Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Someone explain how car rental companies work

The ridiculousness of rental car companies in 3 parts...

Part I: The ridiculousness of Dollar Rent-A-Car
Last Friday, Smeri and I walk up to the Dollar Rent-A-Car counter in Atlanta to pick up our rental car.
I was really excited to use my over 25-ness so I reserved a car through Expedia ($95 for a compact car for 3 days + a few hours). I give the attendant my confirmation number and he brings up my reservation. I tell him that we don't need insurance and after many "Are you sure???"s from the attendant, Smeri says, "Just get basic insurance." So I said, "Fine, basic insurance." And after he asks for multiple phone numbers and drivers licenses, he shows us that our total is $263. REALLY??? How can it be $263? Apparently all the airport taxes (that Expedia conveniently leaves out) and the basic insurance, the price jumps to more than double our original quote. He tries to explain that if we return the car at the same time on Monday that we pick it up today, we'll save $6. Whoop-dee-do.

So I tell him that we're going to reserve our car through another car rental company because $263 is ridiculous.

Part II: The Ridiculousness of Budget Rental Car
I walk 10 feet over to the Budget Rental Car counter (it was right next door to the Dollar counter!) and say, "I'd like to make a reservation using a corporate account number." (MIT has a deal with Budget for "official MIT business" (i.e. club sports... us!) that waives the under-25 fee and includes basic insurance).

Their response, "Sorry, you can't use the corporate account number at the counter, you need to call the reservation number for Budget and make your reservation over the phone." Ok, fair enough. They give me a 404-area code number that I call and I speak to this lady on the phone.

Me: "I'd like to make a reservation for right now until Monday at 5:30pm and I have a corporate account number."
Budget rep: "Ok, so what day and time would you like that?"
Me: "Immediately... so that would be... right now."
Budget rep: "Ok let me take that information down and check the rates for you. Please hold."
Me: *holding*... *still holding*
Budget rep: (after 5 minutes) "Sorry, the corporate account number isn't correct. Are you sure you gave me the right number?"

I give her the number again and apparently she heard wrong (probably my fault, but I do try to make an effort to enunciate when I'm on the phone). After a few more minutes she comes back on the line to tell me that the reservation would be $217.

Me: "$217?!?! Really?! Why is so much?!!"
Budget rep: "I don't know. It says that the daily rate is $41 and you're reserving it for 3 days plus a few hours, plus airport taxes and fees, it comes out to be $217."
Me: "Ok listen, I have another reservation that I already made and I'd just like to duplicate that reservation (Clare had reserved some cars online for the other under-25 sMITe people). Same time, same car, same everything, just duplicate that reservation. It's for $124."
Budget rep: "Sorry, you need to call the national hotline for that. I can't duplicate reservations."
Me: "FINE. Transfer me."

I get transferred to the national Budget hotline and I explain the situation and tell her that I would just like to duplicate the reservation that I already had. So she types in the parameters and says, "The rate for your reservation would be $228."

Me: "What?!?! First of all, my reservation is for $124 and I just wanted to duplicate it, like, have the same price. Second of all, how is it $9 more than what the other Budget rep quoted me?!?!"
National Budget rep: "I don't know, I'm sorry. But this is what's coming up for me on the computer."

I was really starting to lose it by now and so I tried playing this card:

Me: "Look, my teammates and I are students and we're stranded in a city that we've never been before and we need a car. Isn't there something you can do? Do you have a manager that can override your retarded computer system??" (Ok I didn't actually call it retarded, but I did ask for her manager).

But she said sorry and that there was nothing she could do.

Btw, this whole time Smeri is standing there as patiently as a patient Smeri could be, and I'm pacing around the front of the Budget counter, fuming and on the verge of a breakdown.

Smeri: "What are you going to do?"
Me: "I'm going to make a few more phone calls."
Smeri: "You're not going to give up?"
Me: "Not yet..."

Part III: Daphne to the rescue!!! (oops, I gave it away)
I figured that if we were able to make reservations online earlier, we should be able to do another one for the same rate. So I call Bryan (didn't pick up) and Eugene (didn't pick up), and then Daphne, who picks up!!
I tell her Daphne the situation as fast as I can (Smeri is giving me impatient looks by now) and ask her to make a reservation for us on the Budget website. There couldn't have been a more understanding, more capable person to do this than Daphne, who's done this many many times during her time on sMITe. After a minute, everything is taken care of and she gives me the new confirmation number.

I turned to the people behind the Budget counter and say, "Here's my new confirmation number." They give me a weird look and enter in the number and promptly say that it doesn't exist. W.T.F.

It turns out that it takes about 15-20 minutes for the reservation to go through their system so Smeri and I do what any loving teammates would do: steal another car's reservation. (They were still waiting for their baggage and waiting for the tram to get fixed anyway. =P)

So, it finally worked out in the end. I wish I had something to take away from the experience, some tidbit of advice, anything, but I really don't. Except that Daphne is amazing and rental car companies are fickle and dumb.

Man, I feel my blood pressure increasing just from writing this post. ::sigh::

Has anyone else had a ridiculous experience with rental car companies?

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Help us with our wedding discs!

One of things I'm most excited about regarding our wedding is wedding discs! I know its a completely cheesy and frisbee-nerdy idea and only a handful of people at our wedding will really appreciate it, but I really want a wedding disc :)

I've been working with Sluts and Eugene to come up with designs but most of them have involved pandas and Canadian flags. Below are two that Eugene came up with:

A: Panda eating maple leaf

B: Panda mountie holding/saluting Canadian flag
Help us decide! Which one do you like better? We don't want people to get the wrong idea with this disc design... With design (A) we don't want people to get the idea that I'm walking all over Bryan (me being the panda and Bryan being the maple leaf). If we go with something like design (B) the panda will be just holding the flag and not saluting it.

Or do you think there something else we could go with? It doesn't have to involve pandas and Canadian flags! It was just the first thing that came to mind. What comes to mind when you think of Bryan and me? What do you think would go well on our wedding disc? The disc will also have our names and the wedding date in addition to the picture. Anyway... please please comment and tell us what you think! We wanted to get a design finalized sometime in April :) Thanks guys!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Aren't you glad you didn't have to play in this?

Blizzard at Chicago Invite 2010 this past weekend (Photos by David Hwang)

I think Smeri would quit before she plays in this kind of weather. =P

Thursday, March 25, 2010

UPA Sanctioned-ness

As many of you know, the UPA restructured its college competition for 2010. You can read about it on the UPA website here but basically, the two clauses that affects us the most are:

1) "All regular-season collegiate events will be required to be sanctioned by the UPA in order for the participating teams’ results to qualify for official regular-season records and standings. ... The 2010 regular season will run from Jan. 1 through March 28. "


2) "Each team will be required to participate in 10 eligibility-verified regular-season games to be included in the official end-of-season rankings."

That means we have to play at least 10 UPA-sanctioned games before March 28 to be able to be included in official rankings, which will determine how many bids our section gets for regionals. This is a big problem for sMITe because we played 8 games at Southerns which was UPA-sanctioned, and those are the only 8 games we'll be able to get in before the March 28 deadline. This week is our spring break and we don't have enough players to play in another tournament (i.e. Get Skyyed at Stonehill this weekend). We could try to get two sanctioned games against local teams but again, this is spring break and I don't know if we can even field 7 players.

I think this new system is extremely unfair to the northeast teams because in some years, by March 28 there is still snow on the ground. We don't have the kind of weather that allows us to plan local tournaments in the winter and early spring, and we almost always end up traveling down south for our first tournament of the season. Our spring break just happens to be the week before the March 28 deadline.

This new system also discriminates somewhat against the smaller teams. It takes money and time to travel and it just seems that sMITe, compared to larger teams in the northeast, doesn't have the resources to do that.

Also, this year Yale Cup is on April 3-4, which is after the UPA deadline. So even though we are competing in that tournament, it won't count towards in our record.

Here are the (almost) current rankings. Our Metro Boston section (by far the strongest in the New England region) has a decent number of bids to regionals (9) but that's not including results from this past weekend.

So even though sMITe had a kick-ass time in Georgia this past weekend:

sMITe at Ria's Bluebird in downtown Atlanta on Monday morning for our southern-style breakfast (I don't have any actual pictures of us playing frisbee)

our games won't count towards our ranking and won't contribute to the number of bids our section gets for regionals. How sucky is that.

Thoughts? Comments? Suggestions?

**Edit** Comments from UPA about this whole restructuring 10-games-minimum thing:

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Southerns: sMITe vs Duke

This point is one towards the end of our game against Duke on Saturday. Lemme narrate:
  1. Amy picks up the pull and hucks it to Michelle (#6), who comes down with it
  2. Amy gets the dump back from Michelle and swings it to Becky (#16)
  3. Becky then swings it to Smeri who puts up a backhand huck to Michelle, who catches it close to our endzone
  4. Patricia (#3) stands by Michelle, scratching her head (maybe she doesn't realize that she's not in?), then moves into the stack
  5. Amy gets the dump and swings it to Becky
  6. After a few not-open in-cuts, Becky throws it to Smeri who scores. Yay!

Southerns Day 2

Sunday was just as warm as Saturday but with some rain and much more wind. Personally I felt really broken with a really sore hamstring/knee from Saturday. Warm-up was really painful, but after warm-up, I don't think it really affected how I played on Sunday.

Pre-quarters: Wake Forest (10-13)

We started off playing Wake Forest during our first round. I wanted some payback from our 16-17 loss at Nationals two years ago. In our first point, Amy, Becky and I were handling in ho-stack which left Smeri cutting in ho-stack. She faked out and cut in and got the disc from me, then put a beautiful huck to Michelle in the endzone. I think the point lasted about 30 seconds. It was pretty exciting :) Wake Forest answered back with a quick score of their own. The game turned messier as it started raining harder and we played 3-man cup to try to stifle their offensive flow, but it didn't work that well. Soon we were down 4-10.

We tried playing clam on their ho-stack, which worked surprising well. The "0" and "1" would take the mark and the closest dump. I played "2" (short deep) and tried taking away anything through the I/O lane. "3" and "5" took the open side in-cuts, wide and narrow, respectively, with "5" helping cover deep shots. "4" covered the breakside cuts, and "6" took anything deep. I played exclusively "2" during this game, which is normally already frustrating for me because there are people in front of me, behind me, and to either side, and I feel like I'm going crazy trying to communicate with people all around me. Playing "2" on a ho-stack was 10x worse because I didn't know what to expect... But it worked! Wake Forest wasn't sure what to do with our defense and ended up hucking it after dinking it around between the handlers a few times. Michelle and Smeri were reliable in D-ing everything deep. This defense generated a lot of turnovers and allowed us opportunities to score.

There was one point where Becky had an awesome full-extension, one-handed layout for a dump that was put a little bit too far. I was the third handler so I got a great view of her laying out. Sometimes I wish I had a camera in my brain that can take pictures of instances like that on the field. :)

In one memorable point, I found myself walking up to the disc 10-yards from our endzone line with Cindy at the front of the stack. I hear Jin yell "BOB!" from the sideline, and then realize that Cindy is at the front of the stack and then she starts yelling "BOB!" even more frantically. Cindy cuts break and I put up the hammer and Cindy catches the disc on her head. It was awesome :) However amazing our clam defense and offensive flow were, our 4-10 deficit was too large and while sMITe did make an amazing come back, we still lost 10-13 in the end, which moved us into the 9th place bracket.

Quarters (for 9th): Charleston (13-4)
We had a bye next round so we sat in the car to be warm. Our next round was against Charleston. We played a lot of zone defense (3-man cup) against them and since they had 3 handlers back, we were man downfield. The cup did a great job of containing the disc and generating turnovers close to our endzone line. Ashley, our newest recruit (she joined in January) did really well as the middle of the cup. She's tall and listens well and knows where to be.

We won 13-4 (6-1 in the second half) and had another bye next round because our next opponent (South Carolina) was gone. =P Automatic win!

9th place bracket final: Williams (8-9)
Our last game of the day was against Williams for 9th place. Just as we started to play it started to get windy and rainy again. The game was somewhat dictated by wind but it wasn't impossible to score upwind. We played a lot of 3-man cup when they were going upwind and it worked well because they also had 3 handlers back so we could be man downfield.

Williams took half at 7-6 them and then we tied it up to 7-7 then soft cap came on, game to 9. We scored one making it 8-7, then they came back to 8-8, universe point. We were going downwind and we were on offense, but we dropped the disc and they scored easily with a huck to a wide-open girl in the endzone, 9-8 Williams.

It's always a bummer to lose on universe point, especially if it's the last game of the day or weekend. Our spirit was down after that game, but that last point was not representative of how we played over the weekend, at all! Even though our overall record was 4-3, two of the games we lost were really close (Wake Forest and Williams) and I think sMITe did an amazing job. We played intense defense and kept up the intensity throughout the weekend. Our offense steadily improved, and even though we had some spacing issues throughout the weekend, especially Sunday, there was really good flow among the cutters, for both ho and vert.

I'm really proud with the way sMITe played this weekend. With 5 new players to sMITe (Anna, Cindy, Ashley, Michelle, Patricia), 4 returners (Becky, Agnes, Clare, Chenxia) and 3 really old people (me, Smeri and Amy -- old in sMITe years!) we are considered a pretty young team.

Our rookies really came through this weekend:
  • Anna: I was really impressed with Anna's closing speed, and she got many run-through Ds. She also has really good hands and saved my butt a bunch of times by grabbing low discs and laying out for crazy stuff in the endzone.
  • Cindy: She's such a solid cutter (I told her she's clutch) and I think this tournament was a turning point for our on-field relationship. I thought Cindy and I connected really well this past weekend. There was one point where there was a turnover and I saw that Cindy was in a great place for quick play. She was also looking right at me like she was asking for something so I made a motion for her to go deep, ran to the disc and hucked it to her in the endzone for a score.
  • Ashley: As our newest sMITe member, Ashley is doing an amazing job at learning everything. She seems quiet when you first meet her but I feel like her personality really comes out on the field. It was really exciting to watch her get multiple run-through Ds on Saturday, smacking the disc down. On Sunday, she was marking someone on Williams and reached "ten" for stall, yelling "STALL!" (I seriously have never heard her at that volume before). The thrower put the disc down and everyone told Ashley to tap the disc and she gingerly stuck out one finger and touched the disc as lightly as should could, then ran away. It was really funny and cute to watch.
  • Michelle: Replacing Smeri as deep deep, Michelle is taller, younger, and better-looking. She can also cut and catches anything that comes remotely close to her, with one-hand. I'm pretty sure I've never seen her catch with two hands.
  • Patricia: I wasn't sure what to make of Patricia when I first met her and a few months later, I'm still not sure what to make of her. But I know that she can cut and she has really good hands and is a great addition to sMITe.
  • Becky: I know Becky isn't a rookie but this is her first year handling so she's kind of a rookie and I'm super excited about her. Even though last year was her first year on sMITe, she is developing into a great handler. She's reliable as a dump and calm with the disc. And she has the drive to do what it takes to get the job done.
All in all, Southerns was a great tournament for sMITe. I'm really psyched about the team for the spring. Our next tournament is Yale Cup on April 3-4. Come watch us play!

Monday, March 22, 2010


So I forgot to mention this, but Florida State aka the pink team, was named "Sluts!" Their pink jerseys had a layout-girl on it and "Sluts" written into the body of the girl.

After we played them Ashley said, "I'm so glad we have a nice team name like sMITe because I don't think I could yell 'Sluts' on the field." Well, hopefully she'll get used to it by next year when the real Sluts comes back :)

Southerns Day 2 post coming up tomorrow when I am more awake to write.

Btw, it SNOWED in Atlanta today. We were looking forward to sunny spring break in the south and it freakin snowed. what the heck.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Southerns Day 1!

I am currently writing LIVE from Statesboro, GA where sMITe just finished the first day of Southerns. Today's conditions were beautiful. We were up just as the sun was rising and our fields, although really really far away from disc central and any bathrooms, were beautiful with lush green (short) grass. There was a little bit of wind, and it was warm but not hot,

We started off playing Georgia College & State in our first round. There was still a lot of dew on the grass so everything was really slippery and it was hard for people to make hard cuts. But it was great to get our feet under us and run hard and use a full-sized field! We started out with horizontal stack and man D and won the first three points readily making it 3-0. GC&S liked their backhand hucks and I got broken on my mark around a bunch of times and it was sad. They were in general a really scrappy team and looked for deep looks from their main handler. But we took half 7-4.

In the second half we traded points until the end of the game. There was one point where Becky had the disc and the stall count was getting high. I made a dump cut but didn't get open, then Smeri was the bail-out dump cut, but she wiped out on the wet grass as she was making her dump cut, and took me out too. I was really excited about all of Becky's nice dump cuts and swing. We spent a lot of the first round working out our positioning on ho-stack, which got a lot better throughout the day. We also worked on our three-man cup which was semi-successful but their main handler still got a lot of hucks off. Anna also had an awesome lay out in the end zone for a score. Final score: 11-8.

After our second round bye we played Mary Washington. We worked more on our ho-stack and got a lot better. We took half pretty quickly 7-1. Michelle, one of our star freshmen, had an amazing lay-out grab. This was also the game where Ashley, our new sophomore recruit that joined in January, started getting a ton of run-through Ds. Final score: 13-3.

Our next round was against Florida State, aka the pink team. They had a lot of nice I/O breaks and we had a frustrating first few points and the score was 3-6. But we got our heads back in the game and came back to score a few points but they took half 7-5. The second half of the game we didn't let them score and won 9-7. Come-back!!

Our last game was against Duke and we lost half 2-7. But we got our heads back in the game, stepped our defense, and traded points. Final score 6-13.

First round tmr is 8:30 vs Wake Forest.

Tired... sleepy... Jin needs her computer back. Thanks Jin!

Oh yeah, and THANK YOU DAPHNE for saving our butts on Friday when Budget Rental Cars were giving us a hard time (another post of its own).

Good night!

Thursday, March 18, 2010


me: clare's funny
so are you
and i still can't believe you guys are going out

Eugene: what!
yea i can see why


Georgia tomorrow! Southerns this weekend! Smeri and I are going to the World of Coca-Cola to kill time. I mean, to spend quality roommate bonding time with each other while in another state. Yea... I'm also really excited about sweet tea and biscuits at Bojangles!!!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Game vs. Harvard

Crap, I started this last week and forgot to finish it.

Last Wed we played Harvard on their outdoor turf. It was a relatively warm night (maybe 40s) and no wind at all! It took a few points at the beginning for people to get used to stretching their legs and running all out and to not be afraid of falling (the turf won't hurt you!) I think after a while of indoor ultimate, people tend to hold back because the indoor track isn't that big and depending on the type of shoes you have there is little traction so ppl slip and fall and twist ankles more easily. So it was awesome to be able to play outdoors and run all out.

We started off in ho-stack and it was a little stagnant at first, but people remembered to cut deep for your buddy, and then to cut in after you cut deep. Our endzone plays were also a little messy and undisciplined, but I remember it working once or twice, which was really exciting!

We played a little bit of everything: vert and ho offenses, zone O, zone D, straight up man D. Some things we need to work on:

1. Playing more conservative and using our dump/swing more often
We have a tendency to get over-excited on the endzone line and throw high-risk throws that inevitably result in a turnover.

2. Man defense and switchy defense
Harvard played a lot of ho-stack and it would've benefited us to help each other more on defense. I think we know in our minds what we're supposed to do, we just have to practice it with each other and be intentional about doing it.

I honestly don't remember that much from the Harvard game. =P Anyway, this weekend is Southerns! Yay

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Awesome practices

Yay for numbers and intensity at practices recently! We even played 7 on 7 last night and it was awesome! And tonight we're playing Harvard so we can finally play someone else besides ourselves! Yayyy :D

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Make your mark

Marking! It's a pretty important part of defense -- you're preventing throws to half of the field with an effective mark!

The underlying goal of marking is to force the thrower to throw to where you're allowing them to throw (the open side). There are many things that are related to that, but I think that if you can dictate where the thrower throws, you've done most of what you're supposed to do as a mark.

From that, these are a few things I think a great mark will do:
- Pressure the thrower into making mistakes
- Communicate to the rest of her team when the disc is thrown (by yelling "UP") and where the disc is going (if the mark is broken and the disc is traveling down the breakside, yell "BROKEN!")
- Keep her ears open and listening for instructions from her teammates (shifting "inside" or "around" or preventing a huck "no huck")

So, how to be a great mark:

1. Know the force!
It sounds trivial, but if you don't know what the force is, you can't be a good mark! As a very confused rookie at Northwestern, it took me almost a year to learn force. And the little saying everyone kept repeating to rookies was "Butt to away unless you're on the mark" (if the force was "away") and vice versa for home. That means... when you're defending someone in the stack, you're butt or back is facing the force side. It's a silly saying but it helped me a lot!


Make sure you're stalling when you're marking! You can start stalling when you're within 10 feet of the thrower. Don't say "stall" in between numbers, it slows you down (don't say "stall 2, stall 3, stall 4..." You can get LOUDER as the stall count gets higher to let your teammates know what the stall count is so the defense can play tighter D. If it's an inexperienced thrower you can even sound more frantic as the stall count gets higher. But please don't scream in the throwers' ear - that's just bad sportsmanship (*ahem* Ozone *ahem*) Actually, some people have told me that they get softer during higher stall counts so the offense doesn't know what the stall count is. Eh.

3. Athletic stance: Stay on your toes and bend your knees
Marking is hard work! A mark is not a stationary stance but an active, dynamic position where you are bending your knees (while keeping your back straight) and staying on your toes. This means, you should be TIRED after 10 seconds of marking! (Or maybe you shouldn't be, if you've been lifting! :) ) Bending your knees is important in keeping a low center of gravity so that you can move quickly without falling over. Staying on your toes is important in being mobile and having a fast reaction time. It's hard to be quick like a fox if you're flat-footed with your heels on the ground, which leads me to my next point:

4. Shuffling
Shuffling is moving your LEGS not leaning your body towards one side or another. To shuffle towards your left, move your right leg towards your left leg, then your left leg over. In other words, don't move your left leg first or else you might get caught in a situation where your feet are too far apart and you can't move quickly. A few years ago someone told me to "mark with my feet" and shuffling embodies that. You're much more effective moving your feet (and your body with them) rather than lunging or leaning to try and block the disc.

5. Arms out - "It's like hugging a fat person."

Position your arms away from your body, shoulders closed a little bit, like you're hugging a tree (or fat person). If you're playing a non-man defense and you're always marking, make sure you don't run in this position... in other words, while you're running from one marking position to the next, run like you would normally run and when you get there, put your arms out to mark.

6. Where to look? "Why are you always staring at their boobs?"

A lot of people look at the disc when they're marking, which is normally directly in front of the thrower's body, which makes it look like you're staring right at their chest while you mark. I used to do this. And Bryan made fun of me A LOT. So I started looking at their eyes, because people normally throw to where they are looking. But then everyone else started making fun of me a lot. It freaks throwers out to have their mark staring them down for 10 seconds. But as a thrower, I don't notice my mark at all so I don't think it'll work on me.

Eugene says, "Never never look at their shoulders." Shoulder-fakes work wonders :) One quick little jerk of your shoulders to one direction will send a mark flying in that direction if the mark is looking at the shoulders and quick to bite.

Another place to look is the throwers hips. It's a pretty good indication of where they're going to throw. Be mindful of what's happening on the field. You can shift your mark to cover the dump better if you see out of the corner of your eye that the dump is setting up and that your thrower is getting antsy to get rid of the disc.

7. Communication
Marking is a team effort defense. Listen for calls from on-field players or sideline like "no inside" or "no around" to cover the I/O throw or the around break throw. Calls like "no big" or "no huck" means stand directly in front of the thrower, take a step off, and be big to prevent a huck. And when the disc is thrown, tell your teammates by yelling "UP."

8. You're not done
Just because the disc is thrown doesn't mean that your job as a defender/mark is done. A lot of good handlers will move immediately after throwing the disc to get the dish so be ready to move with them!

Did I miss anything? I probably missed a lot of things, so you should read this:

Tomorrow we have a game at Harvard. 7-9pm in the bubble, come watch us!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


We borrowed #9 from a Hatch teammate, #25 from Jin, #20 from Footsteps, and #10 from my dresser. Bryan's roommate Jin (non-sMITe-Jin) set up a mini studio in Bryan's low-ceiling-ed room and took pictures of us in various poses (I look kinda awkward in the #25 jumping shot because I was hitting the ceiling every time I jumped). Bryan photoshopped us from the background pixel by pixel, then arranged the images in photoshop. (Me: "It looks like you're punching my face.")