Category Archives: Personal

Billy Graham, crazy driving, unstately wrestling

The Reverend Dr. Billy Graham passed away Wednesday at age 99. Graham had been a spiritual adviser to every U.S. president from Harry Truman through Barack Obama, and he was particularly close to Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon. Graham was called “America’s Pastor” by many, and he reportedly preached to live audiences of close to 215 million in 185 countries.

The biggest crusade Graham held in my native Louisiana was in October 1970, when he held court for five nights at LSU’s Tiger Stadium. Close to 200,000 came out to see Graham, many of them from north Louisiana and Mississippi, where he was far more popular than southern Louisiana, which is majority Catholic.

Gee, LSU could let Billy Graham preach in Tiger Stadium for five nights, but it has not allowed Louisiana high schools to play in the stadium since 1966? Come on.

I never watched Graham’s crusades. I’m not a religious zealot to begin with, and I was baptized Catholic, so I naturally was far more interested in what came from John Paul II than anything Graham said. However, it was apparent Graham had a profound impact on tens of millions of Americans, and he has to be considered one of the most influential religious figures in the history of the United States, if not the world.

I was very disgusted to see so many people cheering Graham’s passing. An editor at Teen Vogue posted on Twitter that she hoped Graham “enjoyed his life in hell”. Someone I know said “good riddance” on Facebook.

Sad. Very sad. Nobody is denying these people’s right to disagree with Graham’s teachings. However, keep your vitriol to yourself. Please.

There was quite a bit of nastiness on social media when Benedict XVI unexpectedly resigned in February 2013. I can only imagine, too, what would have been said about John XXIII had social media been around at the time of his papacy. For my non-Catholic friends, John XXIII initiated the Second Vatican Council which led to sweeping changes in the Roman Catholic Church, especially in regards to the liturgy, where Latin was replaced with the local language and the priest faced the congregation instead of facing the sanctuary.

If you want to see just how different the Catholic mass was before the Second Vatican Council, click the link below to watch John F. Kennedy’s requiem mass. It is very fascinating.

JFK funeral mass

Gee, this might be the longest I have ever written on religion.


I pulled off a daring double dip yesterday, driving to Salina to get my hair cut by Amber at SportClips, then racing back to Hays to make my 2 p.m. appointment with Crista. Not recommended.

I only did that because the weather Tuesday was terrible and the roads were iced over, and I knew they would be that way again today. Therefore, I only had a very small window to accomplish this. Somehow I did it, but I would rather not try it again.


I am so glad I will not be attending a state wrestling tournament this weekend.

First, it’s dumb Kansas needs three sites to host four tournaments. If Missouri and Nebraska can host four separate state tournaments in one building, why can’t Kansas?

It’s not like Kansas doesn’t have a building in which to do it. Intrust Bank Arena in downtown Wichita would be great. So would the ones in Topeka and Salina. Heck, if the Missouri State High School Activities Association can work with the University of Missouri and the SEC to host its tournament at Mizzou Arena, and the Nebraska School Activities Association can do the same with Creighton and the Big East to use the Century Link Center, why can’t Kansas work something out with the Big 12 and Kansas and/or Kansas State? It would probably have to be K-State, because I doubt KU would want Allen Fieldhouse in use for anything other than the Jayhawks. It’s probably the reason why the Kansas State High School Activities Association hasn’t hosted a state basketball tournament in Lawrence since 1987.

Is it because the tournaments in Missouri and Nebraska are over three days instead of two? So what? It’s better for the athletes that the tournaments are held over three days. Asking these kids to win three bouts in one day, which you have to do on day one in Kansas if you want to make the championship round, is too much. In Missouri and Nebraska, wrestlers have to win one bout on each of the first three days to reach the final, which is in the evening on day three.

If Kansas is that scared of losing instruction time, then hold the third day of the tournament on a Sunday. Or if Sunday is too sacrosanct, then bite the bullet and start the tournament on Thursday like most states do with a three-day format.

Louisiana won’t hold a three-day tournament for some reason. And the wrestlers in the largest division have to win five bouts, not four, to win the championship. This needs to be pointed out, too.

I shouldn’t complain. I’m  not covering this cluster you know what anymore. But I will write letters to the editor in Kansas City, Wichita, Topeka and Salina to voice my opinion like I did with football.

I know nothing will get done. Kansas still insists on determining state golf champions with a one-round tournament instead of two which most states do (some even do three).

I know one place I will not be this weekend: Fort Hays State. And another: the arena in Salina. And another: the arena in Park City.


Dawn’s last day in Kansas City is tomorrow. Too bad I’m stuck on the prairie. At least I got to see her twice last weekend.

A bit of everything on a February Saturday

I realized something yesterday when I was in Buffalo Wild Wings, something I had forgotten in my post on the opening of the college baseball season.

February 16 is a date which lives in LSU baseball infamy.

It was February 16, 2003 when LSU was swept in a doubleheader at home by….Kansas.

Yes, the same Kansas which is in Lawrence. The same Kansas which is considered a basketball blue-blood. The same Kansas which has a horrible football team right now.

The Jayhawks came to Baton Rouge for a three-game weekend series on the second weekend of the 2003 season. LSU was 4-0 and feeling pretty good about itself, but that good feeling was dampened by a 10-inning loss to Kansas in the series opener.

The second game of the series was rained out, so a doubleheader was scheduled for Sunday.

It was one of the most miserable days I have ever experienced at a sporting event.

It was cold, damp and windy. The old Alex Box Stadium did not have an enclosed press box, and the wind whistled through the “press area” like nobody’s business.

The twinbill started at 9:30 a.m., because the Jayhawks had to make their connecting flight from Baton Rouge to Dallas, and then to Kansas City. No new inning could start after 4 p.m. Yet for some reason, both games were scheduled as nine-inning contests, contrary to the policies of the Big 12 and Southeastern Conferences, which require seven-inning games during conference season when doubleheaders are necessary on Sunday.

That provision is why LSU and Kentucky asked the SEC to play a doubleheader Friday last year in Lexington when rain was forecast for Saturday. Paul Maineri and his Kentucky counterpart, Nick Migione, did not want to play two seven-inning games Sunday. The SEC said okay, and it all worked out.

Kansas ended up winning both games. The second game ended after seven innings due to the curfew. The Jayhawks became the first team to sweep a three-game series in Baton Rouge in three years, the first to sweep a doubleheader from LSU since 1991, and the first to sweep LSU in a doubleheader in Baton Rouge since 1988.

In 2010, Kansas returned to Baton Rouge and won two of three. However, the Bayou Bengals exacted revenge with a sweep in 2016.

Last night, LSU trailed Notre Dame 6-0 going into the bottom of the fifth. However, two home runs, a grand slam by Bryce Jordan and a three-run shot by Josh Smith, lifted the Bayou Bengals to a 7-6 victory.

I texted Bill that I hope every game is not like this. If not, cardiologists might have their hands full in Baton Rouge this baseball season.


Dawn’s going away soiree at Buffalo Wild Wings last night was fantastic. Had a great turnout, with Jeremy Smith, a former manager at two Buffalo Wild Wings in the area, Zona Rosa and Overland Park north, was there, as were Robb, Victoria, Mike Decker (LOWPOP) and Schylar Reed (SLYCKS). Kevin couldn’t make it because his mother underwent surgery in St. Joseph Thursday. Luckily she pulled through.

Dawn leaves next Saturday. Hopefully we do not lose contact like so many I’ve lost contact with over the years. The five I mentioned in the blog post of December 20 still hurt. So do a lot of my old chums from Arabi Park Middle, even though we communicate on Facebook. The only one I have seen since I left in 1989 is Toni LaRocca, and that was in 2000, when she was working at a Hooter’s in Metairie. She rocked the orange shorts.

Brenda LeBlanc is the one I’m really distressed over, at least among those I knew in Louisiana. She always got back to me in the past whenever I e-mailed her. Now, I haven’t heard from her in almost two years. If I go to Baton Rouge next month, I hope and pray I see her. Maybe I need to light a candle in a church or say the rosary.

I worry about Liz drifting away. She has trouble getting back to me. I don’t want to blame her, but it would be nice to hear from her more often.

Lisa is busy with a new home now and with Liam growing up. Hopefully she and Jeff will be adding to the family soon. Losing her would be tough, too.

I would be devastated if Peggy or Caitlyn exited my life for good. Those are the two I really couldn’t afford to lose.

Actually, it would be worse if I didn’t have Dr. Custer taking care of my health for the most part, Dr. Jones taking care of my vision, and Crista trying to keep me on the right path. All three could choose to be full-time mothers, and while it would hurt, I wouldn’t blame them. I think it’s easier for Dr. Custer since she has boys; the other two have girls, and the mother-daughter bond is usually very strong, as I’ve seen with Peggy and Caitlyn, Chelsea and Courtney.

Yes, I have male friends. Robb, Bill and Dan Borne would be the ones I would cry over losing. I’m not as close to Michael and Herb, but I would be upset if they cut me off, too.

Maybe I hold on to things too long. Then again, my memory can be a good thing.


I have never understood why restaurant customers in Kansas City order barbecue flavored wings.

Kansas City is home to some of the best barbecue in the world, according to many. I am not a big barbecue fan, but I have had some good stuff from Arthur Bryant’s, Gates and Jack Stack.

If there are so many good and authentic barbecue joints in Kansas City, then why the heck are people going to Buffalo Wild Wings and ordering honey barbecue? I’m dumbfounded. But it’s their decision.


Many states are holding their high school wrestling state championship tournaments this weekend. Missouri’s is at Mizzou Arena in Columbia, Nebraska’s is at the Century Link Center in Omaha (across the street from TD Ameritrade Park, home of the College World Series), and Louisiana’s is at the Century Link Center in Bossier City, across the Red River from Shreveport in the northwest corner of the state.

Don’t get me started on the debate on where to hold Louisiana’s state tournament. When I lived there, it was at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner, at the northwest edge of Jefferson Parish. Most schools in Louisiana which wrestle are south of US Highway 190, but apparently Shreveport and Bossier City offered inducements to the Louisiana High School Athletic Association to move the tournament north.

Brother Martin, my alma mater, is on its way to the state championship of Division I. There are three divisions for wrestling in Louisiana, one fewer than Kansas and Missouri.

My problem with Louisiana’s tournament is it is compressed into two days. Worse, in Division I, many wrestlers will have to win five bouts to claim a state championship. To ask them to do so in about 36 hours is too much.

Missouri and Nebraska hold three-day tournaments. Why can’t Louisiana?

Kansas’ state tournaments are at three sites next Friday and Saturday. Three sites is two too many.


So far, so good on my Lenten promise of not swearing. I just have to keep it up until the end of March, then hopefully continue after that.

Humanity run amok

More details continue to emerge from the tragic school shooting in Broward County, Florida. And so does the rhetoric on both sides from people who want to blame the “gun culture” of the United States and others who want to blame the mental health industry and say the shooter was mentally unstable.

I’m not wading into that pool. I know many people on both sides of the debate. Robb has posted plenty on Facebook in the last 24 hours from the left-wing point of view. I’m not responding. I’ll let him rant.

The same goes for a lot of people on the right. It’s not worth it. I thought about listening to the talking heads as I drove to Kansas City today, but I instead opted for sports talk.

The main topic on WHB was Kansas State basketball, since the Wildcats won 82-72 at Oklahoma State last night. The host, Soren Petro, made the case that if K-State can finish 11-7 or 12-6 in the Big 12, some fans who have called for Bruce Weber’s firing will begin to embrace him.

Mikaela Shiffrin, the American skier, won gold in the giant slalom last night (Thursday in South Korea), and when the news shows are not discussing the school shooting, they’re discussing Shiffrin and whatever else is going on in Pyeongchang. The Olympics are on one of the big screens at Buffalo Wild Wings, but I’m not really watching. I’ll look up from time to time, but I’m in my own zone with trivia and blogging.

Back to the school shooting. It is hard to fathom people are that deranged they want to end the lives of others. These people may be human beings, but the elephants I saw at the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans have more common sense and humanity than people like the school shooter in Florida, the one at Virginia Tech, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold from Columbine, and Ted Bundy.

As bad as the killer in south Florida is, he pales in comparison to Mohammed Atta, the ringleader of the September 11 hijackings; their supreme leader, Osama bin Laden; and of course, Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini and the three leaders of North Korea.

I’m glad I don’t have children. I would not want them growing up in such a dangerous world, one where people who don’t get their way will take it out on others, simply because they are miserable sacks of fecal matter who can’t stand someone else’s success.

I worry about my nephew, Lucas, who turns two in March, nor for Peggy’s grandchildren, Finley and Seth. I don’t have much hope for humanity. I hope it gets better. The old saying goes you want the younger generation to have it better than you? Well, that’s not going to be the case if things don’t change.

Mardi Gras: why did I bother?

It’s just another Tuesday in most of the United States. Most high school basketball teams in Kansas are in action tonight, although Russell High is not one of them. Norton is back on the court tonight vs. Hoxie, and I’m making the 120-mile trek to see Peggy. It means a late night, but I don’t have much work to get done tomorrow morning, so it won’t really put me behind.

In south Louisiana and the Gulf Coast all the way to the Florida panhandle, it is Mardi Gras, the day where people dress in silly costumes and celebrate the last day before Lent, the 40-day period where Christians are supposed to repent for their sins and make sacrifices. It also means no meat tomorrow, nor for the next eight Fridays. It used to be Catholics had to abastain from meat EVERY Friday, but starting in 1967, meat was supposedly okay on most Fridays, especially in the United States and Canada. Some more traditionalist countries still require abstience from meat every Friday, including Ireland and Great Britain.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans is two big attractions in the same city.

One is the French Quarter, where hundreds of thousands of strangers from across the world rub elbows–and many more body parts–getting drunk and having a good time. Pretty much anything goes in the Quater during Carnvial, except complete nudity, sexual acts, and violent crime. The police know they’re not going to get anywhere by arresting every woman who flashes her bare breasts, becuase they would make enough arrests to fill every jail in Louisiana, not just New Orleans. I have never understood why women would show their breasts for plastic beads which cost four cents per pair at the Mardi Gras supply store.

The other main attraction are the parades, where the laws apply and are strictly enforce. Don’t try flashing on St. Charles Avenue; if you do, you’ll have free accomodations in the New Orleans lockup. Parades are supposed to be family friendly, with ornate floats decorated around a central theme, marching bands and other groups which are common sights to those who have been to the pagents more than a few times.

I went to many parades during my formative years. Now that I’ve been gone from Louisiana for 12 1/2 years, I look back and wonder what the fuss was all about.

There used to be several parades in St. Bernard Parish (county), the suburban area east of New Orleans where I grew up. I marched in a few of those parades when I was with the Arabi Park Middle School band in the sixth and seventh grades. The worst was marching in one on a Tuesday night, not getting home until after midnight, then having to go to school in the morning. There were also a couple of parades where the temperatures were below freezing, and that was pure misery. In warmer weather, the band uniforms were tortuously hot. I’m glad I got out of marching band in high school, because I would have hated to have to sit in the bleachers at football games in those hot things.

My parents, brother and I used to go to all of the parades in St. Bernard. There was a parade on Mardi Gras, the Krewe of Arabi, named after the westernmost community in the parish, the one where I grew up. Every Fat Tuesday, the four of us would park in an open lot at the corner of Judge Perez Drive and Rowley Boulevard, and we could wait in the car until the parade passed by. When the parade was ready to come by, we walked to the median (called the neutral ground in New Orleans0 and watched the floats and bands passed. We always ate Popeye’s fried chicken, fitting since the first Popeye’s opened in 1972 at the corner of Judge Perez and Rowley.

The last Krewe of Arabi parade was in 1987. In 1988, we started going to the Krewe of Argus parade in Metairie, the largest community in Jefferson Parish, west of the city. Finally, in 1991, we went to the big kahuna, the Krewe of Rex, who is known in the city as the King of Carnival.

My parents were not keen on us going to parades in New Orleans proper. There was much crime on the parade routes, especially at night, and they had seen it first hand in their early days of marriage. We went to Mid-City from 1986 through ’91, but that was a daytime parade in an area of the city which was nowhere near as dangerous as some areas of St. Charles.

We went to the Krewe of Ednymion, one of the so-called “Super Krewes”, for three years in the early 1990s. The first two years, we stood on Canal Street in the same place we held for Mid-City, then shifted to Orleans Avenue near the start of the parade in 1992. In 1993, my dad and I alone went to Poydras and St. Charles to see Endymion, but we left before the first float arrived.

In 1994, Endymion was the first parade I went to alone. I saw a few of my adult friends at a tavern near the start of the parade route, and that is where I had my first taste of alchol, not counting communion wine.

Ray Maher had the bartender at the Parkway Tavern slip bourbon into my Coca-Cola. I tasted something funny right away, and I immediately washed it out. Ray and the older guys hooted and hollered about that one and reminded me of it for the next 11 years. I am grinning about it right now, but 24 years ago, it had me a little concerned.

Ray and several of my adult friends in New Orleans are members of the Krewe of Thoth, which has the longest route of any Mardi Gras parade.

Thoth starts much farther west than most parades that roll along St. Charles Avenue. It starts at the corner of Tchoupitoulas (CHOP-i-TOO-las) and State Streets by the Missisippi River and goes north on Henry Clay to Magazine, and then to Napoleon, where it follows the route taken by Bacchus and most other Uptown parades (not Rex, which starts at the corner of South Claiborne and Napoleon to head south towards St. Charles). The Thoth route takes in numerous hostpitals for people with special needs, and Children’s Hospital, one of the nation’s elite pediatric faciltiies.

I atteneded Thoth in ’92 and ’93 with my dad, then ’94 alone. The good thing about Thoth’s starting potnt was there was plenty of parking at the Audubon Zoo, which was not that far of a walk to Henry Clay Avenue. In those days, the parade started at the corner of Henry Clay and Magazine and headed south towards Tchoupitoulas, so I would go down Henry Clay and see eveyrone I knew before the parade started.

Every time I was at Thoth, I was bombarded with beads, doubloons and cups. There was a scramble among other parade goers for the trinkets. Looking back, I should have let them have most of it.

The 1994 Thoth parade is the last one I ever attended. Two days later, Mardi Gras came and went with me sitting at home. By Mardi Gras 1995, my life was in total turmoil, and I was seriously considering the end. I had a terrible go of it at LSU that year, and I wondered if life was worth living. However, most of it was self-inflicted.

If I ever returned to New Orleans, Thoth would be the ONLY parade I would consider attending. And even then, it would be only 50/50.

Bacchus and Endymion, the parades which feature celebrity guests, are too big for my taste. I can only remmeber John Goodman and Chicago appearing in Endymion one year. I can’t tell you who was there in the other years. This year, Rod Stewart rode in Endymion with former Saints player Steve Gleason and current player Alvin Kamara. J.K. Simmons was King of Bacchus.

Sorry, I don’t need to see celebrities in person to feel my life has meaning. I got my fill in July 1992 when I happened to see Bill Clinton and Al Gore jogging in downtown St. Louis during their campaign.

During the rest of my years in Louisiana, I often had sporting events to keep my mind away from Mardi Gras, whether it be LSU baseball games or high school events. When Mardi Gras fell late in the calendar (late February or early March), it happened to be on a day when the Louisiana High School Athletic Association scheduled basketball playoff games. The LHSAA would grant south Louisiana schools the option to play the game Monday or Wednesday of that week, but in north Louisiana, the games went on as scheduled, and many south Louisiana schools had to give up Mardi Gras to drive four to five hours for a game, then make the long return trip. Fortunately, the players and coaches could sleep in because there was no school on Ash Wednesday.

Sadly, the Mistick Krewe of Comus, traditionally the last parade of Mardi Gras, has not held a parade since 1991, due to a boneheaded ordinance by the late Dorothy Mae Taylor, who insisted all krewes must prove to the city that they do not discriminate based upon race or religious orientation.

Comus and two-other old-line krewes, Momus and Proteus, quit parading, although Proteus returned in 2000 after a seven-year hiatus.

Most of Comus’ members–all male, all white, all Protestant–are also members of the Pickwick Club, one of the world’s most exclusive private clubs. How exclusive? Drew Brees can’t get in after winning a Super Bowl, simply because he’s a native of Texas. Warren Buffett? Nope. Bill Gates? Nope. Donald Trump? Nada.

Rex’s members are members of the secretive Boston Club. Until the ordinance, Rex was also all WASP, but now the krewe admits blacks, Catholics and Jewish men. The original ordinance would have forced krewes who wanted to parade to be coed, but that was removed to allow the all-male and all-female krewes, which are most, to parade as long as their racial barriers came down.

Not that I care. I wouldn’t want to waste my time and money with it anyway.

Zulu has been rolling for over two hours now, and Rex for over an hour. Yippee. It’s just another day for me.

Dog days of February

Boredom has set in for your intrepid blogger.

Almost nothing has gone on for me since I returned from Kansas City Monday. I was dead tired most of Monday, falling asleep every 2-3 hours. How I got my work done for Tuesday is beyond me. But it got done. So did my work for Wednesday.

Thursday, I thought about going to Salina. But I woke up at 8:30, then got drowsy again watching The Price Is Right, and then I said no thanks, Salina will be there. I hated to go another week without seeing Lorena and a few others at Buffalo Wild Wings, but I will make sure I go next week before I go to Kansas City.

This morning marked the first time I left the house since returning from Missouri. I had an appointment with Crista, and also did some things in Hays I needed to get done, like pick up medicine and check my post office box. The session with Crista went well, and I went straight home.

I discovered this afternoon the McDonald’s in Russell was closed. It has been a weird week here, with two days of school canceled due to illness. The United States has been hit by an influenza epidemic this fall and winter, and Kansas and Missouri happen to be the states which haven been hardest hit. Russell called off school Wednesday, went back yesterday, but called it off again today, postponing tonight’s basketball game vs. Beloit.

Ironically, Beloit had to close school Tuesday in order to sanitzie its facilites.

Norton was closed the last two days. Peggy isn’t sick, thank God. The Bluejays had to call off their scheduled basketball games at Plainville tonight, as well as cancel a wrestling dual, which isn’t a big deal, since the state qualfiying tournaments are next Friday and Saturday.

Still, I’m not missing going out to events. It’s good for my mental health. And the mental health of the athletes, coaches and fans.

With the NFL season over and Major League Baseball still more than a month away, it is nothing but basketball for sports on telelvision, save for the Winter Olympics the rest of February and an occasional NHL game.

I can’t stand the NBA, period. College basketball is irrelevant until March 13, the night of the first NCAA tournament games. I haven’t watched the Olympics since 1988, and I’m not going to start again. The NHL? If Gary Betttman wasn’t so gaga over every team south of 37 degrees latitutde, I could get more into it. Also, NBC would rather show the Rangers, even though they stink, than the Maple Leafs.

I’m doing my best not to eat meat on Fridays since Lent is starting Wednesday. I have made it through the last two Fridays, and it would have been three had I not eaten at Pizza Hut with Peggy in Norton. Not blaming her at all.

Last Friday, I managed to avoid the meat, eating only cheese curds at Buffalo Wild Wings and then a cheese pizza with mushrooms and black olives at Minsky’s. Problem was, I went over eight hours between eating, and by time Lindsay took my order, I was feeling pretty bad. Not recommending that.

Speaking of Kansas City, next Friday is Dawn’s last visit to Buffalo Wild Wings. Time marches on. I just hope I don’t lose contact with her like I have with too many. Thankfully, Peggy and Caitlyn haven’t left my life, and I still have contact with Lisa.

I might eat a cheeseburger for breakfast. I doubled up on eggs today. I can decide when I wake up. Of course, if I skip breakfast, it’s moot.

Lots of questions and answers

For the second time in the last three Fridays, I have executed my “trivia trifecta”, playing at Buffalo Wild Wings Shoal Creek (near Liberty), Buffalo Wild Wings Zona Rosa, and Minksy’s on Barry Road. I’m playing my first round at Minsky’s after spending four and a half hours at both Buffalo Wild Wings location. That’s right, save for the drive on Missouri Highway 152 from Shoal Creek to Zona Rosa, I have been playing trivia non-stop since 11 a.m.

At Shoal Creek, there was a question which listed five famous people, and I had to pick the one who was not born in Missouri. One of the choices was Walter Kronkite.


I know Walter CRONKITE was born in St. Joseph. However, it was embarrassing that nobody at Buzztime proofread this. Yes, Cronkite has been dead since July 2009, but he is one of the most famous men to ever report news in any country. How can they not know how the man spells his name? I made sure to let Buzztime know on Twitter.

I am hungry. Really hungry. Larry bought me lunch at Shoal Creek, and I had a large order of cheese curds. I’m trying to avoid meat on Fridays for the next two weeks, since Lent starts on Valentine’s Day and I won’t be able to eat meat on Fridays until the end of March. I did not eat at Zona Rosa, since I did not want to eat B-Dubs twice in the same day. A pizza at Minsky’s sounds good right now.

Yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of Vince Lombardi’s retirement as coach of the Green Bay Packers. Lombardi led Green Bay to five NFL championships, including victories in Super Bowls I and II, in nine seasons in Wisconsin. Lombardi retired as coach in order to focus on his duties as general manager, but he became quite bored during the 1968 season. He did all he could to not bother his successor, Phil Bengston, the assistant coaches, most of whom worked under Lombardi, and the players. Green Bay went 6-7-1 in 1968, its first losing season since 1958, and it began a long, dark period in “Titletown USA”.

From 1968 through 1991, the Packers made the playoffs just twice, and one of those came in the strike-shortened season of 1982. Many Packer teams lost double digit games, bottoming out by going 4-12 in 1986, 1988 and 1991. Fortunately, Green Bay made massive changes after the ’91 season, hiring Ron Wolf as general manager and Mike Holmgren as coach, then trading with Atlanta to acquire Brett Favre, who was really hated by Falcons coach Jerry Glanville.

Lombardi eventually left the Packers in 1969 to become coach and general manager of the Redskins. He led Washington to a 7-5-2 record that year, the first winning record for the Redskins since 1955. Sadly, he would be dead of colon cancer by September 1970.

Washington abruptly changed course under George Allen, who was hired in 1971. Save for Larry Brown and a few others, Allen gutted the Redskin roster in 1971 and ’72, trading for as many veterans he could find. The Redskins made Super Bowl VII, where they lost to the Dolphins.

The Packers have pretty much been consistent winners for the last quarter century, adding two more Super Bowl championships in 1996 and 2010.

I’m hungry. I had better eat or I might collapse.

Hard for me to get up

If you have not seen my Instagram or Facebook accounts in the last 30 hours, you may not know I stopped on top of Interstate 435 at the Kansas-Missouri state line yesterday between Wyandotte County and Platte County.

Here are a couple of pictures I took:

It took a bit of courage for me to get out of my car and take those photos. I am afraid of heights.

Very afraid.

There were so many things I missed out on when I was a child because I was too scared to go up.

Now I did ride a gondola suspended over the Mississippi River with my father and brother during the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition in New Orleans. How I convinced myself to go, I still don’t know. Of course, the only cameras around back in 1984 used film, and most were quite bulky, so it wasn’t practical to take photos. Too bad, because they would have been breathtaking.

A few months after hovering over the Mississippi, my family made the infamous trip to Disney World, one which I’ve discussed ad nauseam in this blog. I had no desire to go on any roller coasters or other dangerous rides, even though I met the height requirement.

Four years later, the Steinle family went to Astroworld in Houston. My father and brother went on a few high-rise rides, but my mother and I wussed out and stayed on the ground.

In 1992, again, my father and brother went to the top of the Gateway Arch in St. Louis. My mother and I were not having it. I was very tempted to go up in the Arch when I was in the area for Lisa’s wedding last October, but since I was staying in St. Peters, 35 miles west of downtown, I didn’t do it. If Lisa and Jeff would like to take me up in the arch, I’m game.

I could not stand sitting in high seats at outdoor sports stadiums. I was just fine sitting at the top of the Superdome, simply because there was a roof and I had no idea the sky was above. But outdoors? Forget it.

In 1992, my father, brother and I went to two St. Louis Cardinals games at the old Busch Stadium. The first night, we sat in the outfield bleachers, about 440 feet from home plate. The second night, my father bought tickets in the upper deck behind home plate. I couldn’t do it. I walked around the concourse all night while my brother watched the game. My father stayed with me much of the time, and I feel terrible. Really terrible.

My fear of heights was a reason we sat in the ridiculously hot bleachers at the Texas Rangers’ old Arlington Stadium instead of the upper deck behind home plate. I feel bad for making my family accommodate my fear of heights.

I am very glad I never sat in the upper decks of LSU’s football stadium. I went up there one Saturday morning a few hours before a game, but I got scared. Really scared. I ran down the ramps as fast as I could.

Some of the high school football stadiums I covered games were harrowing.

University High, a laboratory school on the east side of the LSU campus, played its home games on one of the fields at LSU’s practice facility when I was covering games in Baton Rouge. The “press box” was actually an open-air shelter which was only accessible by a rickety old ladder. While some could climb the thing in 30 seconds, it took me more than one minute, sometimes two or three, to make it all the way up there. I was shaking like a leaf every time I was up there.

If I had to do it all over again, I would have covered the games from the field. I proved I could do it just fine when I moved to Kansas, writing down the information then feeding it to the computer. But I was on a deadline in Baton Rouge, and doing stuff on the field would have cost me 20-30 minutes, which could have been very bad if a game ran late.

Today, University High plays at a modern stadium with a real press box nowhere near as high.

Memorial Stadium is Baton Rouge’s largest high school stadium, seating over 20,000. It was once a home for Southern University’s football team, and hosted many small college bowl games and playoffs. It was once home to numerous teams in Baton Rouge, but now only a handful of teams use it, since the rental fees charged by the Baton Rouge Recreation Commission (BREC) are too high for most schools to afford. Many of the public schools, especially those in more economically depressed areas, can’t make enough off ticket sales to pay the rent, plus officials and security.

In November 1999, I covered a high school football playoff game at Memorial Stadium between Eunice and Capitol, which is about a mile from Memorial Stadium. I was also asked by the local cable company to provide color commentary for its tape-delayed broadcast in place of Rob Musemeche, the usual color man who could not be there that night due to a family commitment.

About 45 minutes prior to kickoff, the play-by-play man, Dennis McCain, and myself went to the top of Memorial Stadium’s press box.

I did not fare well.

I was very unsteady, and I could feel my knees quaking. Dennis was very patient with me and helped me a lot, and we made it through the opening spiel before returning to the press box for the game.

I wish I had a camera to take a picture from the top of the Memorial Stadium press box. You can get a great shot of the Louisiana capitol, the tallest in the United States, as well as traffic flowing on nearby Interstate 110 and other state government buildings.

My biggest fear of driving in Louisiana was breaking down and/or getting into an accident on one of the numerous bridges over the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. The I-435 bridge in western Kansas City is high, yes, but nowhere near as high as the structures in Louisiana, most of which are more than 100 feet over “Old Man River”.

I would like to stop on the Kit Bond Bridge in Kansas City and get a shot, but there is too much traffic to do it safely.

As for high places in Kansas City, I have gone to the top of Kauffman Stadium to take pictures. I have considered watching a game from there.

We all have our fears. Maybe I need to conquer some. Heck, I’m going to be 42 later this year. Gotta start sometime.

In too deep

I like to put earplugs in my ear when the music at Buffalo Wild Wings gets loud.

I nearly regretted it just now.

I bought a new pack of earplugs, trying to find the ones that would stay in my ear and block out the noise from the loud music I dislike. I put the plugs in before I pulled out of the Target lot, and they worked very well on the drive to Buffalo Wild Wings.

When I got to Buffalo Wild Wings Zona Rosa and attempted to remove them, I had trouble. I had put the plugs down so deep into my ear canal I didn’t have enough to grab to pull them out

Maybe I need to carry a set of manicure tweezers with me if I’m going to do that.

I thought about purchasing noise cancelling headphones, but they are outrageously expensive. I went to Best Buy today because I had to purchase a new HDMI adapter for my iPhone and iPad, since the one I have has shorted out. The CHEAPEST pair of noise cancelling headphones I found were $150. The top of the line Bose model costs $350. I wish I could. Either I’m going to have to live with the noise or just be careful with the earplugs. I will purchase a pair of tweezers just in case.

It wasn’t the first incident I had today.

When I was pulling out of Target, a man pulled into the parking space to my left quite crooked. I had to be very careful backing out. Fortunately he pulled forward into another open parking space so that helped.

Earlier this morning, I nearly got backed into by an SUV pulling out from the Hy-Vee in Liberty. Had to honk my horn to warn this person. However, I did not lay on the horn as I might have in the past. I was thankful there was no collision.

Yesterday just after I left Russell, I got an e-mail from Smith Center stating that one of my pages for this week’s newspaper was messed up. I erroneously had the same copy in two different places. I was on my way to Salina and then to Kansas City, so I was upset that I had messed up and would have to take care of it. I pulled off I-70 at the Wilson exit, got my laptop out and did it on my trunk. Fortunately for me, I have a Verizon jetpack so I can access the Internet in most places. It worked and I was on the road again 10 minutes later.

And when I was in a long line at the Salina McDonald’s at East Crawford and Ohio, I decided not to honk and not to complain. I’m trying to do better. It’s not going to be perfect.

Spent three hours at Buffalo Wild Wings Shoal Creek today to visit with Tina, the bartender whom I really like. Not romantically, but I like seeing her. Now I’m in Platte County. I met Robb for two hours yesterday, but tonight I’m flying solo. I’m used to it.

Jersey girl booted by Bama

Last week, Harley Barber, a 19-year old from New Jersey, was expelled by the University of Alabama for two posts on an Instagram account in which she repeatedly used the N-word to disparage black people.

It watched the videos. They were deplorable. Sadly, she was acting like many white sorority girls do at Alabama, Ole Miss, Georgia, Florida and other schools in the Deep South. She just was stupid enough to put her rants on social media, thinking she would not get caught. How naive. Once you put something on the Internet, it’st there to stay, no matter how many times you “scrub” it and think you’ve taken care of the cancer.

Here’s a bigger question: how does a young lady from Marlton, New Jersey end up at a university 947 miles from home without a good reason (read: athletic scholarship)?

Certainly there are plenty of good colleges in the Garden State. If she can’t get into Princeton (face it, most people can’t), there’s Rutgers, a pretty good university, the football and men’s basketball teams notwithstanding. Marlton isn’t too far from Philadelphia, which has Villanova, LaSalle, Drexel, Temple and St. Joseph’s (I’m not including Penn, because like Princeton, it’s an Ivy League school, and most of us, myself included, can’t sniff the Ivy League).

I can only think of one reason Ms. Barber wanted to attend school in Tuscaloosa.

Here’s a hint: they play on fall Saturdays in Bryant-Denny Stadium and other venues around the Southeastern Conference. They also are a permanent fixture in the College Football Playoff.

Alabama now has more students from outside the Yellowhammer State than from the 67 counties of the state (I’m guessing very few of those are from Lee County, where Auburn is located). Why? Alabama has the nation’s most dominant college football program.

Robert Witt, the University of Alabama president who hired Nick Saban in 2007, said Saban was a “bargain” and the “best thing I’ve ever done as a university administrator”.

I can’t disagree with Dr. Witt, because Alabama’s enrollment has zoomed past many of its SEC brethren, LSU included. It is now is the second most selective university in the SEC, trailing only Vanderbilt. Many who live in Tuscaloosa and the western part of the state might do better trying to attend Mississippi State or Southern Miss than the “Capstone”. At least there’s Auburn for those elsewhere in the state, along with South Alabama, Jacksonville State, UAB and two historically black colleges, Alabama A&M and Alabama State.

I had dreams of leaving Louisiana when I was growing up. I was seriously thinking about attending Kansas State, which is only a few more miles from New Orleans than Ms. Barber’s hometown is from Tuscaloosa.

However, Herb Vincent, then LSU’s sports information director who is now an associate commissioner with the SEC, convinced me LSU was the right place for a young lad who grew up in New Orleans. Ironically, Herb grew up in Little Rock and was a Razorback fan until he went to LSU and changed his allegiance.

I’m glad I stayed close to home. Lord knows I wasn’t ready to be 1,000 miles away from home in a foreign land, even if my grandfather was an hour and 40 minutes down the road.

If Ms. Barber went to Alabama because she loved the Crimson Tide’s football team, then she was in Tuscaloosa for the wrong reason. She probably could have found what she was looking for at Rutgers and saved her family a lot of money. Heck, if she wanted a school with a powerhouse football team, Penn State is only four hours to the west.

It would have been the same for me had I attended K-State. It wasn’t for Bill Snyder’s football team in my case, but it was to escape Louisiana and stick it to those who bullied me through high school. Those would have been terrible reasons to leave my home state. I certainly found what I was looking for at LSU, and Herb’s connections helped me in so many ways.

I’ve come to accept Alabama is going to be college football’s King Kong until Saban retires, and who’s to say the Tide won’t continue to motor along after he departs? However, I would not want to be the immediate successor to Saban, because the comparisons will be brutal.

Ray Perkins can attest. He went 32-15-1 in four seasons after Bear Bryant retired and died in short order, but it wasn’t good enough for the Alabama boosters, and Perkins bolted for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, by far the worst NFL franchise at the time, in 1987.

Ms. Barber has apologized for her actions. Hopefully she can get her life back together. New Brunswick, home of Rutgers’ main campus, is a pretty good place to pick up her education when she decides it’s time. Just keep your thoughts to yourself, ma’am.

Trivia trifecta

I’m now at my third locale in Kansas City, north (not to be confused with North Kansas City, which is a municipality wedged between the Missouri River and where the actual city of Kansas City resumes its limits–don’t get me started on how Kansas City extends into FOUR counties) playing Buzztime trivia. Even though I played for seven hours Wednesday in Salina, I’ve been going almost non-stop today since Buffalo Wild Wings at Shoal Creek opened at 11 a.m.

I did take a break, long enough to check into the hotel where I will be spending the night and buy some things at Hallmark and Staples. I bought a birthday card for Morgan Gilliland’s younger daughter, Olivia, who turns one Sunday, and a couple of Valentine’s cards. That’s all I’m buying. Everyone else is getting electronic cards. I don’t know Caitlyn’s new address in Ottawa, or I’d send her one. I won’t reveal who the two people who are getting actual cards are.

I also brought an Optimus Prime doll at Hallmark. Hallmark has a series of little dolls of famous fictional characters targeted at children. However, I found the Darth Vader one so cute last year I bought him. I added C3PO late last year. Optimus Prime reminds me of my youth, because my brother and I watched The Transformers all the time when the cartoons premiered in the fall of 1984. My mother took my brother and I to watch the first Transformers movie in August 1986. It has come a long, long way in three decades, but the original cartoons bring back memories.

Robb and Dawn showed up at Buffalo Wild Wings at 5:30, as did Mike Decker, who goes by LOWPOP in trivia. I had not seen Mike since August. Robb and I got worried about him and wondered if something bad occurred. Fortunately that wasn’t the case.

Another face from the past showed up tonight. Lindsy Kurzdorfer, who worked there in 2014 and the first part of 2015, was there with some friends. She has been friends for a very long time with Trey, Liz and others who used to work there. Lindsy now lives in Dallas, and although I don’t miss her as much as I do Liz and Lisa, I remember her just as fondly.

I still need to go to Colorado Springs to see Liz. I want to go to Baton Rouge to see Bill and LSU play baseball. God I have so many points on the map I want to get to, just not enough time or money. It happens.

It got very loud at B-Dubs tonight. Lots of people and lots of R&B/hip-hope music playing. I’m trying not to get upset about it anymore. I can’t do anything about it, and I don’t want to spend loads of money just trying to clog up the jukebox so that music doesn’t play.

I have earplugs, but the foam ones wear out and get ear wax on them, so I may have to switch to a silicon model. However, the foam ones block noise better, so it may be a compromise where I have to have several pairs of foam ones on hand. My dad used to bring them home by the case when he worked at Air Products and Chemicals in New Orleans. There is an earplug store online. I will check it out.

I’m now at Minsky’s wrapping up the night. I’m going to order wings to go; I knew I wanted them, and I wrote down the order at B-Dubs before crossing Barry Road. I am probably going to keep the computer in the bag and just use the ipad. Maybe I’ll watch another episode of Jessie or Last Chance U.

I’m leaning towards going back tomorrow night, even if I get home at 1 a.m. I’m usually a better night driver, and since I’m sticking to the interstates, I don’t think I”ll have too much trouble. The other option is to leave early, stop in Salina for a while at Buffalo Wild Wings, then make the final hour of the journey west. I need to pick up a few things at Hen House on 64th Street before going back.

I should have done this during the week between Christmas and New Year’s. I’m not going to tire of the place by going back tomorrow, and nobody will tire of me. Besides, how many times can I sit in Buffalo Wild Wings and play trivia? Seven hours in one day is plenty. Doing it four, five, six days in a row is a little over the top. I’ll be back in two weeks anyway. I have to see Dawn as much as I can before she moves to Florida.

When I was here three weeks ago, I actually did not go to B-Dubs that Friday night before New Year’s. I ordered takeout from Outback and watched the Cotton Bowl in my hotel room. I should have gone back Sunday. Staying until Monday was dumb because of the brutal cold. I risked having my car crap out on em. Between Saturday night and Sunday morning, I let the car sit for 16 hours, and it had a hell of a time starting the afternoon of New Year’s Eve. Not again.

This trip will be short, but it has been sweet. Time to buckle down Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

The government will shut down at 11 p.m. Central. This country is run by 536 idiots–435 in the House, 100 in the Senate, and one living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, DC. Geez.