Dear EarthTalk:Why on earth would cans and other food storage containers contain toxic BPA that can make us sick? Is there any way to avoid it? - Melinda Billings, Hixson, TN
Down at the sale barn Saturday, the think tank had coagulated there with coffees to go to celebrate spring. Doc and Dud had their dogs with them, while Bert and Dewey and Steve went stag.
Dud tried to start a conversation, but the loudspeaker soon drove them outside, where they arrayed themselves on dropped tailgates and waited to hear what Dud had in mind.
"I thought about it a lot," Dud said, "and I wondered what the favorite part of my job was, and wondered if you fellas ever gave that any thought, too."
They nodded. Yes, by mutual consent a worthy subject.
There's something so satisfying about getting out of bed when the world is still dark and quiet and resting. Making the coffee gives us time to scratch and think. Well, scratch, anyway. Most of that thinking will start after about the third cup of coffee.
Hear ye! Hear ye! Cometh to the think tank this morning Delbert McLain, our very own Chamber of Commerce. A broad smile beameth.
You know, we're really proud of Del. Of course, what he'd like to do is make this valley so rich and crowded that none of us would want to live here anymore, but at least he works really hard at it. We admire hard work.
"Hey Del," Steve said, "pull up a cup and sit down."
It was the cold outside that bound us together better inside the Mule Barn truck stop. The coffee warmed our innards and the laughter at the philosophy counter heated our souls to very comfortable.
It was Doc who noticed it first. He's trained to be observant, of course.
"Dudley, me lad," said Doc, "are you on a diet?"
Dud, whose body would fall into the "just right" category, shook his head.
"Not me, Doc. Why do you ask?"
"Every day, for years, you put sugar in your coffee. You didn't this morning."
Doc was just getting up to leave the philosophy counter as Herb walked in. Herb was grinning and flexing muscles and had the look of eagles in his eyes. We stared.
"Herb," said Doc. "You know, you can overdo a good thing."
"Why Doc ... whatever do you mean?"
"I realize that getting more exercise is your resolution for the new year, but a man your age ... you need to pace yourself a little, that's all. Don't try to get in shape all at once."
Windy Wilson came in to the philosophy counter just about the time we'd finished the hash browns with chile on the side. Red, of course. Windy looked terrible.
"What's wrong, Windy?"
"These here folks today ..." he said. And we gulped a bit when we hear a sentence begun that way. "Folks today..." he sounded resigned, "they don't ever try to unnerstand folks who ain't perzackly like them. And people who have a leetle handiclap? Fergit it!"
Yep. Windy talks like that.
"What happened, Windy?"
The guys were outside at the sale barn, sipping coffee in Styrofoam cups and waiting for someone to say something. Inside, the pitch of the auctioneer was heralding the glories of an old spavined milk cow, and fevered cattlemen were waving cards with numbers on them.
It was quieter outside.
Finally, it was Herb who spoke. "You guys ever burn the toast and then scrape it?"
Toast, huh? Why not?
"Used to do that a lot before the toasters got modern on us," said Doc. "Hardly ever burn any more."
Dewey picked up Emily's yellow dress at the cleaners and drove it back to her here in the valley. They had managed to get most of the wine stains out. But what Dewey hadn't managed to get out that fateful evening at the Italian restaurant was his vow of eternal love for Emily and a suggestion that they become mister and missus Decker.
Oh well, he might give it another try tonight. But this darn clumsiness of his always seemed to get in the way.
It all began when Windy Wilson told the assembled philosophers at the Mule Barn truck stop that he was going to start writing songs so he could win what he called the Nobelly Prize for Lit-a-chur. He said Bob Dylan won it and got money and all kinds of stuff and his name was in the paper, and Windy figured he could do the same thing, only in country music.
Steve had been listening to this for some minutes and finally said, "Windy, tell you what. You write a song, and I'll sing it."
"You can sing?" Windy said.