Elias complained a while ago that I haven't yet posted any Happenings, despite the presence of the category. Thing is, I usually find it much more engaging (formyself) to write on sports or amusing web links or transient musings. And I'm guessing that reading about the mundane activities of my day-to-day life won't enthrall anyone reading my blog. Yet, years from now, I'm sure that my memory will appreciate a bit of electronic assistance. So without further ado, here's what I did this weekend:
Sean, Wing, Rouben, Matt, and I worked late into Friday evening preparing and polishing a demo that Sean will be presenting in Washington to members of the NIH and to CViT investigators. As always, it wasn't until Friday that all of the pieces that comprise the demo fell into place, but when they did, they certainly encourage me that overarching goals of the systems we're building are both reachable and commendable.
But because we were late at work, Wing and I were late for dinner at Chef Chang's with Lynn, Jen, Jeff, Serge, Nicole, Sara, Russ, Nick, Ceida, Cy, Jess, and Jess's friend .We were also so exhausted when we arrived at dinner that we did little more than mumble hello, nod off, and devour the Peking duck that had been (generously) saved for us. In fact, I blame my state of exhaustion for not knowing Jess's friend's name.
After dinner Lynn and I met up with Eugene, Vishal, and Sabow at Jillian's. but before our name was called for an available alley, it became more than apparent that everyone except for Lynn might fall asleep in the act of bowling the ball. As such is often considered a dangerous state of affairs, we chose to can the bowling and call it a night.
The week after a disappointing homecoming-weekend loss to Michigan by the never-play-to-expectations Northwestern Wildcats, Lynn pitched camp in our living room to cheer on the 'Cats in another Big Ten matchup: Iowa. As I pursued other activities (see below), the development of Northwestern's 24–7 halftime deficit was told to me via a series of agonized groans, screams, and pleadings emanating from the living room. The Wildcats scored a quick touchdown to open the second half, but remained uncharacteristically silent on offense as the shadows grew long across Ryan Field. But—also uncharacteristically—the 'Cats' defense stepped up to the plate, and with the ball in Iowa territory, Northwestern was down 27–14 with three minutes remaining in the game. Northwestern punched in a touchdown several plays later, to draw within six points with 2:10 left. With no timeouts left, Northwestern rose to the challenge and executes a flawless onside kick, popping the ball just over the Hawkeyes hands team and leaping past the receivers to recover possession. Two first downs, a personal foul, and 90 seconds later, and Lynn's groans had turned to grins as she celebrated a 28–27 triumph by Northwestern.
Two less savory points emerged from the thrilling victory:
- Northwestern is now once again a ranked team (25, I believe). This, of course, means that they will lose next week. Unless the fact that they're playing a higher ranked team (The Ohio State University) throws a wrench into the system.
- Star Wildcat quarterback, Brett Basanez, had these comments following the game (remember, Northwestern won):
They were trying to get us out of our game by grabbing facemasks, hitting guys late, hitting you in the head, I mean, if that's how they teach football down there ... I was kind of disappointed in their sportsmanship.
Now, I'm not exactly sure what Mr. Basanez's ellipsis signifies ("then I'd never want to live in Iowa"? "then no wonder they lost the football game?" "then they deserved to lose that football game?" "then I'll whup their ass next time I see them?"), but I am pretty sure that he had no business saying that. Basanez let his feelings speak volumes on the field, so why did he feel the need to gripe in the lockerroom as well? If he has a legitimate complaint, he should take it up with his coaches—that's what they're there for. But to make an unsubstantiated accusation of systemic problems with Iowa's system strikes me as a bit childish. Us academic elitist sports fans expect better from athletes at the 12th ranked university in the nation.
After a delicious dinner of grilled salmon with a horseradish cream sauce and pan-roasted asparagus, Lynn and I headed downtown to see Ben Folds (along with bandmates Lindsay and Jared) at the Orpheum. We arrived a few minutes late and missed the first opening act, but made it to our center-aisle, third-row seats (keywords: forgetfulness; frustration; ebay) in time for the second opening act, The Fray. We both thoroughly enjoyed The Fray's short set; Lynn found them reminiscent of REM, while I was enthralled with their Denver origins and with the fact that their lead member is a keyboardist. Of course, it should come as no surprise that they're touring with Ben Folds, given the name of their drummer and Ben Folds's fondness for others who share his name.
Anyway, Ben and band hit the stage after a brief break and played a rocking set of about 25 songs, touching on ballads, lyricless recent compositions, and, of course, with a heavy dose of rocking piano music. My observations:
- I find it completely worth the marked up price for seats so close to the stage. Considering my poor vision, it's only when I'm very close to the action that I'm able to notice the small details that—above and beyond the enveloping and all-consuming auditory nature of the music—separate attending a live show from watching a recording of one.
- For the record, I think that Gone and One Angry Dwarf and 200 Solemn Faces are two of Ben's absolute best live songs... and he played both of them on Saturday.
- After the show, Lynn went up to the stage to ask for one of the musicians' copies of the setlist that were laying about the stage. With the help of benfolds.org member Tequila, she managged to snag one of Lindsay's drum sticks. Tequila got a setlist.
- After a two-hour concert, a drummer's drum sticks are incredibly beat up. You could get splinters just looking at this thing.
After the show, we enjoyed the beautifully mild night weather as we walked to catch the T over at Hynes/ICA.
We awoke early Sunday morning to head rock climbing. After picking up Dodzie and Vanessa, we headed up to picturesque Arlington, MA where Joe presided over an imprompty knotting, belaying, and climbing lesson for the beginners. Around 11:00, we drove over to Metrorock and, after Dodzie, Vanessa, and Lynn had all successfully passed their safety tests (keeping intact Joe's perfect record), we climbed for a couple of hours. My personal goal for this winter is to go rock climbing at least semi-regularly. I'd very much like to go at a frequent enough rate such that I improve both my rock-climbing abilities and my overall fitness. We'll see, but I figure that with many potential climbing partners (including Lynn, the best (and most convenient) of all), I've got a good shot at reaching this goal.
Fail to Conquer the World
The parts of the weekend not otherwise covered herein, including the rest of Sunday after getting back from rock climbing, was filled with Civ 4, Civ 4, and more Civ 4. Playing on Prince (the fifth difficulty level out of nine) I'm finding the game to be a significant (but balanced) challenge, and am enjoying it tremendously. Most recently, my blossoming Russian Empire was cut short when an ambush by the devious French coincided with a cultural "attack" by my allies, the Mongols. The brief era in which Moscow flourished as the home of both Taoism and the Chichen Itza came to a disappointing end. Happily, another game awaits just around the corner...