Al Batt: If you’re cold, they’re cold

Published 5:15 pm Tuesday, February 15, 2022

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Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

It was way below zero. My brother-in-law just stared through the window.

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Yup. If it had gotten any colder, I’d have had to let him into the house.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Deep thoughts occur to me as I pass his drive. Winter doesn’t obey the rules. I drove to Marshall in demonic cold, windy, snowy and icy conditions. Visibility was limited to the dashboard, but there was nowhere to hide. I escaped all the furies of winter but the cold by the time I stopped to eat in Marshall with my wife and friends. The nastiness had subsided, but it left a parking lot littered with chunks of ice or hard slush, usually dark brown, that had fallen or been kicked from a car. They were clumps of snow that built up in wheel wells. People will ruin a perfectly good shoe to get the pleasure of freeing their car of an automobile’s winter dust bunnies. The chunks are called fenderbergs, slush puppies, carsickles, car boogers, kickies, grice, snard, slurd, snowlactites, hitchhikers and chunkers. I was happy I didn’t need to dodge any snow mattresses on my journey. Snow mattresses usually occur on top of SUVs and larger cars, when the snow stacks on top of the vehicle and then blows off onto the road. I left Marshall and drove to Sioux Falls. The roads had been cleared, leaving a windrow (a ridge of snow scraped to the side of the road) for my company. The closer to Sioux Falls I got, the more snirt (dirty snow in ditches and fields that happens when snow sticks around in one place long enough to get dirty) I saw. Sioux Falls offered a change in the weather—47° and little snow to be found on the ground. The warm day contradicted the winter. With apologies to James Russell Lowell, “And what is so rare as a day in June? A June day in February.”

I’ve learned

Being run over by a stampeding elephant herd while watching a televised football game in your living room is considered bad luck.

Halitosis is better than no breath at all.

I don’t like all kinds of music, but I like people who like all kinds of music.

The headlines

New energy drink tastes like gas and oil.

Man puts porta-potties in his yard to keep geese from pooping on his lawn.

Township board gives snow shovels to every resident, but has grader plans.

Cat used French impressionist’s painting as a scratching post. The artwork’s owner was left with a clawed Monet.

Man gets the best shoplifter award. He didn’t win it.

Bad joke department

My wife is constantly complaining about my lack of any sense of direction. I grew weary of it and packed up my stuff and right.

Never buy flowers from a monk. Remember, only you can prevent florist friars.

Do trees defecate? Sure, that’s where we get No. 2 pencils.

The Tinman wanted to see the Wizard of Oz about his tinnitus.

Nature notes

Doves, pigeons and chickens can suffer frostbite. Frostbitten feet on other birds aren’t an impossibility, but are unlikely. On a barely related note, the rock pigeon, the pigeon we see in farm and city, was trained for communication by the U.S. Army Pigeon Service or Signal Pigeon Corps. During WWII, this force consisted of 3,150 soldiers and 54,000 pigeons. Over 90% of Army messages sent by pigeons were received. A pigeon named G.I. Joe received the Dickin Medal for gallantry that saved at least 1,000 lives. From 1917 until 1957, the US Army Pigeon Breeding and Training Center was based at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey.

A reader asked if raccoons wash their food before eating? They aren’t germaphobes. It’s a myth. When they find something that might be food, they roll it around in their front paws to determine what it is. Raccoons wet their food to gather more sensory information. Moistening the food helps raccoons further understand what they are eating. Water plays a very important role in a raccoon’s sense of touch by increasing the receptiveness of the nerve endings in their paws. As a result, their tactile senses are substantially increased. If a raccoon encounters a likely food item away from water, they might roll it around in their paws without involving any water. Their scientific name, Procyon lotor, means “washing bear.” Raccoons typically weigh 14-40 pounds. If raccoons had opposable thumbs, they might be our overlords.

Meeting adjourned

If you can’t find the sunshine, be the sunshine by being kind.