Al Batt: My plan for trick or treaters

Published 5:40 pm Tuesday, October 25, 2022

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Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

I don’t do anything without my lawyer present.

You’re a lawyer.

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Then where’s my lawyer present?

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me. I vacuumed up my clipped toenails. My nails grow like weeds. I use a whip, a chair, a file and a nail clipper to restrain them. I’ve been saving them in sandwich bags so I’ll be able to give them to trick-or-treaters. They’re better than circus peanuts. My mother gave me circus peanuts every year. I didn’t like them. My brother did. I passed them along to him with a “Mom wanted you to have these.”

I’ve never done much trick-or-treating. What little I did was while dressed as a doofus with a mask, gone well past its best- used-by-date, held in place by a rubber band, which invariably broke and snapped my ear with incredible accuracy. It never missed.

This will be a memorable year for trick-or-treaters. They’ll be getting used toenails this year. Unless my wife learns of my plan.

The almanacs predict

The 2023 Old Farmer’s Almanac published in New Hampshire says winter will be colder than normal, with the coldest periods in late November, early December, early to mid-January, and mid- to late February. The snowiest periods will be late November, early to mid-January and February. This includes the southernmost row of counties in Minnesota, all of Iowa and southwestern Wisconsin. The rest of Minnesota will have below normal temperatures, with the coldest in late November, early December, early and late January, and mid-February. The snowiest periods will be in late November, early and late December, and early and late March. This includes the remaining portions of Minnesota and most of Wisconsin.

The 2023 Farmers’ Almanac, published in Maine, says Minnesota and Iowa will be a hibernation zone, glacial and snow-filled. There will be much snow and January will be unreasonably cold. Record-breaking cold temps in places. Wisconsin will be stupid cold and snowy. It sounds like a normal winter. January has never been reasonable.

Ask Al

“Did you know alligators can grow up to 15 feet?’ Wow! I’ve never seen them with more than four feet.

“How can I tell if a blue jay is a male or a female?” Put some peanuts in a feeder. If she eats them, it’s a female. If he eats them, it’s a male.

“Did you invest in that toilet paper company you were thinking about?” Yes, but the stock just touched a new bottom.

“What’s more useful than the invention of the phone?” The invention of the second phone.

Nature notes

Robins migrate when the ground freezes or is snow-covered and cold weather eliminates their foods: earthworms, caterpillars and other insects. Robins change their diet to fruit and berries in winter, but there isn’t always enough in the north to feed them all. Robins fly up to 30-36 mph during migration. High-pressure systems with northwesterly winds are best for the fall migration, but there is no hurry. Robins become nomadic. Not a true harbinger of spring as we see robins here in the winter. Their migration is complicated with a great deal of individual variation. Males are more likely to remain in the north than females. Come spring, the male’s principal job is to find and defend a territory. He could benefit from being the first on the scene. The female’s primary job is to lay eggs, which requires good nutrition and energy, so she goes where there are good supplies of winter food.

By the end of October, monarch butterflies have left the state in a migration. They fly around 100 miles a day to cover the 2,000+ miles to Mexico’s forests, where the monarchs begin arriving around the first of November, which begins the Day of the Dead celebrations in that country. Many butterflies don’t arrive until mid-November.

I heard yip-howls of coyotes—short howls that rise and fall in pitch, punctuated with staccato yips, yaps and barks. The song dog pups born in the spring disperse and find new territories from September through November. The communication was a type of bonding within a family group and also served as a territorial display. The yip-howling appeared to come from different locations, but I wasn’t surrounded by coyotes. It’s an auditory illusion known as the “beau geste effect,” wherein a few coyotes sound like many. It’s named after the novel “Beau Geste,” in which French troops propped up their dead to make attackers believe they were a larger force than they were.

Meeting adjourned

A friend, Kathy Vokoun, died recently. At her funeral, her family asked that we do a random act of kindness in Kathy’s memory. That’s a splendid idea.