All posts by Dale Connelly

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

The Walking Boom

Today’s post comes from idea maker and marketing guru Spin Williams, who is always in residence at the Meeting That Never Ends.

You heard it here first – walking is coming back!

We were delighted to read the results of this  latest study by some Swedish people  about how good it is for your mind and body when you get up from your desk and go out for a thirty minute walk at lunchtime.

This was another case of the Swedes verifying common sense healthy things that really make a difference in your life – they’re so predictable! Maybe that’s because they already do these things – so taking the walk is one kind of workout and then bragging about it is a separate and equally strenuous exercise in self congratulations – it’s Doubly Aerobic!

Here at the Meeting That Never Ends, we endorse the concept but we’re far too busy to take a lunchtime walk. We stay at our desks – otherwise how would we ever catch up on the tasks we’re supposed to be doing over the lunch hour? Time is money! Maybe those Scandinavian countries can afford a government-mandated break for thin crisp breads and organic cheeses, but in America, we work!

The study says a walk will improve your mood an clear your mind, as if that’s a good thing.

What they don’t realize is this – the American workplace thrives on bitterness and resentment fed by physical inactivity. We became a world power through focused decision-making by a long string of cloudy-minded, angry jerks who would have come up with something so much more civilized and European if they’d only stood up for a while and moved around! That’s why we’re number one – a heady cocktail of spite and willful ignorance!

But all of us at the meeting agreed – there’s no resisting the power of group-think. That’s why we decided to try to get out in front of this walking-at-lunch trend.

The best new product idea to come out of the meeting is a strap-on human feedbag with a built-in pedometer, so you can count your steps and count your calories at the same time! Test name – Active Buffet! We’ll take this to market at about the same time Apple comes out with its new iWatch!

No time to waste. Grasp opportunity!

Yours in marketing,
Spin

Where’s your favorite place to take a walk?

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Lonely Mountain

It’s both intriguing and heartbreaking to read this headline: Mountain-Size Asteroid To Fly by Earth on Monday.

It’s intriguing because this will offer a valuable chance for Earth-bound scientists to examine a large asteroid without having to leave the ground. The asteroid, known as 2004 BL86, will glide by at a distance of 745 thousand miles – roughly three times the distance from here to the moon.

In space terms, that’s close.

Not close enough to be dangerous but sufficiently close for radar observatories in Puerto Rico and California to collect images and data that will help us understand more about 2004 BL86’s surface, composition and orbit.

The resolution possible at this distance with radar telescopes is said to be good enough so that the pictures will reveal details as small as “the length of a typical car.”

If nothing else, we’ll soon know if 2004 BL86 has enough parking.

But it’s heartbreaking because the author of the source article called the asteroid a “mountain“, which fixed an image in my mind that I can’t shake.

While we’re watching it, what if it’s watching us?

I see a solitary wanderer, roaming the universe, looking for a home and scouting the nearby terrain for something that appears familiar and, if not friendly, at least fun.  A space mountain would spot many likely companions on Earth’s surface, including (of course), Space Mountain.

They say we’re safe from a collision with 2004 BL86, but that doesn’t account for the power of loneliness and longing.

Twinkle, Twinkle, lonely peak.
Is our planet what you seek?
As you fly by, so detached,
can you spot an earthly match?
Twinkle, Twinkle, if you please.
Just don’t join the Pyrenees.

Have you ever crashed a party?  

Gone Viral

I’ve always had a great time at Disneyland, so it’s sad and unsettling to hear that over 40 of California’s 60 or so cases of measles can be traced to the Anaheim theme park. Apparently there are more people walking around the U.S. who aren’t vaccinated, and at crowded scenes like Disneyland they’re encountering others, including some from overseas, who also haven’t been vaccinated.

But you’re on vacation and preoccupied with fun, so the only potential infection that comes to mind is the musical earworm – a song that gets lodged in your head.

And once you’ve got this in you, it can become a handy device to remember the symptoms to look out for.

It’s a runny nose, its a stale, dry cough
it’s a crimson throat. Every swallow’s tough.
It’s a fever that’s light
And you just don’t feel right
You’ve got mousles after all.

Yes, it’s mousles after all.
Caught it off a castle wall!
Left by Hans from Niedernhall!
It’s a small, small world!

It’s conjunctivitis. You want a nap.
It’s some blotchy rashes that overlap.
Feeling pretty obscene, wish you’d had your vaccine.
You’ve got mousles after all.

You’ve got Mousles after all!
Sat in mucous at Toad Hall.
Shouldn’t be here with y’all.
It’s a small, small world!

What did you bring home from vacation?

Word Puzzles & Pirates

Today’s post comes from a pirate wanted on all 7 continents, Captain Billy.

Ahoy landlubbers!

Me and me boys is glad t’ be buccaneers what  fills our days sailin’ down th’ seacoast pillagin’ villages instead a havin’ day jobs like th’ rest of ya does.  We is truly blessed t’ have such a congenial lifestyle.  ‘Twas never more clear t’ me than it was just after I read this here article about the weird science of naming new products.

Didja know th’ name “Viagra” is crash between th’ words “vigorous” an’ “Niagara”?   Why they puts a name what’s famous fer falls in  somethin’ what’s supposed t’ be all about goin’ “up” hydraulically is mysterious t’ me.

 Th’ writer tells us about this here boyo who sits around all day strainin’ his brain t’ come up with words nobody ever thought of before t’ slap on products what needs a name.  An’ he’s come up wi’ some famous ones!  But also a lot that ain’t too well known, like:

 Avaya, Enormo, Fanhattan, Freescale, Homestyler, Kixx, Mylo, Pause, Rig, Scribe, Spontania, Valchemy, Wanderful and Zact.

 Th’ amount o’ work he as t’ go through t’ develop names is mighty discouragin’.   Lists an’ lists o’ ideas an’ word parts,  all mashed t’gether an’ taken apart, then presented t’ th’ clients, then re-worked an’ shaped an’ explained an’ re-presented.  An’ then he’s likely as not t’ get shot down, because as th’ writer says,

“Having asked for a whole new identity, the client is terrified to accept it.”

Terrified about commitment.  Finally, somethin’ we pirates understands!  What a horrible job.  Gimme th’ open skies an’ rollin’ sea any day, ain’t that right, boys?

Actually, though, we did somethin’ very similar when we named this here boat of ours.  What I did was I split th’ boys up in two groups an’ told ‘em t’ brainstorm around words what described us an’ what we does.

Me boys is strong in th’ “storm” part, an’ not so much in th’ “brain” area, but each group came up wi’ some good ones.

Group number one said “Musket” was a word what sounded “manly” an “violent”, which is how we sees ourselves.  An’ they said “Lunge” was another one what captured us, on account of it bein’ “violent” an “manly”.  They was the ones what said we should name th’ boat th’ “Muskellunge”.

Group number two, on th’ other hand,  said “Musky” was a term fer th’ way things start t’ smell ’round here, ‘specially below decks.  So they  figured “Musky Lung” was a good name fer th’ boat on account of that’s what yer bound t’  get by ridin’ around in it.

After ’bout 5 seconds deliberation, we went with group number one, unanimous-like.

An’ that’s how th’ Muskellunge got her name!

Yer word-lovin’ swashbuckler,
Cap’n Billy

What’s your favorite made-up product name, and why?

POTUS Minimus

Tonight the President of the United States will deliver his annual State of the Union address.

This is a ceremonial event that has it’s own set of routine features:

  • The president will trumpet his accomplishments and challenge his many foes.
  • He’ll introduce a list of guests sitting in the gallery.
  • The phrase “My fellow Americans …” will be included, even though roughly half of all Americans are not fellows.
  • Media reports will list the number of times he was “interrupted” by applause.
  • It will take a while.

Or he could set a precedent for State of the Union addresses, which are causing less and less of a stir news-wise because they are so predictable.

He could boil it down to three lines of 5, 7 and 5 syllables.

I.
Hey Americans,
Skip fancy salutations.
State of the Haiku!

II.
Legislation? Eh.
A divided government
means more golf for me!

III.
Posturing feels good
Until your talking points meet
My sharpened pencil.

IV.
Everyone stand up!
I’m so pleased to have you here
Sitting by Michelle.

V.
The Union is strong!
Good, Tops, Awesome, or The Bomb.
Not many options.

Anyone can be president. Write your own State of the Union!

I’m Not Saying

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

Greetings, Constituents!

I’m not about to say “I told you so”, but there are a lot of people here in Washington DC who are a bit red-faced today about the latest news that the planet broke its all time heat record in 2014.

Some of those faces are red with anger, and others … well, it’s been hot. What do you expect? I’m not saying I fully understand the meaning of this short video from NOAA, but if I was still a teenager and this world map was my face, I’d be alarmed at the blotchy mess it has become. I thought this was supposed to go away as you get older!

I’m not saying we’re incapable of dealing with this problem in a meaningful way, and I’m not naming any names, but I can pretty much assure you that the people who did nothing to address climate change before this latest news can be counted on to keep doing nothing well into the foreseeable future.

That means it’s up to the rest of us.

Now, I’m not about to try to take advantage of this calamity to promote Minnesota tourism, but I do want to remind you that Minnesota is far from all the coasts and we do have lots of nice cool lakes. I’m not saying that Minnesota will be the only safe and/or comfortable place to be when things get harsh everywhere else, and although it pretty much makes that case without saying a word, I’m not trying to draw your attention to the widely published map that clearly indicates we were in one of the world’s rare cool (meaning “normal”) zones last year.

CLIMATE

Why the American Midwest looks so comfortable while all the other parts of the world appear to be sweltering (except out in the middle of some oceans and in Central Africa, where they’re fighting wars right now) is something I’m definitely not saying. But the only reason I’m not saying any of these things is that I know people will get mad at me if I do. Biting my tongue is a real test for me, mostly because it moves so much and my teeth are so tiny. But part of being a politician is knowing when to speak up, and when to be disingenuous.

Your (cool) Congressman,
Loomis Beechly

What makes you bite your tongue?

Birds of a Feather

"Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0"

The latest word from the journal Science about Bar-headed Geese is that they can fly really high.

Like almost-the-summit-of-Everest high.

Actually, legend has it Bar-headed Geese have been seen flying over it at 29 thousand feet, but researchers have only tracked them to 24 thousand using GPS. But that’s still mighty impressive, given the physical cost of getting to that altitude for a bird that constantly flaps its wings.

They do it by staying close to the ground. Sounds easy, but in the Himalayas, the ground is quite vertical. That means these amazing birds gain and lose vast amounts of altitude only to re-gain it over the course of a long journey – something like going on a roller coaster ride if you had to run the length of the tracks rather than ride.

It makes one think Old Mother Goose may not have always been the doddering, bespectacled granny figure in a rocking chair. Perhaps she looked down on Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay while making up rhymes somewhat like  (but not quite) “To Market, To Market.”

To mountain, to mountain, to go very high.
Down again, down again, out of the sky.
To mountain, to mountain, to flap in thin air.
Down again, down again, nary a care.
To mountain, to mountain, on wings and not legs.
Down again, down again, hawks can suck eggs.

The stamina of these amazing birds was described this way in the Science article:

“In the lab, they nudged geese to run on treadmills in reduced oxygen to simulate high altitudes, which revealed that the birds could keep running at top speed for 15 minutes. Humans would not be able to sustain that pace in such conditions.”

Goosey, goosey flyers,
Bird who never tires.
Upskies and downskies
What strength your life requires!

As speedy as the jaguars,
As fearsome as the bears.
An up-and-downy athlete
who doesn’t take the stairs.

Picture it – a goose on a treadmill. Fifteen minutes, full speed, nonstop. Who says science isn’t fun?

What was your most amazing physical feat?