Ask Dr. Babooner

We are ALL Dr. Babooner

Dear Dr. Babooner,

I’m an older person who enjoys his simple pleasures. I cherish my freedom to “live large.” I figure I’ve earned my leisure time. No one is the boss of me and every minute of every day is pretty much spoken for. I guard my schedule of planned relaxation quite jealously.

Sitting in front of the TV with a beer a jar of nuts is one thing I really enjoy. I know it’s not particularly healthy, but I view physical exertion the same way some people look at paying taxes – I don’t do it unless forced, and then with plenty of complaining.

I don’t socialize or do things with the extended family, because that’s not really part of my routine. I start the day with light beer, dry roasted peanuts and morning news shows and slowly transition to dark, hearty beers, cashews, and police dramas.

There might be some intermittent napping in there as well.

Still, my relatives pester me about doing things to prolong my life, citing studies like this recent one that claims people could live five years longer if they would just do three hours of “moderate” exercise every week.

I don’t doubt that any of this is true, but do the math – that’s six full, 24-hour days of exercise each year. And let’s assume you get your five year “extension”. You’d have to continue this exhausting habit to stay alive – no coasting. Six times five is thirty. You’d be stuck doing another month of exercise until the grim reaper finally allows you to quit!

In the meantime, think of all the TV that would go un-watched, the peanuts that would be uneaten, and the beer that would remain un-drunk!

Dr. Babooner, why should I change my comfortable and abundant lifestyle just to spend more time (literally) on a treadmill?

Largely,
Bud Planters (not my real name)

I told Bud Planters (not my real name) that his “routine” is actually a steep downward spiral but he’s free to live five years less than he might if that’s his preference. But I couldn’t figure out two things.

  1. How did the mental fog lift long enough for him to do the math on excise and write this letter?
  2. How did he wind up with relatives who care whether he’s around an extra five years or not?

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

No Post Today

At least one baboon was alarmed at the apparent absence of a post yesterday, though she relaxed when I pointed out to her that it was located at The Baboondocks.

But it reminded me how we skate so close to the edge here at Trail Baboon.  The daily post (with Sundays off) is such a relied-upon accessory, one must wonder what might happen if the post didn’t materialize.

Like today.

Yes, because yesterday was such a busy day, I decided late last night that I simply wouldn’t be able to post today.  I was exhausted and  I was all too aware that this morning would bring a day-long chore that cannot be postponed.

My apologies, baboons.   Time ran out.

I briefly thought about quickly writing a post about how there was no post, hoping you’d catch the irony of it and my laziness would seem like inspiration.  You’d be mildly amused, and I’d get away with an easy win.

But I quickly realized you’d see right through that gimmick. Besides, I just don’t have it in me.  Lying takes energy!

So please forgive me for falling down on the job this time.  I hate to deliver less than a sub-par performance, but occasionally events conspire to create failures and disappointments.

No post today!

What th?

Song for a Blue Sunset

Header image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS/Texas A&M University

Like everyone else, I’ve started my pro/con list for traveling to Mars.

Cons:

  • Forced long term travel.
  • Close quarters with near strangers.
  • No breathable air.
  • Certain death.

Pros:

  • Reduced gravity.
  • No mosquitoes.
  • Blue sunsets.

That last one was verified in striking fashion by the latest photo from Curiosity Rover – an image of a cobalt disc poised over the crisp outline of a mountain range that only happens to be Martian.

It immediately hit me that the first Earthlings to set up camp there would have the opportunity to write a batch of songs about topics that have long been over-explored back home with the distinct advantage of a fresh set of unique experiences.

A blue sunset, for instance.

Then, somewhat less immediately, it hit me that I could only think of three songs that were specifically about a sunset.

  1. Sunrise, Sunset, of course. But it’s a shared billing.
  2. Canadian Sunset is obvious, but it has as many words as Mars has Canadians.
  3. Red Sails in the Sunset comes to mind but it has too much longing for home to be an effective Martian anthem.

Fortunately, the Kinks took care of everything when they did this:

And the beauty part – the song is already about a pronounced distaste for crowds and a fondness for chilly evenings in close company with a special friend – and both are Mars journey prerequisites!

Although the “special friend” is an accessory you  will have to pack or make along the way.

As far as the song is concerned, all you have to do to Martianize it is substitute “What a blue” for “Waterloo”.

Done and done. Going to Mars may not be so difficult after all!

Recall a remarkable sunset.

Words To The Woods

Today’s post comes from Bart, the bear who found a cell phone in the woods.

H’lo, Bart here.

Out of hibernation for sure now, and looking for food. Still a little early, though.  SO HUNGRY waiting for the berries to arrive.

The fishing opener is good, ’cause stuff gets left on shore. Sometimes chips and even burgers and hot dogs and stuff like that!  Drunk fishermen are the best kind.  Bears and fish say so!

But you can’t count on people to leave food out.  In July, yes.  Not so much in May.

That’s why I got excited to see this article about self-publishing and how there’s a lot of great opportunities to make extra $$ as a book editor.

All writers need a smart, caring, sometimes brutal, roaring rage-filled editor.  And I’m a pretty good one!  You wouldn’t expect it – me with the big paws and doing all my writing on a smart phone.  But that means I’m always cutting words.  Most writers generate a ton of blah-blah-blah that needs to be gobbled up!

Yes, I’m a Nounatarian and a Verbivore.

And it’s all done online, so you don’t have to worry about making a face-to-face impression on your clients if you have bad breath or don’t look very professional or you happen to be a wild animal who lives alone in the woods .

Some writers complain that with self-publishing, the freelance market has been flooded by unqualified people claiming to be editors and proofreaders.

Maybe so.  I’m not going to dwell on it, though.   Here’s my deal.  I edit your book, you don’t have to pay me in money.  Just ship a loosely secured bag of groceries to a campground address I’ll send you once I get your manuscript.   That’s all there is to it!

Maybe your book is good.  If so, my job is easy and your big payday still comes.  But if your book is an aimless, pointless mess, it can hardly hurt things to slap a sticker on that cover that says “Edited By A Wild Bear!”

Your pal,
Bart

How are you at proofreading?

Speeches That Didn’t Change The World

Today is the anniversary of Newton Minow’s “vast wasteland” speech.  It’s a landmark in the history of broadcasting because Minow had just been elevated from his position as just a guy with a name that sounds like an idea for a fish-flavored soft cookie, to the the exalted chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, appointed to lead the regulatory agency by President John F. Kennedy.

Minow was talking to the 1961 convention of the National Association of Broadcasters and he didn’t mince words as he challenged his listeners to watch a day of television from the moment of sign on,  when the programming started, to sign off, when it stopped.

Yes, children, there was a time in history when the television stations would actually be quiet at the end of a day.

Minow argued that “a vast wasteland” was on display.

“You will see a procession of game shows, formula comedies about totally unbelievable families, blood and thunder, mayhem, violence, sadism, murder, western bad men, western good men, private eyes, gangsters, more violence, and cartoons. And endlessly commercials — many screaming, cajoling, and offending. And most of all, boredom. True, you’ll see a few things you will enjoy. But they will be very, very few. And if you think I exaggerate, I only ask you to try it.”

The speech was a challenge to broadcasters to change their programming approach and do their work in the public interest. Wikipedia claims it was selected as one of twenty five “Speeches That Changed the World,” which is a ridiculous claim.

Minow didn’t change the world.  Broadcasters pretty much ignored him and went about their business.  When Gilligan’s Island debuted three years later, the shipwrecked boat was named after Minow.

Years later, Minow said he was really advocating for providing more choices for viewers, and in 2015 we can see that technology has certainly taken care of that.   But the broadly uplifting and ardently educational medium he imagined at the time did not materialize outside the creation of Masterpiece Theater and Sesame Street.

If Minow did anything at all in 1961, he merely predicted the empty, miserable, disappointing future of broadcasting.

When have you said the thing your audience didn’t want to hear?

The Peculiar Physics of Pirate Fame

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

Ahoy!

Me an’ me boys is appalled that a famed “marine archaeologist”, named Barry Clifford, says he discovered th’ lost treasure of th’ notorious pirate, Captain Kidd.

Clifford has been lookin’ fer th’ wreck o’ Kidd’s vessel, th’ Adventure Galley, fer 15 years.  An’ now he finally claims he found it  off’n th’ coast o’ Madagascar.

This may be, but what of it?  It ain’t in the realm of imagination that a fella named Barry Clifford could ever make a dent in the legend of a alpha pirate like William Kidd.

No matter which name he uses, whether “Capt. Barry” or “Capt. Clifford”, neither one is intimidatin’ enough t’ strike fear into th’ hearts of his crew an’ his adversaries.

But then up from down below he brings a big bar o’ silver an’ lays it in front o’ th’ Madigascar president sayin’, “this here booty, what used t’ belong t’ Capt. Kidd,  is now  yours.  It belongs t’ th’ Madigascar people.  Meanwhile, I’ll take the fame what comes wi’ finding it.”

But me an’ me boys says  Clifford’s gambit is full o’ holes, on account of he don’t understand th’ peculiar physics of pirate fame.

  1. Pirate fame don’t ever transfer t’ non-pirates.
  2. A halo of pirate fame surrounds any booty stolen by th’ aforementioned pirate.
  3. That halo magnifies the value o’ the booty many times over, an’ also makes it completely useless.

Th’ undeniable fact o’ th’ matter is that th’ treasure will always be known as Capt. Kidd’s Silver , no matter who is holdin’ it.  An as such, it will always be more valuable an’ interestin’ than an identical amount of silver held by, say, Warren Buffet.

An’ also as such, it can’t never be cashed in fer anything else on account of you can’t buy nothin’ wi’ it that’s as valuable as th’ moment when yer able t’ point at it an’ say, “That there’s Capt. Kidd’s treasure.”

Therefore, me an’ me boys respectfully suggests that Barry Clifford hand th’ treasure over t’ some REAL  LIFE modern day pirates – th’ only sorts in the whole wide world what can take proper care an’ withstand th’ pirate fame what has accrued t’ this particular collection of precious metals.

An’ yes, we has some candidates in mind!

Helpfully,
Capt. Billy

When you find something of value, how hard do you look for its rightful owner?

Less Air Apparent

Header photo by Frankileon from Flickr

I asked Trail Baboon poet laureate Schuyler Tyler Wyler to craft an ode to sports figures who, more probably than not, cheat.

Of course he wanted to know who I was talking about.

“No one in particular,” I said.  “But everyone, sort of.”

Naturally he wanted to know what sort of poem he should write, which was a funny question because STW only writes one kind of poem.

“Just give me some immortal lines that deal with taking advantage of a situation and lying about it afterwards, ” I told him.  “If it means you have to steal someone else’s poem,  just don’t tell me about it.”

Within the hour, he had produced this:

If you can grip footballs when all about you
With jealous stares are criticizing you.
If you commit such fouls that tall men doubt you,
And call your claims of innocence, “Untrue”;
If you’re a pitcher who is fond of scuffing
Or muscled batter – super steroid size.
Or a striker –  injured?  No, but bluffing!
Who fakes so well he even cries:

If you can bet on games and not have fans desert you,
Or ride the Alps while chemically enhanced,
And still the masses want to wear a shirt you
signed and wore while pedaling through France.
If scandals sprout around you, and get covered,
just pray your own malfeasance never shows.
There is a chance your sins won’t be discovered.
But – if it is – Hey, welcome to … the pros!

I told STW this was such a blatant ripoff of Rudyard Kipling it was an embarrassment and even I couldn’t look the other way. “What is more”, I said, “you didn’t even steal the whole thing. If this lousy poem was a football, it would be deflated by about half.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he said. “I’m an artist. Where’s my money?”

How far should rules be allowed to bend?

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