The Superior Express -

Editor's Notebook


February 13, 2020

We can’t say for sure as these notebook entries are being made before the paper is printed, but we do know the chance of printing a paper this week increased significantly when Monday afternoon the man in the brown truck delivered a wooden box to the newspaper office.

There was a time when wooden shipping crates were common. All of the storage shelving in the former Mullet Store buildings now owned by this newspaper was made from wood salvaged from shipping crates. As youngsters, my father and a friend who’s family operated a grocery store made a canoe out of orange crates and canvas. That durable canoe traveled the Republican River between Guide Rock and Warwick.

Today wood is generally used for pallets and the goods being shipped are packed in cardboard boxes stacked on top of the pallets.

I was surprised to see Monday’s shipment arrive in a specially-made wooden box. I had expected a sturdy cardboard box as material in the box could easily be damaged but didn’t expect wood.

Regardless of how it was shipped, the newspaper crew was so excited to see the shipment arrive that we nearly did cartwheels.

The box contained 50 offset printing plates. We order the aluminum plates in lots of 500 which normally are shipped in a heavy box fastened to a special size of wooden pallet. The exterior of the box is stamped with bold warnings telling the trucking companies handling the shipment that they must not stack anything on top of the pallet.

As the plates are made to order at a factory in Illinois, we order at least six weeks in advance. As they have a limited shelf life and cost about $5 each, we give the factory a needed by date and try to have the plates arrive just before needed. For the most recent order, we had advised the factory we would need on Feb. 1.

When February arrived before the plates, we became concerned and started inquiring about the plates. Last Wednesday we learned our order had been placed on hold awaiting further instructions. I certainly didn’t request a hold and the factory was unable to say why the hold was placed.

Thankfully the factory began scrambling and they had 50 plates ready for shipment on Friday. Those are the plates that arrived Monday. The rest of the order is to be shipped this Friday by normal means.

Had we not gotten the plates by Tuesday, we would have had to reduce the size of this newspaper for we didn’t have enough plates for all the work we had scheduled this week.

This is only the second time we have run this close in the nearly 40 years we have been printing the newspaper in Superior with offset plates.

I’ve not forgotten the time when we didn’t have enough plates for a scheduled 2 p.m. press run. That year the plates were shipped via Federal Express. The Fed-X truck was expected to arrive in Superior from the north about 1 p.m. We had an Express employee waiting at the John Deere dealership (the truck’s expected first stop) in order to get the plates as early as possible.

My quiver is full of stories related to special shipments.

Back when bus lines carried express shipments, I’ve met buses at places like Hastings, Belleville, Beloit and even Manhattan, Kan. I’ve chartered airplanes to meet shipments at the Lincoln, Neb., airport. Once I met a vehicle at a Grand Island truck stop. Another time an important package was left in a semi-truck trailer parked in a Lincoln truck lot. That time I was afraid a policeman would see me transferring packages and think I was stealing.

That came pretty close to happening about midnight in Sutton. I had opened the back door of the Sutton newspaper office and was loading up my father’s pickup truck with goods left there for me when I saw a policeman observing what was going on.

When I went to tell the officer what was going on, we were both relieved to discover we knew one another. As I had guessed, he thought he was observing a burglary in process and had called for the assistance of another officer.


Tuesday morning I was surprised to read a friend’s social media post showing a picture taken Monday of her broom standing up straight in her kitchen. The post explained the trick was inspired by a NASA report indicating the earth was at the perfect tilt on Monday to make brooms stand up. Readers were challenged to see if their brooms would do the same.

I tried three brooms on Tuesday morning and all fell over. I first thought perhaps the proper tilt only happened on Monday or a special broom was needed.

I went in search of the supposed NASA report and could find no trace of it. I did learn the standing broom is an old trick. A former employee of a Guide Rock establishment known as the Rock said the former owner frequently demonstrated the standing broom trick. Some customers thought he had glued the broom in place.

The earth’s gravitational pull is responsible for the standing broom trick but the earth’s tilt has nothing to do with it. The proper broom can be made to stand up any day of the year.

A broom’s center of gravity is low and rests right above the bristles. To stand a broom up, one needs to get the bristles positioned like a tripod.

I concluded my attempts failed because I was using well worn brooms with weak and rounded bristles that wouldn’t support the weight of the handle. I may have been able to stand a new broom. I saw a picture of five brooms standing in a row. Pictures showed both the old fashioned corn brooms and the newer plastic brooms standing.

My friend’s Monday night post generated only eight likes but 42 comments including pictures of brooms standing in several states and in Mexico. Some of the posters reported their standing brooms spooked their pet cats and dogs and caused the animals to run for cover.


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