Moogs, would you buy it for a quarter?
In Kornbluth's The Marching Morons the expression Moogs, would you buy it for a quarter?" was the catch phrase of the day in the world of the marching morons. Kornbluth was writing of a time in the far future when the public IQ had plummeted and the world's culture had adapted to the needs and desires of the marching morons. Of course, Kornbluth wrote that story 50 years ago. The far future has a way of creeping up on us faster than we think.
Speaking of such things I came across the following in an MSNBC newsquib:
Bush promised during his presidential campaign to cut power plants' emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, mercury and carbon dioxide. He recanted the carbon dioxide pledge last month, saying he had since learned it was not a pollutant under the Clean Air Act.Moogs, would you buy it for a quarter?
Elections won and lost
If I understand the deluge of reports on the re-recount of the Florida presidential election Bush would still have won if they had recounted the ballots the way the Democrats wanted them to them but that Gore would have won if greater provision had been made for incompetent democratic voters. The results of the re-recount should satisfy everyone. The republicans can claim that they won legitimately. The democrats can continue to believe that the election was stolen. And the civil rightists are confirmed in their belief that the blacks got the short end of the stick. Thus it is that we live in this best of all possible worlds.
As I write Timothy McVeigh is going to be killed in a government sponsored closed circuit TV snuff film in a delicate compromise between refined vengeance and naked blood lust.
America is such a wonderful country.
No, not the movie. Kevin Costner should work for the aerospace industry, he has such a talent for making expensive bombs. It's South Dakota I am speaking of.
When most people think of South Dakota (a palpable inaccuracy - non-residents are not aware that South Dakota exists let alone think of it, and residents don't think of South Dakota, they endure it) they have some vague impression of some place in that vast empty space between Chicago and Denver where dust bowls pass the time whilst waiting for the next time to come sweeping down the plains like a seventeen year locust. In general they are right; South Dakota summers are hot and rainless. Spring time is a different matter.
Every few years the high plains has a winter from Hell. This year was one of those years. The wind howls, the temperature struggles with negative fahrenheit numbers, and snow falls - and falls - and falls. In the spring it melts and melts and melts. There is water everywhere, standing in fields, and rushing in creeks. Towns that were flooded out a few years ago are flooded out once again. For some reason such springs are regularly accompanied by torrential spring rains.
The ducks love it. The prairies are a stopping place for migratory waterfowl engaged in their transcontinental journeys from somewhere to somewhere else. I am not so sanguine; my front lawn is more water and mud than grass. I will admit, however, that this is not entirely the fault of the weather...
The Mid Dakota Swimming Pool
One of the misfeatures of rural South Dakota in the days gone by was thoroughly unsatisfactory drinking water. People relied upon local well water. Popeye should have drunk such water rather than eating spinach, it had so much iron. The Great White Father in Washington, not content with paternalistically mismanaging the lives of the former residents, has come to our aid with the Mid Dakota Water Project.
Water is being piped from the Missouri River to the scattered hamlets of central South Dakota. Unlike the local water, this water is nice soft water that does not whiff and stain everything that it comes in contact with. Such projects do not happen all at once; they happen in stages. This year the Mid Dakota Water pipes reached the area of yours truly. (It was scheduled to arrive here two years ago but that's the way these things go; schedules slip.)
In the fullness of time the machines which dug the eight foot deep trenches wherein the pipes were buried came and went. It is easy to tell where they have been - the countryside looks as though it had been invaded by giant moles. These things do not happen all at once. First the main lines are laid. These had to filled with water under pressure, flushed, and carefully checked for cleanliness.
Once the main lines were established meter pits for the individual houses (and animal watering outlets) were installed. Let me explain about meter pits. In the city pipes are run from the water main into a house, usually into a basement. Immediately upon entry into the house there is a water meter where water usage is recorded. In the country (and yours truly resides one mile from the nearest hamlet - population 850 - which rather grandiloquently entitles itself the CITY of Highmore) you have a meter pit which holds the master valve to turn off the water and that all important meter.
You might imagine that they would dig the meter pit at the same time they dug the main line past the house. You would be wrong to do so. A different contractor does that. In due course, some months after the main line went in, the folks who were to put in the meter pit showed up with their digging machines. They dug a big hole to get access to the main line and another hole in my front lawn for the meter pit. Then comes the fun part - they have to connect the main line to the pipe to the meter in the meter pit.
This is not a simple matter. The main line is full of water under pressure and they have to make a hole in it. Fortunately they have a special tool which clamps around the main line and cuts a hole into it and inserts the small pipe which will feed water to the house.
So here's the picture. You have a big eight food deep hole in the ground. You have an eight inch wide PVC pipe full of water under pressure. You have a chap down at the bottom of that hole with that fancy tool. You have the magic moment when the fancy tool cuts a hole in the big pipe, inserts the small pipe, and seals it under pressure. And you have ...
You guessed it in one. The big pipe cracks. Once it cracks it explodes under pressure. The guy in the hole clambers out like mad because the hole fills in minutes. It not only fills the hole, it starts spreading water around the country side. Nor did it stop immediately. The water had to be turned off; this being in the country the nearest shutoff valve was a pair of miles away. The supervisor jumped in his pickup and dashed away to halt the effort to pump the Missouri into the Harter yard.
In due course the water is turned off, the impromptu swimming hole is pumped out, the broken pipe is replaced, and the connection to the meter pit is completed. MidDakota was not yet done with their adventures in watery excavation....
Do not imagine that the installation of the meter pit meant that the house was now hooked up to this wonderful source of water. That event was deferred until early December when the chaps from MidDakota once again appeared, this time to dig up the hole in which they had buried the pipe from the meter pit and tie it into the pipe leading into the house.
This involved digging more deep holes in the front lawn. This time, it must be said, they did not fill their holes with water. However it being December and the lawn being under two feet of snow their efforts at refilling the holes they had made were not all they might have been. The "filled" holes have sunk in a couple of feet and are filled with snow melt. The dirt that did not go into the holes are decorating the front lawn in irregular piles.
I'm thinking of getting goldfish.
This page was last updated April 13, 2001.