Running the slalom of trash cans

Published 5:36 pm Tuesday, February 8, 2022

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Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

I stopped to see my brother-in-law’s new house. He told me to make myself at home.

So you raided his refrigerator?

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No, I told him to leave. I wasn’t up to seeing visitors.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Each morning is an eye-opening experience. I drove a slalom course through Albert Lea. Heavy winds (30 mph) had blown empty waste containers from the ends of drives into the streets. The weather remained iffy but cold. The windchill index measures how wind speed affects outdoor temperatures felt by the human body. The old system measured wind speed at 33 feet above the ground. It was commonly referred to as the “windchill factor.” In 2001, there was a new sheriff in town and he had a new formula accounting for wind speed at face level, about five feet above the ground, which makes temperatures sound warmer now than they did the old way. Under the old system, an air temperature of 20° with a 15-mph wind resulted in a windchill of -5°. Under the same conditions, the new index shows it as 6° above zero. That’s 11° we can put in our pockets to help keep us from being blown away. On January 9-10, 1982, temperatures of -30° with winds of 40 mph were reported in northern Minnesota, which translates to -71° by the new formula and -100° by the old one. I can’t prove it, but I believe the old windchill factor was using performance-enhancing drugs. On February 2, 1996, the Minnesota state record minimum temperature record was set, -60° near Tower.

I let the wind do its thing and pulled up to a stoplight next to a car attempting to set a record for the loudest music ever heard inside a vehicle. It was a hate crime. The driver hated his ears. Or perhaps he was merely trying to drown out the sound of the wind?


from the court

My son was coaching second-grade girls in the fine art of basketball when one girl complained that a player on the other team had touched her basketball. Brian explained to her that the other girl was playing defense. The girl nodded as she heard her mentor’s elucidation and said, “Well, I don’t want her touching my ball.”

Rigorous riddle


There are three words in the English language that end in -gry. One is hungry and another is angry. What is the third word? Everyone uses this word every day. I’ve let you know what the word is. The answer is “what.”

From the mailbag

Bob Hargis of Riverton, Wyoming wrote that his wife Suzanne said she had made synonym buns. Bob replied, “You mean just like the ones that grammar used to make?’”

Nature notes

Bird feet are little more than bone, sinew and scale, with few nerves. A countercurrent heat exchange system means the arteries that transport blood to the legs lie in contact with the veins that return blood to the bird’s heart. The warm arteries heat the cooler veins. Because the veins also cool the arteries, the bird’s feet are closer to the environmental temperature and don’t lose as much heat as they would if they were at body temperature.

Squirrels survive our cantankerous winters because they keep working at it. Squirrels and birds invoke awe and wonder. A love of birds is a reason to go outside. I’m constantly amazed as I watch birds trying to make a living. No bird carries a wallet or a purse. They survive without a credit card. It was -19° and the house sparrows chirped merrily as if they were vacationing at a tropical beach. It invigorated me. When I was a lad, hawks were called chicken hawks, including the beautiful red-tailed hawk, brown above and whitish below. I’ve eaten more chickens than any red-tailed hawk ever did. The hawk’s diet varies with availability, season and location, but mammals such as voles, mice, rats, rabbits and ground squirrels are major prey items. Tree squirrels and chipmunks are less important prey to this hawk.

Meeting adjourned

“To bear up under loss, to fight the bitterness of defeat and the weakness of grief, to be victor over anger, to smile when tears are close, to resist evil men and base instincts, to hate hate and to love love, to go on when it would seem good to die, to seek ever after the glory and the dream, to look up with unquenchable faith in something evermore about to be, that is what any man can do, and so be great.” — Zane Grey.