Monday, May 08, 2023

Nachas in Norfolk

A huge Mazel Tov to B. for her graduation from ODU this past weekend. It was delightful to get to visit the ODU campus and see her big day.

We arrived to the Hampton Roads area on Friday evening and did a bit of walking around the campus. My first question: what's the monorail-like track promimently running through campus? B. explained that that it was the failed remnants of an engineering project:

Following the 2001 Fourth of July holiday, American Maglev Technology, Inc. (AMT) arrived on ODU’s campus to begin building a one kilometer elevated track, a research project that would cost $14 million dollars. This track was designed to support a small passenger car that would “levitate” on magnets, providing a smooth ride across campus. Twenty-one years later, the abandoned track has become a Stonehenge-like monument used as a landmark for directions, but still has yet to ferry a passenger.

That's a bold move ODU, leaving an engineering oops in plain sight for 20 years. Perhaps it's an important, cautionary tale for students?

After touring the campus, we had a delightful dinner at Guad's Mexican Restaurant and peppered B. with questions about campus life and her next steps. As we walked to our car from the restaurant we saw evidence of just how much of a Navy town this area is. We came across these large guns, no doubt rescued from the deck of a decaying ship and stashed in the corner of a parking lot:

What's surprising, is I can find zero mention online of the significance of these guns. There's no plaque or hint as to what's up with them. I found a property listing for the building, which includes pictures of the guns in the parking lot, yet, it is silent on whether the new owner inherits them or not. I do know, however, that the chandeliers within the building do not convey. I guess that's what happens when you're a civvy, you think that massive guns parked behind a random building is unusual.

Saturday morning, we joined B.'s family for the graduation ceremony. It was pretty much perfect weather, and our seats in the upper deck, close to the speakers turned out to be perfect. We had a great view of B. accepting her diploma.

The ceremony was run with surprising efficiency. It started a few minutes early(!), the grads filed in, the National Anthem was sung, and the commencement speaker was introduced. This year's speaker was Governor Youngkin. In Arlington, this would have been a controversial choice, but I'm guessing in the rest of Virginia he was a solid get. For his part, he gave a high quality, classic speech to the graduates. He steered clear of anything controversial, and about the only thing you could quibble with was that the speech was almost too polished.

A few students silently stood up and turned their back to Youngkin during his speech, as a form of protest. There were also some boos at one point, but they were covered up with cheers and any sounds from the crowd quickly faded.

After the speech, the degrees were confirmed and then each graduate had their name read and got a moment on the stage. 

After the ceremony, we made our way to the fountain and Lion and took more pictures and then it was off to Sushi King for all you can eat Sushi to continue the celebration.

What a day of kvelling and nachas!

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