Al Batt: ‘Why do people drive so fast during winter storms?’

Published 7:02 am Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

My uncle died.

I’m sorry to hear that.

Email newsletter signup

I hadn’t heard from him for years.

Death tends to quiet some people.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me, such as: I drove what I’d guessed was the speed limit as the city tapered away. Farms replaced convenience stores, fast food restaurants and hotels. I was tailgated by a car with a severely smashed front end. Fast driver, slow learner.

I was on my way to Primghar, Iowa. Its name is an acronym derived from the names of eight early settlers who had planned the city. A sign proclaimed it as the world’s only Primghar. I was there to speak at a thing. I also had board and room there. I was happy to get to it. RIP — rest in Primghar.

The secret to winter survival

Winter has problems. Who doesn’t? I like the season. A blizzard gives one time to prune the impatience. I was laying in supplies at a grocery store. Running to the store between storms becomes an Olympic event.

“How are you doing?” asked a fellow shopper.

“Temperature is normal, pulse regular and appetite strong,” I replied.

Winter is too much of one thing and not enough of another. Too much snow and not enough time to enjoy it and explore its mysteries. There are those deprived people who don’t get to relish our winters. We overwork our memories deciding how this winter stacks up against those of the past. The secret to winter survival — don’t die.

In local news

The Already Angry and Easily Offended Club Meeting canceled due to bad weather. Members were outraged.

The local palindrome team loses 81 to 18.

Student considers joining basketball team, but fears he is too short to belong.

The Two Bits Zoo and Laundromat has no animals other than monkeys to make sure that zoogoers get their monkeys’ worth.

Customer comments

Lynn Berven of Albert Lea was a rural mail carrier for years. Whenever someone complained about getting mail meant for another, Lynn told them they were lucky they didn’t live at the end of his route. Those people got all the mail that was left.

Tom Benson of Albert Lea told me about the late Otto Sorenson of Hartland. When someone said that the deceased at a wake looked good, Otto commented, “He should. He just got out of the hospital.”

Ask Al

“Why do people drive so fast during winter storms?” It’s because they believe that the less time they spend on the road, the less chance they have of going into a ditch.

“What is the dew point?” It’s the opposite of the dew not point.

“If they go south, they are snowbirds, but what are people from Minnesota and Iowa who stay home for the winter called?” Cold.

Al Batt’s brain cramps

Why do movie trailers have to yell at us?

We’ve had driverless cars for years. They are called Hot Wheels.

I like mustard on a hot dog. Ketchup makes me see red.

There is nothing more rare than a “Smooth road ahead” sign.

When I was a lad, an unlimited data plan was a library card.

Nature notes

I stopped in Monticello, Minnesota, to look at the trumpeter swans that winter there. As I marveled at the sounds and sights, I mumbled an old tongue twister, ”Six sleek swans swam softly southwards.” I’ve always liked that one as I’ve found it one of the easier for me to say.

As I drove home from Bagley, Minnesota, I saw an American kestrel perched on a utility wire. Data collected from research studies have indicated long-term declines of kestrel populations in North America. Undetermined causes have contributed to an average drop of 50 percent across the continent since the 1960s.

In my yard, starlings with yellowing bills hit the suet like a gang of marauders. Blue jays spouted obscenities at a hawk. A rooster pheasant tried to run through tangled vegetation after seeing the raptor. His actions nudged something inside my thinker. I thought of John Cleese. A Monty Python sketch depicted Cleese as a civil servant who, after purchasing a newspaper from a newsstand, walked through the London streets in a peculiar manner before arriving at his office in The Ministry of Silly Walks. If his walk was any indication, the rooster must work at the same place.

As it rains in March so it rains in June. Spring is near. I know because nothing is far away.

Meeting adjourned

Pretend your second-grade teacher is hovering nearby and be kind.