A really great thing about college basketball

Many of us have probably torn up our brackets in shear disgust during the past few weeks. Or maybe pull out  your hair or what is left of it! Yes it is that time of year when many people face the enormously frustrating task of filling out your brackets for the NCAA college basketball tournament and seeing those picks go up in smoke. How many people actually have Florida playing against South Carolina for a regional final? Or Oregon, minus one of their better players, upsetting a hot Kansas team and advancing to the final four? Yes, this tournament has always been unpredictable and crazy, but it also speaks volumes of one of the great things about major college basketball and that is the word, parity.

As a huge sports fan, I cannot get enough of unpredictability and the unknown in sports. When many teams have a chance at winning the championship, I find it very exciting. When one team always dominates and wins every championship, that is very boring and I tend to lose interest in the league or sport. For example, I love the NBA. I would rather watch an NBA game than college game any day of the week. But how many teams in the NBA have a legitimate shot at winning the championship? It is almost a forgone conclusion that Cleveland and Golden State will probably play for the title this spring. Perhaps San Antonio may be in the mix but will we hear from a 3rd through 8th seed in each conference? In all likelihood, no. That is not the case with major college basketball. There are several teams who have a great chance of winning the national championship. I have not seen this much parity in college basketball in a long time. It what makes the sports, particularly come tournament time, that much more exciting.

The NFL has seen an increase in team parity in recent years and that makes a better league. A team like Carolina can go from a last place team to a Super Bowl contender in a short period of time. Parity gives hope to fans that their beloved teams will rise from the ashes and make a playoff run and that is a very healthy thing.

I know major college basketball at times can be a very over-hyped sport. There are a million games on television during the regular season. But nothing beats the excitement and unpredictability of the tournament. And a huge reason is the ever-increasing parity that has become big-time college basketball. Parity is great for any sports league and college basketball is a shining example of why. Except if you are having major anxiety attacks over your office pool bracket!

Calling out Congressional Republicans

Quite frequently my blog posts, I like to single out politicians and political parties for their outright incompetence and stupidity. The Democratic party is a frequent target of mines because in my opinion, they are so far removed from reality and what actually works in solving some of our country’s most pressing problems. Today, I am going to switch gears a bit and lay my wrath on the Republican party. Their actions during the last few weeks have only reinforced my disdain for both major parties in this country.

The health care bill known as Obamacare has long been a sore spot among many people and repealing the bill has always been a favorite talking point among Republicans. The bill was passed without one single Republican vote and the Democratic party owns the bill. It is one of the major reasons that Republicans has enormous success in last November’s election. People are paying much higher premiums and deductibles for health care coverage due to the many foolish overreaches of this bill. Obamacare will collapse in a few years and we elected Republican majorities in both the House and Senate as well a new Republican president to fix the bill. They PROMISED they would fix it! Well judging from what is happening in Congress, this bill is a long ways from being fixed.

It is a long-held belief of mine and many others that perhaps this bill will never be fixed. The Republican party has the ball in their court right now and they are far too divided as what to do next. It is an extremely sad day in America to see a major party not even agreeing on what should be a very common sense solution to fixing a bad bill. Where is the leadership in the Republican party these days? We know that the Democrats will not even attempt to work with the Republican party in attempting to come up with a better bill.

If the Republicans cannot even come up with a consensus bill to fix Obamacare, how can we even have faith in them to handle other legislation such as tax reform or immigration? Are they going to fight among themselves in trying to come up with practical solutions to these problems as well? Furthermore, this party has nearly 7 years to come up with a solution to Obamacare and they are still divided! That is totally unacceptable in my eyes.

The Republican party has a golden opportunity both at the Federal and State levels to rule for long periods of time. We know how incompetent the Democratic party is at the current time. The Republican party has some good ideas to counter some of the ridiculous plans of the Democrats. Sadly, they cannot even agree on what is  totally right for the American people.  The Republicans in Congress seem to be more concerned about themselves and their own ideologies than compromising. In the end, we all lose. If anyone wonders why Congress has such low approval ratings, last week’s failed attempt to overall Obamacare is a classic example. Our country has seen enough of this foolishness!

The daunting task of making a federal or state budget

Shortly after President Trump announced his new budget last week, I logged onto to Twitter to see people’s reactions and what I saw did not surprise me in the least! Several people where extremely upset by the cuts to the EPA. Others were tweeting that Trump is just trying to protect his rich friends at the expense of the poor. Many were upset with cuts to the “Meals on Wheels” program. I did see a few tweets supporting Trump, but a majority were very harsh against his new budget. Some were even a bit over the top like picturing Trump as the anti Christ! In my state of Minnesota, there are currently heated discussions among lawmakers concerning the next budget and what to do about a surplus. Yes, there are some things in life that are guarantees, death, taxes and lawmakers fighting over budgets. It is the heart and soul of many political battles.

One of the biggest challenges lawmakers have in setting a budget is prioritizing things especially in regards to entitlement programs. Some programs are extremely unsustainable and it takes a lot a courage for a politician to take a stand for cutting something that might benefit a poor person. At the same time, the lawmaker might give a tax break to the wealthiest people and people start screaming about how unfair that is. The truth is that tax break may help generate jobs and investments so a bunch of poor people can actually have a good job. Many voters do not understand how that works.

I saw many people tweeting how angry they are about increasing our military spending and cutting several EPA programs. At this current time, do we not need a strong and powerful military? This is a dangerous time in our world and we being threatened from all parts of the globe. Yet some folks are extremely upset when more money goes to our military. I don’t know about you, but I want our military to be big and powerful at this time. We don’t need more funds for NPR, we need them for our military. Our silly governor of Minnesota wants surplus money to be used for preschool education ahead of tax breaks for businesses. What kind of logic is that? Some politicians have awfully strange budget ideas to say the least!

By law, states are required to balance their budgets. Wouldn’t it nice if the folks at the Federal level were required to do the same thing? Some politicians in Washington have no idea what a budget is about. They think money grows on trees. The last President should be included in this group. Our debt is growing out of control and someday in the future, we will pay deeply for our lack of fiscal discipline. Both parties are to blame for it too.

Politicians who can sit down and make sound fiscal decisions are to be highly valued who deserve to get re-elected. Those who continue to spend our money and get no results deserve to get thrown out of office. As citizens, we need to pay close attention to how these elected officials spend our money. Unfortunately, many get away with poor fiscal decisions and those officials need to be held accountable. Making a budget at any level should not really be that difficult, but in this day and age of many special interests and increasing entitlements, it is becoming a no-win task.

 

The silly March Madness workplace study

A recent article appeared on many internet sites suggesting that the office pool madness during the NCAA men’s basketball tournament is responsible for companies losing nearly 2 billion dollars due to lack of productivity. It is believed that many employees simply do not have their minds focused on their work, instead, they are more concerned with how their brackets are doing. Doesn’t it seem like there is always some study that comes out during this time of the year warning employers about this so-called annual late winter, early spring disease affecting thousands of companies? If you read enough of the article, you might wonder why office brackets are not banned altogether. Just take every bit of fun from our daily workplace lives!

I wonder how these geniuses doing the study came up with the 2 billion dollar figure. For starters, a large majority of the games do not take place during normal workday hours. The only games that do are the first round match ups and many lack any type of suspense. I don’t think too many employers or bosses need to worry about their employees during the first few days of the tourney. I am a huge fan of the tournament, but my mind is fully on my job. I will check my phone to see how the games are progressing and that is it. No watching the games on any live stream feeds because most of the games at that point are relatively meaningless.

One of the great things about having a big office pool is that it brings people together and isn’t that one of the objectives of any work environment? I fully realize that some people are not basketball fans and do not like the constant basketball chat, but by and large, many like to discuss how their brackets are doing. It is a fun little competition between co-workers. A place that is fun to work at means employees are more than likely to be more productive.

If employers want to ban any type of office pool during the NCAA tournament, then perhaps they should also monitor other things that take place in the workplace. The person who feels annoyed when bracket chat takes place probably has no problem wanting to chat about something that he or she is deeply interested in and bothering other people as well. While we are at, perhaps employers should just ban employees from carrying their phones into the workplace. How much time and money is wasted with people texting or updating their status of Facebook.

A company who feels they are losing a lot of productivity and money during March Madness needs to look in the mirror and maybe realize that the problem is not the employees, but rather the employer themselves. I highly doubt employers are getting royally screwed like the study seems to suggest. Office brackets are a healthy thing for any company. Shouldn’t there be some part of work that is actually fun for a change? By the way, my boss is participating in our pool this year.

Lifetime memories of playing high school sports

There are many memories that people have from their high school days. Some are very pleasant memories such as that time you went to the prom with that hot babe. Or it might be a group of friends that you hung out with or perhaps some teacher/teachers. Most of these memories pale in comparison to the memories I have had of participating in high school sports. Those are memories that I will never forget for the rest of my life. It is impossible for me to go to a high school event nowadays and not relive the past in some form or another. Those memories really come up during this time of the year when I watch many of the state tournaments. There is just something special about playing sports in high school. I went on and played sports in college and it was nothing like my high school experiences.

I don’t think my memories of playing high school sports necessarily centered around the competition. There were so many games and events that I took part in. I do recall some of the low and high points, but the competition really took a back seat to the comradery I had with my teammates and the many friendships I developed while being an athlete. We went on many long bus rides to away games and it gave us a chance to bond as a team. I  can vividly recall arriving at an opponents gym for a game and having the feeling that the whole town was out to get us. It was us against the town. It was a great feeling to come out victorious. I knew my teammates had my back when I stepped on the court. We seemed to have that sense of togetherness when we played and that is something I will forget.

I grew up in a small town and the notoriety I got from being part of the high school team was really cool too. On a couple of occasions, I got my picture in the local paper. My name also frequently appeared in the paper. Sometimes people I didn’t even know came up and talked to me about the team. I felt like a professional athlete. I know that is a rather shallow approach to life, but as a 17-year-old, it was a big thing to have that attention.

I know there are many young high school students who are currently thinking about quitting their sport because it is not fun or maybe they have a chance to work at part-time job. I know playing sports can be a real grind but try to set some goals for yourself. Even if you are the last person off the bench, try to better yourself and the sport will become more enjoyable. You have the rest of your life to work. Being part of a high school team or playing a sport is a memory that you will always have. Is your memory from high school going to consist of quitting some sport to work at some boring part-time after school job? Live a little!

I firmly believe to this day that playing high school sports taught me more lessons about life than any class I took in high school. Not even close. It taught me how to work together as a team in reaching a goal, it also taught me discipline and how to face pressure and adversity. I learned so many valuable lessons that I apply to my own career right now. I occasionally run into contact with some of my former teammates around town or on Facebook. We have some much fun discussing those old high school sports days. I took playing high school sports so much for granted when I was in high school. Sometimes I wish I could go back and relive those glory days. Never would I imagine that high school sports have such a lasting lifetime memory in a person.

A bi-partisan health care bill anyone?

The other night, I had a dream that was quite shocking in nature. Congressional leaders of both parties gathered for a news conference to announce the new bi-partisan American Health Care Law. Although the leaders had admitted that they had many differences, they agreed to compromise and come up with a bill that would ensure all Americans receive fair and adequate as well as cheaper  health care coverage. Unfortunately, I woke up and realized what a far-fetched scenario this will ever be. There are some things that are absolute guarantees, death, taxes and both parties failing to agree on important legislation that affects millions of Americans and is responsible for 1/6 of our economy.

When President Obama was elected back in 2008, one of his first priorities was to shove Obamacare down our throats in an extremely quick fashion. Many lawmakers even admitted that they had not read the bill, yet they voted for it. Not one Republican voted for it, it was a purely partisan bill. Now Republicans are promising to repeal the bill since they have majorities in both the House and Senate. Funny but the Republicans as it turns out are split over how to proceed with repealing this bill. You just cannot make this nonsense up! Here they have had 8 years to figure this out and the divisions still exist. Getting back to the Democrats, they of course are adamantly opposed to any efforts to repeal the bill. Many of the Democrats want health care reform to consist of some big government entitlement program which in the long run is not sustainable. The fighting will only get worse in the next few weeks when this new bill comes up for a vote. As it is right now, I don’t see how it will ever pass.

Is it that hard for members of both parties to sit down and hash out their differences over health care reform? Why are Democrats continuing to support health care reform ideas that have proven not to work? I would be a total state of shock if some Democratic leader admitted that Obamacare has been a failure and we need to take another direction. The new plan supported by many Republicans looks like a slimmed down version of Obamacare, still not sufficient enough. Will any leader have the courage to stand up and say that we need to totally scrap the whole plan and come up with a new plan? When you start talking about taking away entitlements from people, that becomes a huge issue. It doesn’t matter that the entitlement is unsustainable for the future. Taking away those entitlements for something else is a huge challenge for the Republicans at this point.

Anyone who has any knowledge of Economics should understand that any kind of reform needs to center on the word “competition”. If I have more chooses for my health care, the better. That may mean having the ability to shop on the internet and pick out a plan from an insurance company in some other state. Furthermore, we have to look at my many insurance companies are jacking their premiums up so high. Well duh, if an insurance company has to cover a host of new people with pre-existing conditions, that would probably mean that they will be forced to raise their rates. It is just simple and basic economics. Why some lawmakers cannot understand this is beyond me. It is crucial to understand the consumer and insurance companies positions before you even begin to think about reforming health care.

Sadly, I have a feeling that this cycle is just going to continue forever. The next time the Democrats control things in Washington, they will want to repeal Trumpcare and we will be at square one again. I just want to see a day when both parties can come up with a plan that puts the American people first before their own political differences. Is this possible? I doubt it. But we can always dream about it.

What goes around often comes around in dating/relationships

Several years ago, singer Justin Timberlake came out with a song called “What goes around, comes around”.  The lyrics of this great song hold so true in dating and relationships. When you mistreat someone in a relationship and it ends badly, it often comes back to haunt you. Believe me, it has happened to me.

Relationships are indeed extremely scary to get involved in. You meet someone and you basically go by your gut instincts whether to continue with the relationship to possible marrying him or her, or you break things off. Often relationships end badly with one of the persons getting hurt. Perhaps you found the person of your dreams was cheating on you online and it is time to call it quits. You have this uncontrollable anger built up inside that is just ready to explode! You cannot accept the fact that someone you thought loved you, cheated on you and now has a new lover. It is not fair! My advice to anyone who is going through something like this is just be patient. That ex of yours will probably cheat on his or her new lover as well. Or maybe even better, they will cheat on your ex!

Funny, but it always seems to end up that way. People who feel the need to cheat and play games are often not the type to settle down with anyone. It is time for you to move on and find someone who is actually loyal to you and believe me, there are many out there. Life is way too short to harbor resentment towards someone. And do not and I mean, do not rule out the possibility that your ex may just come creeping back into the picture. It happens many times and when it does, you have a great chance to make them feel like dirt!

Shortly after I finished college, I was dating this gal who I adored and did everything possible to please her. I didn’t have a lot of money at the time, but I made sure I treated the best I could. One night, we went bowling with some friends and she ended up meeting some guy at the bar. I was jealous of course, but I have a policy of not interfering with my dates or woman’s social interactions. I had to leave early due to the fact that I had to work the next morning. She called me later that day and wanted to break up. Just like that, I was dumped unceremoniously. She explained that she wanted to date this guy and how he was so much better than I was. It was definitely the lowest point in my entire dating life. I felt like crap to say the least!

A few months later, I got a phone call from her one night. She told me that this guy was being mean and a total jerk to her. I actually gave her some advice to talk things out with her and perhaps they could patch things up. In the process, I did my best to disguise the glee that I felt! They eventually broke up and low and behold, guess who she wanted to date again? It was me! I told her that I was deeply hurt by what she did and it would take a lot of time to recover. She could not understand why I did not automatically want her back. I even mentioned that I had met other women and that made her extremely jealous. To this day, we remain good friends.

If you treat your partner very well and they run off with someone else, chances are they will eventually come running back to you. It always seems to happen that way. Karma does exist in love and relationships. Those who cheat eventually get their just due. And too be fair, I have also not been honest with some women myself and it seems that for every time I have not been honest with someone, a women turns around and has not been honest or truthful to me. Funny how that works! What goes around definitely comes around when you get hurt or hurt someone in a relationship. And maybe that is the way it should be!