Peter Lyons

Return of the Obie

November 09, 2007

Saturday I made my way out to Oberlin, Ohio.  The drive took a full eight hours from my parents' place in Lambertville.  Thank God for all the new music I have on my mp3 player from the Rhapsody music subscription service.  I'll be loading up on Bill Cosby and maybe some audio books for the next big chunk of the journey.

It was good timing because Saturday night was the Oberlin Jazz Ensemble concert.  I arrived in Elyria with just enough time for a quick nap at the hotel, and then the 20 minute drive to Oberlin.  The program was the music of Illinois Jacquet, and the band was sounding pretty good.

After the concert I took a quick walk through the Conservatory and then hit The Feve cafe for some food.  The Feve has been remodeled and the menu has changed from crunchy hippie cafe to more college bar food.  Apparently, they are allowed to hire wait staff with no visible piercings, which was completely verboten during my years as a patron.

I spent almost all day Sunday preparing the slides for my presentations and making the finishing touches.  I went in to Oberlin for dinner at the Mandarin and some saxophone practice.

On Monday I went out to lunch with the Computer Science faculty, only one of whom I took classes with during my tenure.  It was amusing to talk with them.  During my student days, there was a well-known phenomenon of the Oberlin "bubble" basically describing students' views gradually becoming disconnected from the realities of the non-Oberlin universe, but I wasn't really aware of the term being applied to professors.  However, the conversation here definitely made me think that professors can get trapped in the bubble as well.

It was nice to be back on campus while classes were in session and see the Obies do their thing. Even the obligatory CS student attending class in a bathrobe was sighted.  I gave my presentation to about 9 CS students and most of the faculty in the afternoon.  The material I had ended up being better than I had initially thought and although it was hard to get a reading on them, I think most of the students benefited from the material.

Afterward, two members of the CS Majors Committee took me out to dinner.

On Tuesday I attended the "Professional Development for Musicians" class.  It was a guest lecture by two Oberlin grads that are now members of the Imani Winds   woodwind quintet discussing their experience as professional chamber musicians.  That afternoon I gave my other presentation to the conservatory students.  Unfortunately, as these things often go, there were only four people there.  I guess this is disappointing but understandable when you consider how busy these students are and that I am not Yo-Yo Ma. (My talk was promoted as a "Master Class", and usually these are given by world-renowned musicians).

After that I started the bulk of my cross country drive.  I tried to do at least three hours a day while still working from hotels each day.  I stayed at a very bad Ramada in Terre Haute, Indiana and a very nice Holiday Inn near St. Louis. At the Ramada I should have sensed bad news when I asked the manager if they had high speed internet and he replied "You mean Hi-Fi?".  After pondering, I said "yes", and apparently they did.  When I asked if I needed any settings or passwords to connect he said "No just plug in to rlap1 or whatever you do".  Clearly, he's not a frequent guest of the information superhighway, even though he was a young guy.  In any case, as I have encountered twice already, the wi-fi didn't actually function in the room.  Copper wire just can't be beaten for reliability, people.

The Holiday Inn here in Collinsville, Illinois is very nice and the wi-fi works great, so I'm going to stay two nights.  I've only got about 16 hours driving to Santa Fe, so I should get there on Sunday no problem.