Al Batt: Recognizing a pet peeve

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, May 15, 2018

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

I listened to the seventh game of the 1957 World Series on the radio last night.

How could you do that?

Email newsletter signup

I have a very old radio.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his driveway, thoughts occur to me, such as: I have a pet peeve. I’m not sure if I’ve ever had one before. I didn’t think I wanted one. I didn’t know if leash laws applied, if I needed a license or if annual shots were required. My pet peeve is people who throw cigarettes out of car windows. Or maybe my pet peeve is the thrown cigarettes themselves. I’m opposed to all littering, but cigarette filters last. I’ve read that about 80 percent of cigarettes have them. Filters are made of cellulose acetate, a form of plastic that is slow to degrade. Depending on conditions, a typical cigarette butt can take from 18 months to 10 years to decompose and they aren’t fully biodegradable.

Now that I think about it, I’m not opposed to all things tossed from windows. Feel free to throw all the money you want out of a car window. I was exiting the Kansas Turnpike recently, when another driver offered a bill to the woman in a tollbooth. The wind was whipping at a high speed and it snatched that bill out of the driver’s hand. The money zoomed past us all. I figured that in a town a few miles away, some fellow would be coming out of the post office with a stack of bills, when he’d be slapped alongside the head by a $20 bill. He’d put it in his pocket, mumble something about life being good and get on with his day.

When I was a boy, I wanted to do a science project where I’d blow cigarette smoke into a handkerchief, turning the cloth brown. This was supposed to indicate what smoking would do to a lung. That project never got off the ground. The problem was getting the funding from a parent or teacher to buy a pack of cigarettes.

According to the National Fire Protection Agency, smoking materials cause approximately 90,000 fires each year in the U.S. I saw a 350,000-acre wildfire this year. It might have been started by a discarded cigarette. It might not have been, but why would anyone take the chance?

The cafe chronicles

I liked the eatery because it offered same-day service. If their cups of coffee had been any bigger, they’d have to hire a lifeguard. The menu had so many kinds of food on it, I had to ask for a clean one.

A fellow at my table was an after dinner speaker at the café. He told me he was involved in the community. He was an Eagle, an Elk, a Moose and a Lion. The cafe charged $25 just to see him.

Nature notes

I didn’t need an early wake-up call, but I got one anyway. A flicker declared his territory by drumming on an unused TV antenna tower attached to the house. The flicker’s energetic percussive instrument, which he hammered at about 25 times per second, sent reverberations throughout the house. Northern flickers eat mainly insects, especially ants and beetles that they find on the ground.

  I’m glad I got the alarm. It allowed me to hear a brown thrasher. It’s one of my favorite birds. Brown thrashers are mimics with extremely varied repertoires. They believe that some things bear repeating. Men share that belief. The male sings a loud, long series of doubled phrases with no definite beginning or end, typically singing phrases twice. Some people describe his song as this mnemonic, “Plant a seed, plant a seed, bury it, bury it, cover it up, cover it up, let it grow, let it grow, pull it up, pull it up, eat it, eat it.”

I watched a fox squirrel tightrope-walk on a utility wire. It was an amazing feat. It was a one-squirrel circus.

Ruby-crowned kinglets and yellow-rumped warblers gleaned the trees for food. Chickadees entertained me with their antics. The average lifespan of a chickadee in the wild is 2.5 years. Keeping their tiny half-ounce body working requires a lot of fuel. From sunrise to sunset, the chickadee spends most of its time feeding. During the summer, it eats 70 percent insects and 30 percent seeds.

Song sparrows, house finches, house wrens, cardinals, rose-breasted grosbeaks and white-throated sparrows sang. The birds were full of song. I was filled with listen.

Meeting adjourned

Make the world a better place one kind word at a time.