Archive for September, 2006

CNN Breaking News

Saturday, September 30th, 2006

Rep. Mark Foley “was not honest” about his e-mails to a male teenage page, the chairman of the House Page Board said Saturday, a day after Foley resigned. Visit CNN for the latest.

Protecting America from the Internet gambling jihad

Saturday, September 30th, 2006

Are you freakin’ kidding me? Billy Boy Frist should be voted out of office for such a ridiculous shenanigan. Talk about playing politics with security! [UPDATE: Er, Frist is retiring, so I suppose there’s no need to vote him out of office. Oops. “Oh… nevermind.”]

On the bright side, here’s an interview with one member of Congress who doesn’t suck.

A rainy night at the Grotto

Saturday, September 30th, 2006

There’s something remarkably peaceful and serene, I think, about the Grotto on a rainy night. So, after picking some stuff up at the law school this evening, I decided to head over and light a couple of candles: one for Shannon, with a prayer for a healthy delivery for mother and son, and one for Sarah, with a prayer that her soul is resting in peace and that her family finds comfort. The latter is something I’ve been meaning to do since the anniversary of Sarah’s death earlier this month; the former is something I wanted to be sure to do before Shannon goes into labor, which could happen at any time now! So, despite the inclement weather — or really, in part because of it — I made a pilgrimage to Notre Dame’s lovely shrine to its namesake.

As always seems to happen when I go to the Grotto, something cool happened.

Because of the rain, and because there were more lit candles than I’ve ever seen there before (admittedly, this was the first time I’ve gone on a home football weekend), it was hard to find a candle to light, and even harder to find anything to light it with. The little wooden sticks that are used for that purpose were pretty much gone, with only tiny stubs left, and anything not within the small sheltered area was too wet. I was able to light Shannon’s candle without too much trouble, but I had a heck of a time lighting Sarah’s. I tried six or seven times with different stick stubs and random twigs that were lying around, but nothing worked.

Finally, I noticed a nearly full-length wooden stick at the bottom of one of the empty boxes that normally have unused candles in them, but were empty tonight because so many candles were in use. I reached for the stick, only to find that it was attached to a layer of wax at the bottom of the box. I was able to jostle it free, however, and then set about scraping the wax residue off the stick. When I thought I’d done a good enough job of this, I lit it from a nearby candle and started trying to light Sarah’s candle with it. But within a few seconds, the waxy stick really started burning fast, and I had to drop it into the candle holder, lest it burn my fingers.

For a second or two, I was annoyed about this, as the burning stick wasn’t close enough to the wick to actually light the candle. But then I stopped myself short, and laughed out loud. Watching it burn, the flame reaching higher and higher, putting on quite a show because of the wax still on the stick, I realized: this is perfect for Sarah. This is better than just lighting a regular candle. Much better. You remember what I said about how Sarah once mused that she wanted people to someday celebrate her life with fireworks at her funeral? Well, there I was, in the Grotto, putting on a miniature fireworks show in Sarah’s honor. I grabbed my camera and snapped a picture of the mini-inferno in its final moments, then another just after it burned itself out:

Sarah’s “candle” only lasted 15 or 20 seconds, but while it was burning, it was the most spectacular one in the whole Grotto. It was perfect for her. I know she would have approved. :)

I was so moved by this accidentally ideal tribute, I told a total stranger — the guy with the umbrella in this picture — what had happened, and why it was so perfect. A few minutes later, I walked out into the open and called my mom to tell her about it.

I made no further attempts to light a candle for Sarah, as I felt I had already paid her a better tribute by accident than I ever could have on purpose. The power of the Grotto strikes again.

I hung around for quite a while longer, though, taking pictures when it was possible to do so without being obtrusive as other people came and went. Like I said, there’s something uniquely wonderful about the Grotto on a rainy evening, and I wanted to capture that as best I could. This picture is particularly cool, as it shows one candle in the open air that somehow managed not to get extinguished by the rain, even as all its neighbors got wet and blew out:

I guess that must have been one powerful prayer. :)

I’ve uploaded a full photo gallery here. Below are a few more of the pics that I took:

Again: full gallery here.

You learn something new every day

Saturday, September 30th, 2006

After a trip to the Grotto this evening (more on that above), I noticed a large crowd milling around outside of the Main Building (the one topped by the Golden Dome). As anyone who knows me is well aware, I’m drawn to large crowds like a moth to a flame, because nothing says “something interesting is happening that I should be taking photos of” like large crowds — well, except maybe emergency sirens, to which I am also inexorably drawn. :)

Anyway, in this particular case it was especially obvious that there must be something interesting happening, or about to happen, because it was raining steadily. Obviously, there wouldn’t be hundreds of people randomly standing around outside in the rain, unless they were waiting for something cool to happen. So I walked over and joined the crowd. I eventually went up to a random Domer and asked, “Uhh, what are we waiting for?” He seemed baffled by the question at first — giving me a look that said, “you mean you don’t already know?” — but then he finally grunted in reply, “Drummers’ circle. Starts in about 15 minutes.”

I didn’t know what the heck he was talking about (in my mind, a “drummers’ circle” is something that hippies at Venice Beach do, not something that Catholics at Notre Dame do), but I pretended I did, and said, “Oh, okay.” I figured this must be some sort of standard pre-game tradition that they don’t tell us law students about. And, via Google, I learn that I was right: it’s the Midnight Drummers Circle, put on before “many” home games by the ND Drumline. Here’s a YouTube video (though you can’t actually see anything, so it’s really more like a glorified audio clip) of the Drummers Circle before last year’s Syracuse game.

Tonight’s Drummers Circle ended up being cancelled because of the weather; a guy from the drum line came out a few minutes after midnight and regretfully announced, “Due to the inclement weather and unsafe conditions, we are unable to perform tonight.” Audio clip below.

MP3 File

However, although there was ultimately no Midnight Drummers Circle tonight, I’m very happy to have discovered this tradition by chance, and will definitely have to attend one of these later in the season.

After the jump, some video clips of students doing various ND cheers while waiting for the Drummers Circle to begin.


Overheard on ND’s campus

Saturday, September 30th, 2006

Student 1: “How many times have you gone to the Grotto this semester?”
Student 2: “Three or four times. We go on ‘Grotto runs’ sometimes.”

Heh. USC has (or used to have) “Flex runs”; Notre Dame has “Grotto runs.” :)

More on the Grotto in a new post shortly. [UPDATE: New post now online.]

Go Rutgers!

Friday, September 29th, 2006

Is the Elated Eighteen (formerly the Nifty Nineteen) about to become a Stupendous Seventeen? It will if this score holds up: South Florida 14, Rutgers 10 at halftime. (The game is on ESPN2.)

I’m rooting for the Scarlet Knights in this one, and not just for Vicki from NJ‘s sake. You gotta love an underdog team like Rutgers, and besides, I want them to build up some confidence so they can stun Louisville in the Cardinals’ post-West Virginia “trap game.” :) GO RUTGERS!

UPDATE: Rutgers wins, 22-20. Nice!

Why the Curse of Becky will no longer apply

Friday, September 29th, 2006

Whether Becky goes to the game tomorrow depends on how she feels in the morning, but even if she does go, I offer the following theory why the Curse of Becky will no longer apply: in the five previous Notre Dame games that Becky attended in their entirety, all of which the Irish lost, she was Rebecca Marie Zak. This week, however — after the Michigan State game reinforced the curse’s existence — she officially became Rebecca Marie Loy. After many delays and paperwork snafus, her new Social Security card finally arrived. She’s a whole new person! :) Thus, the curse of Becky Zak is obviously dead, because Becky Zak no longer exists!

I guess we’ll find out tomorrow whether my theory holds water… if Becky goes to the game, that is. If not, we’ll have to wait until the UCLA game to find out, since she and I will both miss the Stanford game to attend Marissa and Keith’s wedding in Buffalo.


Friday, September 29th, 2006



More rain

Friday, September 29th, 2006

It could be a second consecutive wet gameday for the Fighting Irish: the forecast for South Bend calls for an 80% chance of rain during tomorrow’s Purdue game.

But there’s an upside to all this rainy and chilly weather. It could make for better fall foliage next month. (Hat tip: 2L Rebecca, a fellow Irish Trojan.)

A manmade sunspot (or two), and other natural wonders

Friday, September 29th, 2006

This is pretty awesome. [UPDATE: Close-up view here. Full view here — with cows! Yes, cows. Just click the darn link.]

P.S. So is this.

P.P.S. This is neat, too.

P.P.P.S. And this image of Earth as a “pale blue dot” seen through Saturn’s rings is also pretty cool. (The late, great Carl Sagan would approve.) I particularly like the caption’s conclusion: “Earth is home to over six billion humans and over one octillion Prochlorococcus.” Heh.

P.P.P.P.S. If the title of this post — “A manmade sunspot (or two), and other natural wonders” — strikes anyone as contradictory, it shouldn’t. As my dad always points out (and as the above-quoted caption reinforces), human beings are just as much a part of “nature” as all other living creatures, and therefore our works are just as “natural” as, say, a beaver dam or an anthill. Thus, it makes perfect sense to refer to the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle as “natural wonders.” :)

CNN Breaking News

Friday, September 29th, 2006

Polk County, Florida, authorities have shot and killed the man suspected of killing a police officer, CNN confirms. Visit CNN for the latest.

USC (the other one) aims to upset Auburn

Thursday, September 28th, 2006

Auburn-South Carolina is turning out to be quite a football game. (Hey, this SEC football ain’t so bad. :) It’s 24-17 Tigers with 5:45 left, and Auburn is about to punt. GO COCKS!

In a tangentially related story, if you’re watching the game on ESPN and you saw the ad for Fathead, you know why I’m wondering why there isn’t a USC fathead. (University of Southern California, I mean… not South Carolina. They have one of those.) Who the heck hell makes a college-football product and doesn’t bother to include the Trojans, the sport’s most dominant team of the last half-decade?!? There’s a Purdue fathead, but no ‘SC fathead?? It’s not like there isn’t a huge ‘SC fan base that would be willing to buy such a thing. I was totally going to buy one (and put it on our window, facing outside toward our fellow Domers). Bah!

UPDATE: On second thought: they cost $79? Oh… nevermind. Becky would kill me if I bought such a frivolous thing that costs so much. :) But, in principle, I’m still annoyed at the lack of a USC fathead.

UPDATE 2: Back to the “other” USC now. South Carolina’s tight end just dropped the game-tying touchdown, on a play that Kirk Herbstreit nonsensically called “a well-executed play that they didn’t execute.” Huh? Anyway, there’s still time! 2:50 left, and the Gamecocks are inside the 25 with a first down. GO USC!!!

UPDATE 3: And now Auburn’s safety just dropped the game-securing interception! Nobody can catch the damn ball!

UPDATE 4: Holy cow, what a first down! What a game! First down Cocks… 2:19 to go… ball at the 13.

UPDATE 5: 4th and 1, ball at the 5 yard line, 26 seconds left…

UPDATE 6: Incomplete pass to the end zone… and Auburn survives!

Oh, well. Helluva game. I feel chastened, and will refrain from making any nasty comments about the SEC for at least… oh… 36 hours. :)

P.S. I must admit, I was hoping South Carolina could get the touchdown, so I could say, “They need the extra point to tie it. Hey, that’s not a given — this is an SEC game!” (That’s not a nasty comment about the SEC; it’s a hypothetical nasty comment that didn’t actually happen. :)

P.P.S. Quote that wasn’t actually arrogant, but sounds like it out of context, of the day: “I looked like a genius tonight.” –Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville

Oriole working on no-hitter against Yankees

Thursday, September 28th, 2006

With one out in the bottom of the ninth, 25-year-old Daniel Cabrera of the Baltimore Orioles is no-hitting the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. It’s on ESPN2.

UPDATE: Jinx! No sooner do I post this, but Robinson Cano just got a hit. Oh, well.

UPDATE 2: And then it ends on a double play on the next pitch! So, a one-hitter for Cabrera. Orioles win, 7-1.

TCU in trouble loses

Thursday, September 28th, 2006

It’s too early to tell whether any angels will get their wings tonight, but so far, it doesn’t look like it: Auburn leads South Carolina, 7-0 in the first quarter, and the Tigers just got an interception in their own end zone. D’oh! But another one of the Nifty Nineteen undefeated teams (albeit one that doesn’t pose problems for USC or Notre Dame), Texas Christian University, is trailing BYU, 17-10 with 2:05 left in the third quarter. TCU is the best hope for a non-BCS-conference team (er, not counting Notre Dame, obviously) to get into the BCS this season, but that hope will pretty much disappear if they lose tonight. (Boise State and Houston are the only other undefeated non-BCS-conference unbeatens left.)

UPDATE: A double-fumble comedy of errors in South Carolina! The Gamecocks fumbled, the Tigers recovered, an Auburn defensive linesman rumbled about 60 yards downfield toward the end zone, only to have it stripped and recovered by South Carolina!

UPDATE 2: Now it’s 24-10 TCU! The nation’s longest winning streak, 13, is in jeopardy. If the Horned Frogs lose, Ohio State and West Virginia would be tied for the longest streak with 11.

UPDATE 3: Touchdown Mormons Cougars! It’s 31-10 with 7:27 left. Looks like the Horned Frogs are done for.

UPDATE 4: It’s Auburn 14, South Carolina 10 at halftime.

Meanwhile… BYU 31, TCU 17, final. The Horned Frogs can kiss their winning streak, and their potential BCS bid, goodbye. Boise State is now the most likely non-BCS team to reach a BCS bowl. (But probably less likely than TCU was.) The Nifty Nineteen is now an Elated Eighteen. (Hat tip: Mike on the word choice.)

Sense and sensibility (or not) in the Senate

Thursday, September 28th, 2006

I’m watching C-SPAN 2 now. The Senate is now voting on the Byrd Amendment, which would establish a 5-year “sunset provision,” meaning the Detainee Treatment & Trials law would have to renewed in five years or else it would expire. This is in keeping with Lojo’s comment, and it seems eminently sensible to me. Senator Warner’s statement of opposition on the Senate floor was utterly unconvincing; Senator Byrd’s statement made perfect sense. (After Warner made an almost incoherent argument suggesting that the Byrd Amendment would somehow allow terrorists to go free, Byrd responded with characteristic yet entirely appropriate bluster, “This amendment will not set any terrorists free!”)

I can’t imagine why anyone — whether pro or con on the broader issue — would oppose this amendment, except for baldly partisan reasons. I assume it will fail.

UPDATE: It failed, 52-47. Idiots. But now Byrd moved to reconsider and then table. Not sure what the significance of that is.

UPDATE 2: The overall bill passed, 65-34. Lieberman was among the 12 Dems voting in favor. That’s not necessarily a strike against him, as I’m still not sure how I feel about the overall bill… but I do think it should have been debated quite a bit more, and I also think the sunset provision should obviously have been added. (Lieberman voted “yea” on that.)