… This Just In …



[Breaking News: from another strangely irrelevant moment in our news room…]

A few moments ago, democratic congressman Peter DeFazio left our newsroom following a 45-minute visit. Congressman DeFazio comes to our office two or three times a year with the intention of treating us to an informative, low-key press conference of sorts. And each time, my editor takes an audible gulp whenever I open my mouth to speak. On today’s list of topics was dredging of small ports, school funding and helium reserves.

That’s right: helium reserves.

Which topic do you think I chose to weigh in on..?

DeFazio: Helium is a natural resource that is only available in a few parts of the world. Oregon has its own reserves, which could be sold to help fund our school budget shortfall for the next two years until we get the necessary legislation passed to assure funding.

Me: I have a question about that.

Editor: [GULP] Sorry. Something in my throat.

Me: Congressman, how are we assuring that our helium reserves are safe from an attack?

DeFazio: *Looks at my editor, then back to me* Excuse me?

Me: Are you concerned at all that a well-orchestrated attack could devastate the party clown community, not to mention the mylar-balloon-enjoying public?

DeFazio: [silence]

Editor: [rubbing the artery in her left arm]

Me: I’m just saying if we don’t take the security of our helium reserves seriously, some day there may be a call to the State Capitol by someone with a Chipmunk-like voice telling us he has taken control of our entire helium supply.

Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio, along with his two assistants, ponders my hard-hitting question regarding the very real threat of an attack on our state's helium reserves.
Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio, along with his two assistants, ponders my hard-hitting question regarding the very real threat of an attack on our state’s helium reserves.

DeFazio: *Smiling* Um…

Me: It sounds like a Bruce Willis movie, I know. But this is no Hollywood movie script.

Editor: [Attempting to burn a hole through my head with her eyes]

DeFazio: *Slowly beginning to smile* I remember now. Last time I was here, you asked me about supporting an ice machine for the local fishing community, and because the one in your refrigerator was broken. That way, you could just walk over from your house whenever you need ice.

Me: I went ahead and just bought some ice cube trays.

Editor: Has anyone seen the portable defibrillator?

DeFazio: [Shakes my hand] Thanks for that; I needed a laugh.

(Note: This incident was only slightly exaggerated; I still haven’t bought any ice cube trays yet.)

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Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

30 thoughts on “… This Just In …”

  1. At least the senator has something to look forward to when he visits your fine publication.

    And, thanks for teaching me something today. Up until now I just assumed that helium was an abundant natural resource, available, well, abundantly. So, thanks for that.

    If you keep on his way, what with all this educational stuff, you may get noticed by the good folks over at The Peabodies! Work on your speech, get some ice cube trays — you’ll need the ice for a celebratory scotch on the rocks (Peabody winners don’t drink Schlitz, ya know!) — and try and find an appropriate tie — just in case!

    1. You know, I was just as surprised to learn the true origins of helium. I always thought it came from either tall, skinny green tanks or clown farts. Who knew? Glad I could pass along something informative. If I get a call from Mr. Peabody, or Sherman, I’ll ask for Dos Equis 😉

    1. That means a lot, Ross. I’m sure of it.

      I have to admit, I feel my level of professionalism was demonstrated in my laser-like focus today.

      On the helium topic, I mean…

  2. LOL, Excellent !
    Now on a more serious note, there has been a shortage of helium for sometime and it is of great concern. This is used in thousands of surgeries all over the US. Without helium we cannot run MRI’s. And helium is irreplaceble, once gone forever gone. So perhaps they need to hang on to their helium sources, it would be terrible for it to fall into the wrong hands. You might be needing Bruce Willis after all 🙂

    1. Thanks, Lorin.

      All kidding aside, I really had no idea how difficult helium is to find, and how much filtration is necessary to separate it from thee other gasses it’s found in. Apparently, companies like Intel and other technology-based producers need helium for computer chips, etc. So it is a real commodity.

      You’d think someone would’ve figured out a way to make it synthetically by now. Or substitute it with a more plentiful gas, such as what exists around our house after burrito night…

  3. well, it does seem like you are full of a lot of wind at times, so i think you have first hand insight into the helium issue, the perfect person to ask the tough questions –

  4. i’ve been looking for a ‘real’ job for over a year now and i think i would like to work there at the newspaper. can you put in a good word for me? maybe i could even take your spot should it become available in the near future.

    1. Without question, you would be my first choice as a replacement. For that reason alone, should you be called in for an interview, I suggest you tell her you don’t know me 😉

  5. ‘Cannons’ and ‘loose’ are the words that spring to mind about you, Ned.

    Before his next visit you are going to find your coffee – in your ‘I’ve got crabs’ mug – will have been drugged and you will wake up in your underwear bound and gagged behind the Door of Shame, Blame etc. (Note to you: Remember to wear clean underpants for this scenario).

    (P.S I wrote this comment in a very high pitched, Chipmunk style voice. USA Helium reserves, pah! Mine, all mine … mwahaha, *strokes white cat sinisterly*).

    1. LOL! It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve woken up in my underwear bound and gagged. But that’s another story…

      But thanks for the warning. I’m going home right now to put some underwear on.

  6. Perhaps the congressman is the threat to the helium reserves. You can’t trust these government types. They go into office all “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” but before long they are hijacking the state helium reserves for their personal retirement preparations. I’m glad you are taking the fight to the “man”, but I’m worried, Ned. One of these days you just might wake up with a deflated mylar balloon lying next to you in bed (that’s a Godfather movie reference, no implications of anything else, just want to clear that up now). Remember the “On the Waterfront.”

    1. LOL! Thanks for clearing that “deflated balloon in my bed” scenario up. In addition to that scene from The Godfather, I had a flashback from Scarface and “Say Hello to my Little Friend!” Neither did mch for my self esteem. I will definitely be watching my back…

No one is watching, I swear...

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