Friday, August 27, 2010

Mysteries of the High School Senior School Supply List

Classes start the day after Labor Day here in Sauk Centre. That gives families with seniors one week to stock up on everything from a dozen #2 pencils to one package of mechanical pencil leads.

The pencil leads I understand, since mechanical pencils are on the list. Why three mechanical pencils, I've no idea.

Maybe, in principle, a student could take twice as many notes by holding one pencil in each hand. But three?!

Another minor mystery on the list is item 15: one package of pencil crayons. I checked in Valderrama: and they've got three sorts of packages in stock: with 12; 16; and another with a different set of 12 colors. A little more research, and I discovered that the first 12-count package was the one for school use.

Maybe which sort of pencils the school wanted is obvious to shoppers: it wasn't to me.

One thing that even a bachelor like me understands is part of the sixth item on the list: one package of washable felt markers.

I may be the reason they added the word 'washable' to that item. During my senior year, I had a second-period class at one end of the school, with my third-period class at the other end. One day, I stuck the markers in my pocket without capping one.

Which of the four available sorts of washable felt markers the school wants seniors to get? I suggest asking someone at the store: They'll probably have figured that out by now.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Silly Season, LFTV, and Howard Leland

Ever notice how, in August, you're more likely to see news about, say, off street parking or prize beagles on the front page? It's called the silly season. I read a post on about this phenomenon: what Miriam Webster online says is "a period (as late summer) when the mass media often focus on trivial or frivolous matters for lack of major news stories."

Which reminds me of what happened when I went to Vidiconnections, to get pictures of their antenna farm. Howard Leland was there, too: at their public access
television center, LFTV, taping a sort of infomercial.

I thought he'd be plugging his Loonfoot Falls Museum of Lint and Gum Wrappers. He explained that plans weren't far enough along to make a public appeal. His goal that day was to raise awareness and funds for the SPCD, or Society for the Prevention of Continental Drift.

I'll say this for Howard Leland: his sense of civic duty is quite well developed. He has, for a time, set aside his dream of a museum celebrating undervalued cultural treasures: in a quest to stop North America's reckless march westward.

He was quite disappointed that LFTV wouldn't air a program by SPCD's candidate in the midterm election, and even more disappointed when I wouldn't sign SPCD's latest petition to Congress.

He perked up considerably when I agreed to let everyone reading this column know that he'd be on LFTV, warning of the dangers of continental drift, next Wednesday at 10:30 p.m.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Rambling on About Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th is supposed to be unlucky. Many skyscrapers have no 13th floor: and none of the buildings in downtown Loonfoot Falls have a 13th floor.

It's not that we're particularly superstitious. There aren't any buildings downtown with more than four floors.

There's even a 13th Avenue South on some old maps, south of the Grimm County Fairground. It doesn't actually exist: although there's still a stub at the end of Fairside Road, going about fifteen feet toward where South 13th would have been.

The street was part of the proposed Southside Addition: a residential zone between the fairground and the Interstate, along the Loonfoot River. Plans for the addition were going smoothly until the 1965 flood.

The Loonfoot River rose almost to the deck of the 12th Street bridge: and entirely covered what would have been the Southside Addition. The Southside Addition was on the council's agenda a week after the food's peak, rejected, and never brought up again.

I don't know that flood was "unlucky," though: if it had happened a couple years later, a lot of people would have lost their homes.

Then there's the Belvedere Union Grand's room 313. Haunted, maybe: unlucky? I'd say not.

There was that fateful Friday the 13th in 1908, when the Bijou Opera House burned down. Indirectly as a result of an anti-superstition club meeting. I've written about that before.

What's the point of all this? I'm obliged to provide 250 words for this column each week. Now I have.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Dust Bunnies are Not Lint!

Howard Leland found me in the Whistle Stop Cafe this week, and informed me that dust bunnies are not lint. And that this distinction is very important.

He also discussed his plans for the Loonfoot Falls Museum of Lint and Gum Wrappers. As I reported in April, his dream was to open a lint museum here in Loonfoot Falls. On consideration, he told me, he realized that as fascinating as lint is, it might prove challenging to provide a sufficiently varied array of displays on the subject.

Gum wrappers was an obvious choice, he explained, since those are often found mingled with lint when one empties one's pockets. Besides, there's a remarkable variety of gum wrappers.

The inner wrappings around individual sticks come in two basic varieties: single layers of paper or similar material; and double layers with paper inside and foil outside. The paper wrappers, of course, often are printed with the brand name: and occasionally are unmarked.


Outer wrappings, enclosing several sticks, are what Howard Leland finds most interesting, though. He showed me a scrapbook he happened to have with him, where he has cataloged and categorized gum wrappers by brand, type, color, and historical period.

Inside the back cover of the scrapbook he had an envelope full of sketches of displays. His favorite was the interactive lint table. That was a large tray holding lint and lint cards: things that look like horse brushes. He figures folks will love playing with lint.

He may be right.
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