Al Batt: Coupons aren’t extinct, they’re just expired

Published 10:10 am Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Echoes From the Loafers’ Club Meeting

Good morning.

Right back at you. What have you been up to?

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Why? What have you heard?

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’m not saying that coupons are extinct, but all mine have expired. If you want to exceed expectations, step on a bathroom scale. I learned early in life that there was no need to take reading material to the outhouse in January in Minnesota.

Spring bought a good crop of sticks

Sticks, unlike money, grow on trees. Sticks that fall in the yard are picked up, but they still stick around.

I led a bird walk in Arizona. A friend stepped in some dog poop. It wasn’t a small pile. It was of epic proportions and some canine likely hurt itself. The dog was definitely running on empty. I felt sorry for the man who had stepped in it. I should have felt sorrier, but I couldn’t. I was too happy about not being the one who’d stepped in it.

He searched for a stick to clean his shoe. He couldn’t find one. I should have brought one from Minnesota.

Here’s my advice. Walk softly and carry a small stick.

Reading while driving

The Cadillac’s license plate read, “ATN GETR.” The Virginia car had a sign on it reading, “Warning: Loud music.” The vanity license plates on another car read, “NOZ PRNTS.” Nosy parents, I speculated. Later, I encountered the driver who told me that he raised dogs. The plate was meant to indicate “nose prints.”

I picked up my rental car in Phoenix, it was an Econobox 500, and I headed down the highway during rush hour. Rush hour certainly is a misnomer. As I drove through Phoenix, I realized that everyone else was, too. We were moving at the pace of a limping snail. I was behind a car with a plate reading “YOU4EAH.” I was euphoric once I got away from all that traffic. In Cottonwood, Arizona, I was passed by a gigantic, four-wheel-drive pickup truck bearing the plate, “CHAOSX4.”

Bumper stickers and vanity license plates are dangerous. Drivers might need to reach unsafe speeds in order to get close enough to read them and then tailgate while reading.

A Kia Sportage sportaged past. It zoomed around me, in a hurry to get someplace where Sportages go. Sportage is an odd name, but the name said it all. I’m not sure what it said, but it said it all.

Born free, my uncle was a doctor

Edward Free is a retired doctor in Prescott, Arizona. He told me he’s 92 and wants to live to be at least 100. That’s because he’d shopped in a store with a sign that read, “Over 80 years of age, 10 percent off. Over 90, 15 percent off. Over 100, 100 percent off.” He hopes the store will allow him to bring U-Haul trailers.

Traveling man

I was slaving away in Arizona, speaking at things. As I prepared to send an email to someone, I noticed that autocorrect had changed “slaving” to “slacking.” The truth hurts. I rented a car in Phoenix. The temperatures were well into the 90s and the sun beat down. There was a high level of grogginess engulfing the crowd. Half the people renting a car looked too tired to be driving. The car rental company should have tossed in a sun shade for the windshield. There wasn’t enough shade to go around when it came to parking.

Nature notes

Karen Vanderploeg of Hollandale asked how to keep grackles from hogging the feeders. Common grackles are common in yards. They eat like a bird — voraciously. They prefer seed offered on platform feeders or scattered on the ground. They find tube feeders, especially those with short perches, less to their liking. Perches can be trimmed or eliminated so that only small birds can find footing. A feeder could be enclosed in a wire cage that allows smaller birds entry while excluding grackles. This could be a do-it-yourself project or a commercial feeder. A nyjer feeder attracts goldfinches instead of grackles. Some feeders are equipped with mechanisms that close feeding ports when larger birds get on them. Safflower isn’t a grackle’s favorite food. Cheap seed mixes attract grackles.

Meeting adjourned 

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough — and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.” — Melody Beattie. Be kind.