Friday, October 13, 2006

Meliora weekend...

[I'm now serving with a worldwide, volunteer placement organization called BVS, non-profit idea later used to model the Peace Corps]

Last weekend was "Meliora Weekend" and the "Head of the Genesee" Invitational Regatta... two of U of R's most high-profiled events. This sixth Meliora Weekend (Meliora is a Latin adjective meaning "better," the schools motto is "always better") hosted some of our nation's prominent speakers talking on issues that were as relevant as they were diverse. Student's parents and all past alumni were invited—I met some guys from the class of '44 that had to move out of their dorm during the war to make room for Army training personnel. This year 18 alumni that had made it big were brought back as featured experts and panelists.

Drew Carey and the Improv All-Stars headlined Saturday night. The Improv All-Stars are veterans of the British and Carey-hosted versions of Whose Line is it Anyway? and the roster of All-Stars included Greg Proops, Chip Esten, Laura Hall, Jeff Davis, Jonathan Mangum, Julie Larson, Sean Masterson, and Drew Carey Show diva Kathy Kinney, known to audiences as the beastly "Mimi." Fareed Zakaria of Newsweek International and an ABC News Analyst did a talk on "The Future of Freedom" and Lynn Sherr, 20/20 news correspondent, explored the topic "100 Years Since Susan B.: How Far Have Women Come?."

The Regatta (featuring 60' long rowing shells) is a huge deal here and goes on all day Sunday at Genesee Valley Park on the Genesee River, adjacent to U of R. With teams coming from as far away as Florida this is one of the states most publicized races. The turnaround point is actually right in front of my apartment building, Plymouth Gardens , (the sidewalk seen in the lower/left corner is only feet from the Genesee River). Some of the schools participating this year were from Brown University, Cornell, Florida Institute of Technology, Harvard, Rochester Institute of Technology, Syracuse University, Vassar and, of course, University of Rochester.

After morning coffee at our own giant hospitality tent, next door to rival Harvard's, the head race began five kilometers (3.1 miles) upstream. Entrants were started at roughly 10-second intervals and, after several bends in the course that straightened out for about 1/2 mile, passed through a couple of S-bends, which marked the halfway point, sprinted down a long straightaway at the 2 mile mark and went under three pedestrian bridges past the boathouse to finish in front of U of R's River Campus. I had my bike, so I moved around the course and had lunch on the other side of the river at the boathouse—an artichoke veggie wrap that was superb.

Then to top-off the weekend I saw the movie Cars here on campus for free. It was playing at our campus theater, located just 100' from my office (where I hangout even on the weekends). Movies normally cost $3 for faculty and staff, but the nice guy with the school's film club, that hosts these three nights a week showings, let me in at no charge. I knew the movie would be a "big hit" as soon as I heard about it months ago. It was a big hit, wasn't it?

Reporting from the underground...

Stan Morris