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31 December 2008

Way Over Your Head

I bet you thought I wasn't going to do my traditional year-end post, didn't you?

For those of you who knew about my recent travels, this post may just come as a surprise. It certainly won't be in the same form as usual, but I'm getting it out there nonetheless.

As I type this sentence, it is currently 0304 UTC, and I only express the time that way because I'm miles above the ground and have no clue what state (or time zone, for that matter) I'm over at this time. Although I suspect we're over the Central time zone, and I promise I'll find out for sure later.

In case you're a little bit confused, I've been in El Paso, TX since Monday 29 December with the band and am now on our return flight to Pittsburgh. Since we're expected to land at about 23:20 EST, the only way I can get this post out by year's end is to use two-thirds of my remaining battery life to type this and the remaining third to take brief advantage of the free wireless Internet at Pittsburgh International Airport and upload it quickly before we leave.

Pitt's football team played in the Sun Bowl this afternoon against the Oregon State Beavers, and the last three days in El Paso have been one big "fiesta" leading up to the main event.

We met in Pittsburgh at 06:30 EST on Monday, and were busy either flying, practicing, performing, or whatever until we returned to the hotel at 22:30 MST (i.e., 00:30 EST, a full 18 hours later). Then Tuesday morning was a continuation of the whirlwind with a Battle of the Bands and another brief rehearsal before we got about 90 minutes of free time. I'm pretty sure most of us took a nap. Then off to the Fan Fiesta (where another Battle of the Bands was held), and we were free for dinner.

So all in all, over the course of the last three days, the band have had precious few hours of unstructured time. Not to mention that our hotel was right across the street from the airport, and there's not too many of those "authentic Mexican restaurants" within walking distance.

And then, of course, there was the game. Which we lost, 3-0. As one of my colleagues said, it was far more a matter of Pitt losing than of Oregon State winning. Such low-scoring games are always frustrating, especially when you're down and there are so many turnovers (including two in the first minute of play). Pitt stepped up to the plate in the waning moments of the game, but it was too little, too late. If only they'd played like that from the beginning...

But it certainly wasn't all bad. Not at all. Although the lows in El Paso were nearly identical to the lows in Pittsburgh on Monday and Tuesday (about 34 °F or 1 °C), the highs ranged from 60-65 °F (16-18 °C), whereas Pittsburgh was... well, let's just say it was colder back home. I got a bit of sun at the game today and am probably burnt. Which doesn't typically happen in December.

And then, of course, there's the time spent with friends. We may not always get along like peas in a pod, but it's good to see some of the people you care about and haven't seen for a while. And it provided a little bit of an escape from the hectic holiday season.

As I said, earlier, we're projected to land in Pittsburgh at around 23:20 EST, which means we'll probably be busing back to Oakland when the ball drops. And since I'll be away from home for the first time on New Year's, staying at a Pittsburgh hotel until my parents come on New Year's Day, I don't want to ring in 2009 in such a lackluster way as just saying "Happy New Year" on a darkened bus full of sleepy, grumpy people (grumpy because we lost and they're tired, not because they're generically grumpy people).

Anyway, I think that, should the celebration be unsatisfactory, I'll reserve the right to stay on El Paso time for celebratory purposes only until after it's midnight there. Maybe somewhere they'll be selling sparkling grape juice at 01:00? I don't know, but it's worth a shot, right?

In any case, I hope all of you have had a very happy holiday and I wish you all the best in 2009.

This is Tim, signing off from way over your head, at 0328 UTC (with 25 minutes of battery left for Pittsburgh).

Random tangent: Apparently, the in-flight movie for this flight was really short, so they're supplementing it with an episode of Numb3rs. Too bad my headset doesn't work.


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