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Weekly Columns!

All your favorite weekly columns and letters to the editor- online!

 Editor's Notebook, by Bill Blauvelt A Different Slant, by Chuck Mittan

Editor's Notebook, by Bill Blauvelt
Thanks to an unwelcome visitor, this week's Superior City Council meeting was more exciting than most. Two police officers were present for the meeting but they were there on other business and just happened to be drawn into the excitement caused by the visitor who created a disturbance throughout most of the meeting.
The officers were unable to calm the visitor who created a nearly continuous disturbance in the southeast corner of the council room. From time to time it appeared Officer Jill Allgood and Librarian Vicki Perrie tried unsuccessfully to restore the meeting's decorum.
After the meeting adjourned, Larry Brittenham, manager of city utilities, went to assist.
He was able to explain the situation.
Several days earlier it was discovered a mouse had taken up residence in the city office building. Traps had been set including one in the top drawer of the cabinet located at the southeast corner of the conference room.
During the meeting, Allgood and Perrie heard the snap of the trap, looked into the drawer and the excitement began. The mouse was not happy and began banging the trap against the cabinet.
That much was easy to explain but the final outcome of the incident will require additional investigation.
When Brittenham opened the top drawer expecting to find a mouse caught in a trap, neither were in the drawer. And they were not found in the drawers below.
Where did the mouse go? Perhaps time will tell.
----
A small toy known as a Fidgit is currently popular with our youngsters. Fidgits are small plastic devices which can be held and spun.
I thought they looked like harmless distractions designed to drive teachers and parents crazy but that may be wrong. I saw a bulletin this morning calling for the recall of Fidgits. Apparently, the toys can break apart and at least one youngster has been rushed to a hospital after swallowing part of the toy.
The Fidgit reminded me of my grade school days when I longed to have a ruler like the one my best friend had.
All I had was a plain wooden ruler my mother had when she was in school. It had only one hole at the left end, apparently so it could be hung on a wall when not in use. But my friend's ruler had a series of holes including one in the very center.
That center hole made it possible to balance the ruler on a sharpened pencil. Then it could be spun like an airplane propeller. I thought it lots of fun to spin the ruler.
While I don't remember anyone recalling the rulers because of the danger they posed. The rulers were probably capable of causing great harm.
Get the ruler spinning rapidly and then tilt the pencil and the ruler went sailing through the air. Sometimes the flying ruler hit another youngster or damaged a fellow student's art project.
I don't remember it happening, but I suppose someone could have been cut by ruler's sharp metal edge. What about the damage that could have been caused by letting a ruler fly in a glass blower's shop?
My mother never saw the need to buy one of the rulers with a center hole and I didn't acquire mine until I was in the eighth grade. I treasured that ruler and used a ballpoint to carve my name and my Superior Junior High School home room number in the soft wood of the ruler's back side. I still have the ruler and I can still read Bill Blauvelt Room 2.
I haven't spun the ruler for a long time but I'm thinking about doing so. If I had the ruler with me now, I'd have to take a little work break and release my fidgit tensions with a little ruler spinning.
I understand some teachers are now allowing their pupils to play with the fidgit toys in the class room. I don't think I could ever have done that while in the classrooms maintained by Superior Junior High teachers like Ella King Bob Applegate, Greta Svendsen and Richard Sweat.
Looking back, I should have saved my mother's ruler for it was a promotional piece given away by the Superior Coca-Cola Bottling Company. If I still had it, I might be able to sell it to a collector of Coca-Cola memorabilia.


A Different Slant, by Chuck Mittan

NEBRASKALand Magazine has been a staple for generations of readers. Like many other publications, they occasionally produce supplements to their magazine, in the form of special pull-out sections or entire bonus publications.
One such bonus publication, a guide to all Nebraska fish as well as the sport of angling in the state, came out many years ago. I checked it out of my local library repeatedly ­­ sometimes to positively identify something we'd caught while fishing or gathering bait with a seine; sometimes just to reread the articles and look at the beautiful photo. NEBRASKALand is known for their excellent photography. In time, the book, which was soft-bound just like the magazine, was held together with tape and rubber bands. I knew the library would eventually discard the book when it became too bad to repair, so I tasked a book seller I know to locate and buy a copy for me, which she did with no problem.
Several weeks ago, I accompanied my friend to the river with a seine to help replenish his bait tank. In addition to helping with the seine, I am in charge of making sure no game fish or endangered minnows end up in his bait tank. My reward for this is I get to keep anything interesting we catch for one of my aquariums. I typically have at least one tank set up with "native" fish. At that time, I had a 30-gallon tank set up with about a dozen red shiners, the most attractive (and abundant) member of the shiner family in the river. My plan was to watch for them and hopefully get another handful for that tank, which I did. We also caught a large number of one type of small fish I wasn't terribly familiar with. It resembled a Chinese algae eater, a common tropical fish in the aquarium world, but with different markings. I took a pair of them home for the 30-gallon native tank and retrieved my book from the shelf to see what I had.
I figured they would turn out to be very young drums, or some other type of suckerfish we have in the river, but I was wrong. They are, in fact, Phenacobius mirabilis; more commonly, suckermouth minnows. Once identified, I was able to search the web and see if anyone else had experience with them in an aquarium. Not surprisingly, I found people who had. They don't eat algae at all, so they will be no help in that regard, but they seem to be hardy and peaceful and will remain reasonably small, so they're an excellent fit for that aquarium.