didn’t have to make it work for that long.  Then Nate would have the apartment to himself with my stuff all crammed into it as that was going to be stored there until we had a better solution for it all.

The apartment was on the top floor of the Gaslight Apartments on Uptown Road in Lansing very near to the Triphammer Mall.  The mall was just down at the end of the driveway which made a lot of things extremely convenient.  It really wasn’t too bad of a location and the price wasn’t bad at all.  Nate was teaching down at the middle school at the bottom of the hill so it was a really good location for him.

October 15, 1989: Amazing Winds in Ithaca

Today was the last day, I believe as I write this eighteen years later, of a long weekend “camping” trip to Cayuga Lake with the Brick Presbyterian youth group from Perry, New York.  After all of these years I remember very little about this day in particular although I do still remember the camping trip itself and the boy scout cabin that we stayed in.

This camping trip was the first time that I got to visit the city of Ithaca where I would later live and my first time boating (canoing in this case) on the water of Cayuga Lake which would later be a major location in my life.  I believe that it was this morning in particular that Nathan Parker and I did some canoing out on the lake.

This evening the whole youth group, bundled into several cars, and drove through the city of Ithaca.  I have no idea what the idea for the trip was for.  But we were in the city when high wind warning too effect and the place became increasingly dangerous.  I was only thirteen but I remember the people driving the cars becoming very worried as the winds got going so fast that they couldn’t control the vehicles anymore.

It was one of the windiest days that I have ever seen.  The sky was so dark and the wind was fierce.  Some of the kids rolled down the windows of the Dodge Omni that I was riding in being driven by Earl Hobbs, my friend Amy’s father, and debris from the storm was shooting straight through the car!  I have never seen anything like it since.

We took shelter at the School of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University.  Our youth group leaders, the Stoddards, had both graduated from Cornell and knew Ithaca and the campus well.  So we went inside and got a tour whilst we awaited the storms departure.  We got to see the grotesque museum of animals that had died with massive deformities and mutations.  Horrible, horrible accidents of nature or scientific experiment.  Really sick stuff.  It still bothers me eighteen years later.

Years later I found the New York Times report on the high wind storm that hit Upstate New York this day.  At the time the tornado was not confirmed or denied but being investigated.