I spent last weekend at my fantasy basketball league’s fifth annual Extravaganza in Milwaukee. Many people traveled many miles through treacherous weather to get there. One member became lodged in a snowbank in Iowa en route from Colorado, and was rescued by a farm family whom he spent the night with. Of course, this is the same guy who spent two months tackling seals in Antarctica, so I can’t imagine he was too concerned over the matter. Just another story for the already impressive Road Biography that dude needs to write someday.
After five years our Milwaukee weekend has taken on a certain roteness. Arrive. Consume intoxicants according to personal taste. Have dinner. Go mini-bowling. Stay up way too late. Next day, play basketball. Have lunch. More intoxicants. Go to game at Bradley Center. Go to bizarre bowling alley/bar establishment that’s really eight different bars. Stay up way too late. Next day, go home.
This year we mixed it up a little bit by going to the Marquette/Pittsburgh game instead of a Bucks game. That was a good choice. This particular night featured a reunion of the 1977 NCAA Championship team, and that was fun. Everybody freaked out when Al McGuire addressed the crowd. The level of energy in the building for a college game, particularly a good college game on a special event night, is so different from the energy level of a pro game. Drunk students, free t-shirts and a band can spice up the most pedestrian of buildings, which may be too generous a description of the Bradley Center.
Now, I know I was supposed to follow college basketball all year long on Pipeline, and one Pipeline Person went so far as to mock that effort to me privately by saying it would never last. Well, kudos to that Person. They foresaw the future, and such a difficult future it was to see. But let’s not lose sight of the fact that it was a good idea, and for about three weeks, some Pipeline People watched slightly more college basketball than they might have otherwise. Who can argue with results like that?
Anyway, at least let me give you the benefit of a scouting report, because both of these teams will be in the tournament. Marquette’s fairly balanced, and they were playing without one of their better players that night. They have good guards and a good coach. There’s no star, but they could win a couple games. Pitt didn’t look great to me, but it also could have been one of those nights. Their best player is Aaron Gray, and he’s basically a slow 7 footer who gets everything he gets simply by being big. Offensively, his team rarely looks for him, which is not a good sign when you are a 7 footer with a size advantage against the other team. He’s the kind of guy that will play in the NBA for five years or more, despite the fact that everybody realizes he sucks. He’s like a poor man’s Greg Dreiling or Mark Blount.
One lowlight of the weekend is that Wisconsin has not passed a smoking ban. Instead, it seems they have mandated smoking. I’ll admit I was ambivalent towards the smoking bans implemented here in the Twin Cities. I don’t smoke, but I have always associated smoking with going out, which I do enjoy. And, I’ll also admit to having a mild smoking fetish, in that I sometimes find women who smoke attractive. It makes them seem cooler and of possibly sketchy moral fiber, which is always a plus. Not that I’m in the market for a cool woman of sketchy moral fiber, since I’ve already found mine. I’m a people watcher, so it’s a hard habit to break. But when everybody in a place is smoking the effect tends to wear off, because obviously not everybody in a bar can be equally cool and of equally sketchy moral fiber. Plus, everybody stinks. Friend of Pipeline Cliff, a cigar smoker, remarked that he actually had to go outside and smoke to clear his lungs out.
Now that the Twin Cities ban has been in effect for some time I’m used to it, and going to a place where there are some people smoking is instantly noticeable to me but still tolerable. Going to a place where everybody is smoking doesn’t necessarily annoy me like it does many people. Instead, it just makes me feel like I’ve stepped into a less civilized place. The downside to civilization, naturally, is that I have lost my shorthand for finding the cool and morally sketchy people in the crowd. Now I just try to figure out which ones are Democrats.
Another highlight from the weekend was taking a few drinks of absinthe. It burns, but it’s not terrible. I was hoping to have some hallucinations, or at least delusions, but mostly it gave me heartburn. But it was a worldly kind of heartburn.
Then, at about 3:30 AM on Sunday morning, something very exciting happened. For some reason, despite having taken a piss approximately 30 times over the course of the weekend, and 100 times since last week, I happened to look down into the toilet in the midst of a drunken stupor and see my kidney stone. The odds of me seeing that stone had to be astronomical, given my overall level of intoxication and general lack of interest in inspecting my urine, possibly only matched by your lack of interest in hearing about my urine. You may also not care to hear that I had to fish that stone out, because my medical team needs to analyze it so they can see what the hell is wrong with me.
I’d like to take this opportunity to clear up a misconception about kidney stones, which is that they almost never hurt when you actually pass them. Really, in the two times I’ve done it I haven’t felt a thing, even though you’d think pissing BB-sized jagged rocks might be a problem. The real pain, the labor-type pains, come from when it leaves the kidney and travels the ureter, shredding the ureter along the way. The best description I can give of the pain is that it feels like you are being crushed, but from the inside out. And yes, I promise this will be my last post in the kidney stone genre.
When I went to the doctor yesterday, you would have thought I had a baby. Nurses were congratulating me, beaming as I showed it to them. “There it is!“, they cooed. And I have to admit, I was a little depressed at having to give it up, knowing I would never see it again. I worked a long time on that thing.
But, at least I know it’s going to a better place–the lab where they do the stone analysis is in San Luis Obispo, CA.