Al Batt: Now we use cellphones to ask ‘Where are you?’

Published 10:05 am Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting:

I have a lot of animal heads mounted on the walls of my home.

I didn’t know you were a hunter.

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I’m not. I’m a bad driver.

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 drove by a convenience store offering gas for $2.43 a gallon. I needed gas. I decided to stop at the next gas station. I drove a few miles and found one that charged $2.47 per gallon. How far do you drive back to save 4 cents a gallon? I had to ask myself, “Do you feel like driving back? Well, do you, punk?”

I didn’t drive back. I stayed in a nice hotel. The only fly in the ointment was a car alarm that went off for most of the night. It was the victim of the world’s slowest car thief.

The cafe chronicles

“I knew you were from out of town,” said the waitress.

“How did you know that?”

“You’re wearing shoes. What can I get you?”

“Could I have what that fellow is having?”

“Of course, but not until he’s through with it.”

Still rocking after all these years

I moved about the store as if I were a displaced person in a strange land. I paused to look at a rocking chair. I have fond memories of rocking chairs involving my mother and other elders in my family. A rocking chair was a comforting place. If I misbehaved, they rocked me until I behaved. If that didn’t work, they took me outside and rocked me with actual rocks. Not really.

Once upon a time, there were three TV channels. A fellow could rock himself to sleep three different ways. Today, no one knows how many channels there are. The old TV was like a family hearth. Family members gathered around it and shared a TV show. Now we have little screens. I’m guilty of that. I have a smartphone and a tablet. It’s as if we chopped up the old TV into a number of little screens.

Once upon a time, we used a telephone to call someone and ask, “How are you?” Now we use a cellphone to call and ask, “Where are you?”

A family member called me and asked, “Where are you?”

I told her that I was working at a county fair. Just then, a friend told me that his vehicle wouldn’t start. The battery needed assistance. The batteries in his hearing aids had also died. When I talked to him, he nodded when he should have been shaking his head and shook his head when he should have been nodding, so I knew he wasn’t hearing me. I asked around the fair, but it’s hard to find jumper cables in August. I finally found someone to save the night.

I got home late and sat in our rocking chair to celebrate.

Cat hockey and baseball

The cat found a discarded twist tie on the floor. It batted it around in a spirited of game cat hockey. To the cat, life is full of wonder. The cat didn’t need ice to play hockey. Our seasons are spring, summer, fall, winter and air conditioning. The feline played air conditioning hockey.

I moved from air conditioning to nature’s furnace as I watched a grandson play in the State American Legion Baseball Tournament. He played exceptionally well. I watched with head, heart and hands. I applauded robustly, so much so that I could feel the burn.

By the time his team had finished third, I was nearly finished, but I was filled with wonder and ready to play cat hockey.

This week’s travelogue

I spoke in Peshtigo, Wisconsin. Peshtigo is famous for not being as famous as it should be because of Chicago. On the evening of October 8, 1871, the worst recorded forest fire in North American history raged through northeastern Wisconsin and Upper Michigan, claiming 1,200 to 2,400 lives. It covered about 2,400 square miles (1.5 million acres). Chicago endured a terrible fire that same night. The death toll in Chicago was about 250.

The Hormel Nature Center is a magical place

My thanks to the wonderful crowd that filled Ruby Rupner Auditorium for my presentation at the J.C. Hormel Nature Center. I delighted in the company.