Dive right in ... or maybe wait two weeks

Answer Man, I warn you, this is a disgusting question, but I’ll ask it anyway. Is it true that if you’ve had diarrhea within the past month that you shouldn’t swim in a public pool? — Concerned Mother

Disgusting, yes, but not entirely accurate. The Minnesota Department of Health advises against taking a dip in a public pool or pond within two weeks of a gastric bout such as diarrhea. Ditto for incidents of vomiting.

I may as well continue in this vein: The health department also says you should change your kid’s diaper in a bathroom, not near the pool or beach, and it’s always a good idea to "avoid swallowing water or getting water in your mouth."

Are crystal skulls real? — A.R.

Yes, they’re just as real as bone skulls. Though Indiana Jones gets all the fame and fortune connected with these artifacts, even the Smithsonian Institution has one. Some people say these objects, carved from clear or translucent quartz, date from pre-Columbian times, but according to the Smithsonian, they’re about as authentic as the Kensington runestone.


RHETORICAL QUESTION: I’ll let this Answer Man fan vent for a moment, to make him or her feel better.

"Dear Answer Man, it has been such a fun and exciting spring here in Rochester, except for the smokers that huddle on the curbs and near doorways and hang their cigarettes out the windows of their vehicles. What is even more disturbing about smokers is that they do not comply with littering laws or the potential harm to others by flicking their butts everywhere.

"During the most recent Litter-Bit-Better campaign, I was one of the litter picker-uppers ... I witnessed an individual who had limited use of his arms get a smoking cigarette thrown into his lap by a smoker. This person was helpless, until another person and I went to his rescue. Why is it accepted for smokers to litter in the laps of others and along our streets?"

While police are otherwise occupied and rarely write tickets for littering, I’m guessing they’d probably ticket the guy who tossed the cigarette butt in the handicapped man’s lap.

That said, littering is illegal; smoking is not, at least in the great outdoors.

ANOTHER SPIN: Last week, I took a shot in the dark at the provenance of the windvanes atop two silos near the University of Minnesota-St. Paul campus, idly guessing the windvanes might be from a New England manufacturer way back when.

A few readers offered a better theory — that the silos (and windvanes) were produced by Rochester Silo, the local company that manufactured silos from 1914 through about 1990, and Jerry Price, who’s vice president of an associated business, says that’s correct. At its peak in 1980, Rochester Silo produced about 2,000 concrete silos per year. Since then, the firm has morphed into Rochester Concrete Products, which still produces a small number of silos at a Wisconsin plant.

The company began producing windvanes for their silos in the early ’70s, Jerry says. "When farmers are spreading manure, they like to know which way the wind’s blowing," he says, so the company obliged by providing windvanes through about 1985.


You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows — you need the Answer Man. Send questions to P.O. Box 6118, Rochester, MN 55903 or

For more wit and wisdom, check out the Answer Man archives at

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