Category Archives: Dr. Babooner

Ask Dr. Babooner

We are ALL Dr. Babooner

Dear Dr. Babooner,

I’m disturbed by a new wave of thinking in business circles that accepts a pack of troubling conclusions about the “speaking-up” styles of men vs. women in the workplace. The gist of it is that men who speak up frequently in office meetings are rewarded for their ideas more than women are for offering the same or equally good ideas.

Supporting all this is the notion that men are good at projecting confidence even when (especially when) they don’t know anything, whereas women are merely competent in all the areas that matter most. But in spite of their abilities, the women tend to remain quiet in meetings because they’re tired of having supremely confident men walk all over them and steal their ideas.

Dr. Babooner, I’m a man who has worked collaboratively with women throughout my career so I can honestly say it sounds like nonsense to me. I’ve always been supportive of my female colleagues. I remember about ten years ago I was in a meeting to talk about a problem getting the product out of our glass fruit warehouse when Heather suggested we speed up the conveyor belts by 1/5th of a mile per hour. She thought a small adjustment like that would reverberate all through the system and marginally improve our delivery times.

I got so excited by her good idea I jumped in before she was even done talking and said we should increase speeds by 5 miles per hour to make the product fly off our shelves! And because I so quickly and enthusiastically endorsed and improved the concept, they put me in charge of the project!

But I never missed an opportunity to let people know it was HER idea, not mine!

Sadly, Heather left the company the following year after refusing to take responsibility for all the product breakage we were seeing in the warehouse. I think that’s the real problem with women in the corporate workplace – they aren’t willing to accept the consequences of their high level decisions.

Dr. Babooner, your picture makes it look like you’re a woman so you’re probably not going to agree with me, but I’m absolutely certain I’ve got this one right. But how can I overcome this new prevailing assumption that my confidence is just testosterone-induced blustering?

With Supreme Assurance,
Mr. Positive

I told Mr. P that a smart office player always works WITH prevailing assumptions, not against them. Since the latest scholarship has already concluded his approach is complete BS, he should wait for a female co-worker to point it out and then endorse her criticism with all the manly force he uses for his other positions. By selling his colleagues on the effectiveness of his false certainty, he can still dominate the decision making.

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

Ask Dr. Babooner

We are ALL Dr. Babooner

Dear Dr. Babooner,

I believe in setting goals and taking positive action to achieve them, so I have great ambitions for 2015. I want this to be the year I learn to crochet and finally finish my Master’s Degree in Applied Physics.

And I also want to walk a tightrope across a narrow part of the Grand Canyon.

I’m very linear, so I’m going to get to work on the crocheting first. Once I’ve perfected that, I’ll brush up on my math, and after I’ve got that Master’s Degree in hand I’ll start with my balancing practice.

But I’ve also realized that achieving new things feels pointless unless you can share them with the world, so I’m wondering if having a camera crew follow me around might be a good idea.

Having a production crew to document your activities just seems to make sense in the age of digital media. Me reaching my tightrope goal will be a dramatic video event all by itself, but I’m thinking it will be great to have some martial music playing in the background while people watch me work on my math and crocheting.

Something like the music Kim Jong Un uses in this new video about him flying a plane is exactly the thing I have in mind.

The subtitles help too! I’ll add subtitles to my crocheting video for sure, since they speak a special language in that field that only a few people know. We’ll probably be fine without subtitles for my other achievements, since everybody pretty much gets it about Applied Physics and gravity.

Dr. Babooner, I’m excited about my 2015 goals but I’m not sure I should reveal them to the world right now. Declaring my intentions will force me into action because avoiding embarrassment means there can be no turning back. But I know it would be much less stressful for me if I set my goals quietly and announced my magnificent achievements only AFTER they were actually achieved.

What would you do?
Excited But Already Exhausted

I told E.B.A.E. that quiet goal setting is much less stressful, but often it ends right there. If you really want to reach a difficult goal, you have to corner yourself into doing it by declaring your intentions to the world, or at least to the people whose approval you crave. That said, I think documenting your life with a video crew, martial music and subtitles is a great idea even if you don’t achieve remarkable things.

ESPECIALLY if you don’t achieve remarkable things.

 

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

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!

Sincerely,
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?

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?

Ask Dr. Babooner

We are ALL Dr. Babooner

Dear Dr. Babooner,

I’m no Albert Einstein, but I just found out I can rifle around in his life by going through his papers online. This includes not only his work in physics, but his personal papers too, including love letters and notes to friends. I can even toggle back and forth between German and English language versions of Einsteinian detritus.

This is thrilling and frightening to me because I’ve long been an Einstein fan and I’ve always wanted to be just like him, in spite of the fact that I have no real intellectual abilities.

Whenever a difficult problem has presented itself, I’ve backed down from it with Einstein as my excuse.

After all, I’m no him.

I say this a lot.

Now I’m concerned that if I explore Einstein’s life too deeply, I’ll find out that he and I are more alike than I thought and maybe I AM him!  I’m tormented by the notion that I could have been the Einstein of today but now I have fallen far behind him on the creation of a personal archive that might someday be worthy of an online library.

Dr. Babooner, should I look at the Einstein papers, or remain comfortable with my failure?

Conflictedly,
I’m Not Einstein

I told I.N.E. that the probability of discovering through these papers that you could have been “The Einstein of Today” is pretty slim – not mathematically impossible but almost. The real issue in front of you is a time-space quandary. An expansion in the amount of time you spend going through Einstein’s papers will have an inverse effect on the velocity with which you are able to live your own life. But that’s just one opinion.

What do you think, Dr. Babooner?

Ask Dr. Babooner

We are ALL Dr. Babooner

Dear Dr. Babooner,

I’m so glad that Thanksgiving and Black Friday are over with.

Required gratitude and culturally enforced consumerism annoy me, and after enduring the build-up to those two days I was hoping my life would return to the predictable, mundane slog I love so well.

But I just found out that today is Small Business Saturday where I’m supposed to spend money at mom-and-pop stores, and the week will begin with Cyber Monday when I’m told I have to buy things online.

Suddenly I’m faced with four days where my actions have already been decreed by outside forces, with the only opportunity for independence coming on Sunday, a day which traditionally provides no relief at all in the freedom-of-thought department.

After all that, I’m expected to go out and get a Christmas tree, put up lights and decorate the house with cherubs, elves, holly, and Santas, attend parties, go to concerts and shows, and be of good cheer until New Years Eve when I’m told I should drink too much and start 2015 feeling exhausted and sick.

But Dr. Babooner, I feel exhausted and sick already!

Can’t I just skip the whole month of December and jump ahead to January 1? So much time and trouble would be saved, and it would make the winter seem shorter too!

Hopefully,
Time Shifter

I told Time Shifter that all people yearn for freedom but they also long for community, and sometimes the two don’t sit well together. Aside from the fact that jumping ahead one month in time is not physically possible, December-haters must think of it as something to be endured so they can enjoy the freedom of January, where nobody wants to do anything at all.

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