Category Archives: Dr. Babooner

Ask Dr. Babooner

We are ALL Dr. Babooner

Dear Dr. Babooner,

I admit I have earned a reputation for being a pest about climate change,  but only because I am 100% committed to changing hearts and minds on this before it is too late!

It’s true, I can get a little intense.

Even people who agree with me have asked that I tone down the rhetoric because they don’t want to hear about global warming all the time!  So  I’ve really forced myself to try to enjoy ordinary things, like going to a football game on a Sunday afternoon.

Yesterday I kept my mouth shut about car exhaust as a friend and I rode to the stadium in his enormous SUV, and bit my lip rather than speak up about the carbon footprint of charcoal grills as we tailgated and had some brats before kickoff.

When we were making our way to the gate I looked up at the stadium and saw an incredibly bright and unbelievably large scoreboard.  High above the field the lights were on, even though it was well before noon! It took all my strength to NOT calculate the amount of coal that was probably being burned at that moment just to make it all possible.

When I realized that this wastefulness was directed at pleasing the fans, I wondered  what would happen if the folks in the bleachers demanded that their teams institute Earth-friendly practices around the games they finance?

Suddenly I saw a large group of chanting people marching with protest signs and my spirits rose – I thought I was witnessing the dawn of the Eco-football movement.  But no! I admit I was just a little bit disappointed when I found out all the commotion was only about human rights.

Dr. Babooner, when I think about the ramifications of a warming Earth and the consequences of our greenhouse-gas-producing behavior, I usually get upset and say something dire, which typically causes these reactions:

  1. The people who disagree with me turn belligerent.
  2. The people who agree with me get depressed.
  3. Ultimately nothing changes.
  4. I’m tired of warning people all the time and seeing that they are not alarmed enough. How can I make my point in a way that will make a difference?

Earnestly,
Cassandra

I told Cassandra that in my opinion, being earnest about important issues usually does not endear one to the masses. I suggested she devote her energy to becoming a celebrity in one field or another – music, movies, sports, etc. Once famous, she should market her low carbon lifestyle as a commodity and people will fall in line – not because they want to save the planet, but because they want to be as cool as she is. Which would ultimately make the whole Earth cooler!

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

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Ask Dr. Babooner – Quarantine Edition

We are ALL Dr. Babooner

Dear Dr. Babooner,

I’m the chief executive of a northeastern state and I recently  made the difficult decision to impose a quarantine on all people entering my state from Canada out of fear that they might unwittingly be carrying  a dread disease – the  Bola-Eh Virus.

There’s a group of folks that went up there to provide care and comfort for the unfortunate infected population, and though some say they’re heroes and should be treated with respect, I have to manage a growing level of hysteria on my side of the line.

I can’t afford to have people think I was in any way casual about the Bola-Eh menace!

Babooner_Face_Mask

Sufferers appear normal at first, but gradually begin to develop a pronounced monosyllabic, sentence-ending vocal tic that won’t go away, and it gets worse until they are unable to speak without expressing it.

A fondness for hockey is another symptom.

As you might expect, the people in my state are mortified.  I hear from dozens of folks every day who are afraid they have contracted Bola-Eh, even though the experts say it is exceptionally  difficult to catch.

In fact, you can pitch a tent in the hospital parking lot and hang around in there for three days with an infected Canadian and you won’t catch anything but a raging case of disgust.

Because there is no scientific vaccine, I had to do something showy to protect myself (and the great people of my state) from Bola-Eh.  And I know my radical action worked, because imposing the quarantine has inoculated me against the kind of criticism I fear the most – a wild and withering conservative strain that quickly gets out of control. I still came down with a mild case of brickbats, but it’s a liberal variety that fades fast and leaves no mark.

Right now I’m feeling pretty good about my decision, but it’s too bad about those do-gooding border-crossers who have to cool their jets for three weeks in the Tent of Shame.

But at least they can catch up on their reading, eh?

OH MY GOD, I’ve GOT IT!

AC/CC

I told AC/CC it is an extremely dicey business to try to protect one’s self against criticism. There isn’t a drug, action, attitude or isolation suit that has been proven 100% effective. Some people choose another route and actively seek out criticism because they think getting disparaged will make them stronger. But in the end we all succumb, and it’s nice when there are a few left who are willing to say good things about us at our funerals.

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

Autumnal Color Riot Mentality

We are ALL Dr. Babooner

Dear Dr. Babooner,

Every year we have a wonderful Autumn tradition in our little town – a Pumpkin Festival that provides a lot of good old-fashioned fun for families from the surrounding area.

There is something invigorating about standing outside with a nice hot cup of apple cider on a sunny, brisk afternoon. The bright yellows, reds and rusts of the elms and maples frame a glorious display –  the deep blue of an October sky,  punctuated by crimson beams from police cruisers darting playfully through billowing clouds of tear gas!

Vivid piles of orange Jack-o-Lanterns dot the scene.  The sharp, invigorating air is filled with the falling of the leaves and the rising of rocks, skateboards and buckets as they are petulantly hurled at a line of officers in riot gear.

“I love autumn,” I whisper to my sweetheart.  I bury my face in the shoulder of his jacket to keep my eyes from watering.   My ears fill with a chorus of seasonal sounds – the delightful crunch of the leaves, the determined scraping of a bamboo rake,  and the insistent crackle of a bullhorn as the local sheriff orders us to disperse!

Dr. Babooner, I realize that not everyone fully appreciates the beauty of October, but  I always come to harvest time with thoughts of gratitude for being able to witness a remarkable transformation. The bounty is in.  The summer has surrendered.  The landscape erupts with color.  My car is upside down and burning on the street just a few feet from where I left it.

How can I help others embrace the wonder of this remarkable season?

Crisply,
Pumpkin Spice Girl

I reminded PSG that all beauty is in the eye of the beholder – defined not only by the things you see, but what you choose to overlook.
But that’s just one opinion. What do YOU think, Dr. Babooner?

Ask Dr. Babooner – Comet vs. Lohan

We are ALL Dr. Babooner

Dear Dr. Babooner,

I try to keep up with current events but I am usually disappointed at the top stories on Google and the most recent trending items on Twitter.

Why?

Invariably these most popular stories have to do with movie stars, athletes, psycho killers and the most alarmingly dangerous  things in the world.

I admit some of this exasperation is a matter of selfish pride.

Because while the world is looking closely at what’s up with Lindsey Lohan, I’m involved in a years-long effort to land a probe on the face of a comet.  I played a small role in planning the project, and so did many, many others.  And yet I’m just not seeing very much news  coverage of what I think is the most important story out there.

Am I wrong to feel slighted?

Think for a minute about how you would go about this task if it were your assignment.

    1. Design a machine that can learn something meaningful about a completely foreign object.
    2. Launch that object into space.
    3. Catch up to a comet.
    4. Figure out where to land on a duck-shaped object going 83,000 miles per hour.
    5. Land, understanding that the surface you’re plopping down on is something you can only guess about ten years before you actually have to do it, and your guess has to be good enough to make it all possible.
    6. I think that’s pretty special, and it leads me to the conclusion that people are incredibly silly because they just don’t care about truly important stuff as much as they should.

      And yet I want their approval SO MUCH!

      Dr. Babooner, what is wrong with me?

      Sincerely perplexed,
      Rosetta Stan

      I told Rosetta Stan that he is suffering from a normal human tendency to feel slighted by a world that inexplicably overlooks one’s exceptional achievements. I commiserated with him, offering the opinion that his effort directed at learning about comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is indeed a major event in the history of human achievement and its outcomes will be remembered forever.

      Unfortunately, Lindsey Lohan and her many fans feel exactly the same way about her West End Debut.

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

A Drink (or 8) with Dr. Babooner

We are ALL Dr. Babooner

Dear Dr. Babooner,

For years I have been following the old dictum about drinking 8 glasses of water every day.  I know others have moved away from it, saying no rule is iron-clad.  But I enjoy the healthy feeling of being well-hydrated, so it’s no hardship for me.   Also, I’ve become something of a public restroom hobbyist, so  I know how to find relief just about anywhere.

And I drink just about every kind of water – from bottles, water fountains, sprinklers and the kitchen tap.  I feel lucky to live in a country where I can do that without risking my health or even my life.

But I’m not so confident when it comes to food.  I’m suspicious about everything  and I always, always check the “use by” dates so I don’t wind up putting things in my mouth that are in the process of going bad.

I have this recurring nightmare that I’m watching myself eat a meal in a restaurant and I can see that the food that arrives at my table had been dropped on the kitchen floor just moments before.  The cook stepped on it, picked it up, flopped it back down on the plate and sent it out without telling anyone.

In this nightmare, I’m a silent observer so I can’t tell myself not to eat it .   I just have to watch.

Ugh.

At least I know the water is reliable.  But just last week I heard a rather alarming thing – that there is a lot of water on Earth that is remarkably old – and in many cases it is even older than the Sun!

Dr. Babooner, I can’t quite stomach the idea of swallowing something that was floating untethered around the universe that many billions of years ago.   I don’t know if space aliens have feet, but now whenever I take a sip of liquid I wonder who (or what) might have stepped on it or brushed up against it in the pre-solar system days and who might have swallowed (and excreted) it before me.

Babooner_Snorkel
The very thought of it makes me shudder.

Friends tell me to stop being so weird and they say I’m overreacting.  But I think the age of our water matters.  Do you?

Sincerely,
Feeling A Little Parched

I told F.A.L.P. that there is no way a modern person with a lively imagination can comfortably ingest anything these days without turning off their “what if” engine. Lots of things could have happened to your water before it got to you. Much more will happen after it leaves you. The only way to maintain your sanity (and your weight) is to eat in the here and now, without supposing anything at all about where the food and water came from.

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

Ask Dr. Babooner

We are ALL Dr. Babooner.

Dear Dr. Babooner,

While I was on an extended trip overseas, I found out that the people back in my home country are suffering from the widespread outbreak of a terrible, fatal disease. My boss asked me to come back immediately to face Ebola with the rest of my countrymen, but since I am not a doctor and can’t do much personally to halt an epidemic, and because I am, like most people, primarily interested in self-preservation and do not see myself as much of a hero, I declined.

When my boss found out I had done this, he fired me immediately..

As you might imagine, I have mixed feelings.

While no one appreciates being fired, the fact that I no longer have a job back home is just another great incentive for me to stay far away from the disease. However, that also means I have to find a new job in this new land full of perplexing rules and beguiling opportunities that look a lot better at a distance than they do up close.

As I go out job hunting, I’m uncertain how much to tell prospective employers about my situation. Sometimes, if you have even a tangential relationship with sickness, it can become a problem for people. For instance, I have some American friends who know the entire story. They’re very supportive, but they won’t come to my house.

One friend told me in all seriousness (via e-mail) that the word “Ebola” should never appear in a cover letter.

Ever.

She says any association with the word leads non-infected people to exhibit strange behavior, like putting on gas masks even though you’ve never been near anyone with the disease and it can’t be transmitted through the air anyway.

“Better,” she says, “to remain quiet and let them figure it out AFTER you’ve been hired.

I’m sure she has a point, but I worry that if I don’t mention “fleeing from Ebola” as one of the reasons I have not gone home, I am only telling part of my story. And if I purposely omit any mention of the epidemic from my resume, then I don’t have a good explanation about why I’m still here. I have a feeling that could come back to haunt me later on.

Dr. Babooner, I’m conflicted. Should I put the whole story out there, including my decision to flee from Ebola, or should I be cagey and say I’m here on an extended visa because my aunt is very, very sick?

Sincerely,

Connie Tagious, Outbreak, Pennsylvania.

I told Connie that honesty is always the best policy because you never have to try to remember which version of the truth you used with which person or group. And with a name like “Connie Tagious,” it is best to stay far, far away from any explanation that requires the listener to accept the idea that someone is ill.  Especially if it’s not true.  We don’t like illness, and often don’t know what to say about it. Plus, if you tell prospective employers that your aunt is sick when she’s not, that’s lying. And lying is an even more widespread epidemic than Ebola.

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

Ask Dr. Babooner – Yoga Pants Edition

We are ALL Dr. Babooner.

Dear Dr. Babooner,

I don’t intend to be rude, but sometimes the truth hurts.

One of the qualities that puts me on a higher level than other people is my exquisite fashion sense. I have been consistently ahead of the trend curve for at least fifteen years, starting out in the late ’90′s when I figured out the whole flashy Y2K style thing (mesh tops, box-pleated skirts, sequined pants, sparkly shoes) long before anyone else had decided to put a single rhinestone on their favorite rock band t-shirt.

When 9/11 happened and attitudes changed, but I got there first with every possible variation on distressed denim.

I did the ’80′s revival just before it went mainstream in the mid-2000′s, and dropped it while others were still popping their collars. Then I went to a full pirate thing while Johnny Depp was still figuring out how to do his eyeliner.

In short, you can’t out-trend me. That’s how good I am.

But lately I’ve had a real lack of enthusiasm when it comes to yoga pants. And this is a problem because I’ve been hearing that there’s a pants war breaking out in the aisles of some clothing stores because shoppers want Yoga Pants and Leggings instead of jeans.

Dr. Babooner, I really like my skinny-leg jeans, but the pendulum of fashion seems to be swinging in a different direction. That leaves me conflicted, because being at the leading edge of What’s Next has always been a large part my personality. So in a rational world, I would already have 20 pairs of Yoga Pants waiting to go.

But the sad truth is that Yoga Pants strike me as silly, and you really shouldn’t be seen wearing them in public, or without a cushy mat under your arm. And in any case, if I’m not wearing jeans I feel like I’m pretending to be someone else.

My fashion success has always been about getting to the Next Big Thing Before Anyone Else, and then telling people how I just beat them. But now I’m starting to think my trailblazing instinct is leading me to resist a popular trend and to tell other people they must avoid it as well if they don’t want to run the risk of falling flat on their rounded, stretchy-garbed cheeks.

Sincerely,
Clothes Hoarse

I told Clothes Hoarse it’s my impression that the Denim vs. Yoga Pants showdown is definitely ON, and if she really thinks her trailblazing fashion sense is pointing her away from it she might want to consider the alternate possibility that she is just getting old.

Old people like what they like and don’t care for the new. That’s one of the great perks of aging – you don’t have to ask yourself whether you’ll go with every new idea – the answer is almost always “NO!”, and people won’t fault you for it. That’s just the way old people are.

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