All posts by Dale Connelly

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

Ferns and Cockroaches

We are ALL Dr. Babooner

Dear Dr. Babooner,

My ex-husband was such a snot, he brought everybody down with his relentless negativity. He always assumed the worst and constantly complained that human beings were “messing everything up”. He couldn’t hold a job and didn’t care that our family was running out of money because he was convinced it was only a matter of time before we’d annihilate ourselves as a species.

His crabby doomsaying drove away all my friends and the neighbors would close their windows and draw the shades whenever he went outside. He’d sit on the deck smoking a big fat cigar, flicking ashes into my carefully planted flower beds while he mocked me for the work I put into the landscaping.

“Geraniums are unsustainable,” he said. “Evolution and radioactive mutation will destroy almost all living things. After the big one blows, all that will be left is ferns and giant cockroaches.”

Fortunately, I saw the light and ditched him last winter. Now everything he hated is still here but he’s gone.

He moved out of state and I haven’t heard a thing from him since the divorce. The odd thing is, I can’t keep geraniums alive in that spot by the deck anymore. I plant and water them but they wither and die. And ferns are coming up instead! The neighbors still steer clear of the house and every now and then I hear a strange rustling sound inside the walls.

Either he put some kind of hex on me, or left the house full of bad vibes, or the apocalypse has already occurred an I just don’t know it. And remembering what he said about ferns and cockroaches, I’m terrified whenever I have to fetch something from under the kitchen sink!

Dr. Babooner, can a place be haunted by someone who is still alive?

With Utmost Concern,
Totally Freaked

I told Totally that the only place her ex is capable of haunting is the inside of her head. His apocalyptic visions got lodged in there and simply need to be driven out. My recommendation is to watch Dr. Strangelove a few times and learn to love ferns – they’re really quite beautiful. Although he was wrong about so many things, he’s probably right that ferns will outlast humans on this planet, just as they did the dinosaurs. Think of the ferns as respected elders and plant the geraniums somewhere else this year.

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

The “Safe Fun” Paradox

Header image by Manuel QC via Creative Commons 

Today’s post comes from obsessive risk management enthusiast Bathtub Safety Officer Rafferty.

At ease civillians!

But as you take your ease on this Memorial Day, you MUST remember to stay alert to all safety risks that come with holiday fun.  

Personally, I’m against holidays for this very reason!  The very word “holiday” carries an expectation that the day will include some kind of unique, ecstatic experience.

This is exactly the sort of thing that can get you in trouble, safety-wise.  That’s why I’m much more comfortable with days “on”  rather than days “off”.

Boring?  Sure!  So?

The soul-killing drudgery of day-to-day work is great for depleting energy that might otherwise send you spinning off into activities that are questionable and possibly dangerous.

Firecrackers, speed boats, canoes, frisbees,  ATV’s, softballs, bats, fishing hooks, volleyball nets and water skis are just a few of the expected summer holiday accessories that I find alarming.

Beyond that, I question all the assumptions made around the holiday tradition of “grilling”.

The idea that a man who only cooks two meals a year will suddenly be able to prepare massive quantities of thoroughly cooked food over an open flame strikes me as questionable.

That he will be able to handle all that meat safely and cook it properly while drinking a succession of beers is, in a word, preposterous!

Beer and flames do not go together.  Ever!

I don’t know what Memorial Day plans you have made, but  staying on dry land, properly belted, with ample head protection, and eating in state-inspected establishments using properly maintained and not-too-sharp utensils sounds like great fun to me!

Safely & Securely,
B.S.O.R.

What are YOUR holiday plans?

Back Seat Games Set To Move Forward

Today’s post comes from marketing whiz Spin Williams, who is always in residence at The Meeting That Never Ends.

Wow!

I’m just back from a 9 day car trip through Iowa, Wisconsin, Missouri, Arkansas, Tennessee and Illinois, and boy, is my butt tired!

There are some big states on that list, and it takes a lot of sitting to get through them. Good thing meetings are my business, because my hindquarters were already road-ready before I left!

Along the way, I had lots of time to think about the coming transportation revolution, when autonomous cars will do most or all of the driving for us. Different states will write different laws to govern this, but my guess is that in most places our job as the “driver” will have some very basic elements:

  • Don’t be drunk
  • Don’t be asleep

Mostly, summer road trips of the future will expand the boredom of the back seat to the entire car, since your only real job will be to sit and watch the scenery go by.

Are there marketing opportunities there? You bet!

When we kicked this around at The Meeting That Never Ends, everybody agreed that backseat car games are due for a renaissance.

In the self-driving car future, everybody will be able to give all their attention to classics like 20 Questions, I Spy, and License Plate Poker.

But once the “driver” is able to swivel her seat and face the backseat passengers as the car picks its own way through road construction around Wisconsin Dells, we predict there will be a whole slew of new games the group can play, including card games and board games.

All we have to do is figure out what the breakaway hit will be in the realm of Whole Family Backseat Car Games, design it, own it, and then wait for technology to catch up.

Any ideas?  

Billionaire Donors Wanted

Today’s post comes from Congressman Loomis Beechly, representing Minnesota’s 9th District – all the water surface area in the state.

Greetings, Constituents, but especially the rich ones!

I’m writing today to tell all billionaires whose fabulous homes border my district (lake shore property is expensive!)  that I am available and willing to talk with them privately about any issue they feel is important enough to possibly merit a sizable contribution .

I’m not saying that I will change my position to entice  mega-donors, but on many of the topics that matter most to the super-rich, I’m still formulating my opinions.   I’d love to hear more about what influential people have to say , and as the Supreme Court has already reminded us,  money is speech!  So speak to me, already!  I can’t wait to hear your voices mingling with the rustling of your cash as you rush forward to press more of it into my hands!

Although actual contributions will only happen if we already agree on the major policies of the day. I am a highly principled public servant and a man of the people.  But like most human beings I feel more agreeable around vast sums of money.

And for my less-well-off constituents, a side note.  Don’t be overly concerned that I am groveling before and buttering up these super-rich donors.

Yes, just like you, I like piles of money.  I like them in the same way anglers love big, fat walleye.  I’m always hopeful that I’ll land one, but I’m not going to let my lust for reeling one in  drag me into the lake.  

And if you’re concerned that I’ve said too much and now the ultra-rich will know that I only see them as fish – bless you for caring but worry not!

Mega-donors don’t read fundraising letters.
Mini-donors don’t read fundraising letters.
Truly, nobody reads fundraising letters.

Everyone has stopped by the 301st word, which is this one.

At any rate, the sort of supporter I’m seeking has already handed this off to a minion, who (hopefully!) has used the information on the masthead to schedule a private conversation.  Because the super-rich don’t contribute to political campaigns based on the sort of words that just anyone can hear. They base their support on the private things I say that can’t be traced, quoted or repeated!

And what are those things?  Political blah-blah-blah, and probably nothing you would find too memorable.  Honestly, even I can’t recall.  But I assure you that if I ever compared someone a big, fat Walleye, I would consider that a total compliment!

Your Completely Honest Congressman,
Loomis Beechly

When money talks, do you listen?

Similar Simians Self-Select

Here’s how influential baboons can be – they have digital natives questioning the value of social media.

A recent study of baboon behavior found that baboons like to hang out with their own personality types.  Those identified as bold tended to hang out with like-minded baboons, while the meek ones prefer the company of their own sort.

As a result,  groups remain socially isolated and new information tends to stay within the group that discovered it.

Sound familiar?

No, not to me either.  No one in my circle cares much for animal studies.  Even if the creatures aren’t harmed, we tend to agree that they have a right to privacy.

But Trail Baboon poet laureate Schuyler Tyler Wyler, who, frankly, is not one of us, found the report inspiring.  So he penned the following few lines of deathless verse:

Those bold baboons are reckless beasts
They’re wild and fast and free.
So when I want to socialize,
they’re not my cup of tea.

I much prefer the timid ones.
Baboons who are demure.
If thoughtful and considerate,
I’ll hang with them for sure.

And when we convene a confab
to trade news and give reports,
we will screen for type and temperament
to weed out the wrong sorts.

So that when we all are gathered
we’ll stay focused, we’ll be tame.
All our thoughts and inspirations
will be pretty much the same.

Where do you get new ideas?

Dream Job Finally Emerges

Today’s post comes from perennial sophomore Bubby Spamden of Wendell Willkie High School

Hey Mr. C.,

Just when I was starting to feel discouraged about finding work that matches the skills I’ve built up through years of ignoring my teachers and spending homework time playing video games, NASA has come up with a great idea that would suit me perfectly.

Here’s the job description:

You ride around in the International Space Station and use a laser cannon to shoot down space debris.  

Lots of little bits of rockets and satellite pieces and stuff are zipping around in low orbit at incredibly fast speeds,  posing a terrible danger to astronauts and other space missions.   Somebody with a sharp eye and quick reflexes has to go up there and save space for the explorers by knocking those harmful nuggets back into the atmosphere where they can burn up.

That could be a real job?  Are you kidding me?  Where do I sign up?  And please, please, please don’t say you have to be good at math to qualify for this.

That would be a horrible bummer if only the “smart” kids could qualify.   What do they know about shooting down space chunks?  They were busy studying their algebra while I was gaining useful eye-hand coordination experience playing asteroids.

Yes, I’ve been an aimless teenager that long!

Would you be a reference for me on my job application?  If anyone could testify that I’ve put in all the needed idle hours to be a good space debris field potshot specialist, it would be you!

And to tell the truth, everybody else I know is going to apply for this job, so the only one left to be a reference is you! Honest, I won’t forget it if you put in a good word for me.  Please?!

Your pal,
Bubby

I told Bubby I would be happy to serve as a reference as long as he understands I would be honor bound to tell any prospective employer that he is certainly NOT a good student. But if the job requires this, I can testify that he is most definitely energetic and enthusiastic about using a space cannon.

Have you ever refused someone’s request to serve as a reference?

Pipeline Poem Worsens Word Spill

Header image by Robin Drayton

The news is full of  multiple pipeline projects as protesters try to have their say and slow moving regulatory processes grind on.

Constructing such things is a costly marathon for proponents and opposing them takes time, organization and stamina. Casual observers are sometimes at a loss to know which side should prevail.

The vast number of words generated in any major pipeline fight gush from multiple sources and flood the terrain with claims and counter-claims.

To help sort it out, I commissioned a relevant poetical work from Trail Baboon’s Poet Laureate, Schuyler Tyler Wyler, a well-known literary thief.

At first, STW refused the commission because, he said, “Nothing original can come from it” and “These pipeline battles always end the same way.”

But of course nothing original ever comes from a Schuyler Tyler Wyler poem.

After I showed him the money that could quickly be made, STW said (true to form) that he would do it if he could be allowed to dig another well known poem out of the deepest reaches of our shared language reserves, refine it to remove all the art, beauty and originality, and then ship it directly to me as quickly as possible with his own brand attached for immediate payment.

Because I was desperate and out of time to come up with a post for today, I agreed, even though I knew the result could be a horrible explosion or simply a foul, long-lasting mess.

Sorry, once again, Robert Frost.

Two pipelines converged in my neighborhood,
And sorry I could not protest both
and be one activist, long I stood
Bemoaning one as much as I could
For contents which I use, and loathe.

Then hating the other to be fair.
For though I’d use it just the same
a spill from it would sew despair,
and consequently foul the air
while no one would accept the blame.

Such strong objections did I raise
to both, that from my dual attack
each paused in the approval phase
and judges issued legal stays
while regulators walked them back.

But only for a moment, though
then did it all just recommence.
A lawyer’s herd did overthrow
my arguments, with piles of dough.
And that has made all the difference.

What have you spilled?