Wednesday, December 30, 2015

I-98: Episode Seven -- #BeesLivesMatter

a syndicated television series spanning one decade, 2040 - 2049
Chronicles from The Bakken
Starring Samuel "Oilman" Goshwin & Liam Nikolai Gjorkstad
with occasional appearances by Archie McCool
initial funding from Apple Prairie Broadcasting  
matching grant money from The Legacy Fund
continuing support from viewers like you.

In the last episode, Liam and Sam were boarding a "shortened" Amtrak train at Rugby, thanks to an unscheduled stop okayed by Warren Buffett III, whose WBR&C railroad owned the track.

The only unanswered question was whether Thelma and Louise were on the Amtrak cars arriving in Rugby or had they been left behind in the derailed cars north of Fargo. Their whereabouts were never shown during the previous episode. It was during the ending credits that we learned that Thelma and Louise had indeed been stranded in Fargo. The show's writers were told to write the two young women out of the show because of a contract dispute. The back story was that the character who played Thelma was the great-granddaughter of Kaley Cuoco. She felt that she deserved the same pay as her great-grandmother, not realizing that I-98 never made any money, even after it went into syndication (it ranked below The Apprentice), and no one ever expected the series to make any money. Apple never streamed it.

Also, it was getting too difficult for folks in North Dakota to follow all the characters; it was time for some of the characters to move on.

Speaking of leaving, that's exactly what Sam and Liam did. It was a whistle-stop stop in Rugby and the two had to literally run to catch the train before it pulled out at 2 mph. Ever since the Amtrak disaster of 2015 in Philadelphia, Amtrak had placed limiters on the throttle, limiting acceleration to "walking speed." There was one exception: the California bullet train. No, the California bullet train was not yet in operation. In fact the only real track that had been laid was a bridge "somewhere in the valley," but to show progress, the California legislature continued to vote on parameters for the California bullet train.

Sam: "That was close."

Liam: "What do you mean, close?"

Sam: "The stop wasn't all that ... darn ... I forgot my cellphone ...."

Liam: "Nah, I grabbed it off the picnic table just as you started to run for the train ..."

Sam looked at his wrist. The Apple Watch, version AW5417, had synced with his iPhone with IOS71. He checked the CO2 PPM app: CO2 had remained steady at 385 for quite some time now. He recalled how CO2 PPM had peaked at 430 in 2020 and then after that entered into a steady decline.

Although there were many theories on the decline in atmospheric CO2, the most likely cause was the nation's switch to Bakken light crude oil, which was found to burn very cleanly, and the end of flaring in North Dakota about the same time.

NOAA felt the decline was due to inaccurate measurements. To remedy that, NOAA began in 2025 re-locating CO2 monitors. They moved them closer to the oil fields that had now stretched into South Dakota to remedy what they thought were inaccurate measurements.

Unfortunately, the relatively sudden drop in CO2 had decimated the flora, which in turn, was playing havoc with honey bees. Honey was now approaching $100 / 10 ounces. More expensive than gasoline, which again was hitting record lows.

Sam and Liam were mesmerized by the fields of wildflowers along the track. The fields had been planted back late in the Obama-era in an attempt to bring back the bees. Liam even recalled the button he had worn years ago.

"Sort of reminds me of "#BeesLivesMatter." [Not to be outdone, Presidential wannabee Jeb Bush had had his own button: "Bees!"]

The fields became more noticeable the closer they came to Minot. A lot of the old ICBM sites were now "Save the Bee" sites.

Most of the ICBM sites had been defunded by Congress when then-President Trump launched "one for the gipper" from site A-02, 9.9 mi SE of Karlsruhe ND, 48°00′04″N 100°27′15″W, to take out ISIS once and for all.

The exact location was classified but was inadvertently released during the Hillary Clinton campaign back in 2020 (yes, she ran once again, even as she neared 75 years of age). Hillary testified later she thought she was sending her telephone number to a friend, not knowing that 48°00′04″N 100°27′15″W was a geographic coordinate, not a telephone number. At the time she famously said, "what does it matter, anyway?"

But now many decommissioned ICBM sites had become havens for bees. Honey was now the #3 industry in North Dakota, as measured in revenue, behind oil and drones. Sweet dreams were made of these.

The train was slowing, pulling into Minot. It would not stop, but it would slow down, although for Amtrak, "slowing down" is an oxymoron, or worse, redundant.

This was a non-stop from Mall of America to Northstar Center in Williston which meant no scheduled stops between Minneapolis and Williston, but the train did slow for urban centers. Minot was considered an urban center, though its population now paled in comparison to that of Watford City. West Watford City extended to East Alexander.

As the train rounded the curve, Sam and Liam saw the new billboards going up asking for donations to help Minnesotans pay their intermittent energy utility bills. The state was now completely reliant on intermittent energy, and utility bills had surged, as expected. Even the heirs to the great Dayton estate were surprised to see how many wind farms it took to generate enough electricity to keep the lights on, not to mention, to recharge the Teslas. To conserve electricity, the state had asked Minnesotans to stop making Swedish meatballs during peak electricity demand.

Sam noted the irony, "It's kind of funny how things worked out. Ever since CO2 dropped, it got colder in Minnesota just as they were meeting their state-mandated wind farm initiatives. And now no one can afford it."

"Yes, I've heard they are thinking of widening the I-98."

Sam corrected him, "Well, not quite. They are only going to widen the west-bound I-98. Although I think it would be cheaper just to make all four lanes west-bound. The east-bound lanes haven't been used in years."

Overhead Sam noticed the fleet of drones. The train started to pick up speed, having cleared Minot. Sam and Liam were only about a day out from Williston, once Amtrak hit cruising speed, about 15 mph, "walking speed."

[The I-98 theme song crescendos as the camera pulls away with an overhead shot. In the distant, the Bakken is coming into view. Rolling credits.]

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