Fishing with Babies – Success in the Bakken

Historically, one of the highest skilled and highest paid independent jobs in oil industry was that of the fisher.  When a tool or other item drops down a well shaft and threatens disaster, someone has to get it out, and that person is the fisher.  Most people don’t have the skills to retrieve a wrench from a small hole that goes 2 miles straight down.  So when something gets dropped, someone gets fired and the fisher gets called.

Until now.  The peculiarity of the population boom in the Bakken has lead to a new solution – babies.  By coincidence, most children under the age of two will fit in a bore hole.  Given their light weight and flexibility, the solution seemed obvious.  Industrious locals, noting the long wait lists for day care, called people and offered the chance to monetize those babies.  At first, it was touch and go, although drill crews say the early failed attempts weren’t a loss, as they ironed out the wrinkles of lowering and retrieving the baby alive.  A slick of oil and fracking fluid, which the babies were already drinking, smoothed the way down (and up), and an ingenious harness that supports the flexible but fragile heads was developed.  But the problem was, the babies couldn’t see in the dark or grasp the tools when they reached bottom.

But the locals, always looking for solutions, solved the problems quickly.  Too dark in the hole?  Break a few glow sticks and dump the glowing goo into the fracking fluid before smearing it on baby.  Instant glowing (and if you remember the goggles, giggling) baby!  But how to get junior to grasp the errant tool?  A stressed daycare provider held the key.  She had been strapping bottles to iPADS to get the little critters to hold their bottles and feed themselves.  At first, the shy daycare provider explained, they didn’t grab on.  But a few days of not being fed, and they got the idea. 

A conversation between the daycare maven and a weary oil soaked client in a Walmart parking lot, and the connection was made. Soon parents all over the Bakken were strapping bottles to wrenches, drill bits, bolts, and anything else that might go down a well.  A few hungry days, and then the babies were suddenly skilled and specialized labor.  Before long, the website Bakken Babies was born.  Drill operators can now lookup a local baby trained to grab a crescent wrench, make a phone call, give the wee one a “Glowing Frack Bath,” and down the well he goes.  Wee! Success!

Overpopulation, lack of childcare, and American pragmatism mean fun and profit for everyone in the Bakken – even babies!

Rear Window

Things I learned watching Rear Window on the big screen: 1) The set builders used headers and stretchers in the brickwork, and varied the spacing on different buildings. 2)They used some broken bricks, but also smeared mortar to make bricks look broken. 3) Radios used to have tubes. 4)Miss Lonely Heart owned Noritake china. 5) Stewart had a 2 blue and a pink pair of pajamas. The pants leg above the cast was hemmed. There was a button hole in the lapel, but it was horizontal like a button hole, not parallel to the edge of the lapel like in a suit. This probably means a costume maker who was hadn’t made a suit. 6) Doyle’s suit had real working button holes in the sleeves. 7) People wore linen. Lots of linen. 8) Hitchcock appears as the man who attacks Miss Lonely Heart before her suicide. 9) Bakelite.

Environmental History of Grand Forks

The altitude of Grand Forks is a key component of the Red River of the North’s environment and history. The Red is the only single-headwater, dual-flow river east of the Rockies. The actual split is at Grand Marais Creek, just north of Grand Forks (thus the name Grand Forks). From the dual-flow headwater, spring floods go crashing northwards to Winnipeg and then Hudson Bay. Historically furs brought to Grand Forks by southern traders were loaded on rafts which were arranged on the ice.  When the spring melt and flood came, the rafts were caught by the pulse and then floated to the headquarters and shipping center of the Hudson Bay Company at Hudson Bay. South of Grand Forks, however, the Red spring surge flows to Fargo. In the 1800s this pulse fed the Red River rice fields, but with the abolition of slavery those fields were abandoned, and with urbanization in Fargo it just means unwanted flooding.

Quantrill and Tennyson

Little known fact: Quantrill’s Raiders would recite Tennyson’s “Ring out the Old” at hangings. When they reached “Ring in the True”, one of them would give a hardy slap to the flank of the horse of the doomed man, who was left swinging as the pendulum sounds of Tennyson faded away. In the movie Dark Command, John Wayne refused to participate in the Tennyson hanging scene because he did not think having PJ Harvey (who played one of the Raiders) sing the verses was appropriate. The Duke’s concern was that her voice would reveal her to be either a woman, or effeminate, and Wayne thought neither appropriate. This scene was deleted, but you can find it as an extra on the 2006 Criterion Collection DVD.