By Tim McGrath
“So, tell me, what intrigued, puzzled, or aroused your curiosity today?” a question posed by friend, Mary
That’s a good question. No, it’s a great question. And honestly, it caught me off guard. Normally, when greeting one another, it’s common to hear things like, “How are you today?” or, “What’s new?”, things like that. But this question really got me thinking. Which is good, because it’s so easy to slide into becoming a mental loafer once one hits the retirement years. I think I answered with something like, “Hmmm, let me think a minute.” Or something equally uninspired. I’m not sure I ever did answer the question, which is kind of unusual for me. I take great delight in being intrigued by unusual, off beat things, and have them ready at my fingertips for just such an occasion.
It's one of those things long suffering Cheryl puts up with in her own clever way. When we had a spate of real winter a few weeks back, I came back inside after shoveling the heavy, sloppy slush that had fallen the day before.
Me: “Man, that stuff was heavy. That must have been about a 7:1 snowfall. Why couldn’t it have been lake effect? That’s only about 20:1.”
Cheryl: “What did you just say?”
Me, while watching the birds devour seed at the feeder: “Isn’t it interesting how the Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers look so much alike. You can really only tell by their beak size.”
Then there was this one:
Me: “Interesting factoid, the Chrysler 392 Hemi was only replaced in dragsters by the 426 Hemi when racers couldn’t find used 392s in junkyards sometime around 1967, or so. That sure was big news to me!”
Cheryl: “Mmmm, hmmm...”
And those random Facebook posts that reel me in, like this one:
When asked what my childhood phone number was, I instantly recall: LE2-0484. I even know the LE meant Lennox, that stood for the 532 exchange. I’m puzzled why anyone wouldn’t remember such intriguing things.
You get the picture.
We had just spent a week enjoying the fun and sun of Florida and were at the airport waiting to board our flight home. As is typical, the person working the gate was giving instructions to the passengers milling around her stand. As soon as she started talking about the process, it was as if a giant invisible hand scooped everyone up out of their seats and deposited them at the gate in this large mass of people with their overstuffed carryon bags jockeying for position. The whole process arouses my curiosity. There’s really no good reason to rush the gate area prior to boarding. Only so many people are allowed on the plane. They can fit just so many through the doorway at a time, and once in the jet way, there’s invariably a wait while those inside the aircraft lug their bags and cram them into the overhead bins. Plus, we’re all going to the same place, and no one leaves until everyone’s on board. I commented to Cheryl, “Why are they all racing to get there first? Who wants to sit in an airplane for an extra half hour waiting for everyone to board, anyway?”
I was feeling a little smug at my clever observations, when we realized the milling mass had disappeared, and the gate area was now deserted. Walking over, the person working the gate told us they were just about ready to close the doors, we needed to board. We hustled down the jet way, and getting on the plane were met by a sea of staring faces. They were all waiting for us.
Another puzzling thing…
It was Monday morning, grocery shopping day. It was also the day I dreaded. Because today I had returnables to take in. I’d shuddered at that scene on those Monday mornings when I didn’t have any bottles or cans, to see groups of people struggling into the returnables area with multiple shopping carts stuffed full to overflowing with large black plastic garbage bags of bottles and cans. Every time I’d witness this insanity I’d mumble to. myself, “Why in the world would you let those things take up all that valuable real estate in your house or garage?” I was thankful it wasn’t me. But that was then, this was now; and it was my turn to walk the gauntlet.
As I made my way through the parking lot toward the collection area with my little grocery sack of about twenty cans, I stopped short. There, in one of the handicapped parking spaces, was an older minivan. The back hatch was popped open. The rear and middle seats had been removed. In their place was a mountain of cans and bottles, occupying the entire rear two-thirds of the car. An older woman with hair resembling a giant, silvery-gray tangled squirrel nest was hollering at the young man in the back to hurry it up, for crying out loud. Somehow, he had found his way into the pile and was tossing the bottles and cans to another young guy who dumped them in a cart. Why he couldn’t have just stood at the open back hatch and reached in, instead of immersing himself in the pile was a bit of a mystery. Odd, yet interesting. Reminded me of the old-fashioned bucket brigade photos of people handing buckets of water hand over hand.
Oh man, I thought, I’ll be here until tonight if they get ahead of me. Hustling in, I again stopped. There in front of me were two shopping carts, full from top to bottom with returnables. And working together was a three-man team, each feeding all the available machines. I overhead a couple of them talking about, “… getting back out there to get the rest of them damn cans”. It dawned on me these three were part of the minivan people. They had a rudimentary assembly line going, each a cog in the great can return caper. Then just like clockwork, in came another full cart. When one of the three amigos’ carts was emptied, the new, full one was wheeled into place, and the action commenced. Irritating, yes, but also very intriguing. There was a certain genius to this orchestrated dance. I got the feeling the older woman directing operations at the minivan was the brains of the outfit, and the guys doing the heavy lifting were there to get in on a piece of the action.
I dumped my cans and bottles in with theirs and walked out. They didn’t notice.
Curiosity killed the cat…
It was a dog, not a cat, and at the time, I felt like it was going to kill me. I like dogs, I really do. They’re great companions, friends, family members. Those that are service dogs; now that’s something remarkable. How the bond between dog and human grows so strong, each depending upon the other. Lovely. But this was different.
I’d stopped in to have my oil changed. As I handed off my truck to the attendant, I went into the waiting area. There was usually an array of interesting magazines on a wide variety of topics from golf to real estate, shooting, glamour, you name it, all tidily arranged there on the table. As I was leafing through one of the golf magazines, in came another customer. With him came Lady, his year-old Brittany Spaniel. I have a weak spot for Brittany’s, as I’d had one that I’d trained as a bird dog years earlier. Beautiful creatures.
As I was speaking with the owner, let’s call him Chuck, about Lady, the apple of Chuck’s eye, Lady came to me, tail wagging, tongue lolling, and promptly farted. Not just a dainty toot, but a loud rasping explosion that came from the eagerly wagging rear end. It could’ve been her way of greeting new people, a kind of doggy fist bump. Feigning deafness, we both carried on our conversation as if nothing was unusual. But each time someone came by, they were drawn to beautiful little Lady. As they approached, Lady would let fly in her excitement at making a new friend. But that wasn’t the worst. Each of those rasping expulsions carried with them a virulently powerful aroma. Soon the place was filled with the smell of rotting eggs that drew startled expressions from all her well-wishers. Invariably the invisible cloud got to be too much, and they’d scurry off with held breath and streaming eyes to get fresh air.
What was so curious about that scene was how Chuck, knowing full well Lady’s weakness, would at one time scold her for bad behavior, then reach out and pat or hug her as a new person approached. Yet that only made the air biscuits come in more rapid succession. One would think the courteous thing would be to have taken Lady out into the parking lot to wait for the oil change to get finished. But the thought of missing out on all the attention and affection for his beloved Lady cast all social niceties out the window.
At any rate, my name was mercifully called, and I wished Chuck and Lady a good day. As I walked off to collect my truck, in a final farewell, Lady let loose with a particularly loud blast. All is well my friend, she seemed to be saying as I stepped out into the afternoon sunshine. All is well.
One final thing….
I recently found myself in a local department store. As I wandered the aisles in the health and beauty aids, my eye caught something unusual on one of the shelves. On closer examination, I discovered a variety of personal massage devices. Wait, what? Yes, I realize it is 2024, not 1964, and times have changed. So, they’ve taken vibrators out from under the counter and the watchful eye of the shopkeeper and put them out on full display. But what makes me curious is, how many people would actually walk in with that purchase in mind, go over to the shelf, and carefully study all the options and features of each one. Then satisfied with their choice, walk boldly to the checkout in front of everyone, and coolly plunk down the cash for it, like they were buying corn or band aids, or whatever. Well, so be it. Just another curiosity of modern life.
And with that my friends, I leave you with the question posed by my friend, Mary.
“So, tell me, what intrigued, puzzled, or aroused your curiosity today?”
By Ken De Laat
This past Monday Brooks Township Supervisor Cory Nelson sent the below photo of the Township flag with a note:
“Toby Keith passed away today and that man did more for veterans than entire organizations have done. What an American treasure! Our flag is at half mast today because pro-American stories need to be told to lift this country up and remind us all that we are on the same team.”
Toby Keith had a 3 decade career in country music cut short by cancer at age 62.He performed at both the Nobel Peace Prize concert the year Barack Obama won the award and at a concert during Donald Trump’s inaugural weekend as well.
The Body (outline) at the Brewery.
When a sidewalk situation led to a taping off of an area in front of the Newaygo Brewery, it inspired the creative juices of an unknown citizen to emulate a typical crime scene often witnessed via our television sets.
Rumor has it that despite its eventual removal there was a reappearance in chalk form that was eerily close to its predecessor and a few added tweaks to the artistry as well. Whether it continues to return to the scene of the...uh…walkway woes, remains to be seen.
Shoe on the Causeway
Those who know me might be aware of a long held fascination regarding the abundance of abandoned footwear that regularly appears alongside the road. Long suffering lifetime spousal companion Lil is acutely aware of this near-obsession to the point of making rules regarding reports of said shoes during road trips. I think it was waking her up during a car cruise across South Dakota to point out a wingtip settled into the right shoulder that prompted the regulations.
But I digress...
Just a week or so ago I saw a solitary sneaker-type footwear on the skinny causeway that runs over the M-37 bridge in Newaygo. Each time I was on my way somewhere and promised myself to snap a photo next time through. This went on for several days of course and the day I recalled its presence and stopped to walk the bridge I discovered it was gone.
And whether it was removed via human being or vanished in the same manner it appeared, there is only one thought that comes to mind…
What does it mean?
“What if there were no hypothetical questions?”- George Carlin
By Ken De Laat, N3 Publisher
Putting out an online news source is always interesting. With folks being as divided as we seem to be these days, posting our stories on social media can lead to the responses taking any number of directions. When we recently reported on the Grant School Board doings it drew the obligatory critiques from those who distrust coverage that might not align with their views. We get it. This is a controversial subject and an emotional issue for many and the response we received bore this out. And yet when it moved about on social media we noticed the comments generally stayed within the subject matter.
Not so with the recent press release we ran from Consumers Energy regarding the dams.
The dams are a hot bed issue and people who may be affected by the possible sale of them are more than likely to be scared and/or angry. And nothing stirs up the nest in fb like anger and fear.
On our site alone, the comments included assertions that dam removal would take out the city of Newaygo (it wouldn’t) that the Feds (no specific department) and/or the state (assuming the Gov herself) are behind the move, that a sale to China is inevitable (wow), and more claims that seem to arise from random, meritless hypotheses.
From there it devolves to further misinformation (more wow), the insipid 1:1 battles with a goal of ‘winning’ the argument or at least being seen as clever (utter fail), and inevitably the usual insults (weak and childish). Then of course at least one thread will make the whole thing about our two geriatric presidential candidates leading to the mutual demonization of the other side.
Our favorite was the person who, supposedly in an effort to help out with the confusion, began their post by calling out everyone who had posted previously as ignorant. And this is just on our page so no telling what might be boiling over in one of the 200+ and counting shares the post received.
And no, this is not another tired and redundant lecture about social media behavior. Railing against the inhumanity the platform can produce is merely another impotent response to the helplessness that coexists with any attempt to alter it.
This is merely a bit of sadness and disappointment in who we seem to be these days.
Who knew we would drift so far apart with the help of a vessel purportedly designed to do the opposite?
"But somehow social media, which was touted as an engine of connectivity, has left us disconnected and often lonely, not to mention combative. We’re all in our corners. We understand one another less than ever and have less desire to try." Maureen Dowd
The Great Decisions Speaker Series brings national experts to West Michigan for thought-provoking discussions on eight critical and important global issues. The series kicks off on February 6 and includes a list of experts on topics the whole world is talking about. The Great Decisions Global Discussion speaker series is put together by the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan and will be live-streamed at the Dogwood Center for Performing Arts on Tuesdays, February 6 through March 26, 6:00 p.m. to 7:15 p.m. in the Black Box.
The goal of the series is to discuss eight critical issues that are facing the world today, and consists of eight weeks of world-oriented topics that are recommended by the Foreign Policy Association of America (FPA) in New York City as global issues every American community should be learning and talking about.
This year, among the 2024 Great Decisions guests will be General (ret.) Curtis Scaparrotti, former Supreme Allied Commander in Europe for NATO; NPR’s Neela Banerjee on climate technology; Kaiser Kuo from the Sinica Podcast on Chinese technology; and Hiroko Muraki-Gottlieb from Pace University on high seas treaties.
“Our organization’s perspective on this series is that to change the world — or to even begin to understand global issues — one first must know about the world, and that’s what we attempt to do with Great Decisions,” Michael Van Denend, executive director of the World Affairs Council of Western Michigan.
The Great Decisions Speaker Series will be video streamed live at the Dogwood Center, 4734 S. Campus Court, Fremont, from 6:00 p.m. – 7:15 p.m. Tuesday's, from February 6 through March 26. The lectures are free and open to the public. View the speaker schedule at www.worldmichigan.org.
The Newaygo County Democrats will hold their next monthly meeting on Monday, February 12th at the Heritage Museum of Newaygo. All are welcome to the 6pm Open Forum and social time, with the business meeting starting at 6:30pm. A virtual option is available by requesting the link from: NewaygoCountyDemocrats@gmail.com. The Heritage Museum is located at 12 Centerline St, Newaygo, 49337.
Items of discussion will include election worker and precinct delegate recruitment, the February 27 Presidential Primary, and effective community outreach and input strategies.
Newaygo County Democrats, visiting Dems, guests, members and the moderate to liberal-leaning curious are all welcome and urged to attend. For more information and to sign up for Enews, visit: https://newaygocodems.org. Follow on Facebook @Newaygo County Democratic Party, and @Newaygo County Democrats.
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