Our pets, ourselves
Little Sister wrote, Wednesday morning: “Phil could use a CPAP machine. (My husband has one, and it has done wonders for him . . . and for me.)
“We have never let a pet sleep with us, and Phil is no exception. If we were to relent, neither of us would get any sleep, because of his snoring. He also takes up quite a bit of space for a dog that carries himself quite low to the ground. Being part dachshund, he’s long and thick, and his body has a way of sprawling out when he lies down, kind of like a water balloon.
“A great deal of practice has fine-tuned Phil’s snoring, because he spends the better part of the day napping, just like a cat. He’s just been out to do his early-morning business, where no time was wasted due to the subzero cold. He can generate quite a bit of speed as soon as the back door opens for him. He zips inside to check out his food dish. After breakfast, he is all played out and sprawled out on the couch . . . doing what he does best.”
Plus: Life in the Retail Economy
The Clover Kicker: “Subject: Another inventory story:
“My first ‘real’ job was working at a shop that sold nearly everything one could carry out. It was the go-to place in town for out-of-town newspapers, magazines, greeting cards, cigars, Ping-Pong balls, decks of ‘naughty”’ playing cards (though there’s more titillation at Lake Phalen nowadays than the cards offered), boxed chocolates, a variety of personal products for both men and women (kept behind the counter, if you get my drift), sets of balls and jacks and a crazy clutter of other things. The place even featured a soda fountain in the back of the store, to accommodate travelers who had a layover at the neighboring bus station.
“When inventory time came around each January, we had to count every single magazine, cigar, Ping-Pong ball, etc., in the place. I was excused from counting only the greeting cards, which must have represented the single largest profit margin, so counting errors could not be tolerated.
“It was at this time of year that I was introduced to the concept of ‘stock rotation’ — did I mention the selection of candy bars?! — a novel-to-me but standard retail practice of selling off the older product before the newer. We couldn’t feature an empty row of candy bars, but when refilling the row, the older bars were to go on top of, and be sold before, the newer ones.
“This practice didn’t strike me as a particularly customer-centric way of doing business — I certainly wouldn’t want an ‘old’ Baby Ruth when fresher ones were beckoning — but I also knew that simply burying the old bars under the new ones wouldn’t make them any more appealing. There seemed to be only one way to address this dilemma: Instead of palming off ‘old’ candy bars onto unsuspecting buyers, I ate them!
“The job lasted about a year and a half (and I still enjoy a good, fresh Baby Ruth bar).”
Our birds, ourselves
And: Our theater of seasons
Al B of Hartland reports: “I watched downy woodpeckers foraging on trees. Lovely and tiny, the sexes have different strategies for searching for food. In winter, male downy woodpeckers forage primarily on small branches and weed stems, while the females tend to stick to larger branches and trunks. Males keep females from foraging in the more productive spots. When researchers removed males from a woodlot, the females responded by feeding along smaller branches. Downy woodpeckers eat foods that larger woodpeckers cannot, such as insects living on or in weed stems. I see them hammering at goldenrod galls to extract the fly larvae inside. Downy woodpeckers readily visit yards and gardens. They frequent suet feeders.
“I put seed into the feeders. A chickadee flew in before I finished. I don’t think the world could ever have too many chickadees. The black-capped chickadees were singing — not their signature ‘chick-a-dee-dee-dee’ call, but a two-toned, whistled ‘fee-bee’ song that means that spring is coming and they are in love.”
Everyone’s a copy editor!
The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “Subject: Predicting the past.
“Every Sunday during the NFL season, the Pioneer Press carries a ‘STAFF PICKS’ column in which sportswriters Brian Murphy, Tom Powers, Chris Thomasson, and Charley Walters predict the winner and score for the upcoming Vikings game. Last Sunday on Page 5C, they all correctly forecast that the Vikings would defeat the Bears. What I found interesting was the heading of the column: ‘VIKINGS AT PACKERS.’
“It brought to mind what my younger son said after the Vikings were eliminated from contention for postseason play: ’That ship has sailed.’
“I think even Lawrence Peter Berra (‘It ain’t over till it’s over’) would agree: It’s over!”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Interesting that you’d quote the great Yogi. The very day we heard from you, Retired Pedagogue, we had read this line in ex-Minnesotan James Hohmann’s Daily 202 email (highly recommended), which he produces for the Washington Post: “As Yogi Berra said: It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.”
Spreading the cover
Poet X of PDX reports: “As I work, I keep various music channels very low in the background. On the ‘Adult Alternative’ channel, I’ve twice heard a cover which at first is very jarring but actually nice once the initial shock wears off: a bluegrass-flavored version of ‘Purple Rain,’ complete with banjo!”
Life as we know it
Outhouses and Port-a-Potties Division
Vertically Challenged: “Dragonslayer of Oakdale wondered why there were always two holes. Probably, as in the case of my grandparents’ outhouse, most had one small hole for the little kids to use. Wouldn’t want one of those kiddies falling through that big hole!”
Cee Cee of Mahtomedi: “At my Grampy’s farm in New Hampshire, we had a two-seater in the shed off the house. The main reason for the two-seater? We were told that the materials deposited would be more evenly distributed that way.
“One thing I remember about using the facilities was that we had a bucket of sand nearby, and after we did our business, we were expected to use the trowel to dump some sand down the hole.
“I never much liked going out to the shed in the middle of the night. Visions of snakes and mice danced in my head.”
The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “Dragonslayer of Oakdale wondered if an outhouse ever had a duet use its facility.
“How about a quartet? Don’t girls always go to the Ladies’ Room in groups?
“There were four of us females in residence, and a one-holer just didn’t do it when my folks rented a little un-modern snug little house in Bloomington, when I was nearly 9 years old. It was primitive living, with kerosene lamps and a pot-bellied stove in the middle of this 20-foot-by-20-foot dwelling.
“After a few months, we connected to electricity, and Dad decided we needed better bathroom accommodations, so with the blessings of our sweet landlady, he built us an Outhouse (it needs a capital letter!). It was a four-holer: three regular-sized holes (one with a hinged lid for ease of dumping the chamber pot) and one smaller hole on a lower level for my nephew, who spent as much time in our house as in his own.
“Daddy even wired it with electricity and added magazine racks. It was quite the establishment. So he was more than a little chagrined when he took a pal of his out to admire it, only to discover that my middle sister (the boisterous one) had desecrated the wall by scrawling in black crayon ‘I Don’t Want to Set The World on Fire’ — followed by ‘Hitler’s doing a good enough job of it.’
“He was quite steamed up by her ‘ruining the wall,’ but the place got really steamed up after some ‘blankety-blank no-good blankety-blank’ shoved a Lab out of his car at the foot of our driveway. Daddy ran out with a broom to chase the poor unwanted beast on his way when he suddenly crouched down, petted the sad creature and came back into the house. With tears in his eyes, he told my mom that the poor thing was pregnant and asked her for an old blanket so he could make her a nice place to stay. The nice place was a corner of our spacious Outhouse, where, the next day, the first visitor was greeted by the mewing of nine little Lab puppies. Yep, our Outhouse now had electricity, magazine racks, graffiti and heat.”
Unclear on the concept (responsorial)
Twitty of Como: “The Grand Duchess of Grand Avenue, relating her tale of the two youths at the McDonald’s counter who couldn’t understand the concept that you had to actually BUY one sandwich to get one free, reminded me of a similar incident at the McDonald’s nearest me that same day — except in reverse.
“In my take, it was the cashier who had it wrong. I handed her the coupon and ordered my usual senior coffee and two of the BOGO sandwiches. She rang up the coffee.
“I said: ‘What about the sandwich?’
“She said: ‘Yeah — the sandwich is free, so you only have to pay for the coffee.’
“I said: ‘Only one sandwich is free. I ordered two. I don’t want to get you in trouble.’
“She said: ‘Wait — what?’ She took another look at the coupon. ‘Oh — you’re right.’
“She re-rang it correctly the second time.”
Savers, finders, keepers?
Or: Ask Bulletin Board
Writes luv.mom: “In the bottom of my Christmas-card-stuff box, I have old Christmas seals from the American Lung Association. The dates are: 1967, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1992, 1994, and 1998. They are all just leftovers. Only 1994 and 1998 have a complete sheet.
“Do people collect things like this? It seems as if almost anything is collected by somebody. I don’t want to pitch them out if somebody wants to have them. Are they worth anything? Somebody out there in BB land knows.”
The Permanent Auntly Record
Bill Axness: “I’m sending pictures of my Aunt Margaret Axness, probably from the late 1920s, of her sitting on the golden horses at the State Capitol.
“The first photo is my aunt (on the left) and an unknown friend striking a ballet pose on the roof by the horses.
“The second is Aunt Margaret sitting on one of the horses.
“Margaret was killed in a car accident on New Year’s Eve 1931. According to family stories from Margaret’s siblings, Margaret was a very talented pianist and loved the arts. Her sister Jane Axness taught piano and organ in St. Paul for many years, and was a member of the American Guild of Organists. Aunt Jane once told me that Margaret admired Isadora Duncan, which fits with the photo.
“A third photo, I’ve titled ‘Margaret with a cool convertible.'”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: We have no doubt, none at all, that there are Bulletin Boarders out there who are prepared to identify the make and model of the cool convertible . . . and others who are just as prepared to misidentify it! Happens every blasted time we run a picture of a cool old car.
We await guidance and misguidance alike!
Band Name of the Day: The Two-Holers
Website of the Day: “Hear Dwight Yoakam Put Bluegrass Spin on Prince’s ‘Purple Rain'”