Does a $6 tip on an $8.50 tab sound just about right? Yes, it does. – Twin Cities

What is right with people?

Pandemic Division

ANONYMOUS WOMAN of St. Paul writes: “Subject: A little kindness is needed right now.

“Lately I’m trying to get to restaurants — the Mom-and-Pop ones, etc., that still seem to be hurting from disruptions. Because we need to prime the pump to help folks make a steady living again.

“Today I met some retirement-aged women at a restaurant for Happy Hour. I split a pitcher of margaritas ($5) and got two tacos for $6 plus tax. But I added $6 as a tip, because the place was not busy and the waiter wasn’t getting rich on us. As I was leaving, he practically hugged me.

“Just to say: A little bit of looking out for our neighbors right now could go a long way toward helping folks feel good and hopeful again.

“In the 2017 ‘Wonder Woman’ movie, the hero tells Wonder Woman: ‘I can save today. You can save the world.’ I figure those words apply to lots of situations, where we can help each other just a little bit.”

Our State Fair is the best state fair!

Big Eek of Southeast Minneapolis: “Subject: Statement to accompany my State Fair entry”:

“My passion growing up was my collection of Big Little Books. I kept them in a small child’s suitcase. They cost a dime at Woolworth’s. On my annual visit home, I would check on them in the attic. Then one year they weren’t there! Where could they be?

“I asked my mother and she unfolded the tale of the Big Little Books. She and my dad had friends from Belgium. They had three little girls. Tragically, the youngest one died. Later their family visited our home and my mother sent the eight- and ten-year-old up to the attic to explore while the adults talked.

“The girls discovered the suitcase of BLBs. and brought it down. They couldn’t believe what a treasure they had found. Of course my mother said they could have them and the suitcase too. So much for my collection of BLBs. But wait . . .

“While I was at work my wife used to push The Oldest Daughter, in her baby carriage, to the second-hand store, three miles there and back. Once she brought home three BLBs. Then I started slowly to amass my new collection of BLBs, obtained on our weekly Saturday morning shopping trips.

“The Oldest Daughter was an early reader. She was five and we read BLBs together. She had to wait for me to finish at the bottom of every page. Now it is our collection instead of my collection.

“My fingers no longer work very well. The Middle Daughter helped me with this collection of refrigerator magnets. It’s my design and her execution. The forty-two refrigerator magnets are reproductions of the covers of the BLBs in the family collection. I hope you like it.

“P.S. In ninth grade history we started our chronological four-year high school tour through world history with the study of the caveman. Our teacher, Mr. H, said he would give extra credit if we read a book about ancient civilizations. The class laughed when I asked if ‘Og Son of Fire’ (top row, second from the right) would count. Teachers thought BLBs were trash. Mr. H. said he would count it, and he did.”

Come again?

Or: Not exactly what he had in mind

WALDO WINDMILL writes: “A group of us formed a Fantasy Football league in the 1980s, well before such leagues became common. The preseason draft of NFL football players was always a highlight. As I recall, we drafted a quarterback, a placekicker, a tight end, a pair of running backs and wide receivers, then determined winners of Fantasy League games by compiling points scored by league draftees in actual NFL competition.

“One year, our draft was held in a New Brighton bar/restaurant. The draft proceeded routinely until it was league member Byron’s turn to select a player in one of the late rounds. An attractive young waitress walked by the table where he was seated just as Byron shouted ‘Lipps,’ indicating his selection of Louis Lipps, a Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver and a frequent target of passes thrown by quarterback Mark Malone. The reaction of the waitress, however, clearly indicated her displeasure at what she thought was a pass of a different kind aimed at her.

“And poor Byron had no idea what was going on!”

Know thyself!

Or: The Permanent Grandfatherly/Grandsonly Record

RED’S OFFSPRING, north of St. Paul: “Subject: Some things are hard to believe.

“We recently received an invitation to grandson Nick’s high-school graduation party. As I read it, I recalled an incident from when Nick was much younger.

“I don’t remember many details, but people were on our deck for a family gathering. Whatever we were discussing must have led to some discussion of my past athletic accomplishments.

“I’ll never forget Nick’s astonishment as he inquired: ‘Grandpa was an athlete?’

“Oh, the tales I could tell . . . .”

The frontiers of graphic art

Or: Older Than Dirt

ELVIS reports: “ELVIS took a trip into the fancy Milwaukee Art Museum recently. He encountered some confusing hieroglyphics that took a bit of head-scratching to figure out.

“But then there was pillar with three of the four symbols, and a translation:

“Obviously the disabled person would have problems with the stairs. (As an aside, ELVIS thinks it’s cool that someone advocated to update the wheelchair symbol from a static, sit-up-straight icon to a speedy, on-the-move one.)

“Finding the stairway was easy thanks to the arrow, but notice the symbols changed and now include what ELVIS assumes is a non-gendered child.

“And once ELVIS got to the bottom, the signs went back to the old-style ‘Men’ and ‘Women’ to get him to the right doorway.

“ELVIS mused that the staff probably get many more requests for help on where the restrooms are than before the graphics were updated.”

One for the books

Or: Seeing is believing

THE ASTRONOMER of Nininger: “Subject: ‘I will show you things you have not dreamed of. . .’

“On the first day of class, the professor told his students what to expect during the semester. He had been doing this for more than 30 years and had always been able to fulfill his promises.

“He taught astronomy, introducing students — students who might never take a second class in this field of study — to the universe. But they would likely never forget this semester, either. Some subject areas do not lend themselves to factual obsolescence, but our knowledge of the universe is continuously being updated. That alone makes it exciting, and this term would immerse students in a way that is contagious.

“This was not just a lecture course. Thanks to the Hubble Space Telescope and all of its marvelous images and the explorations of NASA, so many of the ideas seem to come alive and jump out at students. At the same time, night labs put students at the eyepiece of the campus telescope, where they would behold the solar system, the galaxy and the universe with their own eyes. They could feel the same amazement that Galileo must have experienced some 400 years ago when he first saw the four major moons of Jupiter in his rather low-power telescope. Words can hardly describe what you can behold. They say that seeing is believing. Regardless of any degree of skepticism, it does make it easier to accept scientific ideas when you see for yourself.

“When students actually image a sunspot themselves, or measure the expansion of the universe, they understand more fully. And when they begin to comprehend the universe, what it is like and how it got that way, they will understand themselves and their place in it more fully. And then they will be able to reach out and know their God and their relationship to Him more completely.”

The Permanent Friendly Record

MERLYN of St. Paul writes: “Subject: The Adnils.

“I always thought our friendship would last for a lifetime. We were the Adnils (our first name backwards). Two little girls who had grown up together. Sharing the sphere of a new development of tract houses adjacent to the airport. When we moved there, the sidewalk down from the front of the houses ended at a mud street. Corn field across the street waited to be converted to more housing. By the time we were big enough to ride trikes, our houses were connected by sidewalk, & we were off & pedaling. I broke my big toe jumping out of her tree, pretending I was Tarzan. She dragged me home, sitting on the back of her trike. We made ‘gorgeous’ mud pies (topped with new street tar) to try and feed to neighbor kids. We played a piano duet in our recital (she was better than I was). Later, we camped every weekend at William O’Brien State Park with a friend/family group that became our summer home. Her family took me on their summer vacation, even though they already had six people (& their camping gear) crowded into a sedan. She was responsible for my BB moniker. We passed notes in junior high by slipping them into the music-room piano. I would sign mine ‘Me or LYN.’ She thought it was MERLYN, & so it stuck. Years & locations had separated us, but we always were able to come back together to reminisce about our lives.

“Recently, we had reconnected on Facebook Messenger, in a whole new way. Frequent check-ins on status of our daily lives. I’d inquire of the conditions at her home in California, near fires & smoke. Although I’m not a worrier, it concerned me that a woman with asthma was in that environment. I offered her a spot to crash, should she flee. She declined. I’d make things, & send her pictures. She’d give me praise, & share what she was up to. How she was hoping for travel restrictions to lift, so she could go to Norway again.

“This all stopped on July 10th. I sent her my usual ramblings about life here, & two pictures of my current projects. No response. That’s odd. Oh well, she must be busy. Then the call no one expects. Her sister telling me she had gone to the hospital & had died. What happened? Was anyone there to help her? No answers. I’m left in limbo. You can’t mother the world, but no one you love should be allowed to leave this earth, unheralded. No matter how time & space divide us, we will always be the notorious Adnils, & I, her MERLYN.”

The Permanent Family Record

Including: The Self-Incriminators

UNCLE AL IN RIVER FALLS: “I have a family anecdote for the B.B. that speaks to the fine art of parenting.

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