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Al Batt "Stories from the Batt Cave"

Sentinel Tribune of Westbrook, Minnesota

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Astraphobia

I rolled out of bed early in the morning.

I planned on getting an early start, but it was noon by the time I got up from the floor.

With the late start, I found comfort in the words of Walt Kelly, the creator of "Pogo," who said, "We are confronted with insurmountable opportunities."

I wrapped up the writing of a magazine article, booked some speaking jobs, autographed some books, put the finishing touches on a couple of newspaper columns and did a radio show. I polished off a podcast and headed out to pick up some business cards and anniversary gifts at nearby locations. I listened to music on the radio. It's the same music I always listen to. I've read that our musical tastes have solidified 'by age 14.1 saw sheep"'." shaped like clouds and parked by a car covered with bumper stickers. I admire a willingness to express beliefs, but I wonder if a bumper sticker has ever changed a mind. Bumper stickers aren't for those who were advised by parents to not make a scene. One of those assertive bumper stickers could be construed as making a scene. I think they invite tailgating by readers. The car was a Honda Civic, the most-stolen vehicle in Minnesota. Maybe a plethora of bumper stickers discourages theft.

I waved at other drivers even though the forefinger on my right hand ached. The nail was black. I'd shut it in a car door. My left hand slammed the door. I'm right-handed. All my life, my right hand has gotten the best gigs, while my left hand was stuck holding things. Maybe it's jealousy. A rivalry. I can't say that my left hand did it on purpose, but I have my suspicions.

Years ago, I was working at my desk and I heard a noise. It was as if a ball was being dropped. I decided to investigate the sounds coming from my garage. I found many walnuts in the box of the truck. I sat down and waited. A squirrel climbed onto the roof of the garage and dropped a walnut through a roof vent into the box of my pickup. The squirrel was filling my pickup with stored walnuts. I called the squirrel an octothorpe. I couldn't think of anything appropriate. It's a cool word that means the pound key on a keyboard.

A friend called to say that someone near him had seen a cougar in Minnesota. People were concerned for their safety, not the cougar's. I don't consider a cougar much of a threat. I'd just read the Minnesota Conservation Volunteer magazine. An article in it said that since 1890 there were roughly 20 human deaths attributed to cougar attacks. I worry more about deer. About 200 people a year die in collisions with deer.

I work at a number of fairs. I received an email letting me know that one of the local county fairs, Steele, had an attendance of 307,043 this year. That was impressive, but down from 339,671 the year before and 350,899 in 2013. This fairly good attendance was impacted by weather and threats of weather. Fairs are like funerals, the attendance depends upon the weather. We shouldn't worry about the weather. It's not worrying about us. About $35,000 was withdrawn from fairground ATMs in one day. A free fair, its attendance is estimated by a formula that includes ATM transactions, beer sales, carnival proceeds, parking totals and vendor revenues. There were over 100 food vendors at the Steele County Free Fair (SCFF). I've eaten poutine once in Canada and once in Minnesota. Poutine is trench fries and cheese curds covered in brown gravy. Poutine sales at the SCFF were up 26 percent from the previous year.

There are many wonderful things about this time of year in Minnesota for those not having astraphobia, the abnormal fear of thunder and lightning. Gatherings of monarch butterflies. Honeycrisp apples. There is sweetcom. There is more sweet-corn. And there is even more, , sweetcorn. Anyone who says onions are the only vegetables that can make you cry, has never been hit in the face with an ear of sweetcorn. The Minnesota State Fair's Corn Roast stand sells 200,000 ears of sweetcorn, requiring 400 pounds of butter, each year. That may be why you don't see any T-shirts reading, "Body by the State Fair."

Speaking of the State Fair, the livestock there produces 250 tons of manure over 12 days.

People clean that up.

And all I had to do for this column was to produce 762 words.

©Al Batt 2015 71622 325 St. 1-1, MN 56042 http://albatt.net/



Copyright 2015 Sentinel Tribune, Westbrook, Minnesota. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: September 9, 2015



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