A different chart

November 7, 2016



Really mad March Madness

March 14, 2011

For sports wackos like me, and especially for sports wackos in and from Syracuse, where we have little else to get excited about, it’s the most wonderful time of the year (sing with Andy Williams voice if necessary). Now that both the men’s and women’s brackets have been filled out, I excitedly went to MSN.com first to print out my brackets. My custom for the men’s tournament is this: I print out the bracket, use a highlighter to mark SU’s path to the championship, fill in the winners each night, and when SU loses, crumple up the sheet into a ball and chuck it into the trash. ūüôā Of course, there was one year where nothing got crumpled. I have that one framed.

Ever since the Maryland women won a national title, turning Duke into itty-bitty overtime blue meatballs, I’ve been printing and filling out both charts. I could not find a printable women’s bracket on FOX Sports, which I consider an oversight. It’s gotta be in there somewhere. However, there is an article with one lonely little comment, as of now anyway, posted by one bennymfan: http://msn.foxsports.com/wcbk/story/NCAA-announces-field-for-2011-womens-basketball-tournament-031411

Now, I’m sure bennymfan has major game to bring. His play in the paint is probably on such an awesome level he didn’t even bring it to the light, lest he make pikers like MJ cower in shame. His rainbowlike three-point shot¬† is a thing of beauty, making grown men like Gerry McNamara cry silky orange tears. And he certainly must have the uncanny ability to penetrate both man and zone defenses like the proverbial knife through butter. Why, otherwise, would he post something so rude on a public message board about some very tough athletes?

Oh, yeah. Because he’s a knuckle-dragging lunkhead.

FOX Sports seems to attract more of the grunting Neanderthal woman-hating type of male sports fan. I doubt that it has anything to do with it being FOX. Sports isn’t the same as news. But I’ve seen some very nasty comments posted there over the years about women’s basketball; the perceived sexual orientation of the players and coaches, as if that mattered; and of women’s sports in general. I wish I could provide a link, for example, to the comment board accompanying the FOX Sports obituary‚ÄĒan obituary, for cripes’ sake!‚ÄĒof Kay Yow two years ago. Turns out FOX Sports archives its articles diligently. All that’s left is a Lexis-Nexis reference: http://msn.foxsports.com/collegebasketball/story/Kay-Yow-delivers-message-to-mourners. But trust me, the commenters as a group seemed more preoccupied with Yow’s sexual orientation than her death, breast cancer, her grieving family and friends, or the void she left at NC State with her passing.

A quick check of other articles relating to the women’s tourney, first of all, was a pain in the tuchas to find, as the articles were buried several links down; and second, have no comments yet, which I would expect if they’re buried where no one can find them. By contrast, right now http://espn.go.com has players from the women’s #1 seeds on the home page. I printed my bracket from there. No relegating women’s sports to oh-yeah-by-the-way status there.

I don’t care to engage bennymfan in a pissing contest, tempting though it is. It does no good. Like the old adage says, never wrestle with a pig (it just gets you dirty and annoys the pig). I just rest easy knowing, even though I’ve never met the guy, that Brittney Griner could kick bennymfan’s ass any day of the week.

I did not know that there were any black characters on Captain Kangaroo until I read the death notice on Wikipedia of Jimmy Wall, who apparently introduced the character of Mr. Baxter in 1968. By then, being a wise and worldly ten years old, I had licked my 10,000-a-day ping-pong ball habit and was on to more weighty matters, such as the dangers of George Wallace running for president and whether the Tigers could hit Bob Gibson.

Anyway, Wall’s death got me to thinking about the show, and Bob Keeshan himself, and one thing I remember reading in his obituary was that he never used the word kids when speaking of his target audience. “They’re not kids, they’re children,” he told an interviewer. From his New York Times obituary: “… he never patronized them and always assumed they were bright and would appreciate him and what he was doing. And so they listened when he talked ….’We have respect for our audience,’ he told Steven V. Roberts in The New York Times in 1965. ‘We operate on the conviction that it is composed of young children of potentially good taste, and that this taste should be developed.’ “

After reading that, I’ve striven to avoid using the word kids when speaking of young people. Kids are baby goats.

Children¬†are also individuals. It’s tempting to lump them all in together as simply members of a group, as it is with black people, Latinos, LGBT’s, etc., but the fact is each child is a separate person with a unique personality. I think that’s what I bristle most at when people ask me why I never had children. “What’s the matter; don’t you like kids?” is a common question.

Besides being offended at the question itself (it really is none of their business), I’m offended at their use of the word kids, as well as their insistence on lumping all children into a group. It really is like saying, “Don’t you like blacks?” or “Don’t you like Hispanics?” And when you get down to it, liking children is not really an issue, since being a child is a temporary condition anyway. If you genuinely don’t like baby humans, have some patience. They’ll grow out of it.

One of the great things about our rights is that, coming from G-d as they do, they’re free. Life? Liberty? Pursuit of happiness? All free. The stuff in the Bill of Rights? Free. You don’t have to pay for the right to free speech. (Please don’t confuse this with the need to pay for devices, such as a printing press or a personal computer, that facilitate your rights. That’s not a need. You can go down to the corner, stand there and yell, “The President is a fink!” without any purchased tools. That’s not only free, but very satisfying.)

The flip side of all this is that if you do have to pay for something, it’s not a right, it’s a good, a commodity. Which is why I’m disappointed, but not one bit surprised, that one of my senators, Ben Cardin, declares access to¬†affordable health care to be a right: http://cardin.senate.gov/news/enews/nov23.cfm

As I’ve said in a prior post, I think Ben Cardin is a pretty smart guy. I know he had a class in Constitutional law as part of his J.D. degree and he knows quite well that health care is not a right, at least not in our Constitution. It’s too bad that he makes it sound like it is. It’s not. Health care is a commodity. In this country, one must pay for it.

It seems that too many people, politicians and others, on the pro-government health care side of the debate are getting two rights confused: the “right” to affordable health care, which is not a right, with the right to not be denied access to a commodity because of intangibles such as¬†the color of your skin, your sex, your native language, or even to which deity you pray. As human beings, we are all equal in human dignity and those G-d-given rights enumerated in the Constitution. That doesn’t mean we are all equally entitled to equal access to the same commodities. If that were the case, I have just as much right to drive a Bentley as Kobe Bryant or Paris Hilton does, and therefore I demand¬†that a Bentley be delivered to my house, tout suite. Can I get it in burgundy?

In my opinion, the best commentators on the monstrosity knows as health-care reform are those elected representatives who also happen to be health care providers. You guessed it, no one “gets” the issue better than Ron Paul:

http://www.house.gov/htbin/blog_inc?BLOG,tx14_paul,blog,999,All,Item not found,ID=100322_3678,TEMPLATE=postingdetail.shtml

Ben Cardin is one of my senators. He’s been one of my elected representatives for fifteen years, either as my U.S. representative or my senator, and been in federal office and state office much longer than that. He’s a smart guy, a nice guy, and has a career of dedication to public service. In other words, he’s pretty much everything that’s wrong with Maryland politics.

I’m not sure how that “red state‚Äďblue state” thing got started, unless is was Dr. Seuss’s contribution to the political discourse. But we have it now, so believe me when I tell you Maryland is one of the deepest blue states in the nation. We have a few Repubs in the public eye‚ÄĒEllen Sauerbrey, Andy Harris, Michael Steele. But as long as I’ve lived in Maryland, we’ve had public officials who’ve made careers out of sincerely believing that government is here to help people. Some of them, like John Sarbanes, are personal acquaintances; others, like Martin O’Malley, Cardin, and Sarbanes’ father,¬†I’ve only had the opportunity to meet and say hello. But they all approach government the same way: the bigger, the better.

In response to an announcement by Spirit Airlines, a mid-range regional carrier, that they would begin charging passengers $45 for each piece of carry-on luggage, Cardin is one of the cosponsors of a particularly meddlesome piece of legislation, S.3195, the Free of Fees for Carry-On Act, which he claims will preserve airline rights but also prevent travelers from being abused with fees. This bill is the essence of government micromanaging our lives.

In my current job, I bet I travel way more often by plane than Cardin does (though he probably travels longer distances). I also bet he doesn’t fly coach, where the overhead bins are a pandemonium dominated by preschool children with their very own wheeled luggage (why? why do four-year-olds need a bag as big as mine?), inconsiderate adults putting their bags in the wrong way and thereby taking up too much space, and still other adults thinking it’s okay for them to put their jackets in the overhead bin so other passengers have no room to put their bags up there. On Southwest, if you don’t have an “A” boarding pass, woe is you; I bet my paycheck there won’t be any room for your bags by the time you board.

Some larger airlines, such as United, are charging for checked luggage. I totally understand the desire to not check luggage, since it may get lost.¬† However, in this day and age, of overhead bins crammed to the gills, I think it should be the other way around. Make checked luggage free,¬†and pay for carry-ons.¬†I suggest that Spirit has the right idea. Don’t want to pay the $45? Check your bag, and leave room for the rest of us who don’t mind paying. Or, I have an even better idea: Don’t want to pay the $45? Don’t fly on Spirit. No one is forcing you to, after all. An added side benefit of this would be that fewer bags to process would mean fewer tie-ups in the TSA lines. (Now, granted, I do think the best solution for tie-ups at TSA lines is to abolish TSA. But I digress.)

S.3195 could come from no other legislator other than a nanny state type. For a bright guy, Mr. Cardin certainly has lost sight of how much easier and, ultimately, better a free-market solution could be.

A final thought: Would a terrorist pay $45 for the privilege of bringing bomb components onboard? I doubt it.

In this article in today’s The Washington Post regarding students who pay more attention to various electronic devices in class than to the¬†class itself,¬† http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/04/24/AR2010042402830.html, Rutgers accounting lecturer J.P. Krahel states that he considers himself responsible for his students’ grades:

“The thing is, I’m responsible for these kids’ grades,” he said. “So it reflects badly on me if they fail. And I’m not going to pull punches; I’m not going to deliberately inflate their grades. But I’m not going to give them the opportunity to shoot themselves in the foot.”

How charming. A professor who ostensibly cares about his students. No, really. It is very nice. Presumably a good quality to have when Krahel finishes his doctorate and enters the tenure track somewhere. I have a better idea: How about teaching them a little personal responsibility?

I had a colleague at one of the universities at which I worked whose favorite shibboleth was, “If the student fails to learn, it’s because the teacher failed to teach.” I always respectfully disagreed with him, and I still do. The degree the student earns stands for knowledge the student possesses. The diploma goes to the student, not to the professor (and also not, parenthetically, to the parents who paid the tuition, which the article implies are also stakeholders in the student’s education). If I go into a, say, tax office and I see the accountant I’m working with has a B.S. or B.B.A. in accounting from Rutgers, I expect the accountant to possess a certain amount of knowledge, not the teacher who taught him. The student is the one who must take responsibility for the task of learning, analyzing, and, ultimately, knowing.

So, to Mr. Krahel, soon to be Dr. Krahel: Go ahead and give your kids a few Fs. They’ll get the¬†idea‚ÄĒquick.

Consider the following opinion column run last week in The Washington Post:


It’s too bad comments are closed for this item, because I have one other thing to say to those statist who applauded the efforts of Big Government to stifle marketing and advertising aimed at children. There was a lot of discussion noise revolving around whether Froot Loops and Twinkies are bad for you. Well, no shit, Sherlock. That’s not the point. The point is: Just because something is¬†bad for you does not mean it’s good for Big Government¬†to prevent you from doing it. This is¬†the flaw of a statist’s thinking.

The same thing is true in reverse. Just because something is¬†good for you does not mean it’s a good idea for Big Government¬†to coerce or force you to do it. As I posted back in the fall, what if the government had declared it mandatory to consume heroin, based on the glowing declarations of physicians of 100 years ago?

Happily, there were many rejoinders from the flip side which basically said: do some parenting. I know my mother certainly did when we were children. To all the moaners and hand-wringers who curse Kellogg’s, Post Cereals, Hostess, Skittles,¬†etc. for daring to advertise on Saturday morning TV, or place their product on the lower shelves of the grocery store, I suggest using some of my mother’s techniques for deflating our hopes. Mom, if you’re reading this, thank you.

“We’re not getting that.”

“You don’t need that.”

“We don’t need that.”

“Forget it, we’re not buying it.”

And my personal favorite: “You got money?”

I admit it: I occasionally read USA Today. They have a stronghold on hotel distribution. And I don’t read the whole thing. Usually I look at the sports section first, especially during college basketball season; and I look at the news section and the opinion pages. Their editorials often display a surprisingly libertarian slant on current events. During the Bush regime administration, their “opposing view” opinion often came from an apparatchik such as Jim DeMint, Tom Coburn, Ari Fleischer, Douglas Kmiec, or Herr Karl Rove himself.

But I digress. A headline in today’s print edition caught my eye: http://www.usatoday.com/tech/webguide/internetlife/2010-02-10-1Asocialbacklash10_CV_N.htm¬†As I read the article, all I could think of was: At last, someone agrees with me.

I don’t need to try something in order to know it’s not for me. The whole premise of Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace bothers me: that I need to have my whole life on display for the whole world to peruse. Twitter is especially annoying. What am I doing right now? Well, I don’t care what you’re doing right now. Why should I expect you to care what I’m doing right now? What incredible hubris one must have to make that assumption.

Every person should be able to decide what the appropriate level of public exposure is for them. And make no mistake, it’s public. One should always assume that if it’s on the public Internet, someone can find it. A couple of years ago, a client showed me some drunken party pics of a coworker of mine on MySpace. The client and the drunken coworker had a mutual acquaintance who was also a colleague of mine.

Consider the following:

  • If¬†the info is¬†on the Web, someone could use it to fashion a persona patterned after me. They don’t need my national identification number Social Security number to use my identity.
  • Throughout my life, I’ve never been the one to do something because “everyone is doing it.” In fact, “everyone is doing it” is the best way to dissuade me from doing pretty much anything.
  • I’m already on Yammer, a secure¬†intranet version of Twitter, and hardly ever use it. What makes me think I would use Twitter? Besides, 140 characters is not enough for me to say what I have to say.
  • My friends, both personal and professional, know where to look for me. They have my e-mail, some of them are linked to me professionally on LinkedIn, and some of them even come here. Hell, some of them even have…dare I say it?…my phone number.
  • The article tells the story of several people who say they simply don’t have the time any more. In addition to all the necessary computer interaction one has in a day, the social networking sites take up even more of your time, time that could be considered discretionary time just as the money you have left over after paying bills is your discretionary income.¬† Unlike money, though, everyone gets the same 24 hours in a day, and no one can create more time where none exists.
  • If a person can find info on me, so can the government.

So all in all, I think that between this blog, my e-mail addresses, and Yammer, I have just the right amount of public exposure for me. Love Facebook? Fine. Just don’t castigate me because I don’t.

I decided to put this in a separate post because my war story was getting too complicated.

Men, what makes you think that if a doctor sticks a single finger up your ass, attempting to perform procedures that might save your life, you’re being violated…but we women, who have no prostate, should want something much bigger up our asses?

I’m tired of hearing you guys whine about colonoscopies. Boo fucking hoo. The instrument that goes in your rectum is smaller than a finger. So don’t you dare¬†ask for anal sex from me unless and until you can say and prove¬†you are not afraid of a prostate exam or a colonoscopy.

By the way, in my last post I mention an ultrasound on my left ovary. You know how they do that? With a vaginal probe. Basically, it’s a big vibrator attached to the ultrasound machine. Now, that’s entertainment! This thing is slightly bigger than a Hitachi Magic Wand (http://www.hitachi-magic-wand.com/shop/HitachiMagicWand/, widely considered to be the Rolls-Royce of vibrators), and the technician lubes¬†it up and lets the patient put it in. After you insert it, she grabs the things and shifts it like the gearshift on a Porsche Boxster. You think that’s comfortable? Guys, trust me, it’s not. If she hits the ovary the wrong way, or if there’s an ovarian cyst, one of the reasons you might need this procedure, it can be anywhere from uncomfortable to downright excruciating. So I don’t want to hear about the doctor’s finger. Boo fucking hoo.

I was having some problems in 2003 that I thought certainly meant ovarian cancer. Naturally, I was going batshit, but after two doctors and a technician with the ultrasound machine told me the ovary looked  normal, I had to go looking elsewhere for the problem. The resulting  colonoscopy experience would have made a great Seinfeld episode. After an office exam by the GI doctor, I scheduled the thing for 6/5/03, a  Friday, at 9 in the morning. Since I was working at CompUSA at the time, which meant being in front of a classroom every day, there was no way I could have gone in to work during the prep phase. So I took June 4 and 5 off and began the prep.

For those of you who haven’t done this, the prep starts out with, not an enema as you might imagine, but a four-ounce bottle of Fleet PhosphoSoda, which is a very concentrated solution of monobasic¬†and dibasic¬†sodium phosphates which up until recently was an over-the-counter product. (I learned that last year, PhosphoSoda became prescription-only. Apparently the possibility of renal damage exists: http://www.phosphosoda.com/pdfs/DDL%20for%2015%20Dec%202008.pdf¬† Nice. That’s just fucking spiffy. I guess if I had had¬†renal damage, I would have noticed by now…maybe?)¬†By the way, what is it with Fleet? Enemas, oral laxatives?? I see on their web site their slogan is “Providing Care and Compassion for Your Family.” Maybe it should be: “Fleet. We’re Obsessed with Your Ass.”

Anyway, that Fleet PhosphoSoda is the Nastiest. Shit. Ever. It said on the package “lemon ginger flavor,” but folks, it’s not a cocktail mixer. Maybe it should be. Maybe a¬†shot of Malibu would have gotten it down better. Maybe a shot of 10W40 motor oil would have gotten it down better.¬†It took me,¬†literally, fifteen minutes to get down two ounces. A colleague at¬† Camden Yards suggested I mix it with ginger ale rather than water. I¬†neglected his advice and was very sorry. It was effective, however.¬† After an hour I was squirting jets of water that could have hosed down¬†the side of a house. (Another Camden Yards colleague had¬†warned me,¬† “You’ll be able to hit a pinpoint target at 20 feet.” He was right.¬†Don’t ask me why I share intimate details of my ass with my baseball¬†colleagues, as I am not quite sure myself.)
That afternoon I received a bill from the GI doctor, and called the¬†office to ask them a question about it. The gal who answered the phone said, “Where are you?”¬†

“I’m at home, doing the prep.” (In my head I was thinking, where the¬†fuck do you think I am, having to hit the head every five minutes??)

“You’re supposed to be here.”

“No, my appointment is for tomorrow.”

“No,” she replied, “your appointment is for today. The 4th.”¬†


I looked at my book and sure enough, I had put the appointment¬†sticker on the wrong square on the calendar. “Well, I’m doing the prep¬†now,” I said. “Any way he can squeeze me in tomorrow? I can’t take any¬†more days off from work.”

She looked at his appointments and told me I could come in on the 5th¬†for a 1:30 procedure. So what that did was add another 4 1/2 hours I¬†had to go without food and water. Yuk. Oh,¬†I forgot¬†to add,¬†adding insult to injury, you cease all food after 7 pm, and all liquids after midnight. Also, you take a Dulcolax¬†tablet before going to bed. I was thinking at that point, what the hell for? There’s nothing left in there. Later it occurred to me it was simply a bowel relaxant at that point, but while I was taking it it sure sounded like gilding the lily, as it were.

So the next day I walk over to Mercy Hospital, over on St. Paul¬†Street, with all the strength I could muster, and they get an IV in¬†me, what a relief that was. “So! A day late and a dollar short,¬†literally,” the doctor says to me. He’s actually a nice¬†guy, just a¬†smart ass, so I let¬†him get away with it. It was my fault, after all.¬† Then we do the procedure. I had wanted to stay awake a la Katie¬†Couric, but after the fentanyl drip all I remember is the nurse¬†saying, “Okay, you’re going to feel the rectal swab;” something cold and wet on my butt (could have been a rectal swab, could have been a¬†dog’s nose, at that point I didn’t really care); and then the doctor¬†saying, “OK, kid, you’re clean, beat it, I’ll see you in ten years.”

I’m actually sorry I missed it.
The there was the issue of getting home. Mercy Hospital insists you¬†have a trusted person take you home. In your narcotic-impaired state,¬†they will not let you walk. They will not let you take a cab or public¬†transportation. (They must have had a lawsuit, I figure.) I’m so used¬†to being independent, this is a problem for me. I had to hang out for¬†a couple of hours to wait for Lewis to get off work so he¬†could come and take me home. He took me to a coffee bar over in¬†Federal Hill and I tried to eat a panini.