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Q: Who were the owners of the Sterling Financial Co. in Waterloo?

A: In the 2002 city directory, Brian Anderson was listed as the owner of Sterling State Financial Co.

Q: Is there a handheld device to double check for gas leaks, instead of calling the fire department?

A: There are several models; if you can’t find them locally, you can order online. Prices seem to be in the $100-150 range for most of them.

Q: Do any rivers run east or west? Or all they all north to south?

A: Rivers run downhill. whatever the direction, and often have to curve around local topography. There are plenty that flow in other directions. The Columbia River, for instance, starts out flowing northwest, then south, then turns to flow west and empty into the Pacific Ocean.

Q: In the early 1950s, I worked at a grocery store on West Fourth Street, and there was a theater close by. Do you know the name of the store?

A: The 1954 city directory lists the Orpheum at 420-22 W. Fourth. Nearby were the A&P, the National Tea Co., Roma Jane’s and the Piggly Wiggly, all on West Fourth.

Q: When did the Supreme Court come into existence? And did they always have lifetime appointments?

A: The Supreme Court was established by the U.S. Constitution, and the tradition of lifetime appointments also goes back that far: “The judicial Power of the United States shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services, a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.” The first court dates to 1789.

Q: How can I write to Garrison Keillor?

A: Send mail to him at Prairie Home Productions, 611 Frontenac Place, St. Paul, MN 55104, or send mail through the website at

Q: When an illegal alien is deported by federal agents, what happens to their assets?

A: It depends on what the assets are and what legal arrangements are made. The assets will still belong to that person — they may be sold, transferred to other family members or money sent to the person’s home country.

Q: What’s the difference between a hurricane and a typhoon?

A: The only difference between hurricanes and typhoons is location. Hurricanes are severe tropical cyclones that develop in the Atlantic and northeast Pacific, and typhoons are severe tropical cyclones that develop over the northwest Pacific.

Q: I live in a condo building that has a water softener hooked up to both hot and cold water. What can I do to get rid of the salt in the cold water so I can drink it? I have high blood pressure.

A: The Mayo Clinic says you might consider a water purification system that uses potassium chloride, or installing a water filter to remove sodium.

Calls are taken on a special Courier phone line at 234-3566. Questions are answered by Courier staff and staff at the Waterloo Public Library.

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