Ask Dr. Babooner

We are ALL Dr. Babooner

Dear Dr. Babooner,

Since I am a regular reader and commenter on “Trail Baboon,” I have come to feel kinship with these noble creatures and have occasionally described myself as “a baboon” with what I thought was justified pride.

Then few weeks ago I saw a show titled “The Secret Life of Primates” on PBS, which inspired me to do even more research online.

After that I became somewhat identity-confused because there were several baboon traits that I liked, and then there were some others.

What I liked:

  • In several species of baboons, the alpha female rules. She gets the first and best food, water, sleeping spots.
  • The adults groom each other in a “significant social function” and ritual.
  • Young baboons are active and playful, especially while the adults groom each other.
  • The females tend to be the primary caretaker of the young, although several females will share the duties for all of their offspring.
  • Baboons are completely at ease in trees, thanks to their long arms and legs.

What I didn’t like:

  • The weakest female develops a real inferiority complex.
  • Among the males, there is a lot of infighting for lead position.
  • Baboons  eat EVERYTHING they can find – fruit, insects, small fish and animals, and seed pods embedded in anything including dried out dung piles of, say, a rhino.

That last part about picking seeds out of rhino dung completely put me off the feeling that I am in any way like a baboon.

And yet I still admire the tree-swinging and grooming and females-in-charge aspect. Is it wrong to accept kinship with only the admirable baboon traits, while distancing myself from the negatives?

With concern,
Barbara in Robbinsdale

I told BiR that her somewhat tentative baboon-affinity is no different than the difficult choice politicians face when they are asked to take a picture alongside some random stranger. One wants to be friendly and accepting, although if the price of putting your arm around someone (or following them on Twitter) means you endorse everything they have done or will ever do, it quickly becomes impossible to socialize. I suspect before long all our public associations will have to be accompanied by a detailed disclaimer statement – fine print that will clearly lay out what we like and don’t like about them.

But that’s just one opinion. What do YOU think, Dr. Babooner?

Lost at Sea!

Today’s post comes from Captain Billy, skipper of the pirate ship Muskellunge.

Ahoy, Landlubbers!

Me and me boys is havin’ a great laugh today over th’ story of th’ novice sailor Louis Jordan, who was lost at sea fer more than two months before bein’ found last week somehow in better shape than when he went out.

Jordan says he captured rain water, stayed out of th’ sun an’ th’ wind as much as he could, an’ caught an’ ate raw fish after his food supplies was exhausted.

He was a bit of a heavy fella when he went out at about 290 pounds. Two months later he was closer to 200, lookin’ fit an’ pleased, which is no surprise. His haters says he’s a lyin’ scoundrel what is just tryin’ t’ get famous an sell books ’bout his ordeal.  Or t’ promote a diet plan what involves bein’ marooned on a vessel fer 9 weeks! Drop 10 pounds per week, guaranteed!

Me an’ be boys don’t doubt a word of it on account of our previous experience with a sailor we knew as Sensitive Stu. He was exactly like Mr. Jordan, a seafarer what stayed in his bunk th’ entire time he was with us. Th’ only time he ventured above decks was in th’ moonlight on nights when there warn’t too much wind.

Stu said his skin was “too tender” t’ be exposed t’ th’ harsh environment, an he marveled that th’ rest of us was above decks workin’ most o’ th’ time.

Naturally we was also amazed, so we put Sensitive Stu overboard in a dinghy at th’ very first opportunity an’ set him adrift with just a tarp, a bucket an’ a fish hook, confident that he would perish.

Six weeks later our paths crossed again an’ we found him as chipper as ever, havin’ stayed under the tarp by day, an’ caught rainwater in th’ bucket an’ fish wi’ th’ hook at night. An his skin looked marvelous, which as a pirate is a word I finds difficult t’ say.

But there was no other way t’ describe it.

Th’ episode caused a bit of trouble on board th’ Muskellunge, as several of me boys immediately took t’ their bunks hopin’ t’ become as relaxed an’ healthy lookin’ as Stu. But it was short lived when they realized it also meant there would be no more grog in their rations.

But our hats is off t’ Louis Jordan. An then our hats is quickly back on again, in order t’ protect our scalps from th’ sun.

Yer commander,
Capt. Billy

What do you do to protect your skin from the elements?

Forest Hospitality Crisis Deepens

Today we hear from Bart, a bear who found a smart phone in the woods.

H’lo, Bart here.

I live in the woods so I know all about the natural patterns.

Summer dies, the leaves fall, the snow flies, and the bears hunker down. Then the sun warms, the snow melts, the bears wake up and the people go a little bit nuts.

This is the time when all the annual warnings come out about securing things that smell tasty because the dreaded bears are coming out of hibernation and they’re hungry but there’s no food for them, so you’d better make sure there’s no charred chunks burned onto the grate of the gas grill.

Which is too bad, because I sure likes to do me some charred chunk gas grill grate grazing. My heart sinks when I climb up on a deck in the dead of night, carefully make my way to the cook top, and lift the lid only to see that someone has been busy with a wire brush and the 409.

And articles like this one are so alarmist – as if the worst thing that can happen is that a bear will lick the Weber or tip over your smelly old garbage. Let me tell you – having a bit of your trash strewn about is not the worst thing that can happen on a windy April morning.

What’s sadder is the way this paranoia makes you behave.

I’ve heard tell of “Minnesota Nice,” but I’ve sure never seen it. Especially not in Spring. Even though you make such a big deal of being so friendly and welcoming to the unfortunate victims of bad luck with poems like “The New Colossus,” which I read online and liked a lot:

“Give me your tired, your poor.
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

I’m guessing Emma Lazarus would turn over in her grave if she saw the way you’ve decided to treat your hungry, huddled bears. As far as I’m concerned, this is what I hear when I try to re-enter society every April.

I’ve seen that bear before.
His famished stomach churning to eat free.
Your wretched refuse is his grocery store!
Pizza, or maybe a toaster pastry?
Let the poor bastard have an apple core!

But who am I kidding? I know everything in the pantry is in lock-down. That’s why I snuck in and snitched a whole box of Twinkies from Ranger Station last summer when they were all distracted trying to get a stray deer out of the DNR gift shop.

Those things never go bad!

The Twinkies, I mean.  Deer are bad to the bone!

Your pal,

I’m impressed with Bart’s ability to quote from a poem that adorns the Statue of Liberty, but I am relatively certain he will not make it through the spring on a Twinkies-only diet.  I hope he finds something nourishing, and soon!

Where have you found inspirational words to live by?

Death to the Lawn!

Header image: by Anton Croos via Wikimedia Commons

In response to a years-long drought and a diminished snow pack in the Sierra Nevada, California’s governor has put water restrictions in place that most likely mean death to the lawn in affluent communities.

This is necessary and overdue, and I say that with all the smugness that comes from living in a water-rich state and a suburb that is lousy with the type of lawn California must now ruthlessly murder, en masse.

Of course some homeowners will resist, because yard pride is unquenchable and some people are incapable of saying goodbye to the green lushness of a grassy expanse, even though they live in a desert. But even if they succeed in circumventing the new rules, their crimes will quickly become obvious by the strange emerald glow around their property.

Resentful neighbors will tattle, and social media will shame, which means a new class of western outlaw is about to emerge – lawn criminals.

A homeowner named Billy Joe felt partial to his yard.
A dry spell meant maintaining would soon become too hard.
He got his hoses from the shed and took his nozzles down.
His mother cried as he walked out …
Just let the lawn go brown, son
Leave the water off Bill
Just let the lawn go brown.
He laughed and kissed his mom with lips as dry as desert sand.
Our yard is parched. I am aware that watering is banned.
But I dearly love the sight of grass that’s green and lush and grown.
But she cried again as he walked away…
Just let the lawn go brown, son.
Leave the water off, Bill.
Please let the lawn go brown.
He hummed a tune as he hooked up the sprinkler to the hose.
He set the distance and the spray. Judiciously he chose.
A neighbor peered across the fence in that dry western town.
And his mother’s words echoed again…
Just let the lawn go brown, son
Leave the water off, Bill
Just let the lawn go brown.
He cranked the spigot to the max and watched his grasses soak.
The dusty neighbor quietly observed before he spoke.
“This ain’t your day to water, son”. He said this with a frown.
Bill heard again his mothers words…
Just let the lawn go brown, son.
Leave the water off, Bill.
And let the lawn go brown.
Both men reached for a smartphone each had holstered, like a gun.
Though Billy Joe was quick his neighbor was the faster one.
He tweeted photos of the crime – the shame came rolling down.
Soon Billy’s Twitter profile said…
I’ve let the lawn go brown, folks.
Turn the the water off, friends.
Just let the lawn go brown.


When have you flaunted the regulations?

Carnival Town

We are ALL Dr. Babooner

Dear Dr. Babooner,

We are ALL Dr. Babooner
We are ALL Dr. Babooner

I suffer from a litte-known, not-well-understood condition called Atariphobia, which is an unsupported-by-facts but nonetheless pervasive fear of invaders from space.

Consequently, I find myself constantly scanning the sky for signs of flying saucers.

In addition, I am a practicing Orsonist. As followers of the late actor/director Orson Welles, we Orsonists assume that in every case the most dramatic explanation is automatically the one that’s most likely to be true.


Welles is known for the classic 1938 “War of the Worlds” radio broadcast,  which convinced too many people that Earth was under attack.  As a result, smoldering craters of every kind give me the creeps. When our family went to visit Yellowstone National Park, I stayed in the hotel room the entire time, sobbing.

In spite of these debilitating conditions, I am usually able to lead a typical life. But there’s a blog I follow where the writer often talks about how beautiful our planet looks from space, and he sometimes posts things like this video:

When I look at this, I’m terrified.

Compared to the barren, dead worlds we see elsewhere in our solar system (Mars!) and others we’re discovering throughout the galaxy, our place has a distinct ‘open for business’ look that makes me extremely uneasy.

It’s a swirly, spinning, sparkly gem set against a black background, with inexplicably vivid highlights, like the intermittent green glow of those northern lights – a feature that simply begs to be investigated.

If you were a space alien searching for a fun place to land or a bright bauble to tear apart, ours appears to be the only game in town. Why wouldn’t you come here?

I’m usually not too political, but I called my Congressman to urge her to do something. I thought maybe she could offer legislation to wrap the world in a drab,frumpy bag, dressing it down in the same way a beautiful woman de-emphasizes her best features to discourage unwanted attention.

The congressional aide I spoke with told me the Republican leadership is already doing everything it can to uglify the world through climate change denial. He used the incessant western drought as an example.

“California,” he explained, “is already looking a lot like Uranus.”

But I could hear stifled laughter on the other end of the line. I don’t think they took me very seriously.

Dr. Babooner, people are so willing to mock those who are even a little bit unconventional. How can I get them to consider the real risk posed by our planet’s obvious invade-able-ness?

I.M. Wary

I told I.M.W. there is not much one person can do to make the world seem uninviting to outsiders. And when it comes to putting a potential crisis on the popular agenda, one must wait one’s turn. As a people, we respond to risk when the danger is imminent and our possible responses are limited.  In other words, we will only act when it is too late to act.  But as an Orsonist, I’m sure you’re already well aware that the world will accept no whine before its time.

But that’s just one opinion. What do YOU think, Dr. Babooner?

A Long Trip Worth A Short Rhyme

We all know migratory birds accomplish amazing feats, but none are more incredible than this latest news about the Blackpoll Warbler.

That a fluffy bird “the size of a tennis ball” can make it from Massachusetts to Venezuela is inspiring – at least I hoped it would be for Trail Baboon’s Sing-Song Poet Laureate Schuyler Tyler Wyler.

When I asked him to pen a few lines about exhaustion and depleted things, he was already at work on it, having received word via social media that there was a bird story in the news.

The songbird’s strength is in his throat,
the better for to sing with.
He’s not designed to swim or float.
It’s music he takes wing with.

His scrawny stubs flap extra fast
when he flies o’er the ocean.
We don’t expect his trip to last
with such a frantic motion.

For three long days he pushes south.
Until the trip’s completed.
At last a sound escapes his beak.
“R my arms tired,” he tweeted.

What wears you out?  

NIT Picking with Spin Williams

Header photo from flickr by Jason Lam

Today’s post comes from trend watcher, deal maker and marketing genius Spin Williams, who is always in residence at TMTNE (The Meeting That Never Ends).

Hello Economic Strivers!

Today I’m really excited about pizza!  That’s why it’s my pick for NIT (New Investment Tip) of the week!

At TMTNE we talked about how millennials are absolutely hooked on pizza! They eat it all the time – at school, at home, at parties, at sporting events, for breakfast, as a snack – pizza is the ten-cent hamburger of Now!

Faced with this indigestible fact, nay-sayers and grumpy problem-posers ask why? But I think judging others is a time-waster for self-important snobs. Face facts. The kids have a Pizza Jones. So let’s move quickly to take advantage!

That’s what the Minnesota Twins are doing! They’re planning to sell a Bloody Mary at the ballpark this season with a cold slice of pepperoni stuck in it. What a brilliant idea, because there’s lots of pizza left over from yesterday’s game, and alcoholic beverages need something extra to make people interested!

Not really, but you’ve got to admire the urge to give it that special Value Added feature.

Our nation is paved with pizza coast to coast. And that’s a good thing, because pizza is durable, just like asphalt.

Especially Domino’s.

How big is this? Super big!  When I look at emerging trends, I see pizza everywhere.

  • Young people are driving less.
    That means their food has to come to them, and nothing travels faster by car (or drone) than pizza!
  • Young people are moving back in with their parents.
    That means continued family food chaos – the kitchen is always open – for pizza!
  • Young people are less religious.
    Modern hotdish = pizza!
  • Young people don’t carry cash.
    What’s flat, fits in your pocket, and is valued everywhere?

Pizza is our past, our present and it’s a big part of our shared future because it’s the closest thing to money that you can actually eat. That’s why pizza is my latest NIT pick!

Yours in marketing,

What’s your favorite pizza?


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