Take five and take ten

Five years ago, on August 27, 2011, I had a momentous Saturday. Ten years ago, on August 27, 2006, I felt the recovery from a virus, of which the previous day was among the worst days in my undergraduate years. I have already given the full journal of FIVE years ago, so wanted to make a reflection on it a-la my reflections on the Israel trip. Then, I will give the full journal of 2006’s August 27.

There will be photos from five years ago!

WARNING: This is a long post since it would be better to have it as two posts. Sorry!

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[Taglit 5-Year Retrospective-part 5 of 11] Awwwwwesome

Today’s blog post reflects on the Sunday of the Birthright trip in 2011, when we went to צפת (Safed) and תל אביב (Tel Aviv). Click on this sentence to see the original entry.

When I look back on the Sunday of the trip, I can summarize it in three independent words:

  • Art
  • Awesome
  • History

And I will briefly reflect on what each of them mean to me five years later.

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July 8, 2011 #FBF

The month of June and July 2011 was quite fun for me, and I had quite a few days with full journals. Thus, to conclude the week, I might as well give the report of Day 1 of my second time going to the Pokémon TCG National Championship in Indianapolis. As you’ll see, I report the good and the bad when I make my tournament reports!

Friday, July 8

Today’s day started at 700h.  As I packed my decks and damage counters and miscellany into my Professor bag, others were waking up.  Donning a long-sleeved patterned shirt and khaki pants, I was ready after the requisite hygienic activities.  Flying solo, I took the elevator, “going down” (British computerised [sic] accent) to [“Second floor”].  The Starbucks on the southeast corner [of Level 2 of the JW Marriott] had JUST opened, but of course that wasn’t my target.

It was pretty quiet in the convention hall, as I walked down the Kappa Alpha Psi hall and went toward the Pokémon area.  Neither of the vendors had yet opened, so I exited at Maryland Street, continuing north, and east toward an Einstein Bros. bagels.  I got a sesame bagel with grape spread (!), and a plain blueberry bagel.  The return to the convention center was sticky [i.e. humid] but doable.

The vendors’ doors were not open upon my return at 815h, so I just ate the bagels and headed into the convention hall.  All the Pokémon that appeared on the posters, etc. were from the Unova region, many of which I did not recognize.  The four corners had HQs for Junior/Seniors, Masters, Video Game, and Side Events.  I saw the blue tables, sat down at #165, and inefficiently attempted to journal.

Obviously, lots of additional Trainers registered, so I moved down to Table 188 for the players’ meeting.  The judges and runners collected our deck lists, and the announcements involved the usual.  The speakers weren’t working in the Junior/Senior section, but they eventually figured it out.  After pairings were issued, many empty seats were evident, so a re-pair and drop the no-shows was required.  This caused the orange and blue flights to fly asynchronously!  After a long wait with some jumping jacks, Battle 1 versus Christian F. began!  I will write all my tournament battle reports in the style of Gym reports.

ROUND ONE: Noah vs. Christian F. (Reshi-phlosion/Kingdra): I lost my original notes that I took on this match, but I’ll make a long story short.  I drew dead with no Energy for the first three turns, despite a Stantler start.  Without any Rare Candy, he fully set up his team as I suffered six one-hit KOs.  Noah lost Round One 0-6 and is now 0-1.

Between rounds, I played Heavy Metal against Paul’s MegaJudge in the League area.  It obviously fell hard, but he gave me the deck box that he won, however.  That was nice!

ROUND TWO: Noah vs. Random Bye.  BOO! Noah is now 0-1 “1-1”.

During this time, I played several League matches, especially since there was lunch break and I had my own victuals.  First, I played The Gang versus Josh’s Scizor/Steelix deck, and it was a classic back-and-forth battle, but I got too many tails from Beat Up to win.  His prize was a Magnezone (Prime), and I got a lousy common.  Go figure!  Then, Allergic Atmosphere lost the early game disruption and the match to Warren’s Reshi-boar.  Fire is POPULAR right now!

With the long League matches over, I returned to the tournament.  Round three!

ROUND THREE: Noah vs. Andrew M. (Reshi-boar): I lost the flip and started a lone Oddish to his Vulpix.  With the threat of losing on turn two, I had to Juniper away my hand that had Vileplume and Flower Shop Lady.  Despite me getting Trainer lock on turn five, he set up and swung away, taking four Prizes from two attacks from Rayquaza-Deoxys LEGEND.  Noah lost Round Three 1-6 and is now 0-2 “1-2”.

There wasn’t much time between these rounds, so I’ll just move on to the next.

ROUND FOUR: Noah vs. Steven M. (Magneboar).  I again led a solo Oddish, but top-decked Stantler.  On my first deck search, I noticed that BOTH my Vileplume were Prized!  He got a Magnezone on turn two, and Emboar on turn three.  But, he wasted Inferno Fandango on his Good-boar!  He had enough to escape the Severe Poison attacks, and didn’t rely on Rare Candy.  Though he ran low on Energy, he had just enough to take his sixth Prize, with his deck running out. Noah lost Round Four 1-6 and is now 0-3 “1-3”.

ROUND FIVE: Noah vs. Justin Johns (Blast-zel): Like usual in this tournament, I lost the flip.  He  had Squirtle, Bouffalant, and Buizel, and we both set up by turn 3, although my Severe Poison forced him to waste Energy retreating.  Later, I Judged him into a good hand, and without any Trainer lock up, he beat me.  I didn’t write down many details, but several misplays cost me.  Noah lost Round Five 2-6 (QL) and is now 0-4 “1-4”.

ROUND SIX: Noah vs. Casey M. (Mew-gar): Once again, I started in an Energy crisis, and Trainer Lock probably hampered me more than him.  Between my topdecks being manipulated and cards being sent to the Lost Zone, I quickly got flattened.  Noah lost Round Six 1-1 through Lost World, and is now 0-5 “1-5”.

So Air Lock ended the day with a highly disappointing 0-5 record. Yet, I was not going to drop, since I came to play!

I played a few more League matches too.  Spark Da Bomb took on Eddie’s Donphan/Dragons deck, and lost a narrow 5-6 decision.  The versatility of Lanturn is quite useful.  Then, I forgot the name of the next opponent, but Fubuki took down his Water team.  Then, Heavy Metal failed to get opportune heads against Reuniclus/Scolipede/Serperior.  Finally, I played a pickup tournament that Fubuki went one-and-done with a loss to Samurott/Donphan.

Walking through the KAΨ crowded hall and back to the JW Marriott, I deposited my stuff in the room, and Jimmy invited me to Hooter’s.  Accepting the invitation, I retraced my steps, exiting on Maryland Avenue, and futzing through the road destruction.  I had to circle a block due to fences!  Once there, I found the gang at a corner overlooking an alley.  I got a phone call shortly thereafter from a prospective League member, and I had to take the call outside due to noise.

At the table, the men were drinking a lot of beer, and I stuck with water (duh).  Tournament post-mortem, memes, and plenty of other things entered.  Service was slow, as they were probably shorthanded.  I am writing this line six days later, so the details will be mostly skipped.  My wings were good, but my eyes outsized my stomach.  The guys also egged me on and I had a sip of beer.  After we paid, I returned to the hotel, catching up to yesterday’s conclusion in my journal.  I then slept at 2300h.


Yep, this was my worst tournament showing in my career. I did rebound on Day 2 with a win-by-forfeit in Round 7, and two victories in Rounds 8 and 9.

Oh, and I’ll also throw in a link to a song that I heard in bits and pieces every so often, as one of the people that I travelled with had THIS song as their text tone. How ironic that I heard it on a weekend dedicated to playing cards. “Every day I’m shufflin’!”

PREVIEW OF UPCOMING BLOG POSTS: July 31 is my fifth bloggiversary, and July 21 is the 5-year anniversary of Birthright. During those 10 days, I’ll link to the original journals, and write new reflections with the “Five-Years-Later” spins.


Kenosha: 22 days.

Orientation: 36 days.

Day 1: 61 days.

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[M.A.P.L.E. V-3] “Office” Hours

Because I teach classes at the college level, I am all-but-required to hold office hours for my students to ask me questions. It was even like this when I was a graduate student at Northwestern. I’m obviously not complaining about it, because the one-on-one or one-on-few interactions with students I really enjoy.

But, there’s the interesting title of this post, the fact that I have scare quotes around the word “office.” Explanation will come!

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