Thursday, October 23, 2008

There's a reason we picked this area...

Author's Note: I actually wrote this blog entry a week and a half ago, about two days after the events described. Then I pretty much forgot to transcribe it for your reading pleasure. Sorry about that. On the plus side, it adds an extra layer of irony to the first few lines.

The reason this most recent blog entry is late (as opposed to the reason so many others were late) is that I was out of town this weekend on a trip. It wasn't so good for blog writing but besides that it was a ridiculously productive and thoroughly enjoyable trip. Sarah and I went to the Outer Banks. Officially we were there for wedding planning. Unofficially we just wanted to go to the beach.

Honestly, though, I wasn't expecting "beach" as much of an option. It is October after all. I was pleasantly surprised. It was seventies and sunny all weekend, beautiful weather to be walking around in (which is good, because we did a lot of that).

We visited four different potential wedding sites, and I do mean different. If I were to draw up a matrix of common components (because I'm an engineer by training, and I think like that) each site would occupy its own unique spot without overlap. Sarah has a few more site details (plus her own interpretation of the trip) on her blog.

We also hit up our favorite restaurants and even tried two new ones (one out of necessity and one out of curiosity). As we drove back and forth from appointment to appointment, we made notes on hotels, possible rehearsal dinner locations, churches, and other landmarks that might be of particular interest to guests new to the Outer Banks (or OBX as we regulars like to call it when we're feeling snooty). On top of this we found time to visit our engagement site, tour a landmark or two we hadn't visited before, and even take a traditional long walk on the beach.

The hotel was pretty shabby (not recommending that one to guests) and on the return trip one oblivious lady tried very hard to occupy the same physical space as my car by crossing three lanes of traffic from the on ramp in one spectacular merge (my poor little Civic horn is completely incapable of getting anyone's attention, thus the driver remains frustratingly oblivious to this day) - so the weekend wasn't perfect, but it was pretty close.

On Sabres and Stingers

It's an interesting time to be a Wahoo on the Georgia Tech campus right now. UVa just happens to be the opponent in this weekend's football game. I've been on the GT campus for other UVa games but GT has never made a big deal out of UVa before. This time, though, it's homecoming and Georgia Tech cares very much.

Three weeks ago, when the window was closing on my opportunity to get student tickets, it didn't look like it was going to be a very good game. UVa was on their third string quarterback and missing several other significant players thanks to a slew of troubles and injuries. Things didn't go so well for the Cavaliers. We lost to Duke, perennial joke of the ACC, in a crushing defeat that was, frankly, humiliating. So the thought of sitting in the Georgia Tech student section to watch the Cavaliers line up against the Yellow Jackets (a team with a significantly better reputation than Duke) was not particularly appealing to me. I made a mistake. I let the tickets go.

Now things are looking a little different. That third string quarterback has learned quickly and UVa today is a different team than it was three weeks ago. Diehl has more to say about our troubles and transformations here. The short of it is that UVa is coming off a three game winning streak that includes a Maryland shutout and the defeat of 18 ranked UNC in overtime. Georgia Tech is still favored for this upcoming game, but not quite as certain as they once were.

And now the students here are getting into it. Signs are appearing all over campus, cheering for GT and occasionally villifying UVa. I've never been on the wrong end of such propaganda before. Oh sure, Jeremy likes to send us pictures of the Virginia Tech mascot doing things to the Cavalier that should, given the definition of a hokie, be anatomically impossible, but that's just when he's feeling blue. Here there's a full-on campaign under way and they all assume I'm in on it. It's a little surreal (especially the bit about walking over chalk outlines of Cavaliers on my way to class).

Fortunately, I've got a Virginia shirt for every day of the week.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Not Quite Sandstorm

In my continued efforts to keep myself healthy and also have fun (something I enjoy very much), I saw a great opportunity when the ID students started talking about starting intramural teams here at Georgia Tech. One person suggested an ultimate frisbee team. Sounded fun, so I signed up. Another suggested a sand volleyball team. Even better! Here, I thought, was my chance to participate in the sport that brought such glory and adoration to my friends on Team Sandstorm. I signed up for that one, too. The girl who started the frisbee team sent us details and linked us to the schedule, but the one who proposed the volleyball team was silent. So I sent her an email poke to find out what was going on. Turns out she hadn't actually attended the original sign up meeting, so now we needed to do an alternate sign up, but she and all the other team members had a class conflict so could I please go sign them up? Perhaps that should have been my first warning.

I accepted (because, hey, I like volleyball and I still had hopes of being just like Team Sandstorm). It turns out she really had no idea what the sign up involved. I ended up captain by default. The girl who started the thing had no interest in actually being captain, so I kept it, but it's an odd way to end up the head of the team. Also, I got to name the team. Since we're design students, I named us after one of our modeling tools and we became The Sandblasters (our frisbee team was named Xacto).

Unfortunately, we were a team in name only. I had a list of about 9 people who were interested, given to me by the girl who started the whole thing, but on closer inspection 3 of them had never actually volunteered. I sent the details to the rest of them, recruited two more, asked some questions about playing experience and then prepared for our first game. No one actually answered my questions, so I had no clue what to expect regarding the quality of our team (actually, that in itself was a clue, I just didn't recognize it).

Three people showed for that first game. It's supposed to be 4-on-4. I made the fourth, but came down with a nasty chest cold two days before and decided it was in everyone's best interests if I didn't actually play. So I cheered (such as it was) and we lost. The next week was a bye, so I held a practice. Surprisingly the practice got the best attendance of any event for the whole season. For two of our teammates (including the girl who suggested volleyball in the first place), it was the only event they would actually attend. It was fun, and I felt good about our next game. We actually had 5 people for that one, but still lost.

Two complete losses (we weren't shut out, but we didn't score very much either) put us 29th in a field of 30. For the next game, though, we were scheduled to play the 30th team. I was pretty excited, we actually had a chance to win this one. I even called Bruce for tips and suggestions for that extra edge.

I showed up on the field with twenty minutes early, pumped but concerned that no one had actually confirmed they would be there. At five minutes to go, I was still the only Sandblaster, so I started making phone calls. We needed a minimum of 2 people to actually play. Finally, one more showed up. We had our minimum and it was all we were going to get. The other team had 6. Fortunately, they were pretty nice about it and set the game to 2 on 2. It ended up the best game Sandblasters ever had. We still lost both games, but by a much closer margin and I, for one, had a much better time than in any of the other games (we actually led the second game by 8 points early on, before our inability to sub out started to wear on us). We actually scored enough points to keep our 29th place (the 28th team had a bad week and skipped straight to 30).

I didn't know it at the time, but it was also Sandblaster's last game. I couldn't make the final week, but the others said they would be there. They ended up changing their minds. It's probably for the best. Our last game was supposed to be against the league's number 2 team. It would not have gone well. As it was we forfeited and finally earned that 30 spot we'd been drifting towards.

The whole thing was a huge disappointment. Not for the losses, but for the complete disinterest from the rest of my team. On the other hand, the one 2v2 game we played reinforced that I can indeed enjoy it. I just need to play with people who want to play. The same thing happened to the frisbee team, though, so it may not be desire but rather availability (something ID students are a bit short on). In any case, I didn't suggest anything for the new IM season that started this month. I'll just have to put my volleyball dreams on hold for now.