Saturday, March 19, 2011

I'm 4,498,081st!

In the same way I like to dabble with games of chance at a casino every few years, so too do I enjoy filling out an NCAA men's basketball tournament bracket each March, in the hopes I will win. Back in my offices, that was possible, but when competing against millions and millions of fans on ESPN, my hope isn't to win, it's simply to move up the ranks.

And throughout the past two days I moved steadily up from about 4.7 millionth to, at best, somewhere around 2.5 millionth. But by the end of the first round, I was back down to about 4.5 millionth. The good news is that all my Final Four teams are still in it.

I'm not a sports fan, but I did go to both Duke and UNC, which are schools that are very interested in and very successful at basketball. So I like to follow their successes and failures each year. And through my moves around the country, I've adopted other state-related affiliations that interest me. I was very excited a few years ago, for example, when Texas A&M-Corpus Christi made it into the tournament for the first time. Good for them, I say! They lost in the first round, as was expected, since they were a #15 seed, if memory serves.

Incidentally, I'm constantly asked whether I root for Duke or UNC, and the genuine answer is that I equally root for both. It's true. And if they play each other, I just hope it's an exciting game. I guess I'm a total weirdo.

Although I've downloaded a free app that lets me watch any game live, I really only take advantage of that feature if I notice that a score is close and there are a few minutes left. Other than that, the game doesn't particularly interest me.

Last night, I watched a few games with a group of folks with connections to the schools that were playing -- KU, Illinois, and UNC (for me). None of these games were close, but I had a super fun time. To amuse ourselves during commercials and slow points, we made up our own non-basketball brackets and passed them around, picking things like favorite movies, favorite bands, favorite onomatopoeias, and which of various awful afflictions we'd prefer to have (i.e. being wrongfully convicted of murder vs. being fugly and alone with terminal cancer). The most pleasant and thought-provoking of our mini-tournaments, pictured, led us into a nice discussion about love vs. happiness. As you can see, we picked happiness.

Note in this picture, too, that I had tea. I'm staying true to my sobriety vow, even in situations where drinking is integral and most other people are imbibing. Today is Day 35. I'm very happy with how things are going. I've discovered St. Pauli N.A.; I don't think I'd had a non-alcoholic beer since maybe sipping an O'Douls for fun like 10 years ago, so I assumed the worst, but it's refreshing actually. I also have discovered that when you're a non-drinker among drinkers at a bar, you may very well get those drinks for free, being deemed a responsible designated driver. I've also enjoyed the startlingly pleasant surprise of dinner bills of around $10 instead of the usual $20. Go figure -- abstinence has its perks. And it doesn't really have any drawbacks.

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