All posts by Dale Connelly

I am a writer and broadcaster living in the Twin Cities.

Macy’s Doth Murder Sleep!

Thanks to Linda, who gave us all a lovely gift in the comments section of yesterday’s post with a link to Clyde’s excellent Thanksgiving Day essay from 2011. Sometimes the oldies are golden indeed!

I’m going to take a cue from Linda and do the same for Black Friday, in part because the newest B.F. trend seems to be finding a way to make it easy on yourself – witness the uptick in people who hire surrogates to stand in line for them.

In this post from 2010, we explored the Shakespearian potential of the annual Black Friday drama.

MACBETH
Methought I heard a voice cry “Sleep no more! 
 Macys does murder sleep,” the innocent sleep, sleep that knits up the ravell’d sleave of Ladies Charter Club Cashmere Crew-Neck Sweaters, only $39.99 before 10 am on Friday alone!

LADY MACBETH
What do you mean? Who was it that thus cried?

MACBETH
It was the owl that shriek’d, or some Tribune. The Star, perhaps, or the News of Duluth, formerly the Herald. It was a sorry sight.

LADY MACBETH
A foolish thought to say a sorry sight. Such sales will make us mad! Summon again the page!

MACBETH
All great Neptune’s ocean will not wash this ink clean from my hand. I am afraid to think what I have seen. Look on’t again I dare not.

LADY MACBETH
Infirm of purpose! 
 Methinks the doors are already open and the surfeited clerks do mock their charge with snores. Give me the plastic daggers. I’ll gild the aisles of Macy’s withal; 
 That which hath made them drowsy hath made be bold; what hath pinched them hath given me fire. Hark!

What is your greatest shopping drama?

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Bunker Concert

Happy Thanksgiving, Baboons!

To soothe you and provide some parting affirmations for the turkeys (treasure each moment as a gift!), here’s Bob Franke singing his signature Thanksgiving song more than 200 feet underground in a cold war bunker ordered built by Stalin – Bunker 42 in Moscow.

Where do you like to sing?

Problem Drinkers

We didn’t need a scientific study to know that dogs are sloppier drinkers than cats, but it took slow motion photography and close observation to figure out why. It all has to do with tongue motion and fluid dynamics. Cats are able to pull up a delicate, single column of fluid using their tongues, but dogs create a water bowl tsunami by smashing their tongues into the water and using it as a ladle.

Basically, the bigger the dog, the larger the mess around the water bowl. That’s a shocker, of course.

Here are some videos to prove the point.

What is proven by these films? It proves that you can completely indulge any obscure fascination on the Internet, including how cats and dogs (and humans) look when they drink. It also shows that we can use someone else’s hard work as a starting point to ask nonsensical questions like, “Why can’t dogs and cats purse their lips?” and “How would the world change if our pets could drink through a straw?”

It also confirms that slow motion re-play technology is completely wasted on live televised sporting events.

Are you a messy eater?

Champion Climbers

I’ve completed my annual Excursion of Terror up and down our almost-big-enough aluminum ladder to place six strings of gigantic old energy-burning Christmas lights at the peaks of our gables. Each year another handful burn out and I replace them. Each year I think about the falling-off-a-ladder injury and death statistics for men in their ’50’s. Apparently we are oblivious to the rules of ladder safety, which for men in my age group, starts with “Stay Off The Ladder!”

One of the enlightening statistics regarding ladder safety is that around half the falls happen because the ladder user is carrying something in one or both hands while trying to climb. Yes, of course this is foolish but if I didn’t have to carry something there’d be no reason to go up there in the first place. Next year I’ll try telling the lights to meet me at the top for installation.

My nervousness about taking objects up the ladder helped me appreciate the fine work of some of the local rodents.

After every Halloween I find wrappers in the yard. Bits of candy too, sometimes. When you’re candy-rich, shoving a handful of M&M’s in your mouth as you leave the door means you don’t have to go to the trouble of putting the treat in your bag. So what if some of them hit the ground? You’re a sugar mogul on Halloween night!

While installing the Christmas lights I noticed a gap in the siding about 12 feet above ground level – there seemed to be a passageway to get under the aluminum and up against the softer, more chewable building material that makes up the outer shell of our home. Concerned, I got a screwdriver and started to dig away at the debris that had collected in the opening.

Out rolled a malted milk ball.

I was appalled, but also appreciative. That’s not an easy climb, getting a malted milk ball 12 feet up. A mouse takes serious risks lugging such an awkward object to such a high point, only to discover it’s too big to get into the house. Bummer.

I thought for a moment about leaving it there as a testament to a monumental achievement. But only for a moment.

When has your hard work gone unrewarded?

Sixteen Tons of Asteroid

Now that humans have successfully landed on a comet, excitement is building about the previously strange notion of Asteroid Mining.

Lots of new technology will have to be developed to make this work.

Not to mention a boatload of re-written classic mining songs.

There was never an Asteroid made outta mud.
They’re stone and copper and a whole buncha crud.
A whole buncha crud that’s a-flyin’ around,
That’ll never stop and it won’t come down.

You mine asteroids and what do you get?
A ride on a rocket and a load of regret.
St. Peter did you see me as I flew by?
I’m digging holes in the clear blue sky!

I was born around minerals, buried and old
there was coal and palladium and iron and gold.
But we took it all and we filled our cup
Then the straw boss said “Let’s dig way, way up”

You mine asteroids and what do you get?
A ride on a rocket and a load of regret.
St. Peter did you see me as I flew by?
I’m digging holes in the clear blue sky!

When I got to space then I started to drill.
I dug down and down in that airless chill.
Then I got so deep the whole hole just spun,
so I kept on digging up towards the sun.

You mine asteroids and what do you get?
A ride on a rocket and a load of regret.
St. Peter did you see me as I flew by?
I’m digging holes in the clear blue sky!

If you’re out in space you better let me pass
I will take your metals. I will steal your gas.
And I’ll make tear the end off your flying stone
‘Til it’s as brittle and hollow as an ice cream cone.”

You mine asteroids and what do you get?
A ride on a rocket and a load of regret.
St. Peter did you see me as I flew by?
I’m digging holes in the clear blue sky.

What’s the most physically demanding job you’ve ever held?

Connect Three

Here’s a new Trail Baboon feature – three connected topics I’ve seen this week. I would say it’s akin to a primate swinging from tree branch to tree branch, but baboons are known for spending most of their time on the ground.

1.  It starts with a nice tidy explanation of how GPS works from Jeff Blossom, who makes maps for journalist Paul Salopek’s seven-year-long globe spanning project, the Out of Eden Walk. Thanks to a group of satellites and Blossom’s maps, we can clearly see exactly where Salopek spent some time standing around in Saudi Arabia. Yes, this technology can track your loitering habits. Even when on a ambitious mission, it sometimes becomes necessary to wait.

2. Those satellites are an essential component in guiding the autonomous cars we were discussing this week. I found a lovely Google video that drives home the point that such cars would be a delight for the disabled, kids, and old people.

3. But there is always a dark cloud on the horizon, threatening to blow your candy-colored dream to smithereens. Like an enormous power grid and technology-destroying electromagnetic pulse from the sun. People (including some at the Defense Department) are considering the ramifications of such a calamity, but none more ardently than Rocky Rawlins of The Survivor Library, who I heard in an interview with Bob Garfield on the program On The Media.

Rawlings is collecting knowledge about how to accomplish basic tasks and build and operate old-world devices that pre-date the digital age. Like how to make and felt a hat, for instance.

As a person with a hat-necessary type of head, I appreciate this attention to detail. But I’m a bit leery of the alarm-junkie quality that many survivalists bring to the task. There seems to be a bit too much of the “I Told You So” quality to their planning – as if this is all a wonderfully fun set up to a supreme moment when the rest of us dullards realize they were right all along.

What priceless skill could you contribute to a smoldering Hellscape of a non-digital world?

Sounds Like ???

I remain enthralled with this fresh notion of a human-made device sitting on the surface of a rubber-duck-shaped comet that is speeding towards the sun.

Scientists are examining the data collected by the lander Philae before it ran out of power a few hours after touch (and re-re-touch) down. One beguiling piece of information turns out to be the sound the device made when it hit. Apparently there is a lot you can learn from such a thing.

Just by analyzing the sound above, scientists can judge the composition of the comet’s surface. They know that the lander encountered a soft layer several centimeters thick, and the next layer was hard. Researchers also know that Philae bounced a couple of times.

That’s a lot to learn from a momentary crunch.

Inspired by the ability of attentive listeners (aided by scientific equipment) to paint a picture of the actors in a scene from a tiny bit of sonic evidence, I created a document to give researchers from the future something to chew on when considering the meaning of my all-too-brief mission on this planet.

Tooth angle, overbite, jaw strength, lip density, saliva viscosity and tongue thickness are just a few of the qualities that I’m sure can be extrapolated with the right devices. Not that anyone would want to.

And imagine what they might be able to learn about the comet I’m biting!

What is your most distinctive sound?