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Monday, August 15, 2005

A day that will live in infamy (at least for me)

August 15, 1995 - approximately 12:30pm. My friends and I come back from a lunch and spades game in downtown Athens to find the fifth floor of Brooks Hall (the Business school) full of smoke. After a failed effort to reach my office, where my final candidacy papers and all of my accumulated four years of graduate school were located, we pulled the fire alarm and sat in stunned disbelief as the fifth and fourth floors of Brooks Hall burned.

What a disaster. I was interviewed by an Atlanta TV affiliate and when the reporter asked me what was I going to do, my response was the stupid "I guess we will start over." What a lame answer, but at that point of a disaster it is really all you can say.

I want to offer a public thank you to the UGA Economics department for helping us graduate students out - especially in giving me an extra year of financial support so that I could rebuild/finish my dissertation. In the end, things worked out - I landed a job at UTA and have been happy ever since. However, on Aug. 15, 1995 I was a very unhappy fellow. Watched in stunned disbelief as everything went up in smoke, got slammed, cried, then started rebuiliding the dissertation.

This is a scan of a report that showed up in the Fall 1996 Report of the President at UGA. Man, was I young back then. I have a copy of the picture I am holding - that along with the key to my office is framed and hangs on my office wall.

The upshot is that urban legends often have some truth behind them. In this case, Brooks Hall was set on fire by roofers who were working on the copper roof. They set the fire and then ran without pulling the fire alarm - nice. Luckily I had an older copy of my dissertation saved on a floppy disk (remember those) at home, however all of my teaching and research materials were lost in the fire. Lesson to be learned? Make backups.

Thanks again to UGA Econ.

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