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Thirty days of crazy

My 44th year of existence ended three days after the LSU-Missouri football game in Columbia.

Now that I’ve seen LSU and Mizzou play since, the result—a 45-41 victory for the Tigers in Black—was not surprising in the least. The Bayou Bengals’ defense has struggled mightily, and Mizzou has shown enough on both sides of the ball to stay competitive in its first season under Eli Drinkwitz.

LSU was beyond dreadful in losing 48-11 at Auburn two weeks ago. It was Auburn’s largest margin against LSU since the series began over a century ago. The Bayou Bengals were supposed to host Alabama Saturday, but an outbreak of COVID-19 at LSU forced the game to be postponed.

Alabama was favored by 28 points just before the game went off the board at the sports books. This means the “sharps” think Alabama would have won by 31, since the home team gets three points for home field.

How the mighty have fallen. But that’s college football.

Mizzou is also idle this week. The Tigers were slated to host Georgia, but Columbia has been hit hard again by COVID. CoMo and Boone County have been hot spots in the Show-Me State, and it’s not hard to see why: large population, small geographical footprint, flagship university.

Texas A&M-Tennessee and Auburn-Mississippi State were also victims of COVID in the SEC, while Ohio State at Maryland was cancelled and will not be made up. Nothing surprises me anymore.

The first month of my 45th year has been quite crazy. An incident in the last 24 hours demonstrates why.

Last night at 23:15, I went to the garage, hoping to load some things into my car so I could leave early for Kansas City.

Much to my shock, the Buick was locked.

I never lock my car when I’m parked in the garage, but my mother locked it for some reason when she came home from the American Legion post last night.

I have two sets of keys, but I carry both sets. This is for hot weather, so I can dart inside somewhere and leave the A/C running. It also comes in handy when it’s bitterly cold, although I haven’t had to start the Buick on a day when the temperature was below minus-15 Celsius (10 Fahrenheit).

There was nothing I could do late last night (or in the first hour of this morning), so I tried to sleep as best I could—not well—before getting AAA on the horn to unlock the car.

I put in the service call through the app at 8:45.

Ten minutes later, my car was unlocked, but not because AAA arrived in record time.

My dad found a gray key to a GM vehicle in a desk drawer in the kitchen. I thought it was to my old Impala, but I figured it would not hurt to try.

Turn the key…OPEN! Phew.

The trouble with my Buick has been a recurring theme of the last month.

The “Service Engine Light” had been on constantly since mid-September, even though I thought I had it fixed then. Three other notices kept coming on “gas cap loose”, “engine oil low” and “low tire pressure”.

Before I could get any of that taken care of, I had another emergency with my grandfather’s old ride.

The latch to the trunk broke in the parking lot of the Schnucks in Lake St. Louis. What was stunning about this is I went to Dierberg’s in Wentzville less than an hour before that, and the trunk closed just fine.

Since it’s me, the latch would have to break while the trunk was stuffed. I somehow got everything inside the car then had to drive 30 minutes through St. Charles County with the trunk flapping before reaching Lou Fusz Buick on Page Avenue in Maryland Heights.

The latch was not available from GM, so I had to leave the Buick in St. Louis that weekend and drive a rental back to Russell. The rental was a Toyota Corolla, a fine car, but too small for yours truly. I hit my head every time I entered and exited, and could not use my seat cushion, since my scalp was butting up against the roof.

I made an intemperate remark while driving around St. Louis about how I felt people who drive small cars are clueless. I should have said people who can afford large cars yet drive small ones are clueless. Sometimes, a person can only afford a small one. Also, most Americans are not grossly overweight like me.

The good thing about the second trip to St. Louis was discovering Imo’s Pizza.

Imo’s Pizza has been a St. Louis institution since Lou Brock and Bob Gibson were starring for the baseball Cardinals. I can see why.

The pizza is served on a crispy cracker-style crust. Topping go all the way to the edge. And the slices are small enough to where intake is easily managed.

I devoured three Imo’s pizzas in the space of a week during my travels to St. Louis—two after the trunk latch broke, and a third to return the rental after the Buick was fixed.

I also had a lot of White Castle. Good stuff, but I may need a break. Lot of indigestion.

The next to last day of October was mostly spent at Cable Dahmer Buick. I waited seven and a half hours to see if the engine light and other warnings could be fixed.

After less than 500 km of driving, the service engine and loose gas cap warnings were back in full force. I made another trip to Kansas City last week. So far, the lights are staying off.

I also have discovered Springfield. More on that in another post.

I love you Caitlyn!

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.

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.

White Castle fades to black :-(

I finally ran out of White Castle today. 😭😭😭

I ate the last of the leftovers from Tuesday in my hotel. I ate White Castle for eight straight days–six in Columbia and two more days of leftovers in Kansas City.

I don’t know if I can eat another restaurant hamburger. As much as I love the Big Mac, it pales to sliders from White Castle, especially their impossible sliders, which are made from a plant-based material.

I’m going to miss the crab cake sliders and fried clams from White Castle. They’re gone after Saturday, since Sunday is Easter and Lent is over. They won’t be back until next February. I didn’t miss the opportunity to devour plenty of both.

I did not eat any other type of fast food in Columbia. After all, I can get Zaxby’s in Kansas City and Lawrence, Chick-Fil-A in Salina, Taco Bell and everything else in Hays, plus McDonald’s and Sonic in dear old Russell.

God I wish White Castle would open in Kansas City. You can spit anywhere in St. Louis and find a White Castle. That blows. I wish Raising Cane’s would leave and White Castle would take their place. I hate to rag on a Baton Rouge tradition, but when employees put their elbow in a vat of lemonade and film it for the Internet, I can’t patronize a place like that.

But here’s what baffles me: why the F**K is Dickey’s Pit Barbecue in Kansas City? Dickey’s should have been forced to shut down forever when a woman in Utah nearly died from drinking tea laced with lye. I’ve never eaten at Dickey’s, but it can’t be good. And I would never consider eating there in Kansas City of all places. 🥵🤮

White Castle would be far more popular in this town than that crap Dickey’s. And it would be a lot easier for me than driving two hours past Kansas City, although Columbia also has the lovely supermarket Schnucks, which I’ve found to be superior to Hy-Vee and Dillon’s.

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Today was laser hair treatment number five. I no longer look like a grizzly bear with my shirt off–not that anyone sees it. But I hated looking in the mirror at all that hair. Hated it. It feels so much better to use a backscratcher and scratch all skin instead of half skin and half hair. Next treatment May 23.

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I wasted much of my day at Buffalo Wild Wings (Shoal Creek, not Zona Rosa) playing trivia. But my last game is coming up and I’ll be out at 2030.

To iHOP or not to iHOP? Tomorrow is Good Friday and I probably shouldn’t indulge on the day of Jesus’ crucifixion. Then again, the rules about fasting on Good Friday have been flagrantly abused by most Catholics since 1967. Also, I will be in Hays Wednesday for a bunch of medical appointments. I can get iHOP on the way back to Russell.

My life is pretty boring. This blog post shows it.