Category Archives: Bart the Bear

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?

Anti-Social Media

Today’s post comes from Bart, the bear who found a smart phone.

H’lo, Bart here.

Last time I posted I saw in the comments (yes, I read the comments!) where it was disputed that a smart phone found by a bear in the woods would be working this long, what with batteries wearing out and stuff.

Screenshot 2014-12-02 at 7.18.31 PM

Good questions. But it’s not that difficult for a bear to get a smart phone whenever he needs one.

As a rule, people should have all their senses turned “on” while out in nature. I am part of nature itself, so I can guarantee that we wild creatures are very alert!

So if you’re a bear who wants a smart phone, all you have to do is wait very patiently for a distracted hiker to come near. Usually it’s pretty easy, especially if they’re hiking & texting. When they’re about 15 feet away, step out of the brush and roar a bit.

The hiker stops.

If you’re a human, all the guide books say at this point you’re supposed to back away slowly, not turning around for fear I’ll chase you. Whatever you do, the books urge, don’t run.

This is good advice, because I do like to chase down running things.

But more and more these days, people don’t do either. Instead, they very slowly lift the phone up to take a picture of me. It kinda makes sense because they’re on social media already. When something special happens to you, you post it right away.

So I wait for them to lift up the phone and fumble for the camera app.

When I sense they’re about to click the shutter, I charge!

Most times, the hiker drops the thing and runs, and ta da! I have a new smart phone!

I also have a pretty cool collection of pictures of me, charging. That’s how it goes in the digital age. Just about anything can be captured and distributed, though I’m guessing those hikers weren’t expecting to share their phones with me in exactly this way.

But then social media has just been declared misleading when it comes to showing your real-life experiences and values.

Big surprise there! I know there are a lot of smart-phone holding bears in these woods who feel their lives are pretty dull when they see all the neat photos I have of the backsides of running hikers!

Yes, my life IS that good! Read it and weep, suckers!

Your pal,

Do you believe what you see, read and hear on social media?

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Storm Porn!

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

Having the Internet through this phone is good, but there’s a lot of stuff I can see on it that doesn’t interest me much.

Like all that human porn.

He Found a Smart Phone in the Woods
He Found a Smart Phone in the Woods

What I see there is animals without much hair, making faces and wriggling around. What’s that about? I mean, I get what it’s about, but when you live in the woods like I do, you can see that kind of thing going on right in front of you with all the deer, raccoon, muskrat, chipmunks, etc. Don’t get me started on those chipmunks. If they spent more time looking for food or sleeping, there wouldn’t be so darn many chipmunks!

But when it comes to reproduction, it’s just not that interesting. The only time I watched for more than a few seconds was when I saw a couple of porcupines getting together because, you just have to wonder about that, y’know?

All the porn on the Internet just says to me you people aren’t really connected in any real way to nature. If you were, basic stuff like that wouldn’t be so fascinating. Maybe you need to get out more. Then it wouldn’t be so simple to get you to look.

But the thing that really gets my attention on the Internet is when there’s a storm coming! Now THAT’s exciting.

When a big snowstorm is building up, I can’t turn away. I mean literally, I can’t turn away because I LIVE IN THE WOODS!

And the worse it’s expected to be, the more I wanna watch, especially if I’m hibernating. Then it’s really fun to snuggle down into my hidey hole so I can see it come in on the radar, looking all mean and colorful and blotchy.

If I’m not hibernating, I go looking for a place to hang out until the worst is over. Note to all you folks who spent yesterday working in the yard – don’t forget to leave your tool sheds unlocked!

Your pal,

How do you prepare for a snowstorm?

Late Night Snack

Today’s post is by Bart, the bear who found a smart phone in the woods.

H’lo, Bart here.

Really interested in this story about how bad it is to eat late at night.  Here’s what opened my eyes – I never thought you could decide for yourself when the meals happen.

They say we bears are “opportunistic eaters“, which is another way of saying dinnertime is whenever I can find something, or when unsuspecting food wanders into my reach. And really, how could it be any other way? I have to get lots of fat built up for winter, so I can’t ever afford to say “No”!

Especially if donuts are involved.  

This makes me like a lot of people who seem to swallow things for entertainment, or just because it’s there.

I see the kitchen lights on late at night, and then I see the bedroom and bathroom lights come on even later!  Yes, I’m just out of sight in the trees, and I’m taking notes!

Those notes say your midnight buffets have to stop, because acid reflux is a nasty, should-never-happen type of thing, just like wrong-way drivers or falling down a ladder.

So here’s Bart’s Acid Reflux action plan: Whenever you feel the urge to eat something after dark, you should follow these simple Bart-approved steps:

    1. Find the food that’s tempting you.
    2. Put the food into a loose, open bag.
    3. Set the bag outside, in the yard, at least 50 feet from any structure.
    4. Bring the dog in.
    5. Turn out the light.

If the food is still there in the morning, you were meant to have it, so chow down.   The morning is a much better time to take in large quantities of food anyway!

Or so they tell me.  

If you follow my instructions you’ll feel better and sleep better.  

This is also a great weight-loss strategy!  The reason so many diets fail is this: people expect their excess pounds to just disappear, and that’s unreasonable.  But if you follow the simple steps listed above, you’ll really be donating your future fat to someone else who needs it more!  

It makes perfect sense.  Especially if you live right on the edge of the woods!

Your Pal,

How late is your last meal of the day?

Enjoying the Anthroposcenery

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

H’lo, Bart here.

We get a lot of scientists out here in the woods. I mean lots. More of them than normal people, almost. I think it’s ’cause scientists get paid to come out and do experiments in the chill and the damp with bugs all around, so they have to stay until the work is done even if the weather gets horrible, which it eventually does.

So we can always be pretty sure there’ll be a scientist in the woods, no matter what time of year.

By contrast, normal people who climb into their campers and come to the woods for some R & R will turn tail and get out as soon as it stops being fun, which usually takes 48 hours, or just about one day if they have kids.

People are funny that way, which is why I decided to text you on this since you are one and maybe you understand this.

I’m not really too keen on knowing the name of the geologic age we’re living in, but I couldn’t help noticing the Smithsonian has declared this “The Age of Humans” as a way to drive home the undeniable point that humans have changed the climate with all their activity, and especially their gasses, which they emit at an alarming rate.

Humans also emit a lot of attitude, which is what you need to name a whole epoch after yourself. And by “epoch,” I mean tens of millions of years. That’s pretty bold! I’m not saying it’s a lie, but couldn’t you find someone else to give you the award, so it would at least seem like a surprise?

That’s all I’m saying. I’m a bear. We’re friends. If you’d asked me, I would have given you the “Anthropocene” award and it would have been genuine and heartfelt. And you wouldn’t have seemed to be so self-absorbed. As it is, you’re looking like the guy who throws a surprise birthday party for himself. Not too cool.

So here’s the deal – I’ll say this is “The Age of Humans” if you’ll return the favor, and in a few million years from now make a spontaneous declaration that “The Age of Humans” has ended, and we’ve transitioned into “The Bear Era.”

That’s politics – I’ll scratch your back and you scratch mine. Even though in reality me scratching your back would probably be physically catastrophic for you, and you scratching my back would maybe shake loose a few ticks.

But anyway, you know what I mean. It’s a quid pro quo with the payoff (for us) impossibly far away.

But I’m pretty confident there will still be bears by then, and having a geologic era defined by bear activity would be incredible! Imagine it – the whole planet’s surface, covered with berries and turned into a hibernatorium! Sounds like paradise!

Your pal,

What should be named after you?

Ursine Epistemology

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

H’lo, Bart here.

I’ve been reading a lot of self-improvement stuff.

I know that surprises people – us bears are supposed to be happy with who we are and not too interested in losing weight, being smarter, and all that. Maybe it’s having the phone that changed my mind about it.

There’s lots of apps to make you a better you, whoever you are.

And now that I have what I need to take a selfie, there’s a lot of improvement ideas that just come to mind every time I look at one.

Having better hair would be the first thing I’d work on, but the hair care websites I see don’t say much about matting and dealing with pear-sized ticks. There is some useful advice, though. So next time I break into a camper there’s a list of shampoos I’m looking for.

He Found a Smart Phone in the Woods
He Found a Smart Phone in the Woods

And by the way – I’m unclothed in all my selfies, just like a celebrity. It’s not that big a deal – so hack away, hackers. You won’t have to try too hard to get a shot of me naked.

So far, I think my best chance for self-improvement is in the brain department. I like this article about the mental virtues. It’s talks about a way to size up your character, taken from a book, called “Intellectual Virtues.”

The virtues are:

  • Love of Learning
  • Courage
  • Firmness
  • Humility
  • Autonomy
  • Generosity
  • Practical Wisdom

I have no idea what this book is about.

The title says it’s “An Essay in Regulative Epistemology“. At first I thought this had to do with your timetable for emptying yourself in the woods, which, if you’ve ever heard the popular question about bears, is definitely the place where we do it, so always answer ‘yes’. I like questions where I know the answer from my real-life experience, and that’s definitely one of them.

But I think this “epistemology” stuff is really about all the different ways of knowing things, and it’s full of tricky questions like:

  • What is knowledge and what are its limits?
  • Can we know anything?
  • How do we know what we know?
  • Can we know something without knowing that we know it?

I don’t have any of these answers, and so I thought maybe getting this book would give me something distracting to do while I lie low during the bear hunting season and maybe all the way through hibernation too. But then I saw that on Amazon, it costs $99.36. So I figured one way to apply that section called “Practical Wisdom” without even reading it was to skip buying the book all together.

Anyway, Amazon doesn’t have a very good track record of shipping stuff to “Hollow Beneath A Log, The North Woods, Minnesota, MN”, which is the best address I can come up with. Maybe once they start delivering stuff with drones it will work better, I don’t know.

I’d still like to improve my mind, though. And have cleaner, silkier hair.

Your pal,

What do you do to improve your mind?

City of Bears

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

He Found a Smart Phone in the Woods
He Found a Smart Phone in the Woods

H’lo, Bart here.

The woods are loud this summer thanks to all the people who come up here with the same low standards for noise control that they use in the city. They’ve got every kind of sound maker there is, including smart phones, which more and more bears are picking up. Seems like as soon as a tourist sees a bear, out comes the smart phone to take a picture. And as soon as that bear makes a move toward the tourist, they drop the phone and run.

That’s how getting smart phones got to be easier than picking berries. I have a bunch of them stashed away. As soon as the battery runs out on one, I open up another.

But I don’t get it why people would bring such a loud thing into the woods. These phones are ringing, beeping, chirping, and playing music ALL THE TIME. They’re so demanding! I thought getting out of the city was supposed to be about leaving behind all the racket and the stress. Instead, having a bossy smart phone makes it feel to me like I’m living in a Minneapolis apartment.

Not that I really know how it feels to live in an apartment.

Though I ran into a bear one night at a picnic area in the Chippewa National Forest who shared the contents of an abandoned cooler with me. He said he once was able to rent an apartment in St. Paul by doing it totally online. The landlord didn’t ask for references, he just left a key under the mat and this bear claims he lived like a prince for two weeks until the downstairs neighbors started to complain about the sound of heavy footsteps (and breathing) overhead. He also had this bad habit of rubbing off ticks that had dug into him by using whatever was handy in the main downstairs hallway. He splintered some of the wood paneling and ruined the carpet, which was a dead giveaway and led to them calling a zookeeper and the police. Tranquilizer Dart time! Otherwise they never would have caught him because the neighbors just thought he was an exceptionally hairy person.

Anyway, when I run into city people up here in my territory, you’d kinda expect that they’d quiet down as soon as they laid eyes on me, seeing as how I’m so big and fearsome. But it’s just the opposite – they get louder. Some of ‘em even start banging on pots and pans. What’s with that? People are just weird.

I saw online that urban experts think they can make cities quieter places to live. I’m not so sure about that. Unless you can do something to get rid of the humans, cities are going to be noisy, no matter what.

A city of bears would be pretty peaceful, I think. Not that we wouldn’t have our issues, but we bears tend to keep a respectful distance from one another, which is something humans don’t always try to do. So if you want to come to the woods to learn about patience and quiet, fine. But leave your smart phone at home!

Your Pal,

What’s the most annoying noise in your life?