etc. 

Water 2K, and the Finn Connection

We at the Independent take pride in remaining vigilant for those awkward, vague, or obfuscating turns of phrase whose meaning doesn’t immediately register. Aside from our rapidly expanding collection of quizzical headlines being generated at Missoula’s corporate news outlet (“slave re-enactors claim poor working conditions,” “25-year-old outhouse haunts Evel Knievel,” “Making good choices can save you from needing bigger pants”), our daily lives are cluttered with a dizzying array of entertaining detritus, if only we took the time to slow down, take a deep breath, and read carefully.

Consider, for example, a notice enclosed in this month’s water bill from Mountain Water Co., which read: “In conjunction with its emergency preparedness plan, your water company needs to identify its priority water customers. A priority customer is a person whose lack of water service could constitute a life threatening situation (must include certification by a licensed physician).”

The point of this notice, as was soon apparent, was to identify customers who might suffer immediate medical harm if their water service were disrupted as a result of Y2K (i.e. kidney dialysis patients) and not, as it sounds, to determine how long your average Missoulian can go without fluids before shriveling into a desiccated husk. As a Mountain Water Co. spokesman admitted, “perhaps ‘priority customer’ wasn’t the best way to put it.”

So save yourself that urgent phone call to your licensed physician who can attest to your water-based life form status. But as a gentle reminder, always consult your doctor before starting any new exercise. Then wash, rinse and repeat.

•••

Prepare the curd. Kill the fatted reindeer. Start fermenting the orange juice—the Finns might be coming to town.

The University of Montana announced this week that it recently finalized an exchange agreement with the University of Helsinki, Finland’s oldest and largest university. The agreement will allow for the exchange of students as well as staff and faculty members. UM international programs director Mark Lusk says the Finnish institution is “arguably the best university in northern Europe< and describes the agreement as “an extraordinary opportunity for our students and faculty to work at a premier research institution.”

We concur. With Finnish technology—Nokia and Linux, to name but two examples—commanding a good deal of international attention, now is as good a time as any to study the ways of this silent northern people. And although the university, like Finland itself, is officially bilingual (Finnish and Swedish), courses are increasingly being offered in English, and it has excellent programs in UM-compatible fields like forestry, law, social sciences and the arts.

To say nothing of the extracurricular amenities. Helsinki, the so-called “Daughter of the Baltic,” is a splendid city of parks and esplanades, august monuments and a glittering sea. It is populated, naturally, by the Finns—a ruddy, fair-haired people of unknown origin whose love for intoxicating liquor is rivaled only by that of the Russians. It is truly heaven on earth. For more information, contact International Programs at 243-2288.

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