The next big idea for 2013

So. Here we are, then. OK, I’m a little embarrassed. With the possible end of the world a couple weeks back, I have to admit I don’t have a column.

I didn’t really believe the end was nigh; it wasn’t like I quit grooming or anything. And on balance, I’m mostly glad we’re here yet. Even though my tax appointment’s coming up, my teenager’s still a grump, and I still need to lose weight.

But just in case those wacky Mayans were right, I sure as Hades wasn’t going to spend the end times writing something that wasn’t going to see the light of paper. These things are a lot of work. It ain’t like breaking rocks, but it’s close. Come to think of it, when’s the last time you broke rocks? This might be worse.

You walk up to the computer, and there it is: a blank screen staring back at you. And it’s got a smirk on its face. It starts taunting you. “You think you’re going to turn me into a column? Yeah, you and what army?” You try to get it into a headlock and wrestle it to the ground, all the while sticking words on it. But it keeps fighting back; blank screens are tenacious buggers. Sometimes it gets on top and starts choking you. All you can do then is whup it with your thesaurus. After a while, you’re both a bloody mess. But you’ve got your column.

Why do I do it? Is it because of the high pay? Um, that would be negatory, good buddy. Is it because I like words? I like beer, too, but I don’t try to drink 900 at a time. In the end, I like to imagine the horde of person out there reading this, or part of it before looking over at the obituaries.

I’ve had a couple people tell me they like my column, but they’re not sure what my point is. Well, truth be told, I don’t have a point. Every day, all over this page, there are points. Guys like George Will and Robert Reich, they have points coming out of their ears. They were born with points. I’m a farmer. I have crops. I don’t have a point.

It’s especially tough being me because I’m in the same newspaper as columnists Wendy and Kerry. Wendy has food and Kerry has cows, both exceedingly fertile ground for writing. Management says I can do anything I want, except food and cows. Oh great, what’s that leave me? Geometry and tire wear patterns? I did fun and upbeat columns on disease and sin. Can you blame me?

I do try to bring the voice of western Brown County to The Journal. This is especially important since the completion of the roundabout on Highway 14. We’ve noticed no one from New Ulm gets over here anymore. It seems they get to the roundabout, end up going back to New Ulm, maybe turn around by Cash Wise, try it again, get to the roundabout, and end up heading back to New Ulm again. Most give up after a couple tries.

By the way, you New Ulmers should know about something. It’s a little eerie, but someone’s gone and put up a giant empty building out west of you. At night, there are hundreds of lights on, but no one’s there. I don’t want to startle anyone. But there were reports of mysterious activity near the Roswell crash site. Along with that, an abnormally large number of Schugel trucks have been running between New Mexico and Minnesota. If one of you could figure out that roundabout, you might want to check it out. Be careful. Use the buddy system.

The other thing I try to bring to The Journal is a fresh perspective on economic opportunities for the City of Charmin and Tradition. Or something like that. For example, it was here that the idea to replace the deer on Schell’s labels with Chammy the Horse first came to Ted Marti’s attention.

Research showed the deer thing was getting a little old after 152 years. Since Chammy surpassed Hermann as the most recognizable symbol of New Ulm, it was a perfect match. The first batch of Schell’s Horse Brand Beer is even now fermenting and Chammy labels are being printed.

The other great idea I had was to give each of the owners of the Marktp atz Mall half of the old K-Mart building. Since they’ve had a little space to stretch out, they discovered that they get along famously. Inspired by their new-found cooperation and esprit de corps, they created The Rodney King Can’t-We-All-Just-Get-Along Center.

Since its inception, the Center has seen a steady stream of former combatants coming to learn to accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, and latch on to the affirmative. Democrats, Republicans, evolutionists, creationists, Taliban, tribal leaders, they all came to find harmony. And I don’t even get paid for this stuff!

Given my track record, the New Ulm EDA has been waiting for my next Big Idea. For 2013, it’s time to go forward by looking back. Those of us who are over 80 remember Doc Germann and his decades-long crusade to dam up the Minnesota River. I am ready to pick up the mantle and lead the charge for federal funding to resurrect this project. Congressman Tim Walz is a big fan of this column. So Tim, let’s get off the schneid. The budget’s such a mess, who’d notice a billion or two for Germann Dam and Lake Chammy?

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