Category Archives: March Madness

March Madness or Gladness?

It’s that time of year!

It’s that time of year!

What a wonderful, long weekend of NCAA basketball upsets we just had! March Madness once again lives up to its name.

With the Mister and our younger son out of town at a disc golf tournament, I didn’t have to share the big-screen Samsung with anyone. Which meant I could work the remote (switching among all four TV stations the games were on) and, especially, the mute button (hate those AT&T commercials with suit guy and the little kids!) as much as I pleased.

It was sheer bliss!

Well, except when my alma mater Illinois failed to knock off Miami last night. Not that I had the Illini winning in my bracket, but I would’ve loved if they had busted it.

Hate all those green X’s.

Hate all those green X’s.

Speaking of brackets, here’s mine so far. Woeful prognostication! Despite that, though, I’m looking very good in the competition against the Mister, the kid, and eight others, mostly because I’m the only one with my Final Four still playing.

Of course, that doesn’t mean that they’ll live to see Atlanta. But I remain hopeful.

Meanwhile, the Mister is practically out of the competition, because he went with his heart instead of his head and picked Gonzaga to win the title. I didn’t think they’d even make the Final Four.

The real excitement for the three of us, though, is how well Florida Gulf Coast is playing. A relatively new school, this no-name has won two games and is the first 15th seed to make the Sweet 16! Why do we care?

We’ve dropped a few bucks in a random tournament squares pool. Three of our teams—Virginia Commonwealth, Creighton, and South Dakota State—have returned to their studies. But our fourth team is FGCU! I had never heard of them and figured that VCU might be our best shot. But so far FGCU is giving us points.

Maybe we’ll break even for a change!

If It’s March, Then There’s Madness

Whoever coined the term “March Madness” was quite prophetic: When your NCAA basketball bracket gets busted, you can’t help but be mad!

Or in my case, when your bracket gets annihilated and blown to bits.

As usual, our family has its own NCAA basketball pool. I was the champion prognosticator two years ago, while the Mister snagged the top accolade last year. This time the Mister will be dethroned for one simple reason: He didn’t fill out a bracket. The #2 son, who is our pool master, kept reminding him, but he was nursing a bad cold and missed the deadline.

Not that I feel sorry for him at all . . . well, except that I really wanted to beat him. Isn’t that what those marriage vows were all about: “Love, honor, and compete fiercely for the title of top family NCAA basketball bracketologist?”

Georgia Tech and Ohio State battle in the second round.

My #2 son takes filling out his bracket very seriously. He scopes out the odds on, weighing the pros and cons of each team before deciding. Meanwhile, my #1 son mostly just picks the higher-seeded team. As for me, I try to choose as many upsets as possible (we get extra points for those) and select more winners according to my heart than my head. Which always gets me in trouble.

Like with the University of Houston, the Mister’s alma mater. I went with my heart and penciled in the Cougars for two upset specials. So, of course, they lost in the first round. #2, who is a huge UH fan, didn’t pick them at all . . . smart boy! I did manage to snag two upsets: Washington over Marquette and Old Dominion over Notre Dame. But, like so many people, I missed most of the key shockers. Northern Iowa, where in the world have you been hiding?!?

Right now #1 is leading me by one point and his younger brother by two. I would seem to be in a good position. But my brackets are in shambles (I’m talking about you, Kansas and Villanova!). I had Villanova and Kansas in the Final Four, with KU winning the entire kit and kaboodle. #2 opted for Syracuse to win it all, so he might have the best chance to be crowned as our family’s top prognosticator.

We’re looking forward to two more interesting weekends of March Madness!

Love the Basketball, Hate the Commercials

I’m sick of the Capital One ads!

I could watch the NCAA tournament for hours . . . and I do. My two BFFs when I’m in my chair with my feet up on the ottoman? My MacBook for surfing the web and the mute button on the remote.


Why the mute button? Because the commercials are repetitious and inane . . . and driving me insane!

Southwest Airlines’s commercial is the most-obnoxious one.

The worst of the bunch has to be Southwest Airline’s “Bags Fly Free” commercial. It was awful the first time I saw it; it grates on my nerves every time it’s on. You’ve never seen anyone hit the mute button so fast!

These stupid, annoying commercials just add to my March Madness!

What’s in the Clouds?

9342-cloudsOr rather who is in the clouds?

As you can see, I’ve changed my header photo for April. I took the photo, because I saw a face in the clouds on the right side. Whose face is it? Comment and let me know what you think!

March Madness ends tonight

Does it really matter who wins the NCAA men’s basketball title? Really? The Mister beat me out for top family prognosticator with his North Carolina pick (he has them winning the championship). His first question? “What do I win?”

“It was for pride,” I said. He seemed unimpressed. I would’ve been thrilled to have won. Darn you, Villanova!

Sportline ThinQ pedometer

Sportline ThinQ pedometer

Steppin’ out

The #2 son had an important disc golf tournament this weekend, Texas States at Tom Bass Park in Pearland. I tagged along with him for 18 holes Saturday afternoon and 24 holes Sunday morning taking photos. But I added something to my usual equipment of the Nikon D300 and beloved Nikon 70-200mm lens . . . a Sportline ThinQ pedometer. I’ve always wondered how many steps we take during these tournaments, and now I know: About 10,000 for 18 holes and 14,000 (about six miles) for 24 holes. Aren’t you glad I’m always willing to take the blog hit in the name of technology?

Pearland's presidential fever

Pearland's presidential fever

More Pearland presidents

More Pearland presidents

Mini Mt. Rushmore plus

Pearland ain’t anywhere close to Mt. Rushmore, but when you drive down Hwy. 288 just past Beltway 8 and look to your right, there in a field literally in the middle of nowhere are presidential heads. Six of ’em, just sitting there enjoying the view of cars whizzing by day and night. Apparently, this is the planned Presidential Park and Gardens WaterLights District . When it’s done, 42 of our presidents will be watching the highway. And people like me will be driving down the feeder road, (safely) stopping, and taking photos.

Why is the first President George Bush among this first set of presidents? This is Texas, y’all. That’s how we roll.

A good upshot by #2

A good upshot by #2

Speaking of disc golf . . . .

Did you really think I wasn’t going to mention how #2 did at the tournament? Out of the 36 in the recreational division (33 were adults), #2 had a tremendous final round (second best in the division) and moved up nine places to finish tied for 11th! He won $63 in plastic (discs, that is). I managed to keep my photographic focus mainly on the disc golf action. Mainly but not always, of course.

Those cute purple wildflowers

Those cute purple wildflowers!

Another College Visit

#1 son should be used to posing by now!

#1 son should be used to posing by now!

Saturday the #1 son, who you may recall is a high school junior, and I drove northeast 167 miles one way to visit Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, which is in the piney woods of east Texas. Or “Naco-nowhere,” as it’s sometimes called. It is out in the middle of nowhere, suddenly popping up as you drive down Business 59. Nacogdoches is a quaint village, billing itself as the oldest town in Texas. But we weren’t visiting as tourists; we were there to see the third college possibility for #1.

new-6026-azaleaThe event we were there for was SFA’s Saturday Showcase for high school juniors and seniors. It was a great chance to see the campus and all it has to offer. The SFA administrators are no dummies—they scheduled the event at the perfect time to show off their campus, which is lined with hundreds if not thousands of azalea bushes.

Bluebonnets aren’t the only harbinger of spring in Texas; azaleas are in full bloom at the same time, and they’re gorgeous! Every March I look forward to the azaleas blooming, so I loved walking on a campus where there was a veritable rainbow of colors at every turn. The surly #1 son couldn’t be bothered with even noticing the beauty all around him, of course. I had brought my Nikon D300 and my Nikon 105mm macro lens anticipating a great photo op, and I wasn’t disappointed.

A campus awash in color!

A campus awash in color!



This is just a minute sampling of all the different azaleas we saw on SFA’s campus. We also viewed the requisite statue of the big guy himself, Stephen F., aka the father of Texas. I wonder what he would think if he knew he had a university named after him, as well as a city and any number of streets.

6038-tb-sfaIn a nutshell, SFA’s campus is really pretty. Small but pretty. It has almost 12,000 students, and I can see why so many of them love their school.

Driving back the 167 miles, the #1 son and I chatted about the schools we had seen. It looks like we’ve taken a Goldilocks and the Three Bears approach to finding the college that fits him best: One was too big (University of Texas at Austin), one was too small (Stephen F. Austin), and one was just right (University of Texas at San Antonio). Yes, #1 has decided he wants to matriculate at UTSA. Its music technology certificate was a big selling point for him, just what he needs to help him with his future songwriting career. I’m going to keep an open mind just in case he changes his mind, but for now: Go, Roadrunners!

Axe ’em, Jacks!

sfa-axe-mascotSFA’s mascot is the lumberjack, no surprise out in the piney woods. At our orientation seminar, every speaker ended his or her spiel by yelling out, “Axe ’em, Jacks!” My friend Paula D., who is from Louisiana, pronounces “ask” as “aks,” slightly dyslexically. If she heard the “Axe ’em, Jacks,” slogan, she’d say, “Aks ’em what?”

March Madness

new-detroitfinal4logoNow I know why the NCAA men’s basketball tournament is really called “March Madness”: You can’t help but get angry when the teams you’ve picked in your pool get knocked out! Yes, I am talking about you, Pitt! Can’t hit free throws? Can’t play defense with five seconds left? Come on, guys! You broke my heart . . . and busted my bracket. And now I’m on the verge of losing my title as best family basketball prognosticator to the Mister!

Going into this weekend’s Final Four, I’m leading in the family playoff pool with 74 points. I had done great predicting the Sweet 16, then got my butt kicked in the Elite Eight. All my picks are back on their respective college campuses, thinking about how much they’ve disappointed me, no doubt. Meanwhile, the Mister, who has 71 points, still has North Carolina alive and winning the national title. In our pool, that would be worth 15 points (5 for the semis and 10 for the championship). All the Tar Heels have to do is beat Villanova in the semis, and the Mister is our champ.

It will be a sad day in the house if that happens. I’ve suddenly become a HUGE Villanova fan. Go, Wildcats!

Very Taxing!


When Sheldon, the brainiest of the brainiacs on “The Big Bang Theory,” knocks on their neighbor’s door, this is what he does and says:

Knock knock. “Penny!” Knock knock. “Penny!” Knock knock. “Penny!” 

Here’s what I feel like doing right now as I bang my head against the wall:

Knock, knock. “Susan!” Knock, knock. “Susan!” Knock, knock. “Susan!”

Just look at today’s date: March 23. Tax day is in a mere 24 days! And how close am I to being prepared to take our tax information to Romeo, our accountant? About as close as I am to being Miss America!

Saturday in the mail we received Romeo’s annual typed cattle prod, claiming that it’s time to think about filing an extension. Romeo knows that I hate extensions, so I think he’s just trying to goad me into action. Well, it’s worked! Today’s get ’er done? Get the tax info ready.

Of course, if I was only like JJ, my organizational wiz of a next-door neighbor, I’d already be done with the tax stuff. It would all have been signed, sealed, and delivered weeks ago. If I was only like her, I could easily add up all the receipts, type up a summary, and be good to go. But, sadly, that is not how I roll. Ever.

How am I doing with my tax prep? Well, I’ve gotten the pile of receipts down from their resting place on a shelf. And I have a pencil. I still need to find a calculator and some paper. Then I’ll be ready to work, probably with several breaks in between. In fact, the first breaks are upcoming: I need to take clothes out of the dryer, eat lunch, and run errands. But, as God is my witness, I will prevail! The tax prep will get done! And I’ll drop it off at Romeo’s this week to be filed on time! I hope!!

TV watch

Speaking of “TBBT,” it’s not on tonight. I don’t want to watch two episodes of “How I Met Your Mother”; I want my usual 7 p.m. show! I’m loving the March Madness, CBS, but I don’t like when you mess with my TV schedule.

The best bracketologist in the house!

college-basketballSpeaking of March Madness, I think I’ve got an insurmountable lead in the family prognostication pool! I was the only one to properly pick the entire Sweet 16! I earned extra points with my two #12-#5 upset specials (Wisconsin over Florida State and Arizona over Utah), as well as my three #10 over #7 picks. I just wish I had selected #13 Cleveland State over #4 Wake Forest (but I figured that would be a reach).

Here’s my Elite 8: Louisville, Kansas, Connecticut, Memphis, Duke, North Carolina, Syracuse, and, finally, heart attack-inducing Pitt (my overall pick). All of the games should be close. CBS loves the nailbiters, as do I, as long as Illinois wins big (not a problem this year, though, is it).

Any other bracketologists out there? If so, how are you doing in your pools?

Photo Friday Wildflower Style


Here in south Texas, one harbinger of spring is the beautiful bluebonnet. We begin looking for patches of the state flower along highways and in open fields in March and usually are rewarded with multiple sightings by spring break. I never tire of seeing the purply-blue beauties and become sad when bluebonnet season ends in April. Most of the photos shown here practically were taken in my neighborhood (actually, the bluebonnets live in the master-planned community next to mine).

Bluebonnets along the side of the road in Gonzales.

Bluebonnets along the side of the road in Gonzales.

Historian Jack Maguire wrote this about the bluebonnet: “It’s not only the state flower but also a kind of floral trademark almost as well known to outsiders as cowboy boots and the Stetson hat. The bluebonnet is to Texas what the shamrock is to Ireland, the cherry blossom to Japan, the lily to France, the rose to England and the tulip to Holland.” 


Yep, it’s a GREAT flower! One urban myth about the bluebonnet is that because it’s been the state flower since 1901, it’s illegal to pick it. That’s not true; however, it’s better to just leave them for everyone else to enjoy looking at as they drive or walk by.

5733-bluebonnetsThere actually are five species of bluebonnets; all are considered to be the state flower. Here in south Texas (obviously, the best part of the state!), the species we see is lupinus texensis. It’s the one known as the Texas bluebonnet. And it’s gorgeous in person; photos don’t do it justice.

5734-bluebonnetsBy the way, the Gonzales bluebonnet photo was taken with the Nikon 105mm lens. For the neighborhood ones I used the Nikon 17-55mm lens; I love how it seems to supersaturate the colors.


Bracket breaking

Yet another sad harbinger of spring is the one-and-done nature of my alma mater, the University of Illinois, in the NCAA basketball tournament. They didn’t look good in the Big Ten tournament, but I thought they could handle Western Kentucky. Sigh! At least now I don’t have to angst over them for the rest of the tourney.

Other than that, my picks are looking good in our family March Madness pool. The Mister and I are tied for the lead; however, he had Illinois beating Gonzaga, so I should gain a point on him. I loved how a couple of the #10 seeds beat the #7 seeds (Maryland over California and Michigan over Clemson); great mild upsets, especially since those were my picks! We’re glad, though, that #10 seed Minnesota did not beat #7 seed Texas!

The #2 son, who is our pool master, gives us extra points for upsets . . . the bigger the upset, the more points we can earn. My upset specials for today are two #12 teams beating #5s: Wisconsin over Florida State and Arizona over Utah. If both happen, I’ll get six extra points! I also have another #10 beating a #7—Southern Cal over Boston College. It makes watching the action that much more interesting!

Lightning-quick “Lost”

Don't turn your back on Sun, Ben! Ka-pow!

OMG! Did last night’s “Lost” move at Flash speed or what? All of a sudden, an hour had gone by, as the #1 son and I hung onto every word between the numerous commercial breaks. Even when I watched the episode again with #2 and the Mister (who were late coming home after playing, what else?, disc golf), the time just raced by. That, my friends, is storytelling at its best!

One of my favorite scenes was the one shown above when Sun clobbered Ben with the oar after she told pilot Frank Lapidus that she had to trust Ben. She totally owned you, Ben!

Lapidus to Sun: “I thought you trusted that guy.”

Sun: “I lied.” Oooooo!

Hurley, Kate, and Jack as 1977 Dharma Initiative recruits

I also loved when Jack, who returns to the island with Kate and Hurley only to become new recruits for the Dharma Initiative, is assigned to janitorial duties, because that’s what his aptitude test supposedly showed he was best for. And who really decided on Jack’s Dharma job? Why, Sawyer, of course! Score one for the former con man.


A smiling Sawyer

Sawyer’s transformation from a guy who sat back and unemotionally took advantage of any situation that could benefit only him to one who is emotionally invested in being one of the DI leaders has been interesting. He’s become a better version of Jack and John Locke as far as leadership ability. And he gets to really stick it to Jack for all the times Jack verbally kicked him in the face in the old days:

Sawyer: “You just reacted. You didn’t think, Jack. And as I recall, a lot of people ended up dead.”

Jack: “I got us off the island.”

Sawyer: “Yet here you are, right back where you started.”

Sawyer actually quotes Winston Churchill about reading books to help him think . . . how cerebral! Jack led via gut reaction, while Sawyer prefers to think about all the angles first. That con man past has served him well!


creepy Christian Shephard

A few more things: Lapidus and Sun meeting Christian Shephard . . . how creepy was that? It’s obviously NOT 1977 anymore, so Sun isn’t in the same “time zone” as Jin. Which is why Christian told her, “I’m sorry, but you have a bit of a journey ahead of you.”

#1 son’s reaction to seeing Christian: “Dead men tell no tales.” Apparently, this one does, though.

Juliet holds baby Ethan, who is destined to be killed by Charlie.

Juliet holds baby Ethan, who is destined to be killed by Charlie.

Juliet looked so sad at seeing Kate, even though she saved her with the story about an updated sub manifest. #1 son thought Juliet was thinking, “Are you trying to steal my man?” Elizabeth Mitchell, who plays Juliet with great subtlety, has amazing blue eyes, by the way.

Finally, loved, loved, loved the ending! Did I say I loved it? Yes, I did! Even when I quickly figured out that it was the young Ben Linus about to visit Sayid in Dharma jail, I still looked forward to seeing Sayid’s reaction when he realized just who was giving him a sandwich without mustard. Classic!

Looking forward to next week’s episode, I chuckled when they said in the preview that it was “survivor vs. survivor.” “Survivor?” Isn’t that usually on Thursdays? Yes, but not tonight, because of the NCAA basketball tournament. But “Survivor” is on Wednesday next week (a recap show), the same night as “Lost.” Coincidence? I think not!



Oh, how I love that word . . . “bracketology.” It can mean only one thing: It’s March Madness time! In our house, the start of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament has us filling out brackets for our annual family pool (where “annual” means this is the second year).

I’m the defending champion, so I really want to win again. There’s no money on the line, only pride. After losing so badly in our annual Tour de France family pool (where “annual” means the last two years), I desperately need a victory.

Making March Madness picks means battling with your head (common sense) vs. your heart (teams you love or hate). For me, it means realizing that my alma mater, the University of Illinois, might manage to beat Western Kentucky in its opener but probably won’t go any farther. I used my head on that one. I also used my head on Purdue, which is a school I love to hate (Illinois’ big Big Ten rival), but I still picked them to win a couple games when I really want them to lose.


All four of us picked a different team to win the championship: The Mister opted for North Carolina, #1 son for Louisville (the safest pick), and the #2 son for Syracuse, while I went with Pittsburgh. According to the #2 son’s point system (he’s our pool master), the championship is worth five points. So I thought it would be best if we all picked different teams; otherwise, I probably would’ve chosen Louisville.  My final four is Louisville, Memphis, Syracuse, and Pittsburgh.

May the best teams win . . . as long as they’re my picks!