Al Batt: Surprised by Time’s Person of the Year

Published 6:30 am Wednesday, July 15, 2020

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Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

I set a record time for jogging last week.

Nice going.

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Yup, it took me less than a minute to decide I wasn’t going to jog anymore.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me, such as: I haven’t been in a fast food restaurant or convenience store since early March, but I remember them. I like iced tea and frequently grabbed a cup of that fine liquid in return for a wad of crumpled bills. I invariably grabbed the wrong sized lid for the cup. I have three keys for an office I haunt. I don’t label or mark them, which would be a wise thing to do. Typically, the right key is the third one I try in the lock. It’s a swollen-head victory when I hit it on the second try. If I get it right on the first key, I stride the earth for the rest of the day feeling as I did when I was Time’s Person of the Year in 2006. Some of you might not remember that happening. It was announced in Time’s December 25, 2006 issue. The cover of the magazine featured a computer monitor with a reflective mylar pane intended to reflect the face of whoever held the magazine. It came as a complete surprise when I saw it was me.

A man purse

My wife, tired of lugging my stuff around in her purse, suggested I get a man bag. I failed to act on that suggestion, so she gave me one. It’s a messenger bag. I call it a man purse. It’s one of the colors of fall and comfortable to tote around. I enjoy its company. I take it with me when I go. When I get into my car, the one with the “Rest area or bust” bumper sticker, the man purse travels along.

Old Sears years

In visiting with Bob Hargis of Riverton, Wyoming, he mentioned a J.C. Higgins bicycle. I remember drooling over one owned by a kid I knew. Sears was known for Kenmore appliances, Craftsman tools, Allstate insurance, DieHard batteries, David Bradley lawn equipment, Christmas Wish Books (catalogs) and J.C. Higgins sporting goods. John Higgins started as the manager of the company’s bookkeeping office and retired as company comptroller in 1930. He didn’t have a middle initial, Sears added the “C.” The J.C. Higgins trademark covered baseball gloves, baseballs, footballs, basketballs, volleyballs, boxing, fishing, boating, tennis and camping equipment, luggage and bicycles. The J.C. Higgins name disappeared after Sears introduced the Ted Williams brand of sporting and recreation goods in 1961. I never got one of those bikes. My niece got a riding vacuum cleaner instead.

Who was that masked man?

It was hotter than a burning stump. I had to wear sunglasses as I walked to the meeting. The heat brings out men’s legs. Shorts uncover legs white enough to be used as light sources.

The meeting at the Courthouse was about the Coronavirus Relief Fund. It was an interesting session on funds available to small businesses. It was good being in the company of others, even if social distancing placed the nearest individual to me a quarter of mile away. We were required to wear masks. It was a wise thing to do for others, like driving on the right side of the road. Plus, it saved having to shave.

Nature notes

I walked while having a heated argument with the temperature and inciting conflict with biting insects. I visited with a cellphone caller who’d asked what it had been like to appear on Ron Schara’s “Minnesota Bound” TV show. I was about to give an answer when an unseen skunk held me smellbound. A skunk is an amazing anti-air freshener.

I watched soaring turkey vultures. A vulture’s heart rate when soaring is about the same as it is when the bird is sleeping. A half-dozen angry red-winged blackbirds hammered on a Cooper’s hawk. There was no movie on that flight.

Earwigs star in folklore claiming they will crawl into your ear and lay eggs. They don’t. Earwigs eat pests like aphids, mites and nematodes. They will chew on ornamental and vegetable plants, particularly dahlias, zinnias, hollyhocks, lettuce, strawberries, potatoes, roses, beans, beets and the silk of sweet corn. They’re preyed upon by tachinid flies, centipedes, toads and some birds.

Lightning bugs continue to flash when a thunderstorm is producing lightning. Fireflies don’t fear flashy competition.

Meeting adjourned

“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” — Anne Frank. Be kind.