Category Archives: 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!

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?

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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?

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!

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?


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?

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!


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?



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?

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?