Saturday, January 22, 2005

ObOpeningNote: The song meme list remains open -- visitors are encouraged to chip away at it!

We've been trying to see as many Kalamazoo friends as possible (as well as friends from other nearby cities), which has kept us at least as busy as has packing. Rebecca drove up from Toledo and made us a batch of matzoh ball soup. Some other folks may be driving out from Lansing tonight, if the snow clears sufficiently. A group of activist friends are having us over tomorrow night. And, last night, we said so long to many of my WMU biologist friends in a ritual that began at a local brewery, ended up at a sports bar/restaurant near my home, and probably killed several billions of brain cells divided evenly among a few dozen people.

If you're moving away from a place where you have lived for a very, very long time, one problem is that some old friends will make it clear to you, over and over, how upset they are that you're leaving. It's a sweet sentiment, and hearing it once or twice makes you feel appreciated, but after a while, it just doesn't help. One acquaintance of ours -- not a close friend, but someone whose company I'd always enjoyed -- started in on that theme nearly two years ago, when my job hunt wasn't going anywhere. "Good," this person practically shouted at me, without smiling, "that means you're staying." I'd just had a funding request turned down for an overseas research project that I really, really wanted.

Needless to say, I've been avoiding this person ever since. (I'm trying to imagine a parallel in the realm of insensitivity. The closest I can come up with: "I'm glad your fiance dumped you. You'll have more time to hang out with me if you're not married.")

But, the good friends we've been seeing lately, and especially the biologists, understand what has to be done. Kalamazoo is the only place in which I have, to date, ever felt really at home. That includes my home town, which I left with essentially zero homesickness in 1974, and Boston, with which I had a 17-year platonic relationship (and where Rick was always unhappy). Our 13-year residence in the Bug House is a personal record for me in a single residence, and nearly ties Rick's stay in his childhood home. We're now on our way to a place that we expect to like and enjoy, but under circumstances that are by nature temporary. If we weren't willing to do this, the probability that I'd ever find real work in my chosen field would be pretty close to zero. A somewhat larger city will be a better place for Rick, too, especially with some of the career transitions he's going through right now.

Simply stated: The friends who are being most helpful are the ones who realize both how important and how difficult this is for us, too.

ObClosingNote: Be very careful about drinking large quantities of anything with the word "bloody" in its name if you have to get up and shovel snow in the morning.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

My turn to do the song meme game!

On your current playlist, hit shuffle and pick the first twenty songs on the list (no matter how cheesy or embarrassing). Write down one line of the song. Try to avoid putting the song title in the line. Have your friends comment and see if they know the songs.

So-- okay, here are mine. A few hints: As expected, the 70s, 80s, and early 90s are well represented, but one entry was released in late 2004. Numbers 17 through 20 are worthy of serious electronic ‘Pede hugs (they really did just tumble out in that order), but Mitchell and Gail are ineligible to answer #20.

1. Captain Pierce was a strong man/Strong as any man alive/Stuck in his craw when they made him retire/At the age of sixty-five.

2. A new age has dawned rising from the ashes of the innocent/My dead versus your dead/Let's see who can get more militant. "Supa Dubya", 40 del Tren (Rebecca got the song title.)

3. I was on the inside/When they pulled the four walls down/I was looking through the window/I was lost, I am found.

4. Well, he's tellin' us this and he's tellin' us that/Changes it every day/Says it doesn't matter. "Rocky Mountain Way", Joe Walsh (Kathy)

5. They say your style of life's a drag/And that you must go other places/But just don't you feel too bad/When you get fooled by smiling faces. "Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing", Stevie Wonder (Kathy)

6. When logic and proportion/Have fallen sloppy dead/And the White Knight is talking backwards/And the Red Queen's off her head.... "White Rabbit", Jefferson Airplane (Greg)

7. Aims/Dangerous games/Their mother says one false move and we all get hurt.

8. You can blow out a candle/But you can't blow out a fire/Once the flames begin to catch/The wind will blow it higher. "Biko", Peter Gabriel (Greg)

9. The way I see it, he said, you just can't win it/Everybody's in it for their own gain, you can't please 'em all. "Free Man in Paris", Joni Mitchell (Kathy)

10. How can you tell when you're doing all right/Does your bank account swell while you're dreaming at night?

11. ...You're whispering in my ear/Tell me all the things that I wanna hear. "What I Like About You", Romantics (Greg)

12. Put the tape on erase/Rearrange a face/We always liked Picasso anyway. "Through Being Cool", Devo (Greg)

13. You don't really need to find out what's going on/You don't really want to know just how far it's gone.

14. Well, don't be blind to the big surprise/Swimming round and round like the deadly hand/Of a radium clock at the bottom of the pool.

15. There's a room where the light won't find you/Holding hands while the walls come tumbling down. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World", Tears for Fears (Maribeth/Greg)

16. We can plant a house/We can build a tree/I don't even care/We could have all three.

17. When I saw you for the first time/My knees began to quiver/And I got a funny feeling/In my kidneys and my liver. "Tongue Tied", cast of Red Dwarf (Kathy and kids get credit for this one despite not having actually responded with its name)

18. The people sipped their wine/And what with God there, they asked him questions/Like: do you have to eat/Or get your hair cut in heaven? "God Shuffled His Feet", Crash Test Dummies (Maribeth)

19. Houston, does the weak transmission say it all?/Wave transparent agents of the urban sprawl...

20. Why don't you go about your own business?/Why must you bother me when I'm thinking? ..../It's none of your concern/So just buzz off!

Monday, January 17, 2005

Some things learned this weekend:

  • When the TD extends the half length in a timed quizbowl tournament, the minutes may increase linearly, but the strain on moderators' voices increases exponentially.
  • Given the above, Mitchell really does have laryngeal superpowers.
  • When going out for Ethiopian food in Ann Arbor, be sure to take along Greg, Mark, Sarah, and Gail.
  • Gail, Joe, and Stephanie are a killer combination on a trash team, and very much compatible with the addition of a prehistoric buzzing 'Pede. (We really should do this again!)
  • When multiple subgroups are trying to meld into a dinner run with the Michigan team, it's a good idea for everyone involved to keep their cellphones on.

Since single-bullet topics can't account adequately for the trajectory of the weekend: I can't contain my delight at Rochester's win in the Michigan MLK. Because of the complexity of my other Saturday-night plans, I couldn't stay to watch the actual win (moderated by Mitchell, who assures me that it was impressive). I did get to see the semifinal Rochester-Chicago B match, complete with game-ending strategic neg.

This is going to be a fun year. I'm going to enjoy watching this team, and maybe even occasionally joining a brain workout with them (I'm sure they'll be able to kick my synapses from here to Buffalo, though). It's a huge program, they play a variety of formats, and the players seem to have a great time. It's like walking into Chicago circa 1994, or Michigan a few years later. I do have to limit my quizbowl time, in order to keep the fun-to-stress-ratio favorable, but this is going to be an unexpected side benefit.