Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

13 Oct 2007, 15:53 p.m.

Warning! Volleyball.

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2007 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

Yesterday I was walking west from the NYU College of Dentistry (strawberry-flavored fluoride prophylactic tastes way better than whatever they had when I was a kid) and happened to walk a few blocks alongside a group of three young adults chattering in Russian. My fluency has gone straight k chyortu since I left St. Petersburg in 2001, but I could catch the odd phrase.

As we stopped at a corner, I mused over what I might innocently say to them in Russian. Izvinitye, or "Excuse me," in case I was in their way. Or Ostorozhno ("Caution"), in case I saw a car coming towards them, or something.

The light turned green, they started walking, and I saw a car finishing a turn -- towards them! "Ostorozhno!" I yelled.

They stopped, none died, and I continued on my way.

Later yesterday, as I entered the Columbia gym, I heard that a women's volleyball game was in progress, so I went to watch it. We lost to Dartmouth, but there were some epic rallies and volleys.

I heard multiple spectators yelling, "Sideout!" as an encouragement. I asked one of them what it meant. It used to be that serving and losing on a turn simply meant that the serve for the next turn switched to the other team; the team that hadn't made a mistake won no point, and was said to have "sided out." Now we have "rally scoring," where a point is scored on every turn, and so there's no such thing as siding out. But people still yell "side out," the spectator said, because "there isn't much you can really yell in volleyball. 'Do well'? 'Hit it to the right place'?" I tried out "keep it up," "come on," "go Lions," and the like. He was right.