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November 9, 2011     Sentinel Tribune
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November 9, 2011
 

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SENTINEL TRIBUNE VIEWPOINT Wednesday, November 9, 2011 Page 4 BETWEEN N By Tom Merchant - Sentinel Tribune -- tmerchant@ncppub.com THE LINES AI Bait ... Sunday afternoon the Columnist AI Batt, who is featured every week on this page, was the speaker at the Cottonwood County Historical Society meeting. If you are a frequent visi- tor to this page and his col- umn you have a vast knowl- edge of Hartland, Minnesota. Batt writes a humorous view based on his life and grow- ing up in Heartland. it was like growing up on a farm near a small communi- ty. Of course he continues to keep a dialog of characters from heartland throughout his weekly compositions. At the meeting he kept the audience in constant laughter as he dropped his sometimes subtle and some- times not so subtle witticism about himself and his family and friends. (I assume they are still friends.) He spoke for a good half at the Annual meeting of the Cottonwood County Historical Society at Windom Sunday afternoon. Batt talked about growing up in Hartland, and encouraged people to keep journals and keep their family hour until the batteries went dead in the wireless mike he AI Batt spoke was using. He said he only Sc =ieh at W had a couple more minutes to go, while they replaced H( rtlar d, an( the batteries. He then corn- history alive. ;ii iil s,,i!: governormented'l have used"thiSon it,"aiS themikefirStwithtimea Of course he could AI hardly get by without talking about Lutefisk. He asked the audience how many peo- pie ate Lutefisk? About a .... dozen or so people raised "Stories from the BaH Cave" their hands. Then he asked how many liked it? About five or six raised their hands, classmates. We had grown up in school, AI Batt He went on to say you can tell about a person by what they put on Lutefisk. "If a person slathers it up with butter, he's Norwegian, if he slathers it up with cream he's a Swede, if it's covered with sand it's a cat!" he said. Needless to say it was a fun and funny afternoon presentation. Have a good week and do good! When I saw that he was going to be at the meeting I jumped at the chance to meet the person I have admired for many years. I must say he talks much like he writes in his columns. It is a genuine down home type of writing and speaking loaded with good humor and wit. Folks from the rural midwest around my age, younger or older, can appre- ciate his 20-20 vision of what Winter hazard awareness week: Plan for the inevitable Preparation is Required to Survive in Frigid, Stormy Weather and survival," says Kris Eide, HSEM director. Winter roads are dangerous, and public safety officials say they often come upon stranded victims of a fender-bender who aren't prepared to spend even one hour in a freezing car. In 2010, more than 18,000 driv- ers were involved in crashes on icy or snowy roads. "Staying warm outdoors, staying fire-safe indoors and staying on top of upcoming weather patterns requires planning and awareness," Eide says. "The dangers are real, but simple solutions exist; we just have to know what they are." This year, the annual "What's Your Winter?" photo contest appears on Facebook at facebook. com/MnHSEM. The increasingly popular contest, now in its third year, runs from November through March, inviting adults and youth to submit digital photos of the ways they safely enjoy winter m Minnesota. Contest rules and a list of prizes are on the website hsem. dps.mn.gov. Tying shoes nearly head-butted a guy the other day. I didn't mean to. I blame kindergarten. I was getting on the Metro--a subway train in Washington, DC. I was soaking wet. Bob Dylan sang, "It's a hard rain's a-gonna fall." Bob was right. I jumped onto the train. I stepped on my untied shoelac- es, stumbled, and bumped into a young man who was seated, lis- tening to an iPod through ear- buds. I nearly hit his head with mine, but rammed his shoulder with my noggin instead. There were no apparent injuries. My shoes do not stay tied. Even my loafers refuse to remain tied. I blame kindergarten back before everyone lived on the outskirts of a big-box store--large stores that bend over the hori- zon. Big-box stores in those days were stores that manufac- tured big boxes. It was when all the best stuff was made in the good old USA. The only video game was called "adjusting the rabbit ears antenna just enough to get a picture on the TV." My mother's friends said, "How are you enjoying kindergarten? School will be the best days of your life. You are getting so big." I'd get in trouble by replying, "So are you." I went to kindergarten to learn how to use thumbs. My oppos- able thumbs set me apart from slugs. I needed to learn how not to run with scissors. The blunt scissors that couldn't cut air needed to run by themselves. Kindergarten was a place to go and try not to think about red KooI-Aid. I liked my kindergarten together--at different speeds and angles. No one in my class wore a T-shirt bearing the name of a professional athlete. We weren't adults in training. We were first graders in training. We were adorable. Probably. We could pick things up from the floor with- out grunting. We raised our hands if we had questions or answers. We had more questions than answers. That's because we had no answers. Our most common question was, "May I go to the bathroom?" Our second most frequent question was, "May I go home?" I am sure that she was a great educator, whoever she was, but I never really knew my kinder- garten teacher. I went to kinder- garten just long enough to catch whatever illness was going around. Kindergarten was a giant Petri dish filled with nasty viruses. I was a vector who made contagion possible. I contracted measles, mumps, scurvy, chick- en pox, colds, flu, and a bad case of bubonic plague. What was going around couldn't get around me. I should have worn a "toxic hazard" warning sign just as a farm combine wears a slow moving vehicle sign. The school bus was a death march to a spot where the weak were culled from the herd. That was typical of grade school. Several years later, I began my acting career when I was an emergency angel in a Christmas play. At the last min- ute, I replaced an older child who had fallen prey to some infirmity. Kindergarten required me to produce naptime drool on a knot- ted rug brought from home. I had little time to frolic. On a good day I had milk before becoming ill and being sent home. I'm certain my kindergarten teacher covered tying shoes. I was enrolled in an accelerated learning program. She taught, but I never learned. She had to wonder if my family tree had a fork in it. I recited the rhyme, "Bunny ears, bunny ears, playing by a tree. Crisscrossed the tree, try- ing to catch me. Bunny ears, bunny ears, jumped into the hole, popped out the other side beautiful and bold." I tied the shoelaces in ugly knots that refused to stay knot- ted. "You're knot trying," I heard others giggle. Tying a shoe was like burning my name on the surface of the moon. It would have been cool but not likely to happen. I should have used duct tape and a sta- pler. It was hard to concentrate on shoelaces while I was as ner- vous as a squirrel about to cross the road. I knew there was a germ in the classroom with my name on it. I'd have been safer using dynamite to fish for bull- heads. I had the heebie-jee- bies--whatever they were. If I didn't see Doc Olds each week, he called to make sure that I wasn't all right. My untied shoelaces and I visit schools often doing various pro- grams, but I avoid kindergarten classes. I'm afraid of catching beriberi. AI Batt 2011 71622 325 St. 1-1, MN 56042 http://albatt.net/ The Minnesota Staate Patrol and the Minnesota Department of Public Safety Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management (HSEM), along with the National Weather Service and other agencies, sponsors Winter Hazard Awareness Week November 7-11 -- a time to make sure your winter is both safe and enjoyable. In November, no one has to tell Minnesotans about the snow, ice and threatening temperatures that will soon arrive. We're famous for our challenging winters. But are we ready? The HSEM website has a brand new look and the Winter Hazard Awareness section has five categories of life-saving informa- tion, including indoor air, outdoor activity, driving safety, fire safety and understanding winter weather warnings, "Preparing for winter doesn't take a lot of time, but it can make the difference between suffering IBJIIIIII II ..... !['Illrrl -- ---,,, Sentinel Tribune ' (ISSN 8750-3905) Thomas Merchant Managing Editor Junette Merchant Office & Production Joan Spielman Office & Production Kiki Hubert Marketing Specialist Published every Wednesday at Westbrook, Minnesota 56183 Periodicals Postage Paid at Westbrook, Minnesota 56183 SUBSCRIPTION PRICE FOR THE SENTINEL TRIBUNE WILL BE: In the following counties: Cottonwood, Redwood, and Murray $38.00 per year. Elsewhere in Minnesota $42.00 per year. Out of the state $48.00 per year. Canada and foreign countries inquire at the Sentinel Tribune Office. 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