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So March Madness is upon us.  What is that, you may ask?

Have you been living under a rock?  The camel replies.

It’s the NCAA tournament, which is a basketball event that begat this phenomenon they call March Madness.

This is not to be confused with the Ides of  March which occurred many years ago in 44 B.C. when  Julius Caesar experienced a “madness’ of his own.  Ironically, his assassination was adjacent to the Theater of Pompey in Rome and an adjunct to games scheduled at that venue in his honor.  No home court advantage for Caesar.

But the camel wanders (fittingly enough given the namesake of this blog.)

No, this Madness is a period of time involving sport, specifically college basketball, where institutions of higher learning compete to be the champion of basketball, also called “hoops” by some.  There are no degrees for this one, except degrees of elation and disappointment.

Guess what some people call tournament time?  The correct answer is, Hoopla.  Ding ding ding.  You advance to the next round.

Guess when it happens.  Or, to do it Jeopardy style?  It happens every year in March.  What is the NCAA tournament?

Wow, this is exciting.  Sort of like a tournament.

But to clarify, March Madness is a time of the year when for three weeks, all eyes turn to NCAA Division 1 College Basketball.   OK, maybe not ALL eyes, but according to a March 21, 2014 article in usnews.com:

“NCAA March Madness is upon us, which means we’ll probably be doing a lot less     work as a nation. An estimated 50 million Americans will be participating in office    pools this year, and at an average hourly wage of $24, employers stand to lose over   $1.2 billion for every unproductive work hour, says an annual study from Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.”

Presently 68 teams are chosen for the NCAA tournament and play 67 games to determine the winner of said tournament.  Only one of these teams ends their season with a win and the Championship.   The rest end their season with a loss.  It’s real life, suck it up.

It’s a time of the year when many also compete in office pools and fill out something called, “brackets” for a chance to win money.

Self proclaimed sports gurus spend hours evaluating tournament pairings and painstakingly pick their projected winners.

Others prefer this method:  “Oh I like the color blue.”  “Isn’t that cute, their nickname is the Ducks?”  “My brother in law went to college in Arizona.”

Many times the “duck” method wins the pool.

So difficult is this bracket process that billionaire, Warren Buffet offered one billion dollars this year to anybody anywhere who could successfully predict every game correctly this year.

Guess what?  Fifteen million people entered and after the week one, everybody lost.

Madness, yes?

It’s a time when schools like Butler, Valparaiso, and North Dakota State become household names and experience national exposure for one shining moment.   When they beat perennial hoop powers like Kentucky, Kansas and Michigan, we rejoice for their moment in the sun, even though it blows our brackets.

It’s a time when dreams come true.  It’s a time when dreams become shattered.

It’s a time when some teams, at least for a window of time, will experience memories they will retain for a life time.

As Charles Dickens wrote, “It was the best of times.  It was the worst of times.”

Or as Frank Sinatra sang, “You’re riding high in April, Shot down in May.”

And in the end, it’s just a basketball tournament.   Shower it with as much time as you wish, but remember the important things.

Just to keep things in perspective,  here’s a moment that happens to involve a member of a team in the 2014 tourney who seems to realize the important things:

Sometimes you never know.

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Here at Wedwand we celebrate the changing of the season this Wednesday.  Really, it’s changing tomorrow.  At least the season is, the weather, not so much.   Yes spring, or the Vernal Equinox as nobody chooses to call it, officially arrives at 11:57 CST on Thursday, March 20.  Set your clocks!

Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter, coldest winter in almost 14 years and it’s been as cold as ice, ice ice baby.  (The Beatles, Rod Stewart, Foreigner & Vanilla Ice all contributed to that sentence in case you were wondering on Wedwand.)   

The Disney film, “Frozen” won two Academy Awards at the 2014 Oscar ceremony: Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song.  Coincidence?  The camel thinks not.

But, tomorrow is officially Spring!  The Vernal Equinox.  Wedwand offers an Ode to the exit of the brutal winter of 2014:

Twas the night before Vern’s day and all through the land.

not a robin was chirping, snow still making a stand.

The grass was all brown in the yards round the town

and we wondered if warm days would ever come round.

The children on spring break wondering what can we do

when the weather keeps falling below thirty two.

Then out on the front street there arose such a clatter,

it was only another car’s rim in a pothole that shattered.

Sha do bee.

OK, enough of that. I think you get my drift.  If not, there’s likely a snow drift of sludge that remains if your neighborhood was hit hard this winter.

Let’s review the terms for the changing of the four seasons. 

The Summer solstice marks the beginning of summer.

The Autumnal equinox indicates the beginning of autumn.

The Winter solstice signals the beginning of winter.

So far, this is easy.

Then there’s the Vernal equinox.  Following the same logic, one would think we are entering the season of Vern.  But no.  The season is commonly called “spring.”   Poor Vern. You have an equinox, yet your season is not named for you.

But why do we call the season, spring?  Fall, as a substitute for autumn, I can understand.  Leaves fall in fall.

The summer and winter solstices signal the beginning of their respective appropriately named seasons.

The logic of “Spring” for the Vernal Equinox eludes me.  O sure we accept it because we have called it that for so long. 

Think about it.

Bees buzz, birds chirp, trees bud, flowers bloom, grass grows, plants sprout, but nothing really “springs.”

Perhaps a pogo stick springs, but I can think of nothing else offhand. 

(On an unrelated note, research revealed there is actually am “extreme pogo” website in case you were interested in this sort of spring.)   http://www.xpogo.com/jumpers/

Final thought: 

As we capture courage along this journey called life, let us not shy away from shameless pleasures we enjoyed along the way.  (And don’t tell me your toes aren’t tapping to this 24 year old corny classic the camel is about to share.)

Word.

To my mother.

Spring is on us, or so they said.    Last weekend, we sprung our clocks ahead but sprang not out of bed.

I know what you’re thinking.  Did Ben Franklin pen that rhyme when he sent his “Essay on Daylight Saving” to the Editor of the Journal of Paris in 1784?   Au contraire, shockingly, it’s a Wedwand original.   “Go fly a kite, really?”   But watch out for lightening.

Speaking of inclement weather, much of the US has endured a harsh winter.  Perpetual snow, blizzards, ice storms and all around awful weather abounded across much of the nation in 2014.  It even rained in California.

Soon it will end.  It has to, doesn’t it?

In winters like these, there’s a progression.  The first freshly fallen snow looks pristine as the flakes filter from the sky and initially cover the ground with the winter wonderland of white.

However, day after day, week after week, what was once a wonderland becomes an annoyance.  So far over 75 inches of annoyance thus far this winter in my hometown. 

Will it ever end?   It seemed so here.  At least when Wedwand penned the first draft of this entry on Monday, the temperatures hovered near 50 degrees.  Shirtsleeve weather in Chicago.  So I took the camel for a ride around the hood to enjoy the balmy temperatures.

But what did we find?   All those piles of pristine white snow that were shoveled and plowed turns into “dirty snow” as it melts.  Grey gloomy piles of sludge is all that remains after the thaw as a reminder of what was an awful winter.    

In between the freshly fallen snow of winter and the green grass, chirping birds and blooming flowers of spring looms a season not yet named.

We shall call it, “The Season Of Sludge.”  (Or, SOS if you will.)

Not much has been written of it, much less photographed, so Wedwand wanders into uncharted territories here with this perfectly abysmal pictorial essay.

Tell Me About The Rabbits, George

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Apparently at some time during the sub zero temperatures and biting wind chills, rabbits laid claim to a portion of the yard and left their signature on the tundra.  (If you connect the dots, you can vaguely make out an image of Gracie Slick singing “White Rabbit”.  Don’t believe me, go ask Alice when she’s ten feet tall.) 

The Roof

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The roof, the roof, the roof is on the ground, remnants of one of the winter wind storms. Have you had your shingles vaccination?

I Got All My Concrete With Me

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Ya gotta sing that line out loud to get the “Sister Sledge” reference.  “We Are Family”,  dirty snow, broken concrete and cracked streets captured in one shot.

All Of The Other Reindeer.                                                    

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A hopeful soul just can’t say no to those darned Christmas decorations and leaves them still on display in March.  Maybe there’s one in your neighborhood.  (Likely because there hasn’t been a weekend warm enough so far to take them down.)

City Sidewalks, Busy Sidewalks

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They’re no longer dressed in holiday style.  What was once a white snow path during Christmas has turned in an entire block of grey sludge.  One Way or another, it’s gotta end soon.

Curb Appeal

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The local strip mall parking lot is looking mighty fine in the Season Of Sludge.  Spring, wherefore art thou?

Gosh, I almost depressed myself with those featured photos.  Let’s just call it a public service presentation for those of you in Florida, Arizona and assorted tropical islands so you know what the thaw looks like here.

But, to end on up note:

A camel, a rabbit and a reindeer walk into a bar carrying a hunk of concrete.  Their order?  Three beers and one for the road.

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