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Al Batt: Selling the film rights to this column

Echoes from the Loafers’ Club Meeting

I told my psychiatrist I keep hearing voices.

What did he say?

He said I don’t have a psychiatrist.

Driving by Bruce’s drive

I have a wonderful neighbor named Bruce. Whenever I pass his drive, thoughts occur to me. I was having a great day, but more research was needed. I walked in a heavy rain because the foot traffic was light. The minute I became completely soaked, I predicted rain. I’m a modern-day Nostradamus. When I came to a “slow down” sign, I walked faster. Always the rebel. I traveled with my mobile workstation, a pen my wife had given me and a notebook my wife had given me. Sometimes it’s a pen some company had given me and a notebook another company had given me. I experienced a potato famine. A week without french fries.

This, that and the other

I was weathered in. I’d gotten in, but I couldn’t get out of Juneau. Adryn Peterson said that when the late Hap Hagen (both men of New Richland) was living in and treated well at a local care center, Hap had said, “It’s an easy place to get into, but hard to get out of.” I’d been slaving over a hot cellphone all day and was tired, with circles under my eyes down to my chin. Trying to sleep at the airport, I heard a fellow say on his phone, “Have you looked on the empty shelf. I think you’ll find it there. I’m stuck in Alaska for the day.” Juneau tends to be overcast, but it’s a beautiful place. If you have to be stuck anywhere, wherever you are is a pretty good place to be.

I was woolgathering, staring at a $1 bill for no reason. The pyramid is part of the Great Seal of the U.S. first used on the reverse of the $1 Federal Reserve note in 1935. The pyramid symbolizes strength and durability. It appears unfinished because the country will always grow, improve and build.

I heard a politician on the radio speak of himself in the third person. Why do those of prominence and notoriety do that? It’s condescending and distancing. It’s called illeism and demonstrates an exaggerated sense of self. I hope the blowhard can fully grasp the use of “I” and “me” one day.

We’ve all been tried and found guilty of the act of embolalia. It’s the insertion of hesitation forms in speech—meaningless filler words, phrases, spacers or stammerings such as um, hmm, you know, like, okay, and uh. Embolalia comes from two Greek words meaning “something thrown in.” The vocal fillers are bugbears to many, but can act as thought-collection aids.

From the mailbag

A pleasant note from 100-year-old Al Jaffee of New York. Al was a cartoonist for Mad magazine for 65 years, noted for his feature the Mad Fold-in.

A Florida reader asked about buying the film rights to my column. I nearly choked on my oatmeal.

Nature notes

Dale Halgren of New Richland asked what is the oddest bird I’ve ever seen? I don’t know what it is, but it roosts in my mirror. The California condor in the U.S. and the hoopoe, the National Bird of Israel, elsewhere. The hoopoe (named for its call) has a clownish appearance with a pinkish head, striped wings, a flight like a butterfly and stinky nests.

The chigger larvae that bite us can scarcely be seen without a magnifying glass. Chiggers don’t burrow into the skin. They pierce a skin cell with their mouths and their saliva contains an enzyme that causes the skin cell wall to liquefy. After the chigger has had its fluid meal, it drops off. The bite develops a welt in 10-16 hours. Coating bites with Vaseline or nail polish to suffocate chiggers doesn’t work. You can’t suffocate something that’s not there.

American white pelicans are often in the company of double-crested cormorants. They forage together. Cormorants will build nests within pelican colonies. Pelicans are well-known fish thieves and steal food from cormorants and other pelicans.

Bald eagles often hunt by flying over the water and swooping down to grab a fish near the surface. They also steal fish caught by other birds. Golden eagles rarely eat fish.

We made binoculars for the preschoolers by gluing two empty toilet paper tubes together. Some call the cardboard tube a derder because kids hold the tube to their mouths and say “derder.” I call the cardboard trumpet a to-do.

For more of my nature writings and photos,  go to www.albertleaaudubon.org

Meeting adjourned

Kindness comes in a size to fit everyone.