The Prairie Spy

Alan “Lindy” Linda

It’s always entertaining to see how humans name stuff. All this tendency of ours to name a thing or a happening in a way to not call attention to it is just, well, entertaining.

For example: In the latest information released by the Minn-DOT (Minnesota Department of Transportation), the intersection just this side of Wadena, where a rural blacktop meets a major highway that is being expanded to four lanes, is called a “Reduced Conflict Intersection.”

It is being so labeled because people become insanely incensed over “Roundabouts,” which in fact do reduce casualties, but also in fact incense about half of the population. Incomprehensibly, this half would rather perish than fender bend, which is what will and has happened at intersections like this.

Another term that I find wonder-full is: “Live and don’t learn.” This term comes I believe from a Calvin and Hobbes Sunday paper comic strip. It pretty much stands alone; doesn’t need much explanation, and unlike some sayings, doesn’t rile folks up. So it is unique in that respect.

One of my mother’s favorite sayings was: “Don’t cut off your nose just to spite your face.” Mom often said this when referring to her–and I guess my–relatives, and their ability to cause damage to themselves by causing damage to others. An expression that closely parallels this is: People who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.”

The best current example–and I’m deliberately leaving politics out of this–involves Kathy Cargill, now the center of attention for her current purchasing of several high-priced homes on Park Point in Duluth. Park Point is a narrow strip of high-priced land separating Lake Superior from Superior Bay, with homes on both sides of the road that runs through it.

Once it became known that Ms. Cargill was throwing millions of dollars into this purchasing, everyone–worried that something bad was going to happen–and any specific version of “bad” varied from resident-to-resident–reacted negatively.

Now it has become public knowledge that Ms. Cargill has spent similar dollars in Wisconsin to turn land, through conservation efforts and expenditures, back to nature. But. Because folks got themselves into such an uproar, she has abandoned her efforts at Park Point. She did get rid of some pretty junky abodes, which were really over priced. Too late. Folks? You Park Pointers may have just cut off your noses to spite your faces.

Elon Musk has poured beaucoup dollars into his space program. In the process, he has advanced rocketry way, way faster than any government program ever has in the past. However, one of his recent efforts recently exploded several thousand feet up.

The engineers involved–and engineers have shown many times over the years an innate ability to cover their mishaps and misadventures–where do you think the new name for a roundabout came from?—with highly descriptive and deceptive nouns. The rocket did not explode; it instead had a “rapid unscheduled disassembly.” 

I appreciate, nay, applaud this literary contribution as almost art applied to science. Once, in an effort to short-cut my way to the elimination pocket gophers by using oxygen and acetylene, had such an “unscheduled” event, resulting in almost a hundred feet of subterranean tunnelled grassland turned into, shall we say, unscheduled disassembly.

Whew. Who knew.

When I was self-employed, sometimes folks would pay their bill with actual green cash. And sometimes, I have heard, the self-employed in like situations would forget to report this income to the IRS. (Oh, shame, shame.) The other day, I got my new property valuations, upon which The Tax Lord, who lives in a stately Courthouse at the county seat, bases my annual feudal serf tithe. I.e., property tax. Never has it gone up this far this fast! When I recovered from the shock, my first thought was darn it! I wish that when I was self employed, I had myself done more reclassifying of, shall we say,  Nonprotocol IRS Income. (Cash)

And finally, sayings about the weather always fascinated me. The last one someone told me: When Robins come back, three snows on their back. I cannot remember who told me this, but to them I say thank you. The weather has always produced wonder-full sayings over the years, as people attempt to figure out what’s going to happen next.

We just had the third snow.