Tales From Normal, Mn.--FICTION

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

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

"City Ignores Audit Recommendation for 75th Straight Year:" Tales from Normal, Mn.---FICTION

The city of Normal, Mn. met last week to celebrate the completion of its fiscal year---and even finished the meeting with a ceremonial popping of the champaigne----

The auditors, Old Block and Co., a local accounting firm of lineage dating back to the founding fathers of Normal, Mn., noted the following deficiencies:

We continue to recommend that the City prepare an accounting and financial policies manual that includes the following:

Purchasing procedures
Treasury functions including an investment policy
Fund accounting
Utility billing procedures
Cash receipts procedures
Journal entry approval
Fraud risk management
Disaster recovery plan
Chart of accounts manual
Work order processing
Utility collection and write-off procedures
Interest and reconciliation of customer deposits."

With intense and joyous pride, the Normal Common Council voted unanimously to disregard the auditors recommendations for the 75th Straight Year.

"It's our heritage" one council member was heard to say.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Dreams of Summer in Normal, MN.

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"Local Newspaper downsizes to 3x5 card" ---room left over: FICTION

Locals were startled recently when a local newspaper announced they were downsizing to a new 3 x 5 card format. At first I thought that it was because there was such a scarcity of content from the paper...but I just wondered....

I picked up the phone and dialed Herman from Normal, Mn., the old wise countryboylawyer, and yes fisherman; Herman should know the latest of trends.

"Herman, is this the death of newspapers? What is the deal?", I asked.

Herman just laughed:

"Shucks Wolfman( that's what he always called me) up here in Normal, MN. we have gone to the 3x 5 postcard format for the past 5 years....On the postcard we just list the website for the paper. The postcards are free, but the entrance to the site requires subscription. It's real simple----and make a note that there is really plenty of room left over on the postcard...it's real efficient."

I was stunned. To think that such a backward fishing village could be so far ahead of everybody else.

Monday, December 21, 2009

"When the boys shop"=== the forgotten song---FICTION

Well the long Christmas season is coming to an end==and just in the last few days before Christmas, I have been working for an online retailer, and have been getting those calls from the guys looking for a little something for the wife, or significant other. In fact...all across America it seems that guys are wandering around the malls seeking ideas for a gift for that special someone....

What has been a little embarassing is that I recognize in those desparate shoppers a little of myself of earlier years...and if the truth be told after checking with my family, even I have not made much progress in this regard....

I just wondered how it all went up in Normal, Mn., where guys were guys, focused on the big fish and ice fishing, and I wondered how they fit in Christmas shopping midst all the fishing contests. ...I just picked up the phone and gave my old friend Herman, the countryboylawyer a call...he should know.

Herman just laughed.

"Wolfman (thats what he always called me} every true fisherman knows the rule of the fuzzy nightgown---every year, rather than fuss and blunder over the last minute gift for the wife....just give her a fuzzy nightgown...or negligee and alternate every year....trust me...it works wonders. Do not get creative or confused. Just follow the plan."

So there it is. Herman is a lawyer...he should know. Guys...do not get creative...just follow the plan and you will be a happy man....

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"Snow Busts Budget for 99th Straight Year"---FICTION: Dateline Normal, Mn.

Well it has been pretty stressful---fighting the snow plus the ice and the hazardous snow conditions made worse maybe by the poor plowing in certain municipalities---it seems that these snow conditions---coming at the very time that the celebrated city leaders were heading to city hall to vote for millions in TIF funding for a large hotel enterprise----well the whole thing is being touted in the press as a complete budget buster...a budget surprise.....I just wondered...

I just picked up the phone and called my old friend Herman, the countryboylawyer from Normal, Mn., who just then was ice fishing up in Normal, Mn---I wondered how the northern tundra handled those snow expenses.

When I blurted it out---about how the mayor even admitted responsibility for the bad storm handling and all, Herman just laughed:

"Shucks Wolfman( thats what he always called me) don't ya just wonder how snow expenses could be such a surprise for the 99th straight year. What is the problem...maybe memory?

Up here in Normal, Mn., we place a tax on all liquor---and hold it in a separate trust fund---we have found that in crisis snow times, folks drink evenmore, and thus the fund has risen and fallen with the snow...it just works out. We don't call it a booze tax---it's called the snow tax---and everybody is for it...after all, if nobody can drive...that is bad for business....folks get it up here...and the worst thing is if folks cannot shop at Christmas..."

Thanks Herman.

Friday, December 11, 2009

" Expand or start a War---Get a Nobel Peace Price"---Fiction: Dateline Normal, Mn.

Well it has been a little disconcerting----listening to all the hubub about the President getting the Nobel Peace Prize just as he is announcing an expansion of the Afganistan War, all upon the recommendation of the very general that covered up the death of Mr Tillman----loyal general, but not showing a real long history of truthfulness. The real guy that should have gotten the peace prize was Tillman.

Upset....I spent a long drive up to Normal, Mn., where on Friday night late, in the midst of the second set of a moody blues band, asked Herman, my old countryboylawyer friend, what to make of PEACE these days.

Herman paused:

"Shucks, Wolfman, now is not the time to be bewildered. Those Nobel peace prizes have always gone to the warlords...after all, that is why even the drones are called "PREDATOR" drones. It is about being a PREDATOR. It would be nice to see some PEACEMAKER drones---and even a few drones to protect the skies over the US would be nice. Remember 911---ya did not see any TOP GUN types in the air on that famous day---no they were too busy on foreign R and R to take the time to defend the homeland."

I was a little shocked by the words of Herman. But then I had to reflect. I did always love the movie TOP GUN....but come to think of it,...never did see any of those famous flyers defending the homeland....it was always about those foreign shores.....

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Dateline Normal, Mn.: Normal Schedules H1N1 Flu Shots for 2015--Prepayment required"---FICTION

Well....it has been a bit frustrating...with the H1N1 flu shots being in such short supply...and being reserved for Wall Street Traders and health care professionals....and the very young.

The firm I work for has delayed its clinic several times. I just wondered how Normal, Mn. was handling the crisis. I figured Herman should know.

I picked up the cellphone and reached Herman in his ice fishing shack.

"Shucks Wolfman (that's what he always called me)----Up here we just got tired of worrying, and after much thought.... boldly scheduled the H1N1 clinic for November 2015---however, patients MUST PREPAY, with cash no checks....and they must live to 2015 cause there are no refunds."

Then he went on.

"We just thought that by scheduling the event in the far future, we could create a market for "swine flu futures" and the flu shot futures could be actively traded in the futures exchanges. After all, what makes our wonderful country great is its ability to create markets and money...there is no greater gift than that....the folks on Wall Street think of themselves as bein real givers...even better than doctors and nurses. The way we see it, even if folks don't live to get the serum, the market they create will do some real good."

WOW. What a shock. But the more I thought of it, since real health care is pretty rare anyway, at least playing with some swine futures would be a nice diversion.

Thanks Herman.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Dateline Normal, Mn.: " With a 501(3)c even drinking is tax deductible in Normal, Mn:"--FICTION

I recently spent some time in the Hideaway Lounge in Normal, Mn. during the "magical hour" right before the band starts--and decided to put the hour to good purpose and discuss a question that I have been chewing on for some time. Many newspapers, and yes even bloggers, have been thinking that maybe the 501(3)c is the proper organizational form to take to succeed---that way folks can contribute just as they do to public radio for their news--and the news organization can seek "donations" that would I suppose be .....tax deductible---and anyway...what could be the difference between not making any profit and being a charitable institution.

I wasted no time. I blurted it out. Requested in no uncertain terms Herman's advice on the matter. After all. I always wanted to be a charitable institution.

After the question...the long pause. "Shucks Wolfman( that's what he always called me) there is no reason you could not be a 501(3)c organization....up here in Normal, Mn. everyone is a 501(3)c...even the bars....It all began years ago during a festival of sorts by a charitable organization...and it occured to folks drinking at their beer tent...and it by the way was nothing but the finest of German beer...no cheap stuff...that their drinking was in fact a charitable gift---so the guys all asked for receipts for their purchases. Soon---all the bars in town became 501(3)c. After all...from a larger perspective....there is just a slim difference between doing good....and feeling good......really."

WOW. What a bombshell. Just that short discussion changed my perspective entirely----these weren't just a bunch of drunken fishermen...they were charitable donors. All of a sudden a huge wave of appreciation swept over me. I needed to get a 501(3)c. And soon.

Dateline Normal, Mn.: "State Mandates Mandatory 1K; Needs the revenue; attendance optional--FICTION

Recently after reviewing the decision by the State of Wisconsin to make 5K mandatory for all citizens in Wisconsin, and presumably issuing truancy citations for the children refusing to attend, I thought I would just call my old friend, Herman, the down home countryboy lawyer from Normal, Mn. and brag a bit about how progressive we folks in Wisonsin have become, in these desparate economic times.

I had just started to sing the praises of Wisconsin when Herman cut me off mid sentence.

"Wolfman ( that's what he always called me) we are way ahead of you folks up here in God's country---We just mandated 1K for all the schools of Normal, MN. Here is the bottom line---we need the revenue. Whether the kids actually attend is "flexible" or up to the "discretion" of the school administrator, but we still plan on charging the state for the mandated instruction---ya just gotta remember---It's about the money."

I was just stunned. But after a brief reflection.....I just had to agree.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Dateline Normal, Mn.: "Ready for Swine Flu in Normal; Nobody comes to meetings anyway"----FICTION

Well it has been pretty alarming---the prospect that with the swine flu getting more intense, we might all have to make severe adjustments to daily life----like going virtual, limiting public interaction, working from home on computer, teaching the kids via computer etc.

I just wondered how a fishing town like Normal, Mn. could survive in such an environment. How could the engines of government go on in a fishing town that was so low tech. I rang up Herman, my old countryboy lawyer friend. He should know.

Herman just laughed.

"Shucks, Wolfman (that's what he always called me). We'll do just fine up here in the northern tundra. All we really need is a fishing boat, some fish cleaning utinsils, some whiskey and we'll be jus fine......And besides...nobody goes to the governemental meetings anyway----see we are way ahead of the normal curve on this swine flu panic. Nothing ever happens at the meetings anyway----and it is planned that way. We like it just the way it is."

I never realized how leading edge ....backward...could be. It just worked out that way.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Dateline Normal, MN.: Normal faces budget crisis----boldly builds Ice Arena

Many cities in the Midwest have faced the budget tsunami lately. It has really been a shock to the positive forward looking folks that make graphs or operate retail stores. In my brief survey of cities facing crisis I did notice one EXCEPTION----and it was none other than Normal, MN.. I quickly called Herman, my old friend to be updated.

"Herman---why is it that from East to West in cities facing crisis, folks are turning to buiding ICE ARENAS as a solution to their financial woes? How does this compute?"

Herman let out a huge bellylaugh;

"Wolfman (that's what he always called me) you should know better, bein an ice hockey guy in youth, and more of a broomball nut with the guys in your teens----remember the New Years Eve parties with those spirited and hard hitting games of hockey?"

"During difficult times folks want to lash out, and nothing in the world is better than decking an opposing player into the boards---it is really the only legal method left---all the other methods, bullying, teasing, and lawsuits are either too expensive or illegal. Only a good cross check or check to the boards with emotion remains."

The more I thought about it, the more sensible it was. Maybe it is time for our town to build an ice arena.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Dateline Normal, Mn.: "Deaf and Dumb---and proud of it"----FICTION

Well today it was a little shocking---attending church in Normal, MN., with pastor Bob giving the gospel of the blind man, Lazarus, who as the Lord approached, called out---and the Lord spoke and told him to come forth. He did. He rose and approached and the Lord gave him sight and then Lazarus followed Him.

Pastor Bob mentioned that when one sees and hears, it changes ones life. Period.

I mentioned this to my old friend Herman, the country boy lawyer over coffee at Betty Lou's, where the coffee was always very strong, and presented in a Viking blue mug, with lots of whipped cream. Conversation was always animated after a stiff coffee at Betty Lou's. Herman did not attend church, so I thought I would pass the info from Church by him and get his opinion----kind of a second opinion.

After I recounted the sermon, Herman just paused:

"Well Pastor Bob is right I guess. In a way, we in Normal, Mn. plan accordingly----We do not want to SEE or HEAR, and are PROUD of it. We have no intention of changing ANYTHING."

WOW. I was stunned. To be deaf and dumb by design. I was at a loss for words.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

"Normal, Mn. wants to secede---but they want a BAILOUT FIRST"----FICTION

Well it has been kinda sad. As I drove into Normal, Mn. last week, for the first time I noticed. For the first time I noticed. Normal, Mn. had been a town filled with pride, enthused with the upcoming fishing season, redneck proud of its Northern Pike Heritage Days, and had made it a regular custom to paint their older homes every 3 years or so, even if they didn't make any improvements.

Maybe it was just the setting sun, but for the first time I noticed that over the past two years or so, nobody has done a thing to paint or spruce up their homes---"these are tough times" I thought. "Folks are just hanging on."

It got even clearer over a few manhattens at the Hideaway Lounge that night---the guys were not only a little frustrated with their not keeping up with the painting, they were mad at not keeping up with everything else too---normally they had made it a custom in the fall to order the usual fleece firehose jeans and the matching work jackets that helped them make it through the winter---but not this year. This year they were makin do.

One of the more outspoken ones, Henry, spoke up:

"Shucks Wolfman (that's what they always called me) We'd like to secede from the Union. We're just sick n tired of bein sick and tired. But BEFORE we secede, we want to get a BAILOUT first. We just need to be debt free as a community in order to survive."

So there it is. I had headed up north to get away and relax and escape from those who wanted to secede, and lo and behold I landed smack dab in the middle of the same.

The more I thought of the bailout the more attractive it looked. And come to think of it, without some warm winter clothing this year, I can understand how these guys might want to secede. After all ya got to stay warm.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Dateline Normal, Mn.: " Local Retailers fire all employees due to absenteeism; Christmas Sales Plummet"----FICTION

Well it has been pretty shocking. The spread of the swine flu throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin. I thought I would be very, very safe by getting far away by heading up to Normal, MN., that town in the northern tundra, where people could hardly make a living, and thus it must be pretty tough on germs too. Anyway....I was wrong. The germs have done just fine....to the detriment of business.

It seems that local retailers had adopted the "new" personnel policies of total personnel professionals. In fact, these young young college grads with the latest of Darwinian moxie had learned of the new, fashionable "INCIDENT" based absenteeism and termination.

If an employee was absent, or for that matter, "tardy", or even maybe forgot to punch in on time, they were in grave danger. 10 INCIDENTS in one year meant automatic termination. Employees were terrified. What if one of their kids were sick and had a life threatening illness? The answer of the company was clear. Your company comes first. Take your choice, your income or your kids.

So there it was when the swine flu hit. All the stores closed. Never could get the employees to return. The citizens boycotted the stores for their inhumane policy, and yes....the national retailers went bust. It was not pretty.

Rarely can one learn from the small towns of the Northern tundra. But I relate this small matter...well...in just this one case....so that it might be instructive.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Dateline Normal, Mn.: "The Eternal Payback"-----Politicians get religious in recession--FICTION

As many of you know, prayer is not allowed in our nations schools. And prayer is usually not allowed in civic meetings, although on Memorial Day festivities there is usually a prayer right before the long speech venerating our war dead.

Consequently, I was totally shocked when I got to Normal, Mn this weekend, to find that the Normal, Mn. City Council has voted to name "Like a Prayer" by Madonna as the City themesong. It sure has been one of my favorites. Still.....it made me wonder.

Later last night at the Hideaway Lounge, where the "Castaways", a famous rock and roll band from my youth was playing live, I took the opportunity to ask Herman why a city would name "Like a Prayer"as a themesong.

Herman let our a huge bellylaugh:

"Shucks wolfman (that's what he always called me) up here, especially during these difficult economic times, any civic project does NOT work out by the numbers----in fact only maybe in 100 years will the dream projects of the locals come out financially, and then only because by that time nobody living can remember what the cost basis adjusted for inflation truly is----Up here in "God's Country" ya just got to BELIEVE----not in religion so much ....but just in an ETERNAL PAYBACK. There is NO payback in our lifetime."

It sure is good to be back in good old Wisconsin---where we have been living the eternal accounting game for a lot longer than Minnesota....and we are proud of it.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Dateline Normal, Mn.: New City Hall features "Reflection pool", canopy entrance--FICTION

Well it has been quite a shock. Driving into Normal, MN. today on my last getaway trip before the frozen tundra closes up for the winter, I drove past an elegant structure I had not seen before...and on the brick wall, just to the left of the Canopy entrance were the words, "Normal, Mn. City Hall." I slammed the brakes on and went inside for a quick tour. WOW what a beautiful facility...meeting rooms, kitchen facilities, and even a reflection pool outside. It was that reflection pool that puzzled me. I never remember the locals having much time for that up here in Normal, MN..

Just as soon as I got to Betty Lou's Coffee Shop, the one with the coffee so strong that no additional mocha was necessary, over a large blue Minnesota Viking cup with lots of whipped cream, I blurted it out.

"Since when did Normal, Mn. get a new City Hall?"

The entire coffee shop burst into laughter. Never in a hundred years could the locals have agreed to break their long standing reverence with history and built something new. However...it seem s that a local group had big plans and built a grandiose community center with a large donation...and well....they had a few rose colored glasses and ran out of money. The City took it over...pretty neat huh. What a way to get a million in equity just like that.

Anyway....the new City Hall is really nice. And the picture of those political types standing around the reflection pool just gives me the giggles.

Dateline Normal, Mn.: "Up a Crick, Down the River Estates" Opens---FICTION

Well it was quite a scene today in Normal, Mn----just as I was entering town via Hwy 65 north, I saw the sign: "Up a Crick...down the River Estates" comes to Normal, Mn."

Just as soon as I got to the Hideaway Lounge, I corraled Herman, my old country boy lawyer friend and blurted it right out.

"What's with the "up the crick" celebration I saw on the way into town?

Herman let out a huge bellylaugh.

"Shucks Wolfman,( That's what he always called me)---the local developers have been arguing over that name for so long that they finally agreed to merge the concept---Up a crick as in creekside, and down the river, as in on the floodplain. This way everybody is happy."

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Zoning in Normal, Mn. made simple---FICTION

Well recently I have been reading stories about zoning battles in Elkhorn regarding the new ethanol plant there, and the bewilderment of city officials in finding out that their long tedious deliberations about a conditional use permit were fruitless since in fact, the zoning of the plant in question had been changed so that any owner of the land had an absolute right to do what they wanted re ethanol regardless of citizen, or government regulation.

I thought that was a totally renegade idea...and a novel one. Just to check, I gave my old friend Herman from Normal, Mn. a call. After all, he was a lawyer, he was a full time fisherman, part time city official and also served on the Normal Minn School Board...He should know.

Herman listened intently as I described the situation in Elkhorn, Wisconsin. Then he erupted in a huge bellylaugh.

'Shucks Wolfman (that's what he always called me). Up here in Normal,Mn we changed the zoning to "E" back in 1899. That stands for "Everything." Up here we want our beer, our bait and our ammo in the same convenient store, and we don't want any unamerican folks putting limits on us. Shucks. This is the land of the free."

Then he paused.

"What's the fishing like in Elkhorn?"

I tried to explain to him that though the air stinked, the fishing was not an issue cause there were not so many lakes like in Minnesota.

"If there's no fishing...it really does stink."

I'm not sure that Herman really does understanding zoning after all.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Dateline Normal, Mn.: National Health Care Debate solved: Plan to be implemented next Monday----FICTION

Well..it's been pretty exciting, roaming Minnesota looking for new ideas...and while doing so, I received a text message from Herman, the countryboylawyer from Normal, Mn ---that he had solved the current health care crisis and was ready to implement the solution next Monday at midnight. I was all ears.

On the beach at Brainerd, I hopped in the car and headed over to Normal for a scheduled press conference. All 100 citizens of Normal were there, and each one had a complimentary cup of coffee from Betty Lou's, in the blue Viking mug, with lots of whipped cream on the top. It was so strong...there was no need for a mocha.

Herman led off the press conference by thanking everyone for taking off from fishing that morning to attend. Then he paused and began:

"We've been fighting and ranting about the health care crisis enough..it is time for concrete answers and time for action.

In the past 40 years since Medicare was implemented, and I remember well the day that happened, we have grown in our knowledge of how to deliver health care. Only 1% of Medicare costs go to administration. The lives of seniors have been changed dramatically over these 40 years. Private insurance has provided supplement insurance and the terms of that supplement insurance has been regulated closely ---it was not always so, but we made improvenents. The problem has been in enforcement and curtailment of fraud. That will change. Inspectors will be increased 10 fold and violators will go to jail.

Effective next Monday, all US citizens with a Social Security number will use it as a temporary number for the Americare health program---ALL citizens will qualify. The current intermediaries that handle the payment process electronically...and they do a wonderful job in paying claims in 10 days...they will brace for larger volumes, and the government will adjust their contacts to pay them for the larger volume.

A preventative care benefits section will be added on a stat basis as well as pregnancy care. Other care issues will be addressed as we go along.

As seniors know, Medicare never did cover everything---far from it. And the role of private insurance in Americare will be to pay for the physician costs of part B in Americare, and of course prescription drugs. Americare will be primary coverage, and private insurance will be secondary for hospital...and private insurance will be primary for physician coverage and Americare will be the payor of last resort.

America is tired of waiting and fighting about healthcare.

Also effective next Monday...the wars in Afganistan and Iraq will be phased down. We have been victorious. We salute our troops, and I urge all Americans to give them their due when they return."

Naturally I was stunned by the news...but pleased.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Dateline Normal, MN.: Normal wins national "Cheapest T-Shirt Contest"--FICTION

Well. It has been pretty amazing. Every retailer under the sun selling every variety of ....well.....basically a T-Shirt...o.k. we might call it a henley, a crew, a v-neck...a whatever...but the idea is to sell the cheapest t-shirt from the cheapest manufacturer in the world for the highest retail possible....all in order to get the retail sector moving again.....and again....Normal, Minnesota has taken the prize....

The secret? All of the staff of the retailers of Normal, Mn work 19 hour work weeks, and every shift is only 3.5 hours with no breaks. This translates to no lunch breaks...and ...only pottie breaks are taken in cases of emergency. The result has been a profitability that has surprised America---and the hope that out of the cheapest T-Shirts, as in the prior time of the K=Car, will come the salvation of America...stay tuned.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Dateline Normal, Mn.: " Fire at Normal, Mn Bait Shop: Owner saves the Parana and parasites first...minnows last"----FICTION

Just received the news flash.....An electrical fire due to overheating of the minnow tanks at the Normal, Mn. Bait shop....well it really is the "Beer, Bait, and Ammo Shop" has caused extensive damage....relax...I am in touch with the locals to get the complete story...

All I know now is that the owner moved quickly to rescue the parana and the parasites first...he waited till the last to rescue the minnows.....

When asked by the Fire Chief why he waited so long to save the smaller fish....the owner just said that after reading the national news...he thought that was just how things were done.....

Dateline Normal, Mn.: " Nitrite Power Bar sets Sales Record in Normal, Mn."----FICTION

Recently there was a public "hearing" in our fair community...about the proposed increase of the dairy herd of one certain farm operation that would double the herd count to about 5,000 cows. Pretty impressive. I guess one could call a gathering called at late notice and mostly of relatives a public hearing...yet in reading the published reports it was stunning the possible economic impact on the neighbors of such an increase. In fact, it appears that the nitrite count would set a record of 200 parts per million as opposed to above the farm of 5 parts. I was impressed...sort of.

I quickly picked up the phone and dialed my old friend Herman, the countryboylawyer from Normal, Mn.. He loved estates and trusts, and did some real estate work. Maybe he would be stunned with the developments here.

After getting him on the phone, I proceeded to read the local paper to him, impressing him with the fact that this was going to be huge...with all the nitrites and such...and that nothing could be finer.

Herman interrupted:

"Shucks, Wolfman (that's what he always called me), up here in Normal, Mn., we have so many nitrites that we set a national record...and we are dang proud of it...In fact one of the farms produces a "NITRITE Powerbar" for all the sports types. They just love em. It is great to power up with nitrites."

So there it is. In some parts of the world nitrites are bad for your health...but in Normal, Mn., they are a source of pride....and strength....just goes to show ya.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Dateline Normal, Mn: "Run on Votive Lights---Republicans praying for disaster to last,long, long time"----FICTION

Well it sure has been interesting...It seems that Herman from Normal, Mn. has just learned texting cause just this morning I got a terse message: "Run on Votive Lights--Republicans are praying for disaster to last long time----"

Lots of outrage to be sure. Outrage that the "Cash for clunkers" has been so successful beyond anyone's expectation---seems that Americans DO want to make the move to greener cars---but it does present a challenge for the naysayers, out of power types---how to spin the news to the exact opposite and make it a complete failure---that PR effort has the Republican politicos very outraged.....but relax...it is their specialty.....

I have been looking for a great product to sell by mail order---and it might be votive lights. Stay tuned. I will report more later when I get details.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Tales From Normal, Mn.: "The Worship of Deep Pockets"-----FICTION

It has always been an interest of mine....what people believe...and do not believe...what they worship and adore....and what they distain...it tells a lot about folks....

Recently, it has been a real mystery...talking to some local political types...they keep saying that even though the health effects of wind turbines set close to residential areas are well known...even though they cause sleep disturbance...and yes even learning disabilities.....this is a small price to pay for being green....and besides..the politicos whispered..."these folks have BIG pockets"----It was that last phrase that bewildered me. What's with the DEEP POCKETS?"

So---I did what I always do when I have questions---I just picked up the phone and dialed my old friend Herman, the countryboylawyer from Normal, Mn...He was street smart...legally wise...a member of the Normal School Board...and besides he did some wills and estates in his law practice, traded some stock options in his spare time...but mostly fished for bass in the day time. In short...he was not your Twitter kind of guy--he was grounded...he should know about the "worship of deep pockets."

"What's with the worship of Deep Pockets?" I asked. "What kinda cult is this?"

Herman let out a huge bellylaugh:

Shucks Wolfman (that's what he always called me), this is just normal politics. Elected leaders are really hooked on the cash....it's not the POCKETS, but the cash IN the pockets that talks.....Up here in Normal, it's the oil lobby that has the deep pockets,,,and the mining lobby...and yes...the booze lobby. In your state it might be the cheese lobby.

Politicians need money to wage huge campaigns, and ultimately they just end up pandering to the folks with the deepest pockets....and spend most of their time focused on issues like rescuing us from "Ash borer disease". That is a wonderful thing to campaign about, cause...well...the ash borer lobby just has very small pockets.

WOW. What a revelation. And now it did make sense...the Ash Borer thing..I do remember some memos about that sometime back...and how deeply they felt about it...after all...they did have to stand for something....and that was the only thing left...the deep pocket folks had everything else covered.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Dateline Normal, MN.: Energy Task Force Accelerates Meetings---Sweet rolls crisis ensues---FICTION

Well it has been a real crisis--with the budget crisis and all....and the rise of energy prices coming....and the tax increase coming...folks have been proactively purchasing things that are essential----

yes....it seems counterintuitive that I would be worrying about purchasing LED lights for my home at a very pricey cost,....just to save a few pennies...and especially since all of us have been facing furlough hours...yes even me...

Still...it is reassuring that the energy task force has been meeting...

and the major item of contention is whether there can be the proper sweet rolls, must be fresh of course...and they have to be up to the standards of folks of the highest caliber....and at the very early times of the morning...

It is important..must not be dismissed....even if the cost of the new sewage plant is about 8 million dollars...still..every little bit of money that can be saved with extras...like LED lights...is important...and the proper volume of the finest sweet rolls properly available at the proper meetings might just be the difference...

Stay tuned....be assured...I will be talking with my consultant, Herman, the countryboy lawyer...and ...being a lawyer...and being a little chunkie in middle age...he knows about sweet rolls...and yes grant applications...and I think he will be helpful.....stay hopeful....Herman's thoughts are on the way.....

Monday, July 27, 2009

Dateline Normal, MN: "All the books are Harlequin Romance in Normal, Mn. Library"---FICTION

Recently in a quick review of the general ledger of our fair city, I noticed that even in the depths of a budget crisis, a library still finds time to order the latest in Harlequin romance novels to keep its readers up to date.

That just made me wonder. I wonder what the policy is up in Normal, Mn.? I wonder if Herman even knows what they are much less has read one. I'll just give him a call.

"Herman---what is the policy of the library up in Normal, Mn regarding Harlequin romance novels. Are they allowed, even in budget crisis times?

Herman let out a huge bellylaugh.

"Shucks Wolfman,(that's what he always called me) Harlequin romance novels are ALL THAT is STOCKED in the Normal, Mn. Public Library. Everything is market driven up here in God's country---folks just love the covers...even if the total text is a litle off the wall. Besides...most folks don't finish them anyway...they just start...begin daydreaming...and finish the plot to their own fashion....it's called imagination."

WOW. Now I know why there is a workforce development problem in Normal, Mn. Still. I do understand the importance of imagination.....A few I can understand as a lapse of judgement. But ALL the books as light romance just seems too much.

So---I just picked up one of the novels to critically review it...you know the one with the dashing pirate on the cover with the girl in his arms...and after...well...just a few pages.....I...understood.

Dateline Normal, Mn.: The Poor and Homeless pay for healthcare of the rich

Well it has been a bit of a stretch---a long stretch of watching the ranting on FOX and CNN. Wolf Blitzer has given a bad reputation to the word "wolf." It seems that the idea of people who are employed or who are rich to pay for the health care of the homeless and unemployed is totally repulsive to conservative talk show pundits. It matters not that this is the case now in some cases....in most of the cases the poor, homeless, foreclosed and unemployed do not get care till it is too late. They are simply neglected and destroyed by their situation.

I just wondered. How things worked in Normal, Mn.. I decided to give Herman, my old lawyer friend from Normal,Mn. a call. He should know. True. He did not wear armani suits and charge the $300 per hour. But still. He was a lawyer in his countryboy down home presentation jacket with the denim jeans. That was the style up in Normal, Mn..

"Herman, how does Normal, Mn. handle health care? I need some input."

Herman hesitated not a minute:

"Wolfman, (that's what he always called me) just look around the bar here---and you can see the answer to your question. Do you see a man with a full set of teeth? Do you see anyone that is not smoking? Do you see anyone who is not a full 30 pounds chunkier than the charts recommend? And look at the eyes----notice the glassy look of just a little drunken affect?

Then Herman went on:

"Up here in God's Country, every man pays...every man is self reliant----independent. The poor pay for their own health care, as does everybody else....Course mostly there is NO health care. It's just an empty hole of nothin-----that's just the way it is....kids dying young, folks dying of heart disease left and right, and folks killin themselves with alcohol on the highways and in their homes. And we are proud of it. That's just the natural way up here....In God's country...It's the way things was meant to be."

I was going to make a point..ask a question...ask for some further details...but just then the band was starting up...."happy hour" was ending....I knew he would not be able to hear me....anyway....he probably could not have heard me in a quiet room anyway....I just let it go.....

Monday, July 13, 2009

Dateline Normal, Mn.: "The Committee of the Hole"----FICTION

Well it sure has been a hectic time lately...with the states cutting their aids to local governments and those governments poised to increase property taxes significantly and also poised to "rework" their debt portfolios and...yes...incur some more debt...just a temporary matter be assured.

Some governments are gathering for listening sessions, called the "committee of the whole" so the governments can listen and bond with local elected representatives and assure them that "we are all in this together" as long as they vote for more debt that is.....

It all seemed pretty routine and a scheduled event to me. So....I picked up the phone and speed dialed my old friend from Normal, Mn., Herman. He was a lawyer. He should know the origins of this tradition.

"Herman, what's with the "Committee of the Whole." How did this develop?

Herman let out a huge bellylaugh----

"Shucks, Wolfman,(that's what he always called me), in olden days they used to call it the "Committee of the "HOLE"----as in One HOLER or Two HOLER or outhouses----that is how despicable debt was to the earlier generation that lived through the depression---the earlier one than now, during the 1930's. Somewhere along the line, the public relations folks decided to change the spelling to "Whole." I still like the older spelling cause it fits so well."

Then he went on:

"Years ago, the slogan used to be "Buy the best you can....but pay CASH." Nowdays the slogan is buy everything you want...and get the services of a debt consultant. The ultimate is to hire the "consultant" who helped with the original debt issue to help you get out or "rework" it. That is the ultimate joke." Things sure have changed.

Just the picture of the one holer and the two holer helped me understand.

Thanks Herman.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Dateline Normal, Mn.: "Heroes never bust their budgets--they just AMEND them."----FICTION

Well it has been pretty amazing---all across the nation cities and governments are getting to the end of their fiscal years and are "amending" their budgets, right in the middle of the heat of the summer when everyone is on vacation far away.....It just made me wonder. What ever happened to budgets anyway?

When I wonder, and it has been a lot lately, I just pick up a cell phone and call my old friend Herman, the countryboylawyer in Normal, Mn.. ...that fishing town way up in northern Minnesota---he should know about budgets and such.

"Herman---what the heck happened to "budgets" anyhow.

Herman let out a loud bellylaugh.

'Shucks, Wolfman( that's what he always called me) you remember the famous football commercial with Payton Manning last season?----the one where he faced the old guy athletes squarely and told them to quit exercising and pumping iron 3 days a week to be a young football hero---and to just buy larger clothes and forget it. I think his words were "Get Real"--?"

"It's the same thing in budgeting---America has considered restraint just pure old fashioned---and has decided that whenever there is an "oops" in the budget, the best thing is to simply amend the budgets when everyone is not looking---and summer vacation on the hottest day of the year is perfect timing. It's just normal now."

As a guy who is getting hooked on "comfort fit" pants, I have to admit---restraint sure was difficult. However, it did bother me that without restraint, at the current rate, government would soon spend all of the citizens wages and then some.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Audio: "Bailout Breakthrough--Send Me the Money"--FICTION

Audio; Tales From Normal, Mn.: "Bailout Breakthrough---Send Me the Money"---FICTION

Audio; "Bishop Nixes Social Justice; Builds Cathedral"FICTI

Audio: Tales from Normal, Mn.: Bishop Norini Nixes Social Justice---Builds Cathedral---FICTION

Audio; Schools Face Crisis: Cut Math, Science, Reading;

Audio; Tales From Normal, Mn.---FICTION: Schools face Crisis Head On---Cut Math, Science and Reading----Add Baseball Coach

Audio: "Hiking the Applachian Trail" FICTION

Audio; Tales From Normal, Mn.: "I've Been Hiking the Appalachian Trail"----FICTION

Monday, June 29, 2009

Audio: Tales From Normal, Mn.: " Half Day School"---FICTION

Audio; Tales From Normal, Mn.: "Where Every Child goes to school Half Day---and the school district charges the State for FULL--FICTION

Audio: "Being Independent Means...."Fiction

Audio; Tales From Normal, Mn.: "Freedom means never having to pay for your own sewage plant." FICTION

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Dateline Normal, Mn.: "I've Been Hiking the Applachian Trail"---FICTION

Recently it seems that a certain Republican governor felt it was necessary in order to be a real contender for the Presidential race.....to have a certified affair....and to make it official...during the Father's Day weekend went AWOL from the governorship of a famous state.....no problem...He just had the public relations folks tell the media that he was "hiking the Appalachian Trail." I love it when the public relations folks are called to handle the "relations."

So..I wondered...and when I do wonder, I usually call my old friend Herman, the famous lawyer from Normal, Mn..

"Herman--what went wrong. What could have been a better outcome.?"

"Shucks, Wolfman (that's what he always called me) It may be just me...but that seems to strike a chord----a chord of lack of imagination. I get lost a lot in maps and traveling---and even my trusty TomTom cannot cure it.....why recently I set forth from Chicago and entered the sacred words, "EVANSVILLE" in the GPS -----it told me to enter the freeway alright....but then said......"At the first opportunity ....TURN AROUND."

In short summary...I obeyed. And it became a longer...much longer trip. It seems there are TWO Evansvilles. The HISTORIC Evansville in Wisconsin...and then the OTHER Evansville.

I think that if the good governor had thought more thoroughly---he could have picked a lot of other excuses rather than the "APPALACHIAN TRAIL" for an excuse....My favorite would have been "My GPS got confused and I got lost."

What would you have used as an excuse?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Dateline Normal, Mn.: Schools face Crisis: Cut Math, Science, Reading---Add Baseball Coach---FICTION

Well it sure has been stressfull lately as schools all across the country are facing drastic budget cuts caused by decreased state aids--Property tax payers are bracing for increased tax bills this coming December. It has been so gloomy lately that it has reminded me of the atmosphere of some funeral home visitations---in fact some of the funeral home visitations were even more up beat. There was sometimes an element of celebration involved.

Anyway---I decided to head on up that lonely freeway to Normal, Mn., my fishing getaway spot in Northern Minnesota---just south of Garrison, Mn. It always has been hard for me to think and fish at the same time. The fishing was so great that it just kept me totally involved.

Anyway, I asked my old friend Herman, the local attorney and member of the Normal School Board how they were coping with the budget crisis.

"Shucks, Wolfman (that's what he always called me) up here the Superintendent went to Germany on a long junket, and while she was away, the board voted to cut Math, Science, and Reading to meet the fiscal crisis head on. And---they voted to add one more baseball coach. Just to balance things out."

It sure is good to be back in good old Wisconsin. Where we cut key essential courses last. And where at least the bat boys do not have full dress uniforms. It sure is good to be back home.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Herman Lists Top Ten Signs HS Class is in charge of Sales---FICTION

10. Management decides to make all sales staff temporary, day to day, hour to hour with no benefits.

9. A Sales Program is devised that is launched with a pep talk, with the aside that they will decide the "rewards" for achieving the goals later.

8. Not wanting to hurt anyone's feelings, the sales by employee are said not be be very meaningful.

7. Employees are measured by how long the call lasts, just like the movie "Call Center" and they are also measured by how much they produce. With no particular view of what means what.

6. Sales Directors never talk to anybody below themselves....they just stay in their heavenly offices.

5. Feedback on quality of product is ignored until problems become huge.

4. When employees have bold ideas, they are...well...boldly removed.

3. 90% of the time in meetings is spent talking about paperwork issues and not sales.

2. There is an outing to the ball game and..... all employees pay their own way.

1. As a sales reward for extremely fine work, employees are given an extra .....pottie break.....with an official card to present to their supervisor to see if the time is convient for the volume of calls.....just like high school.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Dateline Normal, Mn.: "Where Every Child goes to Half-Day School--and charges the State for full"----FICTION

Recently I took a little road trip up that vast and winding road to Normal, Mn., up past the Twin Cities just this side of Garrison, Mn.. The ice has melted now and the coast is clear.

Over a strong coffee at Betty Lou's Coffee Shop, where all the coffee is double strong, and mochas are not necessary, I mentioned to my friend Herman that we in our fair city had embarked on a unique structure for kindergarten, and called it the "pull out half day kindergarten"-----some of the kids went half day, but we charged the State for a full time student----this was sheer moxie was it not?

Herman did not look flustered by my bravado-----"Shucks, Wolfman (that's what he always called me) Up here in Normal, Mn. we do things all the way, not half way----Up here ALL the school children go half day.....and we charge the State of Minnesota for full day. It is real slick. By doing so, we have closed one school and cut expenses in half.

"It gets down to one simple truth" Herman said, "In the modern world, where kids can work on their laptops and use "twitter" and "facebook," they don't need to be confined in a classroom all day."

WOW. That sure seemed bold.

Still I wondered. Whether "twitter" and such could really replace teaching. But then it was so much like teaching in a way. Just maybe....

Dateline Normal, Mn.: "Being Rugged and Independent means never having to pay for your own sewage plant"---FICTION"

Well it has been pretty stunning. All the techno improvements planned for our wonderful town---And even though we are in difficult times, and facing furloughs of municipal workers along with every other type of worker, and even though we have millions of Americans facing foreclosure, and even though there has never been a time when Americans could afford a higher tax burden---sometimes things are necessary----like sewage plants.

We sure need one. We are a little nitrate high. And even though we could wait a few years till we incur the expense, sometimes a disaster is the perfect time to put some guilt on the feds to pay for our sewage plant improvements as a simple matter of "stimulus." It sure makes one smile as one views cities all across the country do likewise---sending their "pork" or "septic" projects to the careful eye of Washington.

I wondered. And when I wonder, I always give my old friend Herman from Normal, Mn. a call ---just to clarify.

When I explained, Herman let out a huge bellylaugh.

"Shucks, Wolfman (that's what he always called me) that's just the American Way. We are real independent in our thinking, and ....drinking....but when it comes to spending for our essential needs, we always call Washington to pick up the tab. That is the key to get what Americans call "disposable income." Ya can't have disposable, or drinkable income, if one is flushing down the expenses in the toilet. "

The more I thought about it....the more I saw the light. Yes. We were ruff and ready, but just not the way the history books taught us. The 4th of July was coming and I would be sure to remember that "freedom" is just another word for having the feds pay for our sewage plant.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Dateline Normal, Mn.; Bishop Norini nixes Social Justice: Builds New Cathedral

Well it has been a little troubling. With the closing of the venerable Multicultural Center in our local town due to the poor economy. I just wondered about who would be picking up the social justice mission now that the Church had forsaken it.

When I wonder such things, which is often these days, I just pick up the phone and call my trusted friend Herman from Normal, Mn....the land of fishing, the land of peace and contentment in northern Minnesota, yes....just a little ways from the famous Lake Woebegone. Herman was a lawyer and while he did specialize in trusts and estates...and and yes he may have forgotten about what the mission of social justice was since the days of his starving law school period,..still I thought he must know.

"Herman, what is to become of social justice anyway? Why is it that in terrible times, the poor are the first ones to take it in the shorts?"

Herman let out a huge bellylaugh:

"Shucks, Wolfman (that's what he always called me) we will always have the poor. They are like the birds of the air who are supposed to fret little about how, where, or how much they eat---ya must have read the story of St. Francis and the birds...Anyway, up here in Normal, Mn., our local Bishop, Bishop Norini, decided that an economic downturn was the perfect time to build a new cathedral----after all, one can always serve the poor, but the real mission is to exault and prolaim the glory of the Almighty----and with the lead times of the art of cathedral construction, it is important to get these things done in one's lifetime so that they can be named after the builder....."


Yup. that seemed to be the reality all right. I guess that's just the way life is.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

BREAKING: TEXT: US Navy seeks PIRATE negotiator--URGENT, Temporary LTE, ---FICTION

This morning, Easter Sunday, I got a surprise text message from Normal, Mn.---yes you guessed it from my old friend Herman, the countryboy lawyer, who double dipped as a lawyer specializing in trusts and estates and also was president of the Normal, Mn. School Board-----

The text message was terse----"US Navy seeks PIRATE negotiator---experience required--urgent need to avoid surrender by US Fleet".

I called immediately. Finally someone sought my expertise----

I wanted to share the requirements with you in case you know someone locally that would be a good fit for this position:::::::

Applicants must be tough as nails, have good verbal ability, and have the skill of thinking outside of the box----in fact thinking and talking while standing in a small dingey would be good.

Evidence of prior felonies a plus---with special weight given to large swindles, even larger than petty financial crimes. No stockbrokers can apply for this position, nor civil servants.

Applicants must be willing to accept payment in an offshore account in small denominated bills and the payment will be considered tax free by signed agreement.

Strong patriots are preferred since it would be terrible if the US Navy surrendered to a few PIRATES.

It would be preferable that applicant has viewed all the videos of WWII and the Battleship Enterprise 360 series and is familiar with the proud traditon of the US Navy.

If you know someone that would be a good applicant, send their name to The Evansville Observer @fre2observer@yahoo.com ..All replies confidential.

Friday, April 10, 2009

BREAKING: Energy Fair Comes to Normal, Mn.: Special parking lot for SUV's Featured----

As a special visitor friendly feature, the site of the new Normal, Mn. Energy Fair celebration will feature a brand spanking new parking lot designed especially for SUV's. There will even be special spaces for HUMMERS.

More when I get the details. I am so excited.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Dateline Normal, Mn.: Herman writes: The Top 10 Reasons not to raise taxes on the rich or close tax loopholes--FICTION

(Ed.note; Here is a note that Herman sent to me recently regarding the Top Ten reasons why we cannot tax folks who make over $250,000 and why we cannot close any tax loopholes such as secret off shore accounts. Enjoy. )

10) We cannot eliminate tax cheats because....they are some of our most patriotic citizens.

9) If we eliminate the tax advantaged investments, we would also have the effect of eliminating the armani suited lawyers who are required to give advice regarding them, or more precisely, give clients a call back after researching pertinent cases at $300 per hour.

8) If all offshore tax havens were eliminated, there would be an adverse effect on Bahamian real estate---who would replace all those tenants in the houses in the brothel district.

7) A rising tide lifts all yachts. If the rich cannot have a yacht as a second home or primary commercial location, there would result in a terrible surplus of yachts. Oh---I forgot. There already is a terrible surplus.

6) If we eliminated all the complicated tax deductions for high end tax payers and corporations----corporations might have to pay some taxes-----this would have the terrible effect of reducing employment because everybody knows that employers only hire staff from the money they get from illegal tax havens.

5) If corporations had to pay taxes, they would not be able to send junkets to Vegas---this would have a terrible effect on real estate there. And the casinos would change the gambling ratios that would make it less profitable for all to gamble.

4) If the rich could not get huge tax deductions for charity, what would become of social society in New York---who would people gossip about.

3) If the rich did not get tax deductions for charity, mostly the poor would be the major contributors---oh...I forgot---that's the way it is right now.

2) If the ultra rich had to pay taxes, less would trickle down to the poor folk.

1) If the ultra rich had to pay taxes, the United States might actually become progressive rather than just talking the talk.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Dateline Normal, Mn.: "The MoneyChangers in the Temple---the new version----FICTION

Last week during spring break, rather than head south to Mexico with certain members of the family, mostly because I lacked the armored car necessary.....I headed up that long and winding road to Normal, Mn., where I could be certain that the special rooms at the Spruce Goose Motel, the ones with the pull down king size beds and the stuffed bears on the walls and yes....the mini-dove bars in the ash trays to add just a spark of upscale cache....that these rooms would be reserved on just a phone call from me.

Anyway---I did something pretty unusual on Sunday morn and went to the local church---the Church of the Loaves and Fishes---for the standard 10:00 am church service. Pastor Bob was in great form this Sunday, and the Gospel reading was the story of how the Lord drove the Money Changers out of the Temple. One of my favorites.

Father Bob began by noting that this was an unsual sermon, since the Lord actually got angry---and for modern folks it almost seemed that He might need some anger managment classes to get back in control. After all, in throwing out the money changers from the temple, He seemed to violate several key principles of the current Normal School District about sharing concerns, peaceful behavior, etc, and besides arguing with the money class, in any age, is very hazardous to the enterprise.

Right in the middle of the sermon, Father Bob paused. He said, "Some of our current politicians, and indeed our President, have said that "We cannot rule from ANGER"....and the current fashion is that the correct policy is to make deals with the moneychagers---or tax them at 90% of the bonuses, or maybe do nothing because we have to honor the sanctity of their contracts.....or change the story every day till the common citizen wonders what the question was......this is the modern fashion....."

Immediately the whole congregation of the Church of the Loaves and Fishes got REAL quiet.

Pastor Bob went on:

"It is important to understand WHY the Lord threw the moneychangers out of the Temple---the moneychangers greeted the villagers who came with gifts by first rejecting their animals as not appropriate, nor their coin as appropriate, and then selling them pidgeons and doves at inflated prices and giving them "special currency" that gouged them and was ...well....a total ripoff. The moneychangers devalued real, honest folk and the products of their honest labor, and substituted fake and fraudlent currency and gifts---does this sound familiar?"

The congregation was stunned. Then he went on:

" One can rule with JUSTICE. JUSTICE and ANGER are different."

Then Pastor Bob spent quite a while reviewing GOOD justice from mere anger.

So there it is. The congregation was quite a buzz. And all the while as I drove back to good old Wisconisn, I just wondered what I would have done. Would I have driven them out also, or would I have tried to cut a deal with them, maybe a real attractive deal where I had them finance most of the toxic stuff, or maybe even finance a sewage treatment plant....it got all mixed up in the dream of mine....Anyway...I will leave it up to you....what would you have done?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Dateline Normal, Mn: "School for Everyone---Seniors gamble with DNR Money----Reversal is just fair play--FICTION

Well. It has been a pretty amazing week for news. President Obama has chided the news media for the short attention span of the news -----and says we need to take a longer view. Says that K-12 education in American has deeply failed us. Some states have the educational attainment of a third world country.

After pausing for a moment to catch his breath----the President then said we should expand that failure into pre-school by adding universal 4k---It seems that those who are currently participating in pre-school, and that is most children----are unfairly discriminating against those who are experiencing substandard education....and thus to be ....FAIR....everyone must get the same substandard eduation.....HUH?

Made one wonder. And when I wonder...which is often these days....I just give my old friend Herman in Normal, Mn. a call----He's a countryboy lawyer...he should know.

I wasted no time:

"Herman---what do you make of all this education improvement stuff?"

Herman let out a huge bellylaugh----

"Shucks, Wolfman( that's what he always called me) do not be confused by all the rhetoric. One must have a sense of humor---most of the talk is just bull...

Up in Normal, we have taken a LARGER view. We have mandated the enrollment of all citizens from birth to death in our school system----and the result has been revolutionary----PRESTO We have doubled our revenue through state reimbursement. It sure is neat!!!!!!

"But...but...what courses could the seniors take?' I wondered.

"It is real simple," Herman went on. "The seniors take yoga theory or water aerobics etc and the most popular course is "Probability theory and gambling---with sidetrips to the casinos for workshops on the subject. In fact, through special grants from the DNR there has been enough money so seniors can gamble free."

"What?". The DNR funding gambling? How in the world could that be justified?"

Herman just smiled.

"They already are funding such stuff. Video equipment etc. It was just a hop skip and a jump to allow full scale gambling. "

What a shock. EVERYONE in school.

Still. The more I thought of it. And being an advocate of education and all. And not being able to gamble on my own. Yes. it sure looked attractive. And why should the big boys gamble with senior invested funds, when the seniors could reverse the game and gamble with theirs. It was just simple justice.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Dateline Normal, Mn.: "The End Around"-----FICTION

Some months ago, midst the public hearings on the wind turbine ordinance for a local community, in the middle of the night, some high powered folks, armani suited I presume, came on the Observer late at night to listen to the tapes of the proceedings----checking them out, I found out they were a high powered, expensive public relations firm from out east....and that made me wonder.....Shortly thereafter, nobody from the pro turbine in the city with short setback people appeared at any public meetings.

I picked up the phone and dialed my old friend Herman, the countryboy lawyer from Normal, Mn.. He had beaten the armani suits many times. He would know what was up.

"Herman, what could be happening. I just do not understand".

Herman let out a huge belly laugh.

"Wolfman (that's what he always called me)----when the big boys are beaten, they always go for the "End Around Play"-----It's a simple play that every school child knows. The way the big boys play it, they just stop talking with the public, and bring the money----after all----buying the big boys is always cheaper than winning in the public forum."

"WOW"---I exclaimed.

Thank goodness we are back in good old Wisconsin. Where the folks wear denim and not armani.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Dateline Normal, Mn.: Normal Senior Fitness Center eliminates bathrooms, fitness area; Adds Flyfishing room---FICTION

Well it sure has been an interesting week....with the local planning commission in our fair city being presented with a proposal to eliminate several bathrooms, and the fitness area of the proposed senior/community center and instead build an area for carpentry. I just wondered....and as I do when I wonder....I just picked up the phone and called my friend, Herman, in Normal, Mn. He's a lawyer. He should know.

After I told him the latest, Herman just broke out in a huge bellylaugh:

"Shucks Wolfman (that's what he always called me) that's nothing. Up here in Normal, Mn., we cut out all the bathrooms and the fitness area and substituted a flyfishing room. Let's face it. The guys up here love fishing, and flyfishing requires some art in the hook design, and the guys just love gathering to do the their art. The design planners felt the guys could pee anywhere---and besides the filling station next door obliged since when the guys went next door they always bought snacks. It was a real win--win public-private-very private partnership.

In fact it got even better. A well known drug firm, that wanted to promote its pill to control BPH, offered a special grant for medication freebies so that the seniors could achieve better bladder control. "

I was dumbstruck.

"Ya mean everyone goes next door to the gas station to use the restroom?"

"YUP" Herman replied. "After all. These are times to cut back. And bladder control was one area that we thought we could make a difference. Well. It is true hat some of the guys with wheel chairs can't deal with it....but then they could not fly fish anyway. So it all works out. We think it is real visionary."

It sure is good to be back home in good old Wisconsin. Where flyfishing is not so big. And where we occasionaly have bathrooms rather than run next door to the gas station.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Dateline Normal, Mn.: Energy Team Meets--Vows to do less ....to save energy"-----FICTION

Well it has been a strange week---an entire nation has been discussing how to save energy---and some very creative ideas have surfaced. I have been on location all week working on a series of stories of how walkable neighborhoods look when they become foreclosed----and the assignment has been a wonderful look of how the concept of community has been developed, developed, and developed as a branding concept and has reinforced the notion that if it is an empty bucket with nothing more---bad things happen.

It was sunny, warm, and I was strolling the beach as all of southern Florida was on pins and needles waiting for those wild and crazy spring break college students to appear with all their depravity.....and money.....and to begin puking their guts out....getting cited for all sorts of violations that could fill local law enforcement coffers to the top----the question was would they come. What if they decided not to drink this year? WOW. It was a very tense time on the beach.

In times like these, I always pick up the phone and consult with my old friend Herman, the countryboy lawyer from Normal, Mn.; after all, Herman was a lawyer. He should have some thoughts on this issue.

"Herman, what is the deal? All of Florida is hoping booze will save them from the economic downturn---they call it "tough times." In fact---there are laws on the books that prohibit owners from putting "for sale" signs up. It might ruin the atmosphere of prosperity......

Herman laughed with a huge bellylaugh.

"Shucks wolfman( that's what he always called me)-----folks have a lot of crazy ideas on how to save money. Down in the South they are hoping that the booze in spring break will save them. Up here in the north, in God's country, the consensus is that if our leaders do less, expend less energy, more will be accomplished. After all, freedom is what results when government is minimized---and doin less qualifies----so every level of government has vowed to do less, drive slower, read with smaller light bulbs, shuffle more and run less----so far we are on target. "

""WOW"", I gasped.

"There really is a big difference between North and South. Real crazy..but different. Thanks Herman. "

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Dateline Normal, Mn.: "Cost of shovels skyrockets in Normal, Mn."----FICTION

Well the pace of the news has really picked up. I just heard that there was a panic buying episode up in Normal, Mn. for shovels----seems that when all the folks heard that our President has called for "shovel ready" projects----every man, woman, and child who owned a shovel thought that the leader of our fair country was speaking directly of them----and wanting to be responsive, thought they would stock up on shovels in case that the entire stimulus program of 700 Billion or so would be directed to filling potholes----

Wanting to clarify---I just picked up the phone and called my old friend, Herman, the country boy lawyer in Normal.

"Herman---what is the deal with the panic buying of shovels?"

Herman let out a huge bellylaugh.

"Shucks Wolfman---the shovel play is simply perfect. In times of crisis, folks want to dig, dig, and dig just like little kids would when they were young, and in the converse up in the Northern tundra, we have a deep need to fill pot holes---a year round project. We are always "shovel ready". Thus the folks in Normal, Mn. thought Pres Obama was talking to them directly. \'

"Do you mean to say that digging and filling up potholes is the total national recovery program?"

"YUP", Herman chortled. "If the FILLIN don't cure the problem.....the DIGGIN might. It is a compete circle of life program----or circle of Federal debt program. We sure are excited. We patterned the program as a 7 step program after AAAA. First ya recover and then ya relapse. First ya dig and then ya fill. It sure works neat. "

Wow. Who wudda thunk a national recovery program could have been so simple.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Dateline Normal, Mn.: "For Fish and for Felons---It's Catch and Release"---FICTION

I was reading lately that many local jurisdictions have eliminated the jail confinement fee as a way of cutting municipal waste and creating a more efficient government process---I just wondered about that. Should we simply eliminate jail altogether as a cost cutting move?

When I wonder such things, I always call my old friend Herman from Normal, Mn.. He is a lawyer. He should know.

"Herman, what is the deal with eliminating any municipal fees for confining felons?"

Herman let out a huge bellylaugh'

"Shucks Wolfman, (that's what always called me.) You are just too old fashioned. Nowadays, life is just too fast paced for anyone to be confined for anything. It's just like the fish regulations up here. It is all "Catch and Release." It makes things real simple......Besides....all the fish have so much mercury that we cannot consume them anyway. It would be a safety hazard."

"Catch and release seems to be the real natural way in God's country."

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Dateline Normal, Mn.: "How to Spend in Good times; And How to Spend LOTS more in CRISIS times in order to serve the people"---the Play----FICTION

Well it has been a real long stretch of gloomy news----and in honor of the weather warming up from below zero, I have made a special exception to my normal rule of never going to Minnesota during the period from November to March, and have accepted the generous invitation of the Ladies Civic League of Normal to attend the grand opening of the Normal Community Theare 2009 Season which is featuring the legendary comedy, "How to spend in Good Times and How to spend LOTS more in CRISIS times in order to better serve the people."

Relax. I will bring you a full report when I return.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Dateline Normal: "Generalized Hope is not an ACTION plan"-----FICTION

Recently, about a month ago, an international religious figure mentioned that as a practical and existential matter when faith is gone....everything else is pretty much toast. Faith is the building block.

In his religious garb, the concept was riduculed a bit--however....when bankers have ratios of 20 or 30 or 100 to ONE as a ratio of capital to debt....faith is surely important, even if it is deluded hope=====

I just wondered whether hope could be a total action plan---and I knew just who to call---Herman in Normal, Mn.. He was a lawyer. He should know. About despair. About lawsuits. and of course--about the inverse....hope.

"Herman, what is the deal. We are being told that "HOPE is a total action plan. Just send the money and everything will be better. What is your read up in Normal, Mn?"

Herman let out a huge belly laugh-----"Shucks Wolfman. FAITH, HOPE and LOVE make the world go around---but to make sure that those three items work properly---REGULATION is important. Up here in Normal, Mn. , we know that PROFESSIONALS are called to be more than PREDATORS---and that just as back in the 60"s they were servants of the public trust---THAT is precisely what the current crisis is calling them to be once again. The only problem is that they are USING the crisis to be SUPER predators. They just do not get it. HOPE is not an effective plan. It needs a BIG STICK----like the one Harry Truman wielded in the aftermath of WWII in prosecuting the war profiteers---we now need the fear of GOD to prosecute the war profiteers over the past 8 years. "

Well. I was just stunned.

"Thanks Herman."

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Dateline Normal, Mn; "Saving More by Spending More-; Losing Weight by Eating More----" FICTION

Recently I have been working in sales taking orders for a national firm---it has been fun and I have watched as folks order more and more to get free shipping offers, or in general just buy more and more merchandise made in foreign countries---there are some wonderful items yes....but I have noticed a certain type of customer that is simply addicted to deals, deals and deals---and I get the idea that they might confuse volume of purchase with saving....

This reminds me of a conversation I had with one of my daughters that went to visit Italy---she wrote that she had to throw out all of her bulky "xxx" clothes and buy just one or two high quality items of clothing to wear for outings, since that was the fashion in Italy----quality of merchandise mattered.

Anyway---I just wondered about the whole concept of "saving." So---I just picked up the phone and called my old friend Herman from Normal, Mn.---he was a lawyer. He should know.

'What ever happened to the concept of saving, Herman?"

Herman let out a huge bellylaugh.

"Wolfman,(that's what he always called me) the whole concept of saving...and in fact "self control" has simply vanished----We have in fact become a nation of overconsumption---why if I was to market a line of clothing, I would call it www.3xl.com . The whole nation has gone beserk on consumption. Food, entertainment....well...everything.....There is just an essential imbalance. If a person is out of shape, eat more. If a state is out of budget balance....borrow more....It is a spirit of cando----borrow and deny. Never give up. It sounds like a pirate slogan. Kind of a slogan of the punk pirates.....When will it end? "

"Yes Herman, that is a good question. "

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Dateline Normal, Mn.: DNR funds audio-video high tech Normal Fire Station---FICTION

Well last week something pretty unusual happened in Normal, Mn.. I got the call from Herman, the local country boy lawyer friend, who alerted me to the spectacular happening---the State of Minnesota DNR awarded the local Normal, Mn. firestation a large grant so that the new five bay Normal, Mn. fire station could be totally up to international code for audio video interface with potential terrorist threats nationwide----

Herman was just breathless with excitement.

"It has been just a wonderful thing" Herman gushed. "Ya got to understand that with all the other things happening up here in Normal, with the fishing, the recreational focus, there is a premium on firefighters that want to spend the weekend cooped up in a fire station waiting for a fire to break out. The state of the art video system is a fine way for the staff to be fully trained, and...well...retrained in the possible threats that might develop----in fact the guys have been watching the entire Bourne movie series just imagining what possible complicated threats that might come to Normal someday. The guys just love it. Movies, Movies, Movies.....the weekend just flies........"

"But Herman" I interjected, "the last time I checked ya just had two (2) fires last year. Why all the extensive infrastructure improvements for Normal, MN?

"Shucks, Wolfman,(that's what he always called me,) Fire is a growth industry. Besides, remember the old Smokey the Bear commercial? Ya got to be PREPARED. And we are---we got the movies to prove it."

WOW. What a happening. Maybe something like this can come to Wisconsin someday. it sure is good to be back home.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Dateline Normal, Mn.: " Bailout Breakthrough----Send me the money"----FICTION

Well it has been pretty stunning---the wide range of proposals all across the United States by all age groups for how to avert disaster. Yet with all the proposals, with all the diversity of point of origin----the theme has been the same. Send me the Money.

Whenever I wonder about such things, which has been more often lately, I just give my old friend, Herman, the countryboylawyer from Normal, Mn. a call----he is in God's country, and is a lawyer....He must know.

So I just blurted it out:

"Herman, how is it that folks think that our brand new President will send them all the money for the bailout----what is your take on this?

"Shucks Wolfman,(that's what he always calls me) in the real world, the first thing about deliverance it that it begins at home. Whether it is the Ponzi scheme of Madoff or the bailout nationally, there is the impulse to send the checks to relatives and friends first. It is just natural. After all, folks that are not related..... are nice folks and all....but... they don't need anything more than a friendly wave----up here in the tundra we call it the "Howdy wave." Ya give folks the finger wave from the car, the cheerleaderwave on the street that gives the necessary recognition----but it all ends with the money----money we just send to the relatives."

Wow. It all boils down to that. Even though as a nation, we are big, and modern and hip...... It still comes down to just a little small time thinking spread nationwide.

"Thanks Herman."