Category Archives: News

Missing the Party

I missed the “biggest shopping event ever”. Not only did I miss it, I didn’t even realize I was missing it.  I’m talking about Prime Day on Amazon.  Turns out that it’s a great big sale for those who are signed up for Prime.  I noticed a story about it the day after it was over – the first I’d heard of it.

Turns out that 100 million products were sold with the FireTV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote leading the way as the number one seller. I don’t even know what a FireTV Stick is.  The Echo Dot came in second.  I don’t know what that is either.  Apparently another big selling item was the Instant Pot multicooker.  I DO know what that is. In fact, if I had been a Prime member and if I’d known about the sale, I might have been interested.  But I don’t spend enough on Amazon in a year to justify the cost of Prime and getting a glorified pressure cooker isn’t a big enough incentive to change that.

But it makes me worry that not only did I now know that this event was happening, I also don’t even know what the top selling items were. Am I out of step with my own culture? Is the world speeding up while I’m slowing down?

Should I worry?

Bear Ballyhoo

I just don’t like meetings very much. If you have information to impart, just send me an email.   I’m particularly bad at brainstorming meetings – you know, where you write down all your outrageous idea on post-it notes, or on huge sheets of paper stuck up on the wall.  The moderator ALWAYS starts out with “every idea is valuable” and warns everyone not to bring up negatives.

This is hard for me. I’m a problem solver and when presented with a problem and possible solutions, my brain immediately starts working through each solution to see if it’s viable, if it could solve the problem.  Of course, most of the ideas that get thrown out at brainstorming meetings are ridiculous and can easily be ruled out as good solutions – but only if you’re allowed to rule them out.  As I’ve never been able to stop my mind from looking for the logistics in brainstorming meetings, I tend to sit quietly, taking notes.  Luckily my boss knows this about me and she rarely asked me to take part in these kinds of sessions.

But boy, Build-a-Bear could have used someone like me in the meeting where they decided to run a “Pay Your Age” promotion one day last week. If you brought in your child, you could get a bear for your child’s age… and even if you were getting the bear for yourself, the cap on the price was $29.  Here’s one of the many news stories from Thursday:

“Pay Your Age” could only have come up during a brainstorming meeting in which everybody had been exhorted to listen to all ideas fairly and not comment. It’s hard to imagine a lot of experienced business people not being able to think through the problems with this marketing ploy unless they were cowed into silence. How could they not know there would be an immediate and huge response to them basically giving the bears away?   How could they not figure out that a few employees in the stores would not be able to handle the crush of customers?  And how could they not think about the natural reactions of people with their kids standing in line for hours, being jostled by the strangers in front and behind them?

Obviously my observations are in hindsight, but I’m pretty sure if I’d been in that brainstorming meeting, my brain would have come up with a lot of reasons why this wouldn’t work – at least in the way it was rolled out. But would I have said anything or just taken a bunch of notes about how stupid meetings are?

So bears. Yea or nay?

Life Imitates Art?

Many babooners will remember in Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant Massacree from the late 1960s. One detail that always tickled me was that The Police located them after finding one of their names on an envelope at the bottom of the pile of garbage they’ve thrown over a cliff.

Well, laugh all we want:  I found this recently in the Police Blotter from the Winona Post (our twice-weekly rag also called “The Shopper”):

  • At 6:21 p.m. deputies received a report of garbage dumped illegally on McArthur Ravine Road. Deputies located a shipping address in the trash, and made multiple attempts to reach M___ A___ of Plainview, MN, without success. M. A. was mailed a citation for illegal dumping.”

Husband and I have been reading the Police Blotter lately, mainly for comic relief from the grim and alarming news that we encounter elsewhere. Here are some gems (italics are my own reactions):

  • At 10:07 a.m. an adult male moved furniture from a vehicle and dumped it on his lawn…  (More shades of Alice’s Restaurant)
  • At 3 p.m. an adult male reported that the key to the trunk of his vehicle had been stolen from his keyring inside the vehicle, parked on the 650 block of W. Sarnia St.  (Remind me to not leave my keyring IN the car…)
  • At 8:46 a.m. officers received a report from an adult female that her car had been scratched on the hood and door while parked near County Road 12.  (Must have been a slow day.)
  • At 7:30 p.m. deputies received a report of the theft of a goat from an adult female in Altura. The woman reported that one juvenile presented the goat to another juvenile, and when the two ended a relationship, the first juvenile requested the return of the goat, but the second party would not comply. Deputies recommended that the parties involved resolve the matter civilly. (If this solution works, maybe we can do away with courts, jails, etc.)

And my personal favorite:

  • At 5:03 p.m. an adult male on the 200 block of E. Garvin Heights Road reported that 40 goats with pink spots were in a field near his home.  The reporting party believed the goats had been fired on with a paintball pistol. (I am speechless; for the entire story: )

Anything fun or interesting in your paper’s Police Blotter report?

When have you noticed that life imitates art?

Baboon redux-Bully!

This post went up on 11/17/ 2016.  Since then, it has all gone to hell in a hand basket.

North Dakota doesn’t have a native son who became president. I think the only president who ever lived in North Dakota was Teddy Roosevelt.  We have clasped him to our collective bosom, however, and his only presidential library is due to be built about 4 blocks from my house, on the former rodeo grounds at our local college.  The Theodore Roosevelt Center At Dickinson State University website tells us:

“Theodore Roosevelt established two ranches in the badlands of western North Dakota: one called the Maltese Cross seven miles south of the Northern Pacific Railroad (1883) and the other called the Elkhorn, 35 miles north of the village of Medora, North Dakota (1884). Roosevelt never owned a single acre in North Dakota. Like most other ranchers in the badlands, he was a squatter on lands that still belonged to the public domain or the NP Railroad. The Maltese Cross (Chimney Butte) Ranch had already been named by the time he invested in it. He named his second ranch the Elkhorn after he found the horns of two male elk interlocked at the site. The elk had been butting heads in a struggle for primacy when their horns became locked. Unable to extricate themselves, the elk died of starvation. This appealed to Roosevelt, who regarded life as a Darwinian struggle.”

“At the Elkhorn Roosevelt ranched and played cowboy, went on long solo horseback rides, often for many days at a time, and hunted for elk, mule deer, white tail deer, and other quadrupeds. He also grieved for his mother and his first wife Alice, who died together in New York City on Valentine’s Day 1884. In fact, at the Elkhorn TR wrote the only tribute he would ever pen for Alice, who died two days after giving birth to Roosevelt’s first child Alice. He also wrote parts of two of his 35-plus books at the Elkhorn.”

The plan is to rebuild the Elkhorn Ranch house next to the library. For that purpose, large cottonwood logs have been collected from the area, and local ranchers are encouraged to donate logs to rebuild the 60 x 30 foot cabin. A builder from South Dakota has been hired to build the cabin by hand using only tools that were available to Roosevelt’s builders. You can see some of the logs that have already been hauled to the grounds.

It will be quite a job, and I look forward to seeing progress on the cabin when I drive to work each day. The Legislature set aside many millions of dollars to build the library, as long as the TR Center could raise 3 million more. They have a ways to go, but are optimistic that the library and the cabin will both get finished.

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June, 2018.  Well, the library committee, a group of people who are not from North Dakota,  decided for multiple reasons last month that the cabin and the library will be built in Medora, about 40 miles west of here.  The logs will be moved to Medora.  They are stacked in sad piles and it will be hard to move them.  The college administration is upset because they gave up the rodeo grounds and now they want the library committee to pay several hundred of thousands of dollars to restore the rodeo arena. The city donated a couple of hundred dollars to endure the library came to our town.  Now they want their money back.

From a recent local newspaper article:

Dickinson State University had to sacrifice its rodeo grounds to make way for what was going to be the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library—but with the library gone now to Medora, what remains is an unkempt field, neglected logs and a looming cost.

“Many of us were very hopeful that the library would go in Dickinson but we understand there are other desires by the foundation board,” Nicholas Hacker, chair of the North Dakota State Higher Education Board’s Budget and Finance Committee, said in a phone interview. “Our goal at this point was ‘how to ensure the land will be returned in the condition it was provided. DSU provided … about 25 acres of land, which effectively was a rodeo grounds.”

The university has been making use of a rodeo arena provided at the Stark County Fairgrounds south of town, but they had previously had their own grounds on their own property, which was in proximity to the department of agriculture building, allowing animals to be brought from the indoor structure there to the rodeo grounds without a lot of exposure.

“We removed the DSU rodeo grounds for the impending coming of the library. I’m extremely grateful to the county … who built rodeo grounds south of town and that allowed for DSU to not have to drop competitions but it’s still removed from the campus. We would not have taken down our own facilities had we known the library was not going to be built in Dickinson,” DSU President Thomas Mitzel said in a phone interview. “I’m asking that that structure be rebuilt and for the (Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library) Foundation to do that for us.”

Tell about debacles you have experienced or observed.

Don’t Cry Over Spilt…..

Photo credit: Associated Press

The news out of Poland last week included an item about a tanker truck that crashed and dumped its contents all over the highway. Its contents?  Liquid chocolate.

Luckily it happened pretty early in the morning and no one was injured in the accident. But that wasn’t really the end of the story.  The fire brigade sent to clean it up needed to bring in hot water because the chocolate was solidifying too fast to be able to scrap it up easily.  And then the story went viral, hitting so many news feeds that people began to think it was a hoax.  It’s even listed (and verified) on Snopes.com.

What unusual thing have you spilled?

Escape Artists

Photo Credit: Texas Biomedical Research Institute

Baboons were making the news again yesterday – escaping from a facility in San Antonio.

Per CNN, “Four baboons, having clearly read too much dystopian fiction, escaped a biomedical research lab in San Antonio by climbing a 55-gallon barrel and jumping out of their enclosure.  The institute says the three baboons and their turncloak co-conspirator are all “doing well.”  The blue barrels they used to escape, however, have been removed from the enclosure and will be evaluated. Perhaps they enriched too much.”

What would you like for a little enrichment?