Category Archives: Personal

Throwback Thursday: Scooba

In my post (late) last night, I mentioned watching Last Chance U, the Netflix series about the football team at East Mississippi Community College in Scooba.

The town is on Mississippi’s eastern border. Kemper County, where Scooba is located, has a little under 10,000 residents, and more than 60 percent are African-American. There are only two incorporated villages in Kemper County: Scooba and De Kalb, the county seat.

Kemper County was the birthplace and childhood home of John Stennis, a legendary politician who represented Mississippi in the United States Senate for 42 years (1947-1988). NASA’s test facility not too far from Bay St. Louis on the Gulf Coast is named in Stennis’ honor. My seventh grade science class at Arabi Park Middle ventured there in February 1989.

Scooba is only 40 miles east of the site of one of America’s darkest days of hatred.

Philadelphia, the seat of Neshoba County, was where civil rights workers Andrew Goodman, James Chaney and Mickey Schwerner were arrested the afternoon on June 21, 1964 on trumped-up charges of speeding and disturbing the peace. After five hours in the county jail, the three young men were released and began to driving down Mississippi Highway 19 to Meridian.

Sadly, while Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner were in jail, a dastardly plot was hatched by Neshoba County Deputy Sheriff Cecil Price and numerous members of the Ku Klux Klan. The plan was to follow the civil rights workers down Highway 19 and eventually stop them, then murder them and bury them in an earthen dam.

Eventually Price and his minions, led by trigger man Alton Wayne Roberts, carried out the executions. It wasn’t until August that the bodies of the three murdered men were found.

Price and Roberts were convicted of violating the civil rights of Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner by an all-white Mississippi jury in October 1967. Unfortunately, nobody was prosecuted by the state or the feds for murder.

Scooba (permanent population 700, give or take; many more people are there during the school year) is one of the many places I ventured during my 14 months as the publicity person for Delgado Community College’s athletic teams.

Delgado is the largest community college in Louisiana, a state which has a woefully low number of two-year colleges, but an oversaturation of four-year colleges. For instance, there are so many four-year colleges within 100 miles of downtown New Orleans that I’m not going to sit here right now and try to figure it out. If it were only LSU, Tulane and the University of New Orleans, it would be plenty. But add in Nicholls (Thibodaux), Southeastern Louisiana (Hammond), Southern (Baton Rouge), plus numerous other smaller colleges, and it gets to be too much.

I think there are too many four-year schools in Kansas, but Kansas Wesleyan, Bethany, Bethel and the others in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference are private. SOuthern, Nicholls, Southeastern and UNO are all funded by the the state of Louisiana, as are several others. LSU complains about not getting enough funding, but if Louisiana had the guts to close some of the smaller universities or convert them to community colleges, it might help the flagship.

Delgado has only three athletic teams: men’s basketball, women’s basketball and baseball. The baseball program has been one of the best junior college programs in the United States since its founding in the mid-1970s under the leadership of Joe Scheuermann, who has been the Dolphins’ coach since 1991, and his father, Louis (Rags), who began the team in 1973 after Loyola University, another private four-year school located literally next door to Tulane, dropped its athletic program. Loyola restarted its program in 1989-90, but it was at a much lower level.

With an utter lack of two-year colleges in Louisiana–the only others with athletic teams are Bossier Parish near Shreveport, LSU-Eunice north and west of Lafayyette, and Baton Rouge Community College–Delgado must go into other states to find games.

Fortunately for the Dolphins, Mississippi has numerous two-year colleges, so they don’t have to travel long distances.

Delgado traditionally plays three Mississippi JUCOs every year: Gulf Coast, about 40 miles north of Gulfport; Pearl River, about halfway between New Orleans and Hattiesburg on Interstate 59; and Meridian, which does not play football nor does it compete in the same conference with the other Mississippi JUCOs due to its strong baseball team, one which has sent hundreds of players to Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Southern Miss.

Scheuermann will rotate the other Mississippi JUCOs onto his schedule, and in my second baseball season there, one of those was East Mississippi.

The team had to stay in Meridian, 40 miles south of Scooba. Fortunately, US Highway 45 is four-laned throughout most of the state, and it provided easy access from Meridian. The original schedule was to play a single game on a Friday night and a single game the next afternoon.

I drove separately from the team. I like my freedom. I rented an SUV at the Baton Rouge airport and drove straight to Meridian. I didn’t rent from New Orleans because it is much easier to do so in Baton Rouge, where I parked my car, walked from the garage to the rental counter, then out to the rental car on the ground level of the garage. In New Orleans, you have to take a shuttle from the terminal to the rental car area, which is at the far western edge of the airport property. Pain in the butt.

It’s an easy drive from Baton :Rouge to Meridian: US 61 to Natchez, US 84 to Interstate 55 at Brookhaven, I-55 to I-20 at Jackson, then to Meridian. All four-lane highway. Much easier than driving from Russell to Norton (sorry, Peggy), especially if deer are congregating on the side of US 283.

The team drove north on US 45 to Scooba and arrived just before 4:30, with first pitch scheduled for 6:00. However, there were fierce thunderstorms gathering in east central Mississippi, and the coaches agreed to postpone the Friday night game and play two seven-inning games the next day. There was no option to play Sunday, since Delgado was going to be traveling to Wesson to play at Copiah-Lincoln Community College Sunday.

With thunderstorms on the horizon, I figured I’d better haul butt back to Meridian. I was doing much faster than the 65 MPH speed limit (I estimate a couple of times I was close to 90) as I tried to beat the thunderstorm back to Meridian.

While I was driving like a bat out of hell, I was also on my phone, talking to Jimmy Ott to discuss the LSU-Arkansas baseball series that weekend on his radio show. I don’t recommend that.

It absolutely poured once we got back to Meridian. But I was safe.

The next day, I drove from Meridian to Philadelphia on Highway 19. Made me think long and hard about just how backwards and cruel Mississippi was until the 1970s. There is a large Indian casino near Philadelphia, and the city has certainly modernized greatly since 1964, but it will always carry the shame of what happened to Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner that Father’s Day.

I remember getting ridiculously sunburned in Scooba. I had to sit outside because there was no press box, and silly me exposed my nearly bald head to the sun on a cloudless day.

Less than two months after my trip to Scooba and side excursion to Philadelphia, Edgar Ray “Preacher” Kilian, one of the members of the lynch mob that killed Goodman, Chaney and Schwerner, was convicted of murder. Kilian was acquitted during the 1967 federal trial because some jurors stated they could not convict a preacher, even though Kilian’s claim to be a preacher was dubious at best.

Coincidentally, the same day of the evil act in Neshoba County, Jim Bunning pitched a perfect game for the Phillies against the Mets in Shea Stadium. The next year, when Sandy Koufax threw a perfecto vs. the Cubs in Los Angeles, New Orleans was battered by Hurricane Betsy at the same time. And Woodstock was being held at the same time Hurricane Camille lay waste to the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

The third season of Last Chance U came to Kansas. The 2017 Independence Community College football team was highlighted, and episodes should be available for streaming in the spring. If the Netflix producers thought driving from Scooba to Wesson was a grind, I hope they were ready for Independence to Garden City. Russell to Norton is tough enough, though I will never complain, because two of my favorite people on earth call Norton home.

I’ve got to get some sleep. I’m supposed to have my first session with Crista in almost a month tomorrow at 8. Supposed to. I’ll leave it at that.

A needed trip to Norton

I ventured to Norton tonight for the first time since late September to see the Bluejays play Stockton in basketball. The main reason I went was to see Peggy and Caitlyn, both of whom I had not seen since early November. They are two of my “irreplaceables” whom I blogged about before Christmas.

Sadly, one of my irreplaceables is leaving soon. More on that in another post.

Peggy told me Caitlyn is transferring from Johnson County Community College to Ottawa University to start the spring semester. It’s a good move for Caitlyn, since her brother, Conor, attends Ottawa, and her sister, Courtney, lives in rural Miami County with Andy and Finley. Poor Chelsea in Colby with Sam and Seth, but at least Peggy gets down there enough so she doesn’t feel left out.

Norton won both games–girls 56-48 and boys 47-41. The Bluejay boys are starting over after losing all of their key players from the last two seasons, which saw Norton reach the Class 3A state tournament. Norton’s girls are finding a rhythm even without Caitlyn and Baylee Miller, who was the starting point guard for the last two seasons.

Norton played tonight instead of Friday because it is hosting its huge wrestling tournament Saturday, and this gave the school an extra day to prepare. In fact, wrestling mats were being rolled out immediately after the boys game ended.

The big news wasn’t the games.

Rather, it was a double homicide which took place in rural Graham County northeast of Hill City. The Graham County Sheriff’s office and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation identified the suspect and told residents in northeast Graham County, southern Phillips County and northern Rooks County to lock their doors, cars and other valuables.

At first, Peggy thought I might have to take US 36 east to Phillipsburg and then US 183 to Hays before jumping on I-70 to get back to Russell. But when I saw KWCH report the suspect was moving towards Phillips County between Phillipsburg and Stockton, I figured it was best I just go back the way I came, US 283 from Norton to WaKeeney and then I-70 to Russell.

I saw FIVE deer on 283. Four were on the sides of the road just south of the Norton/Graham county line, and the fifth was a fawn crossing south of Hill City. No trouble, but deer always worry me, having creamed one on 183 north of Hays six weeks after moving to Kansas, then clipping one between Washington and Belleville on 36 in September 2012.

Going to sleep late tonight. No reason to get up early. Nowhere to go, really. Kansas City is a great place to avoid, especially Saturday when the Chiefs play the Titans at Arrowhead to open the NFL playoffs. The way I figure, every sports bar in the area will be loud and obnoxious. If the Chiefs win, then the fans will be whooping it up and hollering all night. If they lose, then the fans will be emptying their vocabularies of expletives. No thanks.

 

Enough of KC

Russell has rarely looked so good than it does right now, less than eight hours into 2018.

I’m leaving Kansas City. Enough. This trip was a WASTE. Should have stayed home.

Thank God my car is running. It’s 12 below outside with a -25 wind chill. It’s a little warmer back west, where it might get above freezing later this week.

Bye bye KC. I won’t miss you. Not for a while anyway.

The dumbest night

There are 12 hours left in 2017, at least in the Central time zone of the United States of America. Some places have already flipped the calendar. Others have a few more hours left of this year.

Tonight, millions of people will dress up in tuxedos and evening gowns, drink champagne and celebrate…THE FLIPPING OF A CALENDAR.

YIPPEEE!!!!

If I have said it before in this blog, then too bad. I’m going to say it now.

NEW YEAR’S EVE IS BY FAR THE DUMBEST HOLIDAY THERE IS. 

To say New Year’s Eve is a stupid reason to celebrate is saying the Titanic’s collision with the iceberg in the North Atlantic was just a bump in the night.

Those who go out on New Year’s Eve are screaming to the universe that I SUCK. MY LIFE SUCKS. I NEED THIS LAME EXCUSE TO PARTY.

Dick Clark was one of the best hosts in the history of entertainment, no matter the medium. However, when he came up with the idea of New Year’s Rockin’ Eve in 1972, he screwed the pooch big time.

Dick, you would have done much better going to bed at 9:30 on New Year’s Eve than sitting out in Times Square watching a ball drop.

Wow, stop the presses. That’s something I have always wanted to see up close.

Okay then. If you cannot spot the sarcasm, shame on you.

I don’t watch it on TV, and you couldn’t pay me all the money in the world to go to New York to see it live. In fact, I have no earthly desire to go to New York for any reason, period. Watching the ball drop would be the last reason on earth I would ever want to set foot in that city.

Yes, when you wake up tomorrow, it will be 2018. Will your debts be magically forgiven because it is a new year? HELL NO. If you are single, will you magically have a significant other because it is a new year? HELL NO. If your marriage is in trouble, will all be hunky dory because it is a new year? HELL NO. All that’s different is you’ll be putting a different digit at the end when you write a check. That’s about it.

As for resolutions, that’s another big HELL NO. What’s the big deal about starting something on January 1? If it’s something to better your life, will it not better your life if you start it on May 18, August 3 or October 23? Of course it will.

To the idiots going to the Kansas City Power & Light District to ring in the new year: see a medical professional. SOON. First, it’s beyond idiotic to go out drinking any night, especially on New Year’s Eve, and second, it’s going to be very, very cold. I don’t want anyone to die, but if someone did succumb to hypothermia tonight, it would be amusing, simply because it’s so stupid to be out tonight.

The only time I have been out past 8 p.m. on New Year’s Eve was after the 1995 Sugar Bowl between Virginia Tech and Texas (the Hokies won 28-10 if you’re wondering, and you’re probably not). I recall being scared to death of the drunks that would be out, although my route home did not come anywhere near the French Quarter. Fortunately I made it home without incident.

Goodbye 2017. Hello 2018. Life goes on.

My irreplaceables

In my most recent blog post, I listed five people whom I have not heard of in any way, shape or form in many, many, many years, five people whose absence from my life really hurts.

Now, I’ll list some people whom I hope never, ever appear on that list. If they are on the list at any time, the quality of my life will be extremely diminished.

Lisa (Toebben) Daniels

How we met: Lisa began working at Buffalo Wild Wings Zona Rosa in March 2014. Worked there through June 2015.

Lisa was impressed with my knowledge about trivia, especially sports and history. I always tried to sit in her section when she was working, except the times when I would sit in Liz’s section. I tried to even it out between them.

Lisa quickly found out I really liked Liz, and there were times Lisa had to calm me down when I was upset about Liz. I liked Lisa too, but she told me about her boyfriend (now her husband), Jeffrey Daniels. Turns out they had been dating since 2010, long before Buffalo Wild Wings opened in Zona Rosa, and long before I knew any of our paths would cross.

In August 2014, she issued the Ice Bucket Challenge on Facebook to me. I tried to get out of it at first, but then gave in and did it. Two young ladies from closer to where I live, Mindy Gower (Phillipsburg) and Addison Kingsbury (Smith Center) also challenged me. Liz poured the bucket.

Unfortunately, Lisa had to put up with a lot of the bad things in my life. She saw me melt down far too often, and I know it angered her. She did all she could to keep that anger from bubbling over, but there were times I pushed her too far.

Lisa and another Buffalo Wild Wings worker, Shannon Swanson, beseeched me to get help. I stalled and stalled until both Lisa and Shannon told me to either get help or they would stop being friends.

I wish I had listened to Lisa and Shannon sooner. I first started seeing Crista near the end of 2014, and I’ve been going to her ever since.

Lisa and Jeff welcomed a son, Liam Gearhart Daniels, into the world on December 30, 2015. They were living in Jeff’s native Chicago at the time, but later moved back to Kansas City, where they still live. They were wed this past October 7 in the St. Louis suburb of Arnold.

I don’t see enough of Lisa, but I understand. She’s doing wonderful things. I’m glad we’ve been able to stay friends even though I gave her too many reasons not to.

Dr. Stacey (Day) Jones

How we met: Dr. Jones has been my opthamologist since moving to Kansas.

In October 2005, once my new health insurance policy through Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Kansas kicked in, I figured I would attempt to find new doctors. One of the worst things that happend with Katrina was losing the great doctors I had in Louisiana.

My opthamologist in Louisiana, Dr. Martin Schoenberger, had a medical degree from the University of Virigina and studied at Johns Hopkins, a university in Baltimore recognized as one of the world’s most pretigious medical schools. He performed numerous pioneering eye surgeries and proudly displayed those articles from medical journals. He was also a regular participant in the Crescent City Classic, the 10-kilometer race in New Orleans every spring.

Losing Dr. Schoenberger was a blow for me, but Dr. Jones has been absolutely wonderful. She is a very compassionate lady who cares so much about her patients. She has to get on me at times to keep my blood sugar under control, but I know she does it because she doesn’t want to be treating me for cataracts and/or glaucoma later in life.

Her partner in Hays, Dr. Kendall Krug, has drawn rave reviews from his patients, too. I’m in good hands. Hopefully that won’t change.

Dr. Shanon Custer

How we met: Dr. Custer has been my primary care physician since moving to Kansas.

I had no clue what to do for a new doctor once I moved. I was VERY LUCKY my m other’s physician, Dr. Joe Johnson, took care of me when I fell very ill with pneumonia and a collapsed lung near Thanksgiving 2004. If my mother had not insisted on taking me to see Dr. Johnson, I never would have made it to Kansas, much less be sitting here more than 12 years later.

I wish I could have taken Dr. Johnson and Dr. Schoenberger with me (and my dentist, C.J. Steeg) to Kansas, but I couldn’t. The only thing I looked for when I hunted for a new doctor in Kansas was (a).an internal medicine specialist and (b) preferralbly, a female.

Thank God for Dr. Custer.

My first appointment with her was about three months after my last with Dr. Johnson. She has taken very good care of me, even if I don’t want to follow her admonitions to exercise and eat better.

Dr. Custer has been very understanding with my Asperger’s and emotional trouble. She, in fact, referred me to High Plains Mental Health, which started me on the road to seeing Crista.

We are the same age. Dr. Custer was born four months before me, so as long as we’re both in Hays and Russell, respectively, I will keep going to see her. I wouldn’t trust my health to anyone else.

Elizabeth Psenski

How we met: Liz was working at Buffalo Wild Wings Zona Rosa when I started to come regularly in the spring of 2013. She started talking to me when she mentioned how much she liked the music I was selecting to play on the store’s jukebox. The song she really liked was Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)”.

When I lived in Baton Rouge, I frequented Ivar’s Sports Bar near the LSU campus. I got to meet quite a few of the lovely waitresses, as well ast he managers, Pat Quigley and the late Larry Stolzfus. However, I didn’t get to know them nearly as well as I have gotten to know Liz.

Four and a half years later, I can’t imagine life without Liz.

Liz accepted me for who I was. I explained to her I suffer from Aspeger’s Syndrome. It might have scared some other people away, but it seemed to draw Liz closer.

She moved to Colorado Springs in August 2015. I miss her very, very much. I saw her earlier this year for a couple of days, and it brought back a flood of very good memories.

Liz has told me more than once that we would be friends until we were old and gray and using walkers to get around. I certainly hope that comes to pass.

Dawn Amos

How we met: In January 2015, Dawn and her then-husband, Robb, came into Buffalo Wild Wings Zona Rosa to play trivia on a Monday night. Their visits became more and more frequent, and we got to know one another better.

Dawn and Robb lived in south Florida before coming to Kansas City. At first, I was suspicious of them, as I am with most new people. There were some ugly incidents playing trivia, especially on Opening Day 2015, when the Royals were beating the pants off the White Sox and I was pissed off when they were beating me. I swore never to come back. Tori was bartending that day and her parents happened to be there. Tori’s father, Shane, was extremely angry with me. If he would have punched me, I would have deserved it.

Thankfully, I’ve patched things up with Shane and Terri, Tori, and Robb and Dawn.

Dawn is a certified event planner. She is a very kind, very beautiful and very intelligent lady. I think the world of her.

One of the best nights I’ve had came on my 41st birthday, when I drove her home. We were able to have a very intimate, very deep conversation, one which I will always treasure. I hope to have more of those.

Dawn, I love you. Very much!

Robb Amos

How we met: See above with Dawn.

Robb, who is almost halfway between the ages of Dawn and I, grew up in Kansas City.

In years past, I would probably not have considered being a friend of Robb. Robb and Dawn both sit on the left of the political spectrum, in stark contrast to most of the people who live in northwest Kansas. Russell is Republican to the core, thanks to longtime U.S. Senator Bob Dole having grown up in the town. In fact, Dole and my grandfather were elementary school classmates; Elmer Steinle is only five months older than Bob.

Robb and Dawn knew I was conservative, but I listened to their point of view. Slowly over time, I began to respect what they had to say and just not dismiss everything they talked about as hogwash. I found myself open to more positions across the spectrum and not just accepting the gospel of the Republican National Committee, Rush Limbaugh, Laura Ingraham and other conservative talking heads.

In the days after the 2016 presidential election, I did my best to console Robb and Dawn. They were hard for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic primaries, and really hated Trump. I got sick of Trump, too. I won’t reveal who I voted for, sorry.

I cheered them up with a case of Abita beer from Louisiana. They were very appreciative.

I feel kind of guilty that I went to Kentucky and wasn’t in Kansas City as much as I could have been when Robb was first having trouble with Dawn. He said it was fine, but I kind of wish I could have helped him.

Also, I’ve bitched to him way, way, way too much. That shouldn’t be. That’s what I pay Crista for (see below).

We talk about music all the time. Good music. Not the music some people like to play at Buffalo Wild Wings.

Robb is my best male friend. I won’t say best friend, but I don’t have close relationships with many other males, save for Bill Franques (see below) and a few others. I don’t want to screw it up.

Crista Geyer

How we met: Crista has been my therapist for the last three years. She keeps her life pretty private, and she needs to given her position. I don’t blame her. I do know her husband, Lance, is the director of the Hays Kids Wrestling Club, because she brags about watching wrestling quite a bit. They have a four-year old daughter.

When I returned to High Plains Mental Health, I told the staff I wanted to see a female therapist. Crista drew the short straw.

Best luck I’ve ever had.

Crista has gone above and beyond to improve my quality of life. She has been very patient with me, even though I have made her mad more than once. I fear there will come a day when she will no longer want to be my therapist. I have told Peggy more than a few times how much I fear it.

(This section is short because (a) I want to protect Crista’s privacy and (b) it’s not something that needs to be on the blog. The good readers have their own problems and don’t want to read too much about mine)

Bill Franques

How we met: Bill has been the public relations director for the LSU baseball program since August 1988. I met Bill when I first came to LSU in 1994. I helped him a lot with baseball, first in 1998 and 1999 as a student, then in 2001, ’02 and ’03 when I was freelancing for The Advocate, Baton Rouge’s daily newspaper.

When I first met Bill, he wasn’t seeing anyone. He was a little difficult, in my opinion, to get a read on. However, we got along fairly well, except the thousands of times I screwed up in my first year at LSU.

When I came back to LSU in 1997 after a year and a half in exile back in New Orleans, I started working more closely with the baseball team. I was his right hand man in 1998 and ’99, two years which I really enjoyed, but two years which had to be hell for him. I really regret causing him such pain and headaches.

He apparently held no grudges, or else he would not have invited me to his November 1999 wedding to Yvette Lemoine in Bunkie, a small Louisiana town about 100 miles northwest of Baton Rouge. I made the drive even though I was feeling quite sick that day. Probably would not have done it for anyone else (fortunately, I was feeling physically fine on Lisa’s big day earlier this year).

From 2001-03, when I helped Bill again, it was more of the same. I was a pain in the ass. Bill got angry at me more than.a few times. Every time was completely justified. I screwed up, not him.

When I moved to Kansas, I screwed things up back in Louisiana by claiming I was much better off than I had been in Louisiana, and called Michael Bonnette’s attempts to say Louisiana was still a place worth living in LSU’s media guides a bunch of bull. Michael cut me off for quite a while wen that happened, as he should have. That was totally uncalled for on my part.

I recall attempting to contact Bill in the press box at the old Alex Box Stadium in March 2006 before a game. When he answered the phone and I identified myself, he was very cold. I got the message and hung up before another word was said.

In June 2009, I was really mad about LSU winning its sixth baseball national championship. I said some really nasty things about some of Bill’s colleagues at LSU. I didn’t say much bad about Bill, but he was pretty angry about it. He should have been, and frankly, if he wanted to never speak to me again, he would have had every right to cut me off.

In November 2009, he called me on the carpet in an e-mail. It took me a few minutes to realize how wrong I was. I apologized to him, posted a public apology, then deleted the post forever. We slowly repaired our relationship, and by 2013, everything was well between us.

So well that we’ve reunited twice at Missouri (2013, 2016) and once at Kentucky (this year). Hopefully I’ll get down to Baton Rouge in 2018.

Caitlyn Cox

How we met: Caitlyn is Peggy and Clark Cox’s youngest child.

I first saw Caitlyn coming to watch her sisters Chelsea and Courtney play for Norton Community High School. She began her high school career in the fall of 2013 and graduated earlier this year. She recently completed her first season of playing volleyball for Johnson County Community College in Overland Park.

Of the four Cox children, I am closest to Caitlyn. She is the only blonde of the Cox kids (the others have dark hair like their parents), and she is the most outgoing by far. She is not afraid to express herself on social media, unlike Chelsea, who is much more selective, and Courtney and Conor, who are much less visible, almost off the grid, but good for them.

Caitlyn knew about me for many years having seen me at her sibling’s events, but we didn’t start talking to one another until her sophomore year. I’m so glad we have grown so close over the last three years, although there have been many times I have said and done things I should not have. Caitlyn is purely innocent in all this and never deserves my anger. Never. I have to do better with it.

Norton’s seniors usually put together a picture collage before their final home game. Caitlyn included a picture of me that we took together at Hays High in 2015 in her collages for both volleyball and basketball. I was humbled.

I’ve only seen her once recently, and fortunately, I got to treat her to lunch at Outback in Overland Park. I know she is very busy and is doing wonderfully at JCCC. Every parent should be as lucky to have a daughter like Caitlyn.

I know we might drift apart, but I hope it’s not to the point as with the people in my earlier post. Peggy told me just don’t mess up and it won’t happen.

Peggy Cox

How we met: When I was covering Peggy’s eldest child, Chelsea, compete for Norton High during the 2005-06 school year. I covered many of her matches during her two stints as the Bluejays’ volleyball coach (2007-10, 2015-16), and discussed my life endlessly with her as I was watching her children, and other Norton teams, perform.

As far as my life in Kansas goes, Peggy knows more about it than anyone else. More than my parents. More than Liz, Lisa, Robb Dawn and anyone in Kansas City. I tell Peggy as much as I can, probably too much. I probably overwhelm her, but I am beyond lucky that she is there to listen to me.

Clark is a native of the area and went to school at Norton. He does a lot of farming in Long Island, a microscopic community northeast of Norton on the Kansas-Nebraska state line. Peggy said she lived in quite a few places growing up, and told me about Sterling during her high school years. She and Clark met at Kansas State (not Fort Hays as I first posted) and married in 1985.

Peggy gets me for some reason. She really does. I never want her to refer to me as a “best friend”, because (a) I don’t want to single out one person over anyone else and (b) she has known quite a few people much, much longer than I.

I love Peggy very much. She would leave a gigantic hole in my heart if we were ever to part ways. I would eventually get over it, but it would very difficult. Outside of my family, she means more to me than anyone.

These people are always in my thoughts and prayers. I love them more than life itself and would give anything I could to help them. They deserve at least that. And probably much more.

Overthinking it yet again!

One of my favorite television shows is Monk, where Tony Shalhoub portrays a dectective with a crippling case of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Shalhoub’s charcater, Adrian Monk, is a brilliant detective who can find the most obscure clue one could dream of and use it to solve a case which no one else can. On the other hand, he cannot function in social situations. I cringe at these many instances, because it reminds me so much of me.

Monk’s gift, as he calls it, is a “blessing and a curse”.

Same with me and my memory.

I will remember arcane details about events from years ago. Here’s a great example…

Yesterday, I was playing trivia with Robb in Kansas City, and there was a list of notable figures who had been assassinated. The question asked who was assassinated in 1995? I didn’t even need to look at the list of answers to know it was Yitzak Rabin, then the premier of Israel. The other choices were Mahatma Gandhi, Malcolm X, Anwar Sadat and Martin Luther King Jr. I immediately pointed out to Robb the years the other leaders were assassinated. He sat there in stunned silence and bragged to Jarrod Myers, the general manager of the Buffalo Wild Wings Robb and I frequent, about how I could do that.

On the other hand, my memory is so good that I will remember too many painful things in my life. Crista is quick to point this out to me. So does Peggy.

Right now, I’m going to delve into a very painful part of my memory, one that comes up often.

I’m going to list some people whom I have had no contact whatsoever with in many, many years. People I would give anything to see again. ANYTHING.

5. Wendy (Durr) Wall

How we met: Wendy came to work in LSU’s sports information office when she was a graudate student in LSU’s journalism school in 1997 and 1998. Unlike someone else I once worked with at LSU (see below), I knew Wendy was off-limits because she was already married.

Wendy and I got along very well, save for a few bumps in the road. I did all I could to help her while she was handling publicity for the softball team in 1998, even though I had a lot to do with baseball.

One day, I got really worried when she didn’t show up in the office in the morning. I was panicked. Thankfully, I saw her just before I left with Bill Franques and Jim Hawthorne for a baseball game that night in Lake Charles against McNeese State.

Wendy got her master’s degree in the fall of 1998 and moved with her husband, Sid, to Houston. She had a son, Davis, in late 2002, so he is now 15.

Last time I saw her: September 28, 2002 at the LSU-Mississippi State football game. I saw her and Sid twice in Houston, once while my father, brother and I were in town for an Astros-Royals series at what was then Enron Field (now Minute Maid Park) in 2000, and again during the LSU-Rice super regional in 2002. I got Wendy and Sid tickets to the super regional, and that’s when Wendy told me she was pregnant with Davis. She contacted me via e-mail in December 2003, but nothing since.

I attempted to contact her through Facebook during the floods of Hurricane Harvey in August. God I hope she, Sid and Davis (and any other kids) are okay.

I know she’s busy, but I don’t get why she won’t contact me.

4. Rebecca (Borne) Brennan

How we met: Rebecca’s dad is Dan Borne, the public address announer for LSU football and men’s basketball games. I met Dan and Rebecca at the 1994 LSU football media day, the last for then-coach Curley Hallman (THANK GOD). Rebecca and I worked togehter in LSU’s sports information office our first semester in school, but I was fired by Herb Vincent for incompetence (something that needed to be done, even though I didn’t see it then). I left LSU after the spring semester and went home to attend the University of New Orleans because I was immature. Rebecca stayed at LSU, but quit the sports information office after December 1995.

I kept contact with Rebecca throughout 1996 and returned to LSU at the beginning of 1997. I really liked her. REALLY liked her. I didn’t realize it then, but I was not in any condition to be in a relationship. No way. I cried a lot over it, but frankly, it was best that I wasn’t. I couldn’t see it in 1997 and ’98, but now, I see it perfectly.

However, my crush on Rebecca continued, and it frankly irriated everyone I was around. Bill Franques tried to be as patient and understanding as he could, but had to jump my butt a few times. Herb got fed up with it. Michael Bonnette did too. They were right. I don’t know if I could handle a relationship today at 41. I know for sure I would have messed it up when I was 21.

Rebecca graduated cum laude in four years, while yours truly farted around and farted around. She got a job with Arthur Andersen, a prestigious accounting firm, in their New Orleans office, so she moved after graduation. Eventually, she lost her job there in 2002 after Arthur Andersen was implicated in the Enron scandal. She went to work at another big firm, Ernst & Young, before going to law school at Yale. More on that later.

Last time I saw her: May 13, 2001, at the LSU-Auburn baseball game, Skip Bertman’s final regular season game as coach. Our last phone conversation was in August 2002, when she called me after I had attempted to set up a date with somone I met on Match.com, but then said no a few minutes later. Our last e-mail communication was in December 2002, when I saw something she sent before I covered a high school football playoff game in Kentwood, the hometown of Britney Spears. In fact, I think I’d have a better chance of having Britney return a phone call/text/e-mail of mine than Rebecca these days.

Now back to the Yale Law School bit.

Dan told me in October 2004 that Rebecca was in New Haven attending Yale. I knew she had big dreams during her days at LSU, and it turns out she has fulfilled them.

In April 2014, I happened to read an article about her in an alumni magazine for St. Joseph’s Academy, the Baton Rouge all-girls Catholic high school where Brenda LeBlanc won so many state titles. Incidentally, Brenda’s first year at St. Joseph’s was the year after Rebecca graduted as valedictorian. Had Brenda been one year earlier, maybe I could have kept in touch through Brenda.

Rebecca is still living in Connecticut, married with (at least) two boys. I have done everything I can to contact her, but nothing. Dan has not helped me. I hate to bring it up with him, because I fear he won’t want to have anything to do with me if I do.

I feel terrible about the hurt I have caused the Borne family, especially Dan’s wife and Rebecca’s mother, Lisette. It doesn’t hurt as much now as it did when I lived in Louisiana, but I’d still like to know what happened. And why she hates me.

3. Tiffany Peperone

How we met: Tiffany was a cheerleader for Brother Martin who attended St. Mary’s Dominican High School. Her father, Vincent, graduated from one of Brother Martin’s antecedent schools, St. Aloysius, in 1964 (St. Aloysius and Cor Jesu merged in 1969 to form Brother Martin). Many young ladies who attended Dominican preferred to cheer for Jesuit, the all-boys Catholic school which has produced many Mayors of New Orleans (Moon Landrieu, Marc Morial and Mitch Landrieu are all former Blue Jays), but Tiffany always wanted to cheer for Brother Martin and she did for four years, something few did.

Tiffany was super sweet. She was a lot like Caitlyn Cox, except she didn’t play sports. Tiffany was extremely bright and intelligent. Graduated with honors from LSU and went to LSU law school. Was very highly thought of in LSU’s chapter of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. She also was a cheerleader for two years at LSU, but gave it up to concentrate on studies and the sorority.

I wanted to ask Tiffany to the Brother Martin homecoming dance when I was a senior and she was a sophomore at LSU. I knew LSU had an open date in football that weekend, and the plan was to go down to the field before LSU’s game vs. Utah State and ask her then. Unfortunately, I didn’t know the press pass Herb Vincent gave me for the game allowed me to go on the field prior to the game, and it never happened.

Last time I saw her: October 1, 1997, at Ivar’s Sports Bar in Baton Rouge. I was there with Bill Franques and Fred Demarest from the LSU athletic department. I have desperately tried contacting her in numerous ways recently, but nothing.

Honestly, I don’t know her marital status, anything. She has gone off the grid. Well, good for her if she has. I’d love to see her, but if she feels safer off the grid, I understand.

2. Janine (Jacques) Koenig

How we met: Janine was my eighth grade science teacher at Brother Martin High in New Orleans. In fact, she was the first teacher I encountered at Brother Martin. It also happened to be her first class at Brother Martin.

I gave Janine a very bad time during the 1989-90 school year. Her frustration with me boiled over one day in early May when she kicked me out of class. She had every right to. I was behaving very badly and although I couldn’t see the problem, it didn’t take me long to see where I was wrong.

Luckily for me, she didn’t hold 1989-90 against me during my next four years at Brother Martin. In fact, I often went to her when I needed help in science instead of asking the teacher who was instructing me that particular year. I trusted Janine.. A lot. Probably more than any teacher I have ever had at any level.

Last time I saw her: Decmeber 12, 1997 when I visited Brother Martin after finishing up the fall semester at LSU. I tried contacting her through Facebook, but nothing. Same when I wrote her in October 2016.

She left Brother Martin shortly after our visit. I don’t know where she is today. I know her son, Joshua, is almost 23. Hard to believe.

Janine is a highly intelligent lady. She was a four-year member of her quiz bowl team at St. Mary’s Dominican. She originally wanted to attend Duke, but settled for LSU.

There are a couple of other Brother Martin teachers I would give anything to see again: Rebecca Hale, who taught me English during the first semester of my junior year; and Eileen Depreo, who was my civics teacher as a senior.

Rebecca loves the Tulane Green Wave, but of coruse, I forgive her. She was simply incredible as the director of Brother Martin’s drama club, and I attended many of those productions. I found out late in my senior year that she was being fired, and I was crushed. At the last play of my senior year in May 1994, she found me outside the auditorium after a production and personally thanked me for attending. I’ll never forget that.

Eileen taught me a heck of a lot, and she was impressed with my knowledge, too. It was her guidnace which allowed me to score very highly on the American government advanced placement exam.

1. Renetta Rogers

How we met: Through Match.com. First date June 25, 1994. Went on a couple more dates in Louisiana before she moved with her parents to Arkansas, which came about nine months before Katrina hit and I moved to Kansas.

We reconnected once I got settled in Kansas, and visited her and her parents in Arkansas. The first time went wonderfully. A visit I had with her and her mother in St. Louis was not as good, but I won’t bore you with the details. When I went back to see her in Arkansas in August 2006, it all disintegrated.

Eventually, I got to see her in 2008, but that was it.

I loved Renetta very, very much. She is a 5-foot-10 beauty. I really, relaly cared for her. I would do anything to get her back in my life.

That’s it for now. I need to stop or I’m really going to lose it.

President Leghorn? Is that possible?

Last night, I resumed my favorite hobby, playing Buzztime trivia.

Near the end of the evening, a question came up which had one of the most ridiculous answers I have ever witnessed in my four and a half years of intesne Buzztime trivia playing (I played some in 2008 and ‘09, but it wasn’t until May 2013 when I became wrapped up in playing it regularly).

The question asked, which U.S. President stated that “The Only Thing We Have to Fear is Fear Itself”.

Of course, anyone who remembers history in high school knows it has to be Franklin Roosevelt. I knew that in middle school, but I’m not here to brag on myself.

The other choices were John F. Kennedy, James Monroe and…

FOGHORN LEGHORN.

I’ve heard of joke answers, but that was ridiculous.

Foghorn Leghorn isn’t real–unless there is a Foghorn Leghorn out there I’ve never met. He’s a cartoon character for crying out loud!

I get the point of not making Buzztime trivia impossible–except Brainbuster, which is every Tuesday from 7 to 7:30–but come on.

The only answer which would have been more ridiculous would have been Pigasus, the fake deity who actually earned a vote during the 1968 Democratic National Convention, the one where hippies rioted in the streets of Chicago.

Well, I stand corrected.

The most recent uestion just asked the nickname of Ohio State’s athletic teams. One choice: Kleptomaniacs.

Ah, Buzztime. Keeping us in stitches sometimes.

Another year on this globe

I officially turned 41 a little less than two hours ago. Of course, not as big a deal as last year, but it is Friday the 13th, the sixth time my birthday fell on a Friday. I was born on a Wednesday in case you’re curious.

My 13th birthday DID fall on Friday the 13th. I was in eighth grade at Brother Martin High (most of the Catholic high schools in New Orleans have an eighth grade), and I recall Tropical Storm Jerry formed in the Gulf of Mexico. It was pretty gray and damp the rest of the day and all of the next day.

This is the first Friday the 13th birthday since 2006, when I turned 30. I was busy that day: woke up in Wichita, drove up the Kansas Turnpike to Emporia for a tennis tournament, then went to Abilene for a football game, and finally back to Russell, becuase I had to turn around and cover a vollyeball tournament the next morning.

Last year, I was in Hays for a volleyball tournament because Cailtyn was playing and Peggy was coaching. This year, I’m in Kansas City.

My parents always leave town around the time of my birthday to go south, first to visit my brother and his family near Nashville, then down to New Orleans to visit my Uncle Jerry and also gamble on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. My parents were going to go to Biloxi right after visting Nashville, but had to alter their plans when Hurricane Nate came ashore in Mississippi last Saturday night. They went yesterday instead.

The first professional sports event of my lifetime was Game 4 of the 1976 American League Championship Series, which started a little more than five hours after I came into the world. The Royals needed to win in the rebuilt Yankee Stadium to stay alive. They did, prevailing 7-4, setting up the fifth and deciding game the next night. Of course, the Yankees won that one 7-6 when Chris Chambliss hit Mark LIttell’s first pitch of the bottom of the ninth (barely) over the right-center field fence to send the Bronx Bombers to their first World Series since 1964. Maybe it was best the Royals missed out on that World Series, because Cincinnati’s Big Red Machine destroyed the Yankees in four straight. I don’t think Kansas City would have fared any better.

The Royals lost to the Yankees in the ALCS in both 1977 and 1978 as well before finally breaking through in 1980 (the Orioles defeated the Angels in the 1979 ALCS). At the time, Kansas City tied the Mets as the fastest MLB teams to reach the postseason (8 seasons), although the Metropolitans won the World Series in 1969.

Not going to be a particularly busy birthday. Lots of trivia at Buffalo Wild Wings and a visit to Minksy’s later. Same for tomorrow. Sometimes routine is good.

The end (of June 2017) is in sight

Yesterday was a very long day. Woke up at 6:30–the alarm started crowing. Then Crista. Then Dr. Jones to get my eyes checked. Small area of concern in the left eye, something she hopes will clear up as my blood sugar improves. I’m sure she will report to Dr. Custer, whom I see again in September.

I drove half-bllind from Hays to Topeka. My eyes were dilated so Dr. Jones could examine them. I wore my old prescription sunglasses, and I was having a devil of a time seeing the car radio. I was fine to drive, but reading small print was a hassle. I finally inserted my contcts at Topeka so I could wear my Oakley sunglasses, which are much darker than my prescription lenses. Got to Kansas City and Buffalo Wild Wings at 3:30.

Around 6:30, a man accosted me at the bar and asked me if I was using my iPad to take pictures. My first instinct would have been to yell at him and call him a few unprintable words. Instead, I was focused on the TV screen with trivia. I let him stand there for a few minutes before he got the point. He complained to management. I showed Jarrod, the general manager, my iPad that it had no picutres of anything in the restaurant except the screen with trivia. I stayed until 8:30, which was leaving time anyway. 

I was offended at the accusation. Why would I risk going to jail in a place 250 miles from home? And certainly why would I risk trouble at a place I have been going for four years and want to keep going to? I told Robb and he was not happy to hear. He and his brother, Tim, came to play with me for a little while in the late afternoon. 

I am staying at the KCI Hilton this time. I rarely stay at Hilton properties. I am angry Hilton has not made all of its hotels, which also include Hampton Inn, Embassy Suites and Doubletree, smoke-free like Marriott has. Fortunatelly, the KCI Hilton went smoke-free earlier this year after seeing non-smoking customers bleed away to the Marriott and Four Points near the airport. 

I had trouble getting the luggage cart in the door, but for the first time when staying by myself, I did not have to stop by the front desk for a key.

The KCI Hilton offers a digital key. It is sent to your smartphone, and using Bluetooth, it sends a signal to the phone when you are near your room or any other space which requires a key to access. All I had to do was hit a button on my phone when I got to the room, and voila! Open sesame. 

I have not forgotten my key in a long time; I always put one in my wallet immediately after check-in and use the other when I need to leave the room but not leave the property. This morning, no key to forget! 

The room is very nice. The TV selection isn’t as good as the Farifield at KCI, which has DirecTV, but the bed was plush and there’s enough electrical outlets. There is room service, but it would cost more for a 10-ounce strip than it does for the 22-ounce bone-in ribeye at Outback. Speaking of Outback, the regular ribeye I had last night was superb. Charred outside, but nice and red inside. 

It poured AGAIN last night. Severe storm rolled in at 9:45 and blew through in 30 minutes. Over three inches of rain at KCI. In Carrollton, where Frank and Elaine Mercer lived before moving to Russell–they still own and publish the Carrollton Democrat–there was at least seven inches. This is the fourth time I have witnessed severe weasther in Kansas City this month. The rain is probably done until Monday. I’m planning on leaving Sunday night, but that could change. 

Getting the oil changed at McCarthy-Morse Chevrolet this morning. May be the last time here. My dad is talking about how his dad won’t be able to drive much longer and I’ll inherit his Buick LeSabre. 

I’m supposed to meet Larry (Mizzou) at Buffalo Wild Wings in Liberty for some trivia later. I also need to hit Minsky’s. 25 percent off through Tuesday! 

I’m eating 7-11 hot dogs for breakfast. It is a much better option than doughnuts for a diabetic, and I wasn’t in the mood to fight McDonald’s or another fast food place. Besides, it’s less expensive and I got a free Super Big Gulp. 

I ordered four movies from the 1980s on Blu-Ray on Amazon yesterday. They’ll arrive Monday. One of them I’ll discus in an upcoming post.

Lazy bones awakens

Geez! Eleven days since my last post. Lazy. Very lazy on my part. There hasn’t been that much exciting going on in my life, save for the trips to Kansas City and watching too much sports. On the other hand, it isn’t an excuse not to post something, anything. Sorry if you’ve been looking for the juicy details. 

I did leave Kansas City a week ago Wednesday after the extended Memorial Day trip. I didn’t leave town until after 7 that night, because I wanted to wait around and see Robb and Dawn. Also, I had planned to stay even longer that night, but if I had, I would have been back after midnight. 

I made a quickie trip there last weekend. Arrived Saturday morning, left Sunday night. Enough time to get in 17 hours of trivia and get out of town. I did not see Robb and Dawn Sunday as I had hoped, but I got to see enough people I wanted to, both at Buffalo Wild Wings and Minsky’s. 

The college baseball postseason is down to the super regionals, with eight best-of-three matchups beginning Friday. LSU plays Mississippi State in Baton Rouge starting Saturday night, the very last super regional to get underway. The first to start is the Bluegrass, Kentucky at Louisville, Friday at 11 a.m. Central. Six Southeastern Conference schools are in the super regionals. The other matchups are Vanderbilt-Oregon State, Cal State Fullerton-Long Beach State, Sam Houston State-Florida State, Davidson-Texas A&M, Missouri State-TCU and Wake Forest-Florida. The winners of these series head to Omaha for the College World Series beginning June 17. 

It’s 2-2 in the Stanley Cup Finals. I was praying the Penguins would have skated the Cup Monday night. Instead, they are in a fight  for their lives with the Underwoods, er, Predators. Lord, please do not let the Stanley Cup reside in Tennessee. Hockey does not belong in Tennessee, period. Or Florida. Or North Carolina. Or Georgia…oh right, that one is taken care of. 

The NBA Finals resume tonight. Golden State, please win the next two games so we don’t have to hear about the NBA! I have had enough of the NBA. ENOUGH. I haven’t cared about it since the late 1980s. 

Bob Stoops retired today as Oklahoma’s football coach. More on that in another post.