YOU ASKED COLUMN Dear Wise and All-Knowing Answer Man: As an Iowan who landed a bit north of her homeland, I am unfamiliar with the term "government shutdown," as Iowa legislators would never have the audacity to attempt it, lest their cornfields be lit o

We have cornfields in Minnesota, too, but that hasn't kept Gopher State politicians from shutting down the government. Eventually you'll have the same pleasure in Iowa.

This is the first shutdown of government services due to a legislative impasse in 147 years of Minnesota statehood. It's a partial shutdown, with about 9,000 out of 48,000 state employees out of work.

The National Conference of State Legislatures says Minnesota is the only state to have a shutdown this year, but several others have hit roadblocks. Wisconsin legislators missed their deadline for approving a budget, but state spending continues at current levels until a new budget is passed. North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania and California also are operating without budgets.

North of Rochester, to the east of U.S. 63 and south of County Road 121 are a series of hills that are kind of unusual. Geologically speaking, what are they and why so different from other hills in the area? -- Ron

Being a one-time cowboy from North Dakota, I can tell you those hills remind me of home -- they're like lonesome buttes you'd see on the edge of the Badlands.


I assume they're picturesque piles of glacial drift, left behind by the last Ice Age. This part of Minnesota is sometimes called a "driftless area," fairly untouched by the last era of glaciation, but according to the Geological Society of America, the only true driftless area around here is across the Mississippi in Cheeseland.

What information can you give me on the singer Des O'Connor? His recordings are played quite often on KNXR but I don't believe I heard them prior to coming to Rochester from California.

Thanks for your help and do keep up your interesting column. -- Mildred Roth

Des O'Connor, whose first name is actually Bernard, is a British singer and entertainer who toured with Buddy Holly, of all people, in the 1950s and has popped up on TV from time to time ever since. Some of his hit singles: "Careless Hands" (1967) and "Dick-a-Dum-Dum" (1969).

I have a couple of questions that may fit the criteria for your You Asked column.

First, is it possible for taxpayers or voters to sue the Legislature for breach of contract, or did we elect them to just try their best at legislating?

And second, while turkey hunting last year I had the daylights scared out of me when a tom turkey came up behind me and let out a ground-shaking gobble. My question: what the heck are "daylights?" I've heard the term many times, but where did it originate?

P.S. The gobbler eventually paid a dear price for his nasty deed. -- Jack


Be assured that ANY question fits the criteria for You Asked.

Regarding the breach of contract, I believe the only court that would take that case is the court of public opinion on Election Day -- and there, you'll probably find a sympathetic jury.

The answer to the "daylights" question can be found in cartoons where the eyes of characters like Porky Pig pop out of their heads when they're startled. "Daylights" was slang for eyeballs in merry old England, so if you had the daylights scared out of you, it was an eye-popping fright.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

The Answer Man responds and the ground shakes every Monday and Thursday. Send questions to the Mighty One at P.O. Box 6118, Rochester, MN 55904, or to

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