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Al Batt: Conspiracy theory = internet

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

You’re eating your tomato soup with a fork.

I know.

Why are you doing that?

I don’t like tomato soup.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor, named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me, such as: It rained hard enough for about 10 minutes that I felt as if I were standing on the bottom of a lake. Nothing is the way it was yesterday and it will never be. That’s the way it has always been. I thought of the flu of 1918.

Historians are unable to pinpoint its origin, but the first reported case in the U.S. was in Kansas and spread quickly through the ranks of the Army. The U.S. had wartime censors in place that suppressed news about the flu, which might have had a negative effect on the country’s morale. Cover-up and denial aided the spread of the flu. When the flu hit Spain, which didn’t have such strict censorship, it became the Spanish Flu. The first case reported in Minnesota was a soldier returning home to Wells. About 12,000 Minnesotans died from the flu and an estimated 50 million died worldwide. Approximately 675,000 died in the U.S., 10 times more than those who died in combat. Of the 118,500 Minnesotans serving in the war, 1,432 were killed. Another 2,175 died of other causes. The official records show that 114,242 Iowans served in the armed forces during WW I. Of those, 3,576 died. The flu killed over 6,000 Iowans plus 702 soldiers at Camp Dodge.

A conspiracy theory means someone had internet access

My GPS whispered. It wasn’t because we were in a bad neighborhood. It was because my wife had turned off the sound. She finds it easier to look for addresses when it’s quiet. She believes silence turns her into an eagle-eyed individual. That hardly qualifies as a conspiracy theory. I have a conspiracy theory about conspiracy theories. I don’t have one, so people feel an obligation to share theirs. Other than those related to the JFK shooting, I didn’t grow up oblivious to the truth. Oh, there was the belief a certain teacher was the devil’s spawn, and other urban and rural legends. We had ghost stories; the main one being the Schuch family murders that occurred in Iosco Township, northwest of Waseca in 1929. The details were grisly, a stolen safe was never found and no arrests were made (a 1965 deathbed confession was dismissed). People claimed to have seen apparitions. I liked to be frightened for some odd reason. Now I don’t. Ghost stories weren’t as scary as conspiracy theories.

In local news

Man found guilty of overusing commas receives long sentence.

Police expect bad winter based on firewood thefts.

New hand sanitizer contains mother’s spit.

A masked moment

I wish everything in life was as easy as wearing a mask. It’s no risk to me. I can perfect my ventriloquism techniques or pretend I’m a surgeon who wants to strangle the coronavirus with a mask. A mask is an exercise program that surpasses the StairMaster. I get out of my car, walk 20 steps before realizing I’d left my mask in the car. I retrace my steps, grab the mask and relaunch. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Nature notes

The Dog Days are over (July 3 — Aug. 11), but folklore says every fog in August equals a snowfall in winter. An inchworm or looper (small caterpillar), measured me for a new suit. I watched ants move about. The ground was their roof and my floor.

Curly dock was evident on roadsides. Its seeds are a rich brown, like coffee. Underfoot, pineapple weed bloomed. The flowers are dome-shaped and a yellow-green color. Its name comes from the pineapple-like smell of its crushed leaves and flowers. It’s a persistent plant that thrives in poor conditions such as the edges of a driveway.

White-breasted nuthatches made odd sounds as they traveled on bark in pursuit of food. The male has a black cap and the female’s cap is grayer. An American goldfinch male flew high in circles or figure eights. It’s the state bird of Iowa, New Jersey and Washington.

A drive into the deep darkness brought a coyote into my headlights. It was dragging roadkill. I enjoy seeing coyotes as they work removing carcasses from roads. Deer are more dangerous than coyotes. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 200 people die in vehicle/deer collisions annually.

Meeting adjourned

“Which is more important,” asked Big Panda, “the journey or the destination?”

“The company,” said Tiny Dragon. — James Norbury.

Be kindhearted.