Saturday, March 22, 2014

Game One

It's been a funny season for UK basketball. There was all sorts of hype about the "greatest freshman class ever" and "40-0". This team has not really seemed to gel all season long. I attribute that to two things - no true leader emerging and point guard play. At least this year, Kentucky was going to be in the NCAA tournament. They were given what I feel was a terrible seed - an 8. I had to leave home before the entire NCAA tournament bracket was announced. Josh was watching and would text me where UK would play. I was honestly hoping for Milwaukee so we could see him. He texted me "St Louis".

You see, I bought into all this hype about the team. In October, I figured that UK would be a number one seed. The closest pod to Lexington for the first two rounds (I don't count that play-in mess) was St Louis. The closest Regional site was Indianapolis. So, I bought three tickets for each of us - for Jonathan, Josh and I to go. I even got hotel rooms in each city just in case. Well, Josh went and got a job in Madison Wisconsin so he couldn't come. Fortunately, Jonathan's fiancee' Cheyenne is a big UK fan, so she was definitely up for going. I had honestly thought that UK would never end up in St Louis, so I was ready to sell the tickets and cancel my reservations. Fortunately, everything had worked out.

So on Friday, the four of us (including Donna) headed for St Louis. We ate at Chick-Fil-a in Paducah. The trip went fine except that our usual rest stop stop at Rend Lake was closed for some reason. We got to our hotel (Pear Tree at Union Station) just fine. I had reserved two rooms and had forgotten that I had reserved suites. The rooms had plenty of space for us. The Pear Tree had also added an interesting piece to their check-in. You now have to sign a statement that you will not have a party in your room. I think that's great - some may disagree. The young lady checking me in told that if we could anything like that going on that we should let the front desk know. While we were gone to the game, Donna heard a ruckus in the hallway outside her and Cheyenne's room. When it didn't let up, she called the front desk. Within a few minutes, everything was calmed down.

The hotel has a restaurant in it called Syberg's which I've eaten at a few times. It has good food but I noted that they no longer had my go to meal of chicken fried steak. I settled for a bacon cheeseburger. I just got the food to go and we ate in one of the suites. We decided to leave when we were done so we could catch the Wichita State game before the Kentucky game. The games were at the Scottrade Center (where the Blues play). The walk from the hotel was no problem, it only took about ten minutes. We conversed with a couple who were there to see Wichita State play. When we got to the arena, there was a huge crowed waiting to get in. They appeared to have only one main entrance open. The Wichita State game had already started by the time we got in. That was not a big deal for us but it was to the many Wichita State fans waiting to get in. We finally got in and headed for our seats.

It turned out we had floor seats in the end zone. We were really close. Jonathan even remarked "you can see the players sweat from here!". We settled in and watched Wichita State blow out Cal-Poly. Wichita State had a lot of fans there, even more than Kentucky. We watched the Kansas State Band file in and sit immediately in front of us. They were entertaining to watch. Their signature song seemed to be "Wabash Cannonball". I always thought Wabash was in Indiana? They did some sort of wild gyrations each time they played the song. Jonathan actually did it along with them once earning a laugh from the security guard. The Kansas State mascot is a Wildcat. It is however, a wildcat head with a human body. It lead me to ask "Can't they afford a whole costume like we can?". He was quite animated and did a good job.

The game began with Andrew Harrison going to the free throw line to shoot two free throws. The acoustics were absolutely terrible and you couldn't hear anything the announcer was saying. I found out later from Donna that a Kansas State walk-on had dunked in warm-ups which you cannot do within 20:00 on the clock. The game got going and it was very physical. It was one of those games that frustrate me to no end. For a while, nothing was a foul than everything was a foul. Kansas State had a big power forward who continually bulled his way to the basket and wasn't whistled for a foul until the end of the game. Kentucky got up by as many as twelve and Kansas State whittled the lead down to six by the half. They nailed a three to cut the lead to three. Kentucky would get a small run and Kansas State would come back. They got a close as two but never could climb all the way back. Kentucky finally got up by 13 with about a minute to go. Kansas State got a turnover and a couple of threes (one double pump three) and got the lead down to six, but UK ended up winning by seven. Julius Randle had another double-double to lead the way.

We got back to the hotel about 11:30pm. It took me a little time to wind down but I finally did and went to bed. We got up that morning and made it back home without incident.

Now Kentucky gets the undefeated Wichita State Shockers. Can they win? They'll have to play a lot better than they did against Kansas State.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


I have always had an interest in trivia. I love to read at any opportunity I get and I learn all sorts of trivia. I’ve loved the TV show Jeopardy even from the Art Fleming days. I was thrilled with the release of the game Trivial Pursuit in the early 1980s. I played many a game of that with my friends. Both Jonathan and Joshua participated on the Academic Teams at Ballard Middle and Ballard Memorial. I’ll admit I was a bit jealous. They never had anything like this when I was their age and I would have loved it.

I have noticed over the past few years the increasing occurrence of trivia nights or games by various groups usually for charity. I’ve never participated in one until recently. My work colleague and friend John Witte invited me to a trivia contest that was to benefit the Challenger Learning center. I accepted the invitation having no idea what to expect. I arrived to a packed room that I later found out had 43 teams of six each. I saw my friend (and legal counsel) Chuck Walter. He had the boys former teacher (and A-Team coach) Steve Quartermous on his team (who we call to this day Mr. Q). I knew that was going to be a formidable team and they ended up winning. Our team finished fourth which I thought was really good.

Here’s the basic format. Each team has six to eight members. There are ten rounds of ten questions each. Each ten question set follows a theme like Sports, History or even more specific categories like 70’s Music or Paducah Trivia. A narrator reads the question which also appears on a screen. You write down your answers on a sheet of paper. Some contests also allow you to have mulligans. These allow you to mark a question with a “mulligan” which means it will automatically be counted correct. You are given a minute or so after the questions are read to turn in your paper. The team with the most correct answers wins. You have to make a guess before you start as to how many questions you’ll get right, this serves as the tiebreaker.

Last week, Chuck called me to invite me to play on a team he was getting together. It was a benefit for the New Pathways Children’s Home (which I am familiar with) that was held at Broadway church of Christ. I was all for it this time and agreed to be there. This one didn’t charge an entry fee. You made a donation for the Children’s Home. With this donation, you got five “mulligans” to use. We started and did pretty well. We thought the questions here were a bit tougher than the previous trivia tournament we were in. I was able to contribute some answers so I felt good about that. We got to the final round with a three point lead and the final category was “Technology”. Of course, the pressure was on me to come through on that one. We got enough answers right to end up winning. We ended up getting a trophy made appropriately enough of “Smarties”. It’s what you see above.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed participating in these and hope to get the opportunity to do some more.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Hershey Spread

Being a chocolate loving kinda guy, I of course got very excited when I saw the advertisements for the new product Hershey Spreads. I love Hershey bars and Hershey Kisses. I then began to beg Donna (the household’s grocery comptroller) to buy me a jar. She then dropped a stumper on me – “What food will you dip in it?”. I was stumped. I generally eat my chocolate in some sort of solidified form. I’m not one to dunk fruit or other foreign objects in my chocolate. Being the very smart lady she is (and knowing her husband very weel), she came up with a brilliant solution (which I’ll reveal later).

She kept checking for several weeks and nobody had the spreads. Finally, Wal-Mart had them. There are three flavors – Chocolate, Chocolate with Hazelnut and Chocolate with Almond. I of course chose the unadulterated Chocolate. The first thing to note is this stuff isn’t cheap – it was 3.38 a jar. Another thing I immediately noted is the jar isn’t totally round so there is even less product then you might guess in it. I hope this picture (comparing to a peanut butter jar) shows kinda what I am talking about.

Donna came home with Eggos. Not only were they Eggos but they were Chocolate Chip Eggos. I used to eat Eggos a lot when I was younger but haven’t had any in a long time. I eagerly toasted up a couple and slathered a tablespoon of the spread between them. Ladies and Gentlemen, it was exquisite. It’ll be a very good thing when we are out of Eggos and Hershey Spread because I have to have one of these waffle sandwiches almost every day now.

I can’t speak for the other two flavors, but the one I had was pretty good. I imagine it’d be even better if I was a chocolate “dunking” kind of person. If you like Hershey’s anything, I’d suggest giving it a try.