Tuesday, March 23, 2010

One Man's Journey & Misadvenures of a Weekend ;)

Woosh! Where did the time go? Not just a weekend's worth, but 34 years. Wha? It was quite a ride this weekend past for your humble narrator, oh my  goodly men and gentle ladies.
Let's start more or less at the beginning... well ok, not 34 years ago because that would be just way too long to sit and read in one take. Saturday morning I get up and prep for a 5 hour drive downstate, to meet up with some chums from my High School, and some of their spouses along as well. It was an informal Class Reunion, but we represented three or four years of graduates. I hadn't seen any of these people since back in the day, and some I never knew at all. I moved from Michigan to Ohio right before my Senior year, and so didn't get to graduate with all my friends. I did, however, make new friends at the new school, and walked with them. But after High School, then on to University, then moving around the country (mostly to the West Coast), then finally moving back to Northern Lower Michigan... well I simply lost touch with the old gang.
A few months ago, my dearest High School flame found me on FaceBook, and we renewed a wonderful friendship (isn't it great when Technology actually is a force for the good?). She, and her best buddy (from back in the day, and now) organized a get together, just for giggle and grins. And yes, there was plenty of both at the Event!

So I cruise down to my old stomping grounds, and park myself at Mom's. It's always great to see her, and I love her dearly. My former flame, Faye (not gonna say old... wouldn't be prudent) picks me up, and we're off to a nice, not so little, Pizzeria. People start arriving a bit early, and we gather in the bar to meet and greet, establish old friendships and forge new ones. Our party has a back room, and we swell the ranks to about two dozen people! Probably more, but I really didn't count heads as I was having too much fun! I got to meet some new friends that I didn't know from back then, and of course, we all had a bit of sport to go along with our deep dish pizza and beer.

Faye was a charming, and beautiful "Hostess With the Mostest", along with fellow royalty Casey and Leslie.  I got to be a social butterfly, and talk with a few peeps I remembered, plus meet some FB buddies in the flesh. Fellow StarFleet Commander Jerry, and I, felt it our obligatory duty to tag team on the Royalty in Residence, and keep them in line (yeah.... riiiight).
Alas, however, even Cinderella's Ball had to come to a close, and so did ours. It was still rather early, so Faye and I trundle off to go find a couple of geocaches, in the dark! She had never Geocached, and I've been involved in it for about 9 years now. Sooooo... Mr. Expert Geocacher takes the newbie out, and promptly cannot find either of the caches nearby?! It just figures, huh? But Faye was a gracious sport about it, and seemed to genuinely enjoy our time together. As did I. Soon enough we also need to make a night of it, and so we say our goodbyes, with promises that it won't be another three plus decades before we see each other again.

The next morning, I'm up at the crack of about 10 am or so, and back on the road to home, yea! A beautiful adventure with a really great group of people! Who knew we'd all end up being such a great group back then? Ahh... sweet memories help to fill the five hour trip back upstate where the deer and the antelope play, and where my lovely wife lays waiting.
I toddle in about 3pm, with just barely enough time to shower and shave, change clothes, then back in the car and off to a Red Cross meeting! Barb volunteers to drive (clever girl knew I wasn't going to!), and the meeting was also a fun event. When we get together to schedule who's going to be on call four our county, we tend to make it a social gathering as well. This night featured a Turkey dinner, with all the trimmings! Oh, and a few bottles of wine, just to help the scheduling go down a bit easier. But *finally* we head back to home, well fed, but I'm oh so tired after the last 48 hours! Ahh... now I can finally crash hard, and well deservedly... Up to about 2am when we get a call from (yup, it just had to be) the Red Cross! We're on call, and there's a house fire. So I grudgingly get up, get dressed, and out the door we go. We arrive at the scene to find a trailer, a family, and a couple of Fire Departments. Happily, the family was all safe, and no one was injured. We provide assistance for the family, and get them a hotel for a couple of days, and some also provide for food, and clothing. Which means that, we really, finally, do get home at 6am! And yes, this time it's for real, I do crash, and dream very peacefully.
So... what a weekend, eh? Filled with lots of renewal, laughter, love... and yes some tragedy.  But it was all about Life, and what we do with it. This coming weekend, I think I'll grill some steaks, and read a book.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

March Madness & Mayhem...

This post is dedicated to all you guys n gals, especially abroad, that are scratching your heads and wondering what the "March Madness" is that seems to be infecting so many of your, otherwise what passes for, normal friends?

So, I'll attempt to explain, in easy to use words, the even easier to get concepts, and mystique, of our national craze. (ok, I'll also give a link to the Almighty Gawd of Info, Wiki, here). I haven't read it, so you'll hafta tell me how I do.

Simply put, March Madness ( clever marketing name) is our nation's College Basketball Championship Tournament. It is a round robin, single elimination tournament that stretches for almost a fortnight (that's two weeks to us), and yields a true National Champion. The presiding organization of all College Athletics here is the NCAA. (Often referred to as NC2A) There is a Men's, and a Women's Tournament, and the gals tourney can be as exciting as the men's. I am a big fan of the gals that got game! In some sense, they are even more pure athletes. But I digress. (wow, only took me to my 2nd blog).

Schools all over America (ok, the States to you chums and mates abroad) vie to get into the "Big Dance" here, and it starts with a field of 64. Since it's a "win or go home" scenario, we have clever nicknames for each Round. But being Americans, we don't bother with the first two Rounds *chuckle*. Thus, the Third Round is known as the Sweet Sixteen, then the Elite Eight, then the Final Four, then the Semi, and lastly the Final. See how easy that was? You're practically an expert already.

 I'm not going into the complexities of the games itself, suffice it to say that if you put the ball thru the hoop more times than your opponent, then you win. It's the *how* of putting "the brick" thru the "rim" that becomes so fascinating. And so grueling. It's the history of the schools, and players, that adds so much to the human interest side of the many great stories going on.

Well over 90% of these kids are NOT going to be Professional Basketball Players.  Instead, they are playing, now, for ideas like School Spirit, Team Pride, and Love of Sport. And it shows. This is simply a presentation of some of the best sports, and pure athletes, in the world. Period. You cheer as they win, and cry as they lose, all at the same time.

You revisit old rivalries in College Sports, and see new ones created. You hold your breath as the scrappy, but overwhelmed team from Podunk State becomes the Cinderella Story and advances by actually upsetting Big Whoop University. As if Podunk State had been granted a wish by it's Fairy GodMother. Gonzaga State (real name) is a regular at the "Cinderella Ball". They have been bridesmaids quite a few times, but never the bride.

And there is *always* the "Upset Round"! For no discernible reason,  two, or three, or four underdogs are suddenly smitten by the Basketball Gawdz that be, and are elevated past a vastly superior team. This is usually where most of us that keep track of these things and also upset! *chuckle* Speaking of which, when you hear people talking about how their Boards, or Brackets are doing, that simply means they have filled out a form (either online, or printed out as part of a pool to bet) and are discussing the results.

You can play along on any of several sites, I have Brackets on Yahoo, CBSSportsline, and ESPN. And you can get all sorts of advice on who you should pick, and why. This year, however, I'm going to the top... all the way. Aye yup, watched a video of President Obama. Last year he got trashed in the first round, but then did quite well and picked the eventual winner. Not sure what it means, but he and I agree about the Final Four, and thru the National Champion. We just have a minor parting of the ways as to how to get there. My dear, late, mother, however, would base her picks on who had the prettiest team colors, and the cutest mascot. She beat me every time.

Monday, March 15, 2010

In the Beginning...

Well, maybe not that far back. I've been blogging for a bit in SparkyLand and FakeBook, and have received some very kind words of encouragement to continue. So I'll start my blog n blather in here, and then link to there.. see? Right over there.

If you've come for some wonderful homespun wisdom today, or a great dissertation on the lowly state of politics, or some other answers to the world's many troubles and woes, sorry to disappoint. I'm sure I'll touch on those, and many other subjects when the time comes, but really this blog is here mainly for me to have fun.
Aye yup. It really is all about me *giggle* Well, ok, me and you. It's how we laugh at ourselves and love each other. And all the other stuff that happens along the way. Nothing is so trivial that it doesn't get noticed, nor too important to make fun of. (yes, I did just dangle that preposition).
Perhaps we can all learn a thing or two along the way, and mostly learn about ourselves, and how we can improve upon that! So, with that, now that you've read this particular piece of ilk, since it's a lovely day out there, lets all turn off our computers and go outside to play nicely with each other!