Happy St. Patrick's Day! (Is there anybody out there?)

Due to extenuating circumstances, this is going to be an atypical blog post for me-

rather than a lengthy discussion on a single topic, I am writing a few short blurbs on differing subjects. First off, Happy St. Patty's Day. Since my father's family is Irish, I am obligated to celebrate the feast day of my paternal ancestors' patron saint. My grandparents came to America from County Mayo on Ireland's western coast in the 1920s, settled in Buffalo and most of their descendants have lived in the area ever since. Truth be told, I miss my mother's corned beef and cabbage, which was excellent despite her Sicilian roots. Now my sister has taken up the task of making the holiday feast, but since she works today and tomorrow, we will be eating corned beef, cabbage, potatoes and carrots on Sunday, which appropriately corresponds with Buffalo's major St. Patrick's Day parade, but also this year happens to fall on St. Joseph's Day- the feast day of my maternal ancestors' patron saint, which ironically many churches and restaurants are celebrating today since it is a Lenten Friday.

Second I am writing this without any idea whether anyone other than my sister has been reading my blog posts. Two key lessons I have learned from watching YouTube videos regarding building an audience for one's blog is thus: don't quit since it can take several months for search engine optimization to transpire and for any blogger to be discovered by a sizeable group of followers; and be consistent- post blogs on a schedule so that one's readers know when to expect new entries. So far I have been composing new posts on Fridays so that they can be published for reading on Saturday mornings when people are typically off from work and have more free time. But at this point, my blog posts may be the literary equivalent of a tree falling in a forest because I don't know if any-body is listening to me. I am definitely far from ready to quit after just five blog posts, but it would be nice to receive some assurance that my words are being seen and my effort is not entirely in vain. So for those who are reading this blog, could you please send me a brief message of affirmation at pmcmdmph@gmail.com so I know I am not just whistling solo by the graveyard?

Third, the main reason why I am writing a short blog today is the NCAA Basketball Tournament, one of America's premier annual sporting events. I have watched every tournament since 1982, when I was 11, and a North Carolina team led by James Worthy, Sam Perkins and a talented freshman by the name of Michael Jordan won the national championship. My usual attention and excitement is increased by the fact my hometown is hosting 1st and 2nd round games for the sixth time in the past 18 years. Yesterday I watched all four games held in downtown Buffalo's KeyBank Center, featuring the ever popular (in Western New York at least) Notre Dame team, defending national champs and number one seed Villanova, the Bob Huggins-coached West Virginia Mountaineers and a Wisconsin squad that has reached the Sweet 16 the past three years and is led by three senior starters who played significant roles on the 2015 Final Four team, from the comfort of my living room. Even as I write this, I have the Michigan-Oklahoma State game on, the former coached by John Beilein, a Western New York native and former coach of my alma mater Canisius College, who in 1996 led Canisius to its first NCAA Tournament bid since 1957- it remains their only appearance in the past 60 years. Yours truly has felt a sense of loyalty to coach Beilein ever since and I have continued to follow his career as he left Canisius for Richmond, then West Virginia, and now Michigan.

While I have thus far chosen to watch the tournament from the confines of home, and thus avoid the thousands of out-of-town college basketball fanatics that have converged on Buffalo, I do intend to drive by the arena tomorrow afternoon and watch at least part of a 2nd round game at a bar near KeyBank Center that has advertised a Buffalo favorite foods buffet for each of the first three days of the tournament. By the way, the eyes of the entire college basketball world will be on my hometown tomorrow afternoon because the two games in Buffalo will be only ones broadcast at that time, unlike the evening games, which will compete against each other for attention on three TV networks.

In conclusion, next week when I have more time, I intend to write about my personal experience at the 2004 NCAA Basketball Tournament. Also if you have read this

whole blog post, again I ask you to please send me a brief email so I have an indication that somebody is paying attention to my ramblings.

P.S. Michigan just won 92-91 to advance to the 2nd round.

#Irish #CountyMayo #Sicilian #NCAATournament #Buffalo #CanisiusCollege

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© 2017 by Peter McNeela.