Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Finals! We don't need no stinkin' finals!

Blazing Saddles allusions aside, it is finals week this week, and yes, I do need some stinkin' finals. Three to be precise...well, two now. May I recommend to all of you readers buy stock in whatever brand of coffee you can find, because consumption of the stuff will be off the charts on university campuses across the country for the next two or three weeks.

My first finals week is most certainly an interesting beast. Better than I expected in some ways, worse in others, I'm not entirely sure what to make of it yet. In honor of my confused, bewildered feelings (do I have any other kind?) I have prepared for you not one, but TWO, count 'em, TWO lists on finals week.

Now, a housekeeping note. The first time I did a list (11 reasons Marquette is not Alaska) you all loved it; I think I set a new comment record. I love comments, so I made another one (a You Said What!?! list). That one got exactly...wait for it...ZERO comments. Ouch! That's like the anti-validation. The lesson here? If you like something - or even if you don't - a comment is greatly appreciated. I guarantee that that time you take writing it and the happiness it brings me are TOTALLY disproportionate. Okay...that was sort of pathetic...but I really need these comments, they get me through the week.

So, without further ado, your first list. In honor of having only four days until I go back to Alaska I give you:
Four Reasons I LOVE finals week
  1. Its a harbinger of things ending: I have few complaints about my classes this semester. Most of them were pretty good. But honestly, EVERY SINGLE PERSON at Marquette is pretty ready to get a new batch of professors, a new work load, a new schedule, and just a change of pace. Coming back and having new classes will make the return to campus in January much more exciting.
  2. Free Time: Finals week means no classes, which means more free time. Rather than having two or three hour-plus chunks of my day cut out for class, I only have one or two, two-hour (if that) blocks to attend. I've only got three finals...that translates to a whole lot of not being in class. Yes, there is study time and all that jazz, but the workload isn't really that bad.
  3. Schadenfreude: No matter how bad I have it, I can always find someone who has it worse. The nice thing about finals week is, anytime it seems like your life REALLY sucks all you have to do is look at the person at the next library table/desk/room to realize that they have it as bad, if not worse, than you.
  4. The "One and Done" mentality: Every time you finish a final, you know you NEVER have to deal with that class again. The idea that getting through one test will lead to a reprieve from that work forever is very liberating. This morning was vastly improved when I found realized that I never have to go to German 82 again.
With the good comes the bad. That's a proverb...or saying...or something. In order to give some yang to the last list's ying, here is:
Four Reasons I HATE finals week
  1. Free Time: Does this item look familiar? That's because it makes both lists. While I love having time to watch a movie ("Fight Club" last night) or just hang out, the specter of finals looms over all and somehow manages to destroy much of the joy of doing nothing. Rather than thinking: "Gee, isn't this relaxing," you can't help but think, "Gee, am I screwed tomorrow." Perhaps Laura Nelson put it best when she described finals as the elephant in everyone's room. I would add to this description: Finals is the elephant that knows the things you love most, then tramples them with his trunky elephant feet every time you start to enjoy them.
  2. Grades: So far, my biggest transition to college has been having finals that matter. In high school, if you worked hard all semester, the final didn't really matter; you could do poorly and still get a good final grade. I'm discovering that no matter how much you busted your butt in a college course, you still need to bust it a bit more for the final. This means more studying, which means more stress, which means more coffee, which means less sleep, which means more stress. Yeah, you get the idea.
  3. Studying: I never really studied per say in high school. Between material that wasn't usually that tough and not needing great finals grades, there was never a need to. Not so at Marquette. Studying doesn't sound too bad, but it is so much more exhausting then other forms of work. I spent four hours at the library yesterday reviewing my history notes and was EXHAUSTED afterwards. Ugh...
  4. The semester is over: This one is two fold. First, I love college and Marquette. I can't imagine going anywhere else. It is sort of depressing to think that I'm already 1/8th of the way done with my undergrad work. So many people point to college as one of the greatest periods of their life, and frankly, I can't imagine handling the real world yet. Secondly, there are so many things I wish I could have done this semester that will have to wait until January. I never went to the Art museum, Renaissance Book Store, sledding; never made a snowman, had a snowball fight, or went for a winter run. It's a bummer to think I will have to wait a whole month to tackle these goals.
So as I sit here with my coffee and avoid tackling that last History 1 study session you all get to enjoy the fruits of my procrastination. Only a little over 3 days until I go back to Alaska and I can't wait!

OneLost out...to go finish just TWO more finals.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Ring Out Ahoya: Marquette Basketball Update v. University of Wisconsin

Yesterday was THE big day...Wisconsin-Madison, #22 in the polls, in Milwaukee, at OUR Bradley Center, playing THE Marquette Golden Eagles. Shall it suffice to say that mind mind was blown and will be for weeks to come after last night...let me begin the tale.

A prelude to this matchup. Wisconsin and Marquette are obviously rivals, being the only two BCS conference basketball schools (Big 10 and Big East respectively) in the state. The rivalry is historically rather nasty, with no love lost amongst neither fans nor players/coaches/ball boys/random people associated with the either programs. A popular cry during game day that I will paraphrase to keep this blog family rated is "Buck the Fadgers"...yeah...figure that one out all you savvy adult readers. To compound the drama, last year Marquette strolled into the Kohl Center in Madison and oh so causally ended UW's 28-game home win streak and recent dominance in the MU-UW game. This year we got them on our court: the task? Show that we are STILL the best basketball school in the state.

Now that you know the run-up, let me tell you my part of the story. My basketball odyssey began yesterday at 1:30 when I took my place in the back of the line that had already formed outside the Bradley Center. Some guys from my floor had been there since 12:30...am...as in...the night before. It was a warm and snuggley 10 degrees outside and underneath my undershirt, long sleeve shirt, short sleeve shirt, sweatshirt, and winter coat I was already getting excited.

Anticipation only built at around 2:30 when Head Coach Buzz Williams (who we all love) came out and shook everyone in line's hand, thanking us for our support. After he went back inside and we all calmed down he sent the ENTIRE team out to high five us and joke around. Highlight of this was when someone laid out a UM Badgers T-Shirt for all the players to wipe their feet on. Wes Matthews got us all riled up by throwing it up in the air and proclaiming that he was about to show his hometown why MU was the greatest (Matthews grew up in Madison and was Wisconsin's Mr. Basketball his senior year, beating out UW forward Marcus Landry...this still rubs UW people the wrong way).

Joe Fulce and Chris Otule greet the crowd

The line waiting game meets with Buzz

With all this excitement it felt like the wait until the 7:00 pm door opening would be quick, but alas, it was not to be. For the next five hours we basically just stood there, finding ways to pass the time (riddles, ordering Subway, a dramatic retelling of the Christmas story while huddled together for warmth). Finally, at around 6:30 they let us in, MU fans sprinting and slipping all over the floors to claim their lower bowl seats and free T-Shirts.

The almost two hour wait inside was a GODSEND. It felt so good to take off all the warm clothes and just sit, especially knowing that I had three hours of standing and jumping ahead of me. Introductions were highlighted by streams of blue and gold smoke and the loudest cheers the student section has produced this year. EVERY seat was full, all the way up to the top of the upper deck. Attendance count showed that there were, in all, over 18,00 people at last night's game, the vast majority of them in blue and gold.

The first half was...disappointing. After scoring the game's fist points, Marquette fell serious victim to an inability to shoot and UW's three point prowess. Only our ability to get to the foul line kept us in the game, MU 27, UW 33 at half.

In the second half we looked like a new team. Defensively the guess hustled their butts off and on offense we scrapped for every point we could get. The point margin stayed within one or two scores for most of the half (which meant the students were jumping, screaming, cheering, or dancing the entire half) until Jerel McNeal hit a 3 pointer at the 5:26 mark to give us the lead. The Eagles held that lead for the rest of the game until the final whistle blew and the whole state knew by a 61-58 margin that the best team in Wisconsin sits between 9th and 22nd streets in Milwaukee.

Not many photos from inside the BC (terrible lighting conditions for my poor camera), but here are two videos to give you a glimpse of the atmosphere.

Finals week starts now...which means One Lost will be hitting the books. That also means I might post more as a way to blow off finals stress.

OneLost out...to the library to hit the books one last time in 2008

Friday, December 5, 2008

A Holiday Miracle - With Basketball!

Wow, a whole lot of blogable material today! After morning class and such Joe and I decided to go the "Miracle on the Mall"- a holiday tree lighting and charity benefit for a shelter for women suffering from alcoholism. My friend, Leah Todd was singing with the Gold 'n Blues a capella group, so going over to the mall in support seemed worth it.

Boy was it COLD. I would estimate, unscientifically, that the wind chill was probably between 5 and 10 degrees. I'm certainly not looking forward to standing in that for 6 hours tomorrow...more on that later. Anyhow, speakers from the school and the shelter both gave short speechs in front of Joan of Arc Chapel before they blessed the tree (perk of being a Jesuit school) and flipped the switch. The choir sang some more songs before we all headed into Cudahy Hall for cider, hot chocolate, and holiday cookies. I think that I heard someone say the Residents Hall Assc. made a $278 donation to the shelter from its fundraiser...not bad for college students, but not great either.

The slideshow below is a product of my new fascination with multimedia(again, spurred by Laura Nelson) and fancy little viewers (with sound now!) Press play for a slideshow effect or push your mouse toward the left and right sides of the box to scroll through. If you hit play, you will be serenaded by the sweet sounds of the Gold 'n Blues sing a mash-up of 12 Days of Christmas and Toto's "Africa."

Immeaditly following gorging our selfs with cookies, Joe, Matt, Joe ("Bruno"), and I went over to the AMU to hit up the Spirit Shop for a holiday sale and meet and greet with the basketball team. I was able to pick up some x-mas gifts on sale and also get photos with almost
the entire team. Another slideshow viewer, same rules apply, but this time the song is the fight song: "Ring Out A'Hoya" by the Marquette Pep Band (thanks to the Marquette Sports Wiki).

As for the aforementioned standing in the cold. I will be heading over to the Bradley Center at 1 pm tomorrow to line up to get into the Wisconsin-Marquette game. Tip-off: 8:30 pm. Yes folks, that's over 6 hours of waiting outside in line for a 2 hour basketball game. It's also the biggest one of young season. Not only are we instate rivals, we are basically ranked the same. In the AP Poll, Marquette is #25 and Wisconsin in unranked. In the USA Today poll, Marquette is unranked and Wisconsin is #22 (tied with Miami, FL). This one is going to be nuts. Did I mention I get a free T-Shirt...yeah, it's that good.

I will be vigorously twittering from line tomorrow, some of which have the potential to be funny (college kids + boredom + booze). Keep checking back at OneLost or have my twitters sent to your phone (follow the link the twitter bar). If you don't know what twitter is, here is my earlier post.

More pics from late November to come...also, I will make a post after the UM-MU game with photos and other such multimedia.

One Lost out...to go stand in the cold for basketball

New Feature on One Lost

Notice the new bar to the right of this post? Do ya? Wonder what it is?

I am not using Twitter, a micro-blogging service, to add content to "One Lost Grizzly Bear." You can still expect all the normal posts you have come to know and love, but that twitter tool will allow you to read short updates on what is going on with the Grizzly. I can post those via my mobile phone, so even when I am on the run and something cool happens a blog post can happen.

If you are really interested, join Twitter and start your own so that I can keep up with you!

One Lost out (but less out because you can still find out what I'm out to do!)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

You Said What?!? Alaska Questions Edition

Only eight more days until I am tucked safely back in the Chugach Mountains, the sound of frolicking moose and polar bears lulling me to sweet sleep within my igloo. No more "big" city traffic, no more being accosted by drunk people, no more 2 am library trips, and no more answering questions about Alaska.

Being from Alaska is a great conversation starter. I've become almost smugly expectant when I tell people where I'm from and if I don't get the requisite "YOUR FROM WHERE!?!" I am almost disappointed. As Joe from Toledo put it one night: "Gee, I wish I could score points with girls just by being from somewhere."

They say that every coin has two sides, and I suppose mine does too. The one thing I CANNOT avoid is the "Alaska Questions" that anyone from my fair state is all too familiar with. For those of you who don't hail from the land of ice and unlimited oil (here is my sole political pitch: opening ANWR = good thing), here is a compendium of the FAQs about the state.

1. "Is it always cold there?"
  • No, it's not. In the summer the temp. skyrockets to a comfortable mid-60s, sometimes even high 70s. The coldest it ever really gets in Anchorage is about -5, and that certainly doesn't happen often.
2. "Is it always dark?"
  • No, in fact, half of the year its "always" light. Winter solstice is Dec. 21 and yes, that day sucks and has only a couple of hours of sunlight. Summer solstice is June 21 and yes, that day rocks and has tons of sunshine.
3. "What do you do for fun?"
  • I'm always tempted to say: "Well, I don't really have much time for fun, what with hunting, gathering, shelter building, and learning to speak Russian to trade furs with Victor." I live in a city of 300,000...I do pretty much the same stuff everyone my age does. The only real uniqueness might be that I ski, bike, hike, and camp a bit more than some other people.
4. "Have seen a polar bear/grizzly bear/moose/caribou/insert other Alaskan mammal here?"
  • Yes to all of them. Except polar bear (in the wild...I saw Aupon at the zoo). I've seen moose and black bear a bit closer than I would care to as well...
5. "Can you see Russia from your house?"
  • Thank you Tina Fey...this one NEVER gets old...
6. "Have you met/do you like Sarah Palin?"
  • Yes, I've met Sarah...twice. Once at school, once at a breakfast I attended. I actually saw her ultrasound when she was pregnant with Trig...how is that for weird? As for liking her...eh...I could take her or leave her.
7. "Don't you get paid to live there?"
  • That'd be a yes...thank god for the Permanent Fund Dividend.
8. "Do you celebrate Thanksgiving?"
  • To be clear, I only got this one once but it is by far the best question I've ever gotten. Yes, we do.
8 Questions for 8 days left! One Lost out...

Monday, December 1, 2008

11 Reasons Marquette is not Alaska

To mark 11 day mark of my return to the Last Frontier, I thought I would provide a summery in 11 point, numbered form of the ways in which Marquette/Milwaukee/Wisconsin/the Midwest is not Alaska. Not trying to pass judgment on either, although my bias my become apparent as you read.

Also, apologies on the lack of Thanksgiving correspondence from Toledo. Perhaps I will lay down some prose (wouldn't poetry be exciting!?! There's an idea...) if any hilarious/insightful ideas crop up.

Without further ado, Why Marquette is not Alaska...
  1. Trees. Where are the freaking trees!?! This city suffers from a severe lack of them, and now the ones that do crop up here and there are leafless. I miss pines and spruces, especially when their boughs are weighted down with snow.
  2. Traffic. After driving back from Ohio on the Interstate, I've come to appreciate that we only have 3 major highways...the biggest of which only has 3 lanes.
  3. Distance. Its weird to think that the nearest town to Anchorage is Eagle River, and that's 35 minutes away. I would consider Palmer/Wasilla fairly nearby, and yet they are 2 hour drives...
  4. The Snow Reaction. We had our first "big" snow today (enough to muck up the streets) and no one seems happy about it. Snow is a good thing in Alaska...especially lots of fluffy snow (like Anchorage got over the weekend...much to my jealous consternation)
  5. Chicago. Sigh. I am still a sucker for Chicago. It is perhaps the most beautiful sky line on earth. When you are driving along the lake and all the buildings are lit up, there is something truly special there
  6. Chicago. So...I like Alaskan food. A lot. But food in Chicago is unreal. Italian Beef. Deep Dish Pizza. Hot Dogs. Perfect.
  7. Nothingness. More and more, living in the city is making me appreciate the parts of Anchorage that have nothing in them. Places like Kincaid and Hilltop, where you can go in the woods and not see another person for hours are truly therapeutic for the mind and soul.
  8. Local Coffee. Coffee shops just don't seem to have the social importance here that they do back home. Kaladi Brothers on Huffman seems almost like a second home to me but I just haven't been able to find a shop with the same local charm here.
  9. Taco King. The restaurant that gave me food poisoning and continues to make me doubt Anchorage's public health inspector is irreplaceable in my mind.
  10. Walking. In Anchorage, you can't walk anywhere. It's too spread out. In Milwaukee, I walk or bike everywhere. Not only is it healthy and free, it's sort of liberating to not need a car to get around.
  11. Family/Friends. I have plenty of friends at Marquette that I will miss over break, but right now, I want to go to Brian's house and watch movies in the basement with everyone again. Number 11 should give you the idea that I am pretty ready to come home for a bit.
Bonus for Marquette: Basketball v. Wisconsin on Saturday. I plan to line up at 2 pm for a 7 pm game time and wait for 4+ hours in the cold to get a good seat. Not sure whether this is a plus or a minus?

One Lost out...