Al Batt: Mississippi ends in a liquid state

Published 9:19 am Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting:

Top of the morning to you.

And the rest of the day to you.

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Is today Thursday or Friday?

I couldn’t say. I’m from out of town.

Driving by the Bruces

I have two wonderful neighbors — both named Bruce — who live across the road from each other. Whenever I pass their driveways, thoughts occur to me, such as: anyone can start a marathon.

Ask Al

“When is the best time to save money?” When you have some. Will Rogers said, “The time to save is now. When a dog gets a bone, he doesn’t go out and make a down payment on a bigger bone. He buries the one he’s got.”

“What state does the Mississippi River end in?” A liquid state.

“If it takes one man four days to build a wall, how long would it take four men to build the same wall?” It would take no time at all. The wall was already built by the one guy.

“Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?” I’m not sure if any other writers live on my block. Why should I get writer’s block? My father never had farmer’s block.

Swedes are also another name for rutabagas

I offered a handshake and a howdy.

The woman said, “Sit down, sit down, sit down.”

She was welcoming, but I looked for two other people who might have entered the room with me.

Her husband greeted me. He’d just come in from outside and was wearing earmuffs that looked like hamburger buns. His wife brought a snack for us. He kidded that she wasn’t much of a cook. He said that she was asked to bring the toothpicks for the church potluck.

“Do you have any Swedish blood?” the man asked.

I told him that my Grandma Cook, nee Sundstrom, came from Sweden.

“Let me tell you something about Swedes,” he said.

“Here we go,” I thought.

He continued, “Nicest people I’ve ever encountered.”


The woman brought out the family Bible to show me some of her Swedish ancestry. Her grip loosened and her entire family tumbled to the floor.

Continuing education

I listened to Doug Duncan, chief economist with Fannie Mae, speak in Mankato. Duncan grew up on a dairy farm near Fergus Falls. His father was fond of saying, “If you’re going to have a good crop in October, the tractor has to start in March.”

Duncan lives in Cape Coral, Florida, where so many Baby Boomers have retired to, that his children refer to the place as “God’s waiting room.”

Duncan said that homeownership peaks in people in their mid 60s. More young adults are living at home with their parents than ever before. Both sides see the downside of that situation. Duncan isn’t a proponent of the self-esteem moment, saying that U.S. students are 29th in the world in math, but are No. 1 in feeling good about it.

He talked to a landlord in San Jose, California, who said that renters are commonly charged pet fees.

Duncan said that economists have three rules of forecasting. If you give a number, don’t give a date. If you give a date, don’t give a number. If you get it right, don’t look surprised.

Raise a leg in memory

I ate breakfast at Mi Casa in Juneau, Alaska. There was a lovely wood carving of an owl near the cash register. A sign indicated that it was dedicated to the memory of Sapo, a previous owner’s dog, a Shih Tzu. The carving of the raptor had been on the floor during Sapo’s lifetime. Each day, Sapo raised a leg on the owl. When the dog died, the owner, despite claiming to dislike Sapo, had the carving spruced up and made into a memorial.

The Nation’s Capital

After speaking in Washington, D.C., I searched the Vietnam Veterans Memorial for a family member who died there, hoping that I’d be unable to locate it and he’d still be alive. I found his name on the Wall.

I must have looked like a tour guide as a couple questioned me about a monument. I told them that I was from Minnesota. “I’m sorry,” they said in unison. Someone asked if there was a law that the White House must be white. A child whined, “Couldn’t we see this online?”