Who’s that crazy driver, shooting through the darkness in Wyoming? Say, is that a cat?

Our “pets,” our friends, our sons, our pets, ourselves

The Astronomer of Nininger: “Subject: RC the Cat.

“Animals seem to trust youngsters considerably more than they do adults, even if adults totally mean no harm at all. They know they are safe in the arms of youngsters.

“When our son was 3 or 4 years old (a long, long time ago), we were in the process of building a home amidst the foothills of eastern Wyoming. We stayed in a friend’s home while he was working out of town.

“Bill, our generous friend, had a ‘pet’ cat which he had named RC. RC would generally avoid people, but Bill always placed food out for him and it disappeared overnight, convincing him and us that RC was on an adequate diet. RC, being a feral cat, likely got into tangles with dogs, coyotes, or other predator critters that roamed the Wyoming countryside. These fights resulted in a huge part of his pelt hanging off of him, but he seemed, in spite of this disabling feature, to get along quite well. RC was an orange tabby kitty, bigger than average.

“When we stayed at Bill’s home, we noticed that no one, not even Bill, could approach RC, except our son Chuck. He would walk right up, place his hands beneath RC’s underside and carry him around the barnyard. Bill negotiated with our son and agreed to sell RC to him for a nickel. So RC became the five-cent cat.

“That was all well and good, but no one could catch RC. Well, no one but our son. But it turned out that when our house was complete and we were at Bill’s place, RC was not to be seen. Bill and Chuck agreed that if Bill was ever able to capture RC, he would keep him caged or boxed up until we could come and get him. A week or two later, we got a phone call advising us that RC was finally sequestered.

“I drove down to get RC in our 1975 yellow Subaru. I went alone because Chuck was already tucked in nicely for the night. Bill placed RC in the back end of the little SUV, and I drove off, taking him home, about three miles to the west. The sun had already set, and it was one of those crystal-clear nights with no moon in the sky, so it was generally really dark. We got about a mile west of Bill’s place on a lonely gravel road with no lights to be seen. Suddenly, to my surprise, RC leaped over me, placing one paw on my right shoulder for leverage and thrusting himself forward, lacking any grace in his actions. His left paw initially struck the knob of the headlight control, causing me to suddenly be driving without any lights. Surely shortly afterwards, but seemingly almost simultaneously, another paw turned the hazard flashers on. His body somehow pressed against the steering wheel in such a way as to make the horn blow, at the same time engaging the windshield-wiper lever. All of this occurred in what seemed to be a millisecond or less.

“Now, with the headlights off, the flashers blinking, the wipers on high going back and forth, and the horn blaring, I am not sure whether RC or I was more startled and alarmed. I hit the brake, RC went to the back end and I was able to regain control of the car. We made it home, and RC stayed there awhile. Chuck carried RC around and fed him, and we planned to have a veterinarian see about surgically removing the ragged hanging pelt. But then RC saw our big St. Bernard dog. We never saw RC again, but we never forgot him. Chuck told Bill he could keep the nickel, since he did complete his part of the bargain.”

Gee, our old La Salle ran great! (responsorial)
Including: What is wrong (and right) with people?

Kathy S. of St Paul writes: “Subject: Happy Anniversary!

John in Highland shared his freshman beanie from St. Thomas with us. My freshman beanie is one of two in the archives of St. Kate’s, and was on display for our class reunion in 2012.

“Contrary to my family’s opinion, I do delete things from my apartment; I just want things to go to the right place(s). And my tendency to archive recently paid off, when a relative needed a form to prove that Dad was a war veteran. While I was on the topic, I requested a copy of Dad’s military records file — just in case the National Archives has another fire. I like to be prepared.

“On the subject of reunions: I recently celebrated my 50 years as an alum, but learned something that should not have surprised me so much. Namely, that mean girls (and guys) often do not outgrow their meanness. Before our reunion, I shared the fact that I am autistic with some classmates via email, and they did their best to flee when they were forced to be near me at the end of our reunion. I was told that alums with my major were gathering in a bar — and then never told when or where. I felt blindsided by this nastiness. Who does this stuff to a person who has never harmed them and just wants to hear what they are up to, in the second half of our lives?

“Luckily for me, another alum I don’t remember from our college days took me under her wing and got me through the worst of it. And I called my favorite friend from college via my cellphone. We talked about numerous topics, including the probable (bad) parentage and future of the classmates who were ‘unable’ to spend any time with me. Sometimes it is so wonderful just to hear the voice of a friend from long ago, or see someone from childhood when other ‘kids’ are picking on you.

“One last thought: I was diagnosed with autism only 11 years ago, and I mention it to strangers to try to spread awareness of how autistics look and act (as opposed to how actors play them on TV) — because I am bothered by loud noise or violence, and that could be misunderstood.

“Meanwhile, Happy Anniversary to everyone celebrating one!”

Dept. of Neat Stuff
Buckbee-Mears Division

Dept. of Neat Stuff specialist Gregory J. of Dayton’s Bluff is back with more Neat Stuff: “The Buckbee-Mears Co., later BMC, was one of many companies that got their start in Saint Paul, Minnesota, rose to worldwide fame, and then eventually dropped off the face of the Earth.

“Cousins Charles E. Buckbee and Norman T. Mears established Buckbee-Mears in 1907 as a photoengraving company.

“Buckbee-Mears has a very interesting history, but for now, let’s just say it produced some extremely Neat Stuff, most of which was unknown to the average person. However, its most famous product, the shadow mask, a thin sheet of metal with many tiny holes, was inside almost all old-style color-TV picture tubes. Without the shadow mask, there would have been no color TV.

“Here are a couple of items from Buckbee-Mears — and even though they aren’t Buckbee-Mears products, per se, they are related to the company and definitely qualify as Neat Stuff, at least to an engineer such as myself.

“First up is a Photo-Engraving Proportion Scale, which is a fancy name for a cardboard circular slide rule that was used ‘for finding the dimension for an engraving to be made smaller or larger than the copy.’

“It dates from the 1940s and says the company was located in the Lindeke Building in downtown Saint Paul’s Lowertown area. That building later became the Toni Co. Building and is now the site of the Farmers’ Market. Buckbee-Mears eventually got its own building on Sixth Street near Mears Park, except at the time it was called Smith Park. It was renamed Mears Park in 1974 to honor Norman B. Mears, longtime president and son of one of the founders.

“The other item is a thin metal rectangle that is slightly larger than a business card. It is a sampler of the kind of precision parts that Buckbee-Mears could produce. It was probably distributed by salesmen in the 1960s and 1970s, give or take a decade. And just to show off, it included a relief sculpture of Mr. Buckbee and Mr. Mears, the founders of the company.”

In memoriam

DebK of Rosemount writes: “I spent the morning in the garden with Marge Hols [longtime Pioneer Press gardening columnist]. Our visit was occasioned by my having read the sad news that Hols laid down her trowel for good a few days ago, which fact accounts for our conversation’s being more one-sided than I would’ve liked.

“Hols came to me on a day when I was occupied with applying sheep’s-wool mulch to my heirloom tomatoes. Except for drowning Japanese beetles, this mulching chore is the gardening task I like least. But the feces-encrusted wool mulch works well. And the final effect, a pouffy Elizabethan-style collar around each plant, is rather fetching — though not likely to meet the standards of Hols’s Summit Avenue garden, owing largely to the stench involved. Still, knowing that Marge would want to know how I discovered this mulching strategy, I modestly credited our former shearer, a strapping young fellow who earned his living as a hematologist at a suburban hospital but sheared sheep ‘for enjoyment.’

“Since a woman cannot always be thinking about the garden — even when she is in the garden — I turned to consideration of the extraordinary foresight of God in populating the world with people who like to shear filthy sheep. Who take pride in unclogging drains. Who find fulfillment in completing a stack of IRS forms. Who derive satisfaction from teaching elementary-school band or eighth-grade English.

“Who pull themselves away from the glories of the garden to write a newspaper column that somehow magnifies the joy.”

Our theater of seasons

Mounds View Swede: “I’ve enjoyed seeing the blossom clusters near me. Our dreary April has made all these flowering plants really catch my eye
with a feeling of appreciation at the variety of ways plants ‘do’ things.

“I hope our BB readers and contributors are enjoying and appreciating Minnesota nature, too. Just to go back and see these photos makes me happy.”

The sign on the road to the cemetery said “Dead End”
Electronic Board of the Church on Lexington in Shoreview Division

Our Official Electronic Board of the Church on Lexington in Shoreview Monitor — Red’s Offspring, north of St. Paul — reports: “Subject: Keeping up with the times.

“With Lexington Avenue in Shoreview closed to northbound traffic from County Road E to 694, the most recent message on the electronic board of the church on Lexington in Shoreview reads:





Nola Weber reports: “So I’m a Hudson transplant, and I’m driving on Baer Road and see this sign.

“I’m wondering how many people REALLY need this service? Also, I can’t get the visual of this out of my head. Good luck with this business venture!”

Department of Corrections

Semi-Legend writes: “Subject: Calling Paul Harvey.

“BB should have a continuing category, Department of Corrections. [Bulletin Board says: Well, now we have a category — but as for its continuing . . . we shall see.]

“The Star Tribune had two to start the week that stirred my incipient rant engine. Or at least evoked the late radio newscaster/commenter Paul Harvey: Let’s have the rest of the story.

“The first ran Sunday, June 26, on page B2: ‘A story on B1 Sunday [i.e., the previous Sunday] gave an incorrect unit of measure. It should have said a cubic yard.’

“I did not save the STrib’s June 19 metro section, but its Web version of the June 18 story on the fatal St. Paul trench collapse said: ‘Dirt is deceptively heavy — a cubic yard can weigh as much as a compact car — which is why the CDC [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] says most collapses are not survivable.’

“No mention that the story had been corrected.

“The second ran Monday, June 27: ‘A story and headline on B1 Saturday were incorrect. Minneapolis currently has no watering restrictions in place.’

“Whew. That means no correlating one’s address with the calendar date, checking the clock to make sure it’s before noon or after 6.

“Wonder how many folks will see the correction. How did veteran reporter Tim Harlow come to report this, and how did they learn the story was in error?

“Oh well. Back to the rest of the paper — until tomorrow’s corrections.”

Could be verse!

Another “timerick” from Tim Torkildson: “‘Journalists face harassment, fight against misinformation and are keenly aware of the industry’s financial troubles and the dim view many Americans have of them.

“‘Despite all that, most love their jobs and wouldn’t trade it for something else.
Those were among the findings in a survey of nearly 12,000 journalists conducted by the Pew Research Center and released on Tuesday. (AP)’

“If ya like just what you’re doin’ and you do not give a hoot

“if you are tarred and feathered and stripped down to union suit;

“if insults hurled like baseballs and the frequent verbal bomb

“thrown at you don’t matter — cuz you got so much aplomb;

“and the money that you’re making would insult a galley slave —

“well, you either are a lunatic or some reporter brave!

“The glamour and the glory of that kind of work have waned.

“Reporters work for companies completely addlebrained.

“Their job might vanish any time; their beat, no longer trod —

“snubbed by hedge-fund managers who think that they are God.

“And yet, and yet, these foolish wags, these men and women brisk,

“tell each other they enjoy this kind of work and risk.

“I don’t know that I cotton to their self-delusion grand —

“reminding me of Moses going to the Promised Land.

“And, really, I ain’t never seen such folk who do subsist

“on pain and pandemonium — each one’s a masochist!

“But one man’s meat or poison, as the Good Book says somewhere,

“can make the meanest scribbler feel awful debonair.”

This ’n’ that ’n’ the other

A trio of notes from The Doryman of Prescott, Wisconsin: (1) “Subject: Nobody sneeze!

“I was having my morning coffee when I spotted these four fishermen who looked like they were floating by The Wisconsin Riviera confluence on a log. A closer look revealed that a canoe was trying its best to keep them high and dry.

“I chuckled to myself: ‘If one of them were to hook a sturgeon, they’re all going to end up in the river, Hastings, Hudson, or — if the lock is open — Red Wing.'” [Bulletin Board muses: That’s one impressive chuckle!]

(2) “Subject: Ha, ha . . . never heard that one before.

“When I’m really bored, I will sometimes do what I call a Google Doodle. [Bulletin Board interjects: To see what Google calls a Google Doodle, see today’s Website of the Day, below.] I look up silly stuff to see if something weird actually exists.

“Today I Googled: ‘Has any person with the last name of Jones ever named their child Dow?’ (You must be very careful how you state your question, to be sure the results are accurate. If you just type ‘Is anyone actually named Dow Jones,’ the result lists all kinds of stock-market stuff.) I persisted and found this:

“‘As for Dow Joseph Jones, there was serious talk of naming him Jack Ryan Jones, to keep the Harrison Ford theme. (Jack Ryan is the character Ford played in a series of action movies.) [Bulletin Board notes: Hmmmmmmmm. “Harrison Ford theme”? Apparently The Doryman missed the fact that Dow Joseph Jones’s older sister is named Indiana Elizabeth Jones!] Instead, her husband named their son Dow on a dare while Jennifer was asleep in the hospital bed after giving birth.’

“I’ll bet he gets tired of being asked if he’s average or up or down today.”

(3) “Subject: ‘You want to eat out, or should we go to the store?’

“I just misread this headline: ‘Sharks Staying Closer to Shore.’ At first I thought it said closer to ‘Store.’

“I guess if it’s beaches, it’s the same difference.”

Our bumblebees, ourselves

Rusty of St. Paul: “Bumblebees seem to favor our basement up north, but if I’m not around to gently capture and release them they perish.

“There was one yesterday on the basement floor, not moving, but when I nudged her, she twitched. I moved her into a dustpan, added some water and took her out on the porch deck. I could see her barely taking water with her proboscis. She perked up enough to move off the dustpan onto the deck, but was still lethargic. Sugar, I thought. She needs some sugar. And maybe some electrolytes.

“I mixed some Tupelo honey (the best) into the water near the bee. That was the ticket, as her proboscis went into overtime lapping it up.

“I went inside to get some victuals going for supper. My mistake. My wife reported that the bee revived and flew off while I was in the kitchen. First she flew west out of the porch and out of sight, but quickly took a U-turn, came back and flew east through the porch.

“I know we are not supposed to anthropomorphize things like bees, but my wife feels the bee came back to thank me for resuscitating her. I told my wife that if the bee had dipped her wings on the fly-by, I would believe that.”

The darnedest things

WARNING! Cute kid story ahead, from Dave the Bus Driver: “The other day, we were at the community garden, where a homeless man is living. We went to Taco Bell for lunch and got a couple of extra burritos to take to him. When we gave them to him, he said: ‘Bless you.’

“My 4-year-old granddaughter, Nyeela, looked at me and said: ‘That’s silly. You didn’t even sneeze!’”

Band Name of the Day: The Rant Engines

Website of the Day: The Google Doodle Archive

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