Sunday, June 17, 2012

Our Week in Indy


Indianapolis surprised me with its vibrancy.  We had a blast, and I was too busy to blog, what with seeing The Dictator, The Avengers, and hanging out in Ben Davis high school, where we overwhelmed their wifi -- made it hard to get work done, but then helping chaperone and chauffeur Cleveland Cannibals was also work of a fun kind.

Hannah and Izzy, our other two team members besides my daughter, Ben, assistant coach, and myself comprised our group.  I rented a commodious jeep from Budget (my donation to the cause) which I also used on a side trip to visit Earlham College in Richmond, some 70 some miles to the east.

This was my first time to attend a National Forensic League national tournament, Tara's second (last year's was in Dallas, next year's is in Birmingham).  This interesting race of young people makes speech and debate its core sport.  They talk to walls (a form of practice).

We had our own partially overlapping scenarios, mostly sticking together, not always making it to forensics events.  Participants get knocked out of the running in droves as only a few can get a trophy and perhaps a cash prize.  The Hood River team got that far, 7th in their category.  Tara, a Lincoln-Douglas champion, won a plaque and had the satisfaction of being among the top 50 or so, making it through eight rounds -- even better than last year.

Coming from Portland, we're used to book stores.  The abandoned Borders leaves a big hole in downtown Indianapolis.  We've lost them everywhere -- people mostly cyber-shop for packaged media these days, plus we're immersed in a TV and movie culture more than in one of voracious readers.  Portland. with its Powell's, stands out from the crowd in that respect.  We did find a used book store inroute to the airport though, and I bought The End of Racism and My Life So Far, Jane Fonda's autobio.  I studied them both on the journey home.

Actually, that's wrong, I got The End of Racism at a Hastings, on my way back from Richmond (driving that jeep on I-70), following directions from the Earlham College bookstore lady.  She'd looked up The Psychopath Test for me, as Tara had browsed it in the airport and was curious to read more so texted me to maybe snag a copy.  I was on the parent tour of Earlham when the text came in (myself and another prospective with her mom -- our guide from Kazakhstan, and a psych major).  I also spoke with Carol (mom) and Julie (sis) around this time, outside by the cemetery.

There was more of New Orleans here than I'd expected.  Indiana was a "free state" in the Civil War and at the center of downtown is a tall monument to that effect.  Our party climbed the stairs to the top of it.

We also met the Hood River team there in the evening, after which Tara and Izzy went off to hang out with them in a different hotel while Ben and I downed some beers and checked out Sacha Baron Cohen's latest nuttiness.  Poor Hannah had a migraine and was sleeping it off in our base camp.  We'd had dinner at Spaghetti Factory that night, Italian the night before (where we'd been served by a spaced out and apologetic waiter).

The Lincoln Financial Group, Ronald Reagan Foundation, and a host of other sponsors, are behind a good show here.  Unlike OSCONs, frequented by older after-college career-minded types, colleges and universities have their booths at this conference.  Reed College was prominent and we hung out with "the Reedies" some of the time, including for an authentic creole dinner at Yats.

NASA was also present, on stage, now at the Convention Center where we'd adjourned after three days at the high school.  The international space station was a focus, including of the final round of public policy debate.

Neither White Castle nor Steak 'n Shake have made it this far west, to Oregon, so we had to sample those.  The latter was a hit, an impressive operation I thought, for what it was.  The former is a part of the lore (Tara has been a student of the fast food industry).

We had a night at the Indianapolis Zoo as well, courtesy of NFL, where Alexia joined us by text message.  There were sitcom aspects to this trip.

We transited through Chicago both ways on United Airlines, which appears to have absorbed Continental (keeping the tail colors) when I wasn't looking (so much to keep track of).  Tara pointed out that even if the United brand was kept, that needn't correlate with the backoffice shape of the merger.  So true.

Izzy was on to a program in Providence (Rhode Island) with Ben, an amiable young decorated soldier, on his own ticket through DFW.  We left Hannah at PDX awaiting pickup by her dad, while Tara and I rode the Max and bus 75, well after midnight, back to Blue House where we live.

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:: we talk to walls ::