Al Batt: Brown Christmas doesn’t seem right

Published 6:18 pm Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Echoes from the

Loafers’ Club Meeting

I had the hiccups, so I stood on one foot, flapped my arms and yodeled. It never fails.

Email newsletter signup

To cure your hiccups?

No, to allow me to cut in line at the convenience store without everyone hating me.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me. A brown Christmas is nothing out of the ordinary, but it seems like it is. There are many brown UPS trucks driven by people wearing brown uniforms who deliver brown cardboard. A Christmas without snow shortens the winter, but we must remember the three most important words about the weather: You never know.

I wonder if Mother Goose wrote this with a quill pen. “There was an old woman who lived in a shoe. She had so many children, she didn’t know what to do. She gave them some broth without any bread; And whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.” Ma Goose was harsh, but the goslings still smelled like socks.

Don’t drive over the

fork in the road

“Sooner or later, you’ll own Generals.” Years ago, that advertising slogan for General Tire was playing on my car’s AM radio while I added air to a low tire. It was coincidental but not unexpected. That jingle got a lot of airtime. My car’s tire released the air faster than I could put it in. It was a retread, in which a re-manufacturing process replaces the tread on worn tires. Retreads were common in the past but are seldom used for passenger vehicles today.

The other day, I missed hitting a gator or two on the road. Blown-out tire pieces are called gators because of the arched, ridged texture, which resembles an alligator to those with vivid imaginations. Truck tires are subjected to demanding conditions and retreads on commercial trucks have historically been deemed the culprits behind these highway alligators. However, a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study concluded that 78% of tire debris came from new tires and 22% came from retreads. The University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute found tire failure because of the retread manufacturing process was under 15% of the total and concluded the best way to keep gators off our roads is to maintain proper tire inflation.

Why retreads? They keep tires out of landfills and save money for school districts, trucking companies and airlines.

The National Association of People Who Want to Sell More Tires (NAOPWWTSMT) recommends you check your tire tread depth after every meal. I checked while trying to get that tire to inhale. I borrowed a penny from a friend—who, if you’re reading this, I’ll pay you back soon—and placed the coin with Lincoln’s head pointed down between the tread grooves on my tire. If the top of his head disappeared between the ribs, my tread was still above 2/32 of an inch. If I could see Lincoln’s entire head, it meant the tread wasn’t deep enough and it was time to replace the tire. Lincoln told me it was time to replace my car.

I’ve learned

If you think you’ve forgotten to get something at the grocery store, go home. You’ll remember what it was by the time you get your coat off.

I stopped at the cancer center to say hello. The patients there were at their worst and at their best at the same time.

When I was a boy, climate change happened from one day to the next.

Nonpareils are a classic candy whose name means “without equal” or “unrivaled.” They are small, flat, disc-shaped sweets typically made of chocolate covered with tiny, colorful sugar beads.

Nature notes

The well-engineered leaf nests (dreys) of squirrels are built of twigs, leaves, moss and other materials. The twigs, often gnawed from a tree when the leaves were still intact, are loosely woven together to create the floor of a nest. Squirrels add stability by packing damp leaves and moss on top of the twig platform to reinforce the structure. A spherical frame is woven around the base, forming the outer shell. It’s finished by stuffing the shell with leaves, moss, twigs or paper. The inner cavity of the nest is lined with shredded bark, grass and leaves. The thick walls keep wind, water and snow from penetrating the interior and keep cold air out and warm air in. Bernd Heinrich, in “Winter World,” wrote of a 12-inch diameter drey having 26 layers of flattened, dried and overlapped oak leaves.

Meeting adjourned

“The real index of civilization is when people are kinder than they need to be.”—Louis de Bernieres.

Merry Christmas and happy everything.