Category Archives: Personal

Good-bye 42

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

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

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

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

I waited for three minutes for the Yukon. Nothing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

####################################################################

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

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

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

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

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

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

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

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

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

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

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

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

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

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

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

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

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

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

@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@

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

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

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

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

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

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

///////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

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

My soft spot for teachers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://youtu.be/ngMJRAVzI-E

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

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

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

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

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

######################################################################

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

HUGE MISTAKE.

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

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

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

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

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

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

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

******************************************************************************

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

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

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

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

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

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

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

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

My favorite mother-daughter duo

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#######################################################################

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

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

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

Wrapping up a blah week

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rush hour traffic.

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

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

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

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

This makes Kansas City and St. Louis sharply different.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your occasional blogger is back

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

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

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

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

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

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

##########################################################################

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

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

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

Joanne wasn’t the only lady I met Thursday.

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

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

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

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

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

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

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

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

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

&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&

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

Severely tarnished silver anniversary

I was hoping to be headed east on Interstate 70 back to Russell by now.

Instead, I’m marooned at the Golden Q. Cassidy and Jocelyn are lovely to look at and there are a couple of pretty ladies at a table to my right, so it’s not bad.

Three inches of rain drenched Hays between 1830 and 2030. Ash Street, which runs in front of the Golden Q, is under ankle-deep water. The water is above the bottom of my Buick’s tires. I could use a pirogue. I would say New Orleans’ pumps would come in handy right now, but given the problems my native city has had with its pumping stations, I doubt it would help.

I was hoping to leave early tomorrow for Wichita. I have to pick up an Amazon order at the locker in front of QuikTrip at Central and Oliver, buy some more bleu cheese from Dillon’s on Central at Rock, and get my car cleaned of the bugs on the windshield. Since this isn’t time sensitive, I can sleep in and leave later. I’ll probably stay overnight now, either in Wichita or Hutchinson.

I have not watched Fast Times at Ridgemont High today. It was released 13 August 1982 and launched the careers of three of Hollywood’s most recognizable names: Sean Penn (Jeff Spicoli), Judge Reinhold (Brad Hamilton) and Jennifer Jason Leigh (Stacy Hamilton). Phoebe Cates, who played the promiscuous Linda Barrett, has largely withdrawn from the public eye since marrying Kevin Kline in 1989 to raise her children.

Bravo Phoebe. As much as I’d love to see you on the screen, you’re doing much better without the limelight.

As for Ms. Lehigh (born Jennifer Leigh Morrow), she’ll be returning for season 3 of Atypcial on Netflix next month, the comedy-drama about the struggles of raising a son on the autistic spectrum. Leigh (Elsa Gardner), Keir Gilchrist (Sam Gardner, the “Atypical” young man), Michael Rapaport (Doug Gardner), Brigette Lundy-Payne (Casey Gardner), Amy Okuda (Dr. Jennifer Sasaki) and Jenna Boyd (Paige Haradway, Sam’s first girlfriend) are all first-rate. The one character I cannot stand is Sam’s best friend, the lecherous Zahid, portrayed by Nik Dodani. Along with Last Chance U, it’s my favorite show on Netflix.

##########################################################################

Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of one of sports’ blackest days, as well as the day my life was altered for better or worse.

The black day was the beginning of the Major League Baseball players’ strike. The players walked out due to constant threats by owners to implement a salary cap. The NBA adopted a salary cap for the 1983-84 season, the NFL adopted one starting in 1994, and the NHL would follow suit a decade later after it cancelled the entire 2004-05 season with a lockout.

Thirty-three days after the strike began, Brewers owner Bud Selig, the chairman of the owner’s council and acting commissioner (Fay Vincent was fired by the owners in September 1992 for appearing to be too friendly towards the players), announced the entire 1994 postseason would be cancelled. It was the first time since 1904 there would be no Fall Classic.

The strike finally ended on 2 April 1995 when U.S. District Court Judge Sonia Sotomayor–the same Sonia Sotomayor who now sits on the Supreme Court of the United States–ordered the players back to work under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement which expired 31 December 1993.

Baseball after the strike was disastrous.

Hundreds of players became addicted to steroids. Home run totals went through the roof, with Mark McGwire hitting 70 in 1998, four more than Sammy Sosa. Both later admitted to taking steroids. Barry Bonds, who hit 73 home runs in 2001, also cheated, but he lied about it and would not be man enough to admit it. To me, Roger Maris’ 61 in 1961 is still the legitimate record.

It took the new CBA in August 2002 to finally bring the juicers under control. Sadly, it looks like steroids are back, given another round of ridiculous home run numbers.

%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

A few hours after the last out of the 1994 MLB season was recorded in Oakland, my life changed, thanks to the introduction of three new people into my sphere.

12 August 1994 was LSU football media day. The media covering the Bayou Bengals at the time were looking forward to it as much as they would an IRS audit or a trip to the dentist to fill a cavity.

Hudson “Curley” Hallman was entering his fourth season as the leader of the woebegone LSU football program. In his three previous seasons, Hallman compiled a dreadful 12-21 record, including a 2-9 mark in 1992, the worst ever by an LSU team.

It appeared to get worse in 1993, when LSU started 2-5, including a 58-3 embarrassment by Florida in Tiger Stadium, a game also witnessed by millions on ESPN in an era when having a game televised at 1830 was an honor, not a routine occurrence.

Had a sane man been in charge of the LSU athletic department, Hallman would have been fired within 48 hours of the Bayou Bengals’ 35-17 loss at Kentucky one week after the Florida debacle.

Sadly, Robert Joseph (Joe) Dean was LSU’s athletic director.

Joe Dean was a great basketball player for LSU, where he teamed with Bob Pettit to help the Bayou Bengals reach the Final Four in 1953, LSU’s last trip to the NCAA tournament until 1979. In case you don’t know, Pete Maravich had only one winning season in three years on the LSU varsity, and since the NCAA took only one school per conference to the big dance prior to 1975, the Bayou Bengals had to content themselves with a trip to the 1970 NIT.

Dean was also a tremendous color analyst on basketball broadcasts for over two decades. His trademark phrase “strrrrinnnng music” was repeated by tens of thousands of teenaged boys who one day dreamed of playing for Kentucky, LSU or any other SEC school.

In 1987, Dean was hired to clean up the mess in LSU’s athletic department. LSU hemorrhaged red ink in the early 1980s under the mismanagement of Paul Dietzel, the man who coached LSU to the football national championship in 1958 and groomed his successor, Charles McClendon (Cholly Mac), who led the Bayou Bengals to a 137-59-7 record from 1962-79.

Dietzel was fired by the LSU Board of Supervisors in February 1982 and succeeded by Bob Brodhead, the one-time general manager of the Houston Oilers, and later the business manager of the Miami Dolphins. Brodhead got LSU back on sound financial footing and made several tremendous coaching hires, including Skip Bertman, Sue Gunter and Bill Arnsparger.

Brodhead, however, ran afoul of the NCAA and men’s basketball coach Dale Brown, who led LSU to the Final Four in 1981 and ’86. Brodhead was convicted in April 1986 of wiretapping and sent to federal prison.

Dean inherited new football coach Mike Archer, who went 10-1-1 in 1987 and 8-4 in ’88 , largely with players he inherited from Arnsparger, who was 26-8-2 from 1984-86. When Archer had to play with his own recruits, LSU went down the toilet, going 4-7 in 1989 and 5-6 in ’90.

Dean fired Archer with two games remaining in the 1990 season. His coaching search began and ended in Hattiesburg, where Hallman led Southern Mississippi to a 23-11 record over three seasons and several huge upsets (Florida State, Alabama, Auburn), all away from Hattiesburg.

Actually, Hallman would never haver sniffed 23-11 had not been left a present by his predecessor, Jim Carmody.

That present was an unknown kid from Kiln, 70 miles south of Hattiesburg.

His name: Brett Favre. If you don’t know Favre’s story, stop living like a hermit crab.

Hallman was clearly out of his league in the SEC in 1991, ’92 and ’93. Not only did he come up woefully short against Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Tennessee and Texas A&M, his LSU teams lost twice each to mediocre teams from Kentucky and Arkansas, was shut out 32-0 by middling Ole Miss, and was humiliated 17-14 at home by a Colorado State team which went 3-9, leading to the firing of Earle Bruce and the hiring of Sonny Lubick.

Nobody should have felt sorry for Hallman, because many of his problems were self-inflicted.

First, he completely closed practice to all media. However, people who provided players with summer jobs were provided unfettered access to practice. Watching football practice bores me to tears sometimes, but the good men who were covering LSU regularly in 1994–Scott Rabalais, Dave Moormann and Sam King (The Advocate), John Reid (Times-Picayune) and Scooter Hobbs (Lake Charles American-Press), not to mention television and radio stations–deserved to have more access than a locked gate. If he had opened practice, maybe those covering the team would have been in his corner and been able to report credibly the team was improving despite the record. With no practice access, the reporters could only go off of what they saw on Saturdays.

Second, his brutally physical practices left the team drained. He basically took the model he was subject to when he played for Bear Bryant disciple Gene Stallings at Texas A&M in the late 1960s and copied it to the letter. Hallman held two-a-days from the start of camp until the start of classes. Actually, he didn’t; sometimes Hallman used THREE-A-DAYS. Yikes. And many of those two-a-days were in full pads. It took LSU firing Hallman and Gerry DiNardo to find a coach who knew having all of those practices in full gear was silly. I wonder how that Nick Saban fellow is doing.

Third, Hallman hired the worst assistants. Period. Of all of his assistants, I would rate only Phil Bennett, George Haffner and Larry Zierlein worthy of being part of a Power Five staff. Maybe Lynn Amedee had been at one time or another, but his two years under Hallman were a complete waste.

Bennett was the only reason Hallman wasn’t totally screwed. The Texas A&M alum was articulate. He could relate to players. He wasn’t afraid to try new things. He always said the right thing to the media. Today, most head coaches don’t allow assistants to talk to the media. Hallman would have been better off shutting up and letting Bennett do all the talking.

Bennett was the defensive coordinator in 1994 when LSU led the SEC in total defense. It’s too bad his only head coaching gig at SMU didn’t turn out well. He certainly deserved much better.

Haffner was Georgia’s offensive coordinator when Herschel Walker ran roughshod over the SEC, but he had zero talent at LSU. Hallman made Haffner the scapegoat for the 1992 season by firing him and hiring Amedee.

Zierlein was a solid offensive line coach and had professional experience in the World League of American Football. His arrival in 1993 helped Kevin Mawae immeasurably before he embarked on a Hall of Fame NFL Career.

As for Hallman’s other assistants.:

  • Thielen Smith was a standout for McClendon in the mid-1970s. Too bad Hallman scapegoated him, too, after 1992.
  • Mike Bugar was not cut out to be a defensive coordinator in the SEC. He may have done a fine job in Hattiesburg, but matching wits with Steve Spurrier and Phillip Fulmer was a recipe for disaster in Baton Rouge. Bugar mercifully left for Baylor after the 1993 season.
  • Pete Fredenburg, who was basically traded for Bugar for 1994 and coached the defensive tackles, was the victim of timing. He came one year too early, because Anthony “Booger” McFarland came along in 1995.
  • Lee Fobbs, who coached the defensive ends in 1994, was hired by Hallman to help with recruiting New Orleans, specifically the Catholic League, where his son, Jamaal, was a standout running back for St. Augustine. One year wasn’t enough to evaluate.
  • Buddy King, who was Zierlein’s predecessor, had Mawae and little else on the offensive line. He jumped at the chance to join Danny Ford in Arkansas in early 1993.
  • Then we have the three stooges. In what universe did Larry Edmonson, Rick Villareal and Steve Buckley qualify to coach in the SEC, other than being with Hallman in Hattiesburg? Buckley never even played college football. He was a cheerleader at USM! At least Edmonson played at Texas A&M.
  • The strength and conditioning program was a flat-out joke under Chris Seroka. I wish Seroka could come back to LSU so Tommy Moffitt could kick him in the nuts and show him what real strength and conditioning is.
  • &&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&&
  • Back to 12 August 1994.
  • I was asked by Herb Vincent, LSU’s associate athletic director for media relations, to come to Baton Rouge that day to help with football media day. I had yet to attend classes, and I could not move into the dorm until 21 August (more on that next Wednesday).
  • I met Herb in July 1993 on a visit to campus. I hoped he would have a position available as a student worker in his office, and in June 1994, he gave me the good news.
  • My dad and I drove to Baton Rouge on a Friday morning. I drove up in casual clothes, but I brought dress clothes just in case. I needed them.

    Shortly after arriving in the office, I met the other student assistants: Corey Walsh, Adam Young and Shelby Holmes. Walsh, a Texan, and Young, an Alexandria native, had worked in the sports information office as students for three years, while Holms, who went to McKinley High, less than two miles north of the campus, was entering his second year working with Herb.

    Next up, I met Kent Lowe, whom I knew as LSU’s men’s basketball publicity director, having seen his name in Bruce Hunter’s book about the 1988-89 team, Don’t Count Me Out. I also recognized his face, since he was the statistician for LSU football radio broadcasts in 1992 and ’93; his picture was in the game programs with Jim Hawthorne, Doug Moreau, spotter Patrick Wright (also the voice of LSU women’s basketball) and Tom Stevens, the network engineer who tragically passed away in the Tiger Stadium press box prior to LSU’s 2000 game vs. Kentucky.

    About 20 minutes after meeting Kent, Bill Franques came into the office. I heard Bill’s voice plenty from LSU baseball broadcasts, both as the public address announcer for home games and Hawthorne’s color analyst for road games.

    Little did I know William Paul Franques would hold such a position of importance in my life. There are days I wish I could go back to that morning and call Herb to tell him I would be turning down his offer to work in the athletic department. Lord knows what I’ve done to Bill over the years. I wake up some nights in a very cold sweat thinking about it.

    After Hallman, Amedee and Bennett met the media in LSU’s athletic administration building, the media moved to the Carl Maddox Fieldhouse for player interviews.

    It was there I met another man who became entangled in my weird world.

    It took three-tenths of a second after shaking hands with Dan Borne to realize I had heard his voice plenty as the public address announcer for LSU football and men’s basketball games.

    Standing next to Dan was one of my new colleagues in Herb’s office.

    Rebecca Borne was three months removed from graduating as the valedictorian of the St. Joseph’s Academy Class of 1994. She scored 34 out of a possible 36 on the ACT test. The only reason she was at LSU and not Yale or Harvard was because of her dad.

    I don’t know why the hell Dan still wants to call me a friend. Lord knows I hurt Rebecca, his wife Lisette, his other daughter Elizabeth, and (to a lesser extent), sons Jason and David, more than one human should be allowed to hurt another human.

    Rebecca hasn’t talked to me since 2002. She hates me. And I hate myself even more for the hurt I caused her. She made it to New Haven, graduating from Yale Law School in 2006 and starting a family in Connecticut.

    **********************************************************************************

    LSU was 2-7 when Dean fired Hallman on 15 November 1994. Hallman had the class to finish the season, and the Bayou Bengals defeated Tulane and Arkansas.

    I’m sorry, but I’m about to cry. This is painful.

    Lots of trivia and no Wally. Win-win.

    I began August playing trivia. Literally.

    Apparently, once you log in to a trivia site on the Buzztime app, you stay logged in and can keep playing as long as you don’t exit the app.

    I logged in to Minsky’s while I picked up my order from Outback Steakhouse across Barry Road Wednesday. I kept the app open driving south on Interstate 29, figuring I would lose the signal somewhere at the 64th Street exit, three miles (5 km) of Barry Road.

    Nope, the app kept feeding me questions. Don’t worry, I wasn’t answering them as I drove. I wouldn’t be that desperate to play.

    When I finally got to the hotel at Briarcliff, seven and a half miles (12.5 km) from Minksy’s, I thought for sure I would be done.

    Nope.

    I kept on playing and playing and playing, all the way until 0125 this morning.

    Since I slept only nine and a half hours the previous two nights, I had to go to bed. Besides, I was drifting in and out by 0045.

    Thursday, following an futile trip to Olathe, I came back to Prairie Village to get the cheese I desired. I was about two kilometers north of Johnny’s Tavern at 83rd and Mission, the only location in Prairie Village with Buzztime. Driving north into Roeland Park, I still had the signal much to my surprise. I kept it up into Missouri on I-35 before finally exiting to get in touch with my dad back in Russell.

    Wash, rinse, repeat Friday.

    ##########################################################################

    Thursday night was interesting at the hotel.

    I attempted to wash two of LL Bean canvas bags which had been badly stained. One was by dishwashing liquid where the cap wasn’t screwed on tight and I didn’t notice it in the grocery store, and the other was of an unknown origin.

    I used the front-loading machine in the hotel’s laundry room. When I came back a half-hour later, the door was locked and there were suds all over the machine. I had to unplug the machine, and of course, suds came spilling out.

    Apparently, the machine was out of order, and some idiot pulled the sign off the machine. The front desk refunded my money.

    Do some people enjoying inconveniencing others? Lucky it was only a washing machine. If it happened with something else, it could have had much more serious consequences.

    I put one bag in each of the two top-loading machines. Everything turned out great.

    All the while I was still playing trivia on my phone. I once again got Outback, logged in to Minsky’s, and the signal was still going strong at Briarcliff.

    Thursday morning, I finally gave up at 0125. Friday morning, Buzztime stopped me cold at 0210 by not feeding any more questions. Of course, nobody at Minsky’s knew, because it closed at midnight. Speaking of Minsky’s, I probably should make an appearance tomorrow.

    I was hoping to make it to 0300, because Buzztime has introduced a new game which runs from 0300 to 1100 for those locations which are open that late or that early as the case may be.

    ##########################################################################

    One place I have not been on this trip, nor have I been the last 365 days, is Walmart.

    That’s right. I have not set foot in a Walmart since I exited the one in Hays 31 July 2018.

    The day after my last Walmart visit, I left for Kansas City for the trip where I met up with old middle school chum Jason Malasovich and family. Before I knew he was even in the area, I decided I would not longer patronize Walmart.

    I don’t have a political reason for doing so. I could not care less if Walmart or any other retailer sells t-shirts encouraging impeachment of Trump, Obama or any other political figure for that matter. I’m glad I don’t work at Walmart, because from what I have seen and heard, it is backbreaking, the pay is low, and the benefits are skimpy.

    When I shopped at Walmart, I never bought its store brands. I hold a strong antipathy for them. I trust store brands from grocery stores and Target, but Walmart for some reason rubs me the wrong way.

    I haven’t missed Walmart one bit. I compensate by loading up in Kansas City, Wichita and Salina. Salina has a Target without groceries, but Wichita does. Kansas City’s grocery stores–Hy-Vee and Price Chopper–usually have good selection for what I’m looking for. Schnuck’s in Columbia and Dierberg’s in the St. Louis metro have much more variety, and a lot of things they sell are not available in Kansas City, just like White Castle is nowhere to be found in western Missouri.

    I have to be careful with transporting perishable goods in the summer. In the winter I don’t need ice when it’s cold. When it’s frigid (below minus-5 Celsius), I can leave perishables in the car until I get back to Russell. I put ice over them just to be safe, but it works like a charm. No sense in bringing them into the room when you don’t have to.

    That’s why I now try to stay in hotels with full-sized refrigerators, especially in the summer. I can freeze the food, and even though it might thaw, it will be much better than if I took it straight from the store to Russell.

    ##########################################################################

    Now it’s 1440 Saturday. Back to Russell tomorrow, although with a stop in Salina. The humdrum life of western Kansas returns Monday with another session with Crista and trivia from somewhere in Hays. Back to Salina Tuesday. At least the August heat has abated for the time being. Any break we can get.

    Goodbye July (until next time)

    I’ve slept only 9 1/2 hours the previous two nights, yet I feel nowhere near as groggy as I have the previous few nights in Russell. Is it the CPAP mask? Or has it been a better bed in the hotels in Salina and Kansas City? I hope it keeps up the rest of the trip and when I get back to Russell Sunday.

    Last night in front of the Hy-Vee on 64th Street near Interstate 29, I saw a woman holding a sign saying she is sleeping in her car. I often wonder if they’re telling the truth or not. If they are telling the truth, I wish I had more money to help them. If they are lying, then I have nothing but scorn.

    It rained hard this morning. I had to get out due to an 0900 appointment. The sun is back out now, but more rain is heading to Kansas City. Not that I mind. As long as it’s dry Sunday for the ride west.

    ##########################################################################

    Peggy is in New York City with family (not her children). Her birthday was Monday, and last night, she posted pictures of herself all over social media attending a performance of Hamilton. That’s out of character for her, but I’m glad she’s enjoying herself. She deserves it.

    I have no desire to visit New York City. I’m not into Broadway plays, and I am certainly not into places where people are packed in like sardines. The farthest east I’ve been is the Baltimore-Washington airport, and I’m not keen on visiting either city. There is so much history in Washington, but between the crowds and security, I don’t see where it’s worth it. I would love to live in Maine, but southern New England, NYC and New Jersey? Heck no. Philadelphia? Maybe to see Independence Hall, but that’s it.

    I have been to Pittsburgh. PNC Park, where the Pirates have played since 2001, is gorgeous. I didn’t go inside Heinz Field, but it’s nice from the outside. I would like to see the Pocono Raceway in northeast Pennsylvania. I’m not a big NASCAR fan, but the track’s triangular shape makes it one of the three most fascinating in stock car racing. The others are the road courses, Sonoma in California and Watkins Glen in upstate New York. Most of the others, not counting the restrictor plate tracks (Daytona and Talladega), don’t have much to differentiate themselves.

    Dallas and Houston were more than big enough for me, thank you. At least in the Texas cities, Los Angeles and Chicago, you can drive places. New York doesn’t allow for it, at least in all of Manhattan and The Bronx, and most of Brooklyn and Queens. Staten Island would be the only borough I could stomach. I don’t think I’d make it on the Subway. Besides, it’s dangerous.

    I used to get very jealous of Peggy and her family going on vacations, and others posting pictures from their vacations. But I finally asked myself why, because many of the activities are not things I enjoy.

    Going to the beach is very, very, very low on my bucket list, if it even makes the bucket list. I can think of thousands of places I would rather be than a beach in the hot sun. I burn easily in the sun, I don’t swim, and I can’t build a sand castle or anything else to save my life. My family took a trip in 1984 to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, but I hardly remember anything about it because there was nothing to remember.

    When people post pictures of trips to Walt Disney World, especially in the spring, summer and early fall, I scratch my head. Way too hot and humid. I lived in a sauna for 29 years. I now live in an oven, which is slightly more tolerable. If I HAD to go to a Disney park, it would be the one in Anaheim. I would take the risk of dying in an earthquake.

    The day I want to stand in line for two to three hours for a ride or exhibit is the day I need to exit this planet. To do so with screaming children? Those who do so are either brave or foolish. I won’t say which. My brother and sister-in-law took their honeymoon to Orlando at Thanksgiving 2013 without my then 13-year old niece. They were smart. I hope they do not go back with her and my now 3 1/2-year old nephew.

    Besides, I hated my trip to Orlando in 1985. Hated it. Bad hotels, a terrible meal in a truck stop in the Florida panhandle, a blown tire on Interstate 75 in Gainesville, plus all the lines, not to mention we’d be back in school the day after getting home. I advise STRONGLY against vacations during the school year unless it’s during the Christmas/New Year’s period.

    Going to the lake? I live close to Wilson Lake, and I’ve been once because I was forced to cover a fishing tournament. I loathed it. Again, not interested in lying out in the sun. Also, if I never went to a lake in Louisiana, why would that change?

    Peggy’s family goes skiing a lot. I wish I grew up in a colder climate, but it wasn’t to be. I’m too clumsy to ski.

    Besides, those things are not meant for a single person with absolutely zero prospects of changing that. I would not want to go on a tour with a bunch of strangers. It would be very hard in many ways; having to follow the group would be worse to me than not knowing anyone.

    Like Neil Diamond crooned, I’m a Solitary Man.

    ##########################################################################

    Nick Buoniconti, the great middle linebacker on the Dolphins’ Super Bowl championship teams in 1972 and ’73, passed away this morning at 78. He played for seven seasons with the Boston Patriots, who released him after the 1969 season. Don Shula, hired by Miami in February 1970, immediately signed him. Buoniconti became the heart of the “No-Name Defense” which also included standouts like Manny Fernandez, Bill Stanfill, Jake Scott and Dick Anderson.

    Buniconti retired after the 1976 season, the year before the Dolphins drafted Bob Baumhower and A.J. Duhe, who became the leaders of the “Killer B’s” who led the Dolphins to Super Bowl XVII, where they lost to John Riggins and the Redskins.

    Buoniconti has a connection to Kansas City, both on and off the field.

    On the field, Buoniconti had one of his greatest games in the famous double overtime playoff game on Christmas Day 1971, making 20 tackles.

    Three weeks later, Buoniconti had a game to forget in Super Bowl VI. The Cowboys confused Buoniconti to no end with misdirection, rushing for 252 yards, a Super Bowl record which still stands. Buoniconti was popped time after time by Dallas guards John Niland and Blaine Nye, and center Dave Manders. The Miami star suffered a concussion and was in a fog in the locker room, one of the many disappointments for the Dolphins that day. The good news was they didn’t lose a game which counted for 20 months thereafter.

    Duane Thomas, who rushed for 95 yards and a touchdown in the Cowboys’ 24-3 rout, was originally voted the game’s Most Valuable Player. However, the NFL caught wind of this and demanded the writers vote again. This time, Roger Staubach won. The league did not want the award going to the surly Thomas, who ignored reporters the entire season and clashed incessantly with Tom Landry and Tex Schramm.

    Buoniconti redeemed himself the next two Super Bowls.

    In Super Bowl VII, his interception on an underthrown Billy Kilmer pass led to the Dolphins’ second touchdown, and it was enough to defeat the Redskins 14-7 and complete Miami’s 17-0 season. Scott was the game’s MVP and Fernandez made 17 tackles.

    Buoniconti’s jarring hit on Viking runner Oscar Reed in Super Bowl VIII on fourth and one from the Miami 6-yard line forced a fumble which Scott recovered. Minnesota, trailing 17-0 late in the first half when the play occurred, had very little hope of winning at that point. After Reed’s fumble, all hope evaporated. Miami won 24-7 in maybe the most lopsided Super Bowl, at least as matchups go, since the game began in January 1967.

    Buoniconti was not elected to the Hall of Fame by the Professional Football Writers Association, earning enshrinement in 2001 thanks to the seniors committee. He waited 19 years (he was first eligible in 1982) after his playing career ended to get in. Too long, but nowhere near as bad as the 44 endured by legendary Packers guard Jerry Kramer. That Kramer wasn’t inducted in the 1970s is a travesty. Only two of Lombardi’s Packers were elected on the first ballot: Forrest Gregg and Bart Starr, both in 1977,

    Following his retirement, Buoniconti and ex-Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson were selected by the five-year old Home Box Office network to host a new weekly NFL highlights show.

    Inside the NFL became appointment television for football fans for the next 25 seasons largely due to the banter between Len and Nick, and later Cris Collinsworth. My parents recorded the show when we couldn’t watch it live; from 1982-86, that was a Betamax machine which cost $800 at Christmas 1986. I wish we still had it.

    HBO inexplicably fired Len and Nick in early 2002. We watched for a little while longer with Cris and Dan Marino leading thee way, but quit soon thereafter. My parents and I ignore it now. I can’t stand Warren Sapp in particular.

    In addition to his playing and broadcasting careers, Buoniconti was an advocate developing a cure for paralysis, a cause which he unfortunately had too much experience with.

    Nick’s son, Marc, played football for The Citadel until he was rendered a quadriplegic while making a tackle vs. East Tennessee State in October 1985. For the past 33 years, Nick raised tens of millions dollars for the Mark Buoniconti Project, which funds research for a cure for paralysis.

    Nick struggled with dementia in the last years of his life, and it’s likely he had CTE, which has afflicted thousands of football players at all levels. Buoniconti is donating his brain to the CTE project for research.

    Sadly, the Dolphins have lost two of their greats from the championship teams in 2019. Guard Bob Kuechenberg, who also started in Super Bowl XVII, passed away in January.

    ##########################################################################

    I’m playing Michael McDonald and the Doobie Brothers at Buffalo Wild Wings. The infamous Michael McDonald look-alike, Bill, who smokes like a chimney and chugs beer like a frat boy, is here. Ugh.

    Another novella completed.