Tales From Normal, Mn.--FICTION

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

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Dateline Normal, Mn.: Arbor Day Celebration Brings New Twist---FICTION

Well. There is just nothing like May and the celebration of Arbor Day. It just happens every year that it occurs on the week that I regularly head on up to Normal, Mn. to get the boat launched for the summer season of fishing.

I just happened to stop in the local gas station to pick up a copy of the Garrison Times, and right there on the cover was the official proclamation of the Mayor of Normal, Mn. of the legal declaration of Arbor Day 2008. No sooner had I put the paper down on the passenger seat that I noticed while driving through the downtown of Normal....well it was only by the bait shop and the coffee shop....but still it was striking....all the beautiful trees of downtown Normal had been cut down to the ground. I was totally stunned.

When I sat down in the little coffee shop, Betty Lou's Coffee Shop, named for the famous 50's song, "Betty Lou's Got a New Pair of Shoes," I asked Herman, my old countryboylawyer friend, who in addition to being a local real estate attorney, was also a member of the Normal School Board, what the heck the deal was with all the trees being cut down.

I held up the paper and proceeded to quote verse by verse.

Herman, I said, "It says right here: "Whereas trees are a renewable resource.....etc. " Is it not pretty clear that as the proclamation says we are to take care of our trees....not cut them down?"

"Settle down Wolfman"----(that's what he always called me.). Normally it is true that I am a strict constructionist in legal matters, but there is just one area that I prefer to have a more living...... breathing..... interpretation of legal lingo----and it is in the matter of Arbor Day. Let's face it. We are all getting older up here. After each winter is over, with all the raking, cutting, etc of trees, well.....it got to be simply exhausting. Too much. It is fine for you visitors to come to town to simply view all the trees, but it was us locals that had to care for them----and frankly we do not have the ENERGY any more to do so. As a matter of ENERGY CONSERVATION....we cut em all down. We are an "Energy Star" City. And proud of it. " Then he went on.....

In the text portion of the proclamation it simply says that we are a tree loving community AND where consistent, also a Energy Star community. And not in that order. So---we simply decided to cut down all the old, big trees downtown....and replace them with little trees. We will leave it to the next generation to worry about the trees...kind of a legacy thing. It has been a real energy saver. AND the best part----the city council person that cuts down the most trees gets to wear the annual ARBOR DAY BASEBALL CAP----trust me---we all fight for that high honor.

It was hard to believe. A loyal conservative yes Republican lawyer like Herman. Normally a hangin type judge so to speak----here he wanted a liberal construction of the Arbor Day Proclamation so all the old trees could be cut for kindling. I wondered about his state of mind.

Thank goodness I am back in good old Wisconsin. Where we follow the letter and the spirit of the law of Arbor Day-----where we do NOT cut down all the trees downtown and where we most surely do not give the honored ARBOR DAY CAP to someone who loves to cut down trees.


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Dateline Normal, Mn.: Cost of "cowchips"skyrockets: Herman Explains:----FICTION

Recently after browsing the local Sunday papers, I was just stunned by the rise of commodity prices worldwide----I knew that locally grocery prices had skyrocketed but was not fully aware of the global increase in ...well...everything. Many press pundits were saying that it was all the ethanol producers that were causing the rise of prices because of all the corn diverted from food to fuel.

I just wondered---- about that corn that I was burning---so I took out some and tried to cook it to see what happened. Trust me. Maybe it could be ground....but it is not edible as I see it for humans. It is strictly for cattle.

Sometimes when I read the Sunday paper and ponder these things, I just pick up the phone and call my old friend, Herman, in Normal, Mn., who as a countryboylawyer and member of the Normal School Board, always has a unique perspective.

I tried to explain to Herman that the rise in the price of rice that was causing a panic worldwide was caused by those ethanol folks and such.

Herman just laughed:

"That is just bull, Wolfman (that is what he always called me. Nobody burns rice and yet that has skyrocked 50 percent the last week. You must understand that this is all the work of speculators, pure and simple."

"Remember that the gasoline prices are skyrocketing even though consumption is down as Americans drive less and the economy is going into recession. Even the AAA is mystified. We have allowed the speculators to rule the world, Wolfman."

I could not believe that indeed the speculators could cause such a thing. Then Herman went on:

"The reason I know all this, Wolfman, is that some years ago we constructed a special high tech plant to burn cow manure to produce energy. It was pure state of the art."

"What happened," I asked.

Herman went on: " It was amazing. Within 24 hours the price of cow manure skyrocketed three times and all because there was just a severe shortage of cow manure in Minnesota."

That got me wondering. " I think we have a lot more cow manure in Wisconsin than you have in Minnesota. In fact, we are just full of it. I think we would be o.k. "

Herman went on: "YES----- there is a lot more BULL in Wisconsin, but that is not the point, Wolfman. No matter HOW MUCH, it is NOT enough. The speculators will make the economy of recycling vanish."

I was pretty stunned by the whole discussion. I still thought that there was enough in Wisconsin to burn it to solve all our problems. Still. I would defer to my neighbors to see what they thought.

What do you think?

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Dateline Normal, Mn.: School District and Police MERGE to save Energy----FICTION

It has been one of those rainey days. It seems that Northern Minnesota has gotten snow to make it even worse. I felt relieved I had not attempted to head on up to Normal, Mn., my favorite getaway town, just south of Garrison, and West of the Land of Lake Woebegone. Still. I needed some advice from my old friend Herman, the countryboylawyer who served on the Normal, Mn. School Board and had a very thriving law practice. I gave him a quick call on my cell phone.

I began by going over what what was happening in our fair city. The latest from the school, the courts, and the city. I explained how green we had become with the electric cars and all. I also mentioned the upcoming fuss about the truancy problem, and the fact that our police spend a fair amount of time at our schools doing ticket kind of stuff.

I could tell Herman was getting impatient with me because he was clearing his throat all the time.

"Shucks Wolfman, we have been there and done that!!!!!!!! We are way ahead of you guys in the energy stuff. We were spending so much time with the police force up here in Normal, Mn. at the schools, that the gas costs were enourmous-----so we just MERGED the two. Now we have the "Normal Police and Schools". They are ALL in the same building complex. It is real efficient. They all drive electric cars up here---and what is best is that only students that drive ELECTRIC cars to school can park in the school parking lot. That has been a brainstorm idea----simply out of the box. We eliminated the parking problem altogether!!!!"

Well. I was just stunned.

Thank goodness I am back in good old Wisconsin. Where we don't want to solve the problems so literally. We might want to save a little energy and put up a good face, but yo....we don't really mean it. It's just style points. We still buy matching SUV's to go along with the electric cars. Just to balance it out.