This column was published Sunday, April 7, 2019, in The Manhattan Mercury.

Social media post at 5 a.m.: “Deadline for my next newspaper column is 36 hours away, and I’ve not a clue about what to write. Crowdsourcing ideas.”

Former state lawmaker/Kansas Regent: “How you learned from a mistake, governing should be from the middle, an act of kindness you saw by someone who didn’t have to.”

CEO of state government idea-sharing outfit: “When in doubt, always write about a dog.” Three likes.

Magazine publisher: “36 hours? Plenty of time. Aren’t you a journalist? Ha!!” Three likes.

Junction City school board member: “Oh, the winter we’ve had.”

Lobbyist: “It’s admin appreciation month. How about showing appreciation for employees outside of one month?”

Retired Kansas newspaper publisher: “This is the life I’ve experienced for the past half century. It’s why old writers go nuts.” Two likes.

Former state lawmaker/Kansas Regent (again): “Oh, or baseball.” Two likes.

Newspaper publisher: “Truth is, many of have this problem in our lives. We have to make it up as we go.” One like. From the aforementioned magazine publisher.

Kansas tech school president: “Hope is a four-letter word. Use it.”

6th grade girlfriend: “Writers block.”

Local non-profit champion: “Your heroes growing up and your heroes now.” One like.

Retired trade group honcho: “How about we’re all colluding in some ways?”

Insurance company foundation exec: “I agree on the baseball comment!! (with two smiley faces).

Current professional colleague: “Be in the moment. Show true joy. Express yourself. Insanely quick rebound time from something negative.”

Children’s advocacy exec: “This kid who won free food for a year and gave it away to the Manhattan homeless shelter.” Two likes.

Another newspaper publisher (son of the retired one above): “Throw in an eclectic mix of trivia questions. Always makes for good reading.”

Chautauqua County cattle rancher/fellow columnist: “As I approach my 500th weekly column, I feel your pain.” One wow.

High school chum: “How the Shockers (were) the only Kansas college team still playing in April.”

Utah editorial writer (former Kansan): “You can write a column about how hard it is to write a column. But you can only do that once.” Two likes (one of them mine).

Guy from my Leadership Kansas cohort: “How your peace of mind is inversely proportional to your expectations.”

Then there was a wordy exchange between a self-described “retired liberal feminist social worker who loves KU” and a longtime Kansas GOP operative about health care politics, eloquently confirming why I studiously eschew such debates on social media.

Retired corporate p.r. exec: “Contrary to popular opinion, Mick Jagger is not immortal. This cannot be good for the rest of us.” Two likes and a haha.

Leadership Kansas dude again: “But obviously Keith Richards is.” Four likes.

Topeka art gallery owner: “Baseball. Stories of the good guys who played. Things they did off the field. Great friendships that started on the field.”

Hutchinson merchant: “The power of consulting your network.” Two likes.

New Mexico public radio exec: “What’s the matter with Kansas? Wait, sorry, that’s been done. How about, how to push through obstacles?”


Riley County Commissioner: “How about the obvious power of procrastination, both the pros and cons?” One like.

Media company marketing director: “How about Bill for President 2020. #emaw”

Former TV news rival: “Or, how about the 25th anniversary of the Kansas Legislature legalizing the death penalty?”

Fellow author/blogger: “My last-minute columns tended to be nostalgia with some sort of tie-in to the present. ‘Today is my dad’s birthday...’ and I went from there.”

Childhood next-door neighbor in Pleasant Valley, the Wichita neighborhood where I grew up: “The pleasant valleys of your life!”

Banker: “Thirty-six hours out and you’re already thinking about it? Have me beat.” One haha.

Non-profit entrepreneurial system pro: “Following, cuz ditto.” Smiley face and smiley face with tears of joy.

Small-town Kansas mayor: “Life of a small-town mayor!”

One-time Topeka political operative: “Why otters are so darned cute.” Smiley face with tears of joy.

Development manager: “Springtime in Kansas, it’s been a long, long wait!”

U.S. Army medic: “Yeah, otters. I know you can wax poetic about otters. That’s my vote.”

Retired radio general manager: “Why I always gain weight during March Madness.”

Creative services company owner: “Just list these answers. You’ve got your column!” Me: “Srsly.”