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Wedding Party Extraordinaire

The Florida McElroy’s sure know how to put on a party — even if it is in Italy or Maryland. Sunday’s wedding party was another wonderful affair — and it began at the Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church in Baltimore, Maryland. After hooking myself up with some spaghetti for breakfast (the church had a donation-friendly luncheon that was just winding down as we arrived) and watching a little bit of Baltimore Ravens football, I headed upstairs into the chapel. The wedding service started about 10 minutes later at 2:02pm.

The Russian Orthodox wedding service begins at the rear of the chapel, where the bride and bridegroom are officially betrothed. The couple then proceeds to the center of the chapel, where they are “crowned” — a ritual that involves actual crowns, but also holds deep symbology related to Christian martyrs and doctrines of the Russian Orthodox faith. Finally, the couple walks three times around the lectern where the scriptures are resting, symbolizing the centering of their new life together around the gospel. Then they got to kiss. The whole ceremony was conducted in a chant, rather than normal speaking, accompanied by a small choir refrain at the end of each “verse” of the ceremony. The result was an aurally interesting and pleasing ceremony that belied its hourlong length.

After the ceremony, Father John gave some wise advice about marriage, explained parts of the ceremony, and gave more correct directions to the reception at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. After about an hour (!) of photos and waving American and Finnish flags, we took off for the reception. We enjoyed what was essentially a four-course meal that began with an excellent assortment of fruit ad vegetables banquet-style, moved to the tables for salad followed by some of the best fillet mignon I have ever had — which is not to say that I’m a steak connoisseur, but it is to say that the hunk of meat was excellent. I did like the outside a little better than the inside, but I was being adventurous by going medium when I’m usually more of a medium-well kind of guy. While still delicious, I guess I did learn that I’m still a medium-well kind of guy.

Along with the meat came some very good cheesy potatoes and some sort of spinach dish that I did not try. There were also free drinks all around, though I stuck with water myself. Finally, Kevin and Jennie cut the cake — an extravagant piece of art depicting the continental US colored by the American flag and Finland colored by the Finnish flag — with Kevin’s naval officer sword. In frosting were an alligator (symbol of Kevin’s Florida roots), Reindeer on Finland, and an E2 Hawkeye plane between the two countries. Unfortunately I didn’t get any cake, as I had to book it to get to the airport for my flight home, but the party — all two days of it — was wonderful by any description.

Baltimore, Baby!

The first activity on Saturday, a morning brunch at the Carpenter’s — good friends of the groom’s parents — consisted of excellent food and great company.

From there, we boarded a bus that took us to the Naval-Marine Memorial Stadium to watch the Navy versus Air Force football game. The game started out slow and sloppy, with most of the impressive plays coming from running and due to poor defense — not a single throwing play showed any passing prowess, but rather poor defensive ability. Through the first three quarters, Air Force outplayed Navy, but the Midshipmen hung right with an Air Force squad that looked stronger for most of that game, never falling behind by more than 10. In the final quarter, the Navy squad turned up the heat and staged an impressive comeback, winning with a field goal with 5 seconds left.

However, a key question about the game surrounds why an apparent safety created by an excellent defensive stand by Air Force during the 3rd quarter was turned into a simple down near the goal line with possession retained by Navy. This change in of one play outcome may have very well changed the outcome of the game – but finding no information about that play in the reports of the game, I can’t say for sure what really happened there.

After the game, we got back on the bus, returned to our vehicle, bought a gift for the couple, and headed out for the next phase of the party, a dinner at the Tanner’s, more friends of the family. Once again the food was excellent – especially the meatballs – and the company was great. I caught up with some cousins and had a good time playing with the youngest generation of kids.

Finally, we returned to our hotel where I watched UCLA’s impressive come-from-behind victory over Cal — a game that showed two top-tier teams locked in an Epic battle that only one could win. Unlike in the Navy-Air Force game, both teams showed excellent passing, running, and defensive capabilities. The level of play exhibited in the game was leaps and bounds higher than in the game I watched earlier in the day. However, to be fair to Air Force and Navy, the Falcons and Midshipmen did have to put up with a soggy field and drizzle throughout the game, whereas the California teams had a dry field to play on.

First Class, Baby!

After a couple hours in Las Vegas successfully resisting the slot machines, I picked up a Southwest Steak Bowl from Taco Bell and boarded the second leg of my journey. This was another Airbus A320, apparently the European equivalent of Boeing’s 737. Also of note, America West and US Airways seem to have merged, keeping US Airways’ more respected name. But that is neither here nor there. After finishing off the Southwest Steak Bowl, I was quite thirsty and let the flight attendant know that no amount of water would be too much when he asked what I would have to drink. He exceeded my expectations by bringing an incredible three cups of water, and that launched us into conversation. Bored out of his mind on a flight were most people were either asleep or trying to get there, he found my willingness to talk back to him interesting and, since there was extra space at the front of the plane, upgraded me to First Class for free.

As we continued to converse between his duties, annoying only a couple of first class passengers, I learned that Hari was born in Fiji, grew up in Southern California, and now lives in Tempe, among other things. Most impressive to me, though, are how comfortable first class seats are. Sitting in the very first row, I had all sorts of leg room as I sunk into the leather covered seat, the best feature of which has to be the little flaps that fold out to cushion the head. I got a lot of work done on my resume for a school project due a week from Monday. I was intending to work on the project in the same class due this Monday, but I didn’t notice that I had some data that I thought was missing until I got to the hotel here and got internet access again. Soon I was growing tired and got some shuteye towards the end of the flight, for about the last two hours. Hari claimed that this action of mine violated the terms of my upgrade, since he was once again bored for the rest of the flight, but we still parted on good terms. I shall add Hari to my list of people that I need to thank.

At any rate, arriving in Baltimore, it was raining hard yet the plane still managed to land safely, as they usually do. It was barely 6:30 am, yet with 97% humidity and temperatures near 70%, the air felt heavy and oppressive. As if I needed another reason to love Seattle’s weather. At least when it rains in Seattle, it is blessedly cool.

One further item to throw in – back at Sea-Tac, the security lines were halted for 20-30 minutes right after I arrived there at 4:30. The reason remains unknown to me; let me know if you have any details.

Las Vegas, Baby!

I’m sitting in the Las Vegas airport using the free Wi-Fi, having just completed my CSE 143 assignment due a week from today. It was assigned today, and really I had it 95% done before I got here (coding on the airplane), and the test code (which turned up just one issue in my code) actually took longer to write than the class itself. Hopefully things get a little more challenging in this class.

In about ten minutes I’ll be boarding a red eye flight to Baltimore. I’m headed there for another cousin’s wedding — this time it’s the brother of the famous Italian wedding cousin. My choice of flights will allow me to not miss class. On the other hand, I’m flying all night and I get back to Sea-Tac at 2:27am on Monday. Mad props to Dan for being crazy and agreeing to pick me up at that hour (I tell him its good spy training).

In other news, I’m being tempted by the slot machines, and my Chemical Engineering 260 — Thermodynamics class is going to be entirely plug-and-chug, without many concepts. That has me bummed. I guess I should have done more research before signing up for a class specialized for non majors. At any rate, it makes me really appreciate BYU’s open enrollment major-track and honor-track courses. Here at the UW, you have to be in the proper program or get special permission for those.

In Minnesota

I have an ealy appointment tomorrow, so this is all tonight.

Business Trip

When I returned from my brother’s wedding in Utah, a curious email was waiting for me. Its subject was simply “Business Trip?”

The long and short of it is that I’m headed to Minneapolis on Tuesday night, with my airfare, hotel, car, and food all paid for by Microvision. I can see, kinda, how a trip might be annoying if you have a family and all, but with no dependents of my own, I find the idea pretty appealing. I could get used to touring the world on someone else’s dime, even if I would be working while there.

Of course, maybe I should wait until it actually happens before I make up my mind about it.

Marriage-of-a-brother

The family has just returned from Utah, where we attended my brother Ben’s wedding to Kalee. Three action-packed days went quite well. We arranged a luncheon, helped move into a new appartment (including transporting a matress set down I-15), attended a wedding, took pictures, set up and tore down a reception, and decorated a car – all of this took about 45 trips north and south on I-15. It was a lot of driving. Everyone survived and the trip home was quite speedy. The reception up here is this Friday (the 26th) at the Cougar Mountain house, and if you know Ben, I would encourage you to show up and say hi.