CAUTION! Words at Play!
Doris Day writes: “Speaking of crossword puzzles: One I am working on now has the clue ‘John, to Ringo.’ Three letters. I can’t think of one more clever.”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: You will be able to find the answer (very clever, indeed!) at the very bottom of today’s Bulletin Board.
Now & Then
Popular Music Division (cont.)
D. Ziner writes: “It’s not that I’m depressed or overly morbid when I flip through the music and choose to play ‘Silver Threads Among the Gold’ and other similar songs. It’s because I’m a lousy pianist, and these sad, sentimental ones are usually slow ones, which give me time to get those fingers of my left hand on the correct keys.
“When I first began playing, it seems I never really thought much about the lyrics because almost all my attention was needed to get the right fingers on the right keys — and in the right order. (I’m sure I’m not the only one who wishes that he or she had not quit piano lessons before muscle memory was more firmly in place.) The only piece with lyrics that saddened me a bit was ‘Ben Bolt,’ because I assumed sweet Alice met an untimely death. When I now read the entire poem on which it’s based, it does appear that old age might also have been a factor. But I guess there’s still enough there to be sad about.”
Then & Now
Little Sister: “For someone who won typing awards back in high school, I am woefully uncoordinated with texting. As I watch youngsters tapping away at warp speeds, I struggle with thumbs that are simply not capable of working that fast. Maybe it’s arthritis, but I think it has more to do with the itty-bitty screens and my brain’s reliance on using all of my fingers.
“Hands down [Bulletin Board interjects: No pun intended, we trust!], typing is near the top of my list of most valuable skills I’ve ever acquired. Through college and working years, I depended a great deal on being able to type and the time it saved. I even remember looking forward to high-school typing class every day. How satisfying it was when Mr. Pearson took away the big keyboard guide hanging on the wall and I found my fingers just automatically knowing where the letters were! I didn’t even have to think about it any longer. It got to an obsessive point for a while where I was typing in my head whenever I encountered any kind of print, like menus, cereal boxes, or road signs. Even my thoughts became a slave to the keyboard in my brain.
“Back in the Dark Ages, we learned to type on manual Olympia monstrosities. It took some effort to get accustomed to just the right amount of pressure needed to work the stiff keys, and your fingers got quite a workout. There was also an enormous racket with everyone hammering away at the same time. One Monday morning, we walked into the room and all of those old machines had been replaced with spanking-new IBM electric numbers. I thought I’d died and gone to heaven! It took some getting used to the sensitive keys that seemed to cut loose if you even breathed on them, but I was soon able to improve my speed significantly. I remember that the quarterback who sat behind me was still at the hunt-and-peck level much longer than the rest of us. He had no problem letting me know, in no uncertain terms, just how aggravated he was with me as I raced through the speed tests. Here I was, one who never stood out enough in much of anything, but by golly it was nice to know I could do this one thing better than anyone else!
“We’d had the IBMs only a few weeks when we came to find they’d mysteriously vanished and the old Olympias had reappeared in their place. Our teacher was none too happy to report that the school had been robbed over the weekend, and every last one of our state-of-the art-typewriters were gone. I was heartbroken. My next electric typewriter had to wait until college, when I’d scrimped and saved enough to buy my own. Of course, getting my first computer changed the game entirely. It was nothing short of miraculous: enticing font choices, Spell Check, cut and paste, the delete key. What was not to love?
“You know, it’s funny how the brain works. Despite mine slowing up in more ways than I care to mention, my fingers still somehow effortlessly find their way to the right keys. (That’s assuming, of course, that I know how to spell the word in the first place.) Now, if I could just train my thumbs to work as efficiently with my phone. This former typing queen has now been reduced to an index-finger-texting old fogey.”
The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “Subject: Snow, snow, go away (at least during Phy-Ed).
“Granddaughter and fourth-grader Eve, upon hearing that Tuesday would be a ’Snow Day’: ‘Can’t I just go to school for gym, and then come back home?’”
Our theater of seasons
The Monkey Lover’s Wife of Northfield: “Dispatches from the land of the 15-inch snowfall:
“(1) The Rotary Rule is alive in our house, as it was at my parents’. I may have written in about this before, but my dad was (and still is) a faithful member of the Rotary Club in his hometown, where we also lived when I was young. The meetings were Mondays, at lunch, and the food was usually filling and good at the local establishment. It seemed, without fail (though of course it did), that whatever my dad had for lunch at Rotary was what Mom had planned for dinner Monday night. It didn’t matter how unusual or normal it was (though as I recall, it tended toward things ‘we never had’). And, of course, it became a rule because it happened at least once every couple of months. Anyway, because of the snowstorm here in Northfield, the cupboards were running a little bare, so I had planned to make quiche for dinner. Quiche, or ‘breakfast for dinner,’ is not a weekly thing, certainly, but it’s something we have semi-monthly. [Bulletin Board says: We’ll presume that means twice a month — though now that “bi-” and “semi-” have become interchangeable in words such as bi-weekly and semi-weekly, it’s anyone’s guess! So much for dictionary liberalism.] The Monkey Lover had gone out to eat for lunch in the Cities, and when I realized that the Rotary Rule might come into play, I asked, cringing, what he had for lunch, and it was, of course, quiche. The Monkey Lover is a Rotary member here, too, and it happens to us at the same frequency as it did with my dad.
“(2) I also realized, with this week’s snowstorm, how the march of technology has removed some simple pleasures. Specifically, my kids don’t get the delayed gratification of hearing Roger Erickson announce ‘Northfield’ on the alphabetical school-closings list. It’s just not the same to get a text or e-mail message the night before. I always felt bad for the kids in Windom.
“(3) I found some old pictures of Rizzo the Wonder Dog on the rescue’s Facebook page, from when he was first brought here from the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. He had been named ‘Red,’ and someone had wondered if we were going to keep the name. It got me thinking about dog names. Everyone thinks we named our dog after the Muppet rat or (more frequently) the ‘Grease’ character, but in fact, since we got him 10 days after the Cubs won the World Series in 2016, he is named after Anthony Rizzo, who is our favorite player and has a pretty amazing story himself. I usually explain that we named him Rizzo for the same reason that everyone in Minnesota named their new dogs ‘Kirby’ after the 1987 World Series. On our street, we have dogs named Ginny (because our Harry Potter-obsessed neighbor didn’t want a female dog named Hermione), Cleo (the owner is a history prof, so she’s named after Clio, the muse of history), Nemo (ship captain or Disney fish? I don’t know, he’s a Bernese mountain dog), and Redford (a golden retriever who’s as beautiful as the name suggests).
“(4) Out on our walk yesterday, Rizzo started barking at something in a tree. I looked up, expecting to see a crow or a squirrel . . . but it was a robin! Seeing that bird while trudging through snow up to my knees was surreal.
“I think that’s it. Hope all is well!”
BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: It is. Thank you.
Here & There
Raindancer of North Oaks: “Subject: No problem, if’n you got the proper gear — or patience.
“I’m working on another book with Neal, my Kentucky confederate, and this morning I shared this picture of my snow-clearing prowess with him, because deep snow is a rarity 630 miles southeast of here.
“Neal replied with an amusing story:
“‘We did not have that much snow, but almost. We officially had five inches a couple of weeks ago, and in the valley it drifted deeper after blowing off the hillsides.
“‘Anyhow, we got this new tractor last summer, and it came equipped with a shovel in front. I had originally picked out a larger tractor without all the stuff on it, but my son insisted on this particular model, as it came with the shovel, and a switch for four wheel drive, etc. As soon as we got the 5-inch snow, he drove over here to clean it off with the new tractor, but could not get it started because it was too cold. Our old tractor had a blade, which went up and down, but no shovel, so he wouldn’t use that. The second day he came out with another battery and got the new tractor starter to work; the engine turned over, but it still refused to start. The following day, he came over with some chemical to put into the diesel fuel to thin it down so it would flow through the engine, and again it would not start. As a last resort he decided to wait for the weather to warm enough that the engine would start — which it did, and all the snow melted, so he missed his chance to try out his new toy.’
“In Kentucky you can get away with waiting it out!”
The great (?) comebacks
The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: She said, he said.
“Upon returning home, the Runabout lamented: ‘I feel old.’
“Upon hearing that, I joked: ‘It’s about time.’
“She used to think I was sooo funny.”
Donald: “Subject: Timing is everything.
“It’s not the first time, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.
“I received a piece of mail with a ‘Reply By’ date.
“It was three days prior to when the request arrived.”
Our birds, ourselves
From Jim Shumaker of New Richmond, Wisconsin: “Mississippi River bald eagles on the Minnesota side, fishing and just hanging out by the open water. A beautiful bird and our national symbol!”
Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff: “I like nature as long as I don’t have to spend too much time outside with it. That makes the Minnesota DNR EagleCam perfect for people like me. It’s located in a super-secret spot in Minnesota, although not as far away as one might think, and transmits live streaming video from an eagle’s nest. The old camera failed last year and has been replaced with a new one. This one includes an infrared light source that allows night viewing of the nest. It has a microphone, too, but it doesn’t work. And as I discovered the other day after our snowstorm, it also has a windshield wiper.
“There is limited activity at the nest during the day at this time of year, before any eggs are laid. It mostly consists of an eagle stopping by to eat lunch — something you do not want to watch while eating your lunch. At night they sometime stop by just to look around. Apparently they don’t eat midnight snacks.
“Eagles are very sloppy eaters and leave behind . . . stuff. Other animals like this stuff and invade the nest at night to get it when the eagles are away. Most common are field mice with their glowing (at least in infrared) beady little eyes. I’ve seen as many as four of them at one time. Unfortunately they don’t show up very well in screen captures because of their small size. However, something much larger also likes to visit the nest. It’s none other than that crafty bandit of the great outdoors, Mr. Raccoon, and he is quite happy posing for pictures.
“The EagleCam can be found at http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/features/webcams/eaglecam/index.html.”
Our birds, ourselves
Al B of Hartland: “I watched white-breasted nuthatches fly onto my mother-in-law’s feeders and carry sunflower seeds to a nearby tree, where they wedged the seeds into crevices in the bark that eased the process of opening the shells. The nuthatch get its name from its habit of pecking seeds or nuts jammed into bark with its sharp bill to ‘hatch’ the edible parts.
“I’ve considered trying that with pistachios. Some of those nuts prove difficult for a thumbnail to open.
“A red-bellied woodpecker clung to the tree the nuthatches used as a tool. The woodpecker watched a nuthatch stuff a seed into a crack in the bark. It flew there, frightening the nuthatch away. The woodpecker used the bark vise to open the seed and enjoyed the purloined repast.”
Life as we (unfortunately) know it
Kathy S. of St. Paul: “Today our Blizzard! Of! The! Winter! lived up to the hype, and then some. And of course my early dental appointment today turned into one of many hours. So I didn’t get home before our streets filled with snow. Driving became more like sledding, and my car might not have gotten home tonight if I hadn’t gotten boosts (and shoveling) from many good neighbors.
“I figure the storm came along to help Vikings fans forget the Game from Hades Sunday. And maybe to cover some purple not currently wanted.
“A friend at church told a favorite joke on Sunday. It involves Satan heating Hell to the maximum, to torture some Minnesotans. When they just enjoyed the heat, he lowered the temp to the most extreme cold setting. But it just made them happy. ‘Yay!’ they yelled. ‘Hell froze over! The Vikings must have won the Super Bowl!!!’
“Here’s hoping that the Vikings win soon, so this joke becomes un-tellable. Without Hell freezing over . . . .”
Retired in Newport: “My big-screen TV crashed (of its own doing) at halftime of the Viking game Sunday. More appropriately it should have occurred during the first quarter and saved me 20-plus minutes of grieving.
“In spite of that, it was a great season. For that, I thank you, Vikings.”
Band Name of the Day: Frozen Hell
Website of the Day:
John, to Ringo: Loo.