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Leaving work tonight, it smelled like rain. I’m not sure I can describe the smell, but to me, it’s rain.

It’s not as good as the creosote bushes in Arizona.

As a kid, I used to lay in my bed in my room at the back of the house, watching the monsoons roll down out of the mountains and towards us. The lightning and thunder were awesome, the sheets of rain great. But the smell of the creosote right before the rain was my favorite part. Anyone who’s been in the Sonoran desert right before a rain knows what I’m talking about, right?

Anyways, it’s a different smell here, but still good. Clean and fresh, maybe.

It sprinkled a bit as I was heading towards Amelia’s place to give her some of the Hot Cross Buns I made. And when I left? A rainbow, brilliant, stretching all the way up and over the arc. And as I got further outside, I realized it was a double rainbow.

Between the sight and smell and sprinkling of rain, it left me feeling very ‘ready’. Refreshed, maybe.

After a series of long days, that was really nice.

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Hello again.

Yes, I know. I’ve been busy.

Yes, I know, I’m always busy.

First there was basketball. We met up with some classmates at one of the pubs around here to watch. Stanford creamed Cornell in the Battle of the Brains. Sadly, brains don’t do much for you on a basketball court. Brawn does. And two 7ft twins. Namely Brook and Robin Lopez. It wasn’t a very exciting game, simply because it was so one-sided.

Amelia and I left part way through the next game, USC and Kansas State. USC was losing pretty bad when we left, but had caught up by the time we made it to my place. Maybe we should have gone out and driven around again, because USC fell behind again and lost. Bah.

Then there was the Arizona game. Alas, alack. My boys did not quite pull it out. If they’d played the last two minutes like they played the second-to-last 2-4 minutes, they might have done it. But they imploded slightly. It sucked. Amelia watched it with me, and thought I might cry. I thought I might, too, but didn’t. Another year of Arizona basketball, over and done with. At least they made it into the tourney this year.

Friday was lots of work and more basketball–I skipped off around 4 to Amelia’s to catch the Oregon game, which they lost. So much for Pac10 dominance. We went 3-3. Friday was also the beginning of all the infamous upsets in this year’s NCAA Tournament. My bracket is on it’s last legs, gasping and wheezing for breathe now, but it’s still capable of limping along. Amelia’s is pretty much done for, sadly. Unfortunately, Rhiannon, who knows nothing about basketball, save for what we’ve taught her this season, is skunking everyone. Either we’re really good teachers, or she’s really lucky. Or a combination.

Saturday, Amelia and I went out for a bike ride. We managed to do 45 freakin’ miles, people. We went out with a guy she knows. He kept up with her pretty well, so I was still left in the back. However, I definitely pushed myself. Go me!

I was both completely pooped out and amazed with myself by the time we got done. I pushed harder on the hills, kicking my speed up about 1mph, and it was a lot easier. I still can’t keep up with Amelia, but I don’t think I was as far behind her as I could have been at times. I also did more standing up and pedaling, which also helped.

Somewhere in the middle of the ride, I found my rhythm and got going pretty good. I don’t know how far I went, but it felt good. The hills still wiped me out a bit, but I’m improving. The hills in the beginning still kicked my ass, but I think if we could do a bit of “warming up” or just finding our stride before we got there, I’d do better. I slowed down at the end, especially up Page Mill hill, but it’s big, so that’s okay. Then I got caught behind zillions of stoplights, but got to practice taking off, so it worked out okay, I suppose. By the end, I was ready to be done, but I felt good.

Also, the Cinderella Ride is in a week and a half at this point. It’s 60ish, 65ish miles. I was dubious about being able to do it–not so much that I’d give up, just that I’d be so far back from Amelia and her aunt that they’d have no fun waiting for me all the time, that I’d have no fun going so slow, and that I wouldn’t feel good afterwards.

After this ride, I felt like I could have done another 15-20 miles if it had been flats. And I think we did more hills than the Cinderella. So I should (hopefully) be good. Cross your fingers, will you?

Sunday was Easter. Happy Easter, people! We went up to my relatives’ house in Santa Rosa and had a great brunch, complete with mimosas. Clearly, all holidays should be celebrated with alcohol. I made Hot Cross Buns again, and even managed to put in the raisins this year. It was awesome. Right up until I had to go to work. Ah well.

Then, the last two days, have just all been crazy scientist stuff. Boring, you don’t want to know, it’s okay. I don’t particularly want to be doing it at times. But I’m wishing the latest batch of crazy experiments will get me that much closer to publishing my first paper.

So yeah, I haven’t sat down much lately, unless I’m doing something or driving. Haven’t even started the new book I got last Thursday, though I did read the “prologue” part this morning while finishing my coffee.

Mmmm, coffee. Maybe I’ll go find me some of that. Thank goodness for hospital cafeterias that include Starbucks.

Please win.

In the battle of the brains (we play Cornell from the Ivy League), we may not have a distinct edge, but we’ve got the Lopez twin towers (Brook and Robin, a combined 515lbs and 14 feet). Our brawn definitely triumphs over theirs.

We’ve also got Mitch, Freddy, Anthony, Landry, Kenny, Drew and Lawrence.

And Taj!!!!

You guys are awesome. Just don’t think you’ve got it in the bag. We need to show we can win in the Tourney.

None of those 20-point losses like last year, please.

Go boys!

Dear Arizona,
You are a good team. You are better than your record. You have pulled out some amazing wins. You can beat West Virginia. Play well, believe in yourself, and don’t dig a hole from which you have to shoot your way out of. Work together. You can do it!
Love, Sarah

****

Dear Chase Budinger,
Please shoot well. I know you can. Remember to have someone push the “On” button before both halves. If you’re not shooting well, play a game of pass and assist. Don’t keep taking shots. Unless you can make them.
Love, Sarah

****

Dear Jordan Hill,
Please don’t foul early. We need you on the inside for both offense and defense. No fouling = you still playing. You’re a great player when you work at it.
Love, Sarah

****

Dear Jawann McClellan,
Have an awesome game. It helps Arizona win so much when we can count on you to play at the top of your game along with Jarryd and Chase.
Love, Sarah

****

Dear Nic Wise,
Play well. Shoot well. Guard well. Don’t hurt your knee.
Love, Sarah

****

Dear Fendi Onobun,
Don’t foul. Defend well.
Love, Sarah

****

Dear Jamelle Horne,
Play hard. Shoot well.
Love, Sarah

****

Dear Kirk Walters,
Please don’t foul. Or at least score enough points to make up for the fouls.
Love, Sarah

****

Dear Kevin O’Neill,
I think you’ve done amazing things this season. If Lute Olson comes back, please don’t go. Stick around. Be Head Coach again in couple years. I like your defensive style. I like how you have the boys play. We need you to come back. You are capable of making Arizona a great team.
Love, Sarah

P.S. You turn very, very pink. It’s rather impressive. Just maybe remember to breathe occasionally, okay?

****

Dear Jarryd Bayless,
Play well. Shoot well. Don’t hog the ball. Come back to Arizona next year. We need you back to play again. It’ll make you such a better player when you go pro. Play your best.
Love, Sarah

P.S. I love your arm muscles. Call me!

I go away for 5 days, then am incredibly busy for 2 days, and next thing I know there are 205 new posts on my RSS feed.

Wow.

But the last two days have been full of experimentation, sadly not on the undergrads, no matter how annoying they may have been, so there’s been little time to play catch up. Let’s put it this way: I ate lunch at 7pm today.

Bah.

So, a couple points, just to clear them out of my brain:

1. I’m damn proud to be at Stanford, but it’s the sense of entitlement I get from the undergrads and loutish drunken behavior that also make me damn glad I’m a graduate student and not one of them.

2. This current experiment sucks. 4 Tuesdays of lots of stuff to do. Today was a 9 hour day and I skipped lab meeting. This doesn’t bode well for the next 3 to go. You add in lab meeting, and it becomes a double-digit hour day, easily.

3. Rhiannon caught a whale (Pacific Life was a sponsor, thus they threw out whales to the crowd) for me at the Pac-10 Tourney. It was during the Arizona-Stanford game, nonetheless. In honor of the Arizona player Jerryd Bayless, I’ve named it Jerryd Whayless. Haha, I’m funny. (Or John is–he thought of it.)

4. I’ve finally gotten to the uber-hard sudoku in my book. Yes, I’m a dork. Big dork. But it makes me happy.

5. Taxes suck. Especially when you’ve theoretically been paid $20K more than you actual got. Wish I had the money. In which case, I’d happily pay the taxes on it.

6. It’s nice to be home in your own bed.

7. We’re going wine tasting tomorrow night with Amelia. Fun. The Ex is supposedly going to be there. Not fun. Stay tuned.

8. If you don’t have Coke, rum goes well with Diet Dr. Pepper.

9. The back pain induced by a day in the car, 4 days in a stadium seat, and another day in the car sucks. Lots. I’ve been eating ibuprofen like candy. Should have bought the sugar-coated ones.

10. There’s nothing like the sympathetic ear of a best friend when you need to rant. Or at least, I hope so, given the ranting poor Amelia’s been pushed to in the last couple weeks. Good thing we took her on vacation for a couple days, and hopefully it did some good.

11. One of the students who failed to check his air and ran out at 80+ feet underwater on me and James F came back to the dive shop. He wants to take the Rescue class. Good for him for wanting to improve his skills and safety. You couldn’t pay me enough money to teach him. Not enough zeros in the business world.

12. I’m going to eat some M&M’s, finish my Rum and Dr. and go to bed. Maybe tomorrow, after work, wine tasting, and finishing my NCAA bracket, I’ll finally catch up on some of your posts. Slow down, will you? Just for a bit?

So Saturday morning, after sleeping in and then lounging around (it was another return to the hotel at 1am for us), we went straight to guest services. A very nice guy by the game of Gary basically said he didn’t have seats to move us but he’d do his best. He also said he’d talk to the usher people and all the security staff, and he said he’d put security cameras on the kids so that if anything like what happened Friday night happened again, they’d be able to catch all parties involved, not just those who the kids accused. Awesome.

It was, however, with resignation we went and took our seats, waiting to see how drunk they’d be when they showed up. One girl immediately needed a mixed drink to calm her nerves, and another couldn’t sit still she was so nervous. It’s just a game, people! However, the head of the 6th Man did offer to switch so we were sitting in front of them. I think he realized he’d pissed us off, and I think they’d seen Amelia and I talking to ushers. Good. So they switched, which meant we still got the rudeness and the abusiveness and the loudness (all well and good when you’re cheering, not jeering), but it was behind us and we could actually see. Also, they were surrounded by UCLA people, all of whom had been pissed off the day before, and I think the threat of murder kept the kids in line a bit. Additionally, a lot of them drove back to the Bay Area last night, and it’s hard to be stupid drunk when you’ve got to drive and/or have a 6 hour ride ahead of you. Sweet.

Well, so, Stanford’s band sat next to us (strike 1), UCLA scored first (strike 1 on them), Stanford was the lower seed (strike 3), and UCLA held Stanford to 64 points (strike 3–not 75). This doesn’t bode well, can you imagine?

It was a good game. One team would pull a bit ahead, and then the other would catch up and pull ahead. Back and forth. And Kevin Love injured his back. I felt bad for him–I have enough back problems that I can sympathize–but I figured it would help our chances immensely. However, in the middle of the second half, they pulled ahead and managed to prevent our comeback by going on a 22 and 8 run. That’s why they’re UCLA, the number 2 (?) team in the country. Anthony Goods had a good shot at a potential game-tying 3, but missed.

The game was basically for who got a good seed, so it didn’t matter too much. However, it so stressed out the one girl, and the other actually cried over the loss.

Now, I’ll fully admit that if Arizona had had to win that game to make it into the NCAA tourney, I might have teared up a bit. But I wouldn’t have bawled. It’s a game, people! Just. A. Game.

So we high-tailed it out of there. Any other team and we might have stayed to see them cut the nets, but it was UCLA and their ego doesn’t need stroking.

We took ourselves out for a nice dinner, then watched The Incredibles on TV.

And this morning, it was again up and on the road, though not quite at the crack of doom that it was on Wednesday. We made good time, despite the horrible winds, and dropped Rhiannon off. Then Amelia, John and I headed to our place to watch Selection Sunday.

Stanford’s a 3 and plays Cornell (awesome battle of the brains, that).

Arizona’s in (thank goodness for their SOS of 1), and a 10 seed to play West Virginia. Enough people on ESPN gave the game to Arizona, and I think if they play well, they can win. However, they have to play well. Chase Budinger has to be able to shoot and score. Jordan Hill has to not foul. They have to shut down West Virginia. If they don’t bring all they have, they won’t walk away winners.

Sadly, if they win, they’ll play Duke. Whom they lost to in the championship game in 2001. Whom I hate. With a passion. Because of that loss. Still a bit bitter, apparently.

I think I’m off to sit in a corner and rock back and forth chanting “Arizona” until late Sunday.

But at least I can sleep in my own bed if I choose.

Friday, Rhiannon went off with some friends she had in the area, and Amelia, John and I slept until noon. Then we went off in search of breakfast, and ended up at a wings place. Yes, we ate wings for breakfast. No, we did not eat particularly well at all this trip. But we had fun.

Wings and coffee (to prevent the caffeine headaches) downed, it was back to the Staples Center.

The semifinal game from the “morning” bracket was USC v UCLA. The UCLA fans definitely outnumbered the USC fans. It was another good game. Mbah a Moute from UCLA got injured, which maybe made it closer that it should have been, but it was a good game. We were next to USC’s band, UCLA scored first, and UCLA was the higher seed. Thus, they won.

Apparently only Arizona bucks trends.

The second semifinal game was Washington State v Stanford. It, too was a good game, or at least what I could see on the jumbotron thingy. We sat next to the Stanford band, Washington State scored first, and Washington State was the lower seed. However, despite the band and the scoring, Stanford won. Then again, they scored 75 points. Trend? Me thinks.

So far, you win if we sit next to the other band, you’re the higher seed, and you score first. Unless you’re Stanford, in which case you have to score 75 points in order to be able to buck the band/scoring trend.

There were two problems with this game. The first was in my head. I basically didn’t cheer against Stanford in the Arizona v Stanford game by blocking out that it was Stanford playing. I focused on the boys in navy blue. It worked pretty well, but in the game Friday, I ended up again sort of blocking out the Stanford boys. Also, I was just a wee bit bitter. Not that I wanted them to lose, but I was bitter. Very very bitter. *sigh*

Second, the undergrads came back. And they were, if possible, drunker than they were Thursday night. We got yelled at for not standing up (none of us wore our 6th Man shirts Friday, since we in no way wanted to be associated with them), and we got rudeness in return when we asked them to sit down. And yes, by sitting, we could only watch the game on the TV screen overhead, but even then we couldn’t see that that well. We’d talked to the ushers before the game, and a bunch of the kids got kicked out of the section since they didn’t have tickets, which was vindication and really only fair. Also, the ushers did a good job of trying to get them to sit. However, they were again fighting a loosing battle to a drunken mob.

To me, the worst part was that the students basically jeered at other people from other teams, taunted them, swore, yelled at the refs (big no-no in my book), and stood. Again. Very annoying. And they were drunk enough that they were climbing up onto the chairs to cheer, and then usually falling over onto other kids or onto us. One girl was so drunk she toppled her beer, but luckily some other kids went and bought her more. Though I’d never do it, I’ve never wished for some Visine more in my entire life!

What’s more, any time people in the crowd jeered back, the kids went and complained to the ushers. They got a UCLA guy kicked out. They were throwing food and balled-up napkins and other stuff at him, and taunting him. He’d probably had a bit to drink, judging by how he was responding to their taunting, but still. When they did it, it was funny. When he did it, they got strikes called against him. Eventually security got called.

Then, at the end, they would just not sit down. At all. In frustration, one of the Washington State people threw beer at them. Frankly, the Washington State people were totally justified. We didn’t appreciate it much, since we were caught in the spray, but still. Unfortunately, that got them kicked out. And the students celebrated. When we asked security and all the guys in suits who immediately showed up to please make the students sit down and be less rude and all, they basically said they couldn’t, and apologized to all the kids like they were little angels. Bah.

The kid in charge of the 6th Man actually sent out a congratulatory email. I’ve never been so dismayed and embarrassed and angry to be a Stanford person in my entire life. Really? Last year we were told we were classy fans. This year, we were the most unruly people there. I almost wanted Stanford to lose in the hopes that the kids wouldn’t come back.

We went to guest services and both (a) wrote a compliment to the ushers for trying, and (b) complained about the kids and asked to be moved. They told us to come back in the morning.

Game plan: screw the undergrads any which way we can. Or at least make it so we can enjoy the game.

We got up early again Thursday, though not quite so early. There were four games, which frankly was a bit much.

We had Arizona State v USC up first. Arizona State was playing for a spot in the NCAA Tourney, and they nearly pulled it out against USC. However, I think the “home game” situation for the UC schools helped USC win in the end. It was a good game. Again, we were next to the Arizona State band, and USC scored first. And Arizona State was the lower seed.

Notice a pattern here?

Next up was Cal v UCLA. UCLA basically buried Cal. We tried to cheer them on, but were surrounded by way too many fans in baby blue and gold to make a difference. Guess who’s band we were next to? Cal’s. Guess who scored first? UCLA. Guess who was the lower seed? Cal.

Granted, Cal bucked that last trend (lower seed loses) in the game against Washington, but they’re band wasn’t next to us and they did score first. So, 2 out of 3.

Game 3, or the first game in the other half of the bracket, as Oregon v Washington State. We wanted Oregon to win, mostly because Taj Porter is an amazing player, we talked to some of the guys last year, and the Washington State fans were really annoying. Last year, there was this obnoxious girl who sat near us who screamed profanities and was just incredibly rude about whoever Washington State was playing. We were so glad when Washington State lost. Go back to Pullman!

Then this year, there was an incredibly obnoxious couple sitting behind us. There was a lot of swearing, especially at the refs–the faulty calls in the recent Pac-10 games may have been faulty, but I don’t like the way it’s given the viewers leave to question every single call. The officials are just trying to do their job. Sometimes they mess up, sometimes they don’t see things, but most of the time they get it right. Leave them alone.

Based on the language and actions, I expected someone vaguely our age, who just recently graduated. Nope, they probably could have kids in college. Maybe they did, who knows. We did meet a guy who’s daughter was on the Washington State dance team, which left us wondering (a) how he could come watch his daughter gyrate like that, and (b) why you’d ever let a teenage daughter leave the house in this day and age. Anyways, the Oregon boys got behind a bit, but made a good run for the money in the second half and nearly caught Washington State. They lost 70-75. (Important!)

As we were heading to get dinner (mmmm….Staples Center food….repeatedly….for four days….ewww), the rude/loud Wash St people stopped us and asked why we cheered for Oregon. As much as we made comments to ourselves to counteract a lot of what they yelled, and as much as we thought they were, well, rude and loud, we just couldn’t be mean enough to tell them that. Instead, we told them we didn’t really care much and so we rooted for the underdogs to make it interesting. Le sigh.

Next, and final, game, Arizona (swoon!) v Stanford (swoon!). OH NO!!! I was so afraid this would happen, and it did. The Stanford undergrads all showed up, most of them rip-roaring drunk already, and they continued to drink throughout the game. Most of them had trouble making it down the steps to our seats.

Turned out, we were seated a bit back because the 6th Man (our student section) organizers saved all the seats for themselves and their friends. Which, fine, but we’d been there since Wednesday. I think we deserved the better seats. Plus, they stood. In front of me. And my boys were playing.

So I, wearing my Stanford sweatshirt but my navy blue shirt, moved across the aisle and made friends with the UCLA people who were cheering for Arizona. I think they were mostly motivated by the annoyance that was the Stanford student section, which was loud, drunk, unruly, and rude. They also stood, like I mentioned, which pretty much blocked the view of those behind them. The Staples Center folks tried to get them to sit, but it was a losing battle.

And, as great a Arizona was against Oregon State, and as good as their defense was in the first half, they left something behind in the locker room for the second–a combination of the shooting ability of Chase Budinger and the defensive ability of Jordan Hill. And they just couldn’t quite pull it out. I so wanted them to win, and it sucked. I wasn’t unhappy with Stanford’s win, and regardless it meant that one of my teams moved on, but Stanford’s win meant Arizona’s loss, and I wasn’t okay with that part.

They’re my boys. They’re Arizona. They’ve always been my boys. Stanford’s only been my boys for 3-4 years now. And I’m not switching loyalties–I’d think less of myself if I did.

But!

I think I did a very good job of cheering for Arizona without cheering against Stanford. For instance, I cheered when Arizona got the rebound, not when Stanford missed the shot.

And! We were next to the Stanford band! And! Arizona scored first!

However, Stanford was the higher seed. Also, they won 75-64. So that’s both the winning teams in the “afternoon” half of the bracket that won by scoring 75.

Can you tell I’m incredibly superstitious when it comes to sports? Lucky underwear and all!

In order to drown my sorrows and feed everyone else, we found an all-night diner, where I promptly ordered a hot fudge sundae and listened to Amelia and John reassure me that Arizona would still be in the NCAA tourney and it would all be okay. Of course, they were coming off their team (Stanford–I cheered by myself for Arizona) winning, so it was a bit two-edged, but never in a malicious way. They’re good like that.

March 14

3/14

3.14

Woot!

Well, that was a bit of a whirlwind.

We left for LA at the crack of doom, as my daddy calls it, on Wednesday. And only 15-20 minutes late, which is almost a record for my family. The drive was uneventful–John and I did lots of driving, Amelia did lots of sleeping, and Rhiannon did lots of GameBoy-ing. Lots of coffee was drunk. We all remembered our lucky underwear, as well as various other things Amelia and I forgot last year.

We got to Pasadena around noon, ate lunch, checked into the hotel, and headed to Staples Center. Wednesday’s games were Cal v. Washington and Arizona (swoon!) v. Oregon State. We had seats about 10-15 rows up from the front row, which were pretty good. However, we were also pretty much in line with one of the baskets, given we were on the inner aisle, so we missed a certain amount of action on the far right side of the court and directly under the basket nearest to us.

Additionally, there were no other Stanford people there, so we kind of wondered why we had tickets so far up. Last year, Amelia and I were in row 1, and the only people in front of us were the players when they came out to watch games, an aisle, and a media table. We made friends with the Oregon boys, and cheered them on to victory after both Stanford and Arizona lost in the quarterfinals.

So this year, we wondered why we were seated up so many rows. Granted, we were still in the 100s section, not the 200s or 300s, but… Hmpf.

The Cal-Washington game was pretty good. We were next to the Washington band, and Cal scored first. (Keep that in mind!) Cal got it in the end, and in the long run was the only lower-seeded team to win. Good for them. We were hoping they’d repeat last year since they were playing UCLA–last year they took them down and out for the count in the quarterfinals. Woot!

Then came the Arizona v Oregon State. Oregon State went 0-18 in conference play, the first team ever to do so in the Pac-10. I felt bad for them, but not bad enough to want them to win. We were seated next to the Oregon State band, who were better at what they were doing than their players. Arizona scored first, and went on something like a 25-4 run to start the game. Also, Oregon State was the lower seed. They were leading by 40ish at the half. It was awesome. Oregon State had sloppy ball handling, and just was off on their shots. (Hrm, wonder what sort of searchers that’ll bring?!?!) They just didn’t play well, while Arizona was at the top of their game. They won by 31, which was one point shy of the tournament record.

Go boys go!

Unfortunately, this set up an Arizona v Stanford showdown…

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