All posts by Dale Connelly

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

Loop Fruits

Today’s post comes from Bathtub Safety Officer Rafferty.

At ease, civilians! But don’t be lulled into a false sense of security!

And as I say that, I realize it’s redundant because “false” is the only “sense of security” brand on the shelves these days.

Nothing is secure!

Look at what an isolated foreign potentate was able to do without leaving his hermit kingdom – he cancelled our plan to go to the movies! That’s a level of meddling in the personal entertainment lives of Americans that I thought was reserved only for the FBI or the Mall of America Police.

And now comes word that there are people actually working in an organized way to try to build Elon Musk’s extremely scary Hyperloop, a high-speed transportation system akin to those pneumatic tubes that they use to move money, paperwork, and out-of-ink pens back and forth from the bank’s drive-up teller to your car.

As your Bathtub Safety Officer, I’ve made it clear I’m totally against this idea.

As I said in my earlier post:

“Even if everything is OK on the journey from point A to point B, what about the people who handle the tube when it arrives at its destination? During the heyday of pneumatic office communication, the weak link always happened in the basement where all the tubes ended and various boobs and imbeciles fumbled to open the capsules and spilled the precious contents onto a dank cement floor. Or at least that’s how I picture it.”

The Hyperloop planners have considered this very thing, and according to the above article, they’ve lavished their attention on the sticky problem of what happens when Hyper-pod arrives at its station.

“So the team decided on what it calls a ‘bubble strategy.’ There’s the swanky capsule, the one with fancy doors and windows, that pulls into the station. It’s the ‘bubble.’ Passengers get in, and that capsule enters an outer shell as it’s loaded into the tube. The outer shell is built to handle the ride, and has the air compressor and other needed bits.”

Now I’m even more concerned. The thought of riding in a “bubble” that’s inside an “outer shell” that goes 800 miles per hour gets me thinking about the metal ball rattles around inside cans of spray paint.

No illustrations needed!

I have been told that I sometimes over-react to threats that are not real.

Maybe the Hyperloop is one of those cases and nothing will come of it. There are so many potential obstacles to the establishment of system that promotes human travel-by-tube, it will probably not happen in our shockingly brief lifetimes. Earthquakes, rising ocean levels or killer bees could quickly take take this, and every other option, off the table.

Or maybe with the growth of the internet and fully immersive high-definition virtual realities, the whole idea of physical travel to distant locations will begin to seem quaint. We may decide that going anywhere at all is not only too risky – it’s unnecessary.

Especially when you consider how easy it is to keep us from going to the movies!

Yours in Safety,

What does it take to keep you at home?

About these ads

The Fake Persona Strategy

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

Hi Mr. C.,

I don’t get to see much television ’cause there are so many other screens to watch I don’t have enough time for it. But I know things are different for you older folks. You still think we kids spend our nights the way you did – sprawled on the living room floor in front of the tube, with mom and dad sitting on the couch behind us.

That’s kinda sweet, I guess. But why would anyone ever lay down on the floor in front of a screen that doesn’t respond to you? Weird.

Someday you’ll have to tell me all about how it was in olden times. Maybe when I’m your age I’ll have the patience to sit and listen – can you wait that long? I suppose the math doesn’t really work out.

Anyway, that’s why I haven’t watched the TV show that’s the big deal of the moment now that “Stephen Colbert” has signed off the air to make way for Stephen Colbert, who will debut a new show on CBS in September.

If I get what people are telling me, “Stephen Colbert” is a fake know-nothing blowhard character made up by Stephen Colbert to poke fun at people who are real know-nothing blowhards.

And for this they say he’s a genius!

He also got rich doing it, and is going to get even richer in the Fall when he replaces David Letterman. But in that job he’ll be playing his real self, not his fake one.

I’m not too keen on all this using media to pretend to be someone you’re not. Does that really work? I’m pretty sure people are smart enough to see through it without much trouble, just by the language you use and the look in your eye.

But that’s just me.

Still, it does give me an interesting idea – do you think Principal Peepers would buy it if I told him that all these years I’ve spent at Willke High I’ve been pretending to be a snotty, selfish, shallow sophomore when in fact I’m really good-hearted, smart scholar-type who’s just been doing a big con, like a performance art project with me as the star? And that next Fall I want to switch back to my real self and get on with my life?

I could use a lucky break like that. And if it can work once, maybe it would again and again! It would sure be a cool way to get out of a bunch of the trouble I expect to get into after I (someday) graduate!


I told Bubby it all hinges on whether Principal Peepers is:

  1. A Colbert Fan
  2. Gullible

As a high school principal, there’s a slim possibility he’s the first, but no chance at all that he’s the second. Still, it doesn’t hurt to dream big.

What’s your best fake persona?

Unruffled & Unhurried

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

Holiday Greetings, Constituents!

I’m delighted to send you this message from our nation’s capital, Washington, D.C.! While it’s true most of my colleagues in the Senate are fuming about the one or two Senators whose tactics are
making it impossible for everyone else to go home, I’m free as a bird to go wherever I please because the House has adjourned.

But still I remain here. Why am I not back in my district pressing the flesh?

If you know anything about the 9th District, you know that now is not the time of year to press your flesh against anything. We try as hard as we can to keep from touching any other object, because air is a great insulator when it’s standing still!

But I do sympathize with the Senators. It’s frustrating to be held up by people who insist on going slow. You see it on our highways and you see it in the grocery store when old folks looking at all the different varieties of grape jelly park their carts in the middle of the aisle and ponder the possibilities. Perhaps they are imagining all the different types of toast that exist in our bountiful world,  and what each one will look like slathered in purple goo!

There is a characteristic of people from the 9th District that makes us especially well suited to public life – we are fishing people and fishing is all about patience. I was born waiting for a gigantic walleye to strike, and I’m still waiting.

The legislators who are pushing Senators Cruz and Coburn to hurry things up are not people with an angler’s mindset, clearly!

What’s the rush? Christmas is still more than a week away!  And while we all love our families,  my nearest and dearest have spent months getting psychologically ready to have me at home through the beginning of the New Year.

In the first few days after I return from Congress I have been told I am not fun to be around because I have a tendency to make long-winded speeches about everything, including what’s for dinner and the state of the laundry.  Yes, it’s a habit.

So I have been told to stay here until the Senate adjourns even though I don’t have to, as a way to let some of the pomposity drain away before I get home.

I am more than happy to do that, but I am not sure where to find the valve that lets the pomposity out. Maybe it was something evolution already removed?

Just in case there is no biological release, and to be sure I’m ready to return when the time comes, I have been ambling around Washington, visiting our beautiful monuments, and quietly lecturing the marble statues of our ancestors about my view of the Way Things Are.

Unsurprisingly, they are dumbstruck.

At any rate, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah and Jolly Kwanzaa to you all. May you be blessed with relatives who know what is required to make you tolerable!

Your Congressman,
Loomis Beechly

What makes you tolerable?  


Ask Dr. Babooner

We are ALL Dr. Babooner

Dear Dr. Babooner,

I’m a huge fan of birds – and I love them all equally with just a few exceptions. And even though I won’t speak ill of any feathered creature, it’s clear to me that just like humans, some birds are able to get by solely on their looks.

The Bald Eagle, for example. It has a striking profile but really, just about any other bird would have been a better national emblem. I’d wager the titmouse would be on our money instead of that self-important white-headed slob if not for the unfortunate setback of an unusually meek-sounding name.

Good looks do not always (or ever!) translate into good personal qualities. But if you have to judge on looks alone, it’s the minor details that make the greatest difference. Nice hair and an impressive physique don’t say as much as the simple sincerity of a smile. Though they are all reprobates, one bald eagle might be slightly nicer than another, but how can we tell? That’s why I have often said that birds would be better off if they had lips and teeth, rather than those non-expressive beaks!

People tell me this is a weird thought.

But now it turns out scientists have been able to identify the moment in evolution when birds got stuck with beaks instead of teeth. Yes, it was that close – in the fundamental make-up of some ancestor a handful of genes were misplaced and suddenly it’s goodbye molars – put it on my bill!

This has made me keenly aware of the importance of hanging on to all my most inconsequential parts and finding a daily use for everything I was born with, lest those features be lost forever. And I admit it has required some gymnastics on my part and my wife insists that I wait until she is out of the house before I do the exercises that utilize my coccyx and my (male) nipples, but I think I’m serving mankind by trying to keep these endangered features in the DNA mix.

Dr. Babooner, people say I’m daft but I hope to have the last laugh. If laughing survives that long!

Trait Protector

I told T.P. it’s pointless to fight evolution and the thought of birds with lips and teeth is not only weird, it’s creepy. His obsession with all this is admirable, but ultimately in a multi-tasking world such one-mindedness is yet another trait we will eventually learn to do without.

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

Button Pushing

Today’s post comes from living and loving correspondent B. Marty Barry. He’s a bottomless well of wellness!

I am quite distraught over the news that Facebook is considering the addition of a “dislike” button to go alongside their already worrisome “like” button on pictures, comments and posts.

If the “dislike” button idea were a Facebook post all by itself in this possible new universe, I would press dislike dislike dislike dislike dislike dislike dislike dislike just to be sure you got the idea that I’m NOT in favor of it.

But would that work? Human emotions are so complicated and single-word communication often falls woefully short of delivering the message. It would be simpler if Facebook created a “distraught” button, which means “so upset you can’t think clearly or behave normally.”

But that’s just my reaction to this particular idea. I’m not always so upset, but to indicate it clearly on Facebook they’d have to add individual buttons for when I’m feeling incensed, perturbed, nettled, vexed, or merely annoyed. And then there are times when I’m just conflicted.

I get what Facebook is trying to do – reduce human communication to a simple menu of quick choices because accurate expression is such hard work, especially when it requires writing! I would push a “conflicted” button a lot!

But that’s the nice thing about language – actual words add precision, even when they’re inexact.

Back when I was a boy, cars started coming out with automatic transmissions that were operated by a series of buttons on the dashboard. Some designer had the bright idea of putting those buttons right in the center of the steering wheel for ease-of-use.

But the center of the steering wheel was already established as the place for one-note communication – the horn honk – which meant at least three things depending on the situation – “Look Out”, “You Idiot” or “Hi Neighbor”!

Of course people are creatures of habit, so they kept mashing the center of the wheel whenever they had one of these three feelings. The result? Ruined transmissions in their new push-button automatic cars.


(That’s not directed personally, but rather, at an idea. Although I’ve never met you, I do care about you very, very, much.)

B. Marty

If you could design a button to do one thing only, what would it do?

Love Storm, Revisited

This morning at 9am, my good friend Mike Pengra will re-air the final broadcast of MPR’s Morning Show on Radio Heartland, recorded 6 years ago today.

Such a kind gesture from a true gentleman!

Since it’s only good manners to bring a gift of some sort to a party, I’ll offer this – a post from the old “Trail Balloon” blog that immediately followed the event itself:

Our final Morning Show broadcast was an immense hug and a truly beautiful thing thanks to the waves of faithful listeners who flowed to and through the Fitzgerald Theater and St. Paul’s Central Presbyterian Church. The size of the crowd went well beyond our expectations (I wagered 1500) and their warmth was off the charts.

As a lifelong radio guy, I am naturally timid at the thought of facing a live audience, but this group was as comfort-inducing as any collection of 2000 souls can be. What’s the opposite of an unruly mob? A ruly mob, I guess. That’s what we had.

All the heartfelt words of praise for our Morning Show were oh so welcome, but after awhile I did begin to feel a bit guilty. Let’s face it, everybody works hard and the stress of day-to-day living takes a toll. Who wouldn’t get a boost from having a gaggle of admiring people asking for your autograph? I confess I enjoyed it tremendously, but I recognize that most people deserve a kind word and a pat on the back for the good things they do every day, and do they get it? You know the answer. Sorry Jim Ed and I hogged the love storm, but what could we do? It blew down the doors.

The Morning Show is done. It was a long-running and sometimes confounding radio gymnastics routine with plenty of twists and flourishes and it looked like we would come crashing down a couple of times, but our spotters were there for us and gravity gave us some lucky breaks, and the dismount was incredible.

When have you finished well?

Shoreline Property

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

Greetings, constituents!

What wonderful news from the surface of Mars – that the Curiosity rover has discovered evidence that the planet went through an extended period when it  was very wet, and Gale Crater was a large lake.

That makes Mars very much like Minnesota, notwithstanding the  uninhabitable bleakness of its current configuration.

You decide which one I was referring to right there.  Hard to do?  You bet!   Mars and Minnesota – separated at birth!

That’s why I intend to introduce a bill in Congress to make Gale Crater our first off-planet sister state!  Is Congress even the place to do that?  I have no idea – it’s never been done before!

We have so much in common, including a history of splashing streams and bubbling rivulets leading into large, round bodies of water boasting pristine shorelines and magnificent views.

And I’m sure as Curiosity continues its explorations it will find the same things we expect to uncover on the bottom of all Minnesota lakes – lots of fishing tackle,  boots, and beer cans.

Mark my words – the amazing discovery that will cinch it is bound to be something like a hat.     Why?  Because all the elements are there.

  1. Standing Water means there was a shoreline.
  2. A shoreline means there was shallow water.
  3. Shallow water means sunlight warming the soil, which leads to life.
  4. Life leads to boats, and docks.
  5. Where there is light and boats and life, there will be floating around on a lazy Sunday afternoon, and napping.
  6. Where there is prolonged exposure to the sun on water, there will be hats.
  7. Where there is napping and hats and wind, there will be hats overboard.

That’s just science.  I’m serious.  Curiosity should be scanning the bottom of Gale Crater for hats.  And when we find the first one, I want it to already be a law that Minnesota and Mars are sisters!

Get ready – the family is about to become larger!

Your Congressman,
Loomis Beechly

What have you lost in the lake?