2013-01-03 / Columns

From the Heartland

By Allan Burke

Having to write this column in advance forces one to have to guess on the weather forecast rather than to rely heavily on science. It’s likely to be cold with a little snow in the coming week. With luck, we won’t have any wind to start off the new year.

On the go

Leah, Fred, Margaret and I will be attending the Tim Haas/Jessica Grandt wedding in Minneapolis on Dec. 28, and we plan to stay in the big city for a couple of days before driving to Fargo to welcome the new year with our friends, Jerry and Diana.

We’re excited for Tim and Jessica. Tim interned with us for three summers, and he is attending a seminary in the Cities in preparation for being a pastor like his dad.

Fred is being initiated into adult life as a groomsman in the wedding party, and he is involved in two other weddings in 2013.

One of our Christmas cards this year was from our friends, Gary and Linda Nelson of Phoenix, Ariz. They mentioned they were married 40 years ago. That caused me to gulp since I was a groomsman at their wedding. It doesn’t seem like it was that long ago, but, much to my dismay, the calendar doesn’t lie.

The agenda

One thing I plan to do in the Cities, which may or may not include other members of the family, is to visit a fellow who collects antique printing equipment. He has one press in particular that I want to see. It’s a Cincinnati Army Press and was used during the Civil War because it could easily be transported from one camp site to the next and could print posters and military newsletters.

My interest in the relic is that it is the type of press that the predecessors of this newspaper were likely printed on in the 1880s. I have seen only pictures of the press, so seeing it in person will be fun for a junk collector like myself.

The owner has restored many other presses, some of which he has kept in his collection and others which were sold along the way.

Leah is hoping there won’t be room in the back of the van for the press, in case it is available for sale, trade or donation.

Crazy schedule

In our 25 years in the newspaper business, we have never had a schedule quite as confusing as the past couple of weeks. We did four papers last week and did two this week. Next week, we won’t be working on the paper because it will have already been printed and mailed this week. It gives me a headache thinking about what day it is. However, it has been nice to have some time off over the holidays.

A cubic Christmas

It occurred to me as we were unwrapping gifts on Christmas Eve and Christmas morning that every year we add things to our household collection, but we rarely ever get rid of anything. Consequently, I have invented a Cube-ometer. It is a handheld electronic device that measures anything at which you aim its laser beam in cubic feet.

Had I had one for Christmas, I could have measured each gift as it was unwrapped and kept a tally of the cubic feet. The can of fancy shaving lotion I received, for example, would be a fraction of a cubic foot while the huge lighted Christmas duckling ornament Leah received would measure about a cubic foot and a half. At the end of the unwrapping frenzy, I would have had a total in cubic feet of everything being added to our “stuff.”

That would make it so easy after Christmas to go to the basement and find an equivalent cubic feet of items to haul out, either as a donation or to the dumpster.

Our Research & Development Department is working on the Cube-ometer as we speak, and I hope to have the contraption on the market long before next Christmas. At $49.95, we should be able to sell Cube-ometers as fast as we make them.

Along with each Cube-ometer will come a sample of a Balanced HouseholdAmendment that can be adopted by any family. If everyone in a family signs the document, they would agree to maintain a balance in the house—for every cubic foot of stuff that is brought into the house, a cubic foot of stuff has to be removed.

We will be prepared for the balanced household radicals out there who want to cut the household inventory by requiring that two or more cubic feet be removed for every cubic foot added.

Yup. I can see the money rolling in already. No home should be without a Cubeometer.

Happy New Year!

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