March 16th, 2003


Best laid plans

Yesterday was jenelope's birthday. It was also spazdog's birthday. On Friday afternoon I made birthday pictures for them, intending to post them on Saturday. And of course I was off-line all day yesterday. Darn! I hope they'll forgive me.

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  • Current Music
    Jackson Browne - "The Pretender"


I'd like to take this opportunity to confirm that my boycott of the NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments remains in effect.

On the men's side, the NCAA is once again denying a spot in the national tournament to a team that won its conference title. It used to be that all the conference champions earned a bid to the national tournament, but a few years ago, following the creation of a thirty-first Division I athletic conference, the NCAA started forcing the two conference champions with the worst records to compete against one another for the right to play in the tournament. This year, either UNC-Ashville or Texas Southern will be denied their rightful place in the tournament because of this blatantly unfair rule.

Granted, UNC-Ashville probably doesn't deserve to be in the tournament, because they ended the season with a losing record, and only qualified for the NCAA tourney by pulling off an improbable series of upsets to win the Big South tournament. Nevertheless, they won, so they should be allowed their chance to be eliminated in the first round.

The real loser, though, is Winthrop University. Winthrop ended the season with a very respectable 20-10 record. But then they lost by one point in overtime to UNC-Ashville in the Big South tournament, and since Winthrop is not a big-name college from a big-name conference, they were denied an at-large bid. Meanwhile, big-name colleges from big-name conferences that ended the season with worse records than Winthrop, such as Maryland (19-9), Alabama (17-11) and Arizona State (19-11), did get invitations.

The NCAA women's tournament does include all the conference champions, but it's equally unfair in its own way. Unlike the men's tournament, which schedules its games at neutral sites, the opening rounds of the women's tournament have historically been played on the home courts of the highest-seeded teams. This, of course, gives the home teams a unfair advantage.

To their credit, the NCAA has taken steps this year to rectify this inequity. For example, the number one seed in the west regional is Louisiana State University, and where in past years they almost certainly would have played their first round game in Baton Rouge, they're playing this year in Eugene, Oregon, which is a neutral site for all teams in that bracket. And in some cases, the games are being played on the home court of a low-seeded team. For example, Old Dominion is seeded 12th in the east, but they'll play their first round game (against no. 5 Boston College) at home. That's not fair to BC, of course, but it's less unfair than if ODU had to play BC in Boston.

So until the NCAA ends these discriminatory practices, I will continue to boycott the tournaments.
  • Current Music
    Scott Baldwin - "Freddie"

I've got blisters on me fingers toes!

Saturday morning dawned sunny and mild, but I was not in a position to enjoy it. I had a chorus rehearsal first thing in the morning, and afterwards I had to spend a couple of hours at home in the early afternoon waiting for the exterminator. But as soon as I was able I hopped in my car, rolled down the window, and drove up to Point of Rocks, Maryland, to take a walk on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal towpath.

It was a gorgeous day for a walk, but the trail was largely deserted. I saw someone down by the river fishing, and I could see someone about a quarter of a mile in front of me. Eventually, the person in front of me stopped, took out a pair of binoculars, and started studying the trees above him intently. When I caught up with him, I was surprised to find he was a friend of mine from church. He was in search of an eagle's nest he had spied from the window of the MARC commuter train, which runs parallel to the canal between Point of Rocks and the Monocacy River. The eagle was nowhere to be seen, unfortunately, but he admitted that looking for the nest was as much an excuse to get out of the house as anything else. I can respect that.

After a brief chat with my friend, he turned back to the parking lot and I continued down the trail. I had no destination or distance goal in mind; my plan had always been to walk out until the CD in my portable player ended, then turn around. I expected to cover about 2.5 to three miles, but the CD turned out to be shorter than I expected, and I had gone only 2.3 miles when it ended. I took a break on a convenient log, then returned to my car. Still, 4.6 miles is a respectable distance, I think.

Unfortunately, I developed a blister on my foot right between my third and fourth toes. That a particularly uncomfortable place for a blister, not to mention one that's difficult to bandage. But I think it was worth it. March days like yesterday are a rare treat, and a blister is a small price to pay for such a nice afternoon.
  • Current Music
    Songs from North Africa - "from Egypt"
mene mene tekel upharsin, religion


I am slowly working on a new set of icons. Most of my recent icons have been based on comic strips, but when I'm done with this project, they'll all be based on photographs. Why? I don't know, why not?

This is my new icon for posts about religion. The picture was taken in October 2000 in Harper's Ferry, West Virginia. The church in the picture is located high atop a bluff overlooking the town. It's a striking sight, and never fails to impress me when I see it. The text is a line from the song "Light of the World," from the Stephen Schwartz musical Godspell.
  • Current Music
    Willie Bobo - "Fried Neck Bones and Some Home Fries"

A poor excuse to pick a man's pocket every 17th of March

I'm not Irish, I'm not Catholic, and I'm not going to pretend I'm not an Anglo-Saxon Protestant just because it happens to be the feast day of the cult of St. Patrick.

However, if you happen to venerate St. Patrick, or if you just want to ponder the historical context behind this excuse to dress in unflattering shades of green and drink green beer, you may be interested to learn a bit about the patron saint of Ireland. Sounds like a good guy, but I have no doubt that if he were here, he'd tell everyone to stop horsing around and go feed the poor or something.
  • Current Music
    Dave Carter & Tracy Grammer - "i go like the raven"