Tales of a Midwest Nothing: My Experiences and Reflections on Life

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Although not about dogs, the book is permeated with dog stories, a love of nature, and an almost mystical sense of wonder. Blurbs Reflections on a Life in Exile is a book that is easy to pick up for a quick dip in the morning or evening, but also holds up to a lovely afternoon in an adirondack chair soaking up the sun along with the reflections This gentle volume encourages us to listen with a bit more open curiosity to the words of strangers and reminds us that we all belong to a culture of kindness if we only watch for it. Target readers Men and women; over thirty.

Dog lovers; nature lovers; people of faith; those struggling with personal loss; those searching for kindness and beauty in a world filled with rage-tweeting. Riordan has worked in opera, teaching, and philanthropy, but her first love is writing.

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The author of the award-winning North of the Tension Line series of novels, she lives in exile from Washington Island with her husband and three dogs. The Unforgettable Guinevere St. Hutton simonandschuster. Overview Guinevere St. Target readers Contemporary middle grade fiction, ages 8 to Amy nurtures her fascination with the brain and human body by teaching anatomy and physiology to high school students in Andover, NH. She is the mother to a wily flock of four children, all who provide daily inspiration for writing. This is part mystery, part study of the human heart, and one pierced with rays of hope.

Cloud this week; this type of establishment in Britain is called a charity shop and they are numerous in our high streets, as they obtain a rent reduction — and the current economic climate dictates that there are a lot of empty shop spaces. I worked in one of these shops as a volunteer back in the early s when I was a university student, and saw many wondrous things. I was placed in charge of sorting books and records — the elderly ladies who ran the organization thought I was better placed to sort and price them than the octogenarians.

I shared a room with them as they sorted through the clothes and gossiped; the faint base notes of moth balls and old clothing penetrated the air and mingled with the scent of rose water and toffees. I am now the proud owner of a set of teaspoons, a vase, and a picture frame — I also managed to negotiate my way out of the car lot without incident.

I was wishing in my disillusioned thinking that like London it would perhaps embrace the culture, the architecture, the fine dining, and the 24 hour nightlife that the biggest capital city in Europe has to offer. Unfortunately I initially passed through New London in the belief that I had not actually reached my destination yet, it was upon seeing the signpost reversed in the car mirror on the other side of the road that I realized I had gone through the town and out of the other side - within the blinking of an eye.

The signpost read: population 1, - that would be just 10, less than London; I now understand that your definition of a small town is one that only has a single bar. I spent an enjoyable hour perusing the local shops and stores, but I was more intrigued to discover that New London is known as the starting point for the New London to New Brighton Antique Car Run - a mile endurance tour for vehicles from and earlier; this event has been held in early- to mid-August each year since This I found very entertaining, as by a remarkable or intentional coincidence there is in fact a London to Brighton veteran car run every year back in England, with Brighton being a town on the south coast - a distance of 53 miles from the capital; it is the longest-running motoring event in the world and was first initiated in I know I am becoming more like a Minnesotan due to the amount of time I have spent behind the steering wheel; like a native citizen, I now measure distance in hours, I now carry jumper cables in the car and I know how to use them and uniquely, I can now recognize if someone is from Iowa just by their driving.

I have also gained a considerable knowledge of what the four Minnesotan seasons are from time spent in the car: almost winter, winter, still winter, and road construction. The next town on from New London is called Spicer, this town appears to have more in common with London, because it has Green Lake and parts of the River Thames happen to be green - it also has sand, as rather worryingly does the current construction site for the Olympic stadium; fingers will be crossed right up until the first starting pistol is fired.

Did you know that a number of U.

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Stringent health and safety regulations continue to take away our fun! You must understand that fish and chips cannot be compared to anything I have yet to see over here; I have previously been whipped into a frenzy of excitement by well meaning locals who have informed me of establishments throughout the state that provide fish and chips, only to later frequent them to find out that in actuality, it is a plate of French fries with a frozen breaded walleye fillet and a side of ketchup.

You could have been reading this article now while pulling chips off the page and reading around the vinegar stains. The chips in Britain are not really like fries, they are cooked twice, thick cut, and not crispy; they are soft and flavorsome — they are almost solely a vehicle for the bombardment of salt and vinegar, or mayonnaise. The fish would be a large cod dipped in a crispy golden batter and deep fried; it was probably swimming around somewhere in the North Sea that very morning - wondering what its day would bring.

I then decided, in a moment of uninformed culinary enthusiasm to make my own; the chips were a simple operation and achieved without issue. The fish, however, was a slippery beast that provided an ideal opportunity for my patience to be tested. The language that emanated from my kitchen would have led my neighbors to believe I was undertaking some form of amateur home improvements. The batter would not stick to the fish and I ended up with a saucepan where the fish presented itself to me naked, and the batter followed separately in the form of some bizarre incarnation of popcorn, which congregated nervously at the bottom of the pan — no sticky tape, glue, or nail gun was going to easily resolve this disappointment.

I believe many conventions have now been put in place, due to the amount if time I have resided here; late on Saturday night I ventured to the truck stop in a funk of kitchen related disappointment and as I positioned myself in the chair, ready to peruse the menu, the lady waiting on my table instantly brought me over a hot black tea with milk.

They say variety is the spice of life, but I just really like hot black tea, and if it means I get it quicker, then it should be regarded as a good a result. I fully understand that the concept of anybody walking anywhere in this country is alien - so I can vaguely accept that the thought of wanting to cross the road on foot does not come instantly into the thinking of most drivers.

Yet on both occasions the lights were clearly red and my little green man was indicating for me to perambulate — surely red should be red, you are either allowed to go or you are not, no grey area should exist in this thinking; fortunately I was dexterous enough to leap out of the way as the cars blindly belted through the glow of the red light.

So I ask myself the question, what is so monumentally important that another 20 seconds would make a difference, in the act of stopping and waiting for me to cross safely. I have therefore invented a list of fun activities that last around 20 seconds to see if any are worth hospitalizing me for.

Tales of a Midwest Nothing: My Experiences and Reflections on Life

Firstly, you could see how long you could hold a note for amusement potential: low to moderate - not that much fun, but play with a friend or try to beat your own personal best; inhale deeply and then try and make a noise for as long as you can - earn extra points for making your partner laugh or by ending on an amusing note.

Secondly, repeat the same word over and over until it loses its meaning and becomes a random set of noises amusement potential: high — I started out with the words apple pudding, but elbow worked well too. I also realized that 20 seconds is about the average time it takes watching an Adam Sandler film before picking up a book to read. I am not sure how to remedy the problem of being a lure for fast travelling vehicles, other than to embrace the pedagogy and skills of defensive walking defensive walking classes are mandatory for pedestrians that have been warned for having an overly aggressive stride pattern - or for any casual strollers caught walking confidently whilst wearing a loud shirt in a built up area between the hours of darkness.

I put my new defensive walking skills to good use on Monday this week, when I saw a blind lady trying to cross the road outside of the post office - I politely asked if she required assistance and she accepted my offer; I confidently stepped into the road as she held my arm, before asking her to remind me which way I had to look first. This whole scenario reminds me of when the fall of the Iron Curtain came during the late s in Europe; countries that were formally occupied under Soviet rule began to become independent democracies. Another region that I wish to bring to your attention is the small town of Adrian, which I discovered on a map in the southwestern part of the state; a road trip will be planned shortly so I can stand next to the sign that has my name emblazoned upon it — I get the impression that the early settlers just simply ran out of names for their towns and lakes, so reverted to using their Christian names; I suspect I will have to travel through the towns of Colin, Bob, Chuck, Tom, Erm, Thingy, Cannotthink, Havewenotusedthatbefore, and Theremustbeonewecanthinkof - just to get there.

Firstly, I was asked by one of the cinema staff if I wanted concessions; a concession in Britain is where you can access the cinema or a museum for a reduced amount if you can prove you are unemployed, a student or of retirement age. I said I was British to try and be funny and to see if that might help me to gain a reduction in the admission fee like I had some sort of affliction that would make him take pity on me - the symptoms of which would include consuming copious amounts of tea, talking about the Queen, and in severe cases, insisting on eating with a knife and fork. Let me discuss root beer; root beer does not exist in Britain and I was reliably told that it had to be tried I do not want to be accused of not broadening my horizons - so I asked for a root beer.

Portion sizes seem to be racing out of control too, I asked for a small drink and received 32 ounces of pop I am sure children can drown in smaller amounts of liquid. That works out at This all adds up to a pretty poor scenario when one is required to sit quietly for 2 hours and concentrate on a film. They are small and narrow and large cars could simply not get around our roundabouts, as they have the turning circle of an oil tanker. Furniture is bigger too; my couch is so long that when I went to retrieve a cushion from the other end I came back with an accent.

It was then a further shock during the film when I grabbed a handful of popcorn and shoveled it into my mouth, only to discover that it was salty! All of our popcorn is sweet and there was a jolt as my brain was expecting one type of flavor and my mouth was giving polemic messages about another. This reminded me of an incident I once had where I mistakenly drank my brush cleaner as I glanced down at my brushes sitting in a cup of tea that I had placed next to it; one does not want to be disparaging but I recall this still tasted better than the root beer — some things are just cultural I guess.

The first recorded version of the recipe can be found in the publication "Tramping and Trailing with the girl scouts of ; thus ever since young children of all ages have been enjoying and experiencing varying stages of advanced tooth decay. I sat in the field illuminated by the glow of an iridescent campfire slapping myself like an overly enthusiastic hyperactive Tyrolean folk dancer with self-esteem issues - as I became plagued by a random assortment of irritating insects with a thirst for the scent of Englishman.

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I was then asked if I had actually managed to kill any of them, I replied that I had swatted and killed at least five flies — three male and two female. The fellow campers looked puzzled and asked how I had managed to differentiate between the genders of the flies in question; I confidently informed them that I had seen three landing on a can of beer and the other two had buzzed back and forth between the smore and my cell phone. My grandmother always had tea available in various states of brewing; it was kept in a big tea pot that she often placed in the oven to keep warm.

This made the tea hazardously strong and my spoon would stand up in it without the handle reaching the sides of the cup. Let me describe what tea is; it is the process of using hot water to draw subtle flavors from the tips of the newest sprouting leaves of the tea plant - preferably growing somewhere in Northern India. With the addition of milk it is a suspension of slightly acidic emulsion colloid fat globules in a hot aqueous solution of antioxidant catechins.

The recent discovery and subsequent patronage to a tea shop in Maple Grove has resolved my fear of running out of tea I crammed a large supply into my suitcase when I came over. As we know the importing of tea to the Americas is fraught with difficulties and I will tactfully skip over the Boston Harbor incident. During my visit I was shown various containers that held what looked like the contents of a lawnmower grass box married with the faint base note smell of grub worms - the smell was not prohibitive but the price certainly was.

I drink so much tea that it would be economically detrimental to use this tea for every pot I make, so the ability to cut it with cheaper grocery store amusingly named English tea has led me to run my kitchen tea operations like a drug lord.

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This week I experienced the new phenomenon of receiving large electrical static shocks whenever I touched anything; I have become so paranoid about receiving pain when I reach for a light switch, the furniture, door handles or a shopping cart, that I have got into the convention of touching the floor first with a finger to earth myself like some sort of religious ceremony.

Alternatively, I could consider the compound facts of a progressively dry atmosphere, rubber soled sandals and the amount of nylon you appear to place in the manufacturing of your carpets. As I do not recall receiving a bite from a radioactive animal recently and have managed to avoid incidents involving chemical factories, overhead power cables or solar flares, I must err on the side of caution and embrace the latter of the two scenarios to explain my new affliction if anyone is in need of an XL bright yellow spandex suit with red trim and a cape let me know - it has hardly been worn.

I will console my throbbing fingers, and the pins and needles that regularly run the length of my arm, with a nice cup of hot soothing tea. If you see me around Sauk Centre and I touch the floor before shaking your hand I have not gone completely mad, this is a selfless philanthropic act that will protect you from a large electrical discharge; I may not be able to save the world, but like tea, I can help to lessen the pain and suffering.

On Monday I asked a friend who has a lakeshore property if I could fish on his land, and he heartily agreed. This notion quickly expanded into an adventure as men are inclined to do when left alone to their own devices when it was suggested that we dust off an old canoe to actually go out into Sauk Lake. So off we set, like a cross between an Ernest Hemmingway novel and Deliverance - with the theme tune of Hawaii five-O running through my head like an irritating meta-narrative.

I paddled with vim and vigor, and all the misplaced youthful exuberance of a man half my age — this lasted for around 30 seconds, before I realized that being a writer does not provide you with the upper body strength required to maneuver a canoe through the water with any kind of alacrity. Perhaps from the possible action of suicidal worms — I agree that depression amongst annelids is not an area that has been extensively researched; or we may need to consider that fish are keeping quiet about their inland nocturnal feeding habits.

I also knew I was lacking moisture from the moment the majority of the bathwater disappeared, like I was some kind of giant sponge. Luckily the pain of the sunburn was soon forgotten as I awoke the following morning with the affliction of backache — I must have been sleep digging again last week I arose from my slumber to find three trenches of potatoes dug in and mud all over my carpet slippers — I am lucky I wear pajamas. You may enquire as to the success of my foray onto the lake as a budding fisherman; despite my many discomforts the fishing was good; it was the catching that was bad.

Everyone suddenly becomes a cross between Austin Powers and what sounds like an upper class s public schoolboy or a posh actor playing a Second World War fighter pilot in an old black and white movie. Then they will start discussing some sort of gecko - I have no idea what they are talking about and I sit with a polite smile fixed on my face as they run through their repertoire. During this part of the interaction I am often told how lovely my teeth are of course I am happy to take any compliments that are thrown my way and clasp them with both hands.

I genuinely believe that Americans think all British people have the kind of teeth Druids would worship around during the summer solstice — a myth that Austin Powers also seems to perpetuate. We have the National Health Service NHS in Britain and dentistry is subsidized out of our taxes, thus anyone can access free dental treatment. The NHS was set up in , so I would suggest that before this point it was possible to have poor teeth, but since that moment corrective measures have been undertaken on the young so that our children can smile unashamedly and with free abandon at anything that makes them happy this is usually the sight of their Dad dancing at a wedding or the contents of a text message received at I noticed in the grocery store on Saturday a special offer on a citrus flavored mouthwash, and against my better judgment, decided to purchase this over my usual mint based one - it tasted just like a hotdog.

As much as I love hotdogs I do not want to start every morning with the refreshing taste of one. This I believe is another measure undertaken to reduce the pork mountain — next you will find pop stars making clothes out of it! I believe the moral of this story bare with me, there is one is stick to what you know; unfortunately after my experience with geckos, jerky and mouthwash, I appear to know very little.

Lewis week was starting; I know that Sinclair Lewis has gained more affection in town during recent years - more than when he was alive, but canonization seems a heady step; as the owner of an inquisitive mind and with an assiduity for research, I looked to discover if a Saint Lewis actually exists.

The name St. Lewis is an anglicized version of St. Louis - whom the city in Missouri is named after; he was a French king born in Other Saints are brought to their death in all manner of inventive and creative ways, making their demise a moment of awe and wonder - St. Peter was crucified upside down, St. George had molten lead poured down his throat, had his skin flayed off, and was beheaded - and poor St.

Lawrence was barbequed; unfortunately St. Louis died from amoebic dysentery in During the Italian Renaissance Saints were identified in Frescos and paintings by the symbols and objects that martyred them - so St. Catherine holds a wheel and St. Stephen holds a stone — to the best of my knowledge I have never seen St. Louis depicted in iconographic art I suspect he would have been in possession, or in close proximity to a bucket.

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Louis is the patron Saint of hairdressers and the French — I would never frequent a French hairdresser though as there is little love between France and Britain, I would subsequently depart from the salon with a spring in my step and proceed to walk confidently down Main Street looking like someone had cut my hair with a knife and fork. I visited Brooten for the first time this Monday; Brooten is named after the LiaBraaten family - which makes me wonder why it is not called Braaten? Tell me how is it even possible that I can travel between Las Vegas and Los Angeles through the barren wastes of Mojave Desert without seeing any sign of life, on the bleached dead land, and still have a constant perfect reception on my cell phone, but once in Brooten I may as well resort to two empty soup cans and a hundred yards of string?

I have long arms and the distance between me looking at my cell phone in the vain hope of contacting the outside world, and then raising it into the air in the hope of attracting a signal, could only best be described as around two feet.

On the basis that satellites orbit the Earth at an altitude of miles, it is ambitious thinking to believe that the shortened distance of miles and 5, feet would make any substantial difference. I prayed to Saint Gabriel the patron Saint of communication for divine intervention, but alas my message never got through. I generally receive rhetoric and platitudes when trying to make these kind of enquires because I truly believe that no one has the answer - so they make something up to placate me with the proviso that any policeman would be understanding of my situation if I were to be pulled over.

You will therefore be pleased to know that this week I passed my driving test - exactly twenty years after I first passed my driving test. It appears here only from my own personal experiences that if you drive around a few cones in a playground and go up and down a couple of blocks without incident, you will pass; I am not complaining though, this was very beneficial to me.

The written test thought it was important for me to know the rules regarding the wearing of a seat belt if I were to become pregnant and that a brown sign means a local attraction. Then coming quickly on the wheels of the car test was my motorbike test, I arrived at the bus depot next to the school with all the vim and vigor of a seasoned pro, as ten teenage boys looked on - all lined up against their shiny new machines.

The nice lady instructor looked in turn at our documentation, she came to me and asked to see my permit; I told her I did not have one and she replied that I would not be able to take the test without one. I then presented my European driving license and said I had already passed my motorbike test in Britain and that I was currently legally driving with that license; I had already done the theory test and showed her the carbonated receipt to prove it I was then told I should not have been allowed to complete the theory test without a permit.

She decided to call her boss; a twenty minute phone conversation ensued - the result of which saw me pass my motorbike test. I believe a policy was made up there and then on the spot, because in thirty five years nobody has ever tried to take a motorbike test in Sauk Centre who was a foreign national with a foreign driving license — which is not only remarkable, but would suggest that every alien driving a motorbike in this district is currently doing so illegally. A television detector truck drives around the streets to see who is receiving a signal - they then cross-reference that with a database.

The sight of this truck normally facilitates the scene of grown men running in their underwear across the yard with a television under their arm - in the direction of the shed just before there is a knock at the door. Having come from that culture I find the ad-breaks in shows a maddening frustration. I found an old rerun of the Dukes of Hazard recently - the opening credits were still rolling as it went to the first ad-break. If you are old enough to recall, at the end of the intro, the General Lee leaps into the sky accompanied by the cry of yeeerrrrr - then it cut to an ad-break; three minutes later I saw the vehicle land to the sound of aaaaahhhh and the show began.

I also find the convention of placing televisions in restaurants and bars, on every sight line, very distracting; they are a magnet for your attention regardless of what is being shown. I find I have to concentrate hard into the eyes of the person I am having dinner with, as over their shoulder, a college basketball match is being played somewhere in Iowa.

I truly believe that soccer will never catch on in America - as all your sports are solely designed to accommodate ad-breaks; soccer is two 45 minutes of continuous uninterrupted play — how is money to be made from that? My childhood was punctuated with scary, two minute, public information films though - shown between shows and delivered by the government; they explained what to do during a full thermo nuclear attack - we also had leaflets put in the mail called, Survive and Protect. The rough theme was that you had four minutes to whitewash your house and organize a fallout shelter using a table, several tins of beans and a bucket — just before your skin, hair, teeth and bodily extremities were removed courtesy of Moscow.

I suspect the time could have been put to better use by boiling a runny egg and having about a minute to eat it. Others might embrace the physical arts for the last time with their lady friend — I believe four minutes would allow most Brits to fully engage in this and still find time for a cigarette break; I think a lot of the s saw men across the British Isles practicing for such an occurrence - we are always prepared if nothing else this is why I have a sister.

In Britain slot machines are legally allowed anywhere in public places and you will find them in locations like fish and chip shops and pubs. Casinos are more like selective clubs and you have to be a member to play; this requires at least 24 hours notice of application — so those that are intoxicated do not do anything they may regret in the cold light of day in terms of their financial stability. As I walked onto the gaming floor I saw a randomly poorly parked car just left there, I know the art of parking in this country is sometimes beyond the grasp of many, but even I was surprised at how blatantly bad that was - it was lucky no one had got hurt and the car looked new.

I walked around for a while to get a feel for the place and positioned myself in front of a slot machine and fed my money in; as I sat down I was confronted by a bewildering collection of flashing lights and a myriad of strange noises — if I wanted that experience I could just buy a Ford.

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The buffet was more of an interesting concept for me; even in an all-you-can-eat buffet - where you can go up as many times as you wish, people were still piling their plates in a swaying homage to the leaning tower of Pisa with a monolith of gravity defying food. That plate would boasts every type of animal species from mammal to mollusk, as shrimp was placed upon ribs, upon chicken, upon ham, upon fried fish, upon steak, upon sausage - and they would still sneak a couple of tomatoes from the salad bar into their pocket just because you can does not mean you should.

I have learnt through the bitter experience of such culinary establishments that you are wise to consider focusing on just one species of animal, or at the very least just pick between, fish, mammal or bird — as issues surrounding ones lower intestinal tract soon make themselves known; the only Roulette I played that night was Russian Roulette with an angry looking plate of sausage and sauerkraut.

I know food is a large preoccupation with many in this state, but I genuinely believe Minnesotans actually walk around Como Park Zoo wondering what each attraction would actually taste like. Day and the citizens of Hiroshima are apathetic about a grill out on August 6th. So it was odd on Monday to find myself participating in the West Union parade - where I was joined by a cement mixer, a manure spreader, half a dozen dairy princesses and the plant machinery of a tree felling service; the parade seemed to go by very quickly under a hail of candy and diesel fumes.

As I followed behind the locomotion of ancient industrial farmyard vehicles that were tearing up the freshly laid tarmac on highway 27 I thought about how we tell our children not to except candy from strangers or run into the road - yet here I was encouraging them to do both. If you would have said to me three years ago that I would be on a 4th of July parade sandwiched between a clown and a John Deere two cylinder tractor the one with the 24 volt electric starter motor instead of the V4 pony start engine in a small Midwestern town, I would have assumed you were taking a large quantity of hard drugs or at the very least prescription medications - but here I was, in all my pallid English flesh.

It was a strange experience as a Brit to be amongst people that were intrinsically celebrating the defeat and killing of Brits - not a bad experience just a little odd ; Britain has the flippant attitude of seeing the War of Independence as nothing more than a group of Brits fighting against another group of Brits - but in a foreign land I guess this makes defeat easier to take.

It was always in the back of my mind though as a historian that we lost 20, troops in that conflict - in fact my seventh great grandfather, Edmund Fisher, was a redcoat in the s although I have no proof that he ever left Britain. We are very happy to commemorate the battles we did win though and the Victorians even named places in London after them - like Trafalgar Square.

In the Channel Tunnel was opened and 31 miles of undersea rail track finally linked France to England the merits of which can be discussed at a later date ; the terminal chosen for the Channel Tunnel trains was Waterloo Station - the biggest station in the south of London. So what awaits the thousands of French commuters coming daily into London is Waterloo Station; named after the battle of Waterloo - where we gave the French a good beating during the Napoleonic Wars in welcome to England.

I really loved seeing the Stars and Stripes flag around town; back home you would rarely see the British Union flag or the English St. George Cross flown except maybe on the odd church and property belonging to the royal family. This is not through a lack of patriotism though, because I believe we have a very patriotic nature; unfortunately far right pseudo political groups have hijacked the flag and used it as a symbol of extremism.

Brits never like to offend anyone so it is now rarely seen you must remember that we are also sensitive to our darker imperialistic past and realize that our flag represents repression in many countries around the world ; a better way of understanding our imperialist history can be highlighted by the following scenario: if Portugal and Spain ever decided to unite they would probably call themselves Sportugal; when Scotland was forced to unify with England we called it England.

I was also teased throughout the day on why I was not wearing anything red or white to go with my blue shirt; I did then have to point out that you actually stole the colors from us in the first place. Of course your flag has gone through many changes since - like the Italian flag during the Second World War, which quickly evolved from a vertical tricolor of red, white and green to a white cross on a white background. On Monday evening, after a day of eating hotdogs, throwing candy and watching fireworks, I discovered several bits of my milky white body residing next to parts that had turned red and stripy from the sun; as I sat there in my blue shirt I realized that I had become more assimilated — it had just taken the entire day for it to happen.

I suspect that powerful cow magnets come with instructions warning the user not to engage the device in a built up area, as the action of creating a powerful magnetic attraction to all the bovine creatures in the vicinity could prove debilitating for local passing traffic — as the beasts roll along Main Street from several miles away much to their surprise and come to an abrupt halt in a pile of bewildered mooing and freshly squeezed milk. I can see the benefit of placing a cow magnet in a milking parlor though and turning it on when milking is required - this could be very beneficial to dairy farmers and could potentially save a lot of time.

I suspected that more research was required to find the facts over an active imagination, so I discovered the following: when the cow grazes, it often consumes and swallows what is called tramp iron - baling and barbed wire, staples, nails and other metallic objects.

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These objects are indigestible and can lodge in the reticulum and cause inflammation resulting in lower milk production - this condition is called hardware disease not to be confused with the debilitating affliction that middle-aged Stearns County men suffer from - that requires them to go Menards in Alexandria every Sunday morning.

The cow magnet attracts such objects and prevents them from becoming lodged in the animal's tissue. While the resultant mass of iron remains in the cow's rumen as a pseudobezoar this is the best word I have ever come across and I have said it incessantly every day since, much to the annoyance of my friends, family and colleagues — my Dad thought I was saying the name of a Brazilian soccer player!

I shall now keep a careful eye open for the potential side-effects of the cow magnet. I believe cows could now easily becoming stuck to wire fences all over America; one of the first jobs given to an apprentice farm hand is to regularly patrol the boundaries of the property armed with a crowbar - looking to prize innocent cows back into the middle of the field. The only severe winds I can recall back home were in , when a freak storm ravaged the country the worst since ; I remember looking out of my bedroom window in surprise that night as trees, cardboard boxes and random pieces of wooden fence paneling flew by - I suspect the hobos that were still sleeping in the boxes were more surprised though.

I was given the next day off school, so as an impetuous teenager, I made the most of the unique weather conditions and visited the local golf course - where the fallen trees made it look more like a giant mini-golf course. I have the vivid memory of standing at the first tee and hitting a drive with a 60 MPH tail wind it was still gusting after the high winds of the night before ; I then had to retrieve the ball from a different time zone - I firmly believe that only the astronaut Alan Shepard has hit a golf ball further and that is still in orbit somewhere around the moon.

I was impressed by the quick reaction of the Sauk Centre emergency services on Sunday night, as many of the roads appeared to be cleared in a relatively short period of time; the emergency services were helped in this regard by middle-aged men all over Sauk who jumped for joy as they finally had a proper legitimate reason to use a combination of chainsaws and tractors — and in the middle of the night!

In Britain the response was much slower due to the rare nature of the event and I believe that some of the trees are still in situ of where they fell - even now. Then there was the power cut - this started for me with all the childlike fun and excitement of remembering power cuts as a kid mixed with the memories of camping out.

A hunt for the candles followed in the back of that kitchen drawer that has no name - but is used for playing card, birthday cake decorations, things you have confiscated from the kids and a dish towel from Split Rock lighthouse that an aunty gave you for Christmas in I went to bed on Sunday night in a mild panic due to the firm belief that by the end of the week the Sauk Centre community would have descended into a Medieval bartering society and that I would soon be swapping with my neighbors a defrosted chicken for a roll of toilet paper.

I did find this period of darkness without modern technology very educational though, due to the discovery that cats have eight nipples - of which only six are operational it was a very long and boring Sunday night in the Lee household. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Confusion is timeless. In a fast-paced world, there is little time to think, let alone put forth effort for anything, and this often yields either frustrating or amusing results.

Inside, you'll find an analysis of several of these situations, including my life experiences with some of them. High school, work, and other social encounters help paint the picture that my world Confusion is timeless. High school, work, and other social encounters help paint the picture that my world is falling apart. Sit back and enjoy the anecdotes as the floodgates break in my brain. Get A Copy.