How much ketchup is not enough ketchup? How much hot sauce is too much hot sauce?

Our times
Fast Food Division

Jim Fitzsimons of St. Paul writes: “What is one of the items that set McDonald’s apart from other fast-food restaurants? Well, I’ll tell you. It’s their French fries. I think they’re pretty good.

“I’ve noticed something lately. Perhaps you’ve noticed this, too. At some point, the Golden Arches’ higher-ups decided it would be a good idea — a cost-saving measure, no doubt — to not automatically include ketchup packets in drive-up orders that include French fries.

“Now, I don’t know how you are, but French fries without ketchup is like waffles without syrup. Hot chocolate without marshmallows. A golf event without a spectator shouting ‘Get in the hole!’ Hang on. Scratch that last one. I hate when people do that.

“This means that customers have to ask for ketchup for their fries when going through the drive-up at McDonald’s. That just seems wrong to me. It ought to be that for every order of fries, there should be one or two packets of ketchup. Don’t make the customer ask for it.

“Hot sauce at Taco Bell, on the other hand, is a different story. When I order tacos through the drive-up, the Taco Bell worker will ask if I want hot sauce and which level of hotness of sauce I would like. (I always go for the hottest.) And they’ll put some in the bag.

“Sounds good, right? And it is. Except: I will usually order three tacos when going through the drive-up, and I’m a one-packet-of-hot-sauce-per-taco kind of guy. I would expect them to toss in one, maybe two packets per taco. What I have been getting is 11, 14, and one time 15 packets of Diablo (their hottest) sauce for my three tacos.

“Am I crazy, or is that a lot of hot sauce?”

BULLETIN BOARD SAYS: Could be yes to both!

Death (and life) as we know it

Peachy of Cottage Grove writes: “Subject: Finding hope again.

“I heard the Park High School Homecoming parade march by on 80th Street behind our home. After 23 years, hearing it and the voices of exuberant teenagers, laughing together and excited for the big game, still brought a twinge of longing and some misty eyes. Nina LOVED school and the events that went with it — so full of spirit. As freshman class president and a student council member, she took her roles seriously and was always busy volunteering to do whatever. She looked forward to another three years of high school and all that she dreamed it would be. But . . . sadly . . . it wasn’t to be.

“There was a time when I made sure I wasn’t home to hear that marching band playing and cheering coming from the stands. I kept the windows closed tight or left our town completely until the last remnant of all things Homecoming left the area.

“But tonight when the parade marched by, I opened the bedroom window wide and soaked in the sounds. Listening to the drums playing the U of M rouser, I thought of listening to my grandson play the drums as a high-schooler at Henry Sibley High School in the marching band, and of how much pleasure it gave me (and still does, as he plays for the U of M Marching Band now), and of all the things that my grandchildren do that make me happy and proud. And I think I turned a corner on this journey; I now think of the times when all of my children enjoyed Park High School: my daughters Lisa and Amy and all the high-school plays and choir concerts they were so involved in, and my son Dan, who was on the Homecoming Royal Court himself . . . and I smile for those beautiful memories — all of them, and Nina’s too; I am so thankful she enjoyed the freshman year she did have.

“To those on their grief journey, no matter how long: There is hope; we each find it in our own time and our own way — but it will come. Tonight I found it. I truly did.

“And Nina is cheering in the stands . . .”

‘Tisn’t the season, yet . . . but it is fast approaching!

The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: “Subject: Tissues ready? Begin.


Hallmark Channel is Going to Debut 34 New Christmas Movies This Year. (34!!!)
Groan. See what not buying $6 greeting cards has resulted in? Roughly 68 hours of tear-jerking programming heading your way on Santa’s sleigh.

“Would anyone be interested in writing a Hellmark Christmas movie together? One best sentence every Sunday adding to the script? It might be fun. I’ll start.

“Scene 1: A lovely young widowed mother of a darling 6-year-old son gets an urgent phone call from her hometown three weeks before Christmas . . . .”

See world
Floral Division

Mounds View Swede writes again: “Our summer weather has been encouraging for blooming plants and the insects that like those blossoms.

“Those morning glory buds . . .


“. . . developed more fully . . .


“. . .  and have started to open up. The blooms don’t last long, but are nice to see anyway.


“And some of the late-blooming hostas are still going strong.


“The many-blossomed sedums attract butterflies. I thought the monarchs were heading south already!


“And the bumblebees enjoy those sedum blossoms, too.


“It’s been nice for us retired folk to have a long summer extension well into September. It gives us more time to get those outdoor fall chores underway in comfort. And gives me more blossoms to share.”

Could be verse!
5/7/5 Division (Illustrated!)

From Tim Torkildson: 


Keeping your eyes open
Or: Mixed messages

Newport Reader: “Maybe it was to avoid the sun, but today I found myself looking more at the pavement. Twice I saw manhole covers with the words ‘Sanitary Sewer’! Certainly an oxymoron!”

CAUTION! Words at Play!
Or: The highfalutin amusements

Snackmeisterin of Altoona, Wisconsin: “Here’s a collection of some punny and otherwise snicker-inducing signs: Cracked me up!

The best State Fair in our state!


Arne Shulstad of Colorado reports: “When I was about 4 years old, in the late 1950s, someone took this photo of my brother and me, and a half-dozen other kids, watching the newly hatched ducklings at the State Fair FFA Barnyard. The Barnyard was where the KARE 11 pavilion is now located. Several years later, much to my family’s surprise, the photo made the cover of The Farmer magazine.

“I’m wondering if anyone else recognizes himself or herself or any relatives in the photo.

“By the way, another of my brothers got jealous of my sudden minor ‘celebrity’ status and drew a mustache on me, which I attempted to erase. That explains the white spot under my nose.”

And now Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff: “The 2018 State Fair may be over, but it’s never too late for a few more photos.

“As you may have noticed, I collect St. Paul postcards. Rather than just store them in boxes or albums where they are never seen, I like to put together postcard displays and enter them in the Creative Activities competitions. This requires a trip to the Fairgrounds a week before the State Fair to drop them off and then a return trip after it ends to pick them up. For the record, I won a third-place ribbon and collected a check for $2 this year.

“Anyways, I was out there the Thursday after Labor Day. It was a beautiful day with clear skies, low humidity and very few people, unlike my two visits during the Fair. It was a great time to walk around and take pictures. Whenever I do this, I usually see things I’ve never noticed before.


“For example, I took a photo of the topiary Liberty Bell outside of the Agriculture-Horticulture Building. It has been there for a very long time, and I’ve seen it many times. What I haven’t noticed is The Peg restaurant behind it. I’ve been told it and its predecessor, Slater’s, have been there since the 1950s, which means I’ve literally walked past it hundreds of times in the past 60 years. I’ll check it out next year.


“I’ve also seen the State Fair’s mini Gates Ajar many times, but this is the first time I’ve noticed the carved bride and groom behind it. They were obviously there this year — and for all I know, possibly for years before that.


“The globe outside of the International Bazaar is nothing new, but who knew it had vines growing on it? I didn’t.


“Obviously I’ve seen the Space Tower gondola multiple times, but I never noticed it was equipped with a death ray. Or maybe it is turned off during the State Fair. Or maybe that is a jet and its contrails about to fly behind the Space Tower. Your choice.


“This electronic sign on the east side of the Grandstand wasn’t flashing these messages during the State Fair, but it was nice of Fair officials to display them for those of us wandering the Fairgrounds afterwards.”

Life as we know it
Or: The highfalutin pleasures (Muse, Amuse Division)

LeoJEOSP writes: “Subject: Apple iBrain.

“My wife and I are at the age where various body parts work less efficiently. I am very grateful for living in the 21st century. If a hip or knee wears out, you can go have an artificial one put in. And while you are at home recovering from surgery, one telephone call and you can have almost anything delivered.

“I have a rare condition that is slowly shrinking my brain. Unfortunately, replacement brains are not currently possible.

“Dreaming about the future is possible, though . . .

“The time is 2125, and many scientific breakthroughs have raised our quality of life dramatically. I am watching my TV/Hologram projector showing reruns of ‘I Love Lucy.’

“An Apple ad comes on telling me about the latest iPhone features. If you buy the new iPhone today, you get the new Apple iPhone iBrain for free!

“I, for one, can’t wait for the future!😄”

The Permanent Davely Record

The Astronomer of Nininger: “Subject: Spaghetti Dinner.

“Dave was always ready for something. His innocence, simplicity and sincerity were perfectly blended together.

“We flew together, went fishing together, called and chased after Tom turkeys together, and did, as a matter of fact, spend a lot of time with each other.

“He most assuredly visited our home more than we did his, mainly because he lived on the Air Force base and we lived out in the country. One day, he did call up eagerly and excitedly to invite us out to his quarters for a spaghetti dinner. This was before the Good Wife and I had our children, so we could take off at the drop of a hat. Sure, we’ll come over for dinner.

“When we got there a few minutes later and strolled into his kitchen, he smiled with that big Alabama grin across his face and politely, almost apologetically, said ‘Here’s the spaghetti,’ pointing to an unopened box on the counter. The sauce was in a sealed can next to it.

“Now, it was intuitively obvious to the most casual observer that he didn’t have a clue what to do, or even where to begin. He may have been a really hot supersonic jet pilot, but not much at domestic chores. The Good Wife immediately found ‘fixins’ for a salad in the refrigerator and performed her magic, finding the appropriate cookware as well as table settings. Dave’s wife was in bed, not feeling well.

“After a couple of adult beverages, we had a great spaghetti dinner, largely because we were in good company. Good company more than makes up for any shortcomings or any inherent simplicity of food and drink. Admittedly, an adult beverage deserves some credit as well.

“We thanked him for the dinner and got up to leave when he smiled, again with that big Alabama grin, and said: ‘Aren’t you going to do the dishes?'”

It just don’t add up!
Or: Everyone’s a copy editor!

The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “Subject: Something didn’t add up.

“I  was confused by a summary of an NFL game in the ‘Roundup’ column on Page 4B in the Sports section of Monday’s Pioneer Press:


“‘DENVER — Brandon McManus kicked a 36-yard field goal just inside the right upright with six seconds left, denying Jon Gruden his first win as a head coach since 2008.’

“I wondered: Why was a late field goal crucial when Denver already led by 7?

“The answer came when I read the ‘Sunday’s results’ beneath the ‘NFL Standings’ close to the top of the same page: ‘Denver 20, Oakland 19.’”

Everyone’s a copy editor!

Email from Donald: “Subject: Can’t stand to see the Badgers lose?

“Page C10 of the Sports section in Sunday’s paper west of St. Paul featured a photo of BYU players celebrating a missed Wisconsin field goal to end Wisconsin’s chances in Saturday’s game. The subhead of the accompanying article began with this: ‘Sixth-ranked Wisconsin’s loss to BYU in Madison. . .’

“Despite these proofs of Wisconsin’s defeat, this appeared above the dateline of an article detailing with the loss:

‘[6] Wisconsin 24,
“‘BYU 21’”

Heads up!

Again from Donald: “Subject: Sometimes they write themselves.

“The headline-writer for the featured article on the front page of Tuesday’s Pioneer Press must have rubbed her/his hands together when choosing the headline for the article on the $15 minimum wage/tip credit discussion: ‘Wage debate reaches tipping point.’”

Fellow travelers

Writes The Hastings Crazy Quilter: “I was at JFK airport in New York, returning from England, where I’d been teaching at the British Festival of Quilts. I was tired and ready to get home, so I gladly accepted the offer of an earlier flight. But I didn’t have a working cellphone with me, and as I walked to the gate, I couldn’t find a pay phone anywhere!

“I sat down next to three women. Finally I asked the woman next to me if she had a cellphone with her and explained my situation. She cheerfully let me use her phone to alert my husband to the earlier arrival time.

“As I handed the phone back to her, I noticed the familial resemblance between her and the older and younger women sitting next to her. I estimated she was in her early 70s, and the younger woman was maybe late 40s. The woman in the middle stumped me, though. Turned out they were daughter, mother and grandmother, traveling together.

“She introduced herself. Then, pointing to the woman in the center, she said: ‘And this is my mother. It’s her 101 st birthday.’

“I wished Grandmother a Happy Birthday and said how wonderful they were taking a rip together. Grandmother then surprised me by saying she’d realized she was hitting 101 years old and had never been to Paris, so she’d booked a flight. ‘Then they both  (indicating right and left) glommed onto my trip!’

“At that point, the granddaughter leaned forward and said: ‘Grandmother, remember we talked about this last year: No more traveling alone after you reach 100.’

“Turns out Grandmother had been taking a trip each year for the past 41 years; sometimes in the U.S., sometimes not. When I asked them what they liked most about Paris, they each had a different answer: One liked the French bakeries (I agree with her there!), another liked the food, and the other liked the museums. They’d had a great time and were now on their way home to Colorado.

“I couldn’t help thinking how lucky they were to have Grandmother as a role model. I wonder where she’ll go when she’s 102.”

Then & Now
Or: Know thyself!

Silver Haired Fox of Almelund, Wis.: “When I was 10 years old, my family moved to a house with five acres of land. What I really liked was that it included an apple orchard with lots of apple trees. Oh, what fun! I loved climbing those trees.

“Over the years, I would occasionally climb interesting trees. When I was about 50 years old, I looked at a neighbor’s maple tree and thought: I bet I could climb that tree — and sure enough, I could. I climbed quite high when all of a sudden I heard the neighbor lady yell: ‘Get out of that tree. What are you trying to do — kill yourself?’

“That was the end of my fun. I got down from the tree, and that was the end of my tree climbing.

“When we go in the car and I see a tree in some yard that looks great for climbing, I wish I were still young and not 79 years old.”

The sign on the road to the cemetery said “Dead End” (Electronic Board of the Church on Lexington in Shoreview Division)
Or: There’s nothin’ like a simile!

Our Official Electronic Board of the Church on Lexington in Shoreview Monitor, Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul — reports: “The message on the electronic board of the church on Lexington in Shoreview read:



Or: What’s in a name?

Dr. Chrysanthemum: “Subject: Look before you lip!

“The other day, my wife (Mamallama of Como Park) chastised me for making an assumption without checking the facts.

“I had found a story about top baseball prospects (with proportionally few Twins). One of the most promising is Wander Franco.

“Franco, a 17-year-old Tampa Bay farmhand, hit .351, slugged .587, and had a .418 on-base percentage in 61 rookie league games. He had 10 doubles, seven triples, 11 home runs, and 57 RBI. He had more walks (27) than strikeouts (19). The power numbers are impressive because Franco is only 17, and because almost all hitters improve those numbers significantly after a few years in the minor (or major) leagues. Franco seemed worthy of a closer look.

“However, when I checked Baseball Reference, I found a 23-year-old ballplayer with statistics very different from those in the story. He began in pro ball at 17, but that was in 2012.

“When I told my wife of this discrepancy and said that the story was crazy, she asked if there could be another Wander Franco playing pro ball. I asked: How many could there be?

“The answer is at least three: Wander Javier Franco, Wander Alexander Franco, and Wander Samuel Franco. The three brothers are from Bani, in the Dominican Republic.

“OK, next time I’ll check first . . . maybe.”

The Permanent Daughterly Record

From Wicki-Yah: “I met a friend who was in town from Hong Kong. She was accompanying her husband to a physical-therapy session in our neighborhood. I agreed to meet her so we could catch up while she waited.

“The Disney Darling had a bad fall a few weeks ago and is using a walker to get around until the swelling in her leg goes down. (Could be another six weeks.) For now she is away from her day program and we are ‘joined at the hip’ 24/7. So, she came with me to meet my friend and patiently waited an hour while we talked in a large waiting room.

“Then we went to the lobby for a few more minutes while my friend’s husband retrieved his lost car key. The Disney Darling wandered into the Rehabilitation Store. I shrugged and let her go; how much trouble could she get into in a therapy store? A knee brace? Compression stockings?

“Wide smile, she came walking out of the store with a brand-new, souped-up walker. Shiny black handles, brakes, a bright red seat (with storage) and a bottle holder. Left behind in its place was her ER-issued metal walker.

“The cashier watched her walk out the door as if people walking out with the big merchandise is an everyday occurrence. I looked at the nearly $300 price tag and sent her back into the store to retrieve her walker, promising her I would get her a pair of tennis balls for the feet to jazz it up. Uncharacteristically she did not protest, but took the walker back into the store.

“And made a beeline for the wheelchairs.

“Oh, that girl!”

This ‘n’ that

Kathy S. of St Paul: (1) “You know you’re doing too much Physical Therapy when:

“1. You automatically check bags of peas to see if they are big enough to ice a sore shoulder; and

“2. You buy more cans of tuna fish because you’re using one of then as a weight, in exercises. And you might want to actually eat some.”

(2) “Subject: The Bidet Effect, Part 2.

“Awhile back, I wrote about automatic toilets that flush, whether you’re ready or not. When you use them, you risk the Bidet Effect. Bad design like this offends the engineer in me.

“Today I saw a little girl who is afraid of such toilets, that ‘have an eye.’ I assume she meant the sensors that trigger them. And figure that she might have sat on one when it decided to flush.

“Hopefully I figured out the situation enough so the little girl’s relative could help her with such bathrooms. Meanwhile, I hope the designers fix these darn things!”

The aftermath

The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin, again: “Subject: She persevered!

“You may recall my contribution about the flimsy fly swatter that I bought recently. This is a picture of it after its first real battle. It was no tap-and-scoop skirmish. This was tooth-and-nail war. The Runabout vs. The Wasp was fought this weekend. ‘She who fears wasps’ was victorious, but the evidence of a massive adrenaline dump is visible in the photo.”


Never too young

The Gram With a Thousand Rules: “I have been watching the evolution of a golfer via photos from my Colorado granddaughter.

“She spent a lot of time on the golf course while the little guy was in utero.


“His daddy gave him his first golf club when he was newborn.


“They dressed him for success at 21 weeks.


“As soon as he could walk, he was putting.


“He loves watching how his dad does it.


“His dad is giving him instructions.


“Now,at 21 months, he can walk the course with his dad like a pro.”


Band Name of the Day: The Wander Francos

Website of the Day: The Farmer (Webb Company)







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