There recently has been a slew of complaints (three) from my loyal readers (one of whom is not even related to me in any way) who demanded a new blog entry.
It has, in fact, been quite a while. My apologies.
The Wife’s friend recently wrote 50 things about herself on her blog. I am too lazy to count to 50, so I wrote a really long entry to compensate.
Here are about 50 things (give or take 20) about me. If you know me, I would be interested to know if there is anything here you didn’t already know. If you’re a random Internet reader I’ve never met and you already know this stuff, well that’s just creepy and wrong and you should keep it to yourself.
My favorite dogs are mini schnauzers. Neither of my dogs are mini schnauzers, proving that more often than not your pets pick you.
Here are my most traumatic childhood moments, ranked in order of emotional and physical damage.
Honorable mentions: In the days before people childproofed their homes, I stuck a key in an electrical outlet. It turned my hand black, and my dad carried me into the bathroom and cleaned me up.
Other near-death experiences included riding on the back of a three-wheeler that flipped and landed on top of me; and riding in the back of a car that hydroplaned on a wet highway, crossed the median, turned 360 degrees, skidded across the other side of the highway and stopped in the ditch. Somehow, no one was hurt.
Second-runner up: It took me a while to learn how to ride a bike, but I was a demon on my tricycle, including the time I rode right off our porch and landed on a large concrete block. Who keeps large concrete blocks? My dad wasn’t in construction. What were we saving the giant blocks for?
First runner-up: I ran into my mother in the kitchen while she was carrying a large pan of steaming-hot caramel she was going to make caramel corn with. Most of it landed in my hair instead. My dad raced me into the bathroom and ran cold water over my head. To this day, I prefer cheese popcorn to caramel.
The winner: I fell into our swimming pool and almost drowned. My sister, who was only about 10, pulled me out. Soon after, all the neighborhood kids were signed up for swimming lessons. Glad I could help them learn something.
One of the great things about being six and eight years younger than my siblings is that when I was a kid I got taken to lots of movies, games and other things by my brother and sister, who were both old enough to have their own jobs and cars while I was still in grade school. Thanks, guys.
Of course, that whole life-saving thing was good, too.
When I was 7 or 8, I had a Fonzie poster in my room, and I had a blue Fonzie T-shirt. Now I realize Henry Winkler is kind of a dork.
I knew I wanted to be a journalist when I was a junior in high school.
Why didn’t anybody talk me out of it?
The reason Jiffy Lube only charges $19 for an oil change is because they try to make their real money by selling you a lot of other overpriced services and parts. I know that, so I only fall for it about half the time.
I used to work in my dad’s warehouse in the summers, loading and unloading trucks, filling orders and helping him make deliveries around the school district. If someone drops a pallet of pickles on your foot, it will hurt and you will say bad words whether you want to or not.
You also will get the afternoon off.
Here are some cool things I have seen in person:
Shed Aquarium, Sea World, swimming with sting rays in the Cayman Islands
Batman Ride at Six Flags, Mr. Freeze Ride at Six Flags, the Mamba at Worlds of Fun
Abe Lincoln’s house in Illinois
Cooperstown, N.Y., and the Baseball Hall of Fame
Pikes Peak and the Garden of the Gods in Colorado and the Green Mountains in Vermont
The Pretty Prairie Rodeo (the largest night rodeo in Kansas!)
Two Final Fours, two bowl games, one World Series and one golf major
“Avenue Q” and other Broadway shows
The Gateway Arch
Statue of Liberty
Freedom Trail in Boston, Liberty Bell in Philadelphia and the monuments in Washington, D.C.
Wrigley Field, Fenway Park, Yankee Stadium
Spring training in Tempe and Tucson, Arizona
Mayan ruins in Mexico
Sears Tower and New York skyscrapers
My uncle Jim Murphy’s back yard.
Kids get excited about stupid stuff. In elementary school I found 50 cents on the playground. Rather than pocket it, I told the principal. What a dumb kid. The principal said if nobody claimed it by the end of the week, I could have it. What a deal. All week I was excited about what I would do with the money (50 cents was a lot of loot for a kid in 1978). Nobody claimed the money, and I did get to keep it. I don’t remember what I did with those quarters, but I would guess I turned them in for a couple of packs of baseball cards.
More recently I found a $100 bill on the sidewalk near our house. I didn’t ask anyone if I could keep it.
Dumb things I have done with cars ...
In high school I once was backing my car out of the garage to wash it. Since I wasn’t going anywhere, I didn’t shut the door all the way. The door swung open and clipped the side of the garage and damaged the garage door. Dad fixed it and didn’t even yell at me. What a guy.
The Wife ( who was then The Girlfriend) once was sold a real lemon of a car and went through hell before the dealer finally gave her a new replacement car, which I promptly scratched.
I once turned the wrong way down a one-way street in a rental car insured by my employer. I didn’t realize it was one way until I saw the cars coming from the other direction. I quickly turned into a parking lot, which I had to pay 50 cents to get out of.
Bonus embarrassing moment:
I once was at the airport checking out my reflection in the tinted glass of a pay phone booth (remember those?). After checking myself out for a good, long minute, I realized there was a couple sitting inside the booth laughing at me. Nice.
Never underestimate the possibility of getting free stuff out of companies that treat you badly. If a business is not giving you what you paid for, you owe it to yourself and other consumers to call them on their shoddy performance. Here are a few freebies I have received in the past two years, trying to extract a pound of flesh from people who done me wrong:
Kansas City Star – free umbrella
NetZero – one free month of tech support. Four free months of service (two months two different times).
American Airlines – two $100 vouchers.
You also should return any unsatisfactory product, no matter how insignificant, just as a matter of principle. I once returned a pack of baseball cards to Target because it contained one less card than it was supposed to have.
I also have discovered that many stores, including Target, will let you return merchandise without a receipt if you act like you know what you’re talking about. It also helps if you do it when a teenager making minimum wage is working the counter because they just don’t care.
Worst college or pro sports venues I have ever seen …
Football -- KSU Stadium before it was renovated
Basketball -- Leavitt Arena in Wichita before it was renovated and renamed
Baseball -- Olympic Stadium in Montreal
Multipurpose -- SuperDome in New Orleans BEFORE the hurricane hit it
My mom used to get me out of school every year and take me to Opening Day at Royals Stadium. My senior year I abandoned that great tradition and skipped school with a bunch of my friends. What an ungrateful punk I was. Sorry, Mom.
We used to go to Royals Stadium hours before games to get autographs. I got several Hall of Famers’ signatures this way, including Reggie Jackson, Jim Palmer, Yogi Berra and Brooks Robinson.
Here are my two favorite stories from those days ...
During Cal Ripken Jr.’s second season in the big leagues, he already was a huge star and there was a big contingent of autograph seekers at the stadium trying to get him the day I was there. I had two different copies of The Sporting News with Ripken on the cover and couldn’t decide which one I liked best, so I took both.
When Ripken arrived, he was swarmed by fans young and old. I got to him pretty quickly with one of my magazines, and he signed it. I went back to where my mom was sitting and showed it to her. She then pointed out that Cal was still signing and said I should go back and ask him to sign my other Sporting News. I thought that seemed a little greedy, but what the heck. I got back in line.
Sure enough, Cal remembered me the second time through, but he just laughed and signed again. He was one of my favorite players for the rest of his long career.
My next anecdote does not end as happily, at least not for my friend Tim. We were at the stadium on a day that was very windy, and the flags near the players’ entrance were whipping so hard you could hardly hear the person next to you.
When George Brett arrived, Tim and I were thrilled. He was Tim’s favorite player. He wasn’t mine, but he was clearly the Royals’ best player, an All-Star and one of the best hitters in the American League. Amazingly, there were no other autograph collectors around. It was just Tim and me, and you had to like our chances.
I got there first, and George signed my ball and handed it back. Tim handed his ball to George just as a blonde showed up and started talking to George. Unfortunately, she seemed oblivious to the fact that you had to shout to be heard over the wind and the flags, and George was looking at Tim and the ball and not her. He had no idea she was talking to him.
Insulted by his apparent lack of attention, the bimbo slapped George in the face. Stunned and more than a little upset, George handed the unsigned ball back to Tim, grabbed the woman by the arm and escorted her to a nearby security guard and disappeared into the stadium. He did not return.
Things I wish I still had ...
My Star Wars action figures. Those things are worth money now, and so are a lot of the old 1970s toys. They are all long gone except for the baseball cards.
The first time my hair fell out I was 2 or 3 years old. I had a blue Smoky the Bear hat I wore everywhere. I have no idea what happened to it.
My dog Fritz.
My parents’ other dog Fritz II.
My grandpa always used to give me Juicy Fruit. It isn’t my favorite gum, but sometimes I buy it just because I miss him.