Category Archives: Bart the Bear

Bart_Selfie_2

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,
Bart

What do you do to improve your mind?

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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,
Bart


What’s the most annoying noise in your life?

BQBart

Jaws of Life

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

H’lo, Bart here.

Just a note to say if you’re traveling near the woods for the 4th of July, please be kind and considerate when it comes to the local bear population.

And by that I mean watch your behavior if you happen to see us standing by the roadside as you drive into a National Forest. We’re not there to greet you – we’re looking for sloppy campers. So if you roll down your windows and offer us treats and try to get us to come over to the car, you should know that the rangers are watching and we might seem a little coy or even disinterested.

This is not actually the case.

We’ve noted your license plate and we’ll be coming to visit you later under conditions that are a little better for getting to your stash of goodies. It turns out we bears are famous for opening locked cars in unconventional ways. And all it takes is the smell of food inside – you don’t have to leave anything substantial in there.

Crumbs are enough.

Before you complain, just remember it’s not malicious vandalism – we’re simply being true to our nature.

And while we’re on the topic of peeling open vehicles, I’d like to take a little bit of credit for a heroic act. I saw that a fellow named Bob Renning did an amazing thing the other day when he pulled open the locked door of a burning car in order to save a stranger who was dying of smoke inhalation inside.

He did it through personal courage, brute strength, adrenaline, and smarts – he grabbed the top edge of the window frame and pulled it back, bending the metal at its weakest point and breaking the window so he could pull the victim to safety.

His heroically bent door is on the left. A door pulled open by a bear in search of food is on the right.

Need I say more? True heroes know where to look for inspiration.

Full disclosure: Mr. Renning performed his feat of strength while channeling an instinctive humanitarian impulse that is noble and good. I would do the very same thing to get a package of Ding Dongs out of the glove box. To tell the truth, I’ve done it to get a crumpled up Ding Dong wrapper off the floor of a locked car.

So I’m not saying Mr. Renning took his cues from a bear when he intervened, but if he had been a bear, he could not have done a better job.

Be nice to us! We’re brutes, but we’re cute!

Your pal,
Bart

What is your greatest feat of strength?

Tranquilzed_Bear

There’s a Bear in the Words

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

H’lo, Bart here.

Words can hurt.

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

I’m sad about this insensitive DNR press release that came out last week about how people should react to wild bears in Twin Cities suburbs.

For one thing, it lumps together bears and mosquitos because we’re both “unwelcome visitors.” This is unfair. I know mosquitos. I live in the woods! Bears and mosquitos are NOT the same!

Then they compare bears to “a guy wielding a knife”!

What?

Unfair again! If you look inside any suburban strip mall Subway you’ll see a real “guy wielding a knife.” Trust me – I’ve looked inside a lot of them. He’s just slicing the Honey Wheat bread (which I love), and nobody thinks of him as a threat to public safety.

One sad-but-true part is where the conservation officer says suburban bears get shot because “… shooting a bear with a tranquilizer dart, then transporting it elsewhere is mostly Hollywood fiction.”

I know about this because I tried to get a “Tranquilized Bear” role in Hollywood, and Manny, my agent in Los Angeles, says they aren’t writing those parts anymore. Now, the bear roles in the big movies are all like “Marauding Bear,” “Garbage-Picking Bear,” and “Child-Mauling Bear”.

I’m not saying I’m too good for these Bad Bear roles, but c’mon! I spent hours learning how to fall out of a tree because Manny said movie bears have to do their own stunts! But now the goofy, friendly bear character I can totally do is nowhere to be found. Manny saw a script the other day about a bear that gets exposed to radiation at a nuclear plant accident and gets to be 100 feet tall and then terrorizes a National Park.

Why would I do that? I love the National Parks!

Finally, the DNR says this about the sort of bear who might dumpster dive in Blaine:

Most such bears are young males searching for their own territory after emerging from hibernation and being chased off by their parents.

Chased off by their parents?

That’s not how it was put to me.

Mom said: “You should have a little parcel all your own where you can keep things messy the way you like and dad and I don’t have to worry about where you’ve pooped?” Then they gave me a rabbit carcass and promised to come visit!

That’s not “chasing off” somebody! Is it?

Your pal,
Bart

Bart has a point – words matter, and it’s important to be kind. But movies need villains and sometimes your folks do have to chase you off. And face it, we are all creatures who should be handled with care, especially when our paths cross unexpectedly.

What advice should the DNR give about interacting with you?

Gone_Camping

Unhappy Campers

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

H’lo.,

Now that it’s Memorial Day, the camping season has started up for real. This is good news for us bears, because more people in the woods means more food in the woods. And more food in the woods means more food in the woods! Pretty simple.

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

Some bears think having people in the woods is a bad thing, but I say it all has to do with the type of people we’re talking about. Not all of them are the same! Most bears don’t get this, but I’ve been online a lot so I know it’s true!

The type of people you don’t want are developers. And by that I mean contractors, resort builders, industrialists, etc. They’ll knock down trees and put up stuff that draws more and more people and before long there are no bear-friendly spaces left. Bad!

The type of people you DO want are nature-lovers. They come to be in the wilderness and because they love it so much, they don’t want it to change. Although those really strict and passionate environmentalists are a little too earnest for me. They don’t bring any bag snacks with them – it’s all pea pods and hummus in their backpacks, which stinks!

Give me Fritos any day.

And the type of people who will give me my Fritos are the very best kind of people in the whole world, and they’re especially wonderful when they come to the woods – children!

Children love to eat terrible food – the best kind of food there is! And they’re really sloppy. There is no better camping human than a child, unless it’s a child who really, really does NOT want to be in the woods in the first place. Unhappy campers are the best because they’re so dramatic! Many of them become so upset they don’t eat anything – mom and dad send a plate of brownies and they just throw it into the woods out of spite!

And that’s at least one scenario where I say “spite makes right!”

So I would recommend that all adult humans consider doing something special for the major wildlife groups of the north woods this year – please Force a Kid to Go To Camp!

Why, you ask?

It’s true some child development experts say you shouldn’t force a child to do anything major like this, but I have to disagree. Forcing a Kid To Go To Camp is one of the best and most memorable things you can do as a parent. You’ll always remember it, for one thing. And it helps you develop your shouting voice, for another thing. And also it can transform you into a whole, complete person in a number of important ways.

  • Independence – You feel a lot more independent because your kid has gone to camp and is out of your hair, and it’s summer!
  • Confidence – It’s a great boost to your self esteem when you realize you can make your child do something she doesn’t want to do, especially after that epic battle over the dishes!
  • Relationships – You’ll find you make friends quickly when you can tell other parents how awful it was when you tried to force your child to go to camp. They know just what you’re talking about, and once you share your story somebody is bound to open a bottle of wine. Especially if the kids are away at camp!

So camp is great for everyone, but it’s especially great for us bears when you send kids who are going under protest. So if you haven’t seriously considered it, please take another look and then pack a small suitcase and a big sack of junk food and put them on a bus or in a church van or something and send them up north!

We’re waiting with open mouths!

Your pal,
Bart

What makes you an unhappy camper?

He Found a Smart Phone in the Woods

Bad Day At The Office

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

Yo, Bart here.

I know all the people are pretty happy about the weather finally making a turn towards actual spring, but if you think you’re glad, imagine for just a minute how nice it must be for the wild things that live around you.

Me, for instance.

Yup, we’re all smiles out here in the woods, too. Everybody’s in a good mood. I had a rabbit wave at me yesterday – just a feelin’-good, how-ya-doin’-neighbor type of wave, which is odd because I eat rabbits sometimes. And I waved back! It really does lift your spirits when the weather gets warm.

But in case you were wondering, it’s still not a good idea to be too friendly with bears. And I say this even though I’m the friendliest bear you’d ever want to meet, assuming you want to meet a bear.

We can have tempers.

I read this article online about bear awareness that had lots of good information. It really opened my eyes to the risks we pose in springtime. For example, I had no idea that some people don’t clean their BBQ grills! There could still be greasy, crusty meat chunks in there. That’s gross and really exciting at the very same time. I know where I’m going to look next time I’m on the deck!

But here’s what convinced me that they really knew what they were talking about – the story quoted Jeff Selinger, a biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. He was talking about wild animals and the need for people to be cautious when he said this:

“You don’t know what they’ve been through lately.”

Exactly!

I’m glad somebody finally gets it – not every day is the same for a bear in the woods. Yesterday, for example. I went down to the lake because there’s finally open water and I thought maybe I could find a fish. Well there wasn’t a fish, but I found this cooler that looked like it had been sitting out there all winter!

That’s really a great find, because people keep all kinds of tasty treats in their coolers, and if was left there last Fall the stuff inside might still taste pretty much OK. I tried to pull it open and the top wouldn’t come off. I shook it and could hear there were some heavy things sloshing around inside – I was imagining hot dogs or hamburgers.

I had to throw it around a lot before it finally popped open and what did I find inside? Plastic bottles full of water! Water is not in short supply right now. What a letdown!

And then when I looked across the lake I saw another bear who had broken open a different cooler, and HE was EATING something. It figures – I found the drinks cooler and he got the one with the grill food inside. Darn the luck!

I caught his eye and I let him know with facial language that I was not happy, but it didn’t seem to bother him at all. We bears aren’t too supportive of each other, and I felt miserable that he was getting all the good grub. Plus, he let me know that he didn’t respect me much.

Somehow word had got around that I had waved “hello” at a rabbit.

Your hungry, frustrated pal,
Bart

What kind of springtime wildlife activity are you seeing?

He Found a Smart Phone in the Woods

Yawn of a New Day

Today’s post comes from Bart the Bear.

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

Yawn.

Hibernation time is over for me. I’m up. It’s … yawn … not a good time to be searching for food. That’s true every year. But this year is the worst I’ve seen in a long time – basically nothing but snow wherever I look.

I Googled “Hibernation” just to read up on it a little bit. Since there’s nothing … yawn … to eat, I figured I might as well feed my mind. And there’s a lot of stuff I didn’t know, and I’ve been hibernating every year … yawn … for my whole life.

That part about the build-up and expulsion of a “fecal plug” was news to me, and also it was extra gross. Not to go into too much detail, but now I know why I’ve always thought someone was waiting around to take a pot shot at me every year when I came out of my den.

When you’re a bear, every loud POP sounds like gunfire.

But anyway … yawn … it’s a challenge to wake up when you’re weak and under-nourished. So I’m … yawn … yawning. I’m writing in the word “yawn” whenever I do it just to let you know how … yawn … bad it is. It’s bad. Did you notice? I’m yawning a lot.

So to get the image of that fecal plug out of my mind, I Googled “yawn” and found out a lot, including that it’s contagious, like a disease. If I … yawn … yawn and you’re watching me, or even just reading something I … yawn … wrote … you might start to yawn too. People used to think this was happening because there was some feeling of empathy between the yawner and the person being yawned at – the yawnee.

Yawn.

It turns out that’s not true. At least not in this study. What they found instead is that it varies – some people don’t catch yawning from another person – they’re resistant to it. Old people are especially resistant.

I’m thinking … yawn … that the geezers were already asleep, but the study didn’t say that.

All I know is … yawn … when I open my mouth wide at people they can do two things – take pictures or run like Hell. Or both, in that exact order.

But they sure don’t yawn back.

What behaviors do you pick up from other people?