Boston Solutions Incorporated
Chapter 23

Copyright© 2021 by Lazlo Zalezac

Gesturing to one of his office chairs, Magus said, “Please have a seat, Calvin Dorfman.”

“Hello, Magus,” Calvin said. He sat down and looked at Magus wondering why he had been asked to come into the office.

“I’ve been working on your problem,” Magus said.

Surprised, Calvin said, “I figured you had given up on it.”

It seemed to Magus that everyone expected instant answers to complex problems. Trivial problems were easy to answer quickly, but a hard problem took time to solve. He said, “I wouldn’t give up on a good problem like this one.”

“So what’s your solution?” Calvin asked.

“I haven’t got one yet,” Magus said.

Calvin asked, “So why did you ask me to come here?”

“Eventually, I will need you to sign these papers,” Magus answered. He held up a stack of papers for Calvin to see.

“What are they?” Calvin asked suspiciously. He was beginning to wonder if Magus wasn’t some sort of con man.

Magus answered, “This is a proposal to the Department of Agriculture to do a study of the nutrients in the water.”

“I don’t know what that has to do with me,” Calvin said.

Magus said, “I put you down as the Principal Investigator.”

“You did what?” Calvin asked.

“I put you in charge of a research program to measure nutrients up and down the east coast,” Magus answered.

“Excuse me,” Calvin said. “I’m not sure that I understood you correctly. You are putting me in charge of a research effort.”

“Yes,” Magus answered.

“I don’t know how to tell you this, but that’s crazy. All I’ve got is a high school degree,” Calvin said.

“Your point is?” Magus asked.

“I can’t be in charge of a research program. That requires scientists,” Calvin said.

Magus said, “You won’t be doing the science part. I have subcontracted a laboratory to do the water analysis. I have two biologists as paid consultants to do the impact analysis of nutrient levels on fish populations. A satellite imagery company will provide photographs of the coast in the visible and infrared spectrums. A former NASA climatologist will do the photographic analysis to establish algae levels and water temperatures. Poindexter over at Paladin Incorporated will do the data analysis.”

“Uh,” Calvin said slack jawed.

“You’ll have to coordinate with fishermen from Maine down to the tip of Florida to get water samples at varying depths and various distances from shore. They’ll have to make weekly measurements. Everyone will get paid for it, so it shouldn’t be too big of a deal. In fact, it will augment their earnings quite nicely,” Magus said.

“How much money are you talking about?” Calvin asked. This sounded expensive.

“Twenty million dollars over a two year period,” Magus answered.

That was a lot of money. Still trying to wrap his head around everything Magus had told him, Calvin said, “I have no clue what you are trying to accomplish.”

Magus said, “Did you know that farmers put fertilizer on their fields?”

“Yes,” Calvin answered slowly.

“Do you know why they do that?” Magus asked.

“They do that to get better yields of their crops,” Calvin answered. He felt like he was in fifth grade.

“Exactly,” Magus said. He looked at Calvin and said, “It dawned on me that if farmers could do that to grow more corn or feed more cattle, then why couldn’t fishermen do that to catch more fish.”

“Fish move around,” Calvin said. “They don’t sit there like plants.”

“Really? I didn’t know that,” Magus said looking surprised.

Calvin was about to say something when he realized that Magus was being sarcastic. He said, “So how are you proposing to do this thing?”

“That’s a good question. We need to find the one thing that is at the bottom of the food chain, and arrange for it to thrive so that everything above it can thrive. To make the conditions right for it to thrive, we have to know what is there now and what really needs to be there. That’s where the water analysis comes into the picture,” Magus answered.

“Actually, that makes sense,” Calvin said rather surprised that he understood the basic concept.

Magus said, “I think so too.”

“So what do I need to do?” Calvin asked.

Magus handed the stack of papers to Calvin and said, “You’ll need to read this tonight for the meeting tomorrow.”

“What meeting tomorrow?” Calvin asked.

“We are having a red team meeting. A group of independent experts are coming in to critique the proposal to assure that it is complete and scientifically sound. You’ll want to sit in on that meeting,” Magus said.

“Okay,” Calvin said. He looked down at the proposal and said, “What if I don’t understand it?”

“It is about fish. You understand fish,” Magus said dismissively.

“I guess,” Calvin said without much confidence. He felt that he was in way over his head. “All I really know about fish is how to catch them.”

“See, you’re already an expert on fish. I can’t catch fish,” Magus said.

“I don’t know about that,” Calvin said. There was a lot of difference between being an oceanographer and a fisherman.

Magus said, “You’ll want to take that proposal by your lawyer and make sure that you’re properly protected.”

“Okay,” Calvin said. His lawyer required more than a few minutes’ notice to get an appointment.

“Your lawyer was planning on playing golf today, but I convinced him to stick around the office until after you got there,” Magus said.

“You know my lawyer?” Calvin asked.

“I wouldn’t be Magus if I didn’t know that kind of stuff,” Magus answered.

“I guess so,” Calvin replied. He wondered if the FBI had been investigating him without him knowing about it.

Magus said, “Your wife is pretty good at organizing things. You might have her go over the management sections of the proposal with you. I’m sure she’ll help you out.”

“What do you know about my wife?” Calvin asked.

“She does a lot of charity work and organizes fund raising events for your church,” Magus said.

“Do you belong to our church?” Calvin asked.

“No.”

Feeling like he was being railroaded into this, Calvin asked, “Why did you pick me?”

Magus grinned broadly on hearing the question. He answered, “Because you were the first to bring this problem to my attention. It wasn’t the USDA or NOAA. It was Calvin Dorfman who came into my office and asked why each year’s catch was worse than the year before.”

“I was just worried about my business,” Calvin said.

Magus said, “You weren’t the only one who was worried. You were the first one who decided to do the right thing about your worries. You came to me. As a result of that one wise decision, it should be Calvin Dorfman who receives credit for revolutionizing the fishing industry.”

“There are bigger outfits than me,” Calvin said. “They could probably handle something like this better than me.”

“Nonsense. You’re the right man at the right time and place for the job,” Magus said.

“I’ll look the proposal over this evening. I can’t make any promises,” Calvin said. “I’m just a fisherman.”

“And a fine one at that,” Magus said. He straightened up and said, “You need to run along to your lawyer’s office before he gets too impatient. I’ve got to talk to a man at the Department of Agriculture about a marvelous proposal to revolutionize the fishing industry that happened to cross my desk.”

 
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