February 19, 2000: Last Day in Rochester

Today was the final day of packing the townhouse at Greenleaf Meadows in Greece where Josh, Amber, Andy and I have lived for more than a year.  It was a two bedroom, one bath townhouse – not the end unit but next to the end.  Josh and I had moved in in late 1998, I believe.  At the time it was just two of us and there was plenty of space.  It was a great apartment in its day.  The two bedrooms and the bath were on the second floor.  On the first floor was a tiny kitchen just as you entered from the front door and there was a very spacious living room where everything in the apartment happened.  Out back was a small patio.  There was a full basement as well with two rooms.  One we used for storage and the other we set up as the “computer room” with several computers set up all of the time.  The apartment was seriously wired for the time.  No one had anything like it back then.

Andy and I were working together and I had lost my driver’s license (too many speeding tickets) and he was driving me to work a lot (Eric was driving me around the rest of the time) so after his roommates, snmnmnm, gave up their apartment on Cypress Street in Rochester he decided that he would move up with us to save on costs.  It worked out well because we were able to share a room easily as we had plenty of space and we worked opposite overnight shifts at the same place.

A while after we had been living in the apartment Amber, who worked with Josh at the car dealership, moved in.  So we had four of us in the two bedroom place.  Had there been two baths it wouldn’t have been so cramped.  Having grown up in a house with my own bathroom since I was little this was a bit much for me.  It was here that I learned the importance of having more bathrooms that it seems like you would need.

Yesterday and today we were busily packing everything in the apartment.  The apartment was empty tonight with the moving truck sitting in the parking lot with all of my worldly possessions on it.  Tomorrow begins the adventure but tonight is the “empty apartment party”.  Josh and Amber had decided to take a one bedroom apartment directly next door to the townhouse and had been moving in all week as there was some overlap in their leases.  So they were already moved out and living over there in the new place.  Andy had no particular plans of where he was going but he wasn’t going to keep the townhouse by himself and he hardly owned anything other than his clothes.  He didn’t even have a car at this point since he had been driving me around in my white 1992 Buick Regal GS (with the moon roof option and red plush interior) for the past year.  We had decided to save money and just share the car.

In the empty apartment with nothing but folding chairs we threw our farewell to Rochester party – or at least my farewell to Rochester party.  We had a pretty good turn out although now I can’t remember who all was there.  Andy, Josh, Amber, Eric, Amanda, Dana, myself and definitely several more people were there although everything is very fuzzy as I write this almost eight years later.  I remember very clearly that Amanda and Dana were there (Amanda had come with Dana) because it was the night that Eric and Amanda first met (they were married some years ago now.)

The party went late into the night and almost everyone slept over crashing on the bare floors.  It was a brisk night but not so cold that people weren’t out on the back patio smoking much of the night.  I remember people going in and out the back door a lot back when people actually still smoked cigarettes.

One thing that I do remember was Andy and I sneaking over to Josh’s new bedroom window with a can of “spray on window ice” that makes windows look like winter and we made a smiley face on his bedroom window that remained for as long as he lived in that apartment.

January 13, 2000: Early Morning Call

Today is marked as one of those turning point days in my life.  At about four in the morning John Nicklin called me from Hawaii (the time different is enough that he didn’t really think about what time it is here) to let me know that the medical center that we visited in December had liked our presentation and wanted to move forward with the Waste Watcher project.  We are scheduled to begin the project on March 20 in Pittsburgh.  That means that I am leaving Rochester and doing it soon.  Probably long before March because there is a lot of prep work to be done.

Andy was sleeping on the couch and I ran down to give him the news and to discuss the project with him.  He wasn’t nearly as impressed as I had hoped with the news but he was pretty groggy.

Later, after some sleep, we discussed the project during normal waking hours and Andy admitted that it sounded like a really cool project.  We had talked about it some before but we didn’t think that it was very likely to actually move forward as an actual project so we hadn’t taken it too seriously.

Now architecture and technology discussions actually begin and some serious inklings as to the long term outlook of the system begin to take shape.

September 7, 1998: Derecho

Today is a day of meteorological infamy and I am happy to have been able to have been a part of it.   Derechos are an extremely uncommon weather formation and today Upstate New York was hit by one of the most famous ever.  Known locally as the “Labor Day Storm” or elsewhere as the Syracuse Labor Day Derecho this event was so significant that Wikipedia has an entry about the storm and it is listed in the very small list of famous derechos to his the United States.  NOAA has a site dedicated to the storm as well.

I had the morning off from work and went in to the Wellesley Inn around eleven in the evening.  It was a perfectly normal day as far as the weather was concerned but shortly after I got to work that started to change very quickly.

I was on the phone with a friend who worked the same shift, the overnight audit, at the Super 8 on Lehigh Station Road in Henrietta just a couple miles south from where I was working in Brighton.  We were chatting about the normal industry events and exchanging shift information to speed things along.  I remember looking up from the desk and looking outside into the parking lot and I watched the weather change almost instantly from a calm to incredible wind and rain.  You could hear it shifting.  You couldn’t miss it.

Just as quickly as the weather changed everyone outside began running for cover and cars began to slide in the parking lot.  I asked the person on the other end of the phone, Bill I think his name was, if he was seeing the same thing and he said that something similar was happening down there.  I hung up the phone and ran to the front doors to watch the ensuing mayhem.  It was utter chaos as everything that wasn’t bolted down, and many things that were, began taking flight across the parking lot.  This was some serious wind.

I attempted to step outside but feared that the wind would rip the doors from my grasp and shatter them under the pressure so I kept them closed and locked unless someone tried to get in.

After not too long of a time a horrible noise came from the back hallway and I scrambled back there to inspect the situation.  I was met with a wall of rain in the middle of the long hallway that ran the length of the hotel!  The wind had torn open the windows and the pressure was so great that the rain wasn’t even hitting the floor for most of the length of the building.  Standing in the hallway was just like being outside.  The wind was so intense that it came down the hallway in a spiral.

It turned out to be a series of microbursts called a derecho and it did some serious damage from a bit west of Rochester through Syracuse and out to Utica.  There were a lot of people without power in the morning and the hotel filled up with people looking for a place to stay.

August 23, 1998: That 70s Show at Erin’s House

Fox has been advertising a new sitcom about the 1970s called That 70s Show that is set to air tonight. Eric Millen, Mark Price and I have all been talking about the show and looking forward to seeing it for quite a while now. This is the only television show for many years that has been interesting enough for us to actually care about it.

Since it is a big deal, having a new and exciting show to see, we made plans with my friend Erin Ryan to all go to her house tonight to watch the show. It’s like a big movie night or something.

The four of us watched the show and were all totally hooked. For those of us born at just the time that this show is supposed to be taking place makes the show seem quite magical. It really did a great job of capturing the look and feel on the late 1970s. Those days in the late 70s are a swirling mist to me. I was born in early 1976 and I have a lot of memories from around 1978-1980 and I can still picture how everything looked. All of the browns and oranges and everything was stripped and polka dots. Wood panel wainscots were ubiquitous, cassettes and long play vinyl records ruled, televisions were tiny and generally black and white, cars were huge and gas was cheap. No one had computers then. I wouldn’t see my first computer until the summer of 1980.

Eric, Mark and I would wind up watching most of the first two seasons of That Seventies Show together. It was a regular event after that point. It remained throughout the first five years of its run to be one of the only, if not the only, television show that I watched with any regularity.

October 26, 1995: Pizza Hut

After deciding to drop of GMI Engineering and Management Institute (later to become Kettering University) in order to pursue a degree in Classical Guitar and Trombone Performance I needed to find work as I would no longer be working as an engineer with Ben-Mer Manufacturing up in Rochester. This is probably best as they were crooks there anyway and completely incompetent. I wasn’t learning anything and getting no where. It was a really crappy and stressful place to work.

So, Josh had worked at Pizza Hut in Geneseo for a while and had recently moved on to a store up in Rochester and he put in a good word for me – hopefully that isn’t why I got the job. So I took a job at Pizza Hut in Geneseo as a pizza maker. Not very exciting nor did it pay very well but it fit my schedule and allowed me to go to college while I worked.

Over time I would become the team lead, one of only three dough masters, one of the top two pizza makers and even try my hand at waiting tables while at Pizza Hut which I left for a while, came back to for a short time and then finally left completely in 1997.

The last job that I would do there before leaving was to play classical guitar in the restaurant for tips but the waitresses complained to the manager that I was making far more money than them and I was told that making the customers happy just wasn’t appreciated. It was neat while it lasted and I was making over $20 an hour in tips which was great compared to normal Pizza Hut pay.

Overall the PH experience was valuable only in learning how awful jobs can be. Most jobs at this level are. I had my first real experience with a sexist boss and experienced the glass ceiling first hand. Sexual discrimination against the male staff was so drastic that they didn’t even attempt to hide it. We were told by Wendy, the store manager, that only women could be waitresses and only waitresses could become managers since no one could be a manager without having done all the different jobs. So barred men from waiting tables as a means to barring them from any and all promotions. I only made team lead because the area manager over Wendy promoted me when Wendy wasn’t around.

It was neat working in the busiest Pizza Hut in upstate New York for a while. It was a good experience, but the best part was getting to leave when I finally did.