Blog Archives

Normal for me? Somewhat. Nebraska? Not so much.

Even with the Big Ten and Pac-12 declaring life should not go back to normal, pushing back fall sports until at least the spring semester, if not to fall 2021, I’m trying to find normal in any way I can.

Normal for me in August is a few days in Kansas City and eating in a sit-down restaurant. That restaurant is Brewtop in Kansas City, North, where Dana Tenpenney, whom I met at Buffalo Wild Wings Zona Rosa seven years ago, works weekdays behind the bar.

This is the first time I’ve been in a sit-down restaurant with wait service since I ate at Old Chicago in Hays seven months ago. My last dine-in experience was with Peggy at McDonald’s in Russell in February.

Normal included a visit to Milan Laser to continue to eradicate the legacy of my late grandfather. I don’t get why my grandfather had bear hair, my father has next to none, yet my brother and I were bears. I hope my 4-year old nephew, Luke, doesn’t end up like his dad and uncle (at least before laser treatment).

Normal includes a visit tomorrow to the fancy men’s salon in Leawood, which, like Milan Laser, closed for almost three months at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in spring. I’ve been cutting my own hair since the last time I visited The Gent’s Place, and fortunately for me, I can cut my own hair without it looking too terrible.

I’ll never forget swiping my mother’s sewing shears one evening in June 1987 and attempting to cut my own hair while watching a College World Series game between LSU and Arkansas.. I had longer hair—the short hair arrived on Memorial Day weekend 1989–and it was awful. My longtime barber in New Orleans, Roy LaCoste, almost died laughing at my foolishness.

Hopefully normal will be getting to see Robb and Larry, some of the people at Buffalo Wild Wings Shoal Creek (especially GM Rita Roberts, Tina, Nikki, Sherman and Ashley), and Lindsay and Bailey at Minsky’s Barry Road.

Maybe normal will include a side trip to Columbia for White Castle and Schnucks, but now that I’ve learned how to cook the frozen White Castle sliders properly, it’s not a higher priority. I did most of my grocery shopping last week after I had major repairs done to my car at Cable-Dahmer Buick.

Kansas City hopes normal will be the Chiefs kicking off on time vs. the Texans Sept. 10 in the NFL season opener.

Right now, normal must seem like another galaxy in Nebraska.

In case you don’t know by now, the Big Ten and Pac-12 opted to not play sports until at least January. The Pac-12 vote was supposedly unanimous, but Iowa and Nebraska vociferously protested in the Big Ten, wanting to play. The ACC, Big 12 and SEC are proceeding for now with reduced schedules, but most don’t think the season will be played to completion.

Nebraska’s administration and coach Scott Frost, who led the Cornhuskers to a share of the 1997 national championship in coach Tom Osborne’s last season, is attempting to go rogue and see if it can play elsewhere, including a return to the Big 12 for this year.

That probably can’t happen.

FIrst, the Big Ten would likely hold the threat of expulsion over Nebraska (and Iowa if it tried). Expulsion would mean a severe loss of revenue for at least a decade due to grant of rights the 14 Big Ten schools signed in its latest media contract.

In short, if a school departs the Big Ten, then the Big Ten, not the school, would receive all revenue generated by media for the length of the grant of rights, which in the Big Ten, runs into the 2030s

The ACC, Big 12 and Pac-12 also have them, leaving the SEC as the lone major conference without one. The last school to willingly leave the SEC was Tulane in 1966, so the SEC is justified in feeling secure in its membership. Any school which leaves the SEC, especially Vanderbilt and others at the low end of the revenue scale (Arkansas, Kentucky, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Missouri, South Carolina) would be cutting off its nose despite its face.

Second, if Nebraska and/or Iowa was ousted from the Big Ten, those schools would likely be blackballed by the Big 12 from joining, lest the Big Ten threaten the Big 12 with cutting off all interconference competition during the regular season.

Third, Iowa State might block Iowa from joining the Big 12. I’m certain the rest of the Big 12, save TCU and West Virginia, harbors ill will towards Nebraska for jumping ship the same way Baylor hates A&M and Kansas hates Mizzou for joining the SEC.

Nebraska already lost this year’s College World Series due to the pandemic. Now not only is it losing Cornhusker football, but Nebraska is also losing its superpower volleyball team, which has sold out the 12,000-seat Bob Devaney Center, the former basketball facility, on a season ticket basis since moving there a few years ago.

Lincoln and Omaha are fine places to live, albeit with the same problems of every big city. Right now, it doesn’t seem like it.

July was not good. Should have saw it coming.

July 2020 has a little more than five hours to run, at least for those who observe UTC -5. I won’t miss it.

I’ve been in quarantine since the evening of the 22nd, when my father revealed he tested positive for COVID-19. I haven’t seen his face since then, and I’ve seen my mother’s face for 10 seconds. I don’t want them in the basement, and I only go upstairs when they are asleep.

If there is a good time to be in quarantine, summer is it. I hate hot weather to begin with.

This July has been the rainiest month I’ve experienced in Russell. We need a drought. The rain has caused the humidity to soar to levels similar to what I see in Kansas City during the summer, and that makes a bad situation worse.

On the other hand, I should not have expected the seventh month of 2020 to be good.

When July has started on a Wednesday, at least as long as I have lived, has usually been bad.

Prior to this year, the last year July started on Wednesday was 2015. That was a disaster to say the least, between the infamous incident with a then-employee of Buffalo Wild Wings location #0296, the continued deterioration of the relationship with my former supervisor, and my finances going straight to hell.

The Buffalo Wild Wings employee, who no longer works for the company, still thinks I’m the biggest jerk on earth. My former boss died in October 2017, two years after our final conversation ended with us cursing each other out, and my finances still suck.

In 2009, I was passing blood in my urine throughout Independence Day weekend in Kansas City. The day after Independence Day, I drove myself to the emergency room at St. Luke’s Northland in extreme pain after passing kidney stones. Fortunately for me, I was back at my hotel in four hours, although in pain until the next morning when I had a prescription for painkillers filled. It’s the last time I was in the hospital for something other than routine care or tests.

1998? The alternator in my car died the evening of the 13th at a Baton Rouge hotel on Airline Highway, a long way from my apartment at the time, which was south of the LSU campus. Bill had to drive me home, then was reduced to driving me around the next day, which happened to be his 35th birthday.

1992? The Steinle family trip to St. Louis started terribly, with a blinding thunderstorm as we drove north. Got lost on I-270 and nearly went into Illinois before taking the loop west and finding our destination. The next day, our Oldsmobile 88 broke down and we were stuck for several hours waiting for it to get fixed. My dad, brother and I went to two Cardinals-Braves games at Busch Stadium, but the seats were awful. The highlight of the trip was seeing Bill Clinton and Al Gore returning to a downtown hotel after jogging one morning.

1987? My father left the United States for the Netherlands on the 9th on company business, not to return until 29 August. I was also counting down the days for my time in hell locked in a child psychiatric hospital.

1981? Don’t remember much, but there were no Major League Baseball games due to players’ strike which began 12 July and didn’t end until the final hours of the 31st. Games didn’t resume until 9 August with the All-Star Game, while the regular season began again the next evening. Also, Prince Charles and Princess Diana wed 29 July, Peggy’s 17th birthday. I was also a month away from kindergarten.

Thank God 1976 was a leap year. Had it not, July would have started on Wednesday, and I would have been born three months prematurely, knowing my luck and my mother’s terrible habits.

Thank God it will be August shortly. As boring and bad as June and July have been, it can’t get more boring or worse, can it?

June 2020: boredom reigns supreme

June is normally a boring month in my life. High school sports are over until Labor Day weekend, so work slows down. The heat ratchets up, so I am loath to leave my basement. I have scheduled my visits with Dr. Jones and Dr. Custer to where they don’t fall in June.

The only thing breaking the June monotony has been an occasional road trip. Last year, that trip didn’t come until the very end of June and spilled into July. I recall it was terrible because most of the employees of Buffalo Wild Wings #0154 (Shoal Creek in northeast Kansas City/Liberty) took vacation, so nobody I knew was working.

This June, however, has been more boring than usual.

No work, thanks to COVID-19. Very few trips outside 1224 North Brooks, which right now isn’t so bad. No chance to spend money, and no dealing with the oppressive heat, which hit 39 Celsius (102 F) in Russell today and only figures to get worse in July and August.

Other than two visits with Crista and a few other trips to Hays for provisions, my only out of town trips were to Hutchinson on the 2nd and Salina on the 12th. I thought about a mid-month excursion, but decided against it.

Not much trivia. I’ve kept the Wednesday and Thursday night dates playing SIX. I’m playing right now since Brainbuster is on at 19:00.

I have not eaten in a restaurant since 17 February, when I met Peggy at the McDonald’s in Russell. I visited Old Chicago in Hays a couple of times in January, plus Minksy’s and Buffalo Wild Wings in Kansas City at the beginning of the year when my dad had to go to the KU Medical Center in KCK for surgery.

Eating out is not a big thing for right now. I’m not in the mood to go to the Old Chicago in Hays because I’m sure people I can’t stand will be there. Going in Salina will present the problem of having to choose between a very late return or fighting the blinding sunset. Also, I’ve stuffed my freezer to the point where it’s having trouble closing, so I’d better not let that go to waste.

I’ve watched The O.C. on what seems like an endless loop for the last three weeks. I’m sad Peter Gallagher no longer appears on Law & Order: SVU. He is the best reason to watch The O.C., the beauty of Kelly Rowan, Mischa Barton, Autumn Reeser and other ladies notwithstanding.

I’m also watching Monk again. I’m still in season one.

I’ve stopped watching Lifetime Movie Network. Besides, I don’t think there will be many, if any, new releases for the foreseeable future with studios shuttered for COVID-19. Many of the actors and actresses in those movies, as well as the studios, are Canadian, which will complicate matters since travel between Canada and the US is severely restricted, if not banned outright.

June boredom may not be the worst for me. Last Thursday (25 June) was the 16th anniversary of my first date with Renetta Rogers, the statuesque beauty whom I seriously thought was “THE ONE”. I can’t help but feel so helpless every time that anniversary comes and goes. I screwed that up so badly, and I deserve to be lonely. I am too stupid to realize it’s too late to find someone. I am going to die alone.

July will likely be more of the same. And August. And September. Heaven help me.

The calendar flipped! Let’s party!

If you know me, you know my headline is completely sarcastic. I hate New Year’s Eve more than any other celebration, and I believe it is so puerile to celebrate just because a calendar flipped and you’re putting a new year on checks.

If flipping a calendar was so huge, let’s do it after EVERY month!

I pray Bill DeBlasio will shut down Times Square in seven months and tell everyone to watch the ball drop from the comfort and safety of their residences while Ryan Seacrest provides play-by-play. Of course, there would be tens of thousands of morons who would flaunt that if DeBlasio issued that order, just like idiots did last weekend at the Lake of the Ozarks.

May wasn’t as bad as I feared. The week in St. Louis, plus two Zoom conferences with Crista and one with Peggy, helped the month go by quicker than I thought it might exactly one month ago.

However, the month ended horribly with what went on in Minneapolis last Monday and the subsequent protests and riots. Kansas City and St. Louis are among the places which have been victimized by looting. I’m leaving it at that.

There was a time where I would get on a soapbox and rant about anything political. Not now. If you’re looking for a hot take, I suggest you find another blog. You aren’t getting it from FOOTS PRINTS.

I have an appointment in Hutchinson tomorrow morning. I thought about going down there tonight to stay, but when I saw the volume of food I still had to clear from my refrigerator and freezer, I decided to save the money I would have spent on the hotel and rough it. That means departing before sunrise tomorrow to make it for 10:15, barring an unforeseen illness.

Why am I going two hours to Hutchinson instead of just going to Hays, or even Salina? It’s personal for me. Sorry.

I ate McDonald’s twice last week, both in Hays. It was the first hamburgers I ate from a restaurant, other than White Castle in St. Louis, since I met Peggy at McDonald’s in Russell in February. McDonald’s is much better able to handle mobile orders than most fast food restaurants, so I patronize them over other locations which can’t get their mobile/online ordering straight, or those which don’t have it at all.

Chick-Fil-A was the first fast food restaurant to roll out mobile/online ordering in 2015. I seemed to be the only person using it at the Kansas City location at I-29 and Barry Road, at least until 2017. The Chick-Fil-A in Salina lost my order more than once in those early years, and it angered me. But I have not had a single problem with Chick-Fil-A in three years.

The McDonald’s in Russell has some very old employees who probably don’t know how to turn on a computer. I have to go into the store to pick up an online order, something which wasn’t possible for over two months.

White Castle’s online ordering system is great, at least through the main website. The app is spotty, and often I cannot pay through Apple Pay because it gives me an error message stating “fraud”. Thank God my tablet can handle desktop websites.

I’m going to end my review of fast food ordering here, at least for this post. There is one restaurant which is so far behind the technology curve it’s downright asinine. I’ll reveal it later this week.

When I went to Dillon’s in Hays last week to pick up what few things I needed, I noticed all the maskless faces, a sharp contrast from St. Louis, where most people were compliant (or ALL were complaint in the case of Whole Foods). One man without a mask had two young daughters in tow, both without masks as well. I cringed.

I doubt the surgical masks I’m wearing could prevent the coronavirus strain which causes COVID-19 from getting into my airways. However, by wearing a mask, my sneezes and coughs go into the mask, not the air where they might infect others. It’s an inconvenience, but it’s one that is necessary. I don’t want to fathom the alternative, a strict lockdown under martial law.

It’s getting hot out there. June in Kansas. Yeesh. I knew it was coming. Doesn’t mean I have to like it.

Beards and no masks? I’ve got a REAL problem.

Day six in St. Louis featured trips to two supermarkets in St. Peters not too far apart. I counted seven people not wearing masks. All were male, and all but one had a beard.

It wasn’t the first time. In nine of the ten grocery stores I have visited in St. Louis, more than 80 percent of the maskless people were men with beards. I have rarely encountered a woman without a mask.

I told Peggy this. I prefaced it by saying she might not like it. Her son, Conor has worn a beard since he was in high school, and her three sons-in-law all have them, although Sam, Chelsea’s husband, does go clean shaven frequently.

I would trade my father’s facial hair for mine. My father could not grow a beard if he went without shaving for a full year. He tried growing a porn star mustache in November 1976, which looked pathetic. He had the mustache on the day of my baptism, and every time I looked at that picture, I didn’t know whether to laugh or gag. Sometimes I did both.

The only time I went an extended period without shaving was when I was in the hospital. The first time I saw my face in the mirror I nearly threw up. It was ugly. The most I ever go without shaving is one day. I don’t shave with the double edge safety razor every day right now, but I have a high-end Braun electric to touch up.

Notice I sad “9 of 10” grocery stores in the second paragraph. That’s because the 10th was Whole Foods, which won’t let you in if you’re not wearing a mask. The store provides masks, but if you don’t want to wear it, you have to leave immediately.

I don’t know how much the surgical masks I am wearing prevent against catching COVID-19, but they definitely prevent against sneezes and coughs spreading. I sneezed today in Dierbergs, and I felt good knowing the particles didn’t spread.

I feel better with the blue surgical masks than with a cloth mask. Two ladies were wearing Blues masks at Schnucks. Too bad I don’t know French or I would have said “Go Habs” in French. Montreal did beat St. Louis in both meetings this season, about the only thing that’s gone right for the Canadiens this season. Hey, at least it is still 23-1 Montreal over St. Louis in times winning the Stanley Cup.

N95 masks would be the best, but the doctors need them. I hope Dr. Custer and the rest of the staff at Hays Medical Center has been able to secure them.

I still have not seen blue surgical masks sold anywhere except Hen House in Johnson County, where I’ve seen them at the Leawood and Prairie Village locations. Speaking of Prairie Village, everyone who goes out in public in that city now has to wear a mask, thanks to an ordinance passed by the city council there.

I’m curious to find out how many people in Hays are wearing masks now. I’m going there Tuesday to Walgreens to pick up medication. I may stop at Dillons just for fun, because heaven knows I don’t need food after all I’m bringing back from St. Louis.

I gorged myself yesterday on sushi, plus I ate a salmon filet and grilled cheese.

The grilled cheese was not made of cheddar, swiss or provolone. I decided to try a St. Louis specialty.

It’s called Provel, and it’s a processed mix of the three cheeses I just mentioned. It is used as the main cheese (instead of mozzarella) by St. Louis pizza chain Imo’s, where pies are baked on a thin cracker-style crust and cut into squares. Many St. Louis residents swear by it and will never eat pizza without Provel, but others dislike Provel and want good old mozzarella.

The Provel grilled cheese was very tasty. I’m going to bring some back to Russell and have my parents try it. I’m not big on processed cheese; I will eat Velveeta and “American” cheese, but it is far from my favorite. However, Provel may grow on me and I may start bringing back lots of it from St. Louis, the same way I do things from Kansas City.

I skipped White Castle yesterday but went back today. Got a crave case (30), which will tide me over through today and tomorrow. I doubt I’m going out tomorrow, because the forecast calls for heavy rain. Monday is supposed to be the perfect day for an eight hour drive, with cooler temperatures and abundant sunshine.

One thing I am really hating about shopping right now is the ban on reusable bags. God I hate those flimsy plastic bags. I get a lot of angry looks from baggers and checkers when I request paper and not plastic.

Growing up in New Orleans, we didn’t have to ponder that question. If you shopped at Schwegmann’s Giant Supermarkets, you got paper and you liked it. The bags were so ubiquitous around the Crescent City they were known as “Schwegmann bags”. Unfortunately, Schwegmann’s went bankrupt and closed its last stores just before the start of the millennium.

Forty years ago tonight, a magical sporting event took place. Too bad few people witnessed it live. I’ll get to it in my next post.

Motorcycles more important than a pandemic? Maybe in Missouri

Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of a day Boston sports fans treasure…and St. Louis sports fans want to forget.

On Mothers’ Day 1970, the Bruins won the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1941 by completing a four-game sweep of the Blues in the Finals. Boston clinched the Cup when Bobby Orr, probably the greatest defenseman (defenceman for the Canadians) to ever lace up a pair of skates, scored 40 seconds into overtime of the fourth game.

The game-winning goal wrapped up a phenomenal season for the 22-year old, who became the first defenseman to win the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s leading scorer (goals and assists), then took home the Norris (best defenseman), Hart (Most Valuable Player) and Conn Smythe (playoff MVP) trophies, becoming the first player to win four major awards in one season.

Orr’s backhand beat one of the game’s greatest goaltenders, Glenn Hall, but what was more memorable was the photo captured a split second after the goal. It shows Orr suspended in flight after he was tripped by the Blues’ Noel Picard. It is the most iconic photo in NHL history, and certainly one of the best-known photos in North American sport.

It took the Blues 49 years, one month and two days to even the score. Right now, the Blues should be defending the Cup in the playoffs, but of course, COVID-19 has put life as we know it on hold. If the NHL cannot complete the regular season and playoffs, will the Blues keep the Cup, or will the NHL require it go back to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto? The hope of commissioner Gary Bettman and every hockey player, coach and fan is the season is completed one way or another.

For once, I agree with Gary Bettman. Mark it down.

Speaking of St. Louis, your lazy blogger got up at 04:45 today and departed 1224 North Brooks at 05:30 for a trip to the far side of Missouri. This comes exactly three weeks after I left Russell for Kansas City.

My parents know nothing of where I am. They know I left this morning, but that’s it. Peggy knows where I am. Larry knows where I am after I just texted him. Crista will know tomorrow at 14:00.

After farting around in Kansas City for an hour filling up my gas tank, buying bread at Hen House in Leawood and purchasing treatment for scars left over from a grease burn at Target in Martin City, I was on my way to the opposite side of the Show-Me State.

One major difference between how Kansas and Missouri have responded to COVID-19 can be seen in the electronic road signs along Interstate 70.

In Kansas, all signs have now been targeted towards reducing the spread of the disease. Signs read “Wash Hands, Cover Mouth, Save Lives”; “If Fever Strikes, Stay Home” and other ominous messages.

Some of the signs say “Stay Home”, but I’m ignoring those. It has nothing to do with my parents. Seriously. It’s all me. They need a break from me every so often. EVERYONE needs a break from me every so often: Peggy, Caitlyn, Crista, Dr. Jones, Dr. Custer, Robb, Larry, Liz, Brenda…whomever. I can only be tolerated in small doses. It’s not their fault. They do their best to put up with me. All of them deserve sainthood.

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly went too far too fast by calling off the remainder of the 2019-20 school year when she did. She could have waited a couple of weeks like most states, including the three which border Kansas. I’m surprised Kelly did not extend the stay-at-home order, which expired last Monday.

You would never know there’s a pandemic if you read the road signs on I-70 in Missouri, at least from Blue Springs to Wentzville.

None of this business about washing hands. None of this business about staying home. Instead, the Missouri Department of Transportation reminds drivers constantly to be alert for motorcycles and to share the road with Harleys and Kawasakis.

Missouri Gov. Mike Parson has been raked over the coals by the Kansas City Star and St. Louis Post-Dispatch for what they see as a lackadaisical response. The Star has praised Kelly while pounding Parson, and the same is true of the Post-Dispatch comparing Parson to Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker., whose state is still under severe restrictions; however, if you took the Chicago area out of the equation, Illinois would be much closer to Kansas and Missouri in terms of cases and deaths.

Speaking of Illinois, it is forbidden for Kansans like myself, unless I want to quarantine for 14 days when I return to Russell. Believe me, there is absolutely nothing I want or need in Illinois, although it would have been nice to have the option to zip through on I-64 heading towards Louisville and Lexington.

If Kansas were still governed by Sam Brownback, or worse, Kris Kobach were governor, I can only imagine just how bad it might be in the Sunflower State. I’m guessing neither Brownback nor Kobach would have issued a stay-at-home order, and Kobach might have made it much worse by threatening to sue—or actually suing—the federal government. Notice I didn’t mention Jeff Colyer, who became governor after Brownback became an ambassador in 2017, because Colyer is far more level-headed than Brownback or Kobach and would have done something to head off the virus at the pass.

I don’t particularly like most of Kelly’s stances (I didn’t vote for any of the three major candidates for governor in 2018), and while I wish she would have waited a little longer to close schools—it probably would have happened regardless—her course was probably as balanced an approach as there could be.

The White Castle in Columbia provided a great caper.

I attempted to place an order for pickup before leaving Kansas City. However, I kept getting an error stating the restaurant would not be open at that hour. I was trying to place an order for shortly after noon. I used the app on both my phone and tablet, and then tried to order from the regular website as well, but nothing. I did, however, place a 16:45 order for the O’Fallon location.

I pulled off I-70 at a rest stop and e-mailed White Castle technical support, explaining I was getting a message that the location was closed. When I arrived in Columbia, there were numerous cars in the drive-thru lane at White Castle. I then called their customer support hotline to explain the online ordering snafu. I chose not to wait any longer, and instead got back on the road.

It turned out I was the one with the snafu.

The Columbia location—the farthest west in the United States as far as I know—is now closed on Monday and Tuesday. I received a reply from White Castle headquarters in Cincinnati which mentioned it, but gave no explanation.

I then shot back that there were cars in the drive-thru, but the representative told me the closure was true.

D’oh!

The good news? Wentzville was only 80 miles away. If I waited seven hours of driving (well, seven hours after leaving home; there was a lot of wasted time in Kansas City and at that rest stop 70 miles west of Columbia), I could make it 80 more miles.

Wentzville, a booming town in western St. Charles County 40 miles west of downtown St. Louis, provided me a good laugh or two.

The QuikTrip was one piece good news, two pieces bad.

The good: I could buy a fountain drink! I could not at any Kansas City location during my trip last month, nor could I purchase one today in Overland Park. However, I walked right up to the fountain like the pre-COVID-19 days in Wentzville. The differences: no styrofoam cups and no refills, so I had to buy a new cup and pour it into my black mug.

The bad…

First, the restroom was incredibly dirty. I have never seen a QuikTrip restroom that filthy. Never. And I have been frequenting QuikTrips for 14 years in Wichita, Kansas City, St. Louis, Omaha and (once) Tulsa.

Second, NOBODY was wearing a mask other than the boob from Russell. I’ve made the mistake of not wearing a mask at times, although when I nearly entered the QuikTrip in Overland Park, I caught myself and went back to my car to get it.

On to White Castle, and only the boob from Russell was wearing a mask. St. Charles County has greatly loosened its restrictions, so patrons can go into a restaurant to pick up food, although there is no seating. Six employees, no mask. Four other guests, no masks.

I put the maskless people behind me, because I was damn hungry. White Castle never tasted better.

The Schnucks in Lake St. Louis was almost the complete opposite of the QuikTrip and White Castle in Wentzville. Every employee had a mask on, and nearly every customer did, too. However, at the White Castle in O’Fallon, only the boob from Russell wore one, although no other customers entered during the 10 minutes I waited.

The outlet mall in Chesterfield is a ghost town. That’s because St. Louis County still hasn’t loosened its restrictions. But as long as White Castle, Schnucks and Dierberg’s are doing business, I’m a happy camper.

I’ve crossed the Missouri River on I-64 three times already. Over/under is 14 for this trip, which will go until at least Friday, maybe longer. My yellow rain slicker will get a workout. The weathermen and ladies are expecting a lot of rain in the Gateway City this week.

I’m not as tired as I could be after a long day. But it’s time for me to stop blogging for tonight.

COVID-19 and Kent State: two sad stories of American history

Kansas’ stay-at-home order has expired. Some businesses have reopened, but many have not.

This was evident today when I went to Hays.

The Wendy’s at the corner of Vine and 43rd north of Interstate 70 was doing quite a business. Ten vehicles in the drive-thru, elderly couples sitting at the tables outside, and people inside the restaurant for the first time in seven weeks.

The nearby Applebee’s and Old Chicago were not seating customers, although they were accepting takeout orders.

I haven’t missed sitting in a restaurant. I’ve been able to procure takeout from Chick-Fil-A without difficulty. Unfortunately, Arby’s and Popeye’s don’t have mobile ordering, which stinks, because I could really go for Popeye’s right now. Then again, the chicken would get cold on the 70-minute drive from Salina to Russell.

The three large cities in southwest Kansas–Dodge City, Garden City and Liberal–are all overrun with COVID-19. Each county has more cases than Sedgwick County, where Wichita is located.

Coincidentally, the same thing has happened in Nebraska. The three large cities of south central Nebraska–Grand Island, Hastings and Kearney–have more cases between them than either of the state’s large metropolitan areas, Lincoln and Omaha.

Missouri also lifted its stay-at-home order, although Kansas City and St. Louis are still locked until at least May 15. St. Louis couldn’t care less about lockdown right now; all the Gateway City wants is for the Blues and Cardinals to return.

Today marked the 50th anniversary of the infamous shootings at Kent State University in northeast Ohio. Sandy Scheurer, William Schroeder, Allison Krause and Jeffrey Miller were killed, and nine others injured when members of the Ohio National Guard opened fire during an anti-Vietnam War protest. Krause and Miller were participating in the protest, but Scheurer and Schroeder were innocent bystanders who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Due to COVID-19 and the closure of every college campus in the United Staes, the celebration at Kent State was quite subdued, a far cry from what organizers of the school’s May 4 Committee hoped for. Had campus been open, it’s likely Kent State’s most famous alumnus would have appeared (see below), not to mention Ohio Governor Mike DeWine, Senators Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman, and possibly three of the school’s greatest athletes, Jack Lambert, Antonio Gates and Julian Edelman.

One of Krause’s classmates was a freshman from Monagaha, West Virginia named Nicholas Saban, who, of course, would become the most successful college football coach of the last 50 years, leading LSU to a national championship in 2003 and Alabama to titles in 2009, ’11, ’12, ’15 and ’17.

Saban and a classmate were walking to a dining hall and saw the shooting unfold. He rushed back to West Virginia after campus closed to spend time with his longtime girlfriend, Terry Constable, now better known as Miss Terry, Nick’s wife of almost 49 years.

There was another future Southeastern Conference football coach on Kent State’s campus that day.

Gary Pinkel was a tight end for the Golden Flashes who went on to earn All-Mid-America Conference honors. He eventually followed in Saban’s footsteps as head coach at Toledo before going to Missouri in 2001.

When Pinkel arrived in CoMo (to differentiate from the other Columbia in the SEC), Mizzou was in sorry shape. The Tigers were a powerhouse under Dan Devine throughout the 1960s, and even though they fell on hard times after Devine left for the Green Bay Packers in 1971, Mizzou bounced back to respectability under Al Onofrio and Warren Powers.

When Powers was fired after the 1984 season, the Tigers tanked. Woody Widenhofer, Bob Stull and Larry Smith all failed miserably in pulling Mizzou out of its funk. Sadly, the thing Mizzou is best known for during the tenure of those three coaches was the infamous Fifth Down Game vs. Colorado in 1990.

It took Pinkel a few years to get it going, but when he did, Mizzou zoomed to heights it had not seen since Devine’s glory years. The Tigers reached #1 in the polls in 2007 following their victory over Kansas, although their hopes of a date with Ohio State in the BCS championship game ended with a loss to Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship. LSU was the beneficiary, ending up as national championship following their victory over the Buckeyes in New Orleans.

Mizzou ended up #5 in the polls following the 2007 season, and repeated it in 2013, the Tigers’ second season in the SEC. The Tigers have struggled since winning the SEC East (why is Mizzou in the SEC East when it is farther west than five of the seven SEC West schools?) in 2013 and ’14, but it hasn’t relapsed into the pitiful form it showed from 1985-2000, when it became roadkill for Colorado, Oklahoma and Nebraska, and later, Kansas State.

Here is an excellent New York Times retrospective of Kent State.

Given the late hour, I’ll end it here.

Life (still) interrupted

Last weekend was supposed to be the first weekend of the 51st New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. The second weekend of Jazz Fest was supposed to begin Thursday and run through Sunday.

This Monday is supposed to be the 50th anniversary commemoration of the shooting at Kent State University, which cost Sandy Scheurer, William Schroeder, Jeffrey Miller and Allison Krause their lives, and forever changed the life of an 18 1/2-year old West Virginia native named Nicholas Lou Saban, who was then wrapping up his freshman year at the Ohio school.

Major League Baseball should be entering its second month. The National Basketball Association and National Hockey League playoffs should be in full gear. National Football League draft choices and undrafted free agnets should be preparing for orientation and mini-camp this weekend.

It’s just after 13:00 on Tuesday, which means I should be wrapping up another week of writing for all the Main Street Media newspapers which are my responsibility.

I have an appointment at 14:00 with Crista, which means I should be leaving RIGHT now and heading for Hays. See you later!

Not so fast.

I have my appointment with Crista, but that will be done via Zoom. That means I’ll be sitting at my desk in Russell.

All the rest? Not happening.

Thank you, COVID-19.

General William Tecumseh Sherman, who led the Union Army as it burned Atlanta, said “war is hell”. I doubt he, nor any other Civil War soldier, Union or Confederate, could imagine a disease such as COVID-19 bringing the world to its knees.

Among Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s first words as President of the United States were “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” I’m guessing FDR would much rather have battled the Great Depression of the 1930s than the Great Depression which could be coming if this country stays on lockdown much longer.

George W. Bush probably thinks the War on Terror was a far easier opponent. Bill Clinton will take the Whitewater and Lewinsky scandals any day over this.

There’s just no way to know what the new normal post-COVID-19 will be.

After September 11, 2001, it was increased security. Then again, Al-Qaeda, no matter how deeply buried in caves in Afghanistan and Pakistan, was far easier to combat than a virus which seems to be immune to the ways of combating other viruses.

I did the math. If an average seat width in a college or professional sports facility is 18 inches, it will require FIVE empty seats between patrons to maintain six feet (72 inches) social distancing. Not only that, but rows will have to be skipped.

I don’t see any way that happens, since it would force massive stadium renovations and cost teams millions in revenue.

Therefore, the NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA, NCAA and all other leagues are going to have to introduce indemnity clauses stating they cannot be held responsible if patrons become ill from attending an event, the same way MLB tickets carry a disclaimer about foul balls and bats possibly flying into the stands.

Kauffman Stadium, home to the Royals, would go from about 38,000 capacity to less than 14,000. Arrowhead Stadium, across the parking lot, would go from 76,000 to 24,000.

The Bundesliga, German’s top football league, is going to have a serious problem, since all of its top stadia, including those in Berlin, Dortmund, Leipzig and Munich, have massive standing areas, and you can be sure people are not six inches apart, much less six feet.

I don’t mind wearing a mask in public. I was more vigilant about doing it last week than before. However, keeping things locked down is not the answer. We’re going to have to face COVID-19 head on sooner or later. People are going to die. It’s sad, but it has to happen if we’re to avoid a repeat of 90 years ago.

It has just been reported the United States now has more than a million diagnosed cases of COVID-19. Deaths have surpassed the more than 58,000 Americans who gave their lives during the Vietnam War.

Louisiana’s death toll is at 1,758, inching closer to the 1,836 who died during Hurricane Katrina, and more than three times the number of deaths during Hurricane Audrey in 1957. Nearly 28,000 cases have been diagnosed in my native state, with at least one in each of the 64 parishes (counties).

Russell County still does not have a case, but there have been 19 in three bordering counties (Barton 9, Ellis 8 and Osborne 2). There has been a huge spike in the three largest counties in southwest Kansas: 544 in Ford (Dodge City), 422 in Seward (Liberal) and 175 in Finney (Garden City). More than 1,000 of the Sunflower State’s 3,500 are in Johnson and Wyandotte, the two counties which are part of the Kansas City metro.

Asking for life to go back to some semblance of normal before Father’s Day is asking too much. Maybe by Labor Day. If it doesn’t by my 44th birthday, 45 isn’t looking so good.

Hays’ toilet paper supply in the toilet

The 30 rolls of toilet paper I purchased in Salina Tuesday were exactly 30 more than I found in any store in Hays Wednesday.

ZERO. ZILCH. NADA.

Dillons on Vine, Walgreens and Walmart did not have a single roll for sale. No Charmin Ultra Soft, no Charmin Ultra Strong, no Angel Soft, no Cottonelle…not even one-play crap you find in rest stops.

I looked because my mother wanted Cottonelle. Tuesday, I was limited to the one (giant) pack of Charmin I bought, and I wasn’t greedy enough to even try to fight it.

I was flabbergasted to find Hays completely out of “TP”. People hoarding toilet paper was a popular sight on news broadcasts throughout March, but I figured if there was some in Salina, there would be some in Hays.

Wrong.

I admit I probably overdid it by buying the 30-roll pack, but it wasn’t the last one. My parents don’t use Charmin, but if they run low, they can have a roll or two. I offered Crista a couple of rolls, but she politely declined, hoping some will be in stock Friday.

There were haircutting sets avaialable at the Hays Walmart. There was also a full stock of razors, simply because most men in northwest Kansas not named David Steinle don’t shave. My father doesn’t need to shave. He couldn’t grow a beard if he went a whole year without shaving. He briefly grew a terrible mustache when I was a month old. I will never let him live that down.

As bad as hoarding toilet paper, hand sanitizer, wipes and other cleaning supplies is, people hoarding masks is criminal.

Too bad the federal government can’t go through every person’s credit card records and determine who hoarded masks. Once the jerks were found, the feds could raid their residences and confiscate the masks, citing a national emergency.

Why hasn’t anyone thought of this? Medical personnel are risking their lives even more so than normal because they don’t have masks, gloves and other NECESSARY items just because a handful of a-holes went all Howard Hughes and became deathly afraid of germs?

Worse than the hoarding, some lowlife scumbags were selling the masks at markups of over 1,000% before Amazon and other online retailers put a stop to this. Medical masks costing more than a new iPhone. Disgusting.

I get it. COVID-19 is the nastiest virus we have experienced in our lifetime. Yet like the Spanish flu of 1918-19, the H1N1 flu of 2009 and other communicable diseases, most people are not going to die from it.

Unfortunately, nobody is showing leadership. Dumbass Trump doesn’t know when to shut up and let the experts take over, while Crazy Bernie thinks 20 million will die and it’s all because the US doesn’t have a single-payer health care system.

The number one mask hoarder: Baruch Feldheim, 43, of NYC, who stashed EIGHTY THOUSAND masks in a New Jersey warehouse.

EIGHTY THOUSAND. Not a typo.

Feldheim was arrested Wednesday, then coughed all over FBI agents. What a real SHITHEAD. Sorry for using that langauge, but calling Feldheim a SHITHEAD is too nice.

There’s a special ring of hell awaiting you, Baruch Feldheim.

I read where Kansas State athletic director Gene Taylor was pretty darn upset with the newest expert on coronavirus.

Taylor told a Manhattan (Kansas, not NYC) radio station he wishes Kirk Herbstreit would have kept his mouth shut instead of declaring sports are dead for at least another year.

Bravo, Gene. Someone needs to tell Herbstreit to let the doctors handle it and for him to worry about his own family and (hopefully) the games which will start in September.

I’m getting worked up, and 01:05 is NOT the time to get worked up. I’m getting out of here while I can.

Remember…BARUCH FELDHEIM IS PUBLIC ENEMY #1.

A bad March transitions into (probably) a worse April

The worst month many of us have experienced is over.

What may become the worst month many of us will experience is now upon us.

Life without sports will continue throughout April, and probably May. If there are any games played before Fathers Day (June 21), it will be a Biblical miracle. If there are any before America’s Independence Day, it will be a major miracle. If the college and professional football seasons kick off on time in September, it will be a minor miracle.

ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit scared the living crap out of every coach, player and fan last week, stating he didn’t believe there would be any more sports, period, until a vaccine for coronavirus was available.

Yikes.

College football’s resident coronavirus expert, Ed Orgeron, believes there will be “no disruption” to the college football season, which is scheduled to begin August 29 with the Notre Dame-Navy game in Ireland.

I’m naturally pessimistic, and I’m tending to believe Herbstreit might be right. I’m not scared. I’m downright terrified.

My native state is in one of its biggest crises since Thomas Jefferson bought the Louisiana Purchase from France in 1803.

The banner on the top of The Advocate’s home page is grim indeed: 5,237 cases, 239 dead, 1,355 in the hospital.

For perspective, the coronavirus has killed three times as many Louisiana residents as Hurricane Betsy, which claimed 76 lives in the Bayou State (plus five in Florida) in September 1965.

The toll is only 17 short of the total number of people who perished in Hurricane Camille, the Category 5 monster which plowed much of the Mississippi Gulf Coast the same weekend as Woodstock in 1969. The total of 256 was spread over Mississippi, Louisiana, Virginia and West Virginia; the latter two states experienced flash flooding in the Blue Ridge mountains two days after landfall.

Hurricane Katrina killed 1,836 in Louisiana in 2005. If the coronavirus comes anywhere close to reaching that figure, it will be just as catastrophic, maybe more so. I’m certain it will surpass the 550 who died when Hurricane Audrey roared into southwest Louisiana in June 1957.

Kansas has “only” 428 cases as of this minute. Barton County, due south of Russell County, reported its first case yesterday.

For the second consecutive Tuesday, I ventured to Salina to pick up food and other necessities. It was a complete success, as I picked up five dozen eggs, plus the sausages and other things I like.

Target had two surprises for me.

One, TOILET PAPER. And not just any toilet paper, the Charmin Ultra Soft I have used for most of the past 25 years. I first used it when I went to LSU, and I kept on using it living in Baton Rouge following graduation. I did not use it when I moved home from April 2004 through August 2005, but once I got to Russell, I started using it again.

I have 19 mega rolls of Charmin Ultra Soft in the utility closet next to my bathroom, but 30 mega rolls for $30 was just too good to pass up. I’m set for the rest of this year, and probably most of next year.

There were ZERO packages of toilet paper available the previous Tuesday in the same store.

I was also happy to find Bounty paper towels. Bounty and Brawny are head and shoulders above all other brands. They may be more expensive, but as they say, you get what you pay for.

The second surprise: Target’s stock of home haircutting kits was completely sold out.

I was stunned, but then I realized barber shops and salons were forced to close by the statewide stay-at-home order which took effect Monday. This is going to force parents to cut their children’s hair, although there are no grooming regulations to worry about since nobody will be attending school in a building until at least August.

Fortunately, I bought a haircut set at a Walmart in Topeka in 2007. It sat unused until November, when I elected to cut my own hair to save money.

Walmart did not have haircut sets, either. Bed, Bath and Beyond, whose stores are closed through at least Friday and longer in many states due to stay-at-home orders, is sold out online. Amazon’s supplies are low.

Speaking of Salina and haircuts, I miss Amber.

Chick-Fil-A was again my meal of choice. I hadn’t eaten since the previous night so I devoured a chicken sandwich and eight strips. I think their strips are just as good as Zaxby’s and Raising Cane’s, although they aren’t hyped as much as the sandwiches.

I have seriously lost track of time. I sat down to play Buzztime at 22:00, and now it’s 02:10. I’m surprised Buzztime hasn’t kicked me off the system, which it used to after 02:00.

Just posted my first perfect Late Shift of the night. On my 17th try. Usually I can get it quicker than that.

I’d better get to bed, or I’ll sleep through my appointment with Crista at 16:00, although I don’t have to drive to Hays. We’re doing it via Zoom, which was the case last week.