Category Archives: Uncategorized

Imagined Problem Addressed

This could be an act of inspiration, or desperation.  I can’t decide which.

Beechy Proposes Lake Spill Prevention Act of 2010

Minnesota’s 9th district congressman, Loomis Beechly, representing all the water surface area in the state, today introduced the Northern Lake Spill Prevention Act, designed to limit deep water oil drilling in Minnesota lakes.

“We’ve seen what has happened in the Gulf of Mexico,” said the strangely obscure congressman, clutching a wheezing, lightly oiled walleye to his chest at the podium of a press conference in the shallow water just four feet from the shore of 7th Crow Wing Lake near Park Rapids.  “I am determined that will never happen here.”

He hastily added that the fish had not been involved in an actual drilling accident, but had been discovered thrashing around in a holding pond behind a SpeeDee Oil Change outlet in the parking lot of a strip mall in Blaine.  “But this poor fish illustrates exactly the kind of environmental catastrophe we’re trying to avoid.”

Beechly’s legislation would change rules governing the Federal Boat Ramp Support and Maintenance Program (FBRSM) to impose weight restrictions that would prevent the loading of mammoth oil rigs into lake waters nationwide, including Minnesota.

“This act leverages the federal government’s vital boat ramp subsidy to prevent the oil companies from filling our waters with floating derricks,” said Derrick Buoys, a policy analyst for the congressman.

Opponents of the new law pointed out that there is no evidence to suggest that oil reserves are hidden underneath the lakes of Minnesota, or that companies have any interest in drilling there.

“This pointless law is designed to trick constituents into thinking that the congressman is doing something valuable in response to the oil spill in the Gulf,” said Frank Dunmire, co-founder of “Beach Beechly Now!”,  a grass-roots political action group.  “He’s wasting everyone’s time.  There’s nothing we can do to plug that leak more quickly.  This is an embarrassing distraction.”

“Sounds like somebody’s already climbed into the pocket of Big Oil,” said Beechly.

The congressman assured animal activists that the walleye he displayed “to make a point” at the press conference would be thoroughly cleaned with lemon juice and would be “treated with garlic and cilantro to get it back to a state of utter perfection.”

Is every calamity really an opportunity in disguise?

Six Men In A Tub

An intriguing human experiment has begun in the western part of Moscow at the Institute for Medical and Biological Problems.

Six men just started a 520 day “mission” to Mars.  They are enclosed in “a series of windowless steel capsules” for the duration, with enough food and activities and chores to keep them busy.  There’s also ample time for relaxation.  The “voyagers” will have to exercise two hours a day but will only be able to shower once a week.

Uh oh.

There are many obstacles to overcome in a real journey to Mars.  There would have to be a shield to protect the humans from solar radiation.   And psychologists predict that one the greatest emotional hazards is the likelihood that the crew would begin to grow tired of each other’s company.   But at least in a genuine Martian trip there would be a sense of excitement and anticipation of arriving on the planet – something that’s missing in this effort.

Perhaps the greatest hurdle in this make believe exercise is to get six grownups to pretend for almost a year and a half that they can’t just walk out for a smoke or a bit of vodka.   After all, it takes skilled actors years of training to get you to suspend reality for two hours on a stage.  How long can fact-based scientists and researchers last?

Because a similar effort ten years ago ended badly (sexual harassment allegations, fistfights), the mission commander is quoted in an AP article as saying “Each crew member has the right to end the experiment and walk out.  We have had such negative experience in the past, and I hope it won’t happen during this experiment.”

Double uh oh.

Which guy will make a bid to scuttle the mission after 500 days because he can’t stand “Commander Flatulence” or would just like to get out and feel the sunshine? The longer you’re in, the greater the pressure to stay in.  And the longer you’re in, the greater the leverage for anyone who threatens to leave.

This sounds like a twisted reality show disguised as a scientific experiment.  All it needs a name and a theme song, like that ditty that introduced “The Brady Bunch”.

Here’s the story of a group of fellas
Who were simulating flying into space.
They were scientists and they all liked each other
Which is not commonplace.

They’re pretending to go to a planet.
If you’re Martian it’s the place that you belong.
In the movies when the Martians meet the Earthlings,
they never get along.

Till this mission where these fellas met this planet.
Well not really but they tried to make believe.
They had almost made it there when it started.
That’s when everyone declared “I’m going to leave.”

I’m going to leave.  I’m going to leave.
I can’t stand you, and you, and you I’m going to leave.
I’m going to leave.  I’m going to leave.
This is Moscow we’re on Earth I’m going to leave!

What would you need to survive 520 days enclosed in a series of windowless steel capsules with five other people, all pretending that you can’t go outside?

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Gadzooks!

Trail Baboon?

I was thinking I wanted this blog to have a familiar title  – something easy to recognize, but sly.  A turn of phrase that describes information that’s sent out solely for the purpose of observing the reaction of the audience. Something catchy but common.  However, somebody else has that title locked up, and so one must make do with the opportunity that one has.

Maybe “Braille Typhoon” would be better. “Teal Ballroom”?  I’m open to suggestions.

My name is Dale Connelly and I think I just emerged from a very long tunnel. When I went in, it was 1976 and Gerald Ford was the president. I was 20 years old and just got my first job with a radio station in a distant land – KRSW in Worthington, Minnesota. I was driving from Illinois and had been told to report to the manager’s home.

My car broke down in Iowa City and I arrived a day late. The man who hired me couldn’t wait around to welcome me to town – he and has family were headed to the big city – Sioux Falls – for the afternoon.

“Let yourself in,” he said. “We’ll be back by sundown.”

He didn’t know me. I’d sent him my resume, a powder blue document that featured a large picture of me wearing long, wispy, flippy hair and a polyester suit. The photo had to be big – it took up lots of necessary space.  I had no accomplishments to speak of and precious little training. He listened to a tape I made in college and we had talked on the phone just once.   Miraculously, it was enough to convince him that I was a safe bet to wander unsupervised through his house for a few hours. How could that be? I might have cleaned out the cupboards and made for the hills, but I chose to stay. He became my finest boss and a lifelong friend. It was a good start and I had a wonderfully long and rich career working for the same company for 34 years. Pretty remarkable.

I understand that kind of long-term work relationship is rare today. I wouldn’t know. I’ve been cloistered. Reporting to the same place for a paycheck for over three decades was a very peaceful and secure and comforting experience, but things change and everyone hits that dusty trail into the sunset eventually. It is my turn to take that walk and see what is over the next rise. No regrets.

But I’ll have to come up with a new resume. I don’t think that 1976 version will do the job.

If you were hiring someone to be your assistant, what qualifications would they need?