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Monday, December 07, 2009


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 Michael on 12/07 at 01:45 PM
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