Will the runaway shopping cart please find its way home?

The simple pleasures

Horntoad of White Bear Lake: “Subject: Smart shopping cart.

“I recently visited a big-box store on a cold and very windy day. While l was loading my purchases into the back of the SUV, something caught my attention out of the corner of my eye. From an empty parking spot next to me, an abandoned shopping cart was being propelled past my car by the strong wind.


“I put down my bag so I could grab the cart before it blew out into the driving area between the parked cars. I quickly looked and saw there were no cars coming — and by that time the cart was halfway across the lane.

“It was not, however, headed towards any parked cars. As if it had a mind of its own, it had veered at about a 30-degree angle, kept rolling, and headed directly into the cart corral. It banged into the side rail and rolled all the way to the front of the corral. After about a 35-foot trip, it was home.

“I wondered if my cart would be smart enough to find its own way home if I just let it go in the wind, but thought better of it and brought it back myself.”

Joy (or otherwise) of Juxtaposition

Gma Tom: “Some juxtapositions are not so joyful. (Maybe we need an alternate name.)

“Because my M.O. for reading the newspaper is comics last (like dessert), I most often am reading yesterday’s comics a day late, as I did today. The comic strip that caught my eye was ‘Garfield.’ The first panel says: ‘This will be our first anniversary without my husband’ — which I read on the first anniversary without my husband.

“P.S. However, unlike the comic, I didn’t eat him!”

Know thyself!

Tim Torkildson: “I’m not lazy; I just find bed a fascinating hobby.”

Now & Then

The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “A few days after Christmas, I saw a television segment about the hazards lurking in children’s toys. A rather hysterical, albeit sincere, young fellow was demonstrating some of the dangers. He was really quite alarming. He yanked off a ponytail band from a doll and demonstrated how a child could choke if the child shoved it down his or her throat. He picked up a Nerf toy and, standing approximately six inches from a wall, he shot the Nerf, then dramatically dodged out of the way as it bounced right back at him and grazed his ear. He warned his listeners that if they put their toddler’s little pull toy into a baby’s crib, that poor little unsuspecting baby could wind that cord right around its neck.

“I glanced across the room at my curio cabinet and thought that fellow would not survive the trauma if he could see my much-loved toy telephone.


“We had a candlestick telephone when I was small. Whenever it rang, I would run and pick up the receiver on my toy phone and pretend the call was for me. I must have worn out the receiver, because when I found this treasure in my folks’ attic, I saw that someone had cobbled together a replacement for the missing receiver. It worked for me.”



Our theater of seasons

Mounds View Swede has been busy again with his camera: “I noticed frost on our front storm door, but pretty much ignored it until one morning, after I went out for the newspaper, the outside entry light was on and the highlighted frost patterns caught my eye. I quickly got my camera and tried to get a few ‘highlights’ of interesting patterns.


“Most of the photos were not as sharp as I wanted. I was not using a tripod, and the shutter speeds were slow, but the patterns were still fascinating. I have no clue what affects the patterns the frost makes on a window.


“On one of the warm and sunny days that happened after New Year’s, I hurried to the door hoping the sunlight was doing a good job of highlighting the frost, but found it had all melted.


“But when the cold returned, new patterns began to form. This time I got out a tripod to steady the camera and had sharper results.


“I have never looked so closely at window frost before, but am fascinated by the shapes and patterns and wonder how they occur. Some are feathery arms; some are just bunches or clusters. I need to pay more attention and see more of the beauty around me. I find delight in these discoveries. We may moan and groan about the cold, but now there is a nudge prodding me: Hey . . . look at this!


“I tried some more frost photos the next day and found some more unusual patterns.


“Early in the afternoon, the sun was lighting up the frost again, really making the patterns more distinct.





“When I checked awhile later, they were all gone; just drops remained again. As the sun continued to set and the window cooled, new patterns in different shapes began to form.

“When I went to look at my storm door after its refreezing, I found a whole new and different frost array. I am viewing these through a small window in our front door, so what I am finding is the same section of storm door redone each time. It’s convenient when it is so cold to be able to see nature’s beauty and its changes from the warmth of our home.


“A simple explanation is that these formations are affected by slight differences in the surface of the glass. I suspect there is a lot more than that involved, like how cold it is and how fast the frost forms.


“Some of these formations look a lot like insects with hairy legs.


“Or feathers.



“The final result of the last freeze-thaw cycle found this new arrangement.


“And, now with our warm spell, the storm door is clear. Enjoy this warm spell and sun!”

Our birds, ourselves

Al B of Hartland reports: “I watched chickadees. It’s hard not to. Chickadees do things adorably.

“A pair of downy woodpeckers visited the suet. Our smallest woodpecker is found in every state except Hawaii. The male has the red color, and the female wears only black and white feathers. The female searches for food on large limbs and trunks of trees. The male works the smaller branches. I don’t judge. Whatever works to weather the winter.”

This ‘n’ that (responsorial)

Bloomington Bird Lady: “Just finished reading three Bulletin Board blogs in one sitting!

“Sometimes I wish we had pictures of our favorite writers . . . and remember when Good Little Girl finally got her beautiful picture posted in B.B., but it was because she’d passed on, leaving us all behind. I still have her in my stash of stories.

“Always good to see the pileated woodpecker. We have them come to our feeders quite often, and try not to startle them.

“What we had not had for years is any ducks stopping by for corn and a drink. There they were: 10 fat mallards scarfing down the squirrel corn on the almost-bare ground.

“It was dusk, almost time for cardinals to be coming. I am enjoying birds more these days, no longer being in Cornell’s Project Feeder Watch. It was fun and a challenge, especially when 25 or more cardinals would fly in, or just appear from nowhere. Had to count really fast! Now the snowfall has made them even prettier, and easier to see.

“I have two new door handles: a Christmas gift that needs installing — the lever kind, that is so popular and easy for everyone to use! The present ones, leading out to the garage, are a real pain, and will be tossed as far as possible very soon. I’m trying not to harp on the subject,  but it’s a struggle several times a day to just open the door to put something into recycling. I begin to use expletives when the knob won’t turn!

“With the Vikings’ win, there’s so much joy right now.

“Let’s not let flu catch us. Keep washing those hands, using ‘Happy Birthday to You’ so you will not hurry too fast.

“Take care, everyone.”

Let’s be careful out there!

Cee Cee of Mahtomedi reports: “Subject: Watch your speed.

“TeeCee is a Scofflaw! Shame Shame! I caught him driving at almost double the speed limit!


“Those senior citizens!”


Now & Then
Popular Music Division (responsorial)

Gregory of the North: “I just read of Dolly Dimples’ singing ‘sad’ songs to her juniors. I grew up with the same songs.

“My mother played the piano, accordion and organ, and had a large repertoire, even playing professionally in the twilight of her life. But she always seemed drawn to the sad songs, which she claimed were more like real life than happier ditties.

“‘Silver Threads Among the Gold’ was one of her staples. When she sang it, she switched the word ‘Mother’ for ‘Darling,’ but otherwise the lyrics were just as John McCormack sang them in your attachment.

“She occasionally did the ‘Prisoner’s Song,’ but ‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes’ was much more to her liking.

“She had phonograph records of the Platters and the Ink Spots, and other ‘Negro singers.’ She said that few white people could match the range or feeling of a Negro tenor or bass. She told me to listen to how the Platters did ‘Smoke,’ and how the range it required was truly awesome. (She used that word sparingly, long before it became diluted.)

“She had me watch Jerome Kern (the writer of ‘Smoke’) on TV, where he explained the origins of the song, and its musical quirks. I don’t remember much of what was said, only that he was appreciative of any singer who could handle its range. Given what my mother had told me, I was surprised that Mr. Kern was white, and expressed that to her. ‘God gave us each unique gifts’ is all she said in reply.

“Mother said that few songs captured complex emotions with such brevity and profundity as ‘Smoke.’ Looking back at the time from my current vantage as an adult, it was a tumultuous period in my parents’ — their marriage being strained by job loss and shift work. They survived that time with their marriage intact, and in happier days, she took to playing ‘Alley Cat,’ a piano solo with no words. (Peggy Lee did sing a cover version of it, but Bent Fabric’s instrumental version was the more renowned and upbeat one.)

“Mother passed on in 1988, at the young age of 64, having performed even on the morning of the day she died. I am pleased to say that some of the tapes my father made of her playing still exist, though sadly, not ‘Smoke.’

“Thanks for the memories, Dolly Dimples and Bulletin Board!”

Everyone’s a (books) critic
Including: Everyone’s a copy editor

Kathy S. of St. Paul reports: “Subject: An interesting book.

“I rarely read nonfiction, but I just finished ‘Thanks, Obama: My Hopey, Changey White House Years,’ by David Litt, who was a speechwriter, specializing in jokes, in the Obama White House.

“This book is easy, and often fun to read. But it describes incredible obstacles and tribal rituals required to get and keep a job like his. I would never make it — unless I was in the dreaded Research (fact-checking) group.

“My proof? I found perhaps the only homonym misuse in the book. On Page 254, David ‘poured over reams of survey data….’

“Aha! He is human!”

BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Not to quibble, but, well, OK, to quibble:

Poured and pored are homophones, not homonyms.

If it’s any consolation, we have to look up the difference every time!

Gee, our old La Salle (if not always our DC-3) ran great!

The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills reports: “Subject: Names from the past.

“This was the item on the Sports Page-a-Day calendar for January 18: ‘1/18/1960. A twin-engine DC-3 with a defective electrical system carrying members of the Minneapolis Lakers NBA team crash-lands in the dark during a snowstorm in a cornfield near Carroll, Iowa. The plane is without lights, radio transmission, and flight dials, and is running low on fuel. The wind-whipped snow is so thick that pilot Vernon Ullman has to lean out the windows for visibility. Ullman lands the aircraft in a foot of snow with no injuries to any of the 23 on board. The Lakers are traveling home to Minneapolis from St. Louis, following a 135-119 loss to the St. Louis Hawks. The team completes the journey by bus. Among those who escape the crash are coach Jim Pollard and players Elgin Baylor, Frank Selvy, Tom Hawkins, Boo Ellis, Larry Foust, Dick Garmaker, Rod Hundley, Jim Krebs, and Bob Leonard.’

“Memories . . . memories.”

Where we live
Including: Everyone’s a copy editor

Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul: “Subject: Does ‘Twin Cities’ ring a bell?

“The Sports section in Tuesday’s STrib carried an article with this subhead: ‘Star Tribune sports is expanding to include analytics-based stories and a reporter fascinated with such things.’

“The piece is a first-person account of how Chris Hine ended up in Minneapolis. An excerpt: ‘I come from the Chicago Tribune, where I spent eight years, the past three covering the Blackhawks. . . .’

“I found that statement rather remarkable, because of what Hine had written two paragraphs prior to it. To wit: ‘As much as I love numbers and statistics, my favorite thing to do is write. Using numbers to tell great stories and provide some insight into the teams here in Minneapolis . . .’

“Hello? With that approach, you’ll never view a Wild/Blackhawks game in person.”

Minneapolis or bust!

Birdwatcher in La Crescent: “The Saints/Vikings game last Sunday was probably the best game I have seen in a long time, and the last 10 seconds were remarkable. Can we hope for such a good game this Sunday against the Eagles? [Bulletin Board says: No, we cannot. But we can hope for just as good a result, no matter how ugly it might be!]

“Skol, Vikings!”

Band Name of the Day: Crash Landing

Website of the Day: The Lakers’ crash landing (1/18/1960)




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