1. I spent the Presidents’ Day weekend in Toronto, Ontario, with my daughter, Katelin, and her friends Esme and Emily. I had a lovely time, with good company, and good meals, most especially on Friday night, when we made a return visit to Adega, an exceptional Portuguese restaurant in Toronto’s Downtown neighborhood. Tripadvisor’s readers rate Adega as the second best of 3,240 restaurants in Toronto, which is completely credible and believable to me. Recommended, if you find yourself headed up to Toronto. As is the hotel we’ve stayed at twice now, The Residence Inn in the Entertainment District, which is the highest rated hotel in Toronto, according to Tripadvisor’s readers. It’s a long drive betwixt here and there (especially with a stop in Geneseo each way, to pick up and drop off the girls), but worth it to me, as Toronto is easily one of my favorite world cities.
2. When we checked in at The Residence Inn on Friday (the two bedroom/two bathroom plus kitchen suites are truly exceptional, when you’re traveling with people who don’t want to sleep together, or even near each other), the concierge noted that breakfast would be served on Monday until 11 AM, because of the holiday. This didn’t really register with me until some hours later, when my brain said “Wait a minute , Monday is President’s Day. Why are the Canadians celebrating that?” As it turns out, they weren’t. They were, instead, celebrating Family Day. Or at least in Ontario and some other provinces they were anyway. In Prince Edward Island, they were celebrating Islander Day, while in Manitoba, they were celebrating Louis Riel Day. A little research reveals that all of these holidays are new within the past decade or so. This makes me kind of sad, on some plane, since Family Day and its variants are clearly a case of the Canadians trying to figure out a way to take another day off on the same day when their bumbling, over-assertive, incorrigible neighbors to the south does so . . . as is the case for most of their holidays. We say Memorial Day, they say Victoria Day. We say Independence Day, they say Canada Day. We say Columbus Day, they say Canadian Thanksgiving. We say Veteran’s Day, they say Remembrance Day. Interestingly, the Canadians actually take Good Friday and Easter Monday as public holidays, while we don’t, and they also grab Boxing Day (the day after Christmas) as an official holiday, in the same way that we (unofficially) grab Digestion Day after our Thanksgiving. Here’s hoping the Canadians build on those cultural differences by adding an Inuit or Huguenot public holiday soon, in lieu of the wan Family Day. It’s unbecoming when you try to be like us, Canada. Whatever happened to Vive la Différence?
3. There are only three weeks left in the NCAA Division I College Basketball season, which means my level of obsession will be ramped up dramatically in the days ahead. For those who may not have been reading my piffle and tripe in years past, I take the NCAA Basketball tournament very seriously, and have developed a statistical model that seems to indicate that when more Mid-Major At Large (MMAL) teams receive berths in the NCAA Tournament, more upsets occur as the tournament goes along. The message of this model is that the Mid-Major Teams who might get bumped out due to upsets in their conference tournaments actually do better in the big dance that the teams from major conferences who finish sixth, seventh or eighth in their conferences during the regular season, but get bids anyway, because the corporate greedheads behind the Big 10, Big East, Big 12, ACC, SEC and Pac 10 do everything they can to ensure that the little guys don’t upset their oligarchy. Last year, mid-major Butler, while not an at large, came within a basket of beating mighty Duke in the national championship. Because of this, I predict that the cowardly and evil powers that be in Big Conference college basketball will actually pull strings to cut back on the number of mid-majors that they let into the tournament this year, despite the fact that the NCAA added three more bids to the field. I predict that these extra berths will not help Mid-Majors, but instead will allow the Big East to send ten teams to the dance, rather than their usual already undeserved seven or eight. (Since 2005, when the Big East became a huge, bid-devouring mega-conference of allegedly elite basketball schools, despite their profusion of bids, the conference has managed to score exactly zero championship appearances from five Final Fours. Stop the madness, people! The Big East is a fraud!) The number of MMAL teams in the tourney (which I define as teams from outside of the big, greedy, evil BCS conferences, who get in despite not getting their conferences’ automatic bids) has swung between four and twelve since 1998, with eight of the plucky little guys getting bids last year. While I think there are many, many deserving potential MMALs this year, at this juncture, I’m predicting that there will only be six of them selected to the tournament, unless some of the greedhead conference bubble teams really, really, really tank over the next few weeks. I hope I’m wrong, though, since the tournaments are better when the little guys get to play in them. More news on this over the weeks ahead, with spreadsheets and graphs to boot. I geek this hard. You’ve been warned.