Trial Balloon

The Ultimate Repellant

Posted at 6:00 AM on May 21, 2010 by Dale Connelly (40 Comments)
Filed under: Science

Radio Heartland has tickets to another sold out concert at the Cedar Cultural Center.
Ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro and singer/songwriter Jake Armerding will perform on Sunday, May 23rd at 7:30 pm. We'll keep entries open until 1pm today, and will notify winners by e-mail later this afternoon.

Enter the drawing.
Obey the rules.
Good luck!

According to "Into Eternity", a new documentary by Danish filmmaker Michael Madsen, the Finns are going to spend ten years building a long term repository for nuclear waste that is designed to be self supporting, meaning nobody has to monitor it; will last for 100,000 years, meaning it has to withstand the next ice age; and safe from the curious investigations of humans or whatever life form may follow us, meaning its location should be obscure, or at least eminently forgettable.

Think of this as a challenge in reverse marketing - the task is to build a place where nobody will want to go.

It's not as simple as making a "Keep Out" sign. What material will be readable 100,000 years from now? What language will be spoken? Finnish? Are there enough vowels on Earth to sustain it for that long? And no matter the language, "Keep Out" always translates as "What Do You Think They Stashed In Here?" No, you can't count on signs. The place itself has to be inherently repellent to life forms. That's not easy to do.

Of course, we've already created such a place with Brookdale Mall.

But the Finns don't share our vast experience with consumer goods and market research. When it comes to drawing a crowd, the American marketplace has tested billions of ideas. We've anointed many winners and a million times as many losers. This history of striving and falling short is our advantage.

When we finally muster the political will to build our own site for long term nuclear waste , we should draw on our collection of spectacular failures and surround the dangerous radioactive byproducts with shops, themed restaurants and family attractions that are proven crowd displeasers. Anyone trying to get close to our radioactive reserves of gene mutating detritus should have to vault over a gauntlet of unpopular cars and struggle past an armada of disparaged appliances. Their eyes and ears (if they have eyes and ears) should be bombarded with despised movies, widely ignored television shows, and repugnant radio stations playing completely forgettable music. This is our armor - a market tested protective shield for those who follow us.

We have to use what we know for the good of all human and creaturekind. Not only must we bury our nuclear waste in the Earth, we'll must submerge it under a mountain of consumer items that we the people can't remember or simply do not like.

I can nominate a few anti-attractions - Mervyn's California, the Chrysler K car, the Salad Spinner and the soundtrack to the Broadway production of Martin Guerre.

What else could we use to keep people away from the nuclear waste?


Comments (40)

Oh, oh.... these discussions about what works or doesn't work for the mainstream almost always end up by pointing how not mainstream I am. For example... I love my Salad Spinner. I use it lots, especially in the summer months. Oh well, I guess I like being not-mainstream. Putting nuclear waste in the Mall of America would make it safe from me!

Have a great day Heartlanders!

Posted by sherrilee | May 21, 2010 6:07 AM


Sherrilee,
I agree that the Salad Spinner is an essential product for the home. Not only does it prevent the wilting of your greens, it also serves as a small clothes wringer - perfect for your delicates. I'm wondering if Dale didn't really mean to say the Salad Shooter, made by Presto. It's considerably expensive, leaves behind food chunks, and looks a hellovalot like a handgun.

Posted by Donna | May 21, 2010 6:45 AM


And... if you have two Salad Spinners, you can use one to make a paint spinner like they have at the State Fair. Put a paper plate in the bottom and then squirt different colors of paint on it and spin away. Endless fun when my teenager was littler!

Posted by sherrilee | May 21, 2010 6:49 AM


I admit I was wrong to disparage the Salad Spinner. I must have meant the Salad Shooter, the Salad Styler or the Supersonic Salad Shredder. Sorry.

Posted by Dale Connelly | May 21, 2010 6:55 AM


No harm done, Dale. Apology accepted. Do you forgive him, Sherrilee?

Posted by Donna | May 21, 2010 7:06 AM


goodness what a slow lazy morning.
i was thinking you could have mel gibson stand guard, sitting in an edsel, with a case of cod liver oil, watching episodes of good times on vhs tapes in quadrophonic sound.

Posted by tim | May 21, 2010 7:08 AM


I thought he meant that new baking tray advertised to cook your cake in precut squares.... or the toothpaste squeezer thingy...
Now tim; Quadrophenia; THERE was a good Who Album! ...and I've got the movie on VHS... recieved as a wedding present for some odd reason...

Dale? Any Who?

Posted by Ben | May 21, 2010 7:15 AM


you could surround them with old tax returns and customer complaints from ford motor company, (they told me yesterday they keep files of your customer complaints in case anyone ever wants to look it up) . you could put that box full of pants i am going to fit into as soon as i lose that last 15 pounds, they should be safe for at least the next 100,000 years. you could put a collection of music by vanillia fudge, casey and the sunshine band, the 1910 fruitgum company and sean phillips

Posted by tim | May 21, 2010 7:16 AM


ben that was a good album. and the hash i had when i first listened to it made it particularly memorable too

Posted by tim | May 21, 2010 7:19 AM


Given how reluctant so many young adolescents are about going to school, how about naming the cave after a famous Finn and calling it a school.

Problem is that people past middle age often get the yen to learn what they missed in their teen aged years and they might go explore the cave looking for wisdom (or at least trivia).

Posted by Ken in Northfield | May 21, 2010 7:23 AM


The Salad Spinner thing is a perfect example of the central problem Dale puts before us. How can we guard the toxic goo with something so awful that NOBODY likes it? Every time you think of something sleazy and disgusting you can think of someone who likes it.

I used to toss off references to Abba as if everyone shared my low opinion of them, but then I learned that Abba was a secret guilty pleasure for some folks. The success of "Mama Mia" shut me up on that topic forever.

Could we shelter toxic waste in tapes of "My Mother the Car?" I'd be afraid of the results. Someone must like "Light Beer" (an oxymoron) or they wouldn't go on making it. Somebody must actually eat Twinkies, although I wouldn't do it even if paid to. And maybe we should mention lutefisk about here.

Maybe we could wrap the radioactive crud in vast layers of paper on which insurance companies list all the stuff they do not cover. I can't imagine anyone who would like THAT.

Dale's right. This is a challenge.

Posted by Steve in Saint Paul | May 21, 2010 7:28 AM


Hey Tim - Don't go disparaging 1910 Fruitgum...that was the first pop album I was exposed to (thanks to my big brother). "Goody Goody Gumdrops" brings new meaning to "bubble gum pop." Okay, maybe I've just made your point...

I think if we made a bunker out of Harlequin Romances, V.C. Andrews novels and their kin, that might be a good start. Line it with Mantovani 8 track tapes and make ramparts from Yugos...and then get the Salad Shooters to shoot Olean lace potato chips at invaders. That might do it.

Posted by Anna | May 21, 2010 7:42 AM


Dale, you are forgetting WIPP
http://www.wipp.energy.gov/
In holds nucleur waste. They too have struggled with a sign that lasts 100,000 years and in what language or using what symbol.
"Nobody ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American salad-spinner-long abba-attending American public." H. L. Mencken

Posted by Clyde | May 21, 2010 7:50 AM


I nominate hot rollers and appliances that only cook one thing-remember hot dog steamers.? There are also numerous garden implements that have fallen by the wayside due to ultimate uselessness. I know I've bought them, and I can't even remember them-only the feelings of uselessness and waste.

Posted by Renee | May 21, 2010 7:57 AM


Good point about the adolescents, Ken.

If the harmful effects of exposure to radiation develop over time, it may be that keeping the young away from the repository is more important than discouraging the oldest folks, who might die of something else before they develop radiation sickness anyway.

Fortunately, the young are easily appalled by things that are "uncool". Unfortunately, "uncool" stuff can quite suddenly become hip again. This is complicated.

Posted by Dale Connelly | May 21, 2010 7:58 AM


That's it--I'm through trying to keyboard, starting after this entry. Left out that WIPP is in New Mexico in a salt mine. Also, that was "salad-spinner-loving."
We must be able to use junk emails somehow. And by the way I was again for about the 100th day in a row nominated to a Who's Who list. It is pure modesty that makes me turn them down.
How about piling up all of the MacDonalds etc. plastic toys given away with their kids meals When we donated our car, I cleaned out quite a few of those, and I thought I had cleaned them all out before.
I know, plastic diapers, which are supposed to last how long?
Loudspeakers playing Loudspeakers playing Phillip Glass Loudspeakers playing Phillip Glass over Loudspeakers playing Phillip Glass over and over Loudspeakers playing Phillip Glass over and over and over again . . . and over again. Phillip Glass over again. And again
I like Phillip Glass, but you know in the right setting, his stuff would be a barrier.

Posted by Clyde | May 21, 2010 8:02 AM


My husband demands to know, what it a honky-tonk parade?

Posted by renee | May 21, 2010 8:14 AM


clyde i think youve got it. set the door up with a mechanical code that requires full reading of all the junk mail put into the combination before it releases. my viagra ads alone would require 3 or 4 years of entry efforts.
i was reading something just the other day about a group that has a waste disposal where it is sealed underwater combined with concrete and stored underwater with a mechanism for keeping the water refreshed because the old water is not good. it would last for 100 years in its underwater site. i was less than impressed. what if halaburton is in charge of the monotoring? what happens to the spent water. i thiok junk emails is a much better plan. phillip glass, montovonni, sean phillips. i lke them all but they could also be incorporated into a version of my idea of hell. how about starsky and hutch reruns. does anyone remember the joe payne television talk show form the 60's?
the 74 minnesota twins, italian war heros, tasteful critisisms

Posted by tim | May 21, 2010 8:19 AM


renee. what does he want to know about the honkey tonk parade.
clyde-whos who for what? did they start a curmudgeon whos who?
kim in northfield. i think you may be onto something there. maybe name the cave clara barton cave?that should keep most of us away and those who went in wouldn't be missed much

Posted by tim | May 21, 2010 8:25 AM


Why is there nothing about Radio Heartland in the latest Minnesota Monthly?

Posted by Renee | May 21, 2010 8:31 AM


radio heartland decided to boycott minnesota monthly due to the long standing dispute over the claiming rights to the use on the name minnesota in the title. i personally think its silly

Posted by tim | May 21, 2010 8:34 AM


Tim-its a line from Paper Moon song we just heard by Uealele Ike

Posted by Renee | May 21, 2010 8:34 AM


at least thats what i heard

Posted by tim | May 21, 2010 8:35 AM


cmon dale where is bens who request?

Posted by tim | May 21, 2010 8:37 AM


Back after my morning errands and commute.

Dale -- I absolutely forgive you about the Salad Spinner. I've gotten a very thick skin about all my kitchen appliances (read "toys") over the years. Especially because I also own (& even occasionally use).... wait for it... a Salad Shooter! I try to stay away from the Coliseum at fair time -- I am an easy target for kitchen toys of all makes and models!

Posted by sherrilee | May 21, 2010 8:38 AM


i think it means without your love it is a parade of low brow loud music instead of the beautiful melody with your love

Posted by tim | May 21, 2010 8:46 AM


These remarks are all over the place today so here's one more: Clyde, the other day you referred to words rarely used anymore or even possibly removed from the dictionary. I suggest we use them on this blog as much as possible. I could really get off on "friggin."

Sherrilee - you crack me up! Doesn't she crack you up, Dale?

Posted by Donna | May 21, 2010 8:48 AM


...that's OK tim, but thanks.... I'll just sit here quietly. And wait. and wait. and wait some more....

Ok,that's enough.
Since Dale says we're talking about everything and nothing I'll share that I just had to take my car bumper apart to release a Robin that I somehow scooped up and it got stuck in a little hole in there... crazy. Good news is it flew away once I got it out and held it for a minute and it got it's wits about it again...

Oh, Dale just mentioned playing some Who. OK; I'll wait some more....
...saw them in concert back in 1983 or so... back when Pete could still jump and windmill and Roger would still twirl the mic.
Thanks Dale!

Posted by Ben | May 21, 2010 9:02 AM


Ben - I think I might have seen the Who on that same tour. In about the 50 bazillionth row of the main floor, so I couldn't see much. But at least I can say I was there. Glad the robin was released safely - good on you.

And Tim - you're really going to all my childhood places this morning. Clara Barton Cave? Oh perish the thought. Clara Barton Elementary was may alma mater (at least for K-6). If Miss Gjermenboe (sp?) were principal, it would be too enticing...though she was sort of a force of nature, so she could probably keep people out with her Stern Principal Voice.

Posted by Anna | May 21, 2010 9:15 AM


And thanks to Mike too!

Posted by Ben | May 21, 2010 9:15 AM


Anna- remember Roger jogged in place for the ENTIRE song 'Who Are You'?
Man- Still impresses me!

Posted by Ben | May 21, 2010 9:29 AM


We were given an old Salad Shooter by my wife's grandfolks because they didn't use it. I have to admit that I teased the heck out of the commercials back in the '70's but I do occasionally use it now that I've been given one.

The trick, as we all know, is to find something -universally- abhorrent now and going into the future. I think this vault should have levels...like Dante or Indiana Jones. Only these levels would attack human senses. (Not knowing what our successors will be like, it's the best we can do right now.) So, let's see...

Level 1: Sight - The person entering will be subjected to Leroy Neiman originals AND THEIR PRICES. (That last part is the scary bit.)

Level 2: Hearing - Intruders are treated to an audio cocktail of Michael Bolton, Fran Drescher, and highlights of karaoke during 2-for-1 Long Island Iced Tea night.

Level 3: Taste - Intruders will have to eat six Twinkies that have been specially filled with melted Velveeta while drinking a bottle of lukewarm Mogan David 20/20.

Level 4: Smell - Those that wish to enter must pass through a dumpster sized pile of teenager laundry that's been soaked in butyric acid and cured in the Malt-O-Meal plant in Faribault. The best part of this is that as it sits there longer, it'll get worse.

Level 5: Touch - To pass, you must endure a horrible 'weird aunt' with a moustache kissing you full on the lips while pinching your cheeks until your face cramps up.

Level 6: Balance - Before crossing this chamber, you have to accurately resolve your checkbook, including all statements and fees for the past year.

Level 7: Temperature - Whatever temperature this room is set at doesn't matter as long as the humidity is kept at above 85%. (It ain't the heat that gets you...)

Level 8: Kinesthesis - Intruders must pass through a giant Salad Spinner.

Level 9: Pain - You'll be required to have lunch with Donald Trump, Regis Philbin, and Dick Chaney. (Since all of them are robots, they'll all still be around.)

Level 10: Direction - This last level of defense will tell you where the nuclear goodies are. All you have to do is get your directions from an animatronic mortgage banker whose software has been infused with MapQuest. Guaranteed, no one will EVER find the nuclear stockpile OR find their way out.

Posted by That Guy in the Hat | May 21, 2010 9:36 AM


Ben - I remember being tired just watching them, yes. I don't have that sort of energy now, and I didn't then either. Only two other shows I've seen came close that energy level (in terms of sheer aerobics) - David Bowie and Prince - and even at that Roger had 'em both beat.

Posted by Anna | May 21, 2010 9:42 AM


TGiTH -- excellent. I like the ideas of successive levels of H-E-double hockey sticks!

Posted by sherrilee | May 21, 2010 9:52 AM


At my advanced age, things happen slowly (if they happen at all). I'm driving down to Iowa in a few hours for my 50th high school reunion.

I'm still trying to process the news we got this morning about salad spinners. I don't know which image upsets me more, chunks of panties in my salad or chunks of mushrooms in bras. I hope the ladies who are into this use two spinners and keep them labeled.

Good suggestions from TGITH. I'd settle for music at the entryway to this toxic gloop that would be a running loop of "The Annoying Music" show.

Posted by Steve in Saint Paul | May 21, 2010 9:52 AM


Not to worry Steve -- not just labeled, but in different rooms. The produce salad spinner lives in kitchen w/ other kitchen toys. Paint salad spinner lives in a big craft box under the piano. Have a safe drive!

Posted by sherrilee | May 21, 2010 9:57 AM


Fruitcake made with citron, and cranberry sauce.

Posted by audrey in mpls. | May 21, 2010 10:44 AM


Not to worry Steve-- I've never had a salad spinner, but I'm thinking of getting one for the laundry room.

TGITH -- love the image of the cheek-pinching full-kissing moustached aunt. (as long as she's your aunt and not mine)

Posted by Donna | May 21, 2010 10:49 AM


Oy, I'm laughing out loud again... Just returned from 2-1/2 days in Winona and almost went through withdrawal being unable to get to a computer.

We need to locate this thing somewhere under the Floating Plastic Garbage Dump in the Pacific Ocean.
Have a good weekend, anyone who may be on here at this late time.

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | May 21, 2010 5:44 PM


to think i was concerned about this starting off on a slow lazy friday...that guy in the hat. that may go down as the all time classic blog on radio heartland. nicely done.
ben. did it get in there while you were driving down the road ? its like the story about the guy walking down the beach picking up the starfish that are washed up on shore. he walks past another guy who says "there are starfish all up and down the beach. what difference can the ones you pick up make compared to all that will still be left behind?" the guy says 'it matters to him" as he tosses yet another one into the ocean's receding tide.
thanks for taking care of the stuff you can. taking the bumper off is a great story.
audry this is supposed to be a repulsion not a toxic waste site of its own.. fruitcake with citroen and cranberry sauce. that is so bad it has to come form real life experience

Posted by tim | May 21, 2010 6:41 PM


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