one day. fifty bucks.

March-2018-Calendar-Green

The one glaring omission on this lovely March 2018 calendar: Noon on Thursday, March 15.

What’s up at Noon on Thursday, March 15? That’s your deadline to submit an entry for TPFAUCNFFC (BTYBPP) — Twelve-point-five-th Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Piper’s Pub*).

A full rundown of the rules is here, but it’s basically just this: Tell me your Final Four, your championship game participants and the team that will take the title, along with a score for the championship game. It’s free to enter, and the winner gets a $50 gift card at Piper’s Pub. As as I type this, I have exactly three entries … so the odds of you winning look pretty good at the moment.

So, here’s what that calendar should actually look like:

March-2018-Calendar-Green edit

Get your entries in soon, boys and girls.

*Note the name change. Everyone say, “Thank you, Mindy.”

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by popular demand.

daum doom
I am already having nightmares about South Dakota State’s Mike Daum, who apparently shoots like Larry freaking Bird.

OK. Fine. We’ll do it.

After a one-year absence, I am pleased to welcome everyone back to what we’re going to call TPFAUCNFFC (BTYBM) — Twelve-point-five-th Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Me). And we’re back thanks to a quick vote on Twitter and Facebook today that overwhelmingly revealed that most of you still have no idea what AUCNFFC is.

In other words:

With the off year in 2017, it’s likely that we’re all rusty on the ins and outs of AUCNFFC. Here’s how it works:

  • Find yourself a copy of the bracket. If you can’t manage that, I should probably disqualify you from the TPFAUCNFFC (BTYBM) right now. But I’m feeling generous, so here’s a decent one. Print it and fill it out, using whatever method you prefer.
  • After consulting your bracket, pick the four teams — one from each region — that you think will win the regional championships and travel to the Final Four in Indy.
  • After consulting your bracket again, pick the two teams you think will win the national semi-final games on April 2.
  • Consult your bracket once more, and pick the team from your semi-finalists who will win the title game April 4
  • How do I figure out who wins? You get two points for picking a correct Final Four team, four points for a correct semi-finalist and six points for a correct national championship pick. Assuming I can add correctly (and there is no guarantee of that, boys and girls), the entry with the highest point total is our winner.
  • Yes, there is a tie-breaker and, yes, as we’ve seen several times, tiebreakers are important. When you submit your pick, please also include your projected score for the championship game. If it’s necessary, the entry whose total score is closest to the real thing will be our winner. Note: We do NOT follow the Price Is Right rule; the closest total, over or under, wins.

Still confused? Given that I’m writing this in a hurry I’m mostly copying and pasting I’m totally copying and pasting from past AUCNFFC intros, that’s entirely possible. Here’s a purely hypothetical example of what an entry from this year’s bracket could look like (Note 1: This is NOT my entry. Note 2: These are among the lowest seeds in the tournament; if you want to make this your entry, feel free, but do so understanding the risk of being Blutarskied):

Final Four: UMBC vs. Lipscomb, Radford vs. Iona

Championship game: UMBC vs Radford

Champion: UMBC, 82-74

Simple, right? As you begin to mull your picks, here are a couple of other things to keep in mind:

  • One thing to make sure you don’t do: Send me money to enter. As has always been the case, TPFAUCNFFC (BTYBM) is free.
  • In the first four years of the contest, we were competing for cheesy trinkets and I usually included a disclaimer that our FABULOUS PRIZES weren’t actually fabulous. And then Chris at Bocktown Beer and Grill blew that out of the water by putting up a gift card to the contest’s winner. As my beloved Bocktowns have since closed — one very big factor in the decision to take a year off — I am putting up a similarly Actually Fabulous Prize — a $50 gift card at Piper’s Pub, on Pittsburgh’s Historic South Side. And I make this promise without any actual knowledge if Piper’s actually offer gift cards. Whatever. We’ll figure it out.
  • Note: If you’re an out-of-town contestant, you may opt for the equivalent cash value of the gift card, which is, uh, approximately $50.
  • The tournament’s real games (the ones that used to be called the first-round games) get underway around 12:15 p.m. Eastern Thursday; I’m not a huge stickler, but I’ll need to have your entries by noonish that day for you to be eligible (see the Melo Rule below).
  • How do you enter? Comment. Email. Twitter. DM. Text. Facebook. Carrier pigeon. Please feel free adding whatever commentary you wish regarding how you arrived at your picks; each entry will be listed in a comprehensive post that’ll show up at some point Thursday, not unlike this example from 2016.

And finally, the fine-printy things:

The Juan Rule: As is tradition, Juan, oh he of very little basketball knowledge, will once again be entered against his will, using either the Phil’s Mom Method or, if Phil’s mom isn’t picking this year, the Penny-Flipping Method.

The Melo Rule: Should an unforeseen thing happen with a player, a coach or a booster that might, in your opinion, have an impact on your already-completed entry, fear not. You may tinker as much as you like until I close the entries at noon on the tournament’s opening day.

The Crappy Rule: If I were to come out on top of my own contest (and believe me, boys and girls, there is very little chance of that happening), the Piper’s gift card would be awarded to the next runner up (although I retain full bragging rights, which I would exercise almost daily until next year’s contest). Mrs. Crappy, should she remember to get her entry in on time, does her own work and is therefore eligible to win the Piper’s gift card (as long as she uses it to take me to dinner).

To summarize:

  • Free.
  • Easy.
  • Deadline is noon Thursday.
  • Fifty bucks at Piper’s for the winner.

Have any questions? Let me know. Otherwise, good luck to everyone — especially me Mrs. Crappy.

old bike. old guy.

IMG_0181
My giant purple butt.

When I finished up with my Army-sponsored field trip of Bavaria and was getting ready to return to Athens, I got myself a present: a new mountain bike for riding between my apartment at West State and Shaffer and OU’s campus.

I’ve never done much actual mountain biking, but my 26-year-old purple Giant Butte (known at my local bike shop at the Giant Purple Butt) continues to be reliable. It’s mostly for recreation these days, but I appreciate the fact that the creaky old guy and his creaky old bike still have many miles left.

Both of us creaky oldsters are riding on Sunday, but not strictly for pleasure. We’re participating in the 16-mile portion of the Tour De Cure Pittsburgh, a ride to raise money for the American Diabetes Association. The ride takes place outside of Butler, on the hilly roads between the Big Butler Fairgrounds and Lake Arthur Country Club.

You guys know already that I have type 2 diabetes; that’s not really why I’m A) riding or B) asking you for a donation. I’m riding because this year is different. None of us has any idea what health insurance policy will look like by the end of this year, but there’s an excellent chance that me and my fellow diabetics could be facing the restoration of coverage limits, of premiums that jump because of our preexisting condition … or maybe being denied coverage altogether. And the potential scope of the problem — 30 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with diabetes and another 86 million have been identified as pre-diabetic — is horrifying.

What’s the solution? A better option than waiting on the 2018 midterm elections is to find better treatment options right now. To better educate people about the disease, its causes and how the risk can be mitigated right now. To find a cure … right now.

I don’t want to leave these problems in the hands of people to whom they are abstract policy bullet points. So I’m asking you to donate — right now. Click here to get to my donor page; you’ll need just a couple minutes and a couple bucks to help solve this problem for ourselves.

And me and my creaky, old Giant Purple Butt will be honored to ride on Sunday on your behalf. Thanks.

take the ride.

openstreets

You guys will recall that I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes two summers ago.

You may also recall that I wasn’t especially happy about it.

Since then, it’s been kind of a struggle. I did really well early on, but recently I’ve been a bit lazy, especially about running … even though it was a big reason why my A1C dropped a bunch from my initial test to my second one.

Recently, though, I’ve discovered a new motivation for getting back to the things I was doing well in the first year after my diagnosis. And that motivation is coming from Congress.

Yes. Really. Let me explain.

I am fortunate. I have pretty good health insurance. The deductibles are higher than I would like, but overall, the coverage has been excellent, particularly for someone with a chronic condition like mine. Prescription coverage in particular has been helpful. I pick up a mess of pills, insulin, needles and other fun stuff every month; if not for my insurance, I would have quickly gone broke trying to keep up.

This isn’t the case for everyone. My coverage is a luxury, and those who have a more bare bones insurance policy might struggle to keep up. And depending on what happens in Washington this summer, that problem might become even bigger. If health insurance “reform” is adopted in its current form, 22 million people who are currently covered would lose their insurance. And if any of those folks are paying for the same Lantus, the same Metformin, the same Farxiga and the same testing supplies I’m paying for, they’re going to be in trouble.

Potentially, it gets worse. The House version of the bill would end requirements that those with preexisting conditions must be covered without penalty. That means an insurance company could, for example, double or triple my premiums because I have diabetes; it also means they could just flat out drop me.

And that’s just me. The American Diabetes Association estimates that there are nearly 30 million people — adults and kids — in this country who have diabetes. Another 86 million have been identified as pre-diabetic. If a good share of those people see their premiums skyrocket — or if they lose their coverage altogether — we’ll have a full-blown crisis on our hands.

Obviously, there is a political discussion to be had here, but I’m more concerned with what I can do now, outside of whatever happens with the various health-care bills in Washington. And what I can do now is raise a little money. I can contribute to efforts that will educate people about what diabetes is and how it can be prevented. I can help ensure that treatment methods are effective and efficient.

And I can help fund research that eventually will find a cure.

On July 23, I’m going on a bike ride with Tour de Cure Pittsburgh, on a course just a bit north of Butler. I’m taking the short ride, the 15-miler, mostly because I used to live there and I know exactly how hilly that part of Butler County is:

cure ride
Check out the elevation graph. Ouch.
Not a super long ride. But trust me, I’ll earn whatever money you decide to throw my way.

See how I snuck that pitch in there? Heh.

I need your help. I have to raise $200 to be able to participate in the ride. I think I can do that without much trouble, but I’d really like to double that total. And do it before July 23, which is not quite a month away. And if you have a few dollars to spare — and a minute or so as well — you can help me reach that goal by visiting here.

Remember — this isn’t for me. I’m doing OK. This is to make sure that the millions of people who have diabetes have the access to treatments they need. It’s to help others understand what they can do to avoid getting it in the first place. And, at some point soon, it will be to develop a way to fix it once and for all.

Again, please click here to donate. And thank you. <3

one down. one to go.

IMG_8746
That’s me. At Piper’s. I’m not hard to find.

A thing I should have done last night: Take a photo of the wings-and-beer spread we brought over to AJ’s house. It was … impressive. And delicious.

I don’t think four dozen wings will be part of the second AUCNFFC payoff Thursday night, but it could be fun regardless. As a reminder: Two seasons ago, winner Kewyson opted to donate his winnings to a night out for Pittsburgh AUCNFFC players … and we’re going to make good on that Thursday.

As I said before, if you’ve ever been an AUCNFFC contestant, show up at Piper’s Pub Thursday night — I’ll be there around 7:45 or 8 — and I’ll buy you a beer. I can’t imagine we’ll get there, but I’ll buy one beer per person until I hit $50 … or until it’s time for me to go home.

And if you want to stay for another, and maybe watch some basketball … or not … please do. I hope I see you there.

Hoops ain’t happening.

uksurrender

It would start sometime around now.

This week would normally be when the first posts about my annual college hoops contest — this year would have been the Twelfth Annual Uncle Crappy NCAA Final Four Challenge (Brought To You By Bocktown) — would start showing up on the blog.

For several years now, that last part — the BTYBB part — has become pretty important to the annual shindig. The support of Chris Dilla, the owner of Bocktown, has make the AUCNFFC pools a lot more fun for me … and, I’m sure, for you guys too.

Bocktown closed earlier this year. I’m still bummed about it. And that, combined with an insanely busy schedule this spring, means I’m going to skip doing the pool this year.

My intention is to bring this back after a one-year break … but no promises, boys and girls. We’ll see how things are going next March.

The other thing I need to take care of: the winners of the past two AUCNFFCs. To last year’s winner, AJ: I’ll give you a $50 gift certificate to the bar/restaurant of your choice. Or I will buy $50 worth of wings and beer and Mrs. Crappy and I will show up for dinner at your place. You pick.

And as you may recall, Kewyson, our 2015 winner, graciously donated his $50 winnings to be shared communally by whatever AUCNFFC participants could make a date of our choosing. I’m going to make good on that promise on Thursday, March 23. If you’ve ever been an AUCNFFC contestant, come to Piper’s Pub that evening and I’ll buy the beers until my $50 tab runs out.

I hope to see you there. And I hope to see you back here for TwAUCNFFC (Brought To You By Something Else) next spring.