Greg Ostertag fascinates me.I've been following Kansas University basketball for nearly 20 years now, and in all that time it's Ostertag who looms largest (pardon the pun) in my imagination. Sure, Paul Pierce was more athletic. Jerod Haase hustled a lot more. Rex Walters was a lot brainier. And Danny Manning made it possible for me - one of about three KU fans in the small Kansas town where I grew up - to get a bit of an upper hand over all the K-State fans who surrounded me. It's hard to trump a national championship.It's Ostertag, however, whom I find myself pondering from time to time.Part of it is the connection of age; we both started college in the fall of 1991. But part of it is the ineffable mystery of talent. I have no ability to play basketball or do anything requiring hand-eye coordination. When I see Greg Ostertag, though, I suspect that I could make $40 million if I were just a foot taller.That's not an insult, just the genetic breaks.I mention this because Ostertag got traded back to the Utah Jazz in the NBA last week, amid a chorus of grumbling about how he has never quite lived up to the promise of his 7-foot-tall body, how he's brilliant some games and takes others off. And we all remember how Roy Williams used to blame his gray hairs on the Big O.Those gripes make me feel a little sympathetic to Mr. Ostertag.Let's face it: there are days when we go to work and nothing can keep us down. And there are days when we get to our desk and can't quite figure out how to do anything right - or anything at all. We just hope that the good days are more frequent than the bad.And when the bad days come, well, we're not having them in front of 16,000 fans, or on television.I've never met Greg Ostertag, but it seems to me he is a regular guy. The problem is he's a regular guy in a very irregular situation. Sometimes that's a blessing; sometimes that makes the fans curse.¢ Last week, I pondered how folks survived hot Kansas summers before the advent of air conditioning. I soon got my answer.Marjorie Kincaid, of Lawrence, wrote to tell me about how she grew up on a farm near Washington, Kan., in the 1930s. Folks kept cool, she said, by taking dips in stock tanks, placing wet sheets in doorways, sleeping in hay racks and buying big chunks of ice.There was "nothing to even take the edge off the extreme heat," Kincaid wrote me. "Nevertheless, we survived, and mostly grew stronger as a result."I had suspected the older generation was made of sterner stuff. Now I know: I'm not nearly as tough as Marjorie Kincaid.