I forget about my troubles / when I’m riding on my Bubbles / in the morrrrning

Have you met Bubbles? Bubbles is Mike’s 50th birthday present to his ever-nagging, long-suffering, only wife. She’s a black Vespa that has made my daily trips to the Williamsburg post office much more enjoyable.

Since I’m now in the two-wheel club with Jim, I’ve been trying to emulate his many exploits. Remember when he navigated the autopistas of Central and South America, taking photos along the way and graciously sharing with us his observations, thoughts and tales?

Well, here’s my own travel blog chronicling a similar journey:

Going Postal: An Epic Journey to the Post Office
on North Boundary Street and Back.

Audrey
Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday? I can see why you’d be fooled, but no. It’s really me! Starting out on the journey of a lifetime on Bubbles.
Bubbles
My first setback. The authorities ignored my reasonable request to remove all vehicles and red lights from my route. But I am undaunted. Nothing will keep me from the post office!
Selfie
Well. Almost nothing. The William & Mary student is in stable condition. The statute of limitations for personal injury cases runs out Jan. 14, 2018.
SpeedDemon
Back on the road. I WILL prevail. I must be going at least 14 mph in this photo. Not everyone is as skilled as I am.
AnotherStopLight
This stop light business is completely unacceptable. And why does this guy want to Kill Bergen?

 

PostOffice
Victory is mine! I want to thank all the little people who helped gazed adoringly on me as I faced multiple trials, battled obstacles, and stared down a terrifying case of chapped lips.

Oh, and congratulations to our Sweet Sixteen victors. Four ACC teams out of the remaining eight. The Coates family was wiped out when the seeds held to form and pushed Maryland, Gonzaga and Miami were all blown away.

The Survivors are still pretty representative of the family. The Force — the greatest generation — is still in, as are the second-to-youngest generation, with Elizabeth, Katie and Sarah. The first cousins are represented by Rebecca, Robert and Susan. And the Sufferers are hanging tough, too. Of the six individuals left, there are three Pattersons, two Blyths and one Rhyne.

Drink lots of caffeine tonight and tomorrow so you can stay up to watch the second games for each. Good luck!

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All the shingle ladies

Everyone who had a heart attack watching the first round of games, raise your hand. Me!!!

What was your favorite heart-attack moment? The Cincinnati basket at the buzzer that didn’t count? The half-court prayer that doomed Texas? How about Yale sending the Baylor Bears into hibernation? Or was it the simple fact that Michigan State went down in a blaze of vainglory to the Blue Raiders of Middle Tennessee?

As you’ve likely already read, there were 13 upsets in the first round, which is shocking (not to be confused with The Shockers of Wichita State) in and of itself, but the impact on the family brackets was even more shocking. Those with low seed totals nonetheless found themselves with only 1 team left at the end of that round, while Daniel with his family high of 30 improbably remained.

Alas, nothing could save Mike B.’s, Christine’s or Karen’s sorry picks. Mike P. and Beth both fell victim to a bad seed and an upset.

Hanging in with one team were Carl, Caroline, Claire, the Sufferers of Fools, Daniel, Dottie, Dub, Elaine, Elizabeth, Ellie, Gordon, Jim, Katie, Libby, Megan, Pierce, Rebecca, Rhyne, Rivers, Robert, the Third Cousins and Susan.

And prancing and dancing into the 2nd round with both teams were Dell, the Force, last year’s champ Joe, Martie and Sarah.

But not for long….

First off, I have to say that the second round couldn’t have come at a better time for me. Prompted by my encyclopedic sister Rebecca to go to the doctor to check out the pains I was having along my face, neck and shoulder, I was diagnosed with shingles Saturday morning. (“All the Shingle Ladies, All the Shingle Ladies, If you liked it you shoulda put a rash on it.”) It was the perfect excuse to stay in bed ALL DAY Saturday and Sunday and watch lots and lots and lots of basketball.

 

Dell went down hard in the second round when his Providence Friars lost to the Good Guys and his Bad Guys (Kentucky) lost to Indiana (Not as Bad But Still Not Great Guys). Also felled like a tall pine tree was Carl, whose Stephen F. Austin blew a 12-point lead over Dub’s Aggies with 44 seconds left and then lost in double overtime. Timberrrrrr.

We also lost Caroline, Clarie, Daniel, Elaine, Libby, Pierce, the 3rd Cousins and moi.

But 16 of us remain (none with both teams, that is), and six ACC teams do, too. I’m hoping that we can turn the Final Four into the ACC tournament semifinals. Good luck to the Sufferers, the Force, Dottie, Dub, Elizabeth, Ellie, Gordon, Jim, Katie, Martie, Rebecca, Rhyne, Rivers, Robert, Sarah and Susan.

Note the entire Robert Patterson family is still in, as well as a sister, mother and brother-in-law. But tonight he will battle said sister, while his mother tangles with his son and his daughter faces off with his brother-in law. We could write a soap opera!

The Sufferers will face another married-in when Kansas plays Jim’s Terps (anyone notice that the Maryland Terrapins (turtles) played the South Dakota State Jack Rabbits (hares)?). Gordon will face his Aunt Rebecca. And yes, Ellie, the HURRICANES, are still playing.

I’ll try to get back to everyone before the Saturday games. Hoop it up, chilluns!

 

Team 1

Seed-Region

Team 2

Seed-Region

Sufferers of Fools

Kansas

1-S

The Force

Notre Dame

6-E

Dottie

Iowa St.

4-MW

Dub

Texas A&M

3-W

Elizabeth

Oklahoma

2-W

Ellie

Miami

3-S

Gordon

Gonzaga

11-MW

Jim

Maryland

5-S

Katie

Oregon

1-W

Martie

Indiana

5-E

Rebecca

Syracuse

10-MW

Rhyne

Duke

4-W

Rivers

Wisconsin

7-E

Robert

UNC

1-E

Sarah

UVA

1-MW

Susan

Villanova

2-S

 

Happy Hoops-day!

You think I’d plan accordingly. As if it has not happened each of the previous nine years: the Virginia General Assembly ends, Sunshine Week (Nirvana Week for us open government/FOIA geeks) hits, Dell turns another year older, the teams for the NCAA tournament are selected, and I am caught as flatfooted as CBS was when it tried to drag out Selection Sunday to two hours even though the bracket it was unveiling had already been leaked online. Hence, the annual mad dash and scramble to get teams assigned and the website ginned back up.

Reality
What we think we look like (left). What we actually look like (right).

But so dedicated to this endeavor are we at Tournament Central that we completed our own selection scenario via Face Time, with me in Fredericksburg, where I gave my first open government talk in a hookah lounge (“‘You’ll get used to it in time,’ said the Caterpillar [to Alice].”), and Dell at my home computer.

This technological stretch was too much for the Cat Commissioners. Their tiny little heads simply exploded when they saw the tiny little picture of my head and knew not where my feet and hands might be. (“One side will you grow taller, and the other side will make you grow shorter,” said the Caterpillar as it got down off the mushroom and crawled away in the grass.)

Donkeys
We always knew Mike was a Democrat.

But pick we did, and folks, we are in for a doozy of a tournament. I foresee much taunting and passionate defense from our lot, that is, when five of our lot deign to set foot on U.S. soil again. As you may or may not know, Elaine, Mike, Karen and Rebecca have been visiting the set of “Life of Brian,” braving dead seas, wailing at walls and kibitzing at kibbutzes, while Beth’s been on the other side of the Middle East crisis, lounging on a balcony in Abu Dhabi while strains of “Dixie” filter over the PA system (ask her about it).

The tournament will be no doubt be bittersweet for us, no matter how dooziful it is. Bitter because it’s our first one without Mr. Basketball himself, #. . ., um, # . . . , what they heck number was he? Anyway, a member of the 1945 South Carolina State Basketball Champions, from Calhoun-Clemson High School, MISter EDwin RHYYYYYYYYYNE! He and Mama shared a love of basketball, and I spent many many an afternoon as a young’un watching any and every basketball game that ran on network TV. His beloved Clemson Tigers did so well in football this year that I can’t help but hope that his beloved Tar Heels will make a similar (though ultimately successful) run in basketball. Yes, I’m biased.

EdRhyne
Calhoun-Clemson state champs.

But sweet because this is our first tournament with two new young’uns and their concomitant first-time parents and grandparents. We are all thrilled to welcome Simon and Revi to our growing ranks. It will be so much fun to watch them grow and explore and wonder and achieve and merge into this family and the family of their other parent.

I was telling Rebecca that when Daddy used to show me pictures of his extended family and point to people who were his second cousin, his third cousin, his first cousin once- or twice-removed, my eyes would glaze over and I’d think that once you started getting into second and thirds, that they would necessarily be remote and distant. But now I know better and different. Everyone who has come into this family feels to me just as close and special as the ones I was born knowing. But lest you think I’m getting too soft now than i’m 50, I’m going to draw the line at fifth cousins or some such because then you’re into Eleanor and Franklin territory and being able to marry your cousin and I’m just not ready to cue the banjos yet.

I put the two littlest third cousins together with their older and wiser third cousins, Rowan and Cora, to form one of my annual mashups to get to 32 people. They are the 3rd Cousins. I also put the doyennes of the family — Lee, Dot and Gwynn — together as the force that they are. They are The Force. And then there are those troupers who’ve married into the family and have no choice but to suffer my overconfidence (see, I’m so overconfident that I intentionally didn’t use the word arrogant). They are the Sufferers of Fools.

So, with no more circumstance and just a little pomp, may I present the 2016 Rhyne-Blyth-Patterson-Mostly-Annual-I-Thought-About-Postponing-The-Selection-Until-After-A-New-President-Is-Picked-But-The-Republicans-Stole-My-Idea NCAA Basketball Extravaganza!

Team 1

Seed-Region

Team 2

Seed-Region

Seed Total

Beth

Texas

6-W

Holy
Cross/Southern

16-W

22

Carl

Stephen F.
Austin

14-E

Cal

4-S

28

Caroline

Hampton

16-MW

Hawaii

13-S

29

Christine

Farleigh
Dickenson/FGCU 

16-E

Temple

10-S

26

Claire

Yale

12-W

UNC-Asheville

15-S

27

3rd Cousins
(Cora, Revi, Rowan & Simon)

 

Texas Tech

8-MW

Vanderbilt/Wichita
State

11-S

19

Sufferers
of Fools (Dan, Honor & Kiran)

 

Seton Hall

6-MW

Kansas

1-S

7

Daniel

Weber St.

15-E

Middle
Tennessee

15-MW

30

Dell

Kentucky

4-E

Providence

9-E

13

The Force
(Dot, Gwynn & Lee)

 

Utah

3-MW

Notre Dame

6-E

9

Dottie

Arizona

6-S

Iowa St.

4-MW

10

Dub

Oregon St.

7-W

Texas A&M

3-W

10

Elaine

Buffalo

14-S

Iowa

7-S

21

Elizabeth

Oklahoma

2-W

Chattanooga

12-E

14

Ellie

Miami

3-S

Dayton

7-MW

10

Gordon

Gonzaga

11-MW

UNC-Wilmington

13-W

24

Jim

Maryland

5-S

Colorado

8-S

13

Joe

Little Rock

12-MW

St. Joseph’s

8-W

20

Karen

South Dakota
St.

12-S

Michigan/Tulsa

11-E

23

Katie

Cincinnati

9-W

Oregon

1-W

10

Libby

Michigan State

2-MW

UConn

9-S

11

Martie

VCU

10-W

Indiana

5-E

15

Megan

Butler

9-MW

USC

8-E

17

Mike B.

Austin Peay

16-S

Stony Brook

13-E

29

Mike P.

Green Bay

14-W

West Virginia

3-E

17

Pierce

Purdue

5-MW

Xavier

2-E

7

Rebecca

Fresno St.

14-MW

Syracuse

10-MW

24

Rhyne

Pittsburgh

10-E

Duke

4-W

14

Rivers

Cal State
Bakersfield

15-W

Wisconsin

7-E

22

Robert

Baylor

5-W

UNC

1-E

6

Sarah

Northern Iowa

11-W

UVA

1-MW

12

Susan

Iona

13-MW

Villanova

2-S

15

First off, our #1 seeds are in the proud hands of the Sufferers of Fools, a Patterson, and two Blyths (sisters, no less). And Robert has crushed it with the lowest seed total for the two teams combined: 6. The Sufferers of Fools are close behind with 7, as is Pierce. The Force is sitting pretty with a 10. On the other end of the spectrum, Daniel’s dying with a total of 30, while Mike B. and Caroline are on life support with 29. At least Mike B. gets this ditty for his two teams: Let’s go Peay in the Stony Brook! Caroline gets the award for the pairing of two teams farthest away from one another: Hawaii and Hampton.

Rhyne is no doubt pleased as punch to have his parents’ alma mater of Duke and another ACC team to boot, while poor Duker Rebecca has to once again shoulder the burden of carrying Syracuse, a team she hates and a coach with whom shares the same birthday.

Jim snagged one of the three schools from which he holds a degree and will champion the Terrapins, in addition to my and Rhyne’s Buffalos. And this should not be confused with Buffalo, which is Elaine’s team. And her other team, Iowa, should not be confused with Iona, which is Susan’s team. Carl’s team is Stephen F. Austin, which isn’t in Austin (Nacogdoches).  Ellie may be the most confused of all considering Dayton is in Ohio, Ohio University is in Miami, and Miami is in Florida, where many alligators and retirees live,  and oh my head hurts.

So, even though two play-in games are already in the books, I will consider tomorrow the start of the tournament. I expect my eyes to start bleeding from so much TV round about Friday at 3 PM. Take care of yourselves, peeps!