Al Batt: Weeee — we hit 3 mph

Published 4:41 pm Tuesday, September 13, 2022

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Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

The Labor Day traffic on I-70 to Denver was terrible.

How terrible was it?

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Whenever I got my speed up to 3 mph, I yelled, “Whee!”

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me. I enjoyed a good, warm meal fresh from the toaster. I didn’t have time to eat as much as I’d liked. A little bit is better than nada. You can’t always have the whole enchilada. I needed a new Etch A Sketch for work. I headed to Best Buy because it was on the way to elsewhere. Best Buy began as the Sound of Music in 1966 and had nine stores in Minnesota. On June 14, 1981, a tornado hit its largest and most profitable store in Roseville. That store held a “Tornado Sale” of the damaged and excess stock in the battered store’s parking lot, promising “best buys” on everything. Sound of Music made more money during the four-day sale than it did in a typical month. People liked the “Best Buy” prices. Company founder Dick Schulze wrote this about the tornado, “It was the worst thing that could happen to us. It was the best thing that could happen to us.”

A friend drives an electric car. When he bought it, part of the deal was that he’d get free charging for as long as he owns the car. That has turned into a sweet deal. My trusty vehicle drinks gas. When I buy gas, approximately 60% of my money goes toward crude oil according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The rest goes toward refining (17%), distribution and marketing (11%), and state and federal taxes (12%). Gas stations make a net profit of less than 2% per gallon of gas sold. So smile at anyone working at a gas station. They could use it.

I used some of that gas driving east on I-70 to Denver on Labor Day. The traffic was inescapable. I wasn’t stuck in traffic. I was traffic. Leonard Bernstein said, “To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan and not quite enough time.” I told myself that as it took me 3 1/2 hours to go 84 miles. It was easy to keep up with traffic when it wasn’t moving. When I’d freed myself from my discomfort zone on a highway made up of dead ends and got to Denver, it was 99°.

I’ve learned

Tall people sleep longer.

There is no law saying you have to be offended by everyone you don’t agree with.

To never ask a knitter, “Do you know what that’s going to be when it’s finished?”

It’s time for me to get my annual flu shot. Elvis Presley gave Americans a gift beyond his music in 1956. He received a polio vaccine on live TV (The Ed Sullivan Show). Thank you, thank you very much, Elvis.

No one should be ashamed of driving the speed limit.

Nature notes

September is the month of red leaves, ripe fruits and relocating birds.

After perching like an undertaker, a turkey vulture became one with the wind. I saw a vesper sparrow whose molt made it look as if it had been mugged. Who can see enough chickadees? Not me. I’m caught in the gravitational pull of the tiny, habituated feeder bird. The same goes for butterflies. I see a few monarch butterflies moving across a lake near me every month they’re flying, but the numbers flying over water increase during migration. Monarch populations in Minnesota peak in late August and early September as resident butterflies are joined by those from farther north.

I paused my walk to marvel at the beauty of a black-and-yellow Argiope. This orb weaver is called a corn spider, zipper spider, writing spider, golden garden spider, yellow spider, yellow garden spider, golden orb weaver, scribbler spider, yellow-and-black garden spider, McKinley spider and Argiope aurantia. A male courts a female by plucking at her web. Initially, webs are placed in areas sheltered from the wind, but as spiders age, they prefer higher web placement. After mating, the female deposits egg sacs on her web. The eggs hatch in late summer or fall and the hatchlings overwinter in the sac, not leaving it until spring. Juveniles disperse by ballooning, releasing silk that catches wind currents. Females die in a hard frost and males after mating.

There are so many dead animals on the road, I have to remind myself not to become calloused by their abundance.

Meeting adjourned

Take time away from being offended to be kind.