Buck Back Gack

We had our annual Buck Back draft the other day, and I think I gagged big time.

Long-time readers may recall that I play in an alternative approach to NCAA pools called the Buck Back.  Rather than trying to forecast the results of every game, eight of us put in eight bucks each, select eight teams in a serpentine draft, and then get $1 — i.e., a buck back — every time one of our teams wins. The Buck Back during March Madness is now a time-honored tradition.

This year the draft was the hardest ever, because it’s impossible to have great confidence that any team is going to do well in the tournament.  Every school has struggled at some point during the season, and every team has weaknesses.

I drafted fourth, and I look at my teams and wonder whether I’ll win even a few games, much less break even.  My first pick was Indiana, which stumbled to the finish line, and my second pick was Michigan, which also struggled in the last half of the season.  Both have talented players, but which teams will show up — the early season world-beaters, or the battered squads that limped home?  My third-round pick was Memphis, which plays in one of the weakest conferences in the country, and my fourth selection was Wichita State, which has to start the Tournament against a tough Pitt team.  My later round picks — San Diego State, Cincinnati, Montana, and Iona — all are question marks.

So I sit, waiting for the Big Dance to start in earnest tomorrow, and I wonder whether my entire Buck Back draft was a choke.  I’ll bet I’m not the only one who feels that way — and I can’t wait for the Tournament to start.

83

IMG_1157Happy Birthday was sung with gusto, JT’s pizza and chicken wings were gobbled, white cake with white frosting was consumed, birthday presents were opened, Andrew struck his album cover pose, and a good time was had by all.  Happy birthday, Mom!

A Birthday, And A New Beginning

On March 20, 1930, Agnes Catherine Neal, the matriarch of our Columbus Webner clan, made her squalling debut into the world in Akron, Ohio.  Today, she celebrates her 83rd birthday — and also a new chapter in a long life well lived.

00020413The last year has not been easy for her.  Several months ago, Mom had a severe stroke.  Fortunately, my sister was present when it happened, recognized that a stroke was occurring, and got Mom to the hospital for immediate care and treatment.  Still, the stroke had devastating consequences, leaving Mom’s left side weak and non-responsive.

Since she left the hospital, Mom has been in a rehabilitation facility, following that winding road to recovery that is different for every person who must follow it.  She has worked to reacquire the trunk, leg, and arm strength to sit upright, pivot, put her feet on the floor, and get out of bed, to use a walker, and to do what most of us do without a second thought.  She has made real and encouraging progress, and we will keep following that winding road to see where it leads us.

Earlier this week, Mom moved into a new place where she can live more independently but with plenty of people nearby to help her when she needs it.  It’s a snug little spot that fits her well.  She’s back in her favorite chair, surrounded by her furniture, her family photographs, and other comforts of home.  This afternoon we all will gather there, to sing Happy Birthday and eat some pizza and cake and mark the occasion.

Happy birthday, Mom!  We love you, and we’re proud of you!