Al Batt: Conundrum at the four-way

Published 5:58 pm Tuesday, April 25, 2023

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Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

I can read minds. 

Prove it. 

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You’re thinking I can’t read minds.

You are good.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Deep thoughts occur as I drive past his drive. I wore no jacket because I wanted spring to know I was on its side in its battle against winter. As I drove, I noticed the orange cones popping up here and there. The roadwork season is commencing. A driver must pay attention or suffer the cone-sequences.

As I fetched communication from the mailbox, a car swerved at the last moment and narrowly missed me. I have great neighbors.

I came to a 4-way stop. I’d easily found my place in the realm as I was the only car approaching the intersection. Bless our small towns! The day before, I came to a 4-way stop where there was at least one car at each stop sign. Who goes first? The first vehicle to arrive at the intersection. If two vehicles get there at the same time, the one on the left yields to the one on the right. That’s what happened here. The fly in the ointment was the car behind the one that went followed right behind it. Two cars from one stop sign. The second driver was talking on a cellphone. So who goes first at a 4-way stop? Those who have an inflated sense of their importance or have a weak bladder.

I haven’t been everywhere, but I’m willing to go

I talked to a friend who told me he’d spent 45 days on a cruise. That’s an impressive feat. I gave talks in Great Falls, Montana, and a man told me he was on a three-month-long bus tour. I took him at his word, but it’s possible he embellished a bit. I recall an RV tour that followed the Lewis and Clark Expedition’s journey from St. Louis to Astoria, Oregon, and I think that took 48 days. That’s a substantial slice of time. I enjoyed the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center and the C. M. Russell Museum in Great Falls. Charlie Russell (1864-1926) captured the art and soul of the American West in his paintings and sculptures. Russell said, “A pioneer destroys things and calls it civilization.”  

I’ve learned

There is no home-field advantage greater than using your own bathroom.

No previous civilization was ever destroyed by lava lamps.  

Lutefisk is just as afraid of you as you are of it. 

If “Gilligan’s Island” wasn’t reality TV, why was it better than reality TV?

Nature notes 

Both male and female American white pelicans develop a flattened protuberance on the upper bill, like a horn, during the breeding season and shed at its conclusion. This appendage is called a nuptial tubercle. 

Baltimore orioles enjoy grape jelly because it tastes similar to the dark fruits they typically eat. The birds pay no attention to brand names but don’t feed them sugar-free jelly and use a small dish to hold the jelly, which lessens the chance of a bird becoming mired in the jelly.

A cardinal is territorial and instinctively attacks another cardinal in its breeding territory and will make an enemy of its own mirrored image in a window. A cardinal engages in beak-to-beak combat with itself. He becomes his own worst enemy. Since the birds in the window won’t leave, the cardinal prolongs the fight. It’s typically the male battling the glass with the female acting as an enabler, but she’ll take a shot at her image too. Robins and cardinals are the most likely to battle with a Pella or a Marvin, but a diverse group of birds will attack windows. Covering the inside of the window enhances the reflected image. Drawing the blinds or pulling the curtains closed exacerbates the problem. Cover the outside glass with cardboard, paper, soap, painter’s plastic drop cloth or plastic cling wrap. This makes Martha Stewart shudder but removes the reflection. It doesn’t always eliminate shadowboxing as the bird may search for imaginary opponents in other windows or the outside mirrors of cars, which can be covered with plastic bags. The birds rarely do themselves great harm. Putting out a replica of an owl doesn’t work.

If you missed “Birding With Batt” on the airwaves this week, you can hear it any time you like via the free KMSU radio streaming app. The app is available for Apple and Android devices, allowing you to livestream 89.7 the Maverick, find playlists and listen to shows on-demand.

Meeting adjourned

Look for something to like in every person. Be kind.