Author Archives: David

Thanksgiving feast? No thanks!

Tens of millions of Americans are going to pig out on turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry sauce and assorted other stuff. Sadly, tens of millions of other Americans don’t have the means to do so and will scrounge for food, like they have to every other day of their existence. It’s sad.

I’m fortunate to have a roof over my head and the ability to eat well.

Yet today, I am bypassing the traditional American Thanksgiving feast.

A couple of weeks ago, the lovely and talented Alexis Del Cid, a news anchor for the NBC affiliate in San Antonio, asked her followers what their favorite Thanksgiving side dish was.

Alexis, who went to San Antonio after a long and distinguished career at KCTV, the CBS affiliate in Kansas City, admitted she liked cranberry sauce, which many people, myself and my mother included, can’t stand.

I read several dozen responses, then I realized there really isn’t anything which appeals to me at a Thanksgiving meal. NOTHING.

Turkey? I don’t eat turkey on 361 or 362 days out of a given year. In the past, the only times I ate turkey was Thanksgiving and the three days after. Actually, I liked turkey on sourdough or rye with Swiss or provolone a heck of a lot better than I did eating it on its own. Yet it is way, way, WAY down my list of cold cuts.

My favorite cold cut is mortadella, followed closely by capicola, corned beef, pastrami and salami. I even like buffalo chicken occasionally, and of course, I’ll eat buffalo wings and Popeye’s chicken any time. Roast beef? I had Arby’s yesterday, and I realized I’ve been missing something by not going more often when I’m in Hays.

Peggy knows I’ve never ordered turkey when I’ve met her at Subway!

Even worse, my father decided not to deep fry the turkey like he has every year since he and my mother moved to Kansas 12 years ago. I remember eating the turkey prepared the traditional way in Louisiana. I had to stop eating white meat because it was drier than the Sahara.

Stuffing? It was my favorite. Then I got smart and realized the way my mother prepares it is the ultimate insult to her oldest son.

My mother bakes oysters into the stuffing, which isn’t even stuffing, since she bakes it in a separate casserole dish.

Oysters BAKED into a stuffing/dressing? I’m about to cry just thinking about it.

I am the same person who downed four dozen charbroiled oysters when I went to Baton Rouge with my dad in April 2018. I downed three dozen fried oysters from a Cajun-themed restaurant in Columbia a few years ago. My favorite menu item at Ivar’s in Baton Rouge when I lived there? The fried oyster po-boy.

If oysters aren’t my favorite food, they are a close second behind a RARE steak. I could eat oysters just about every day of my life and die a happy man.

To think my mother would waste perfectly good oysters by baking them into something is revolting. I’m going to take some Alka-Seltzer. Extra strength.

Sweet potato casserole? My mother cooks this at least once a month, sometimes more. What makes it so special for Thanksgiving? Pass.

Baked macaroni? It’s good, but again, it’s not special for Thanksgiving at 1224 North Brooks, nor was it special when we lived at 224 Jaguar. Nope.

Green been casserole? I’m not big on green beans, but I will eat them. There was a time when I got sick over seeing them. However, I’d rather eat asparagus, broccoli or cauliflower.

Pumpkin pie? Okay, but if I have a need for sugar, a Twinkie will do fine. Same with pecan pie.

There was a three-year period (2004-06) where I did not eat a Thanksgiving meal.

In 2004, I was in a hospital ICU battling pneumonia and a collapsed lung. I’ll never forget I woke up watching the Colts and Lions on television, wondering where the previous two days had gone.

In 2005 and ’06, I was in Kansas while my parents were still in Louisiana. I made a bigger deal about not having anyone to eat with in ’06 than ’05, but it turned out okay.

Today, it’s my choice not to eat. I told my mother not to cook because I wouldn’t eat, but my brother and his family are here from Tennessee. I wish my parents had gone south. I would have liked the privacy.

There were years where I would rant and rave about how I had nothing to give thanks for. That’s not true. This year, I’m staying away from social media. Maybe I should do that more often.

Football and trivia will tide me over today. And a nice steak, rare of course.

Hello it’s me

I am alive. I am also lazy for not posting in over a month. Then again, there really hasn’t been much worth posting. Not exactly true, but most of what I could post would not be good.

Twenty years ago today, I was in Bunkie, a town in central Louisiana the size of Russell, for Bill Franques’ wedding to Yvette Lemoine. I was up until 0200 the previous evening after covering a high school football playoff game in Baton Rouge, and I was not feeling so good when I got up. If it would have been just about anyone else, I would have stayed in Baton Rouge. Since it was Bill, I made that 100-mile drive. I left the reception early after clogging one of the toilets in the residence where it was held.

I’m glad I went, because some of Bill’s colleagues from LSU were not able to make it due to work commitments.

That was my last wedding ceremony for almost 18 years.

Fifteen years ago today, I had pneumonia and didn’t know it. I woke up Friday morning (19th) with sharp stabbing pains on my right side. At first, my dad and I thought it might be a broken rib.

I was so stupid that Saturday (20th) I attempted to go to work for a basketball game at Delgado Community College, a 25-minute drive from my house. When I got to campus, I decided I couldn’t take it and told Tommie Smith, the Dolphins’ athletic director, I couldn’t do it. He understood.

I didn’t go see a doctor until the following Monday. That nearly cost me my life.

I had to go into the hospital right away for pneumonia and a buildup of fluid around my right lung. I was on the critically ill list for at least 24 hours. Once I went under for surgery, I did not come to until the Colts-Lions game was on TV Thanksgiving Day.

I somehow pulled through, and I have only been back to the hospital once, in Kansas City in 2009 when I had unbearable pain after passing kidney stones. That lasted four hours, not 15 days.

It’s almost midnight and I’m starting to fade. Actually, I need to sleep. A lot. That’s all for now, folks.

Good-bye 42

The last 12 hours of my 43rd year got off to a sour start.

Following my fourth marathon day at Buffalo Wild Wings, I stopped at the QuikTrip in Riverside to fuel the Buick so I wouldn’t have to do it tomorrow.

When I arrived, I noticed a white GMC Yukon sitting in front of pump #4 with the pump in the tank. He was blocking one of the four non-ethanol pumps, and of course, I wanted non-ethanol.

After three or four minutes in the store, I pulled out of the lot in front of the store. Yet all the non-ethanol pumps were not available: the Yukon was still there, one was blocked by a guy fixing his car, another was blocked by a car not getting non-ethanol, and another was in use by someone actually buying non-ethanol.

I waited for three minutes for the Yukon. Nothing.

I finally had to go in and ask the clerks at the cash register to see if the Yukon owner was in the store. Sure enough he was. He told me he would move it. He looked pissed off.

First, it is absolutely RUDE to block a gas pump when you’re done. Move on.

Second, it is even more RUDE to block a pump which has non-ethanol or diesel. EVERY pump–20 of them in this case–has the three standard grades of 10% ethanol gas. And while it was busy, there were eight pumps open for the regular gas.

Third, why the hell do people leave their vehicle in front of the pump when they want to go shop in the store? That’s stupid. Why not pull the car to the front of the store so you don’t have as long to walk?

I am to the point where I might just have to take a trip to Tulsa and chew out the bigwigs at QuikTrip. No, I won’t make a special trip–although I could go for Whataburger–but I will send an angry letter. No cursing, no threats, but just my absolute disappointment at the lack of courtesy.

It was a great day at Buffalo Wild Wings. Robb and Theresa stopped by for an hour. Theresa brought me some of her homemade sausage to take back to Russell.

Yet I’m ready to get back to Russell. Got a lot of work to do between now and Wednesday at noon.

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I left B-Dubs upset last night. I was hoping Peggy would stop in Kansas City on her way from Des Moines to Paola. She was in Iowa yesterday to watch Caitlyn play, and she was heading to Courtney and Andy’s home to stay before going to Wichita today for the Ottawa-Friends match. I asked her to consider stopping on her way down I-35, but I never heard from her.

When I left B-Dubs, I made a beeline straight for Overland Park and Cheesecake Factory. I got two slices of cheesecake (tiramisu and Godiva–delicious) and a strip steak. The steak was overcooked and thin, so that taught me a lesson–stick to Cheesecake. I would have been better off making a second stop at Outback on the other side of I-435. Oh well.

I felt very guilty that I didn’t go to Wichita and to Ottawa, where Caitlyn was a member of the homecoming court. I was much harder on myself than they were on me. St. Louis bought a lot of goodwill.

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Georgia choked today. The third-ranked Bulldogs gagged to a mediocre South Carolina team 20-17 in double overtime in Athens.

I won’t go into how much I hate overtime in college and high school football. If you’ve read the blog you know my stance.

If anyone in the SEC was going to beat Georgia, South Carolina is the LAST team I wanted doing it.

Gamecocks coach Will Muschamp revealed himself as a gigantic douchebag last year when he vigorously defended then-Maryland coach D.J. Durkin, who helped kill Terrapins offensive tackle Jordan McNair with his gross negligence. Muschamp fired back at anyone who dared speak ill of Durkin and called those who did “soft”.

I never liked Muschamp when he coached Florida, although he dragged the Gators into the abyss, so that was good for LSU. The defense of Durkin sealed it.

Muschamp, Jimbo Fisher, Urban Meyer and Kirk Ferentz are four coaches I would never, EVER want any male relative of mine to play for. Nick Saban is a more complicated matter, one I don’t have time to delve into right now, considering its after 2300 and I want to be back in Russell in 12 hours.

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LSU didn’t choke, although the Bayou Bengals had me way too nervous. They traded blows with Florida for three quarters before pulling away in the fourth to a 42-28 victory in Baton Rouge. The Bayou Bengals will be fourth or fifth in the polls tomorrow, depending on where Oklahoma is slotted following its 34-27 victory over Texas in the Red River Rivalry. Alabama, Clemson and Ohio State will be the top three.

Honestly, why do we need polls before the end of October? Most of the early polls are based upon reputation and nothing more. Same with college basketball, where Kansas, Kentucky, Duke and North Carolina are automatically ranked in the preseason no matter what.

Missouri beat Ole M(P)iss 38-27. Good. As much as I can’t stand Florida, I totally depise the plantation in Oxford. I wish there would have been more allegations against Hugh Freeze which would have given the SEC reason to expel the Rebels.

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Washington won AGAIN in the National League Championship Series. The Nationals take a 2-0 lead back to the banks of the Potomac. The Cardinals had better find an offense NOW or else there will not be another game at Busch Stadium III until April.

The Yankees beat the Astros 7-0 in the first game of the ALCS at Houston. I can see it now….all the east coast media slobbering over the prospect of commuting up and down I-95. People in Philadelphia might not be so excited about the idea.

It wasn’t a good day for Larry. The Cardinals lost again, and the Blues got hammered 6-3 in Montreal. At least Mizzou prevented it from being a total disaster.

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Louisiana’s governor’s election is going to a second round. Incumbent John Bel Edwards failed to reach the necessary 50 percent plus one vote to win in the primary. He will now face Eddie Rispone in a runoff.

Rispone is a carbon copy of former governor Mike Foster–an rich old white man financing his own campaign. Foster didn’t do squat in two terms. He was more concerned about hunting and riding his motorcycles.

Louisiana was a total mess under Edwards’ predecessor, Piyush “Bobby” Jindal. Jindal cut state services and higher education to bare bones and the state swam in red ink deeper than the Mississippi River running through Baton Rouge. Jindal neglected the Bayou State to prepare his presidential campaign, which bombed spectacularly thank God.

Edwards–no relation to former four-term governor Edwin Washington Edwards–has put Louisiana back on solid financial footing. Of course, too many sycophant voters see a “D” next to Edwards name an automatically think he’s evil.

Rispone ran disgusting attack ads against both Edwards and Republican U.S. Representative Ralph Abraham, who finished third. I am so glad I’m not in Louisiana to see this crap.

Politics disgusts me. Period. I hate it. I’m sick and freaking tired of the hatred on both sides. Just because someone has an opposite view to yours doesn’t mean he or she is your mortal enemy. The real enemies are in North Korea, Russia, Venezuela and other countries which would destroy the American way of life.

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My 43rd year is down to its last 10 hours. By time I reconnect with this blog, I will be into my 44th. Good night.

My soft spot for teachers

It has been quite the ride in Kansas City this week. Sleep has been in short supply. Trivia, rain and indigestion haven’t been–the latter is all on me for eating too much.

I’m a happy camper. I got to see everyone I hoped to see on the trip, continued to rid myself of my unsightly body hair and got my hair cut nice and short. I must admit I love Heather cutting my hair and shaving my face with a straight razor at The Gents Place in Leawood. I do feel very bad for Amber, though. Kind of guilty.

I went 36 days without a haircut, the longest I have gone in almost 23 years. It was the longest it has been since I was in high school–it had to be because Brother Martin bans haircuts shorter than a #2 guard, fearing the shorter looks would be suuportive of the Skinheads. I haven’t gone shorter than #1 since 1996.

One of my favorite teachers, Joanne, showed up Wednesday. This time she came with her friend Kelsey. I don’t want to date Joanne; I have too many issues in my life, not to mention the distance, but it is very nice to have someone friendly to see on these trips. There have been too many where I’ve felt completely alone–that happened in late June when Larry was out of town and most of the people I know at Buffalo Wild Wings took vacation.

I told Tina to (again) put Joanne and Kelsey’s tab on mine. Again, they were surprised when their total was zero. Again, the ladies were very grateful. I told Joanne I don’t have a signifcant other, so I like to do nice things for those I care about, which explains the trip to St. Louis three weeks ago.

Joanne was very happy when the Cardinals went on their binge Wednesday in Atlanta. She’s a huge fan. At one point, three-fifths of the National League Central were represented at B-Dubs: Joanne for the Cardinals, Kelsey for the Cubs and me for the Brewers. I wonder if there are any Reds or Pirates fans in Kansas City.

Joanne can’t crack the top five of my favorite teachers, but she has moved into the top 10.

The top six are pretty much set in stone. In no order, they are Peggy, Brenda, Stacie (Dauterive) Seube, Rosemarie (Renz) Huguet, Janine Koenig and Rebecca Hale.

Only two actually taught me: Janine eighth grade science, and Rebecca English during the first semester of 11th grade.

I am blessed that I’ve reconnected with Rebecca. I sent her a Christmas card and we’ve been e-mailing one another ever since. Rebecca is a huge Tulane fan. I tell her I will root for Tulane playing anyone except LSU. She understands and loves me more for it. Rebecca also has a Ph.D in theater from New York University. She was the drama club director at Brother Martin for six years; sadly, she was fired at the end of my senior year. I found out three weeks before my graduation. There was a play that night which I attended; afterwards, she found me and thanked me for showing up to support her. Brings a tear to my eye whenever I think about it.

I have been trying in vain to reach Janine. I have not heard from her in 22 years.

Janine Jacques was a four-year member of the Varsity Quiz Bowl team at Dominican High in /New Orleans. VQB was a popular show from the early 1970s through 1992 pitting high schools against one another in a test of knowledge. It was aired by WYES, New Orlean’s Public Broadcasting System affiliate. For someone to be a member of a VQB team for four years–the last two as captain–was mighty impressive. She graduated a year early from Dominican and went on to earn a degree in biology from LSU. However, she had her eye on another college prior to going to Baton Rouge.

Watch this clip of Janine and Dominican in action on VQB in 1981 and you’ll find out what college it was (HINT: the school in question hired a new basketball coach a few months prior to this show airing. He’s still coaching at the same school).

https://youtu.be/ngMJRAVzI-E

Rosemarie is the person I have known longer than anyone outside my family (38 years), and Stacie was the beautiful and intelligent young lady I had a crush on in middle school.

Brenda and Peggy need no introduction. Two of the people I’m closest to, and if I lost either, my life would be utterly miserable.

Cailtyn will join the list if she follows in Chelsea’s footsteps. Chelsea is in her first season as volleyball coach at Oakley. The Plainsmen are struggling, but they will benefit from Chelsea’s knowledge of the sport.

I saw Larry today and we played trivia for three hours. I knew absolutely NOBODY working at Zona Rosa, although someone remembered me. I’m still trying to remember her. My memory is slipping.

I haven’t seen Rhonda and Kim, two ladies I met last time. Hopefully it will happen, if not this time, sometime later.

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My computer shut down THREE times Wednesday, twice within an hour. Therefore, I decided to disable all startup items to see if I could find the source of the problem.

HUGE MISTAKE.

It turns out that once I did that, I could not use my PIN to log in to Windows. I had no idea what my password was, since I hadn’t used it in over three years. And I wasn’t allowed to change the password.

Therefore, I had to erase the boot drive. That also erased many files on that drive. Lucky for me, many of my files are on cloud drives, and I could download most of the other programs from the Internet. The exception is the one I use to lay out pages for the newspapers. I have to wait until I get back to Russell. Luckily I have the CD to install, or I would have been up the creek.

The computer hasn’t shut down since. What’s strange is it NEVER shuts down randomly in Russell. It might be the power supply I use on the road is bad. I have always used a different power supply on the road so I can leave the one at home plugged in.

This happened at 2300 Wednesday. I was up until 0230 Thursday trying to figure it out. While I was in my conundrum, Howie Kendrick doomed the Dodgers.

I surprised myself by not screaming, not pounding anything and not throwing anything. I knew I had to keep quiet or else there would have been trouble, because other guests would have complained to the front desk.

If it weren’t for the program to lay out pages, I wouldn;’t need the laptop, period. But it is good to have because it frees up my iPad for other things.

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LSU hosts Florida tomorrow at 1900. The Bayou Bengals should win. If they don’t, then their playoff hopes are all but finished, because there’s no way I can see them winning in Tuscaloosa in four weeks.

I went to only one LSU-Florida game. It was 2001, the last time Steve Spurrier coached the Gators against the Bayou Bengals. Florida was ranked #1 at the time and won 44-15. It was more memorable for the tributes to the victims of September 11, since it was the first home game since the dastardly attacks. LSU’s band performed “Amazing Grace” at halftime, and there was nary a dry eye in the stadium.

Nick Saban wasn’t too angry after the loss. He was kind of glad, because it showed his team what a dominant team looks like.

LSU bounced back quite well. It lost to Ole Miss and Eli Manning three weeks later, but won its next four to reach the SEC championship game for the first time. From there, the Bayou Bengals shocked Tennessee for their first SEC championship since 1986, then overwhelmed Illinois in the Sugar Bowl 47-34.

Many at LSU, including athletic director Scott Woodward and president F. King Alexander, are not happy the Bayou Bengals and Gators play every year. They do because the SEC assigns each team one permanent cross-division opponent. It was two from 1992 through 2001. Florida and Kentucky were assigned to LSU as the permanents from the East in 1992, since LSU played the Wildcats yearly since 1949 and the Gators every year since 1971.

In 2002, enough schools bitched and moaned, so it was reduced to one permanent opponent from the other side. Kentucky kept Mississippi State, leaving LSU with Florida.

This didn’t change when Missouri and Texas A&M joined the SEC in 2012, even though Les Miles and then-athletic director Joe Alleva begged for a change. The obstacle? Nick Saban, who whined and moaned about Alabama losing its yearly game with Tennessee.

Saban is right on so many things. He is dead wrong here. These complaints are also the reason Missouri is in the EAST despite being farther west than every SEC school except A&M and Arkansas.

The SEC was ready to move Auburn to the East and let the Iron Bowl be the permanent cross-division game for both. But Saban’s bitching prevented it from happening.

There’s no rule stating Tennessee and Alabama can’t play a non-conference game in years which they aren’t scheduled to play in conference. Bear Bryant used to schedule non-conference games with Ole Miss for years after the Crimson Tide and Rebels were no longer yearly foes.

In 1972, the SEC adopted a more standardized schedule. Teams would play five opponents every year and rotate one. LSU’s five were Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Ole Miss and Mississippi State. This was good because there were long gaps where the Bayou Bengals never played Auburn, Georgia, Tennessee and Vanderbilt. For instance, LSU did not play Georgia from 1953 through 1977.

The SEC needs to (a) adopt a nine-game schedule and (b) discontinue permanent cross-division opponents. It’s ridiculous five teams from the same conference visit a particular stadium once every 12 years. When McNeese State, Louisiana-Lafayette and Louisiana-Monroe visit Tiger Stadium more often in a 12-year period than Vanderbilt or Missouri, there’s a serious problem.

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I am hoping hard for a Cardinals-Astros World Series. It would be nice for the Nationals to make it, but I can’t accept the fact that asshole Jeffrey Loria conspired with MLB to make sure the Montreal Expos couldn’t make it. Of course, I’m no Yankees fan, although I don’t have the vitriol towards the Bronx Bombers some have.

What’s silly is so many Royals fans see the Yankees as a rival. Come on.

The Yankees couldn’t care less about the Royals. The only times the Royals really mattered to the Yankees were the four American League Championship Series they played each other between 1976 and 1980, and the Pine Tar Game.

Fact is, the Royals don’t have a rival. The Cardinals have the Cubs. The Athletics once played in Kansas City and many Royals fans think there’s a rivalry, but Oakland is more concerned with the Giants and Angels. The Indians and Tigers have played each other since day one of the American League in 1901. The White Sox have the Cubs. The Twins had the Brewers until Milwaukee moved to the National League in 1998, and the two still play every year.

Besides, with the stupid unbalanced schedule, the Royals don’t play teams outside the AL Central enough for it to truly matter.

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I did it again tonight. I used one of my Buffalo Wild Wings $5 discount for another lady. At least this didn’t cost me anything, but I’m far from cheap. I didn’t want to seem over the top by buying everything. I’m just fortunate Joanne didn’t hold it against me in June.

Leaving Sunday. With the computer situation, I have to. Bye for now.

My favorite mother-daughter duo

Kansas City is nice, but these days, it just doesn’t hold the allure it once did. I’m here for appointments Thursday, but other than that, it’s just a reason to get out of Russell. I like seeing people I know, but sitting in Buffalo Wild Wings playing trivia over 10 hours a day doesn’t seem to do it for me like it once did.

St. Louis may have ruined Kansas City for me. I want to get back to the other side of Missouri. I want to get back to the old cathedral and take pictures without having to worry about my iPad burning. I want to go to a Blues game. I want to eat at White Castle and shop at Schnuck’s and Dierberg’s.

I never dreamed I would say those words after what happened in 2006, when I wonder if I blew my one chance at true love. Then again, I’m not relationship material–at least without some major improvements in my life.

At least I still have the two ladies I care about most, and that’s more than most can say.

I went to Lindsborg last Saturday to see Caitlyn and Ottawa play Bethany. The Braves lost the first two sets but rallied to win the next three and the match. I was afraid I wouldn’t be allowed to come to another match if Ottawa lost after what happened in St. Louis. Just kidding.

I went to Lindsborg to see Peggy for the first time in three months. Clark was there, as were Conor and his new bride, Melanie. They were married in April the weekend I was in Columbia.

Conor got married young (23), but he did not meet Melanie until after he left Norton. I’ve noticed a lot of couples who date in high school in rural Kansas get married, but none of the Cox children are married to high school sweethearts.

It makes me realize my moaning and groaning over not having only one date in high school was completely silly. I didn’t think I was mature enough to handle a relationship 10 years ago, and to think I could have handled one 25 to 30 years ago? Geez.

I don’t know what I would do if Peggy and Caitlyn exited my life. It’s been hard losing people. Fortunately, some have returned–Brenda, Bill Franques, Dan Borne–but I still think about those who haven’t, and some just leave a very sore spot in my heart. Of course, there are some whom I am better off without, even after hundreds of nights of crying.

Lord knows I’ve given Peggy reasons to leave. I’m trying to not drop those problems at her feet. There are times I slip up, but I am more conscious of it. Crista has helped with that.

I don’t want to lay anything on Caitlyn. She’s too young. She needs to be a college student and college athlete. She needs to live her life to the fullest, because you won’t get those years back. She’ll have enough times for problems her parents have and I have.

Peggy and Caitlyn were on my list of the special people I would never want to lose touch with when I wrote about two years ago. They are still on the list, as are Crista, Dr. Custer, Dr. Jones, Bill, Dan, Robb, Dawn and Liz. Brenda was on the list of those whom I despereately missed two years ago, but she moved to the other list after the visit to Baton Rouge 18 months ago.

I could be offered $1 billion dollars to not see Caitlyn and Peggy anymore. I’d say hell no. Same with the chance to marry any supermodel or super rich actress.

I mean it when they are irreplaceable to me. Caitlyn and Peggy, I love you. Always.

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One loss was all it took for Chiefs fans to go into a tizzy. The setback to the Colts Sunday night at Arrowhead has fans panicking about the lack of offense.

Come on. It was one game. If it turns into a trend, then it’s time to worry. The AFC West is proving itself to be not so strong, and if the Chiefs can’t win the division, shame on them.

It could be worse. The Chiefs could be where the Redskins, Dolphins and Bengals are.

Wrapping up a blah week

Sorry I have not blogged since my ride to the top of the Gateway Arch. However, I really have not had much to blog about.

The trip from St. Louis to Russell was nowehere near as exciting as it was the other way. I was trying to get home before the expected thunderstorms arrived in eastern Kansas and western Missouri. It rained between Bonner Springs and Topeka, but that was it.

I was dead tired when I got home Saturday. I was dead tired all of Sunday. Then came a tough work week. The paper in Smith Center had its problems and I didn’t get done until late Tuesday afternoon. Didn’t sleep much.

I made a gigantic mistake going to Golden Q tonight for the 1930 trivia game. There must be 200 bikers in this place. Jocelyn barely acknowledged me. I’m bailing as soon as the game is over.

Thank God this point is moot the next two weeks–next Saturday I’m going to Lindsborg to see Caitlyn play, so I’ll be near Salina, then I’ll be in Kansas City the Saturday after, which is the night before my birthday. I think from now on if I’m going to be playing on Saturday night, it will NOT be in Hays.

I’m souring a bit on Golden Q. I was here Thursday for a little while, and there must have been 50 people in line to order food. And the line was moving slowly. At least it gave me the chance to pick up Freddy’s for the first time in awhile. Then again, it might be because I haven’t seen Cassidi here the last few times.

Tonight, the Golden Q stinks. Literally. Only 15 more minutes thank God!

I want to return to St. Louis in three weeks for the Blues-Canadiens game. I’m trying to convince Larry and Terri to go too, but they may not be able to. Oh well. Wish I had someone to meet me there, but if I have to go solo, I can manage. I managed well enough at the arch.

Two special ladies have birthdays today. One is Chelsea Funk, Caitlyn’s oldest sister. The other is Wendy (Durr) Wall, whom I met at LSU. God I miss Wendy. I need to not go on about her or I will cry.

Ohio State leads Nebraska 38-0 in Lincoln…at halftime. Maybe the Cornhuskers can beg the Big 12 to let them back in.

Skinned knees, a burned case and the view from high above St. Louis

I’m exhausted. Getting up 0318, driving seven hours, staying up until midnight after almost 21 hours without even a nap, walking in the heat and humidity to visit a national landmark, tripping on stairs, nearly burning my iPad and thinking I left my driver’s license at said landmark within the space of 36 hours does that.

It has been a mostly great 36 hours, though.

Caitlyn has the most to do with it. Seeing her for the first time in 341 days did my heart a lot of good. It seemed to do her heart a lot of good too.

Peggy loved that I went to St. Louis to support Caitlyn. Then she suggested I visit the Gateway Arch.

I’ve been in the shadow of the arch twice in my life.

The second was in 2006, when I met Renetta Rogers and her mother, Elizabeth, in St. Louis. I thought Renetta and I were going to continue what relationship we had. However, I screwed up royally. I don’t really have the time nor the stamina to go into exquisite detail like I normally do. Go back to my very first blog post in June 2014 to read more about Renetta.

Back to the first time I was in the arch’s shadow.

It was July 21, 1992. I was with my family on vacation. For some reason, we chose St. Louis as a vacation spot. We went to Russell to visit my grandparents the previous summer, and my dad felt once every other year (or every three years) was enough. My parents and I have more than made up for it.

My brother and father went to the top of the arch. My mother and I didn’t. It was like this when we went to Astroworld in Houston three years prior; my brother and dad went on a roller coaster, my mother and stayed grounded.

The trip to St. Louis was bad. My dad got lost the first day in a driving rainstorm. Following the visit to the arch, the water pump in our 1986 Oldsmobile Delta 88 broke, so that consumed a few hours. We went to two Cardinals-Braves games at the old Busch Stadium. The seats were terrible both times; the first we were in center field more than 137 meters (450 feet) from home plate, and the second, the seats were behind home plate at the very top of the stadium. I was deathly afraid of heights when I was (almost) 16, and I refused to sit in the seats. My dad stayed with me on the concourse most of the night, save for a couple of innings when he went to sit with my brother. I feel shame about that a lot.

When I went to Lisa and Jeff’s wedding two years ago, I didn’t go into the city of St. Louis. Last year when I went a couple of days before Thanksgiving, I didn’t seriously consider it, even though I drove into Illinois in search of all things, a certain type of hot dog buns. It took me six stores before I found them in the tiny suburb of St. Ann. Now I discover Hy-Vee in Kansas City has them.

I slept on Peggy’s suggestion. When I got in the shower just before 1000, I decided to go.

I tripped on steps at the old St. Louis courthouse not too far from the arch. I have two skinned knees as a souvenir, but better than blowing a hole in jeans which cost $55. Two gentlemen checked on me, and fortunately, they didn’t have to summon medical assistance.

I was smart to buy my arch ticket online and pick it up at will call. The line to buy tickets must have had at least 50 people. There was time to tour the museum and get a drink (I was parched) before the ride.

The trams which take you up to the top of the arch are cramped, and that’s putting it mildly. The cars barely seat five people. Worse, if you’re taller than 135 centimeters (4 feet, 5 inches), you’ll hit your head if you don’t duck.

I happened to be in the tram with two men from South Carolina and another from Augusta who were in Missouri for tomorrow’s South Carolina-Missouri football game, along with a representative of the National Park Service. The ride took four minutes. When the tram door shut, I was afraid I might faint due to going up, but it didn’t happen.

The observation area has windows to view downtown St. Louis on the west side and the Mississippi River and Illinois on the other. You are allowed to stay in the observation area as long as you like, and I stayed for 40 minutes. I was the last one from the group which boarded the south tram at 1215 to descend.

When I was in Baton Rouge two years ago, I wanted to go to the observation deck at the state capitol, which soars 132 meters (432 feet), the highest in the nation. However, since it was the weekend and we were leaving Monday morning, I didn’t have time.

Following the arch, I went to the old St. Louis King of Francs basilica, which used to be the seat of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. The exterior is stone, and the interior is beautiful, just what you would expect from a Catholic basilica.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take pictures.

I went to light candles at the back of the church and pray. Lucky for me, a couple found things of mine were starting to catch fire from the candles.

The iPad was one of the things which was too close to the candles. I was scared the tablet would be ruined.

Thanks to the Targus Corporation and their sturdy case, with an assist from the Lord, my tablet was safe. I almost dropped the tablet in the garage. I’m not used to carrying the thing, since I usually have it in a bag. However, I didn’t want to carry the bag into the arch due to security.

As I walked back to my car in a parking garage between Busch Stadium and the arch, I knew I had to replace the case. I knew there was an Apple store in a mall off of I-270 in St. Louis County. I made a beeline for the store, but as I drove on 270, I thought I might want to see if Best Buy had any cases and if they would offer them at a lower price than Apple, where the basic folio was $99, and the so-called smart case with the keyboard–which I don’t need–cost $199.

The Lord was working for me again.

Not only did Best Buy have cheaper cases, but they had the exact same case I burned. Add in a $20 price reduction (from $75 to $55), and I was on my way. Don’t worry, I didn’t do this as I was driving; i pulled into the mall parking lot, looked it up on the iPad, and made the transaction.

Another near-crisis came up on my drive from the mall to Best Buy.

I discovered I could not find my driver’s license. I took the license out of my wallet at will call to claim my ticket, and absent-minded me didn’t put it back in the window in my wallet I keep it.

My mind was racing. Not only would I face the long drive from St. Louis to Russell without my license, but I would have to gather documents and go to the license station in Hays (the one in Russell is only open one day a week).

In the Best Buy parking lot, I found my license in a tray below my radio. The tray was closed from the time I got in my car in the parking lot. I had to laugh.

I spent the last three hours of the afternoon traipsing around St. Charles County, going to the grocery stores and White Castle. When I got back to the hotel, I wanted to collapse. But I stayed awake long enough to plan my exit tomorrow. And blog..

That’s all from St. Louis. I was hoping to stop at Buffalo Wild Wings in Kansas City to see Ashley, Tina and Rita, but with heavy rain likely there tomorrow, I’m going to have to keep on trucking to Russell. Besides, I’ll be back in Kansas City soon enough.

I love you Peggy and Caitlyn!

Number 3 on the court, number 1 (or 1A) in my heart

The reason I got up at 0318 this morning is someone I care about very much.

Caitlyn and Ottawa had a volleyball match in St. Louis (well, St. Louis County–more on that in a moment) against Missouri Baptist, the number one ranked team in NAIA volleyball. I guess that makes MBU the NAIA equivalent of Nebraska or Penn State.

Last year, the Spartans eliminated the Braves from the NAIA national tournament in Sioux City.

I saw this match last month on the schedule when I debated going to Hutchinson for the Braves’ season opener. I decided against Hutch, but then got the idea I might cross the Show-Me State for this one.

Why drive almost 800 kilometers (500 miles) for a volleyball match?

The reason: make sure Caitlyn had some support a long way from home. Besides, I hadn’t seen her in 11 months–my birthday last year when I went to Ottawa, then drove straight back to Russell at night because snow was forecast the next day. Snow forecast on October 14? This year, we’ll be lucky if it’s below 25 C (77 F) on that date at the rate we’re going.

I knew Peggy would not be able to make it to St. Louis because of her teaching and coaching duties. I didn’t figure Clark would make the drive, which is 190 km (118 mi) longer from Norton than Russell. Chelsea would have faced a drive about the same length as that from Norton, and she had coaching duties, too. Even Courtney and Andy, who are four hours from St. Louis, had too much going on. If it were a weekend, I’m certain many members of the Cox clan would have gone to St. Louis.

Thursday is my best day to travel. The work for the papers is done, and I can’t do much because most events are Thursday afternoon through Saturday.

I wanted to be there for Caitlyn. I wanted White Castle. And I wanted to shop at St. Louis’ two major grocery stores, Dierberg’s and Schnucks, which have many items I can’t find in Kansas City or Wichita, and certainly can’t find in Salina or Hays.

I had my alarm set for 0410 this morning. Yet I was up 52 minutes before that. By 0435, the Buick was out of the garage at 1224 North Brooks and pointed eastward.

When I got to Kansas City, Kansas, I experienced something I hadn’t in many moons.

Rush hour traffic.

There was an accident 8 km (5 mi) past the Kansas Speedway. Just after the I-435 exits, I-70 east became a parking lot. In the past, it really would have upset me, and I would have tried desperately to find an alternate route.

This time, however, I sat patiently in line, inching along, just going with the flow. No horn honking, no rage. I made sure to keep a safe distance between the vehicle in front of me. The Buick hasn’t been banged up. I want to keep it that way.

Leaving early gave me enough time to get my car washed in Independence. Thousands of bugs did suicide missions on my front bumper and windshield over the previous 11 days. For good measure, I washed the car again in Columbia after stopping for White Castle.

The hotel where I’m staying is in St. Louis County, which is distinct from the city of St. Louis. The two were once one in the same, but in the 1890s, the city was granted independence from the county by the Missouri legislature.

This makes Kansas City and St. Louis sharply different.

Kansas City extends its tentacles into four counties: Jackson, Platte, Clay and Cass. The surrounding municipalities–Liberty, Independence, Lee’s Summit, Blue Springs–tend to be large.

The city of St. Louis has maybe one-fourth the land area as Kansas City. St. Louis County features so many municipalities you won’t know where you are if you don’t pay attention to the road signs.

My hotel is in Chesterfield and passed through Lake St. Louis on I-64. MBU has a St. Louis address, but is closest to Creve Coeur. I also passed through Town and Country on my way to MBU. I’ve been through Maryland Heights, St. Ann and Clayton…am I missing any?

St. Charles County has a lot of municipalities, but they seem to be better defined. Wentzville, St. Peters, St. Charles, O’Fallon are the main ones.

MBU having the St. Louis address was just like my second apartment in Baton Rouge. It had a Baton Rouge address, but was in an unincorporated part of East Baton Rouge Parish. Glen Oaks High on the north side of town is the same way.

I tried to be inconspicuous when I entered the MBU gym. It worked for 20 minutes, but then at 1730, Caitlyn waved.

I told Crista yesterday I didn’t want to see her before the match because I didn’t want to break her concentration. I’m sure Caitlyn was stunned to see me. Crista was the only other person who knew of my plans, and I didn’t reveal those until yesterday’s session.

MBU won in straight sets. I waited for Caitlyn until after she and her teammates showered for the trip back to Ottawa. .

She was delighted to see me. I brought her a white rose and some White Castle for the team to enjoy on the ride west.

This is the third longest trip I have made to watch an athletic event since moving to Kansas. The two that were longer were the trip to Kentucky two years ago and the one to Baton Rouge last year.

Now I feel really good about going. I will sleep even better than I would have before–if these yahoos staying in the hotel for a weekend wedding can hold it down.

Tomorrow? Part of me wants to visit the Gateway Arch. Part of me wants to be lazy. With Saturday looking like a deluge in Kansas City, I’m probably going to bed very early and leaving very early, but probably not before 0600.

Twenty straight hours awake. Time to call it a night.

Your occasional blogger is back

Sorry for not posting for 12 days. Lots of things to write back home. I’ve had added responsibilities, and it has taken up much of my time Mondays and Tuesdays. The rest of the time has been spent with my vices, trivia and online racing.

Ben Roethlisberger’s injury had to send a shudder up the spines of Steelers fans. Many probably remember Terry Bradshaw’s career ended after the 1983 season due to an injured elbow.

Bradshaw played only one half in 1983. It was the next to last game of the regular season vs. the Jets which also happened to be the final football game at Shea Stadium. Bradshaw threw two touchdown passes in the first quarter, but by halftime, Chuck Noll had seen enough and inserted Cliff Stoudt, the man who won two Super Bowl rings without having to set foot on the field.

Pittsburgh won the game against the Jets to clinch the AFC Central, but it was routed in the playoffs 34-10 by the Raiders. In the playoff game, Stoudt’s first pass was intercepted by Lester Haynes and returned for a touchdown. A month later, Stoudt was starting for the USFL’s Birmingham Stallions.

As a side note, Jets fans began rioting in the stands as the game vs. the Steelers neared its end. Leon Hess, the Jets owner, was the least popular man in the Big Apple, especially with Mayor Ed Koch, who took every chance he got to rip Hess and the Jets for not negotiating in good faith with Queens, Koch’s administration and the Mets.

The Jets looked like they would return to New York City with the West Side Stadium, but it was blocked by flaming dipshit James Dolan, owner of the Knicks, Rangers and Madison Square Garden. Instead, the Jets simply partnered with the Giants on what is now Met Life Stadium.

Drew Brees’ thumb injury makes the NFC South race competitive. Hopefully the Saints can tread water with Teddy Bridgewater (or Taysom Hill). It won’t be easy this week in Seattle.

Eli Manning to the bench? I never thought I’d see the day. By going to Daniel Jones, he is avoiding the idiocy demonstrated by Bill Parcells in his first season as Giants coach in 1983, when he thought Scott Brunner was a better option than Phil Simms. What the F**K? It shows even Hall of Fame coaches screw up.

The Brewers are still in the National League wild card chase despite losing Christian Yelich last week to a broken kneecap he suffered when he was hit in a game in Miami. Leave it to the Marlins to F**K things up.

Speaking of MLB, a CBS Sports writer will not use “Indians” when referring to Cleveland. Here we go again with the PC crap. Commissioner Rob Manfred blackmailed the Indians into getting rid of Chief Wahoo, stating the team would not host the All-Star Game until Wahoo was eradicated, and now this.

What is offensive about the word Indians? Come on. People need to stop worrying about things like the names of sports teams.

Global warming is real. For it to be 34 Celsius (93 Fahrenheit) on September 19 in Russell and Hays is absolutely ridiculous. My jeans have not been worn since my trip to Columbia in April for the LSU-Missouri baseball series. If I were still in Louisiana, I could understand. But not now.

The climate change deniers need to explain how Hurricane Dorian reached winds of almost 300 km/h (185 MPH) and didn’t weaken when it hit the Bahamas. Katrina weakened (slightly) from a Category 5 before it struck Louisiana and Mississippi. That may not happen in the future. Look at Hurricane Michael, which was strengthening as hit made landfall in the Florida Panhandle last October.

I want to go back to Buffalo Wild Wings at Shoal Creek very badly. I have a crush on Rita Roberts, the general manager. I haven’t said anything to anyone about it…until yesterday when I mentioned to Crista Rita is cute.

I don’t want to jeopardize my ability to go to that Buffalo Wild Wings, so I’m probably going to keep my feelings to myself.

Speaking of Buffalo Wild Wings, on my last visit there, I met a couple who was going to the Backstreet Boys concert at Sprint Center that night. I told them the Backstreet Boys performed the national anthem before Super Bowl XXXV in January 2001. They were incredulous.

I am still puzzled as to what got into me the last time I was in Kansas City. Talking to Joanne was one thing, because I met her previously. But Rhonda and Kim after Joanne that night, and now the couple that Saturday. Maybe I am a late bloomer.

I woke up at 0318 this morning. There’s a reason. I don’t have time to expound upon it now. I will later. Enjoy your evening.

Late start to the last day (for now) in KC

I finally got to Buffalo Wild Wings…3 1/2 hours late. I originally planned to get there for 1100 to see the Missouri-West Virginia game. However, stupidity on my part (staying up very, very late) led me to sleeping way past my 0930 alarm. Actually, I woke up at 0905 with a terrible case of indigestion, then turned off my alarm. By time I finally rousted myself from bed, it was 1306.

I seriously considered staying at the hotel the whole day, but with my Buzztime app closed and not connected, I knew I had to get out of the room if I wanted to play trivia today. Therefore, I deicded to drive to Liberty. It also helped that I wanted to get my car washed again after bugs doing suicide missions on my bumper yesterday. I’ve washed my car every day since I’ve been in Kansas City. I’m paying for that ulimited wash plan, so why not use it?

Back to Russell tomorrow. I’ve got a boatload of work to get done before Wednesday at noon…at lot of it is due Monday and Tuesday. The nearly non-stop trivia has to end on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, but it can continue Wednesday afternoon, Thursday and Friday for the most part.

It has been a very fruitful trip. Each day has had something good.

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Wednesday was my day away from Buffalo Wild Wings. After finishing up what work I had for the Russell County News, I ventured deep into Johnson County for a new experience.

I found The Gents Place in an online search last month. I discovered it was an upscale barber shop which featured massaging shampoo treatments, and even better, straight razor shaves.

I have always wanted to shave with a straight razor. However, I am also realistic. I know it’s expensive and labor intensive, and I am often forgetful, and with a straight razor, that’s big trouble, becuase if the razor gets dull, the face is carved like a Thanksgiving turkey. Therefore, I settle for the safety razor, which is far superior to anything a cheap cartridge razor sold by Dollar Shave Club, Harry’s or any drugstore sells.

It was expensive, but well worth it. I loved the smooth feel after the straight razor shave. Heather, the lady who took care of me, was wonderful. I can’t wait to go back.

Actually, I went back Thursday. However, it was to retrieve the case for the keyboard I carry with me to use with my iPad. I didn’t realize I had left it in Leawood until I was back at the hotel north of the Missouri River.

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Thursday got a little hectic after my return to Leawood. I made the long venture to Liberty to get the car washed and pick up some things at Price Chopper. But instead of proceeding to Buffalo Wild Wings, Frank texted me and said he needed some articles right away. So I hit the gas down Cookingham Road to US 169 to the hotel. Everything was done before 1500, so I didn’t miss that much time at B-Dubs.

A very nice surprise was waiting for me. Joanne, one of the teachers I met in June, was enjoying a beer. She recognized me right away–I was wearing the same shirt I did that day in June–and we chatted for an hour and a half. I told Tina to put her beers on my tab. Of course, this surpised Joanne the way it did in June.

Heather, the teacher who was with Joanne in June, got engaged later in the summer. When Joanne texted her and said I was there, Heather still remembered me. I was impressed.

Joanne wasn’t the only lady I met Thursday.

A few seats down at the bar, I noticed a couple of ladies enjoying themselves. I complimented one on how her green sweater complimented her eyes. That got me talking to them.

The ladies, Rhonda and Kim were old friends who. had not seen each other in a long time. I offered to pay for a beer or two, but they politely declined.

I shocked myself by going up to two ladies whom I had not seen before and striking up a conversation. Where was that when I was 33? Better late than never.

A Bears fan wearing a Mitch Trubisky jersey sat next to me to watch the Packers-Bears game. I told him I bet he wished that jersey said “Mahomes” instead of “Trubisky”. He shrugged it off, but after Trubisky’s poor performance in Green Bay’s 10-3 win, I bet he wished Mahomes were a Bear and not a Chief.

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I woke up at 0350 Friday morning. I don’t know why. I set my alarm for 0615 because I had an appointment in Liberty at 0900. The early wake-up gave me time to do a few things, especially get my car’s interior clean, before my appointment.

I returned to Buffalo Wild Wings Zona Rosa for the first time since March. I met Larry to play trivia for three hours. I made my way to Shoal Creek later after a little R&R at the hotel.

I didn’t expect to see Larry, because he told me earlier in the week he was in Cincinnati on business. But I logged into the Zona Rosa server from the app and saw I was in second place. So I drove around the parking lot, and sure enough the BMW with the St. Louis Cardinals license plate was there.

I ate too much late last night and I took too much Metamucil. No wonder I’m feeling bloated and gassy today.

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Antonio Brown signed with the Patriots. Like Tom Brady needs more help.