Back in my sophomore year I took electric shop, which was probably not the best move Iíve ever made.
I got the bright idea about halfway through the year to short a 120-volt plug with a small piece of solder. You could shut off the electricity to the counters we sat at with a switch at the end, so I made my short from an old lamp plug, then shut off the counter, then plugged in the plug and then flicked the electricity back on.
Everyone else in class stood back or pretended to do their homework. The shorted plug exploded into a bright white light with a loud crack when I stuck to the juice too it.
I laughed like heck. The teacher didnít think it was all that funny and I spent the rest of the year buried in paperwork, figuring out ohm resistance. I thought I did pretty well on those papers, but I still got a C in the class.
Go figure. That was the end of my aspirations to becoming an electrician.
I bring this story up only because both CNN and MSNBC contacted me last week to talk about the Whitefish Energy fiasco down in Puerto Rico. The short story is this: There was a hurricane, Maria, that hit Puerto Rico about a month or so ago. It knocked out all the power. Somehow, someway, Whitefish Energy, which had two employees, was given a $300 million contract to restore power to the U.S. territory, apparently by hiring laid off circus monkeys to pedal generators for each and every home.
Itís not going so well.
CNN and MSNBC found a story that Seaborn Larson wrote that this newspaper published online. At that time, the owners of Whitefish Energy were talking about buying the former Columbia Falls Aluminum Co. plant. They would use the big buildings to raise thousands of monkeys to help Puerto Rico.
I joke, of course. Whitefish Energy was going to build transformers, it said. There was just one problem with their plan. They apparently didnít have any money. And the way I understand it, in order to buy a big plant like CFAC, you need some cash.
MSNBC and CNN both wanted to talk to a reporter about the deal. I spoke to the CNN guy over the phone, and told him the truth, which was Columbia Falls really wasnít interested in having a monkey farm just north of town.
I didnít even bother calling MSNBC back. They wanted me to go on the air and wear makeup and all that jazz. I told them by email they were probably better off talking to Seaborn, since my role in the whole affair was to read the story over and plop it on the page.
Why heck, a monkey could do that.
Chris Peterson is the editor of the Hungry Horse News. His column appears regularly in the newspaper.