We were in Las Vegas last month, having dinner at a funky little Chinese restaurant over near the university, when my wife needed to step outside to take a phone call.
As I sat there, suddenly finding myself without a conversation of my own to engage in, I couldn't help but overhear a table full of locals seated next to us. Although I was joining the conversation already-in-progress, it quickly became apparent that two of the older men in the group had been riffing on the silly liquor laws of their neighbors to the east.
"... And with all that," the one man finally concluded, "guess which state has the highest per capita consumption of alcohol."
A long pause. Finally, the other ventured a tentative guess. "Utah?"
"Bingo," said the first man, leaning back, a smug smile on his face.
I was just about to interrupt and politely tell them they were full of oxen manure when my wife walked back in.
I quietly explained the exchange to her, pointing out that the honor of our fair state had just been besmirched and that I needed to do some immediate unsmirching. She begged me not to make a scene; I begged her not to beg me not to make a scene, because, well ... frankly, making scenes is what I do best.
But in the end, seeing as how I love my wife more than I love my state of residence, I let it go.
And yet, a month later, I find that I still can't stop thinking about that conversation. I continue to stew over the idea that there would be a table's worth of people out there who could actually be foolish enough to think that Utah leads the country in consuming alcohol.
This story is particularly ironic considering it originated in Nevada. Because, according to the Beer Institute (yes, folks, there is an actual institute for beer), the state with the highest per-capita beer consumption rate is ... wait for it ... Nevada.
And speaking of Utah and Nevada, guess which two states are the absolute driest in the country. That's right, according to national statistics, the Silver State and the Beehive State are the two driest states. Nevada gets the least annual average precipitation, and Utah gets the second-least.
Which leads us to our current Burning Question of the Week. I realize this might not be the best time to pose this one, what with half the state covered in sandbags, but I've got to ask it anyway:
So then, is it finally safe to say the drought is over?
I mean, with all the runoff we're dealing with this spring, surely we can go a little wild in the watering department this summer, right? Indeed, if you ask me, what we really could use right now is some good old-fashioned wasteful water habits.
OK, so I haven't floated this idea past any actual scientists or anything like that, but I'm pretty sure my hypotheses are sound. So I was driving to work a few weeks ago in the pouring rain, and I noticed the sprinklers going full-force out on one of the expansive lawns at Business Depot Ogden.
My first thought was: "Man, they're wasting water."
And that's when it hit me. Of course! Wasting water is precisely what we need to be doing right now.
Don't you see? The answer to our excess water problems is to use up as much as possible.
The way I figure, the problem is, we've got reservoirs that are filled to overflowing, and our rivers and streams are running abnormally high as a result of all that water. So what if the rest of us, who don't live in or near the flooded areas, went ahead and used as much water as we possibly could? Wouldn't that divert it from swollen lakes, rivers and streams and spread it out over a much larger area, thus providing relief to those where the water is currently concentrated?
Here's the plan, folks:
* Leave your sprinklers running. All the time. Water your lawn like the state just announced they'll be instituting watering restrictions next week.
* Go ahead and use the garden hose and a high-pressure nozzle to wash the debris off your driveway and sidewalk. And do it several times a day.
* Encourage the kids to repeatedly run through the sprinklers until they get all pruney.
* And while you're at it, when you brush your teeth, leave the faucet on as you scrub those incisors, canines and molars. You should probably even let it run while you floss.
And there you have it. Those of us in areas unaffected by the flooding take on a little extra water, the reservoir levels come down, and the rivers and streams finally return to their banks. Problem solved.
So take that, my ignorant friends at the Chinese restaurant in Vegas. Because I'm pretty sure a state with the highest per-capita alcohol consumption wouldn't be able to come up with such a brilliantly conceived flood-control plan.
Mark Saal is ready to accept some sort of prestigious award from the governor for solving that whole flooding problem. Notify him at 801-625-4272 or email@example.com.