Sunday, March 27, 2011

Not so much mad as CRAZY!

"March madness" continues with the NCAA "road to the final four" being littered with the "bodies" of fallen "sure things."  (Ah, four sets of quotation marks in one sentence; my own personal-worst record.)  Butler buttered Florida's popcorn and Connecticut used a butter knife to smear Arizona on toast.  Kentucky totally bitch-slapped North Carolina.   The Jayhawks (rock chalk) of the University of Kansas played Virginia Commonwealth who made the team from Lawrence look like farmboys who'd never been to the big city; the Kansas fans were stunned and one of the players was crying.  Do I care?  Not so much.

I got myself into two tournaments as they were free.  I'd never done this before and amazingly still ended up with 5.8% of the players worse than me.  What does this say?  It says that I still suck but there are those who suck harder.  Strangely, for the women's tournament, where my ignorance was at 99%, I fared better, but only by one percentage point.   It also proves that wagering on this sort of thing is way dopey unless there is a general pool and you pick a team at random and go with your selection, not your choice.  I checked how I did in the second pool and the term lower than a cellar holds true.  Trying to pick winners when one is ignorant is not very smart; trying to pick winners when one knows what is going on is also not very smart.


Spring has come to Chicago and it has been below freezing for days and days.  I am sick of it.  What will I do about it?  Answer this: if YOU can control the weather, please contact me at and we can converse.  Seriously.  I have questions.


The NFL is locked out or closed down or the owners are not speaking to the players and vice versa which may affect the opening of the season which happens in the summer when it is hottest.  Millionaires and zillionaires fussing and fighting over money and the zillionaires don't care if the millionaires put their long-term health on the line for them and that they, the zillionaires, need to come up with some sort of extended health plan for those who bring them so much loot while in the prime of their lives.  A long sentence to tell the owners to just cough it up or go with Lingerie Football Leagues.  Y'all like the jiggly babes in little outfits anyway so stop pretending.  But then, ah, I don't know what I am talking about, now do I?  And what would the Pocket Square Guys do about the lack of stats?  "The longest run by a blond in a push-up bra and thong"?  What would they say if all the players had such serious cramps they had to just stay home?  Nothing, I surmise.  There would be confusion with terms like "super-heavy flow," and "extra-strength Ibuprofen."  Heaven forbid the quarterback got pregnant; their heads would expode!  Ultimately, they would need to call their wives at the break for explanations; the wives would tell them they should have paid attention and that would be correct.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

It's March. I'm mad.

In keeping with the theme of not knowing much of anything, I signed up for a couple of free contests online to predict the outcome of the men's and the women's NCAA tournaments and am doing about the same on both of them, i.e. I won't be on TV and my name and picture won't be in the paper, but I didn't totally embarrass myself either.  If I were to just do nothing but pay close attention all year long to every college hoops game, the result would probably be about the same.  I say Ohio State and the University of Kansas will play the final game and the Jayhawks (rock chalk) will be victorious.  Michigan State was beaten by UCLA in the first round but the Lady Spartans could still tear it up so again I urge go Green!  Go White!


Isn't life filled with surprises?  For me it was shingles.  I don't sit around and feel crappy for an extended period of time.  I feel crappy as I assess the type and firmness of the crap and then call my doctor and let him have a look at me.  On Friday morning when I showed him what was causing me considerable pain he said, "Oh, you've got shingles."  He was happy the diagnosis was so quick.  I was happy it wasn't necrotizing fasciitis.  And do let me share with you all:  ouch.

Shingles is caused by the chicken pox virus that lies dormant in each of us who has had it until it is triggered again, usually by an illness, lack of rest, or stress.  When he added stress to the list, I said, "That's it!"  I am not eligible for the shingles vaccination for another five years but even if I'd gotten it, it wouldn't totally prevent shingles but merely lessens the severity of the outbreak.  I can still get flare-ups that aren't accompanied by any pox-like lesions.  My outbreak isn't as bad as that of some friends, but it's bad enough, and pretty unpleasant.  I am not supposed to be around babies, pregnant women, chemotherapy patients, or anyone with a compromised immune system.  I'm taking anti-viral horse pills that will do nothing more than lessen the severity of the outbreak.  It feels like a very large burn that doesn't want to stop burning.  I am, however, in pretty good spirits which helps.  As I look toward the work week and being there for five stress-filled days, I am very thankful for my good spirits.


This past week, there was a Blackhawks game one day and a Bulls game the next.  The Blackhawks fans continued in the spirit of politeness and good manners.  The Bulls fan screamed, carried on, and drew as much attention to themselves as possible while all crowded into the bus shelter, inconveniencing the commuters who were trying to get buses to go home.  My favorite question to the various drivers:  "Where is the number 19 bus?"  The bus driver doesn't know that.  He is driving another bus line entirely.  They needed to act right and not get in the way of people who simply want to get home after a long day.  Are they such savages at home?  If not, then maybe they need to blow off some steam once in a while because that was the Festival of Boneheads.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

March Madness, dual champs, criminal hit, and reverse commuting woes

It is here, ladies and gentlemen:  March Madness, when men's college basketball goes viral in every nook and cranny of these United States and illegal gambling, i.e. office pools, flourish.  The committee met in Indianapolis and they looked at head-to-head factors, performance factors, and playing factors and, long story short, Michigan State University, headed by Tom Izzo who is going for the 14th time, is IN and will play UCLA on Thursday in Tampa.  Ohio State, number one in the country, of course got in and, yeah, the University of Michigan but I don't care about them.  Go Spartans; go green; go white.

I have been so bold as to register for a NCAA basketball beat-the-sportscaster contest.  Stay tuned to see how sensationally bad picks can be.


The Chicago Bulls are headed to the playoffs and Derek Rose could get his first MVP award.  The Chicago Blackhawks are now in fourth place and could be heading to the playoffs, too.  The ultimate in excitement would be if the Hawks and the Bulls win their respective championships the same year.  The city would be nuts and I would be quite giddy.  To make one even giddier:  it could happen!

Air Canada is a major sponsor of the NHL but after a major hit on a Montreal Canadiens player, they are urging the league to cut down on violence in professional hockey.  A criminal investigation was begun over this same hit which resulted in a concussion and a fractured vertebra.  A hit like that is what scientists at Boston University are trying to prove is a root cause of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).  Air Canada is a huge international carrier whose sponsorship would be sorely missed.

Read the NY Times article:


It has been well documented by me that I work in a train station in downtown Chicago and daily face a reverse commute into the face of those trying to get to work and then get home.  Because the city is rebuilding part of North/South Wacker Drive, the buses have been rerouted and those of us who take a bus or walk going east have been forced to come face to face with people walking five or six across as we try to exit the same building they want to enter or walking five or six abreast on the Madison Bridge as they approach the bridge.  On Thursday, there were quite a few older people -- dressed nicely and walking more slowly or with canes -- mixed into the crowd being every bit as aggressive as the regular crew of commuters.  I'd never imagined that walking aggression could come in a slower moving package that is supported by a cane, but new things happen constantly.  What the heck, we wondered, and who are they?  It's not Christmas so they are not shoppers.  When we stepped outside and there was a positive gaggle of more of the same, I said, "Matinee at the opera."  Sure enough, a few were brandishing their Lyric Opera playbills.  This forced me to reassess.  It seems the Blackhawks fans are the most polite ones.  They let us leave the building (of course, they are leaving the building, too) and they don't walk six abreast in the middle of a wide corridor.  That the opera-goers were so aggressive was a revelation; they are hyperfocused on getting a train and you best not be getting in their way either.  So opera fans and others, please note:  we just want to get home, too.  We are not there for your inconvenience but, rather, because it is the quickest route home for us, just like walking five abreast is for you.

Try an experiment.  As you walk with great purpose to the train, turn around and walk back into the throng.  You'll see how we feel.    When transmogrification is invented, this will no longer be a problem.  Inventors!  Get busy!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Getting to Carnegie Hall and to the NBA playoffs have something in common

Practice, practice, practice.  That's how you get to Carnegie Hall and that's how you get to the NBA playoffs.   The Chicago Bulls just won a game that swept the series against the Miami Heat; the Heat with the alleged holy three of basketball; the Heat who cannot seem to be cohesive.  In other words:  neener, neener, neener, egomaniacs, the Bulls creamed your corn.

Whevever I watch highlights of any basketball game, I am often impressed with the passing game at the hoop.  It is insane!  How did that guy know to send it to that guy and that guy to the other guy and the other guy to the fourth guy, who gets a basket?  Practice and a good coaching staff that makes them run drills all season long and play and shoot and shoot and play so that whatever comes up, they can handle it.  The Bulls are a tight unit and each man knows what the others do best and play accordingly and full-out.

The Heat has three supernova stars of the NBA galaxy.  Supernova is a good term because they are exploding with something that isn't a team.  Someone needs to take the team, especially Mr. James, sit them down, and say, "Our practices need to be like we mean them.  If you want to win, you need to put aside any ego, and play together.  Play like an army platoon, where people might not like each other but their lives depend on cohesion.  Leave your ego in your streetclothes.  Play cohesively to win."

In other words, play like the Bulls, the NBA superstars of teamwork.


My Oscar predictions yielded a correctness factor of 80%!  What did I miss?  I had the snack before the Oscars and was too full to ingest anything more.  If you haven't seen "How To Train Your Dragon," "The Social Network,"  "Toy Story 3," or "The King's Speech," race right over to Netflix and rent it but it is preferred that you dash to the movie theatre to take one of them in.  Yeah, fine, wait for the rental option but remember that movies are made for something wider than my 19" TV.  If you have the room for (and can afford) something more massive, well, hoo hoo for you, but a movie wasn't made for that screen either.


Bob Probert died last year at the ago of 45.  He was in the NHL for 16 years, playing for the Detroit Red Wings and the Chicago Blackhawks, and was named to the NHL All-Star team in the 1987-88 season.  Boston University (BU) researchers have found evidence of chronic degenerative encephalopathy (CTE) in the late Probert's brain tissue.  Probert's brain was donated to the BU Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy by his family following his wishes.   After watching the 60 Minutes report on CTE, he told his wife he wanted to make sports safer for their children.

CTE is the only known preventable cause of dementia.