If the Vatican calls, tell them I’m golfing

I’d start off this week by announcing my retirement, but I don’t know how to speak Latin. So I guess I have to come up with a few things to talk about. First and foremost, I really have to sharpen up on my astronomy. I was almost certain I had heard earlier this month that we — as in earthlings — were going to have a close encounter with an asteroid on Thursday of this week. Ends up it was today. You’ve probably already missed it.

The asteroid goes by the very scientific and absolutely non-adventurous name of 2012 DA14. Checking in at roughly half the size of a football field, the space rock sometime today was to pass within 17,000 miles of Earth. By space standards, that’s close. Some of the satellites that help that little device in your car tell you when to turn left are farther away than that.

If it were to hit the Earth instead of just cruise on by, things could get a little messy. Others have in the past, most recently somewhere in Siberia, so we’re not talking global destruction. At least that’s what the scientists are telling us, but ask the dinosaurs how that turns out.

So it’s swinging on by today and all will be well. Except, remember how I told you I thought it was going to be here yesterday? And how maybe those scientists could be a little off in their calculations? So maybe it would hit and send us all into a panic. On Valentine’s Day. Making things too crazy to notice whether a person remembers to give a gift or not. Like I said originally — I really have to sharpen up on my astronomy.

Golf clubs maybe?

So what does one give a Pope for a retirement gift? Since that’s a question that hasn’t been addressed in over 600 years, that’s not an easy one to answer. I’ll bet the office staff at the Vatican has been going nuts this week trying to decide if they should pass the hat for a retirement gift. (And let’s face it, they have some pretty big hats around there.)

It’s not like you can buy him one of those gag walking sticks with the horn and headlights on it and the “sexy senior citizen” sign. That might not go over real well. A gold watch would be nice, but let’s face it, he’s been surrounded by precious metals, priceless art works and lavish architecture for a while now. It would have to be one shiny watch.

Benedict XVI did throw the world for a loop on Monday when he announced he would be retiring at the end of this month, citing health reasons. Catholic and non-Catholic alike found themselves asking, “Can he do that?” We all found out it’s not that it can’t be done, it’s just that it hasn’t been for a long time. It has led to both serious commentary and attempts at humor, but if you were to read the short text of his announcement (easily found on the Internet); it all seems to make sense. If you don’t think you can hold up to the rigors of the position, after prayerful consideration, it’s time for a change.

I texted a priest friend of mine on Monday to ask if he was getting his resume updated for possible submission. He went all Lyndon Johnson on me by saying he would neither seek, nor accept, the nomination. And he even knows Latin.

I’m ready now

Just in case you’ve missed them, all the signs are here again. Next week, horse racing starts in Grand Island. Right now flocks of snow geese are starting to show up in corn-fields near the Platte River. We’ve gone from shirt sleeves to heavy coats and back to shirt sleeves all in the span of three days. And in far-away fields in such exotic locales as Florida and Arizona, pitchers and catchers have reported to work. The calendar may say February, but it’s starting to act a little bit like spring around here.

Now, if 2012 AD14 didn’t knock us off course and send us back to winter, I just might have to move the golf clubs from the basement to the garage.

Russ Batenhorst

Don't expect to detect a common topic or theme in Russ Batenhorst's weekly column in the Hastings Tribune. Usually it's whatever slice-of-life observation pops into his head just in time to make the deadline for it to appear each Friday.

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