May 2, 2010

The weekend of March 7: Big trivia win and the birth of my son

You can add the weekend of Saturday and Sunday, March 6th and 7th, 2010, to the list of most memorable weekends of my life. My kochanie Bree, who was nine months pregnant but not officially due until March 17th, informed me on the morning of March 6th that her water had broken. Now, it appeared that the baby would be coming far earlier than expected -- so we scrambled to get as much done on March 6th before we'd have to go to the hospital. Problem was, we had a full day and evening of events scheduled for that weekend -- including a charity trivia tournament in Deerfield, Illinois. After discussing the situation and our options, we decided that I would go to Deerfield, and call in regularly for updates.

I'm no stranger to the event -- I participated in it twice before. The Annual JA Trivia Night takes place every year at the corporate headquarters Baxter International around March as a fundraiser for Junior Achievement. The event is massive -- upwards of 50 teams, some 600 participants, attend the event. In 2010, the event was emceed by Dave Legler, who still holds the title as the biggest money winner in NBC's history, having won $1.765 million on the non-corrupt version of Twenty-One. (Disclosure: I've known Dave for years, since we are and have been members of the Game Show Congress, and have been a teammate of his both at the Deerfield event and at Game Show Congress events.)

I'm no stranger to success at the Annual JA Trivia Night either. The past two times I attended, I was on teams that took second place -- including one team which held first place for every round of the event except at the end of the tournament. But I didn't finish at first place in the tournament. Not yet anyway.

Dave had assembled a bunch of free agents -- friends that he knew -- into a team in Deerfield that got assigned the name "Team 54". (You can cue the "Car 54, Where Are You?" jokes; we cracked jokes on this theme all night in Deerfield.) Teams are allowed up to eight participants on a single team; we only had six participants. There are 10 rounds of questions with 10 questions in each round; each question was worth 10 points, totaling 1000 points total. My team was flirting with first place for much of the night; our main rivals at Team 52 traded first place with us for much of the night. But we had the lead going into the last round. Could we hold off? Could we capture first place at the end? Answer: Yes. We got 9 of the questions in the last round, and finished (going away, it turns out) for first place. Team 52 had a poor final round and actually finished in third place. So, yay team! Our reward: $50 Discover gift cards, a basket of cookies, and a very nice trophy.

But during the event, I called Bree to give her updates of our progress, and to get updates from her. Contractions had now begun; it wouldn't be long now. I had taken the Metra train to Deerfield, but luckily two of my teammates on Team 54 lived just four blocks from where I lived, and graciously gave me a ride back. Once I got home it was a scramble to cancel everything planned for the rest of the weekend and the next couple of weeks (including a Scrabble tournament in Wrigleyville scheduled for March 7th). I used the same notebook I had to track Team 54's round-by-round score in Deerfield to start keeping track of the distance between contractions. (The old stopwatch I used for this purpose apparently couldn't handle all the strain and it, or at least its battery, died the next day.)

At 1AM we made the decision to go to the hospital. By 2AM we had arrived at the hospital. And at 6:47AM, after pulling an all-nighter (just the first of many subsequent all- nighters), my son Zachary was born. Getting a big trivia win and having a brand new baby boy. A successful weekend.

Changing the topic a bit. Because of the time commitment and responsibility of having a new baby, I've decided to concentrate my efforts on one avenue of political activism that I think needs my attention (and needs more attention from a great many others), and make all my other political-activism related activities (my weekly radio show, my contributions to Chicago Independent Television, my Chicago Media Action work) I do an appendage of that -- focusing on spelling out more explicitly the connections between corporations and markets and strengthening the case for the abolition of the latter, crazy though that may sound. I've written andpresented on this before, but predominantly in presentations that were fairly restricted in time (my presentations on this topic were only ten minutes long each). Obviously, I'll need more time and more room to elaborate, and making this blog the planned venue for being a sounding-board, development platform, and distribution mechanism of same. The plan is: make a blog post once a week with this focus in mind, and redistribute through my various media commitments (radio, television, other internet sites) of the case about corporations, markets, and economics.

Next week: The Invisible Hand versus The Invisible Foot