Poll Cats

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

We are just over a month away from the general election and your favorite candidate is either ahead, behind or statistically tied depending on which poll you read and when.

But there are other non-political polls conducted. Following are the odd results. Some are humorous, some make you scratch you head and wonder “why?”

So chuckle as you massage that cranial itch with these poll results from ‘Uncle John’s Lists that Make You Go…Hmmmmm’

  • 9% of American households dress up their pet for Halloween.
  • 12% of Americans think Joan of Arc was Noah’s wife.
  • 22% of Australians claim to have an ancestor who was a convict.
  • 27% of female lottery winners hid their winning ticket in their bra.
  • 27% of Americans say broccoli is their favorite vegetable.
  • 27% of Facebook users have check their status while sitting on the toilet.
  • 29% of Americans admit they have stolen something from a store.
  • 49% of Americans don’t know white bread is made from wheat.
  • 58% of Americans have called in sick to work when they weren’t sick.
  • 67% of American men prefer boxers to briefs.
  • 75% of college students expect to become millionaires.
  • 76% of Americans prefer the toilet paper to hang over the top.
  • 82% of TV viewers think reality TV shows are scripted (Ya think?!?)
  • 90% of Americans rode in a grocery cart when they were a kid.
  • 100% of Curt Comment readers have completed another weekly reading of this final unscientific poll result.

A Day Of Equality

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

The Autumnal Equinox—that time when the amount of daylight and dark is equal and signals the first day of fall—is tomorrow, Sept. 22. And according to the signs of nature in the wilderness, everything is on track.

The dogwood leaves are turning tinges of red, orange and yellow and this spring’s white blooms have developed into bright red berries. The tree is unique in that it also sets buds for next spring’s blooms while producing seeds for this year’s future crops.

And on the subject of crops, I am disappointed to report that as big a boom as the blackberry crop was this summer, the paw-paw production was a bust. Emma the Great Pyrenees and I went on a walk-a-bout to the paw-paw patch and found not a single Hoosier banana.

The bronze bell shaped blooms occur very early in the spring before bees and most other pollinators are out and about. I saw a few blooms this spring but perhaps the heavy and frequent rains had something to do with the lack of pollination. Perhaps the lack of crop is due to that or the neighborhood raccoons and possums beat us to the crop.

While paw-paws may be in short supply, stick-tights, burrs and other clothing and fur catching seeds are again abundant and hitching a ride. Emma hasn’t quite learned the patience of sitting still and allowing the burrs to be removed from her furs.

On our walk, the golden rod is in bloom and folklore indicates that the first frost will be within six weeks.

In our youth we were told that it was Jack Frost and ice crystal forming temperatures caused the fall color. Nope, it’s the changing light. While we humans haven’t noticed too much of a change, the tree leaves have noticed the diminished light of day and are shutting down green chlorophyll production showing the leaves true colors.

And the Hoosier Hills will be colorful in a few weeks. Then the leaves fall and the compost making begins.

And the equinox is my sign to get out the big box bug repellant and spray around the doors and windows. Cooling temperatures mean the masses of ladybugs will be fall rendezvousing to seek shelter for the winter. There’s plenty shelter under tree bark. We don’t like sharing domicile relations with flying ladybugs. Of course, Willow the cat thinks they are grand fun.

With the official start of fall, it means I will need to make my annual pilgrimage to the hickory nut honey hole where I expect the crop report to be better than the paw-paw.

Perhaps more on that subject later.

Units & Measures Not Taught In School

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

For those like me who thought the hardest part of Charles Bard’s high school physics class was the constant conversion from metric to English units, here are some useful Hoosier Humor System Conversions.

  • Ratio of an igloo’s circumference to its diameter: Eskimo Pi
  • 2,000 pounds of Chinese soup: Won ton
  • 1 millionth of a mouthwash: 1 microscope
  • Time between slipping on a peel and smacking the pavement: 1 bananosecond
  • Weight an evangelist carries with God: 1 billigram
  • Time it takes to sail 220 yards at 1 nautical mile per hour: Knot-furlong
  • 365.25 days of drinking low-calorie beer because it’s less filling: 1 lite year
  • 16.5 feet in the Twilight Zone: 1 Rod Serling
  • Half of a large intestine: 1 semicolon
  • 1,000 aches: 1 megahurtz
  • Basic unit of laryngitis: 1 hoarsepower
  • 453.6 graham crackers: 1 pound cake
  • 1 million-million microphones: 1 megaphone
  • 1 million bicycles: 2 megacycles
  • 365.25 days: 1 unicycle
  • 2,000 mockingbirds: two kilomockingbirds
  • 10 cards: 1 decacards
  • 1 kilogram of falling figs: 1 Fig Newton
  • 1,000 grams of wet socks: 1 literhosen
  • 1 millionth of a fish: 1 microfiche
  • 1 trillion pins: 1 terrapin
  • 10 rations: 1 decoration
  • 100 rations: 1 C-ration
  • 2 monograms: 1 diagram
  • 8 nickels: 2 paradigms
  • 2.4 statute miles of intravenous surgical tubing at Yale University Hospital: 1 I.V. League
  • 100 Senators: Not 1 decision
  • Shortest distance between two jokes: A straight line

Headlines That Make Us Go ‘Huh?’

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

You are reading a newspaper that is in the vast minority: a locally owned, individually operated news publication. Most print media are owned by chains or corporations. Often corporations have policies that sound good on paper but in practicality are pretty useless.

For instance, one newspaper chain has as a part of its safety policy that employees are not allowed to use their cell phone while driving. They must pull over to the side of the road and stop to take a call. Not a very practical thing to do and when you do, your editor will let you know that when he/she calls you are to pick up immediately.

But regardless of the inane policies, the thing both locally and corporate owned newspapers have in common is the ability to write a headline that is true but after it gets in print everyone wonders “What were they thinking?”

So, poking fun at our own mistakes, here are some printed headlines for your enjoyment:

  • Barbershop Singers Bring Joy To School For The Deaf
  • Physician Shortage Prompts Hospitals To Hire Doctors
  • Man With 8 DWIs Blames Drinking Problem
  • New Sick Policy Requires 2-Day Advance Notice
  • Parents Keep Kids Home To Protest School Closure
  • Starvation Can Lead To Health Hazards
  • The Bra Celebrates A Pair Of Historic Milestones This Year
  • Total Lunar Eclipse Will Be Broadcast Live On Public Radio
  • 4 Out Of 3 People Struggle With Math
  • Statistics Show That Teen Pregnancy Drops Off Significantly After Age 25.
  • Federal Agents Raid Gun Shop, Find Weapons
  • Marijuana Issue Sent To A Joint Committee
  • Homicide Victims Rarely Talk To Police
  • City Unsure Why Sewer Smells
  • Bridges Help People Cross Rivers
  • 17 Remain Dead In Morgue Shooting Spree
  • Study Shows Frequent Sex Enhances Chance Of Pregnancy
  • Man Accused Of Killing Lawyer Receives New Attorney
  • Miracle Cure Kills Fifth Patient
  • Princess Diana Was Still Alive Hours before She Died
  • Police Arrest Naked Man With Concealed Weapon
  • Real Estate Market Slowdown Continues To Accelerate
  • Stolen Prosthetic Arm Discovered In Secondhand Shop
  • Suspected Beer thief Leaves Liquid Trail
  • Spay/Neuter Clinic For Low Income Residents
  • Police Charge One-Armed Man With Armed Robbery
  • Caskets Found As Workers Demolish Mausoleum
  • Red Tape Holds Up New Bridge
  • Teacher Strikes Idle Kids
  • State Population Increase Linked to Babies
  • Air Traffic Controllers Can Apply for Job In Braille

A Southern Indiana Rite Of Passage

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

(This is an encore column from the Curt Comments archives.)

I felt something shaking my foot through the covers of my bed. I really didn’t want to open my eyes because it seemed they had only drifted off to sleep just moments before.

Then there was that foot shaking again followed by a raspy half-whisper so not to awaken by brother sleeping in the next bed over “You going to go huntin’?” my dad asked.

Immediately my eyes popped open. That was why I couldn’t fall asleep. Knowing Dad & I were going squirrel hunting the next morning had wired my 11-year-old mind better than any caffeine could have. Sleep just wouldn’t come in anticipation of my first squirrel hunt.

I threw back the bed sheet on that very early late-August Saturday morning now over 50 years ago and grabbed my hunting clothes which I had laid out the night before.

As I got to the kitchen, Dad was going through his squirrel hunting early morning ritual. “You want some coffee?” he asked as he let the hot water run from the tap and dumped a spoonful of instant coffee into a cup.

Figuring that was what all hunters did as a part of their pre-hunt, I yawned with a sleepy “Yeah.”

He put the guns in the old Dodge truck, and as we drove to Grandpa’s woods, I drank the bitter, tepid beverage hoping that maybe someday I’d get accustomed the taste.

Grandpa’s woods was near Dudleytown. It was nearly level, plenty of beech and hickory trees, and Grandpa kept it mowed to keep a good pasture for the cows he had grazing throughout the summer.

There was plenty of food for the squirrels, the walking and moving was easy and we didn’t have to worry too much about making excessive noise because the squirrels were accustomed to all the cows.

Dad used a 12 ga. pump shotgun. He handed me a .22/.410 over and under. “If you can get a good bead on one use the rifle. If you miss, bust him out with the shotgun,” he told me.

We had talked for days before and he told me the best way to hunt was to find a comfortable place to sit so I could see several likely trees and wait for the limbs to start moving or cuttings to start falling and follow them up to find the squirrel.

He went over gun safety and making sure not to shoot at anything on the ground or running up a tree and to be sure of my target before squeezing the trigger.

“Be careful and good luck” he said as he creeped through the woods to his favorite spot to hunt.

The early dawn air was thick with humidity and sweet with the smell of ripening corn just a field away. The dew was so heavy my pants had been soaked from the knees down before we got halfway from the truck to the woods.

I sat at the base of a hollow beech snag, cradled by the large sprawling roots and waited for some more sunlight to arrive. I looked to the treetops and, being new at hunting, wasn’t real sure just what I was looking for.

But I would remember over and over what Gramp and my Dad had told me: “Listen for the sound of water dripping through the leaves. It’s either a squirrel cutting on a nut or a squirrel moving through the tree branches.”

It wouldn’t be long before I heard that sound and could add another possibility its cause: birds. Birds could get a squirrel hunter’s adrenaline flowing only to end up being a fickle lover when you found their true identity.

Sometimes when you try to concentrate on the silence of the woods, listening for a faint giveaway sound of game, you hear things that aren’t there.

Like that sound of water dripping through the trees that I was hearing…or thought I was hearing. No, I was hearing it.

I searched the nearby treetops moving only my eyes looking for its source. Finally I acquiesced and moved my head around trying to see where that sound was coming from.

Then some white and green tinged shreddings of hickory nut hull fell just within arm’s reach of me. I contorted my head and eventually my whole body—at least as much as an 11-year-old who has never hunted can—to search for that squirrel.

Finally, with my body stretched out at an impossible angle to hold for a steady shot, I saw a bit of bushy brown tail.

My heart began pounding even harder. Knowing that if I moved for a better shot angle the squirrel would be gone. I decided to lie flat on my back on the ground. I could see a bushy tail flick as more and more hickory hulls peppered all around me. But with the iron sights, I couldn’t see any part of the squirrel to take a shot.

“Be sure of your target” I remember Dad telling me.

Not wanting to be embarrassed by missing the first squirrel I ever spotted, I made what I thought was a pretty logical decision for my age and experience: use the shotgun.

So I clicked down to the .410 barrel, laid back, and after a bit of wavering, drew a solid bead on the location of the vital parts of the squirrel.

BLAM!

It would not be for several years later in Mr. Bard’s high school physics class that I would be introduced to Newton’s laws of motion. Specifically about any action requiring an equal and opposite reaction. The ground doesn’t move with the recoil of a shotgun.

All I knew at the time was my arm, my shoulder, my collar bone hurt. But up I jumped as soon as I heard a nearby thud on the ground.

Dad said as he walked up all he saw was a broad, beaming smile picking up his first squirrel.

The Wilderness Is A Jungle

Curt-lineby Curt Kovener

We are fast approaching Labor Day, that near the end of summer 3-day weekend holiday where I try to catch-up on all of the outdoor work that didn’t get done in preparation for autumn and the ultimately later frigid weather.

Owing to alternating horribly hot & humid Hoosier weather making me opt for the inside air conditioning in hopes of cooler days for outdoor work and the frequent Midwest monsoons leaving the lake level going out the emergency overflows and wilderness run-off creeks running most of the summer, I have more than ample outdoor work.

There’s the rutted lane due to the aptly named ‘gulley warsher’ rains that need re-re-graded again.

There are the weeds growing along the lake and creek that since May I promised myself I would get the string trimmer and cut back. That was a promise broken multiple times. And the weeds kept growin’

There are the plethora of sticks, limbs, parts of trees that have died, decayed and fallen during the wind and rains on either the lane or the several acres of grass that gets cut. Sticks on the lane that are too big to run over causes a slight delay in exiting or entering the property while the vehicle is stopped, driver gets out, and wood offal gets tossed into the forest where it can complete its decay.

Of course there’s the blade sharpening that is on-going and the mower-engine-drive train tweaking to get one more mowin’ before major maintenance must be done.

I’ve not even started the chainsaw this season to cut wood for the fireplace. But I don’t have to replenish much thanks to El Nina the warmer than usual last winter didn’t deplete my woodshed as much as previous years.

On the gardening to-do list is making raised bed half barrel planters for root crops. Here in the wilderness, voles, shrews, mice and underground dwelling bugs thoroughly welcome our efforts to grow potatoes, turnips, and onions for their meals.

There have been some success stories. The clearance hanging pot ferns we bought for $5 looked pretty pathetic back in early June, but weekly fertilizing, daily watering and vocal encouragement has resulted in two lush hanging baskets that will need to be divided before storing away in the basement for winter.

The white & purple butterfly bushes have rebounded from the trimming that Emma the Great Pyrenees puppy teethingly gave them in the spring to be attracting flying flowers and hummingbirds in August.

The purple leaves of Persian Shield and the sweet potato vine have gotten along famously as they spread over much of the front porch, almost like kudzu.

And there is the first year effort growing colorful caladium and mammoth elephant ear. And again, the bulbs came from the discount bin at the big box store and we got them in the pots late. But the same kind of fertilizing, watering and encouragement has resulted in a deck rail full of red, green, white & yellow caladium and large elephant ears that wave in the breeze. The largest ear measure 24”x30” and can look me in the eye.

Some aspects of the wilderness jungle aren’t a bad thing.