Tales From Normal, Mn.--FICTION

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

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."