Al Batt: ‘Somewhat ill-advised’ is my motto

Published 8:50 am Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

I’m glad our roads are being upgraded, but all those orange barrels are driving me crazy.

Well, you know what they say in France.

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No, what?

How would I know? I don’t speak French.

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: I was passed by a Smart car. The driver was using a smartphone that was nearly as big as the car. He was typing while driving. When people are left to their own devices today, they are left to their own electronic devices. I’m a lucky man. I struggle with texting while sitting at my desk. There is no point to me trying to text while driving.

The cafe chronicles

The place was old and battered. If the building could tell stories, it would likely choose to remain wisely silent. It was my kind of place.

I did my double-check to see if it was a proper eatery. I checked for dried food on the silverware and talked to a stranger. No food remnants and a friendly fellow. I was good to go.

“The food is as good as it looks,” said the man confidently, no longer a stranger.

It was South of the Border Day at the Minnesota cafe. The staff was dressed as Iowans.

I grew up in a time when a measure of a man was how many pancakes he could eat at breakfast.

I ate two. I’m both tall and wide enough.

Cleaning house

My lovely bride did some spring housecleaning. Things had to go. Two of the things were lightsabers. I think they were just toys, but you can never be certain about such things. I don’t know much about Star Wars, I’d seen only the first movie of the series, but the lightsaber was the weapon of a Jedi knight, an elegant weapon of a weirder age. It could be used to cut through doors if you lost the key or to blast enemies.

I carried the two lightsabers into a location where charity donations are made. It was a busy place with folks coming and going. My arms were filled with many items other than the lightsabers. I’m a guy. “Somewhat ill-advised” is my motto. I want to carry everything in one trip. Women, much wiser, will make multiple trips.

Somehow, both lightsabers lit up. I don’t know why. I do know that people scurried out of my way. Perhaps the Force was with me. I felt like Obi-Wan Kenobi.

How do you spell “dilemma”?

I taught a writing class at a college far from home. The students were incredible, as smart as they come. Yogi would have said that each was smarter than the average bear. We talked about words that are often misspelled. I don’t believe “misspelled” to be one of them. I didn’t consider texting shortcuts. The first word that came to my mind was dilemma that is often spelled “dilemna.” I’ve talked with many people who have stated that was the way they were taught to spell the word in school.

I’m not sure if my teachers ever taught me anything that was incorrect. They probably did. Everyone makes mistakes. What I do know is that I went to Disney World once. I met Goofy there. I greeted him and I’ll never forget what he said to me. Goofy said, “You’re calling me goofy?”

There is no doubt that I’m goofy, but I know that I’d be much goofier had I not had such wonderful teachers.

Nature notes

What size prey does a red-tailed hawk eat? This handsome hawk looks much larger than it really is. A red-tailed hawk weighs 1 ½ to 3 pounds. These hawks want to catch prey and carry it off to eat in safety, but they can only lift about half their weight. Mammals make up the bulk of a red-tailed hawk’s diet. This includes voles, mice, rats, rabbits, hares and ground squirrels. They eat birds such as pheasants, starlings and blackbirds. They also feed on snakes and carrion. Individual prey items can weigh anywhere from under an ounce to 5 pounds.