Locked in a Room

As the state’s budget showdown drags towards a shutdown on July 1st, settlement strategies come and go. The latest is the leader lockdown – Governor Dayton, House Speaker Kurt Zellers and Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch will engage in some marathon sessions Friday and Saturday to try to shape an agreement.

According to a report by Tim Pugmire of MPR:

Zellers said they will lock themselves in a room and won’t leave until they have at least some consensus or a framework that they can then take back to their legislative members and the governor can be comfortable with.

“But the point being that without the three of us in a room talking about these bills in great detail and coming to agreement between the three of us, it’s going to be awfully difficult for all of us to come to agreement,” Zellers said.

This is necessary at the very least so all parties will be able to say “we really tried” while pointing fingers after July 1.

But one wonders how “in” they will be “locked”?

Perhaps they could follow the model of the Mars 500 mission. But the experience so far seems to bring this warning: Those who are locked in a room begin to get used to being locked in a room.

It has now been more than one year since six men were shut inside a space ship-like enclosure in a Moscow suburb, agreeing to mimic conditions on a trip to Mars and back. They have endured mock emergencies including a loss of power and a week without communications with the outside world. They have simulated a Mars landing and walkabout, and are now on their way “back”, with a planned arrival “home” in early November.

Matching Goggles Can Help Build Camaraderie

They have their routines, which they follow every day without fail (weekends included). One Marstronaut said his greatest regret is that he misses “the randomness of the world”. So far it seems the greatest threat to the well-being of these men is the dreaded fun-sucking monster, monotony.

One of the mission co-ordinators said “one thing that they’re using to break the monotony … is creativity. For Halloween they dressed themselves up with scientific equipment. For Christmas they came up with their own self-made nativity scene. And they also celebrated the Chinese New Year.”

Perhaps Minnesota’s combatants could resolve to stay in the Governor’s reception room until a settlement occurs, and if they’re still in there on the Fourth of July, they could break the monotony of their own immobility and form a bond by improvising an appropriate holiday celebration with the materials at hand.

Better make sure nobody has matches when they go in.

How do you handle a deadline?

72 thoughts on “Locked in a Room”

  1. As the legislative leaders and the governor meet this weekend perhaps they could celebrate PRIDE Week. Their parade will be kind of short but I think Amy Koch would look good in rainbow socks. Kurt Zellers could bring his collection of Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand records and Governor Dayton can dress like Lady Gaga. I would imagine that after just a short time the threesome will emerge triumphant and turn those pink slips into rainbow flags. We can only hope….


  2. deadlines i can deal with if it’s just my responsibility. but being locked in a room and trying to agree would be highly stressful. i’d try to stand on my convictions, but would probably cave just to get outta there. claustrophobia would set in about hour two.
    so be glad i’m just a goat-milker in Blackhoof – i’m glad also.
    a gracious, grey and dreary (yet again!) morning to You All


    1. Barb I saw this recipe for goat cheese brownies and thought of you

      Adapted from Goat: Meat, Milk, Cheese by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough. Copyright © 2011. Published by Stewart, Tabori & Chang. Available wherever books are sold. All Rights Reserved.


      serves about 24 brownies

      10 tablespoons cool goat but- ter (or cow butter, if you must), cut into small bits, plus a little extra for greasing the baking dish
      2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the baking dish
      4 ounces dark or bittersweet chocolate (between 60% and 72% cocoa solids), chopped
      4 ounces unsweetened chocolate (sometimes called baking chocolate), chopped
      1/2 teaspoon baking powder
      1/2 teaspoon salt
      8 ounces fresh chèvre or soft goat cheese
      1 3/4 cups sugar
      1 large egg, at room temperature
      4 large egg yolks, at room temperature
      1 tablespoon vanilla extract


      Make sure the rack is in the center of the oven and get the oven heated up to 350 °F (177 °C). Take a little butter on a wadded-up paper towel or piece of wax paper and run it around the inside of a 9 x 13-inch (23 x 33-cm) baking dish, coating the whole thing, particularly the corners and edges. You can also use the butter wrapper for this job because it often has butter still adhering to its inside.

      Put a little flour in the baking dish and turn it this way and that to make sure the flour covers the bottom and sides, knocking it against the counter to get the flour off sticky spots and moving easily across the dish. (You’ll also be able to see if you’ve got any spots without a slick of butter—you can fix these at this point.) Tap the baking dish on one edge against the counter to get all the flour down in one corner, then dump out the excess flour.

      Melt all the chocolate. You can do this in one of several ways:

      Set a double boiler with about an inch (2.5 cm) of water in the bottom part over medium heat. Bring the water to a simmer, add both kinds of chocolate to the top part, and reduce the heat to low so the water simmers slowly; stir until about two-thirds of the chocolate has melted. Turn off the heat, remove the top part of the double boiler from the bottom pan, and continue stirring on the counter until the chocolate has fully melted.

      Do a similar operation with a jury-rigged double boiler: a medium saucepan and a mixing bowl that fits securely in it without touching the water bubbling beneath. Be careful when you remove the bowl—escaping steam can cause nasty burns.

      Put both kinds of chocolate in a big bowl and microwave on high in 6- or 7-second increments, stirring after each, until the chocolate is about two-thirds melted. Then take the bowl out of the microwave and continue stirring on the counter until all the chocolate has melted.

      Mix 2 cups (455 g) flour, the baking powder, and salt in a bowl with a fork to make sure the baking powder and salt are evenly distributed throughout the flour.

      Beat the butter, chèvre, and sugar in a separate bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until creamy and light, maybe up to 5 minutes. You can barely overbeat the thing at this stage. You want it light and airy, the sugar mostly dissolved.

      Beat in all the melted chocolate, scrape down the inside of the bowl, and beat in the whole egg until fully incorporated. Then beat in the egg yolks one at a time (or close enough if you’ve already got them together in one small bowl—the real point is to make sure the eggs get fully mixed into the batter). Finally, beat in the vanilla.

      Stop the beaters, scrape them down, and remove them. Add the flour mixture and fold it in with a rubber spatula or a wooden spoon, turning it over in the batter just until there are no more bits of undissolved flour. You can overbeat—and even overstir—the mixture at this point, getting that gluten too gooey and stretchy. Once there’s no more white flour in the mix, scrape and spread the batter into the prepared baking dish.
      Bake until set, until a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center of the brownie comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, about 25 minutes. The more crumbs, the fudgier the thing will be. But no wet batter on the toothpick, please. Cool the brownies in the baking dish on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes before cutting into squares. These can be stored between sheets of wax paper in a sealable plastic container for up to 5 days at room temperature or up to 4 months in the freezer.


    2. this sounds fab, B-A! thanks! i have a friend that makes her own goat butter – maybe she’ll share.
      if i give her the recipe, maybe she’ll give me some butter 🙂
      OT, but the veterinarian just left (had her in for a “well goat check” on the herd). we got gold stars for condition and pasture management! and Mr. T was the most splendid, she said. he agrees.


      1. sorry – OT again – blah, blah, goats, blah, Alba, blah
        still dumping Alba’s milk tonight and tomorrow morning. then clear. today the vet said to de-worm the whole herd (because of the damp, dark days – encourages parasites) so tomorrow everyone gets dosed and we’ll start dumping Kona’s milk. glad i did Alba earlier.
        the vet said that Alba was a “star doe” and “very pretty” and a “good momma” so she encouraged me to breed her this fall. i had been thinking of giving her a “bye” but the vet said to let her do what she does best. just need to fatten her a lot before i breed her and i may wait until November this year instead of October. T can’t wait that long,


  3. Rise and Droop with these persistent clouds Baboons!

    I am giving this weather a deadline. Git out Dodge by Sundown.

    And I love a deadline–they help me function.


  4. I’m completely in the same place as you, Barb. When it’s just my deadline, I’m usually done way ahead of time, but when I have to work with others, it can be hard for me too. I’ve also discovered over the years that I am very good at figuring out where I can cut a little corner here or a little corner there to save time if a project is threatening to not shape up on schedule.

    In my job, I plan a lot of “team building” so I think that Dayton, Zellers and Koch should do something constructive while they are locked in and battling — maybe build a bike together for an underprivileged kid or even cut and tie fleece blankets for an orphanage.


    1. I like the team-building idea!

      It would be completely realistic to set up the whole legislature to pack meals for emergency relief-our entire school does it every year (over 700 kids, including short shifts for the kindergarteners)-of course, they would never agree on who the recipients should be—sigh.


  5. Good morning to all:

    When deadlines are mentioned I always remember a crusty old extension service educator who said his way of dealing with a deadline was to draw a red line through the deadline. I have a tendency to drift through life and I really don’t like deadlines. However, I do like to take care of my responsibilities and will reluctently make an effort to meet deadlines, usually without much time to spare.


  6. I am a list and calendar maker-I don’t necessarily follow either to the letter, but just breaking the thing down and assigning out the bits to either people or times puts it all into the realm of the possible.

    I’ll go against the flow and say that if I have a team to delegate some of it to, it sometimes help (depends on the scale of the project).

    I’ve also been known to triage a to do list-some projects aren’t that important and can wait, some are goners and if we do that one, nothing else gets done. Then there is the stuff in the middle that matters, but won’t take everything we have to get accomplished.

    There, that is my recommendation to the Terrible Trio. Break that thing down into pieces and separate the “stuff we can all agree on” and get that stuff done right now and stop using it as a club to get “stuff I want and know you just hate”.


  7. This business of the locked room doesn’t tell us much. How nice is the room? This sounds to me like the current “sentence” Lindsay Lohan is serving by sitting at home. Don’t you imagine her home is a nice place to be, not much like a prison? Given how long our dear leaders have failed to compromise so far, I feel this locked room isn’t going to drive them to be sensible very soon.

    So . . . the first thing to go will be the air conditioning. The thermostat can be set so the room never drops much below 80 F. No fair using soap or deodorants; all that stuff would be confiscated. And the room is locked, right? So for bathroom stuff everyone would be required to use a slop bucket, although for modesty’s sake Amy Koch will be allowed to wear a roomy skirt. I would pipe into that room a steady assortment of disagreeable soundtracks, a creative mix of rap music, Jessie Ventura press conferences and the blatting of the vuvuzela horns we came to love during the World Cup.

    Do I need to describe what I have in mind for food?


  8. I really don’t pay as much attention as I should to our state government, so I could wrong about what I have to say on this. Never-the -less, it seems the wishes of the tax payers have been left out of this battle over the budget. The Republican side seems to be controlled by ideology and special interests and there doesn’t seem to be much effort by Dayton to gain public support for his position. What does the public think about this issue and is anyone even interested in what we, the tax payers, think?


    1. Near as I can tell, if you are paying taxes, you don’t have enough influence to be listened to.

      I’d also have to say that while what we have going on right now is a mess, I am glad we don’t have the kind of “unity” in the government they seem to be experiencing in Wisconsin, where all the branches of government seem to be moving in lock-step.


      1. Yes, MID, it is better to have a mess in government than it is to have a government that can do as it likes without cosidering the public’s needs as seems to be the case in Wisconsin. On the other hand, there has been a big up rising by some of the people in Wisconsin againest the actions of their government. I don’t see people in Minnesota rallying in large numbers to oppose bad legislation.


      2. I truly believe we dodged this same bullet last fall with our Governor’s election. Just imagine if Tom Emmer was Governor. I guess we wouldn’t be in the current impasse but we’d likely be behaving a lot more like they are in Wisconsin.


  9. I am a wait until the last minute, finish it on the sound of the closing bell kind of deadline maker. I really hate it, but I have been that way all my life.


  10. Ask me when I’ve re-worked the training program that I just got asked to do training with at 1pm this afternoon.


      1. Done. And I even worked in a trip to my agent’s place for a voiceover audition too. And I still have time for a quick bite of lunch.

        I don’t necessarily like pressure, but I can usually respond to it pretty well if I have to.


  11. Greetings! I tend to procrastinate as much as possible, then rush around and get stressed out until it’s done. I generally avoid deadlines in my life.

    I’ll be going in for arthroscopic knee surgery today. Hopefully, that will fix my knee so I can do karate again. The whole no-eating-or-drinking thing 8 hours before an 11:30 surgery is starting to get to me, though. Catch you later baboons!


    1. Good healing, Joanne. Try not to think about food. Especially try not to think about goat cheese brownies.


    2. Best of luck! My scope last summer really helped my knee. I can’t do karate, but I couldn’t do it before my knee hurt either!


  12. I have discussed deadlines with a friend who is an artist and sculptor. We are identical. We both have a creative muse that snoozes all day like an old dog until the pricks of fear motivate it to wake up and do its job.

    Let’s say I have a deadline for an article that should take me two days of hard work to write. It is due in 15 days. There is not a chance I could work on it until (at best) I have three days to do what will take at least two days to finish. More likely, I won’t be able to start until I have *just* enough time to do the task. At that point my muse yawns, stretches and begins to do jumping jacks to get the blood flowing. And then she leads me into battle again, finishing just in time to avoid blowing the deadline.

    Is this a stupid way to work? You betcha. Does it ever fail? Three times in fifty years. Is this a far more common way of meeting deadlines than most people know? I’m sure it is. Couldn’t a person be more disciplined? Well, umm, “a person” probably could. Just not this person . . . or my friend. Fear of failure is a wonderful thing, and to be sufficiently afraid I have to be dancing on the edge of disaster.


    1. I don’t think it’s laziness or not being disciplined – I think it must be hardwired. Either you’re like me, get it done and off your plate as soon as possible or you’re like most everybody, you need that adreline going to get you going!


    2. how many people you got working for you?…
      about half

      when did you start working for that company?…
      right after they threatened to fire me


  13. Not so sure about hard-wired, as I tend to be bipolar on this sort of thing-mostly, I work like Steve, but unlike him, I am often dissatisfied with the crashed out result (ok, I admit it, I tend to be dissatisfied with my own work most of the the time-best of all is when my work goes away for a good long bit, then I see it again and wonder how on earth I ever did something that nice).

    Other times, I can get right to something, and yes, that feels very good.

    So I now try to trick the muse, by imposing my own early deadlines, long before the real ones-I write the early one on the calendar, I tell my family about it. I completely disregard the real deadline while I am working towards the early one with all the adrenaline that goes with it.

    Am I rolling around like a cat in freshly mown catnip that I finished a project that was due July 8 one month early? oh yeah.


    1. Oh boy, do you have a naive muse! Mine is canny and cynical. I once learned that if I got too pushy with the muse, she would give me the upturned middle finger and take a nap. Any monkey business I would try to pull with her would be counter-productive, just making her hostile and skeptical.

      My “method” for using fear of failure to get my muse in action is a dangerous game. It requires incredibly sophisticated management of fear, which (like testosterone) isn’t a drug you wanna fool around with! The only reason I do it this way is that this works and (for me) nothing else does.


      1. Steve, I take exception to your assumption that my muse is a pushover. My muse is wiley and devious. My muse went to grad school and can come up with all sorts of good and valid reasons why we should be extending this deadline… Too bad for my muse, I studied at the same school-I have my ways.


      2. Are we going to have a fight . . . “my muse can kick your muse’s butt?” That doesn’t sound very high-minded. I was responding to your mention of fooling around with the deadline. My muse would just fall down laughing if I pulled a simple-minded stunt like that.

        I’ve already learned I can’t trade my muse in for a newer, more compliant model. But she is so amazing when she gets it in gear. Who remembers “Beetlejuice?” When the kids empower Michael Keaton to go into full active mode, he cackles, “It’s SHOWTIME!” That’s my muse going into attack mode.


  14. I am a true concrete-random, meaning I have a hard time starting and a hard time stopping. So I tend to put off things until I feel some pressure, but not as badly as Steve who I am sure is an abstract-random. So it is best not to interrupt me when I am really started, but never, never get in my way when I am near the end of a task, whether near the deadline or not. Never.


      1. Now I have to apologize. I wasn’t criticizing or making fun. A category in the Gregoric Learning Styles test, which has been referenced on here before. A simpler version of the Meyers-Briggs.
        Isn’t an insult but rather a suite of skills and attitudes, a pattern of working, some strengths, some weaknesses. In my world of working with teachers we tried to get them think about all the different ways students thought, learned, and approached tasks.School tend to reward those opposite of you, concrete-sequentials, while the creators, risk-takers, succeeders tend to come more from your mind set. This is one reason that the top succeeders in schools are not often the top succeeders in life.


  15. I like to pretend that I am breaking things down into small bits to get the work done…but tend to be more like Steve and wait for the adrenaline rush to really get things done. Work projects tend to be more well managed than creative projects – the Steve Method is employed most often for theater work and projects at home. Sometimes it’s just a matter of getting the thing started and then I can keep going and finish up on time or even early. I have been known to set up invented deadlines for myself to get things done – when I was writing my master’s thesis I set up monthly meetings with my advisor with the goal of having a new chapter ready at each meeting until it was all at least drafted. Worked like a charm. Without that self-imposed deadline I would have continued floundering for several more months and probably not finished on time.


  16. I’ve been facing a few too many deadlines lately. Most of them have something to do with June 30. Honestly, it IS starting to get me down.

    I’ve been reading the blog but I haven’t had time to write. Yesterday’s topic relates to today’s for me. One rule my parents had for me from the time I could walk was that the work had to be done before anything else could happen. For example, we could not open Christmas presents until all of the dishes were done and put away. There was really no part of my life that didn’t have some rule or dire warning associated with it. I’ve often wished my upbringing could have been a little more relaxed. Anyway I usually have things done well in advance of a deadline. I’m not convinced this is a good trait, but it’s the way I turned out.

    There has been a convergence of complicated deadlines. The State is moving to a new financial transaction system that goes into effect July 1. The end of a fiscal year is always stressful but this year it is three times more stressful due to the impending shutdown and the new financial system which begins on July 1. There is a lot of uncertainty. We are instructed to get all of our projects done and all of the invoices submitted by early next week. It’s difficult to get contractors and subcontractors to understand this. All they understand is that it’s been raining and raining and they can’t get the work done due to rain/flooding/moisture. The loss of funding is incomprehensible to them when weather is what they are able to understand.

    I wrote to both the Representative and Senator for my District. I asked them to support the Governor’s budget proposal. I received an e-mail back from my Representative who went on about how Governor Dayton is not willing to compromise with them and wants to spend more than we did last fiscal year. He blamed the Governor for the impending government shutdown. My reply to him was less polite than it should have been. I told him that I dislike his argumentative tone and that the shutdown is on him.

    I’m sorry if I’m a wet blanket. Maybe some time off would do me good.


    1. Krista, so sad that you have to deal with SWIFT while sitting around in your pink slip. Give that stupid program a kick in the pants from me and see if we can get the clever folks on the trail to write you some Tom Swifties to cheer you up!


      1. AND… MiG, I have a book for you. Jim in CG lent it to me awhile back and you had said you wanted it next. Through the Eyes of a Stranger.


      2. I plan to make three stocking caps for my nephews and my niece for Christmas. I’m making those out of colorful variegated Red Heart yarn. Once I get started on them, they’ll go quickly. I’ve been using cotton yarn of various gauges to make hobo bags. All the stuff I make is really simple. I can read the patterns but I tend to view them as suggestions. I’ll have plenty to do while I’m sitting around in my pink slip. Pink slip gardening! Pink slip bike riding! Even a pink slip gig for the Flathead Cats! I’ll be able to laugh at all of this soon.


  17. I regard deadlines with dread and loathing. I’m the opposite of an adrenaline junkie. I just hate that feeling. When the deadline has passed, I have to admit to myself that I needed a deadline to get it done. But I really hate the working up to it. My head feels as if it’s going to explode.


  18. I’m back and the surgery went well. The nurses that do the intake are always impressed that someone my age isn’t on any medications and all my vital signs are excellent. I had an epidural so I could see what he was doing on the monitor inside my knee, which was so cool. Very interesting. Right now I’m still feeling a little woozy and my knee is 3x the normal size, all wrapped up, with lots of special instructions on how to care for it the next few days.

    Luckily, there was beef stew that I had put together in the crock pot this morning, all ready for dinner. Thank you all so much for your good wishes, prayers and uplifting thoughts. It really means a lot to me. What a great group! Can’t play the violin, but I’m looking forward to being able to do karate again!


    1. Thanks for updating us on your splendiferous progress. I think we’ve established that there are few to no violinists here on the trail. Still we will all happily lift our kazoos to you, your orthopaedist, and your swollen knee in a rousing chorus of “I’ve Got You Under My Skin.” Laughter IS the best medicine so be sure to limp onto the trail frequently so we can help speed your healing along!


    2. keep us informed joanne. i have some homeopathic stuff for healing if you want to give it a try. don’t know how much you got into that while you were at the health food store portion of your mission.
      arnca right now for two days bryonia for 3 days after. 200c if possible 30c if not. contact me for details if interested.


  19. i hear the deadline and start thinking and putting it together mentally.. notes here and there and assemble it halfway in my brain before drop dead time. then when the time comes it flows like honey, always has always will.
    i appreciate the judge who refused to gt a mediatir invoolved in the discussion on tax stuff told the kids to work it out. its your job do it.
    send mark ritchie in to get an offical midwife to proclaim what are essential duties like prisons and emergency rooms. i think they should shut it all the way down. no gray area. murderers and kids with no head start programs out there on the street together as it should be or rather as it shouldn’t be


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