Category Archives: Baboon Achievers

David vs Goliath

Today’s post comes from Crystalbay

I’ve been MIA for a few weeks because I’m thoroughly embroiled in a fight with city hall. In this city, people aren’t allowed to have a boat at their dock unless they themselves own it. This means that my own kids couldn’t even dock here. I have no boat, and have rented it out every summer for much needed income. A local marina owner found out and filed a complaint against me. I was notified that I had to remove the friend’s boat in one week or face trial. I didn’t comply, then received a summons for a court hearing. Bottom line: I’m facing up to a $1000 fine or 90 days in jail for having one boat at my otherwise empty dock. This money is 1/4 of my annual income, so I decided to fight back.

In a group email to the mayor and city council, I begged for help in resolving this. I explained my situation. I also wrote that, short of help from them, I might have to go public. Not one responded. I’m sure that they thought I was just blowing smoke.

I made one phone call to the StarTribune. They came out the very next day to interview me. A week later, the story was featured on the front page of the Minnesota Section.

What’s happened since this is nothing short of phenomenal. 360 comments followed the article, 95% positive. Someone posted the story on a Lake Minnetonka Fan Club FB page. 250 more comments followed, 98% from people outraged by Orono’s actions. A high end attorney offered pro bono representation. Two more local newspapers wanted in on the action and two more articles brought even more support. I’ve been told that the story spread across the state and that even our governor is following it. I’ve had offers to pay any legal costs or fines. Hundreds have expressed interest in attending my public hearing on Oct. 25th. All three reporters from the three articles published want to be present for possible follow-up articles.

What began as just me and the city locking horns over my dock has taken on a life of its own, with hundreds of people angry about everything from how our tax dollars are being spent to government overreach to how seniors are treated. It seems that disdain for city councils around the lake in general was tapped into by one old lady’s predicament. It’s reminding me of the movie Network when Peter Finch got people to open up their windows and yell, “We’re mad as hell and we’re not gonna take it anymore!!!!!”

In short, my situation going public has touched a palpable and collective nerve in the community across the lake. Even if, as many are predicting, my case gets dismissed, something has clearly been awakened. All I wanted was and is to be able to have one boat at my dock.

What was your David vs Goliath moment? Have you ever had to fight City Hall?

 

 

Slice-o-matic

Although I love cooking, I also love any gadget that makes it easier or quicker. So when I saw a strawberry huller online last week, I was intrigued.  Between the jam and the bags of  berries that I freeze every summer, I spend a lot of time over the sink hulling strawberries with a little sharp knife.  I searched around, discovered that the huller was carried at Bed Bath & Beyond and headed over there on my way down to Northfield to get strawberries. I faced the wall of kitchen gadgets and finally found it, a steal at $7.99 if it made the hulling process easier!  Here’s a quick look at how it works:

And it does work, however, not better than my little sharp knife. After all these years I’m pretty fast, transferring the hulled berry to a bowl while picking up the next strawberry with the hand holding the knife.  With the huller, I ended up having to add an extra step of pushing the button to “dump” the stem and sometimes having to pull twisted stem out of the berry.  After the first batch of jam, I went back to the knife.  It does make a very nice uniform hole if you want to fill the strawberries with something but for a big project, it’s not helpful.  Oh well.

This means that my cherry tomato slicer is still my favorite summertime gadget. I usually have tons of cherry tomatoes every year and the little slicer quickly and easily slices the little tomatoes into four bits.  Did I mention it’s fast?  And easy?  At this time of year I use it almost every day.

What’s your favorite summer gadget?

Stay-cation

For the most part I’m not a fan of new words. I like the words we have and I always have to remind myself that we only have the words we have because at some point somebody made them up.

But every now and then a word comes along that I can embrace wholeheartedly. One of those words is “staycation” – a perfect way to say you are vacationing at home.

Today begins my first day of a nice, long staycation. Because  I’ve been with my company for quite some time, I have a generous number of vacation days and also because of my workload, I don’t get to use too many of them for a chunk of the year.  Now that my big program is out the door, I have to get cracking on these vacation days.  This means a week plus off now, the rest of the Mondays in the summer off and then the entire of State Fair off.

This week though is strictly for hanging out and working on some of the stuff that hasn’t been getting done the last few months – cleaning, straightening, cleaning, yardwork, cleaning. Did I mention cleaning?

On Day One I’m going to make strawberry jam and make some basil-infused oil. I know that doesn’t sound like cleaning, but I do have a mammoth list and it has cleaning projects for every day as well as some of the more fun stuff.

What new word can you embrace?

Family Day

Twenty-three years ago today, a little bundle with a shaved head was put into my arms.

I was half-way around the world, in a hotel in Hufei, China and there were five other bundles being handed off to five other sets of arms at the same time. We spent 8 days in Hufei while all the last bits of paperwork were filled out, signed, stamped and copied (the copier only took one page at a time and after 45 minutes had to sit for a bit to cool down).  Then we headed off to Guangzhou where we had 2 more days of paperwork, but this time U.S. paperwork.

Then the group broke up; Baby and I flew to Hong Kong for an extra day, taking a long taxi drive to the Stanley Market to get a few trinkets, including a Chinese chop with her name carved into it. Then we said goodbye to China and took the long flights to get back to Minnesota.

Most of you know that we celebrate this day every year (usually by going to The Melting Pot). We used to call it “Gotcha Day” since that was when we “got” each other, but when Child was about 10 she announced that she preferred “Family Day”.   She said that “gotcha” made her feel like a package being picked up at the post office.  So now we have Family Day.  Some years we do cards, although never gifts.  I already have the best gift.

Do you have a family tradition that needs re-naming?

The Fugitive

Today’s post comes from Barbara in Rivertown.

I came across an entertaining article recently called “30 Illegal Things Practically Everyone Has Done”   https://bestlifeonline.com/crimes-everyone-has-done/   The following is a list from that article, though I’ve edited it by combining some items, and adding the language in italics.

-using public WiFi

– using a fake name online

– downloading music (w/o paying), movies, TV shows

– drinking underage

– playing poker with friends  ($2000 or more revenue)

– eating something before you bought it

– sharing your password

– using your cell phone while driving

– not updating your driver license when you move

– sharing medication

– jaywalking

– smoking marijuana

– not getting a license for your dog (or cat, in some cities)

– possessing a permanent marker (in Florida and NY)

– writing “disturbing” material (I don’t think this blog counts)

– littering, esp. throwing away a cell phone

– driving over/under the speed limit

– turning right on red, or rolling through a stop sign

– driving through a red light in the middle of the night

– doing a u-turn when it’s illegal

– rolling through a stop sign on your bike, biking on a sidewalk

– not wearing a seat belt

– public intoxication, OR drinking in public (out in the open, away from a bar or restaurant)

– making a meme  (Heck, I still don’t even understand what a meme is.)

Let’s have a little contest – we don’t necessarily need to know WHICH of these illegal things you’ve done, but I think we’ve all done some of them.

How many of these illegal actions have you accomplished?

Any good stories that come to mind?

Another Spring Planting in the Books

Today’s post comes to us from Ben.

It went pretty well; no serious mechanical issues and, once I finally got going, wasn’t delayed by the weather for more than a day or two.

I planted oats on May 6 and 7th. Then it rained for a few days but that’s OK because I was dealing with commencement at the college anyway.

Then I did anhydrous fertilizer on the 17th. Had college events the 18th and 19th. Started to plant corn on the 20th and finished on the 23rd. (Well, really the 24th, but the field I planted on the 24th is at the neighbors and it’s for the deer so it doesn’t really count).

Started soybeans on the 24th, did get rained out for a day and finished on the 28th. Now all that’s left is cleaning up machinery and putting it away until next spring.

There was the one incident with the valve on an anhydrous tank but it was pretty minor. Spilled really very little. No one was in danger and no property was harmed.

There were 3 fire trucks, our local ‘CAT’ (Chemical Assessment Team) the Incident Command Vehicle, two sheriff deputies, Gold Cross Ambulance, The “Incident Commander” and his car, a call to the State Department of Agriculture, another call to the state Duty Officer, a visit from the local anhydrous dealer, six fully clad firemen, and, a few days later, an inspector from the State Department of Agriculture.

Everyone was very nice and very professional and the firemen gave me a Gatorade when it was over.

But really. It was just a little vapor from a valve that hadn’t sealed.

And no breeze so I couldn’t manage to get ‘up wind’ and just enough leakage that I wasn’t comfortable trying to get back up there and try to tighten the valve myself.

I thought if I could just get 1 guy with a respirator, they could close the valve tighter. It wasn’t supposed to turn into a big deal.

But anhydrous is dangerous and can’t be taken lightly. Just today I talked with a guy whose brother got a burst of anhydrous and inhaled just a little. He’s got a couple small, minor burns (freeze burns) and was hospitalized for a couple days because of issues with his throat from inhaling that bit. He’s lucky too.

I pushed my luck a couple times this year. And I wasn’t even trying! But that’s a story for another day.

 Had any experience with the fire department?

Learning the Hard Way

Today’s post comes to us from Steve.

It is always interesting, after the fact, to remember the decisions you made that caused some bad thing to happen. Looking back, you can see the errors. But at the time, you were doing things that made sense.

One of the staple foods I have in my kitchen cabinets is honey. I grew up eating peanut butter and honey sandwiches. In the poverty of my first year of graduate school, I sometimes had peanut butter and honey sandwiches three times a day. I couldn’t afford anything else.

But honey has a nasty habit of crystallizing. The honey gets dull and solid until it will no longer come out of a squeeze dispenser. That just happened to me. But I had an inspiration for melting the crystallized goo back into liquid honey. I popped my honey dispenser in the microwave and nuked it for just 20 seconds. The photo shows what happened. The dispenser will never be the same, and I had to mop up honey from all over the microwave.

That’s one dumb stunt I’ll never do again, for I learned that lesson the hard way.

In the summer of 1970 my erstwife (let’s call her Carol in this story) and I lived along the Saint Croix River. We discovered a wonderful fishing hole north of us, just upstream of Osceola, Wisconsin. Night after night we’d go upriver to our fishing spot at the foot of an island and—quite literally—catch fish until our arms got tired.

Then Carol got busy, and I began fishing alone. The canoe wasn’t stable without a person in the front end, so I found a large boulder that I called “Carol.” I put the rock in the front of the canoe to keep everything steady while I fished. The rock worked so well that I safely walked around the canoe standing up, which is not something the experts recommend.

One afternoon in September I enjoyed what I knew would be my last evening of fishing for that season. Grad school and work were about to start up, so I’d not fish there again until next year. I canoed back downstream to the Osceola bridge where my car was parked. I realized I no longer needed my boulder. With the canoe close to shore, I walked to the front of the canoe, grabbed “Carol” (the rock) and chucked her overboard.

In cartoons when Wile E. Coyote has just made a fatal error there is a terrifying pause. Time stops as he processes what he has done and what is going to happen to him. The cartoon is absolutely true to life. On the river I had my Wile E. Coyote moment. For several seconds I contemplated the fact that I was standing upright in an unstabilized canoe. Then the thing spun like a birling log under a lumberjack. I went sailing, my fishing rod flew even further, and soon we were both in the river. I survived. The fishing rod was never seen again.

And I never walked upright in a canoe again. Well, you don’t forget a lesson you learn the hard way.

What have you learned the hard way?