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Jamie checked out of the LifeLink apartment at 10 am yesterday, having done all his chores for the morning (packing, vacuuming, cleaning the kitchen and bathroom) and having collected an impressive array of achievements for the week—including but not limited to the baking of pork chops and the peeling of potatoes and the doing of laundry.  We visited him three times during his stay—the first time (on Wednesday night) to see how he was doing, the second time (Thursday night) to hang out for about twenty minutes, and the third time (Saturday noon) to drop off a few items he’d requested.  Every time we stopped by, we called to give him a heads-up, and he answered his cell phone for the first time; and every time we stopped by, Jamie seemed as if he’d been living there for weeks, totally comfortable and happy.  Meanwhile, Janet and I went through the Five Stages in only five days:

Day 1: This is weird.  This is too weird.  The house seems completely empty and forlorn.

Day 2: This is weird.  Dinner isn’t the same without Jamie ... hey, I have an idea—let’s go out for dinner.

Day 3: You know, we could get used to this.

Day 4: Mmmmm, we could definitely get used to this.

Day 5: When is he coming home?  We miss him we miss him!  Let’s go pick him up right now!!!

We’re hoping to do this again in January.  But for now, we note with pleasure that when Jamie came home, he carried his (large and heavy) suitcase up to his room and put away all his clothes.  Later Sunday afternoon, he and I went to play racquetball, and then the three of us went off to the Centre County Down Syndrome Society holiday party, which was much fun.

Congratulations to Jamie!  We are so very proud of him.  Burstingly so.

For our last temporarily-empty-nester evening on Saturday, Janet and I decided to do something romantic.  So we walked through the ice and the snow to Rec Hall to see the last home game of the Penn State women’s volleyball team.  Yes, that’s right, the two-time defending national champion women’s volleyball team, the team that hasn’t lost since September 15, 2007, having won 98 consecutive matches since then.  Most of those wins were 3-0 sweeps: in 2007 they went 78-6 in their 26 contests after the loss to Stanford (and beat Stanford 3-2 in the revenge final, in classic sports-movie fashion), and then in 2008, as I noted last year, they went 38-0 and swept 37 of those matches for a 114-2 mark.  This year, they had one close call: down 2-1 to Michigan on October 16 (losing by 24-26 and 23-25 and winning by 25-8), they rallied for 25-21 and 15-12 wins to preserve the streak.  They’re now 34-0 with thirty shutouts and three 3-1 victories, which means they’ve won 102 sets and lost 5.  So, let’s do the math: in those 98 consecutive wins, Penn State has won a total of 294 sets and lost 11.  This has to be one of the most amazing runs any team has enjoyed in any sport since the invention of the ball, and Janet and I were happy to see one little piece of it in person.  The crowd was lively and crowdy, 2800 or so, but we couldn’t help wishing that the game had sold out.  Still, we got to do the wave at one point, and never having seen a crowd do the wave first at normal speed, then in exaggerated slo-mo, then at hyperspeed, we actually laughed out loud. 

Oh yes, the match.  We played some team that calls itself “the University of Pennsylvania” even though it is actually some snooty private school like Bryn Mawr, except with sororities.  The home team was down 10-5 in the opener and rallied to take an 11-10 lead, at which point almost everyone in the building thought the entire match was over.  Lo, Penn counter-rallied to take a 19-16 lead, at which point I said to Janet, “it would be a really good idea to take control of this game right now.” Thankfully, the team heeded this sage advice, and went on a 9-1 tear en route to yet another sweep.  On to the regionals in Gainesville!  No one has ever won three straight national championships in this sport.  So, go Nittany Lions.


OK, now for a few important blog announcements.  I’m working on a tight deadline for a couple of things and student papers will be arriving tomorrow, so I won’t be writing any bold new posts on departmental governance or broken hockey sticks for a week at least.  And that means I won’t be able to do any last-minute blog GOTV appeals for the MLA presidential election, since voting ends this Thursday, December 10.  All I can say is that neither of my opponents will bring to the office an adequate appreciation of intercollegiate women’s volleyball, and if that doesn’t seal the deal at this point, I don’t know what will.  In the meantime, I can direct you to Cosma Shalizi’s response to The Left At War, which seems to me to be scrupulously fair about the book’s various strengths and weaknesses.  Thanks, Cosma!

Posted by on 12/07 at 01:45 PM
  1. It’s something of a relief to hear that Jamie is home safe and sound. He sure learned that he can stand on his own. I’m still shaky on the whole peeling of potatoes and the cooking of the pork ritual myself. And do you two know how to rekindle the fire of romance or what? Oh to whisper sweet nothings between points in a crowded gym!  Best of luck with all the work. We’ll miss you at the humble site, but I’ve always suspected you had a life away from here.

    Posted by  on  12/07  at  03:16 PM
  2. And do you two know how to rekindle the fire of romance or what?

    If only mds were here with that guitar of his!  It would be great to hear a mashup of “chicka-wow-wow” and Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll Part 1.”

    Posted by  on  12/07  at  03:30 PM
  3. Such great news!

    Posted by Maud  on  12/07  at  03:53 PM
  4. If only mds were here with that guitar of his!  It would be great to hear a mashup of “chicka-wow-wow” and Gary Glitter’s “Rock and Roll Part 1.”

    I didn’t know Janet was that much younger than you.

    Congrats to Jamie on his successful Boot Camp experience and may his Special Ops training in January go just as well, if not better.

    And, being a UVA booster, I’ve got no dog in this fight, but the UNC Women’s soccer team may have something to say about the whole “invention of the ball” gag.  Ball.  Gag.  I made a funny. (/Foghorn Leghorn)

    Posted by Gary Oxford  on  12/07  at  04:18 PM
  5. [SCREECH]

    [Hurrying footsteps]




    Sorry, internet traffic was heavy today.

    Besides, it’s a ukulele.

    Posted by  on  12/07  at  04:23 PM
  6. I didn’t know Janet was that much younger than you.

    Seven years older, actually.  I married her when I was 16.  Our wedding song, as every schoolchild knows, was a mashup of “More Than a Feeling” and “Sheena is a Punk Rocker.”

    Posted by  on  12/07  at  04:40 PM
  7. a mashup of “More Than a Feeling”

    [Difficult-to-describe-tersely sound of someone swinging into a banquet hall on a chandelier]

    Chicka-Wow Chicka-Wow Wow!

    [Crunching, twanging sound of ukulele partially absorbing impact against the far wall]

    Posted by  on  12/07  at  05:21 PM
  8. Great stuff, all around. I went to grad school at a place somewhere west of the <del>Surekill</del> Schuylkill River, and I vaguely remember the fraternities (or at least that was the general explanation for the broken beer bottles on sidewalks in our neighborhood Sunday mornings), but I didn’t go to volleyball games. Didn’t go to any Red-and-Blue games. Grad school.

    Back then, back when Penn was a real school, Penn State only charged a tiny fraction of what Penn did for undergraduate tuition.

    Posted by Sherman Dorn  on  12/07  at  08:13 PM
  9. Oh, yeah, forgot the important bit: Congratulations to Michael and Janet for not helicoptering!!!

    Posted by Sherman Dorn  on  12/07  at  08:15 PM
  10. Good for Jamie! Happy holiday wishes for you and your family. Soon, Jamie will be inviting you guys over for Boxing Day dinners, Father’s Day, Mother’s Day, and the like.

    caption: national (Canadian national, which is why I mention those boxing days)

    Posted by  on  12/07  at  08:19 PM
  11. Not sure what Cosma means by ‘the late Stuart Hall’ though

    Posted by  on  12/07  at  08:57 PM
  12. First of all: congratulations all around to Jamie, Janet and yourself. 
    I read last week’s post right before holding my last office hours of the year, and got quite a few strange looks from students who evidently wondered why I was so choked-up about the end of the semester…

    Secondly: Thanks for the kind words.  This link should help people skip over my irrelevant mutterings about unrelated subjects.

    Posted by Cosma  on  12/07  at  08:59 PM
  13. Not sure what Cosma means by ‘the late Stuart Hall’ though

    A stupid error; thanks for pointing it out.  (Captcha: “course”, as “par for the” with me.)

    Posted by Cosma  on  12/07  at  09:01 PM
  14. Yes, “the late Stuart Hall” made me sad.  I believe Cosma meant “great,” though, so we’re all square.  Thanks for the new link, Cosma—I’ll edit this here post accordingly.

    And thanks to everyone for all their good wishes on Jamie’s behalf.  I’ve now told him about his job offer, and he is—as the teenagers used to say 30 years ago—psyched.

    Posted by Michael  on  12/07  at  09:59 PM
  15. Actually, I have no idea what I meant by “late” there, or by a later sentence (now fixed) which implied that Hall is French.  I suspect that in both places the real meaning is “staying up late to blog after finishing the next day’s lecture notes, and being too lazy to edit later”.

    Posted by Cosma  on  12/07  at  10:17 PM
  16. And here I thought Professor Shalizi was riffing off my hapless reference to Professor Hall’s ghost on this very blog.  Ah, well, fame continues relentlessly to elude me.

    Posted by  on  12/07  at  11:08 PM
  17. This is the most wonderful time of the year, especially in retrospect.  Dig in duly and we’ll see ya in a week or so.

    Posted by  on  12/08  at  12:29 AM
  18. Since one of my dearest friends is enshrined in the Volleyball Hall of Fame in Holyoke, MA (as perhaps the greatest volleyball player ever), it is indeed good to see that Penn State has brought the sport back close to its roots (100+ years) rather than leave it out here on the left coast.  Since the 1920s the sport became enmeshed in the SoCal culture, and so many of my own early decades were spent in gyms and on the beach in LALA land.  That the sport could now be something that brings so many together across this continent is a good thing, and that it inspired a date for you and Janet is just too cool. 

    Each day i see the local independent living and working citizens with cognitive disabilities i think of Jamie.  He has certainly made huge progress, as have the both of you.

    Posted by  on  12/08  at  02:01 AM
  19. Maybe it is 335 wins versus 22 losses over a 12 year span, that lets me remember winning against the grain of the culture. and period of time in which political upheaval and radical protest was supported by athletic excellence: UCLA’s NCAA basketball ten year title championships.

    Posted by  on  12/08  at  08:04 AM
  20. You and Janet are brave souls. Every time I think about my daughter leaving us I fall into a very deep funk. I fear being one of those people who just gets stuck at the depression stage and worry about whether I’ll have the inner resources to deal with it.

    captcha: “doubt” (not kidding)

    Posted by  on  12/08  at  11:34 AM
  21. Just wanted to thank you for the updates—you’ve made Jamie real as a personality to folks like me who haven’t met him.  Narrative rules.  Best to Jamie!

    Posted by  on  12/08  at  02:05 PM
  22. We the Penn proletariat prefer to think of it as the University of Shopping Centers.

    Posted by  on  12/08  at  05:18 PM
  23. very exciting to hear the jamie news!

    Posted by  on  12/08  at  06:41 PM
  24. Sing from the rooftops:

    “Atheism is dead!”


    Posted by  on  12/08  at  10:49 PM
  25. davidmabus, that link makes me laugh and cry at the same time.

    I’m so confused . . .

    But hey, as long as we’re on the topic of insanity--how about that Michele Bachmann endorsement of Sarah Palin. I think it defies the laws of physics.

    Posted by Jason B.  on  12/08  at  11:04 PM
  26. I told a Special Ed teacher today about your “Five Stages” - she enjoyed that.

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  03:04 AM
  27. how about that Michele Bachmann endorsement of Sarah Palin. I think it defies the laws of physics.

    Not really.  Paired fermions can’t have the same spin state, but paired bozos can put the same spin on everything.

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  09:38 AM
  28. Day 4: Mmmmm, we could definitely get used to this.

    Wow, um. Yeah…

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  12:02 AM
  29. Jake:  well, um, yeah.  It was like that, after eighteen-plus years.

    O-Girl, this Special Ed teacher ... are you getting a degree in this stuff?  Or was this a conversation with a friend?  (Just curious.)

    Posted by Michael  on  12/10  at  09:26 AM
  30. Michael -
    the special ed teacher was a patient I was working with at the physical therapy office where I work. We get lots and lots of teachers. The job seems to take a heavy toll on the back from all the bending over desks and whatnot.

    Sadly, I’m just another health care worker who doesn’t enjoy the benefits of having access to health care herself. God, I love this country.

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  03:36 PM
  31. Yeah, that makes sense about teachers and backs.  But there’s an important reason why health care workers don’t have health care benefits, remember—I mean, if you get them, then everybody will want them, and next thing you know, off we go to Obama’s FEMA gulag.

    Sorry.  It’s seriously not funny.  (My sister-in-law just saw her monthly premium go from $1000 to $1500.  It’s like buying a house, except that you don’t get a house.)

    Posted by Michael  on  12/10  at  04:09 PM
  32. OMG...D*vid M*bus? Here?

    That bodes ill...ask PZ Myers.

    [captcha: mans? wtf?]

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  07:20 PM
  33. My sister-in-law just saw her monthly premium go from $1000 to $1500.

    Then you discover that after you retire (before 66.5), it is necessary to work just for benefits so you don’t spend half of your monthly income just on health-care premiums.  At least i found a part time job that lets me do that.  Most others are not that fortunate. 

    As for the independent-living future--and it seems Jamie is doing quite well moving forward, (i have mentioned this before but) we have a large population of independent-living cognitive disabled in our city.  There is a large USPS contract mail processing center that employs many of them to help sort and move stuff.  I am sure there are jobs like that across the country that would be looking for someone like Jamie.  Again, congrats on the world-transforming Jamie news.

    32.3.2: [captcha: mans? wtf?] as in man’s inhumanity to man???

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  08:43 PM
  34. And the Lady Lions get their 100th straight match win.

    I was at a bar where they had the game on. I was spewing all the miutiae learned above. My Bud asks, when did you become such a volleyball fan.

    I told him, of course I am a women’s volleyball fan since I am a socialist. I seem to be getting “that look” from more people and quite a bit more often.

    Thanks Dr. Berube.

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