Al Batt: Long way to Mars, better get packing

Published 7:17 am Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

I’d love to visit Mars one day.

It’s 140 million miles away.

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Then I’d better get started today.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his driveway, thoughts occur to me, such as: I drove out of the state. A large sign read, “Thanks for visiting Minnesota.” I didn’t protest that I hadn’t been visiting, but gave the sign a slight head nod while saying, “Hasta la vista.” Back when I was a keen teen wearing a plain, white T-shirt, I’d say clever things like, ”See you soon, baboon.” Another party might have responded with, ”See you then, stranger.“ That bothered me. I couldn’t have become any stranger than I already was.

The cafe chronicles

I stopped at The Rent-to-Own Cafe, where a diner told the tale of ordering peach cobbler and being served a perch cobbler instead. It was an unpleasant surprise. The special was the pork left over from the day before. It was ham – me – downs.

The men seated around the table of infinite knowledge believed you could get through most things in life with humor, kindness, perseverance, naps and coffee. They realized that bacon made a terrible bookmark and knew that when ordering a hamburger, to always get the deluxe instead of the regular. That’s because the cook washed his hands before making the deluxe.

Imagining weasels

A friend traded some things for a stuffed weasel. The weasel is in its winter pelage. It’s a white animal, an ermine. It was a good trade. He’s the only weasel trader I know. It’s better than selling hops to frogs. I expect Ken Burns will be doing a documentary on the transaction.

I couldn’t help but think of “Weasels Ripped My Flesh,” an album by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention.

Speaking of weasels, it’s been said the average American encounters 4,000-plus ads per day. Some, but nowhere near all, come from weasels. That number seems high, but I’ve never counted them. Driving while listening to the radio throws many commercial messages my way. There is a plethora of billboards and sponsors. A study released by Deloitte found that average Americans check their cellphones 47 times per day. That seems low. We stare longingly at those tiny screens for long periods of time.

I remember sitting on a hayrack on a scalding hot day and staring at the dirt. That’s right, dirt. I wasn’t just staring at dirt. I watched ants at work and plants grow greener. I daydreamed. Maybe I’d imagined that the dirt was a tiny, lighted screen, but I doubt it. I’d have been bored had I not stared at that dirt. My imagination saved me.

Sitting tall in the library

I was comfortably situated in a cushioned chair in a library.

“What are you, 6’2”?” asked a friendly librarian.

It seemed like an odd question, but I figured I looked tall when seated so I answered it.

“Yes, and then some. I’m 6’4””

“Could you help me?” she said.

“Of course,” I replied.

My task was to place a book on a high shelf. I’ve done that job before. I used to help the school librarian. I’m a tall drink of water who puts books back onto tall shelves. That’s going on my resume if I ever get one.

Nature notes

According to Dolbear’s Law, it’s possible to determine the temperature outside by counting a cricket’s chirps in 14 seconds and adding 40 to that number. A cricket makes the sound by rubbing one wing against another.

The neighbor’s rooster crowed in the darkness. It’s said that if a rooster crows at night, there will be rain by morning.

I heard a rain crow. If a rain crow calls, it’s calling for rain. If a rain crow hollers, it will rain that day. A yellow-billed cuckoo has a croaking call often given in response to loud noises. A tendency to call at the sound of thunder led to its colloquial names, the “rain crow” or “storm crow.” These cuckoos make a distinctive sound, a hollow-sounding ka-ka-ka-ka-ka-kow-kow-kowlp-kowlp-kowlp-kowlp. This call is quite slow, getting slower near the end. Some people say it sounds like a metal doorknocker hitting a strike plate. It can coo in a series or in single notes and be easily confused with the black-billed cuckoo, which produces a fast-paced coo-coo-coo, coo-coo-coo, coo-coo-coo. This three-note song is continuous. Both cuckoos will sing at night. I tend to associate the yellow-billed cuckoo’s hollow call with upcoming rain.

The cuckoo was right as rain. Precipitation fell.

Meeting adjourned

Today is another day to make a difference. Be kind.