1. what stress?

NaBloPoMo_November_smallI used to do these as a matter of course.

Back when I was a more frequent blogger, National Blog Posting Month was a regular thing for me. For four straight Novembers, I successfully completed the challenge, and I added several other months once the organizers took it monthly a few years ago.

And even though my blogging has been anything but regular recently, I was confident about getting through this month with a post a day.

It’s not hard. And it’s especially easy when you get off to a nice, graceful start.

And then, today happened.

I didn’t get a whole lot of sleep last night. All Thursday nights at Piper’s Pub are special, but Halloween night there was extra fun. Mrs. Crappy and I dressed up as our two favorite Food TV annoyances, Paula Deen and Guy Fieri, and our friend Jenny came up with our favorite costume, a very nice re-creation of her boyfriend Matt, complete with beard.

But the late night wouldn’t have been a big deal if my work schedule for Friday had held up. I was to make three different stops to tape interviews for a video thing I’ll be starting for work at the end of the month; the first stop wasn’t until 10 a.m., so I was going to have a relaxing morning before heading out.

That blew up around 3 a.m., when a nasty little storm blew through Pittsburgh. It was a warm night, so we went to bed with the windows open. So when the line of thunderstorms reached us, it sounded like a hurricane. I rushed to close windows all over the house … and then the combination of adreneline and the now-stuffy air kept me awake for a while.

I woke up earlier than I wanted to, and found an email from work about a couple things that needed to be taken care of immediately — and involved me going to the office. Which would make me late for every single thing I had scheduled for the day.

On top of all this, November 1 was the arbitrary day I picked to stop using tobacco. Let’s just say this didn’t help.

Got lucky on the way to work — not only was I able to re-schedule the most important appointment of the day, but I came across a Duquesne Light truck struggling to deal with a splintered tree that had taken down a power line. There’s the art I needed to go with a quick story about the storm. I got that done, tweaked a couple other things and headed out to the appointment.

The rest of the day was good. I got in two of the three things I had scheduled. I got home in time to finish my column at a reasonable hour. Mrs. Crappy and I made tacos from the leftover pot roast we had for dinner Wednesday night.

And then there was this.

dark

Yes, I know this needs to be painted. Mind your own business.

That’s the light fixture that hangs over our kitchen sink. It is, frankly, a pain in the ass. Reaching up there while standing on a chair in front of the sink forces me into an angle that causes instant screeching back pain. The mostly stripped screws are notoriously touchy; they’ll either spin endlessly or release with just a touch, dropping the lens in the sink or on my face. And when it does finally open, I am showered with however many stink bugs have chosen the light as their final resting place.

How does changing this light bulb make me feel? A lot like that.

But November 1 finally decided to give me a break. The light opened easily. The four dead stink bugs slid into the lip of the fixture instead of dropping in my hair. And Mrs. Crappy — who has been hoarding the old fashioned incandescent light bulbs because she hates how the new, energy-efficient bulbs work, agreed to let me use one of the new bulbs as a replacement, so I won’t have to change the damn thing again for at least a couple years.

light

That’s better. Let’s hope the rest of November goes that way.

conflicted.

Back in January, I wrote about an unpleasant decision: picking between Notre Dame and Alabama on the day of the football national championship game.

Today? Another title game, and another unhappy choice.

Back then, the basic choice was between a team I can’t stand versus a conference I hate above all others. This time, the choice is more complicated, because I’m picking between what should be good for my conference versus … uh … that Team Up North.

Let me make one thing clear — this doesn’t really have a whole lot to do with Louisville. I’ve lived there, I love the city and I’ve even seen a Dead show in the old Freedom Hall. And I have nothing at all against Rick Pitino; I was living in Kentucky when he took over at UK, and those undermanned teams were a blast to watch, what with the incessant threes and unrelenting full-court press.

No, this choice has everything to do with Michigan. Which is a word that is even uncomfortable for me to type.

Here’s the thing. My gut reaction is to want Michigan to not only lose, but lose badly. Don’t even want it to be close. Twenty points-plus. Back in January, I wrote about the terrifying potential for overbearing smugness on the part of ND fans, should the Irish win the championship; as I recall from 1997, Michigan fans are even worse, even if this is only a basketball title.

Don’t want any part of it. No thank you.

But then there’s this logical part of my brain — you know, the part that usually should keep you out of trouble. This time, my logical side is poking at me about how the Big Ten would benefit from a national championship tonight. It would help in a tangible sense and it would help improve the perception of the conference with those vote in polls or pick the participants in next year’s tournament. It would be a big deal for the B1G on nearly every level.

But shit, we’re talking about Michigan. If it were Michigan State, Indiana or maybe even Wisconsin, I wouldn’t have a problem. But it’s Michigan.

Or maybe two.

Or maybe two.

So what am I going to do? I’m going to have a beer and hope there’s something good on the History Channel.

***

I will, however, pay attention to tonight’s game, in the sense that we’re about to wrap up the Eighth Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Bocktown). I have done exactly zero work to figure out what has to happen for who to win whatever … but I’ll work all that out in the morning and let you know who’s won the Bocktown gift card so generously donated by Chris Dilla.

awful.

EAUCNFFC killer.

EAUCNFFC killer.

I knew it was going to be bad.

I didn’t think it would be this bad.

Thirty five people entered the Eighth Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Bocktown). And at the conclusion of the Elite Eight weekend, there are 16 — SIXTEEN — Blutarskys (and if you don’t know what that is, I’ll explain in a moment).

Given the general carnage of the tournament, I knew there would be some downright ugly entries — including mine, after Saturday night’s loss by Ohio State at the hands of Wichita State. But this, this is unprecendented in the history of AUCNFFC.

Before we get to the futility, let’s take a look at how everyone else is doing. There are a bunch of you who picked Louisville to not only make the Final Four, but to win the whole tournament. But in each of those cases, you guys had just one correct Final Four pick — the Cardinals — with the possibility of adding more points only if Looavull advances.

And yeah, it’s looking like the tiebreaker is going to be even more important this year than it was a year ago.

Those who have Louisville winning the tournament; in all cases, you two points for the correct Final Four pick and a possibility of 10 more:

  • My Mom
  • Aunt Annoyed Angel
  • Casey
  • Clara
  • Calipanthergrl
  • Barb
  • Scooter
  • Patrick

I think there’s one other person who would win the whole freakin’ thing, but she’d do it if Syracuse comes out on top. Jenn has the Orangemen beating Ohio State in the final (sigh); she has two points in hand and as many as 10 more to earn if ‘Cuse is the champion.

As we work our way down the standings, it’s worth pointing out that Pghrugbyref is actually our leader at the moment. He correctly picked both Louisville and Syracuse making the Final Four; unfortunately, he also picked Kansas and Ohio State to play in the title game, so he has no more points to earn.

And then we have the handful of people who made one correct Final Four pick — Louisville  — but don’t have that team going much further. These folks have two points in hand, with the possibility of earning four more. It ain’t going to be enough to win, but making any correct picks this year should be something to be proud of:

  • Tim
  • Fred
  • Kewyson

We have one more person in the Two Plus Four Club, but she got there via a different path. RPM has Syracuse going as far as the title game, but not winning the title.

Another group, this one including entries who gained two points for a correct Final Four pick but cannot earn any additional points:

  • Jaci
  • Ethel
  • Susan
  • Joe
  • Sheepthemoon

And that brings us to the special group, those of us who — this year, anyway — ride the college basketball short bus.

If you are new to AUCNFFC, you may not be familiar with the term Blutarsky. You are likely familiar with the scene from Animal House,  when members of Delta visit Dean Wormer in his office, to discuss the mid-term grades of the fraternity’s members. We all recall what happened when Wormer addresses John Belushi’s character. The words, at this point, are immortal.

“MISTER Blutarsky…”

Without further ado, the EAUCNFFC Blutarsky award winners:

  • Uncle Crappy
  • Mrs. Crappy
  • CrappyDad
  • DJ Lunchbox
  • HP
  • Bluzdude
  • Otimemore
  • Infinitebuffalo
  • Grandpa Caldwell
  • Styx4me
  • Carla
  • Kelly (and Evan)
  • Dish
  • Michael
  • Zombie Dudders
  • Juan

I would point out that this year’s tournament made it unusually difficult to make correct picks of any kind. I would point that out, but I would just be making excuses for my — our — pathetic performances. Thanks for playing, fellow Blutarskys — I hope we all do better next year.

sloth.

If I have to swallow some down time, I’m sure as hell going to enjoy it.*

OK, I’m not going overboard — much — but I am going to try to worry slightly less about stuff until I’m ready to test the groin again.

(I’m also apparently going to enjoy writing about my groin. Groin. Groin. Groin. Who thought up that one?)

It wasn’t a conscious decision, but I sort of started last week, when I did my best to keep up with the first-ever Pittsburgh Craft Beer Week. That deserves a post of its own (or maybe two posts, one here and one on the work beer blog), but suffice to say: That was fun.

I also had a pretty good start this week. I made my favorite Groundhog/tailgating breakfast casserole for a little thing at Kim’s house on Saturday. And last night, I made this:

There’s a little back story here. I found this recipe on Pinterest months ago, when I was in the mood for A) pasta and B) something a little spicy. Naturally, I modified the original a little bit (subtract cilantro, add a couple cloves of minced garlic) and was pleased enough with the results that I re-pinned the recipe.

And then? Nothing happened.

And then? Holy crap.

About two months ago, someone — someone who has many, many more Pinterest followers than I do — re-pinned the recipe from my post. My modified recipe started getting some attention, enough that I used that as an opportunity to finally write about Pinterest in my tech column at work.

After a brief lull, the re-pinning has continued. You can trust me when I say it’s good, or you can believe the 878 people who have re-pinned it or the 144 people who have liked it as of Tuesday night.

I can’t speak for the experiences of more than 1,000 people, but I can tell you the recipe is simple, quick and freaking delicious.

And, in fitting with the fat guy theme of the week, totally appropriate.

*I love the eating and drinking, but the not running thing is an irritation, to be honest.