Al Batt: Accomplishing another year

Published 6:06 pm Tuesday, March 8, 2022

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Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

I accomplished a great deal yesterday.

What did you do?

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I got a year older.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Deep thoughts occur as I drive past his drive. The sun-ripened snow welcomed spring, but only spring knows when it will reveal itself. I ate at a cafe I’d never visited before because I’m in the Fatuous Diner Relocation Program. The eatery was in a city small enough its motto could be, “We have a water tower.” A couple of patrons were drinking aggressive coffee. I love small towns, but the best place to eat in many of them has been reduced to the only business having a microwave.

A few days later, I was in Fayette, a lovely city in northwest Iowa, with a population of 1,256 people and the Volga River winding its way through town. It has a college, Upper Iowa, but no high school. We were early for a basketball game, so I parked in front of a thrift store. In we went. It was like being transported back in time by a time machine. I enjoy thrift store books and there is an odd comfort to the stuffed attic smell most stores have. This store was staffed by friendly ladies and exhibited many items that would have been definite upgrades to what I own. The store offered many electrical devices capable of flashing “12:00,” clothes (including shirts with someone else’s name on them), macrame projects, knickknacks, geegaws, curios, doodads, tchotchkes, bowling trophies and books. I couldn’t find a book that floated my boat despite my shopping motto, “It’s 50 cents, take a chance.” My fussiness was influenced by the towering piles of books in need of reading at home. Speaking of 50 Cent, I saw one of his CDs available for only—no, that would have been too good. It was $1 and I passed on it without a second thought. My son bought remarkable (to him) CDs and my wife found a few baubles. Our basketball team won. Life was good.

Money laundering

A man in a dark suit and a flat-brimmed hat balanced his opened valise on a portable tripod stand, revealing cakes of soap wrapped in plain paper to anyone walking Denver’s busy streets. Soapy Smith removed $1 to $100 bills from his wallet and wrapped them around a few bars of soap before enclosing the money-wrapped soap bars with plain paper. He mixed those bars with others and offered the soap for $1 to $5 a bar. A few individuals quickly purchased bars, ripped the wrappings off and displayed the $100 bills they’d received. They bragged loudly about beating the soap man at his own game. Those individuals were accomplices of Smith. Enticed by the success of the shills, people bought the wrapped bars, none of which contained anything other than soap valued at about a nickel. Smith ran scams until killed in a shootout in Skagway, Alaska.

Ask Al

“When is the best time to go to Disney World to avoid crowds?” 1961.

“Why aren’t you on Facebook?” I’m in the control group.

“Where is Walla Walla?” Between Ting Tang and Bing Bang.

The bad joke department

The man was wearing a loaf of bread on his head. He was on a loaf hat diet.

He had a Ph.D. in palindromes. He is Dr. Awkward.

Why did the accountant cross the road? To bore the people on the other side.

I wonder

Is it because the best things in life are free that the worst things cost so much?

Shouldn’t the word “efficient” have only one “f”?

Why don’t I hear the word “ubiquitous” more often?

Nature notes

What is a hoot owl? It could be any owl that gives a hoot. The distinctive call of the barred owl is “Who cooks for you? Who cooks for you all?” It’s commonly called a hoot owl.

It’s sprinter. Part spring, part winter. Chickadees, nuthatches, jays and some woodpeckers cache food. The success of this scatter-hoarding depends on the birds’ spatial memories to find cached food.

“How did a Eurasian collared-dove end up in my yard?” The chunky, sandy-gray bird with a black collar was brought to the Bahamas in the 1970s. Escapees from pet shops there found their way to Florida in 1982. Their goal was to make it to your yard. They were first seen in Minnesota in 1998 and were in Alaska by 2006.

Meeting adjourned

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”—Dr. Seuss. Be kind.