Last weekend, thanks to Kathy‘s willingness to hold the fort, I was able to make my way up to Waco for Baylor’s All-University Sing, a huge show that fraternities, sororities, and other student organizations put on every year and for which my good friends Jason and Barry arrange nearly all the music, in addition to playing in the pit band and building some of the props. Kathy and I went for the first time last year and had a superb time of it, so I was understandably keen to get back. (As I told my boss, “You haven’t lived until you’ve been in a room with thousands of baptists hopped up on sugar and adrenaline seeing their friends go crazy Broadway style!”)
I took off work a bit early to get up there in time, and had to sweet-talk my way past one of the door-guards to get in and find Jason. (“See that guy in the orchestra with a cell phone in his ear? He has my ticket!”) We connected up about 15 minutes before the show began, and he introduced me to Matt, with whom I’d be sitting and who had kindly offered to give me a place to sleep that night. Before long, the lights dimmed, Jason sprinted for the pit, and Matt and I settled in to enjoy the spectacular show.
Matt, as it turns out, is working on his PhD in physics, with a focus on String Theory and Quantum Physics. Our conversation quickly took a technical turn as we talk about his research and programming and simulation concepts. During one of the 6 minute lulls between acts, we had this conversation:
- I wonder how many calories were just expended on that stage.
- I’ll bet we could figure it out.
- Oh, totally. There were, what, about 80 people on stage?
- That sounds about right. And at a good exercise heart rate — say 150 beats per minute or so — people expend about 900 calories an hour.
- Good, so since the acts are about 9 minutes long, we’ll call it 100 calories/person over the course of the act for easy math, so about 8,000 calories per act.
- And for 19 acts, the total would be…ummm…152,000 calories per night, not counting the orchestra or the stage crew.
- That sounds just about right. Excellent!
- Sean & Matt
- [Satisfied pause]
- We are really big nerds.
- Oh yeah. Totally. [beat] And the next stage, of course, is to figure out how much arable land would be required to meet the caloric needs of the show…
After the performance wrapped up, we went to Cricket’s for some chow and a debrief of the show. We told Jason and Barry which acts we liked the best, laughed together about some of the little musical tricks and jokes they’d worked into the arrangements, and recounted highs and horrors of years past. Between the brilliant company and the good food and brew, this was the best part of the evening for me. We then retired to Matt’s house where we talked and banged through a bit of Shadow of the Colossus, a beautiful Playstation game, before falling exhaustedly to sleep. It was a superb time, and left me grateful for such engaged and hospitable friends.
Jason’s blurb on this year’s sing is here.