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.

October 23, 1995: Finishing My Color Printing Course

Today was the final day of my “Color Printing Course” that I have been taking at Kodak in Rochester. This, as I recall, was the final photography class that I took at Kodak. I took several over the years including classes on composition and darkroom techniques. I have been a member of the Kodak Camera Club (the KCC) for some time at this point and use the darkroom facilities which are open to members up at the Theater on the Ridge inside of Kodak Park in Greece, New York located at the corner of Ridge Road and Lake Avenue.

Now that I have completed this class I now carry a card which authorizes me to use Kodak’s commercial color developing machines. This will make it vastly easier for me to do color darkroom work. Color is much more time consuming and difficult than black and white and lends itself far less to manual intervention. Now I can do the base darkroom work and then use the high quality processing machines just like professionals use.

It is really great that I am able to take classes on photography via the Kodak Camera Club as they are considered the best place to take classes – even better than the school which specialize in photography. The dark room facilities here are the best in the world. It is a very impressive experience to come here for all of my photography work.