As with last week’s post, this one is going to cover a multitude of things.
This was a fairly busy week, I had a draft of a substantial assignment due, specifically it is a memorandum. I know that probably doesn’t sound like a whole lot of work, but trust me, it is. I also had a makeup class, which meant I had four hours of contracts in one day as well as all sorts of other things to keep me especially busy (such as picking one of my classes for next semester – I got my second choice). Point being, after I submitted my memo at around 4pm on Friday (It was due at 5) I was ready to just chill. But before I get to our weekend, I want to backtrack a little bit to lunchtime on Friday.
One thing I haven’t spoke a lot about, namely because I haven’t got around to writing about my law school experience yet, is that I’ve had a lot of really cool opportunities to meet a lot of really cool (and powerful) people. I think law schools tend to attract such speakers and arguably my law school attracts them more than any other. However, on Friday I got to meet someone who I think it would be an absolute disservice to not speak about.
His name was Benjamin B. Ferencz.
If that doesn’t ring any bells, don’t feel bad, it didn’t ring any bells for me either. But maybe it should have.
As I was walking down the hall one day, I passed a board showcasing one the countless upcoming lunch talks here at the law school. I normally look at these to see what kind of food is being offered first, subject matter second. One post called “Law not War” caught my eye. I read a little closer and saw that the speaker was Benjamin Ferencz. I probably wouldn’t have thought about it any longer but the little subtitle beneath his name said “Chief Prosecutor Einsatzgruppen.”
That made me think for a second.
Then I realized, this was the Einsatzgruppen. Literally, the “Action Group” the Nazi SS Death Squads. This guy was the chief prosecutor at the Nuremberg Trials.
At the bottom of the flier was a thing saying to RSVP to so-and-so. I immediately went and RSVP’d. It was Friday at lunch, right in the middle of a 4 hour block of contracts. So It was going to be cutting it close to get there and out without missing class, but I didn’t care.
Now, I’ve been to Nuremberg. Only briefly and while on a train, but I’ve technically been there. So I didn’t really get to see specifically where the trials took place, but I’m very well versed in what happened at the trials. I think most people at least recognize the Nuremberg Trials even if they don’t fully understand the importance of what happened there.
Now honestly, the first thing that surprised me was that this dude was still alive. Turns out he is 95 (soon to be 96) years old. However, I would have never guessed he was that old based on his demeanor and personality. He actually graduated from Harvard Law school in 1943. He wasn’t American-born though. He was Transylvanian (Romania) and later his family came to America to avoid the persecution of Hungarian Jews after World War I. He ended up at Harvard Law, and when he graduated in 1943 he didn’t do what most of his classmates did, he went and joined the military. He went on to land in the D-Day invasion of Normandy and served directly under Patton and eventually joined the Judge Advocate General’s Corps (JAG) – which wasn’t hard with a Harvard Law Degree. When it came time to start prosecuting the leading Nazis (at least those who didn’t get away or kill themselves) he voluntered. One thing led to another and as a young lawyer he was the Chief Prosecutor against the 22 accused leaders of the Einsatzgruppen. Of these 22 men, all 22 were convicted and 13 were executed.
So what brought him back to Harvard Law? Well, he was being presented with the Harvard Law Medal of Freedom, which is HLS’ highest award possible. In its entire existence only 3 people had ever gotten it (and no Obama is not one of them). Ferencz was to be the fourth.
Here he is with his freshly awarded medal. (The woman to his right is HLS Dean Martha Minow)
His talk was likely the most interesting of any I’ve had the pleasure of attending thus far at the law school. And without bragging, I’ve met some pretty important people, but none were quite as moving as Mr. Ferencz. I’m not going to go into all the details of the discussion, because I’m not going to forget them and some of them were especially.. well, not censored. What I will say, is that I learned some very, very interesting things while also being reminded of just how human we all really are, no matter if we are Gandhi or a Nazi Deathsquad Leader. But in addition to his message, which essentially dealt with the crucial importance of international law agreements, I’m going to remember his personality just as much. He was very, very funny. After living the life he has lived, you might assume he would be somber. Not in the least. He started with jokes, ended with jokes, and inserted jokes into all the right places to keep the conversation from becoming too morbid. He was also still very sharp. He attributed his mental clarity to the fact that he still researches and writes, yes, at 95 years old he still publishes books. But its not a financial thing, in fact he offers his books for free and welcomed all of us to fragrantly plagiarize them, much to the bemusement of the audience (remember this is a law school).
I am extraordinarily glad I went to his talk. I was late for class, but I didn’t care in the least. Though I wish him the best of health, as he put it in his own words, he won’t be around much longer. In light of that, I feel extremely fortunate to have been able to meet him and shake his hand. He is, literally, a living piece of history. And his message that the Nazis were just as human as you and I, is a hugely profound one.
Definitely one of the coolest experiences of my life. Its amazing the opportunities that have been afforded to me by my school.
After that talk, it was back to class, which was oh so boring. Then on to writing and more writing and editing, also boring. But finally my work day was done and it was time to go home.
Since it was Friday this of course meant it was time to go out and eat, and it was my turn to pick. Since we had some football plans for tomorrow (today, er.. well yesterday since its 12:30am now), we needed to go shopping as well. On the way to Whole Foods is this little itty-bitty place called the Thai Hut Restaurant. And it really is a hole in the wall, I think they have a whopping total of 4 two person tables and its normally busy. The only reason we knew about it is because, as mentioned, its on the way to the store, so we’ve walked by it several times. I remembered that their prices seemed decent from their exterior menu and I quick check of their website confirmed them to be as such, so we were on our way.
We got their before the diner rush so it was literally just us. The staff was very friendly, which is always a plus. I went with Chicken Pineapple Friend Rice (Fried rice with chicken, onion, pineapple, raisins, tomatoes, egg and scallion with a touch of curry powder) – which is the weird kind of thing that seemed right up my alley (it was). SB went with the Chicken Pad Woo Sen (Chicken with bean threads – those “glass” noodles – stir fried with egg, snow pea, baby corn, onion, carrot and scallion) – which was also very good.
Dinner was yummy and relatively inexpensive (we made our old Indiana budget, for instance). We pretty much had the place to ourselves. At one point a traffic cop came in and made the people in the kitchen nervous (which I thought was funny and it likely means they were serving us cats). There were also quite a few to-go order pickups. Eventually two other people came to dine in shortly before we left. It was quite good and I’d recommend it, apparently others would as well as they had quite a few awards posted on their walls.
After dinner it was just a short (very cold) walk to Whole Foods, where it was apparently National Nacho Day. This meant tons of free samples, from Nacho Pizza, to Nachos with Salmon Spread (amazing) to Dessert Nachos (which were basically apple slices with desert toppings). It was all good but made us quite pompous right after dinner. We didn’t have to get a ton, so we were soon on our way home, but now without a stop at the Wine & Cheese Cask (freshly discovered last week) for some beer.
Since I got expensive beer last week, I decided to tone things back a bit this week and go for something a bit cheaper. Honestly that is a lot harder than it sounds out here, unless you want something like Bud Light. However, I did find something that I hadn’t had before.
Now, you may be thinking, “Whoa, Whoa.. you’ve had this!” but that would be incorrect. What I had tried before was the standard Narragansett Lager. This was their “Fest” variety, which it turns out is (unsurprisingly) their Oktoberfest offering. I actually didn’t know that for sure until I got it home and read the can, but it was a pretty safe assumption. In case you were wondering who the guy on the can is, its St. Gambrinus. Who is apparently one of five Patron Saints of Beer. Well, it turns out that he actually isn’t a Saint, so the can is wrong, but who cares, its a happy mythological dude who drinks beer, that is good enough for me. Some legends say he even invented beer (which is of course chronologically impossible) but its a fun thought.
Anyways, I have to go with Beer Advocate on this one and say that I was fairly impressed. Its better than their standard lager, but not in a “landslide” sort of way, I’d just say its more memorable (which was my big critique of their original). Like all Oktoberfest beers, its a deep and bright caramel colored beer, with lots of crisp tones and a slightly sweet smell. It did not have a lot of foam compared to most German style lagers, but that might have been something to do with the can pour. Either way, considering it was from and a can and it wasn’t priced terribly, I’d say it was a solid US take on an Oktoberfest lager, I’ve certainly had worse.
That was Friday.
The main event of the weekend was actually Saturday, we had tickets to a Harvard vs. Columbia football game. Now, as you may noticed from when we went to the hockey game, I don’t really know a whole lot about sports. Despite Daryl 1 and Daryl 2 being sports people, I somehow missed those genes. But I do like football and I do like cheap tickets. We actually purchased these tickets many moons ago. We were riding on the subway and we say a thing where you could get half-priced Harvard football tickets with an MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority) code. So, I went home and checked it out. Turns out I figured out a way to stack that discount, with a student discount, with a general ticket sale. We ended up getting front row tickets on the 40 yard lard line for 15$ in total (but more on that in a second).
The weather called for sun, which was nice because we had had a lot of rain during the week. It wasn’t going to be warm by any means (peaking around 47 degrees then quickly dropping from there), but at least it would be sunny. Because I tend to start dying in the cold (despite being so hot-natured) I really had to bundle up. I had on: Underwear, Long-johns, 1 pair of regular socks, 1 pair of wool socks, jeans, an under-shirt, a long sleeve t-shirt, a Harvard sweater with hood, my brown shoes with no vents, my blue jacket, a toboggan, one pair of light gloves and then another pair of insulate gloves over the top of those gloves. In other woods, I was the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. But, I hoped that it would mean that my fingers and toes wouldn’t rot off. (SB was bundled as well, but that is par for the course).
Once we were secured with 3 tons of clothing, we set off to meet the bus. At first we didn’t think there was going to be a bus (which would have made us very late), but it popped up on the tracker eventually, as they often do. Despite leaving with plenty of time it actually ended up taking us way longer to get down there than we expected (we got off at the same spot as we did for the hockey game). I don’t know if it was football traffic, or just general Saturday traffic, but based on the fact that traffic cops who were out, I’m guessing it was both (plus we later found out it was freshman parents weekend as well – so tons of little children and their rich legacy parents were out and about). However, despite cutting it close, we made it before kickoff.
The line to get in was fairly short, they were checking bags and tickets efficiently. We got through the gate and came upon the field right as the national anthem was playing.
Now, this brings me to my next point. I freaking love Harvard’s football stadium. It looks like something straight out of Rome, and that is probably exactly what they intended when they built it. I mean, literally, it looks like a Hippodrome crossed with a Colosseum.
Granted, you can tell its old, but that just adds to the magic. What doesn’t add to the magic, is that since its basically something the Romans would have built, your seat is made of rock. Yep, the seats are concrete. Now, even though it was not comfortable (and you could tell who the regulars were based on their portable seat-pads) I will say that it was not cramped. You had quite a bit of seat to sit on, unlike some bleachers which are not only hard, but narrow and people knee you in the back for the entire freaking game (*cough* high-schools everywhere… *cough*). So while it wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t unbearable either.
Now, finding those seats was a bit of a pain. It started simply enough, Gate > Section > Row > Seat. Got it?
We did too. We found our Gate (way easy), Section (Easy), Row (…um.. nope), Seat (uh?).
As you can see something went wrong when it came to the rows. That is because they are not labeled. I mean, if you go look at the stadium online, yep, sure thing they are clearly labeled. However, the stadium itself.. nope, nothing (I checked quite thoroughly too). So what happened, is that we found our seat numbers based generally on where I thought we should be. Well, it turns out that in searching for our seats we migrated from section 32 into section 31, which subsequently moved us from the 40 yard line to the 50 yard line. Once we got situated I figured this out and then noticed that yep, we were in the wrong seats. We were just barely left of the 50 yard line itself, but were front row as we should have been. Right around this time the teams were coming onto the field.
And the kickoff was quick to follow. (Ignore the giant grey beast on the side of the photo, I honestly have no idea if that is my glove or my toboggan)
So, we decided to just wait and see if someone came for the seats. We were technically in the right seat numbers, just the wrong section and we didn’t ask anyone to move, the seats were vacant. Turns out, no one ever came for the seats. Around half time a grey-poupon family and their baby freshman kicked out some kids who had settled in next to us, but they only stayed for like 2 minutes into the third quarter. So, while my guess is that while these were probably their seats (at least partially) we never ended up having to move and I’m sure someone took our seats too.
So, there we were, 50 yard line. Game on.
Columbia missed the memo about bring your game, from the outset Harvard picked up an early lead. In fact, Harvard’s first two scores (touchdowns) were brought by their defense when Columbia fumbled the ball.
Here is a shot of Harvard getting ready to kick the extra point. I actually really like this photo, it came out sort of faded, but with the sun rays and the fade it looked like some old vintage photo, Its definitely not, but I like that it appears that way.
Eventually the offense decided that they didn’t want to let the defense score all the points, so they picked up their game. (Columbia did not).
We had very good seats.
At the half, Harvard led Columbia 28-0. Which was fine with me, Columbia’s Law School screwed me over. (Not that that really maters, since they are kind of a dump compared to the two places I was really considering, but I like grudges).
Our seats also let us have an up-close view of some coach deliberations before they went to the locker room. (Note my finger had opinions as well).
Since they were up 28-0, my guess is they were trying to decide who had to pay for beers later, or were checking their NFL fantasy football scores. (Speaking of the NFL, both Harvard and Columbia’s quarterbacks loved shouting “Omaha,” which is a call pretty much owned by Peyton Manning. I like to think it was their way of summoning St. Peytonus to their side. Harvard obviously tithed more)
The two bands came out at half-time as well.
And honestly I have to say I wasn’t really impressed. I don’t know what they were doing, but it was like each side was trying to be funny, but wasn’t. Rather than really playing music they just sort of flailed around, did disorganized skits, and waved their butts at people. Some of them were in costumes.
The announcer was telling jokes during the performance, so maybe there was some sort of narrative to it that I missed, but I really didn’t get it.
Harvard’s band was no different.
Notice the people sword-fighting on the right hand side of the screen and a person in an elf cap conducting on top of a ladder. Yeah, I didn’t really understand. Maybe its some tradition or something, but I would much rather had had a traditional marching bad performance. /scrooge
After the weird half-time show (as well as some food, courtesy of SB going and getting it) the 3rd quarter got started.
Harvard wasted no time scoring, in fact they scored before SB even got back with the food. Then they proceeded to score again on top of that one.
I enjoyed watching Columbia lose so heartily.
The people around us were also enjoying it. Unbeknownst to us when we sat in our seats we entered “JOE SECTION,” and by that I mean we entered a pocket of people who were very much fans of Number 4, Joseph Vivano III (Backup Quarterback, not sure which string). In fact, some people down from us felt he would be a good President, since their sign said “JOE FOR PRESIDENT.” To be honest, I had no idea who Joe was. In fact, I had to look up his number to get his full name. But it was kind of fun being in a pocket of Joenites as they rooted him on. In fact, for the biggest part of the game I thought the people directly behind us were Joe’s parents, but it turns out that they were Joe’s roomate’s parents (No. 62, Kyle Adams, Offensive Lineman). If you were wondering why they were rooting more for Joe, I’m guessing its simply because Joe got more field time, as a backup quarter-back in a game with a huge lead, that tends to happen. A cool side note about Kyle Adams is that his grandfather played for the Baltimore Colts (yes the Colts, back before they performed a vanishing act to Indianapolis). No I do not stalk these people, its what the website tells me.
But people were not the only things that wanted to watch Columbia’s defeat. Around this time (3rd quarter) billions of seagulls came to the game.
That picture really doesn’t capture it, since I took it before they really swarmed. I’m not sure if they just know when half-time noms come, or if it had something to do with the sitting sun, but the birds came, they saw, they conquered. Interestingly enough, they stayed almost exclusively on the Columbia side of the field. I’m guessing this was to poo all over them. SB and I wondered what happens if a football hits a bird, according to the people behind us that means that ball is out of bounds, I have not verified that but it seems to make sense (but boy that would suck for the bird). Speaking of the sun going down, it REALLY started to get cold about this time. See up here in ole’ Bostonia the sun is down by 4:30. I don’t mean its starting to look like afternoon at 4:30, I mean its down by 4:30. Its actually something neither SB or I ever considered.
You see, when I think of big daylight differences I think of North and South, not really East and West (at least within the same time zone). But what I didn’t consider, is that even though I’m in the same time zone I’ve always been in, I’m about 920 miles East and about 220 miles North of where I have lived most of my life. So, regardless of the fact that it is the exact same time the daylight schedule is way different.
So, as the sun went down and the boid swarms came, it started to get cold. Up until that point I had been pretty much ok. Sure, my toes were cold but the rest of me was fine in the sun. But at this point my toes started to cease to exist.
However, Columbia’s hopes of wining also ceased to exist. Despite an admittedly good resurgence of their defense in the late game, the final score was 45-0, Harvard.
Though there were never a ton of Columbia fans at the game to start with, by the time the teams took to the field to shake hands and plot each others deaths their were hardly any fans left.
I honestly can’t say I’d blame them, given the dropping temperatures and the score.
So Harvard had won, continuing their undefeated season for another day and also letting me experience a home-team victory in my first ever college football experience.
After the game is over fans are allowed to go down to the field and meet some players for autographs and to play with the field goals and pylons. Maybe you weren’t supposed to play with the pylons but I did.
So we took some pictures, played with some stuffs, watched little kids (actual little kids, not the freshmen ones) fight epic battles to get their foam footballs up into the field goals, and then we headed out to the bus stop. We actually took a different bus, it didn’t take us quite as close to home as our regular bus (so it meant more walking) but it also cut out a potentially 15 minute long wait on the normal bus since the bus we did take was literally right at the stop when we got there.
By the time we got home I could no longer feel my toes and my hands were hurting pretty bad. This is in spite of my Stay Puft Armament. In fact, my toes didn’t return to this Earth for a solid 20 minutes after they were in our warm apartment in fuzzy slippers. Reynauds Syndrome really sucks.
But the day did not. In fact I had a lot of fun. It was actually kind of unusual for me to go out two weekends, let alone to sporting events. But I did, and I really enjoyed myself, as did SB. I can’t help but be a little frustrated by how much the cold weather just trashes me (especially when I tend to be so flipping hot when I’m actually indoors) but it didn’t detract from the overall experience, since making memories is always awesome.
I’m definitely forward to doing to the Harvard – Yale game two years from now. Its the grand-daddy of all collegiate sport rivalries. But I’ll wait and save that post for when it happens.
Until next time,