Tales From Normal, Mn.--FICTION

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Tales from Normal, Mn. Headline News---FICTION

Friday, November 30, 2007

(Orig Post 11/30/2007): Dateline Normal, Mn.; The Maze of Love; The "MAP" is the key----FICTION

(Ed.note: The Tales from Normal---FICTION are now available in book form. Click on the post for the first volume. They are also available via podcast on Itunes. You can subscribe to all the TALES by scrolling to the end and clicking "subscribe." Now you can be up to date and never miss an episode. Just think. Someday even cites will have their minutes and agendas available just like the Tales From Normal. Imagine.)

Well this morning I have been reading in the headlines that authoritative pundits have discovered that men talk as much if not more than women. Yes. Quite a surprise. However, what the newspaper articles do not discuss, is whether the talk is about anything similar. I would think not.

As the parent of three girls, and the youngest now graduating from high school, I can say that I have tried to diagram the content of the discussion of the last decade in order to find my way out of the maze of analysis of relationships----and despite my total dedication to discovering the secret, have come up empty. Yes. I need a MAP.
After all, without a map, whether it is about LOVE or SWAMPS, ya just do not have ANYTHING.

Wondering about all this, as I always do, I picked up the phone and gave my old friend Herman, the country boy lawyer in Normal, Mn. a call. He must have some knowledge about his. He was single however. A confirmed bachelor. Still. I wondered if he could be of some help.

Herman was a specialist in real estate law. And he was a prominent member of the Normal, Mn. school board---- Normal, Mn. was up in the lush fishing territory of northern Minnesota, just south of Garrison, Mn., and it was surrounded by water. I figured that Herman must have some experience with SWAMPS as well as LOVE. I hoped anyway.

"Herman---what is the MAP of "love". I really need some help here. Is the situation anything like the MAP of SWAMPS?"

"Shucks, Wolfman (that's what he always called me.) The MAP is the key thing in LOVE and in SWAMPS. Without the MAP it just ain't REAL. It is just BOGUS. You can be knee deep in love ....or a swamp, and never know it without a certified MAP. Of course ya have to pay a consultant for a MAP. Even if it is drawn on a napkin. Then ya pay the fee..... usually a high fee. Then it becomes REAL. It is real MAGIC."

Up here in Normal, each parcel comes with a MAP and every woman comes with one too. That way, they are prepared for the real world. They are CERTIFIED real."

I was just shocked.

Still. It made sense. Ya just needed a MAP. Without the certified MAP, ya could be in LOVE, or be in a SWAMP, and nobody would know.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Dateline Normal: "Old Time Religion"---FICTION

Recently I have been reading of the efforts of one of the "Old Time Religions" to put an end to the new fangled guitar folk dudes that have infiltrated the sacred time of the era of Gregory----the days when Gregorian chant was king. I had grown up midst the old time chants, since I had been raised and taught by the Bendictines. As I got older and the folk music came to all the churches, I kinda adjusted to the guitar folk music. After all, Bob Dylan was playing at the four corners on the University of Minnesota. Nothing like a good version of "Leopard Skin Pillbox Hat" to get me in a real bluesy or soulful mood.

It seems though that some felt this was an intrusion into the sacred notions of religion. I just wondered what was a reasonable philosophy to have about it. The whole nation seemed pretty divided about it.

The Church wanted to appeal to all those folks that they had lost back in 1960 when the Latin was changed for the vernacular. Those were the folks that were in their 60's then. They would be about 100 years old now. It was hoped by the reintroduction of the old time chants, that those folks would again return to the churches across America, and begin contributing at the collection plate.

I always have loved sales, and marketing. There just seemed to be a problem with the nonexistence of the market segment they were hoping to attract. After all. Those folks had been dead for years.

I was willing to listen though. And I thought to give it a fair hearing, I should call my old friend Herman in Normal, Mn.. Herman was a countryboy lawyer there, and as you know, a distinguished member of the Normal, Mn. school board. When it came to "quid pro quo", fishing, or Latin....he was the closest thing to an expert in the town. It was a cold, wintery day, so my cell phone call went right through.

Herman was out in the fish house ice fishing. I could hear the music in the background.

I got right to the point:

"Herman, what is the old time religious music like up there in Normal, Mn.? Do you still have any of that Gregorian chant stuff up there?

"Shucks NO Wolfman----up here in Normal, Mn., we have had to make an adjustment in order to SURVIVE-----up here it is real cold. Years ago, we had a preacher that introduced the POLKA Mass here in Normal, and it was a huge success.

The first thing to note about the POLKA Mass is the pace----the music is at CUT time---and folks have to move quickly---and that makes their blood flow and they experience an "Inner FIRE" that makes them experience a real warmth. Once they had gotten hooked on the POLKA Mass, they just could not go back to the chanting. Besides, there are no exercise clubs up here in Normal, and the exercise of the polka dancing is real healthful. "

WOW. I was just a little stunned. I had not thought of SACRED TIME as referring to a musical time signature. Still, the more I thought about it, the adjustment of Normal, Mn. seemed to be perfectly suited to the northern tundra.

I just wondered though. Was it cold enough in our fair city to have the up tempo TIME? Maybe it would be too fast a beat.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Dateline Normal: "Normal Insurance"---FICTION

Recently, after a long drive up HWY 10 north of the Twin Cities, I cruised into my favorite fishing town, Normal, Mn.. It was a fast, smooth drive, with time to listen to some of my favorite Bob Dylan tapes that brother Denis had given to me as surplus.

Right as I cruised into the brief business district of Normal---which is really only a block long, I noticed something that I should have noticed long ago---there were no insurance agencies in Normal---not one.

When I caught up with Herman, my old countryboy lawyer friend, I asked him right away:

"Herman---how do you guys up in Normal, Mn. function without any insurance agents? I just do not get it."

Herman let out a loud bellylaugh. "Shucks Wolfman, (That's what he always called me,) It's real simple. Up here in Normal, we live by the natural law. We take all the risks in stride. We make no attempt to take artificial accounting measures. We just leave it up to the Lord. It's just the natural Way."

I was just dumbfounded.

"WHAT?"-----I said.

"How could that be? What do you do if you have a fire loss? What EVER to you DO?"

"It's real simple, Wolfman" We just apply for TIF assistance. It sure beats buying insurance. It keeps our lives real economical up here in God's country.


I got back in the car and headed back to good old Wisconsin. Where we have plenty of insurance. Where we are real sophisticated risk takers. Real professionals. And where business owners take out FIRE insurance rather than apply for TIF assistance.

Thank goodness.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Dateline Normal: "Progressive Meetings"----Fiction

I was shocked to see recently that next Monday no less than three meetings will occur in one day for our School District, the Policy Committee at noon, the Buildings and Grounds at 4:30PM and then the regular Board meeting at 5:30PM.

Wondering what to make of the back to back meeting rage, I picked up the phone and called my old friend Herman, the country boy lawyer in Normal, Mn., way up north on Hwy 10 North of the Twin Cities--my favorite getaway town for fishing.

"Herman," I asked, What is with the new fashion of back to back meetings. What is the deal with this?"

Herman replied: "It is PROGRESSIVE---- It was modeled after the Progressive dinners---you know the ones. Ya start at one house for salad, then to the next for main course, the next for dessert, and then the final for happy hour. We have been doing it like that for over 20 years up here in Normal. This way, all the business gets wrapped up in one day.

We used to call the last part, "ACTION ITEMS" but over time, with the introduction of two for one liquor highballs, it was called "Happy Hour". We all vote unanimously. We just have to become consensus leaders. Somedays it takes more highballs than others. "

What a shock! I had thought "progressive" came from the progressive movement in Wisconsin. I never realized it was named after progressive dinners.

Still. It made a lot of sense. Politicians needed a life too. Packing all the meetings in one day sure would be efficient. That way they would have most of the month for real living.

I just wonder whether all the local folks could get used to the progressive style. That "Action Items" or Happy Hour sure was a selling point. It sure does make the word consensus leadership more understable.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Dateline Normal: " Reflection; Reassessment;" ===Fiction

Well, with all the stock market plunging, and the crisis in CMO debt securities, I simply headed the car up that long road up Hwy 10 north of the Twin Cities, to my favorite fishing town, Normal, Mn..

On the long stretch up north, I simply popped in a cd of zen reflections to pass the time. It has been a stressful period for homeowners. With homes falling in value. The piggy bank of home equity as a way of financing the fun things in life is over. It is a rude awaking. It is really a time for reassessment.

When I got to Normal, I checked in to my favorite motel, the Spruce Goose Motel, the one with the pull down king size beds, and with the stuffed animals on every wall, and the little mini-dove bars in the ash trays---just a little touch of country class.

I quickly met Herman at the local diner, where I ordered up my usual coffee, extra bold, extra sugar, with lots of whipped cream, in the dark blue Viking mug. Man it sure beat that stuff that passed for coffee in the gas stations on the way.

I got right to the point with Herman.

"Herman," what in the world is America to do. The real estate is assessed at over 100% of what it was worth a couple of years ago, and it may be ten years till another assessment is required. Till then, everyone in our town has to pay inflated tax bills--real taxes on funny numbers of assessment. What is a guy like me to do? What do you folks do up here in Normal?

"It's real simple, Wolfman---(that's what he always called me.) Up here, even though we are a simple fishing town, we have an old IBM computer, one with the 8 inch diskettes, and we reassess the real estate after each and every sale. If the comparables go down----the real estate appraisal goes down. If it goes up, it goes up. And the best part---all the numbers are available on the Normal, Mn. web site. Ya see, Wolfman, we live in the present. NO accounting games up here in God's country."

Over the weekend, I reflected on Herman's straight talk. It sure was good to get back to good old Wisconsin. Where we are high tech. Where we have cameras that take pictures of our historic town. Still. I wondered. How come we could not reassess on every sale like they did in Normal?

The more I reflected, I realized that this was the quality of life thang. Cold winters. High Tech. Historic towns. Strong cheese. Great Beer. Backward accounting. It was just the High Life.