The Devil Made Me Do It


August 1, 2012

What you see is what you get — in reel life and in real life.


While eating dinner the other day, my wife asked what my next Carved In Stone article was going to be about. “What you see is what you get,” I replied. Wow, did I get a taste of the generation gap. My daughter asked, “Do you mean WYSIWYG?” (Pronounced whizzywig.) She was referring to a modern day acronym that refers to a computer screen display that appears on screen exactly as it will be seen when printed on paper (What You See Is What You Get). No, I meant it literally, just like Geraldine (Flip Wilson in drag) would say on Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In during the late 1960s. I even gave my best Geraldine impression.

To demonstrate what Geraldine meant, take a look at the top figure of the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, Minn. It shows the distribution of sand and gravel with brown, and crushed stone with the fuchsia color. Built up areas are shown in grey; water in blue. What you see is that nearly one-quarter of the potential sources of aggregate in the area have been covered by development and are no longer available for use. What you get is access to less aggregate.

To see how development encumbers aggregate resources, take a look at the orange area highlighted in the black circle in the southeastern part of the Twin Cities area. The area is known as the University of Minnesota Outreach, Research and Education (UMore) Park; a university-owned 5,000-acre property located 25 miles southeast of the Twin Cities in Dakota County. The goal is to build a sustainable, university-founded community of 20,000 to 30,000 people over a period of 25 to 30 years. Great…more aggregate being covered up by development. Or is it?

The bottom figure shows the plan for UMore Park, which is quite forward-thinking in that it recognizes the value of aggregate. The plan allows for gravel extraction on approximately 1,722 acres on the western edge of the UMore Park property. A 40-year lease agreement has already been signed whereby a local aggregate producer will conduct phased gravel mining at UMore Park. The lease agreement generates royalties for the University that will be designated for long-term support of special academic pursuits not adequately funded by other sources. It is a true win-win situation.

And for the real Geraldine fans, if you want to know why I chose this topic to write about… “The devil made me do it.”

For those who aren’t familiar with Flip Wilson’s comedy stylings, scan this tag to see his character Geraldine talk about how ‘the devil made her do it.’

Bill Langer is a research geologist who spent 41 years with the U.S. Geological Survey.

He can be reached at


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