Having settled that question, it came time to delve into the details. As much as I don't like the Navy, I do enjoy the actual guts of nuclear power; I've decided that it's something worth pursuing. While we were in Mayport, I began research into schools that offer nuclear engineering as an undergraduate major - and discovered there aren't very many. Fortunately, most of the universities that do offer such a course are just the types of places I'd been thinking of - large state schools with moderate cost. As I looked at the list, I was also influenced by thoughts of the team of Fowler, Corso, and Herbstreit. Why, you may ask, would the hosts of ESPN's College GameDay have any bearing on choosing a school? Well, big-time college football was noticeably absent from my college experience the last go-around. Sure, GameDay was at Penn in 2002, but a I-AA/Championship Subdivision conference that doesn't send its teams to postseason play usually doesn't warrant mention anywhere in SportsCenter. I've heard so much about that Saturday atmosphere; I'd love to experience it first-hand, and the only way one can really do that is as a fully vested supporter.
With these parameters established, and with two weeks of leave coming in a month, I began hatching college visitation plans. I've decided to take three visits over a one-week period - to Florida, Tennessee, and Michigan. That's one more school than I visited when I was doing this ten years ago. Right now, I intend to fly into Jacksonville, rent a car, drive to each school in succession (with a day between each visit), and fly out of Detroit at the end. This should give me two nights on each campus, plenty of time to evaluate not only the academic merits of each institution, but also the other things that make up the total picture. I'm really excited about this. Instead of spending the full two weeks in my ancestral home or at the New Nexus of Hate, I'm actually going to take something that resembles a real vacation. Don't get we wrong, I still intend to go home for a couple of days; Long Island will never get completely stale for me. I'm also looking to add a nice little cherry to the end of the trip. After flying back to Boston on 2 August, I hope to go see Maroon 5, Counting Crows, and SARA BAREILLES at the Tweeter Center in Mansfield. This could be the best two-week stretch of my entire tenure in the Navy. At any rate, it'll sure as hell beat spending that length of time in the pit of misery and despair.