Then & Now
Gee, Our Old La Salle Ran Great Division
DebK of Rosemount: “While Taxman and I mourn the loss of ‘public worship’ and the closing of our libraries, we count ourselves fortunate in the present crisis. We are, after all, people who prefer to keep to home, as Grandma Bobzien would say. Moreover, the movement of our lives is choreographed by forces that don’t participate in panic.
“Our circumstances contrast with the extraordinary trials of others — including our children and their families, who’ve settled in the nation’s largest metropolitan areas, where shortages and lifestyle disruptions are taking a toll. Even the well-heeled are learning lessons that Taxman’s mother, schooled in Depression-era deprivation, worked diligently to teach her progeny.
“Grandma K’s approach to life was manifested particularly in her trademark Christmas boxes, assembled over the course of the previous year and bestowed on each member of the family. The contents — cans of ripe olives, crocheted American flags, hastily knitted caps and mittens, greeting cards and notepads (distributed by veterans’ organizations and a variety of Catholic charities), bars of off-brand soap, rolls of one-ply toilet paper, and the like — were individually wrapped in oft-recycled paper and tucked into large cardboard boxes, also recycled.
“The children in the family sometimes had to be encouraged to show enthusiasm for Grandma’s gifts. And, more than once, the car ride home from holiday festivities was the scene of ungracious grousing that ‘Grandma should give presents like other grandmas do.’
“Grandma K is getting better press these days. Eldest Daughter reported this morning from Los Angeles: ‘Just was thinking how wonderful Grandma K’s Christmas box would have been right now!’
“Within seconds, Favorite Son weighed in from Chicago’s North Shore: ‘Yes, Grandma was a woman ahead of her time.'”
This ‘n’ that
The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: (1) “Subject: Circle of life.
“Wow! Great ‘new’ idea I just spotted on TV. My dad had one on his ’49 Olds 98.”
(2) “Subject: Not catching anything.
“Thinking that social distancing was originated by fishermen.”
A joke for today
LeoJEOSP writes: “Subject: Heard this on Garage Logic.
“A border patrol guard in Arizona seized 1,000 rolls of toilet paper hidden in a ton of cocaine.”
Not exactly what she had in mind
Semi-Legend: “Subject: Never mind.
“My wife had an Emily Litella moment recently. She saw a headline: ‘Patient Protection Should Take a Backseat in a Crisis.’
“This, she thought, made no sense. What is more important than patient protection? Protecting health workers, maybe. But this, she decided, was outrageous. Then she began to read:’With essential medical equipment in short supply these days, doctors have been doing everything they can to get what they need to keep treating coronavirus patients. One team of Italian physicians hit on the idea of making up for a shortfall of valves used in CPAP hoods — used to give oxygen to patients — by using a 3D printer to make their own. This worked, but the company that manufactures the valves wasn’t happy and may have had grounds to sue for patent infringement.’
“Oh. Patent infringement. The headline had said ‘Patent Protection.’
Semi-Legend, days later: “Subject: Never mind — Part 2.
“My wife had a second Emily Litella moment this week. She was reading a comment by an international-trade specialist at the University of Minnesota: ‘People’s natural inclination is first to their families,’ he said, ‘then their state and then international corporations.’
“‘Crap!’ she exclaimed, and listed more likely third choices: ‘Other countries they like, countries they don’t like, the moon, the sun, solar system, and then . . .’
“And then she reread the comment: ‘People’s natural inclination is first to their families,’ he said, ‘then their state and then international cooperation.’
Where’ve you gone, Mrs. Malaprop
Plus: This ‘n’ that (responsorial)
Church Lady (no longer): “Subject: Malapropism and more.
“It has been a long time since I last wrote. We cannot get THE paper delivered where we live, and it is available in only a few stores here. I do enjoy Bulletin Board when we are able to purchase a paper, usually on Sunday. [Bulletin Board notes: That’s the one day of the week when the paper includes Bulletin Board!]
“I have, on previous occasions, written of my husband’s malaprops. So, here are his latest:
“‘If worse comes to shove . . . never admit crow.’ Huh? Have no idea how that came about, but in his mind it made sense!
“‘No work, no gain.’
“‘He sneaked by, by the skin of his teeth.’
“‘Our neighbor had surgery, and they inserted a de-catheter.’
“This morning we were watching the birds at our feeder, and he told me: ‘The Crackles are back!’
“I was reading, in the March 15th paper, the article by Deuce on Cracker Jacks. I especially enjoyed the history given by Deuce about Sailor Jack, Bingo, and the ditty ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame.’ Yes, I say Cracker Jacks. Anyhow, I have a collection of about 70 Cracker Jacks prizes: Lady and the Tramp; a train engine; the See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil monkeys; various other animals; and even a shovel! My collection probably began in the late ’40s and early ’50s. That was my treat when my dad would shop. I have no idea what I will do with them; can’t believe they have survived four moves.”
Could be verse!
Eos offers “COURAGE”:
“Courage sounds so noble,
“a big and glorious thing;
“trumpet sounds, and thunderbolts,
“and eagles on the wing.
“But courage lives in little things
“that happen every day,
“like getting out of bed,
“or kneeling down to pray.
“When the world feels dark and scary,
“but you dare to believe
“that better days are coming
“and that scary things will leave . . .
“that’s courage in its purest form,
“a leap of faith . . . stay strong.
“We’re going to get through this . . .
“after darkness comes the dawn.
And also “HOPE”:
“HOPE sees light in many places:
“twinkling stars and shining faces.
“kitten whiskers, redbud trees,
“amazing sunsets, gentle breeze.
“HOPE is YOU . . . YOU see the light.
“Hold fast to it with all your might.”
And: Death, be not somber!
Donald: “Subject: Kenny couldn’t have sung it better.
“In memory of Kenny Rogers, I began listening to ‘The Best of KENNY ROGERS’ CD. As I listened to ‘Lucille,’ I recalled that someone had sung a parody of it, based on the lyric ‘You picked a fine time to leave me, Lucille.’
“A YouTube search led me to ‘Loose Wheel,’ by The Balgaard Brothers. It has great visuals, and a mention of ‘Minnesota’ at the beginning.
Our theater of seasons
Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff: “This has been a very strange spring for a number of reasons — but in one respect, it has been a very good one. For the first time in years, there were no blizzards in March and the remaining snow melted away, which gave humans the opportunity to get an early start in the garden and for plants to do likewise.
“My back-yard rock garden had something besides just rocks in it for a change. The crocuses were in full bloom by the end of March in quantities I haven’t seen for a long time. The crocuses attracted bees, who were busy collecting pollen and doing whatever else bees do to keep themselves busy until the first dandelions appear.
“Out front, the tulips are pushing their way out of the earth and attracting rabbits who like to nibble on their tender leaves. With an excess of time on my hands, I decided to deploy my flock of Halloween flamingoes to act as scare-rabbits.
“I don’t know if that will work, but they give people out on walks something to look at and wonder about.”
And now Mounds View Swede: “Subject: Spring is springing!
“While cleaning the debris from the front gardens, I got a better look at the crocus blooms, happy to see such.
“And a little later, I notice one had opened and was a real flower — my first of the season.
“I also noticed that a few of the usually green-and-white lamium leaves were purplish and off-white. I am assuming they are young leaves, but I have not seen this color on them before.
“My next-door neighbor had a few crocus blossoms, too, and also some snow drops — the one kind of snow we want to see this time of year.
“Spring is springing! And with not much else we can do, we can go out and see it happening. Be well, everyone!”
Website of the Day (responsorial)
The Retired Pedagogue of Arden Hills: “Subject: Thanks for the memories.
“The March 31 Bulletin Board Website reference to John Fogerty’s ‘Centerfield’ brought back numerous memories.
“It took me back to the 1954-55 school year, when I was a sophomore at the U. The University Student Employment Service had provided me with a job at ‘The Mining’ (3M). I was a janitor in a large building (was there any other kind at 3M?) on Arcade Street, just north of Seventh Street. I was working the afternoon shift (4 to midnight), on the second floor in the Pilot Plant area. I swept and mopped the labs and bathrooms for $1.225 per hour. I would have earned more if I’d had more than a year of college.
“One reason I’m sure it was that school year is that our crew was glued to a portable radio when Minneapolis South defeated International Falls 3-2 in 11 [five-minute, but not all consecutive!] overtimes in the 1955 State High School Hockey Tournament.
“As summer approached, I’d been recalled to my job as a fireman at the Great Northern Railroad, so I gave 3M my notice. I must have taken some kind of personality test when I was hired, because at what today would be an ‘exit interview,’ the personnel director asked me what I planned to do as a career. I told him I was going to be a teacher, and his response was something along these lines: ‘That would be a good choice, because based on your test results, you don’t like authority.’
“I was surprised to hear that, but he may have been on to something.
“As it turned out, I loved my 34 years of teaching, most of which were devoid of interference. There was that one big kerfuffle . . .
“Back to ‘Centerfield.’ Bob was one of my co-workers. He was probably in his 40s, shorter than I, and walked with a slight limp. He was an avid sports fan, and it was probably his radio we listened to during the hockey tournament. He was very bright and a great conversationalist. The reason he popped into my mind is that when I heard John Fogerty sing, ‘Put me in, Coach, I’m ready to play,’ I remembered that Bob had a slightly different version, which might or might not have inspired Fogerty 30 years later.
“Bob’s rendition, which I hadn’t heard before and have not heard since, was more direct. Every once in a while, for reasons I could never discern, Bob would announce in a loud voice: ‘Put me in, Coach, I’ll shingle your sh**house!’
“Just typing this makes me smile.
“Thanks, Bob, wherever you are.”
Our times (Pandemic Division)
Or: What is right with people?
Flickajean: “Subject: Inspiration rocks.
“My husband and I walk on the trail near our home most every day; now with ‘social distancing,’ we often walk twice a day!
“Yesterday we had our spirits lifted when at one point along the trail, we came upon brightly painted rocks with encouraging messages. There were about 30, spaced 10 to 15 feet apart on both sides of the trail. We enjoyed looking at these rocks, which were so carefully and artistically painted.
“We want to thank whoever gave of their time and talents to make others smile and have hope and be thankful!”
The verbing of America
Friendly Bob of Fridley: “We are being verbed beyond reason!
“‘Vitamin better.’ ‘Want to brain better?’ ‘A better way to pizza.’
Toothy Grin #6: “I received an email today with a classic example of The VofA. Our phone voice-mail indicator goes on the fritz (way too often), and after many months of trying to get CenturyLink to fix it, I had finally found someone in the system who knows what to do. It was necessary today to let this person know that I needed help. The answering email said: ‘I reset your MWI and went through the back door to leave you a message [that means a voice mail was left without our phone ringing]; please delete message & email me back & status me.’
Life as we know it
Wicki-Yah: “These days of drive-thru and curbside delivery only must be hard on employees of restaurants who are there for the social interaction.
“A short piece I wrote to friends a year ago, and an experience I had a couple of days ago, remind me to consider that we are not socially isolated. Instead, we are physically distanced, but socially still connected. Here is what I wrote a year ago:
“I usually have the Disney Darling with me when I make a run for lunch, and she doesn’t always want to get out of the car. So we do a lot of drive-thrus. I have become somewhat of a master at drive-thru small talk with the box.
“I drove up to one the other day and immediately a friendly voice said: ‘What can I get you?’
“I answered: ‘I need a minute.’ Ten seconds later, the voice deadpans: ‘Just to warn you, I’ve started the stopwatch.’
“I laughed and said: ‘Oh, I think I like you’ and ordered a small sandwich and a milk for the Disney Darling, an iced tea for me.
“‘I am sorry,’ the voice said, exuding regret. ‘I can’t give you iced tea. The tea truck didn’t show up this morning.’
“I said: ‘Shoot. Things were going so well. I have to admit I may like you a little less right now.’
“The ‘box’ answered: ‘Just wait until you get to the window. My smiling face, disarming good looks and svelte physique will win you back.’
“A couple of days ago, I was at a different box. When I was asked for my order, I requested a moment and began to talk to the Disney Darling to determine what she might like to eat. Twice, the box said in a male voice: ‘Could you repeat that, dear? I couldn’t hear you.’
“‘Sorry,’ I said, ‘I was talking to my passenger.’
“‘Hmmmm,’ the box answered. ‘I thought we were alone. I hope I wasn’t too forward.’
“Thank God for those people who make the most of our interactions, brief as they may be. We all need that in these hard days. Hope you find someone to bring a smile to your face today.”
Then & Now
John in Highland: “Subject: Ventilators.
“All of the recent talk of ventilators, and shortages thereof, brings back memories of a hero of those of us who worked in Respiratory Care during the days of ventilator invention and development.
“Dr. Forrest Bird was an aviator and inventor who created some of the first reliable mass-produced mechanical ventilators.
“Dr. Bird was introduced early-on to flying by his father, who was a World War I pilot. Forrest joined the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1941 as a technical air training officer. Due to his many pilot certifications, he was able to pilot almost every aircraft in service at the time.
“A WWII story that he relayed to us at one of his many lectures for respiratory therapists showed his early interest in human respiration. It seemed that German aircraft were able to fly at higher altitudes than ours, even with our pilots breathing 100% oxygen. We had captured a downed German plane, and Forrest was assigned to ferry it back to the United States for examination. He discovered that the plane had a mask and regulator that allowed oxygen to be delivered under positive pressure. He was able to make improvements on the system, and it became the model for high-altitude oxygen regulators for military aircraft.
“In the 1950s he continued to invent, and came out with the Bird Mark 7 Respirator (informally called the ‘Bird’), which became familiar to hospital workers everywhere. Later he developed a ventilator specifically designed for infants, affectionately referred to as the ‘BabyBird.’ Devices such as the BabyBird have resulted in a huge decrease in respiratory-related infant mortality.
“Dr. Bird was twice awarded the Lifetime Scientific Achievement Award. Until his death in 2015, he continued to contribute to the field of pulmonary science. The American Respiratory Care Foundation names an annual award after Dr. Bird.
“In addition to all of the doctors and nurses who selflessly work with critical-care patients, let’s also thank all of the respiratory therapists who manage the ventilators that help patients live through tough times.”
Life as we know it
Rusty of St. Paul: (1) “My wife and I have been doing a fair amount of non-nutritional stress eating during the Crisis. We have a daughter living in the epicenter, Manhattan. She is still working out in the city, and we are worried sick for her. The gyms I use are closed, and I am on sabbatical from my diet. The sad truth is,: ‘Live today like it’s your last, as tomorrow is promised to no one.’
“We took an inventory of our frozen leftovers (I like to cook) and have about 20 of them. Unfortunately we didn’t label all of them. Some, we open to huge snow cones of ice on top of the frozen food and can’t make heads or tails out of them. Fair chance they are several years old.
“Our retirement stocks are going down and downer, and our weight is going up and upper.
“An acquaintance of my wife’s said she is overdoing it with the calories and calls it ‘Fattening the curve.'”
(2) “Funny quote from my brother-in-law, Tim: ‘I’m sure we will be back to normal by Easter. I just don’t know what year.'”
Joy of Juxtaposition
Comics Page Corollary
The REF in White Bear Lake: “In last Thursday’s paper (the correct one, this time), there were two comics based on hat ownership — slightly more than two inches apart.
“But these two comics abutted each other, a proper juxtaposition.
“Even with all the talk these days of ‘angels among us,’ they still appear to have randomly occurred.”
Our pets, ourselves
The Astronomer of Nininger: “Subject: The Ugly Chair
“The Good Wife is a meticulous housekeeper. Everything is in its place, always clean, and generally seems to last forever. We have traditional furniture, some pieces dating back more than 100 years. There is, however, an exception to that rule. This is what we have come to call ‘the Ugly Chair.’
‘Now, the ugly chair was not ugly at all. It was a beautiful, crème-colored and ornate wingback chair with hand crewel embroidered vines and flowers covering the back, the seat and wings. A pair of these chairs sat in our living room, one on either side of our rosewood square grand piano, which reportedly had belonged to President Grant down in Galena, Illinois. They seemed to be very much in their proper place.
“Our canine companion at the time was Cleo, short for Cleopatra of Nininger, an active Vizsla in her physical prime. She was a good dog, most of the time. One day, after being gone no more than an average absence, we were shocked to find these chairs totally shredded. Tears were shed, and unkind words expressed with vigor to Cleo. It would have been interesting to have had a video camera in place so we could have seen what happened. How did she attack the chair? Why did she do so? She was a lover, not an aggressive dog, and she never before had engaged in such an act of violence. There was no way to repair them, so we got them out of sight and they sat in our barn for years.
“Then one day one of us noticed an advertisement in a local newspaper from Cannon Falls that an upholstery shop was hosting what they called ‘The Ugly Chair Contest.’ One only needed to submit a photo of the ugly chair; if selected, it would be restored for free. Well, without hesitation, we took the ugliest chair out, photographed it and entered the contest.
“Hands down, it was the clear winner. Today, a most beautiful reupholstered chair sits in our living room. It is comfortable and good-looking, but we still call it ‘the Ugly Chair.'”
Band Name of the Day: The Emily Litellas
Website of the Day: