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Vested interests and Boot Hill

The only thing missing was the trademark sweater vest.

On the campaign trail, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum almost always, it seemed, was wearing his trademark sweater vest.

At Monday night's inaugural Sebelius Lecture Series event on the Fort Hays State University campus, Santorum -- even sans vest -- was his usual feisty self. That was most evident near the end of the debate with former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, when the two sparred over the abortion issue.

Santorum interrupted Dean's rebuttal to Santorum's response to a question which related to abortion, eliciting a loud reaction from some members of the large crowd at Beach/Schmidt Performing Arts Center. Dean also became heated as he finished his response.

Other than that exchange (which I rather enjoyed), the debate between Santorum, a Republican candidate for president in 2012, and Dean, a Democratic candidate in 2004, was a thoughtful discourse on issues ranging from health care to foreign policy to the cost of higher education.

I missed most of the debate live, but did see the abortion exchange at the end. Thanks to YouTube, I was able to see the debate in its entirety Tuesday night.

Karl Rove, the former Republican mastermind behind the GOP's electoral success, is scheduled to make an appearance in the lecture series in February.

Kudos to all those who helped make this possible. To get national figures such as Santorum and Dean and Rove to come to Hays is something I never expected to see.

Just another example of what makes Hays, America, a great place to live.

* * *

Just the opposite from a lively debate on Monday, I experienced a "dead" issue on Halloween night.

Vince Marshall came to Hays, America, from Valley Center to show how he dowses for dead people.

Marshall gave a demonstration at Boot Hill, on the corner of 18th and Fort. In 1867, Boot Hill was just outside Hays City, where the number of people believed to buried there varies from a few dozen to as many as almost 100. The graves were later moved, but remains were still found in the 1900s.

Marshall, who uses dowsing rods similar to those who search for water, for instance, said he found 34 unmarked graves on Boot Hill. He said he even can tell the sex of the person buried, and whether the grave contains an adult or child.

It's easy to be skeptical of such claims, since in every instance but one a grave hasn't been dug up. Still, one can't help but wonder, especially after a demonstration of how Marshall uses the rods.

In a handout, Marshall explains that he believes the eyes "register" some type of electromagnetic radiation from a buried object. He thinks the brain processes and detects the signal unconsciously and sends signals to the thumbs holding the rods, which causes them to move.

Marshall demonstrated with an electrical cord on the ground how the rods will move when he passes over it. Then with his right eye closed the rod in his right hand doesn't move, but the left one does, and vice versa. With both eyes closed, the rods don't move at all.

Marshall believes everybody has an aura surrounding them. He demonstrated that by choosing a person out of the audience and walking toward her with his rods; they moved when he got within a few feet from her. He then had the person think happy thoughts as he stood several feet from her, and as soon as he started walking toward her, the rods moved. Marshall then had the volunteer think sad thoughts, and he started walking toward her; the rods didn't move until he was standing next to her.

So, when someone says a person has a magnetic personality, there really might be a magnetic, positive energy the person is giving off.

* * *

Speaking of positive energy, one of the most positive people I have met recently was the guy walking across America with his goat to raise money for an orphanage in Africa.

I caught up with Steve a few days ago on Facebook. Since I talked to him in mid-September, he has made it as far as the Topeka area.

You can read about Steve's experiences on his blog at needle2square.com or on his Facebook page of the same name.

I found his stories to be both entertaining and thought-provoking.

* * *

My thoughts recently have turned toward the events of 50 years ago this month: Nov. 22, 1963. If you are of a certain age, that alone is enough to know what I'm talking about.

Nov. 22 is the 50th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy's assassination.

I was home sick from school that day, when the news bulletin came over the TV. I remember not fully understanding, but being scared, because my grandmother was crying.

Where were you on that fateful day? Did America forever change? Email us at The Hays Daily News at newsroom@dailynews.net. If enough of you respond with your thoughts, we'd love to share them with our readers.

Randy Gonzales is a reporter at The Hays Daily News. rgonzales@dailynews.net