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Year 46 almost in the books

In less than 12 hours–tomorrow at 0916 Central Daylight Time–my 46th year of life will end.

The 46th year began in beautiful Denver. The night before, I ate Rocky Mountain Oysters for the first time at the Buckhorn Exchange, one of Denver’s oldest and best-known restaurants. It’s just south of the Broncos’ and Rockies’ stadiums on Interstate 25.
The oysters–fried bull testicles–were delicious, and so was the elk I ate there as well. I got an order of oysters to go, but unfortunately, housekeeping at the Marriott Westminster threw them away. It was a not the best way to start the 46th year.
I drove to Boulder the day after my birthday. Gorgeous drive on US 36. The oysters I ate at a pub there were just as good.
I haven’t been back to Colorado since. I want to get back. Badly. I’m craving Rocky Mountain oysters just as much as real oysters. To satisfy my craving for the real ones, I’m going to have to get back to Louisiana. Soon.

My other travels during my 46th year took me to Des Moines a few times (and once for a side trip to the Quad Cities), to Omaha a few (not for the College World Series, but it’s the only place I can find PIbb Zero these days), to Kansas City more than I can count (no St. Louis since July 2021), and most importantly, back to northwest Arkansas for the first time since 2003.
Des Moines has the only Joe’s Crab Shack within 500 miles. Whataburger has expanded in Kansas City, and now some locations have mobile ordering. I splurged on Whataburger in Arkansas. Plus Fayetteville has the only Whole Foods I have seen with self checkout. Hopefully the new one being built in Overland Park will have it.

I lost a toe in June. I had a very nasty infection pop up on Memorial Day, and it oozed foul-smelling pus. It was grotesque. Amputation was the only solution.
The worst part was staying in the shitty Russell hospital overnight, being stuck with an a-hole who wouldn’t shut the f**k up, who hogged the TV, and worse, being on the side of the room with a window in the midst of a heat wave. If I had to stay more than one night, it would have gotten ugly.
Once I got out of the hospital, it was easy. I only had to go for IV antibiotics for six weeks, no more than two hours per day. I’ve been on oral antibiotics since August, and things are looking better.
Compare that to last year when I had two months of twice daily IVs, not to mention eight weeks of hyperbaric oxygen.
Honestly, if the toe had been removed last year when I had my first surgery, this probably could have been avoided. Better late than never.
I’m going to make it fine without the second toe on my right foot. Now the key is not to lose another.
I see Dr. Custer in a week. I’m glad I won’t have to show her something gross. I have shown Dr. Jones, but not Crista.

I saw Bill, Chris Blair and Dan Canevari in Arkansas in April, along with longtime Razorback athletic administrator Kevin Trainor and Bob Holt from the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.. First time seeing Cano since my ill-fated brief time working at Southeastern Louisiana University. He’s forgiven me for the shit I caused him in Hammond. I felt bad about it for a long time.
I haven’t seen Peggy since last October. I haven’t seen Caitlyn since November 2019. I haven’t seen Brenda since April 2018. And there are some I haven’t seen in much longer.
I hope this changes during my 47th year.

Another thing I need to change in my 47th year: going long stretches without posting.
I need to discipline myself to post more often, even if it’s something short and pithy. It would probably help in other areas of my life.

The next time I post, I will officially be 46 years old. Time flies.

Tricky technology and Cornhuskers

Technology made a fool out of me yesterday.
The story begins two weeks before Christmas (11 December), when I purchased a new case for my iPhone directly from Apple at its store in Leawood. I had been using an OtterBox case, since it was the only one which came with a belt clip, but the belt clip kept coming off. I counted at least 491 times between my old iPhone Xs and the 13 Pro Max I acquired on 29 September.
With the new case (Marigold silicon), I purchased a small leather wallet which would hold a few cards and attached to the back of the phone. I didn’t know until I put the wallet on the phone it could be traced by the phone whenever you took it on and off. I found out when I returned to my hotel; I took the wallet off and the phone notified me the wallet had been removed at 8320 North Stoddard, the location of the Springhill Suites in Platte County where I was staying.

Yesterday, I began an eight-day journey away from Russell, beginning in Omaha. At first, I was going to go the long way through Kansas City and St. Joseph, but when I woke up, I decided to go the proper way from Salina to York via US 81. Good call.
I made a stop at a Walgreens to pick up a bunch of Ghirardelli chocolate for someone I’m going to meet in Omaha later this week. Everything seemed normal until I pulled up to the Hallmark store across 132nd Street.
The wallet was not on the back of my phone, and the phone told me the wallet had been last located at Walgreens. I frantically went back to Walgreens, but neither cashier said they had seen a wallet.
Oh God. Here I go again with losing things. I was panicked. Not only was my ATM card and American Express in that wallet, but so was my driver’s license. I could easily replace the financial products. The license? Not so much, considering I was out of state and it was the last week of December, when offices are either closed or barely staffed.
I searched through a trash bag and turned over everything on my front seat. I searched the bag I got from Walgreens. Nothing.
Fortunately, I discovered it on the floor behind the armrest. Holy crap.

Apple’s wallet technology is great. I am going to keep using it. Sometimes, it is too smart for its own good, and way too smart for its users. I’m going to try to find a belt clip for this case. It would be nice to have my right front pocket freed again, but if I have to keep carrying it in my pocket, it’s leaps and bounds better than any third-party. And I will never patronize OtterBox again.

I woke up at 0400. I didn’t go to bed that late (2245) and I was up at 0500 Monday. Again, more energy on the road than at home.
I’m staying at the Marriott in west Omaha near Interstate 680. The rooms have been renovated since I last stayed here in June 2012, and I was upgraded to a two-room suite. The only problem is the faucet barely runs. I get trying to conserve water, but it’s going a bit too far. The shower does not have a door nor a special floor, but the wood dries quickly and the water doesn’t get far past the curtain.
I’m on the first floor, which suits me just fine this time, even though I’m partial to higher floors. I’m going to be in a rush to get to a 0900 appointment Thursday, then on to Des Moines after that. Kind of wish I could stay here longer, but there’s something about Iowa now, including Joe’s Crab Shack in West Des Moines.

The closest Joe’s Crab Shack is in the Denver area, but (a) I didn’t realize it when I was there in October; (b) there’s one thing I crave in Denver, and it comes from a bull, not the sea; and (c) driving to Colorado is dicey in winter, since I don’t own chains for my tires (Colorado requires chains in snow, whereas states in the Plains make it optional or forbid it). Des Moines does fine, considering it’s not in Kansas City, St. Louis, Omaha, Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Wichita. The only thing which would be better would be an oyster bar like Louisiana, but the occasional crab legs do nicely.
Last night it was calamari from Cheesecake Factory, which is the closest restaurant to the Marriott. I watched the Saints lay an egg against the Dolphins, to be expected staring a quarterback (Ian Book) who probably has no business starting an NFL game.

It’s overcast this morning, befitting the feeling of football fans from Scottsbluff to Omaha. The Cornhuskers went 3-9 in 2021, their worst record since 1961, the year before Bob Devaney arrived and built Nebraska into a perennial power.
Saturday happens to be the 50th anniversary of Nebraska’s 38-6 demolition of Alabama in the Orange Bowl which clinched the Cornhuskers’ second consecutive Associated Press national championship. Nebraska went 13-0 in 1971, with its other signature win coming on Thanksgiving when it beat Oklahoma 35-31 in Norman in what is considered by some to be the greatest college football game ever played. I don’t know if I’d rank it first, but I’d have to put it in the top three with Texas-Arkansas in 1969 and Notre Dame-Michigan State in 1966. (As for games I actually witnessed, either on TV or in person, I can only think of
The 1971 Huskers were generally considered Nebraska’s greatest team until those with very short-term memory began putting the 1995 Huskers ahead.
I have one word for those who think 1995 was better than 1971: BULLSHIT. (pardon my French)
Nebraska beat the teams which finished 2-3-4 in the final AP poll: Oklahoma, Colorado and Alabama. It dominated the Buffaloes in Lincoln and mauled the Crimson Tide as mentioned previously. The Huskers could not hold two 11-point leads vs. Oklahoma, but the Sooners were at home and weren’t half bad. Heck, even Iowa State went 7-4 and played LSU in the Sun Bowl.
The 1995 Huskers had no real competition. Yes, the Big Eight had four teams finish in the final AP top ten, but the three other than Nebraska–Colorado, Kansas and Kansas State–would not have stacked up to the Sooners, Buffaloes and Tide of 1971.
Nebraska mauled Michigan State 50-10 in East Lansing in the second game of 1995, but the Spartans were trying to find their way under their new coach. Nobody could have predicted Nick Saban would have seven national championships and Nebraska none between 1998 and 2020. 0
As for the rest of the Big Eight in 1995, Oklahoma was listing through its first and last season under Howard Schnellenberger. Oklahoma State was digging out of the devastation of severe probation under a new coach. Missouri hadn’t had a winning season since 1983 and was still bitching about the fifth down vs. Colorado from five years prior. Iowa State was a hot mess, which it had been since Earle Bruce left the Cyclones in early 1979 to replace Woody Hayes.

It’s 3 Celsius (37 F) outside. Balmy for late December in Nebraska. Global warming sucks.

Nebraska adventure

If I had driven straight west on I-70 after leaving Kansas City, I would be deep into a nap right about now.

Instead, a little after 1 p.m. on this Independence Day Eve, I’m coming to you from Raising Cane’s on Cornhusker Highway in Lincoln.

Not Kansas. 

That’s right, I opted to detour my return to Russell today in order to make stops in Nebraska’s two largest cities. 

I departed the Courtyard on Tiffany Springs at 5:15 a.m. Not a typo. I did not go to Buffalo Wild Wings Thursday. More on that later.

By skipping B-Dubs, I was able to get packed last night and get out before sunrise. I made a stop in St. Joseph at Dunkin Donuts and at a convenience store for some pop. I crossed the first state line into Iowa a few minutes after 7, and by 8:10, I was across the Missouri River and into Nebraska.

My first stop in Omaha was the site of the former Rosneblatt Stadium at the corner of Bert Murphy Drive and 13th Street. Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium hosted the Division I College World Series for  61 seasons (1950-2010), and LSU won all six of its national titles (1991, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2009) in the faciility, which seated over 25,000 by time it cloised following the 2010 Omaha Royals season (South Carolina won the last CWS at Rosenblatt, as well as the first at TD Ameritrade Park, which now hosts the event. Couldn’t happen to a better man than Ray Tanner, now the Gamecocks’ athletic director). 

The stadium is gone, but the foul poles are still in place, there are markers for the three bases, and home plate is now the home plate for a mini-baseball field. There are seats surrounding “Little Rosenblatt”, and I took some pictures. 

I then went to TD Ameritrade, which I had never seen close up. I passed by the construction site at the end of 2010, but did not go by it on my more recent visits to Omaha. Beautiful facility. 

As nice as the sights were, they were not why I came to Nebraska. 

I was a man on a mission. 

Two food items I cannot get in Kansas or western Missouri were on my target list. 

First, Triscut rye crackers. 

They are the favorite of my former edtior at the Russell County News, Pam Soeteart. Every time I visited Omaha, I would bring her back at least two boxes. I picked up six boxes for myself. 

Second, Raising Cane’s. 

Raising Cane’s is a fast food restaurant which serves chicken fingers. It was started in 1996 by Todd Graves, an LSU graduate who had to take two grueling jobs in order to build the capital and the credit rating to qualify for a loan. First, he worked 90 hours a week on an offshore oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, a job I would not want. Many of those rigs have vanished in hurricanes through the decades. After the oil rig, Todd went to Alaska and worked a commercial salmon fisherman.

The first Raising Cane’s opened at the north gate of LSU on Highland Road, next to two of the most popular hangouts for LSU students, The Chimes restaurant and The Varsity, a live music venue. Jimmy Ott and I did our Monday radio show from that location for well over a year in 2004 and 2005. 

Eventually, Cane’s spread across Baton Rouge and Louisiana, reaching into each of the state’s eight metropolitan areas: Baton Rouge, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Alexandria, Shreveport, Monroe, Houma-Thibodaux and New Orleans. 

Cane’s has spread to numerous states, with many found in college towns. Lincoln, home to the University of Nebraska, has four. They are also found in Fort Collins (Colorado State), Norman (Oklahoma), Waco (Baylor), Columbus (Ohio State), among other locales. Sadly, not one of those locations is in Kansas, and the only ones in Missouri are in the St. Louis area. 

The Cane’s chicken fingers are good, but I LOVE the toast and the sauce. It is so awesome. I picked up a 32-ounce bowl of sauce at Omaha, and I am about to do the same here in Lincoln. 

After leaving Omaha, I stopped at Memorial Stadium and the Nebraska state capitol for pictures. Once I gas up in Lincoln, I will drive I-80 west to York, 52 miles away. I can either (a) take US 81 south from York all the way to Salina, passing through Hebron in Nebraska and Belleville, Concordia and MInneapolis in Kansas; or (b) I can take I-80 to Elm Creek and exit at US 183, traversing the highway through Holdrege, Alma, Phillipsburg, Stockton and Plainville, and finally Hays. US 281 from Grand Island through Hastings, Red Cloud, Smith Center and Osborne to Russell is an option, but not one I would rather use. 

I’m going to get home around 6:30. Then I’m going to sleep. Deep sleep.