with gratitude.

Things are about to change.

After more than 14 years with my current employer — I don’t think I’ve ever named it here, but that’s the Beaver County Times — I’m about to start a new gig. On June 30, I’ll move to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette as part of their digital team.

The new job? I can’t wait to get started. I long ago found an enthusiasm for the digital side of my business, and being able to take on similar challenges at a paper like the P-G is the kind of thing that makes me wake up happy every day. And if that kind of tinkering isn’t enough, I hope to be able to continue some beer-related video work there as well. It’s a great opportunity; it’ll give Mrs. Crappy and me the chance to make some positive changes and it will keep me challenged and happy professionally.

Having said that, I’m in no real hurry to leave The Times, even though my final day is approaching rapidly. To put it simply: I would be in a much less solid position professionally were it not for the chances I’ve had there. And I’ve had chances at The Times that I wouldn’t have had anywhere else. I started tinkering with the web sites here when I worked on Sunday nights and no one else wanted to mess with those chores. I gingerly — at first, anyway — stepped into doing Newsbreak just because the regular hosts were on vacation. I wrote quirky centerpiece stories because they were occasionally funny. And over the years, this became a lot less like work and a lot more like fun.

And when you can have fun at work, you’ve pretty much got it made, right? I’m grateful I can say that’s been the case for me for nearly all of the last 14 years.

because i can’t say it any better.

The issue we resolve today is a divisive one. Some of our citizens are made deeply uncomfortable by the notion of same-sex marriage. However, that same-sex marriage causes discomfort in some does not make its prohibition constitutional. Nor can past tradition trump the bedrock constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection. Were that not so, ours would still be a racially segregated nation according to the now rightfully discarded doctrine of “separate but equal.” In the 60 years since (Brown v. Board of Education) was decided, “separate” has thankfully faded into history, and only “equal” remains. Similarly, in future generations the label same-sex marriage will be abandoned, to be replaced simply by marriage.

We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history. An appropriate Order shall issue.

U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III,

May 20, 2014.

johnny (part two).

All I really wanted to do on Sunday was cut the grass and haul the summer furniture out of the garage, clean it up and spend the rest of the afternoon lounging on the front porch.

As we discussed yesterday, those plans were changed. I took a day off today to get all those things done; I was hoping to finish the toilet installation today and get some outside work finished in time to grill a pork loin and spend the evening outside.

Instead, the bathroom is in pretty much the same state it was when I started working on it this morning. I still have no idea about my toilet installation skills, because I’m still nowhere near being able to install the toilet, thanks to something in the subfloor that has left me unable to anchor a new flange.

And I am out patience and, because I have to work tomorrow, out of time as well.

I don’t have a problem with paying professionals to do these kinds of things. I just wish I hadn’t wasted two full days before figuring out that I’d need to do that now.

johnny (part one).

So how was your Mother’s Day?

Mine? Great, thanks. I spent it playing with sewage water, lead and 76-year-old toilet wax.

This began while Mrs. Crappy was getting ready for work this morning; as she summoned me to the upstairs bathroom, I knew immediately that my plans for the day — mostly stuff in the yard — were about to be altered.

stamp

She was right to be concerned about seeing water seeping from around the base of the toilet, especially when considering its age; a plumber we had in not long after we bought the house in 2008 noticed the stamp in its tank reading “1938″ — the same year the house was built, meaning that was the one and only toilet that’s ever called that bathroom home.

box

After a little online research, I settled on a suitable replacement. After some further research, I felt confident that I could get through the process of removing the old toilet and replacing it with a new one. Off to Home Depot to grab the new one, a new supply line and a few other little things I’d need.

How’d it go? At first, great. Drained all the water. Dug through the corrosion and removed the nut from one side of the bowl. And then I started to do the same thing on the other side. I dug. And I dug. And I dug. And when I got through 76 years’ worth of toilet gunk, I was met with a nut that would not budge.

This required another trip to Home Depot, for a can of WD-40 to break the nut (a trip that will guarantee that I find the can of WD-40 we already owned before the day is over). I eventually got that one off too — by stripping off the top of the bolt — and was met with a bigger problem: a flange that was buried in a 76-year-old wax ring that didn’t want to budge.

hole

More digging, which revealed another problem: a flange that wasn’t bolted to the floor. Instead, it was held in place lead wings that are attached to … something. But by the time I got to this point, Mrs. Crappy had arrived home with a new flange that I may or may not use. Oh, and also a pizza. My patience had been tested enough, and with the exception of hauling the old toilet out to the curb after we ate, I had had enough for today.

What’s left? If there’s a wood surface under the current flange, I’ll remove it and use the new one. If there’s tile under there instead, I’m going to need further consultation with someone at Home Depot who knows more about this than I do. Once that gets done, dropping the new one in place will seem easy by comparison.

curb

In the meantime — anyone have a need for a 1938-vintage toilet? It’s free to a good home.

blue. grass. bock. town.

I’m not sure that John Calipari’s system at Kentucky — grabbing a bunch of talented one-and-done freshmen in hopes that he can cobble together a solid team in time for a March run — is good for college basketball. And I know for certain that it wasn’t good for nearly every single person who entered the Ninth Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Bocktown).

But it has worked out well for Bill, my colleague who was the one NAUCNFFC contestant to pick the Wildcats to win the tournament. As it turns out, Bill doesn’t even need Calipari to win on Monday night; by virtue of the fact that he was THE ONLY PERSON IN THE CONTEST TO CORRECTLY PICK  A CHAMPIONSHIP GAME PARTICIPANT, he’s already got more points than the rest of us. And there’s nothing any of the rest of us can do to catch him.

To be more specific: Bill picked up two points from Kentucky when the Wildcats made the Final Four. He grabbed another four when UK beat Wisconsin on Saturday and he could win another six if his father’s Cats win the title.

The rest of us? We shouldn’t be mad at Kentucky. We should be mad at Florida. Nineteen of us picked the Gators to at least make the championship game on Monday, and most of those guys picked Florida to win it all. So when the Gators gagged against UConn, the contest was over for just about everyone.

Honorable mentions? Sure. Even though the points don’t reflect it, our clear runner up was Barb, who would have been our winner had Wisconsin beaten UK in the Saturday’s semi-final game. With Florida out, NAUCNFFC (BTYBB) came down to that game, and Barb was a last-second missed shot away from her second AUCNFFC championship.

And shouldn’t forget Aunt Annoyed Angel, Sports Chump, HP and Jenny. That anyone — much less four of us — managed to find four points in the toughest AUCNFFC ever is remarkable. Nice work by you.

But as always, NAUCNFFC is a winner-take-all deal, and it is Bill who has earned this year’s $30 Bocktown gift card. Congratulations to him.

And to everyone who entered — thank you once again for playing along. Be sure to try again next year. We’re going to make sure the prizes for the Tenth Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Bocktown) are even more fabulous than usual.

naucnffc (btybb) tipoff.

If it’s the longest post of the year, it has to be time to go through the entries of the Ninth Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Bocktown).

Because of a couple of work things on Thursday afternoon, I’m posting this nearly a full day later than I usually do. I appreciate your patience; I also appreciate that most of you appeared to heed my warning about Ohio State’s first-round game against Dayton.

As is tradition, we’ll begin with the picks of yours truly:

I approached this year’s tournament with one thing in mind: Don’t be chalky. And I think I did pretty well.

Kansas v. Iowa State / Arizona v. Wichita State

Wichita State beats Kansas for the title, 79-78

(And yes, I think Ohio State will beat Dayton, in an uncomfortably close game.)

Family always comes first. That segment begins, as usual, with Mrs. Crappy, who’s all about the nicknames this year:

‘Cuse beats Cincy, Zaga beats Dook. ‘Cuse beats Dook for the championship (114 points).

Here’s Crappydad, whose geographic concentration is, uh, stunning:

Michigan State beats Florida. Michigan beats Arizona. And Michigan State beats that other team from the State Up North, 64-52.

Next up is my mom, who doesn’t want anything Crappy attached to her name:

Final Four: Florida & MSU, Arizona & Louisville

Final: Florida & Arizona

Winner: Florida

Score: 68-66

Next up is our defending AUCNFFC champion, Aunt Annoyed Angel:

Final four: Florida v Virginia & Wisconsin v Wichita State.

Championship game Florida v Wichita State. Champion: Florida. Tiebreaker: 162.

And then the rest of you, in no particular order. We start with Otimemore; the only reason I know Otimemore personally is because of this here college basketball pool:

Final four: Florida v. Villanova. – Arizona v. Louisville

Final Florida v. Arizona

Champ Arizona (149 pts)

Past AUCNFFC champion Casey:

Final Four: Florida vs. Iowa State / Baylor vs. Louisville

Championship: Florida over Louisville (150 points)

The lovely and talented Dana Bee:

FF: Louisville vs. Oklahoma – Kansas vs. UCONN

Final: Louisville vs. Kansas

Champ: Kansas

Tiebreaker: 154

The SportsChump gets in on the action for the first time:

Final Four: Florida, Virginia, Wisconsin, Duke

Florida over Duke in the championship game, Total Score: 144

Gina and her menagerie are giving it another shot. Sort of.

OK – so the stupid dog won’t pick and the cats are idiots, so I had to pick my own final four, then I rolled the papers into balls & threw them across the room. The winner went furthest. Next year, I’m letting the hermit crab pick.

Final Four: Michigan St vs. Kansas, Wichita St vs. Arizona

Championship game: Michigan St vs. Wichita St

Champion: Michigan St

Tiebreaker: 148

AUCNFFC veteran Curl Girl Michelle:

Final Four: Florida vs. Virginia / Arizona vs. Wichita St.

Championship: Virginia vs. Arizona

Champion: Arizona

Tiebreaker: 137

The wise and knowledgeable Chachi:

Final four: Kansas v. Villanova, Arizona v Wichita State

Final Villanova v. Wichita St.

Champ Villanova

Tiebreaker: 139 points

Past champ Barb:

Final four:  Syracuse vs. Virginia, Wisconsin vs. Louisville

Champ Game: Syracuse vs. Wisconsin

Champ: Wisconsin

Tiebreaker: 140

Terry Coyne, I have no idea who you are, but thanks so much for playing along:

Final Four: Florida v. North Carolina and Arizona v. Louisville

Championship game: Florida v. Louisville

Champion: Florida

Tiebreaker: 161

Fellow former Ohioan Bluzdude:

Final 4: Florida vs Michigan State, Arizona vs Duke.

Championship Game: Florida vs Duke

Champion: Florida

Tiebreaker: 126

I’m glad I don’t have to pick a favorite rugby player in Pittsburgh; picking my favorite Pghrugbyref, however, is easy:

Final Four: VCU, UVA, Creighton, Duke

Championship: VCU v Creighton

Champ: Creighton

Tiebreaker: 121

Doug, aka Father Spoon, aka Doogle, aka past AUCNFFC champ:

Final Four: Florida vs. Villanova, Michigan vs. Arizona

Championship game: Villanova vs.Michigan

Champion: Michigan

Tiebreaker: 149

Trailion’s son Evan is trying to kill me:

Michigan State defeats Kansas.
Michigan defeats Arizona.
Wolverines beat Sparty. SPARTY, NOOOOOOO!

Dish is also trying to kill me:

I’m still waiting for The College of New Jersey to somehow earn a 16-seed one of these years. My main guiding principle is screw Duke. Also picking two Michigan teams to see Uncle Crappy’s head explode.

Florida over Michigan State
Michigan over Creighton

Final: Florida over Michigan (121)

Hellpellet’s assessment is correct:

Florida, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Louisville

FL vs Luhvl with FL winning.

Tiebreaker 142

Earliest I’ve ever gotten this to you? Yes, I think so.

Foodcollage, a Buckeye by way of Canada, returns with more picks:

Final Four: Florida vs. Michigan State, Arizona vs. Louisville

Championship game: Florida vs. Louisville

Champion: Florida

Tiebreaker: 157

Go Bucks!!

Redpenmamapgh’s treatment of North Carolina will make Mrs. Crappy happy:

Final Four: Syracuse vs. N. Carolina, Baylor vs. Duke

Final: Duke vs. Syracuse

Winner: Syracuse

tiebreaker: 122

My old friend Kewyson:

In the Final 4 – Syracuse will meet Michigan State – with the green prevailing over the Orange. Arizona will meet The Team Up North – with the Tucson team winning. MSU will win the final – with a score of 87 over 79.

Tim, another former AUCNFFC champion:

Florida, Nova, Arizona, Duke

Fl-AZ

Florida 128

My Carla and Crappy Show co-star knows college basketball too:

Kansas – Michigan St
Arizona – Louisville

Kansas – Louisville

Louisville
130 (68-62)

My colleague Kristen came up with solid picks, despite claims of college basketball ignorance:

Final Four: Kansas/Michigan State and Wisconsin/Duke

Final: Kansas/Duke

Winner: Duke

Tiebreaker: 137

My #asistradition buddy Jenny worked much of Wednesday afternoon to come up with these:

Four: FLA – VA, WISC – WICH

Final: FLA – WICH

Win: FLA

Tie: 148

My grumpiest colleague, J.D., is hoping some Bocktown fries will cheer him up:

Final Four: Florida, Michigan State, Arizona, Louisville

Championship game: Florida and Arizona

Champion: Florida

Tiebreaker: 160

Another colleague, Megan, joins us for the first time:

Final Four: Florida vs. Michigan State; Arizona vs. Michigan

Championship game: Florida vs. Arizona

Champion: Florida

Tiebreaker: 87 to 82 (169)

We can all be thankful that Bill’s son, a noted college basketball savant, didn’t enter. We’re happy to have Bill’s picks, though:

Final Four: Syracuse vs. Michigan State/Kentucky vs. Az.

Final: Michigan State vs. Kentucky

Winner: Go ‘Cats, for my Dad, a native of Ky. who always believed in UK, except in football, as he was occasionally a wise man.

And Bill helpfully added a short time later:

If the ‘Cats win, I won’t need a tiebreaker, but I’ll post one anyway: 125

I’m not going to let the fact that Shane is my boss to influence the outcome of NAUCNFFC in any way. Probably.

Final Four: Florida vs. Michigan State; Arizona vs. Louisville

Final: Florida vs. Arizona

Winner: Florida 68, Arizona 64 (132 total)

Eric, a sportswriting professional, heads off the beaten path:

FINAL FOUR: Florida, Iowa State, Arizona, Wichita State

CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: Florida 71, Wichita State 60

Why? Because everyone is picking Louisville and Michigan State

Tom returned from vacation just in time to enter:

Florida, Virginia, Arizona and Louisville
Final: Virginia and Arizona
Champion: Arizona
Tiebreaker: 156

Patrick’s back:

Fla.Michigan StateArizonaLouisville

Fla.Louisville

Fla., 130

Grandpa Caldwell, who is a long way from being an actual grandfather:

final 4: osu v Villanova; sd state v Michigan. Champ game: Villanova v Michigan. Winner: Villanova. Tiebreaker: 145

Veteran AUCNFFCer Scooter, who didn’t pick Pitt:

Final Four: Florida, Michigan St., Louisville, Arizona

Final: Florida v. Louisville

Champion: Florida

Tiebreaker: 142

Penn Stater Neilson is sticking with the Big Ten:

Final Four: Florida vs. Michigan State / Arizona vs. Michigan

Championship: Florida over Michigan (137 points)

Doctor Lunchbox: No, thank you, sir:

Final Four: Michigan State vs. Florida and Louisville vs. Arizona
Championship game: Michigan State vs. Louisville
Champion: LouisvilleTiebreaker: 107
Thank you, sir.

And then there’s Juan, oh he of little basketball knowledge. I was able to track down the pick’s of Phil’s mom, so that’s what Juan gets again this year:

Gonazaga beats UMass, Colorado beats Iowa State. And Colorado beats ‘Zaga for the title. God, let’s hope we don’t need a tiebreaker for this one.

And that’s it, boys and girls. Thanks again to Chris Dilla for the generous sponsorship, and thanks to each one of you who entered.

If I missed your entry or somehow screwed up something else — a thing we know from past experience is not only possible but likely — just let me know and I’ll get it fixed right away.

And, as usual, good luck to everyone. Especially Mrs. Crappy (Woooo, Bocktown dinner!).

Edit, Friday afternoon: I forgot to include Eric’s picks in the initial list; his stuff has since been added. And as past repeat AUCNFFC champion (and NAUCNFFC non-participant) Mr. Burns pointed out, I predicted that the championship game would end in a tie. Even though my tie-breaker doesn’t really matter because I can’t win my own contest, I’ve corrected my typo.