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THE IDLE AMERICAN
Wednesday, March 18, 2009 • Posted March 18, 2009

A New Season at Hand…

Column #307 for Release Saturday, March 14, 2009, or Later

Much bluster is made about the coming in and the going out of March. Children learn early on about its strange combination of lion and lamb-like tendencies, and it is the only month typically linked with ides.

It’s not the only month with ides, but it’s the only one heightened by a highly-significant assassination. Yep, March 15 is the date Julius Caesar went down. It’s also the month millions of Americans mutter about the need to be working on income tax, but almost never do.

Let’s give March its due. How about “March Madness,” intercollegiate basketball’s “second season” when 65 teams vie to make it to the national championship? Many Americans who barely acknowledge the sport during regular season join sports conversations at water coolers, yipping and yapping as if they’ve followed every bounce of basketballs since November….

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One new wrinkle I never expected to see in our unraveling cultural fabric bodes ill for many folks. We shouldn’t hold March responsible, but that’s the month Six Flags Over Texas is expected to start selling beer, despite objections by many community leaders in the Metroplex.

There’ll be much joking about “feeling drunk,” and not knowing whether to blame the brew or the rides.

Sadly, we see yet another salute to the almighty dollar, without regard for documented dangers associated with drinking….

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An aside concerns the patient who deeply inhaled for his first whiff of anesthesia. “Hey, Doc,” he said. “This stuff makes you feel like you’re drunk, doesn’t it?”

“I don’t know,” the doctor answered. “I’ve never had anesthesia.”…

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Digression shoved to the side, let’s return to “March Madness.”

For the regular season, coaches pretty much made comments that had been heard many times before. Pat Knight, who succeeded his dad as coach at Texas Tech, offered a new one. Suspended for a game after criticizing officials, he claimed that sometimes coaches have to fall on hand grenades to get the attention of the Big 12 Conference.

Maybe my bias as a former university CEO is showing through, but it appears to me that Texas Tech University leaders have far better reasons for lobbing hand grenades than Red Raider coaches do covering them….

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I’ll join the masses watching the NCAA Tournament, pulling NOT for the best or best-known, but instead for whichever school has the smallest budget, whose coach’s salary is in the low six figures and perhaps needs exposure the most. There may even be a team whose uniforms may seem a bit ragged for the national stage.

Oh, I realize there aren’t many such teams. And usually, they don’t survive the first game.

I know the odds, but I can dream….

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Speaking of odds—and dreams—we were big dining winners at a restaurant new to us during our recent visit to Las Vegas.

The steak of our dreams wasn’t at some glitzy place on The Strip, where flashing lights dazzled. No, it was Charlie Palmer Steak, off the lobby of the Four Seasons Hotel. The meal and all the trappings were regal. Here I’d thought for many years that the best steaks were served in Texas. My only regret is that we didn’t budget quite enough time for both dinner and the show following, so we had to rush. I would have enjoyed chewing each bite longer, but hey, that’s a reason to go back to LV one of these days.

I don’t know if they grant last meal requests on Nevada’s death row, but if they do, I’m guessing Charlie Palmer’s is at the top of the list….

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As a person barely on speaking terms with anything mathematical, I keenly remember that statistics brought me to my knees during doctoral study almost 40 years ago. And here I am writing about numerical odds and such. Be assured that it won’t happen often.

Our preacher Mike—the one to whom we had nothing to confess relative to visiting Las Vegas—described the likes of me recently. He spoke of the bumbling mathematician who claims that finally, there are only three kinds of people—those who can do math, and those who can’t.

Parishioners’ expressions didn’t change as the humor whizzed over our heads before falling limply to the foyer floor. So, he repeated the story, word for word, this time emphasizing THREE kinds of people. Then, many people chuckled, and the rest of us broke into laughter on the drive home. (And if you haven’t smiled yet, re-read it: THREE KINDS OF PEOPLE—those who can do math, and those who can’t….)

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Dr. Newbury is a speaker and writer in the Metroplex. Send inquiries and comments to: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: www.speakerdoc.com.

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