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YOU ASKED COL President Ford just a patient at Mayo

Was former President Ford ever a Mayo Foundation board member? How about his wife? -- W.W.

Gerald R. Ford, who is at Mayo for evaluation and/or treatment, hasn't been a Mayo Clinic Board of Trustees member, nor has his wife, Betty.

Ford has been the oldest living U.S. president since the passing of Ronald Reagan in June 2004, and judging by the TV satellite trucks in town last week when he arrived, you wondered if he'd hold that distinction much longer. But the trucks have moved along, so presumably his medical condition is acceptable by media standards. No information has been released.

Wishing him well and making all the best assumptions, he'll surpass Reagan as the longest-lived president in U.S. history on Nov. 12.

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Dear Know-it-All: Please, I need to know! And if you can't tell me, to whom shall I go?

There's a rumor going around that we should not put out any plastic items for pickup because they are no longer recycled but are thrown in with the regular trash. Can that be true? -- M.E.

Not in Olmsted County. There's been no change in what the county accepts for recycling, which is Nos. 1 and 2 plastic, generally bottles with necks. Other plastics aren't accepted at this point for lack of recycling markets and for processing reasons.

The county's Garbage and Recycling Information Line is 285-7039.

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ZIP IT: Three readers think I got buffaloed last Monday by a reader named Trick Questioner, who asked which of Rochester's zip codes is least-populated. I said it was 55906, with about 16,150 residents as of the 2000 census.

"I think you failed Monday's trick question to you," wrote one wiseguy. "Rochester's least-populated zip code is 55903, which is the P.O. boxes at the post office! That's OK …; it was your first error this year, right?"

Jesse Wallace of Rochester wrote, "I think Trick Questioner got you last night. There are two zip codes in Rochester with fewer residents than 55906. They are 55903 (post office boxes) and 55905 (Mayo Clinic). I think the answer, then, is 55903 -- mail boxes are too small for residents …; we know that Mayo does have a number of residents, though I expect they are fewer than those in 55906."

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OK, I'll split the difference with Trick Questioner. Of the four zip codes that actually have people in them, 55901 is easily the biggest with about 44,221 residents in northwest Rochester. Then comes 55904 (southeast) with 24,407 and 55902 (southwest) with 18,592. The 55906 area covers northeast Rochester and lots of open country.

In case Trick Questioner is interested, 55904 is the biggest in terms of square miles (63.3) and 55901 is the smallest (32.5).

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PILLOW TALK: A reader named Rose asked Monday if readers know of anywhere you can get feather pillows restuffed and ticked. That prompted a virtual pillow fight among many readers, who say that just about every laundry and dry cleaners in the area offers that service.

Re-elect the Answer Man as your preferred representative of the truth every Monday and Thursday. Send questions to You Asked, P.O. Box 6118, Rochester, MN 55903 or answerman@postbulletin.com.

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