Category Archives: Uncategorized

jammies_

Make Serious $$ In Your Pajamas!

Federal regulators have busted a work-from-home-scam that did not actually help anyone work from home.  The people who signed up received no gainful employment except perhaps the unpleasant job of trying to figure out where their money went.  This is the type of business you used to see touted on flyers stuck to telephone poles – back before the internet became a worldwide staple-ready blank space.

The notices usually said something like this:

Work Without Leaving Home!
Earn Unlimited Dollars In Your Pajamas!

This idea of making a living without having to leave the house has always carried a special allure for me because I am a natural introvert and a lifetime member of Persons Anonymous – a social support group for the low and no profiled.  We attract and retain members by having it as a defining article in our charter that we never actually meet.   But if we ever did get together, I’m certain the Persons Anonymous membership would discover that we, as a group, have been disappointed by “work from home” scams at a much higher rate than members of the general (sociable) population.   And chief among those disappointments would be the realization that “work from home” is not the same thing as “work alone” or “work without having to interact with other people”.  Some of these “work from home” scenarios involve making cold sales calls, or answering the phone, or dropping your pajamas on the floor and picking up your money on the dresser.

In fact, this past weekend’s arrests may confirm that the only way to truly make money in your pajamas is as a sleepwear model.   The sole requirement – that you look fetching in drawstring pants,  appealing in a terrycloth bathrobe and ravishing in adult onesies – an easy reach for Baboons, especially when they do your hair, apply the make up, and turn on the fans.

But of course you’d have to leave the house to go to the shoot.

Drat.

What business have you (or would you) run out of your home?

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Richard_bones

Still Hanging Around

More unfortunate news for England’s Richard III – a year after he suffered the indignity of having his bones excavated from underneath a parking lot, researchers have received the green light to map his genome.

This means Richard III’s genetic secrets will be laid bare, including any serious medical conditions he was predisposed towards. Scoliosis, anyone? That’s the prevailing reason to resist having one’s DNA decoded – to avoid potential discrimination based on the likelihood that you will develop an expensive malady down the road.

Fortunately for Richard III, he doesn’t have to worry about such things because Obamacare is now the law of the land, so he can’t be denied coverage based on a pre-existing condition! He is also protected by the fact that he’s not from around here, and is already disintegrating.

Yet Richard III is still alive as a cultural figure even though his reputation remains dark. It’s bad enough to have great artists (Shakespeare!) interpret your legacy. They don’t really care about you – just their form of expression. And now the great scientists will have a go at telling Richard III’s story their own way. These test-tube shakers and number crunchers have no reason to be kind either – it’s all a collection of data points to them. So you could say Richard has an endless literary shelf life and will soon gain a timeless scientific stature too, but immortality of any sort is wasted on the dead.

Would you rather live forever as a dramatic villain, or a museum exhibit?

alligator_eating

Crocodiles In Trees

I really don’t know much about alligators and crocodiles, including which is which. Whenever I wonder about their various differences I take a moment and look it up, (alligator – freshwater, “u” shaped snout / crocodile – salt water, “v” shaped snout) but when I’m face-to-face with one or the other, I always forget what I learned and panic in exactly the same way, regardless.

Alligator

Because I have so much idle time, I often daydream about what I would do if a giant reptile decided I was worth the effort to chase down and, perhaps, eat. My first thought is that I would outrun the beast, though I’ve been informed that they are surprisingly fast – a bit of information that becomes more alarming as I age and become surprisingly slow.

I have always assumed that another convenient escape route for any potential human morsel would be to climb a nearby tree, since the only images I’ve seen of crocodiles and alligators depict them at ground level, or partially submerged. I climbed many a tree when I was a boy, and only fell out of one once. So I figured with the help of adrenaline I could probably get off the ground once again and cling to a higher branch until a sick goat happened to wander by to distract my frustrated reptilian pursuer.

But now comes the troubling information that alligators and crocodiles can climb. Obviously this puts a kink in my plans. Before this I had never considered the possibility that the words “… he was pulled out of a tree by an alligator” could someday appear in my obituary.

There’s nothing about that experience that sounds even remotely pleasant, although it would be a pretty remarkable thing to have as your official C.O.D. (cause of demise). The scenario does have me wondering where a treed human would try to kick an upwardly mobile crocodile or alligator, since they are pretty much all mouth on the front end. Surely there must be a strategy that would work!

A crocodilian has you up a tree. Now what?

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‘Till There Was You

Happy Valentine’s Day, Dear Baboons.

Of course there are love songs galore. I’ve heard it said that every song is a love song.

That’s the sort of thing that sounds at first like it could be true, but it would take some deft explaining to convince me that the current #1 song, “Dark Horse“, belongs in the love song category alongside Meredith Willson’s “Till’ There Was You”. When it comes to romance, I’m not one for flowery language, but even I can see the difference between …

There were birds in the sky But I never saw them winging No, I never saw them at all Till there was you.

… and …

She’s a beast I call her Karma (come back) She eats your heart out Like Jeffrey Dahmer (woo) Be careful Try not to lead her on Shorty’s heart is on steroids Cause her love is so strong You may fall in love When you meet her

Call me a crabby old man, but I’ll stick with Willson.

Not only was this economical ode part of a major Broadway hit, the song was good enough for an upstart superstar to sing in front of the Queen of England.

Meredith Willson was an interesting character, by the way. He was once a member of John Philip Sousa’s band, and “The Music Man” was his first attempt at creating a Broadway show. His previous claim to fame was as an announcer on Tallulah Bankhead’s radio program in the early 1950’s.

It took eight years to get the thing written and produced, and he got credit for all of it – music, lyrics and book. The innovation he brought to the stage is displayed in the opening number, when a crew of traveling salesmen mimic a train while reciting an unrhymed poem that entertains while it elegantly takes care of one of a playwright’s most difficult chores – exposition.

And even though it’s all about marketing and deception, that boisterous opening sequence is still more romantic than “Dark Horse.” By far.

What’s your favorite love song?

ChicagoSpire-005

Inspiration, To A Point

I’m a fan of skyscrapers but not of heights. Gravity is always cause for concern.

I’ll go to the observation deck with you, but only for that giddy survivor’s high that comes when we return to the ground floor alive. And that’s where I can best admire a tall building – at street level or an even safer distance, like two miles away where it’s impossible for a rogue ice chunk or a clumsy, un-tethered window washer to fall on me.

Yes, skyscrapers activate my imagination, though not always in the best way. That’s why I’m concerned to see that the slow economic recovery has re-invigorated efforts to build the Chicago Spire.

Frankly, the project sets off multiple personal alarms.

When construction halted in 2008 because the world economy collapsed, Chicagoans were left with an enormous open pit on a prime piece of waterfront real estate. In my universe, open pits are bad. Gravity runs rampant there, and I consider it a miracle that the hole has remained in place for six years without becoming the scene of a terrible Timmy-in-the-well scenario. Construction keeps the hole open rather than filled up with pulverized rubber chunks, recycled packing envelopes, and other soft-landing material, which is what I would prefer.

Turning Torso in Malmo
Turning Torso in Malmo

I also find it unsettling that the building’s shape twists so severely from top to bottom. A similar building by the same architect in Malmo, Sweden, is said to look like it is tilting at an odd angle when viewed from certain perspectives. That’s an understatement for this Escher-like structure, which comes with the feeling of vertigo built in. Boxy may be boring, but I like my skyscrapers to be nice and grounded-looking. Once we start twisting around the shape of acceptable living spaces, I’m afraid stability will go out of fashion. It’s a slippery slope.

And by the way, a slippery slope is also very troubling for the gravity-obsessed. That’s why I’m focusing on skyscraper news rather than watching the Winter Olympics.

Finally, I worry that the addition of The Spire to Chicago’s skyline will suddenly make it OK for new buildings to mimic the shape and design of power tools, which are unsettling devices especially in the hands of amateurs like me. Sure, this one is an innocent drill bit. But what’s to prevent other designers from framing up towers that appear to be lathes, table saws and orbital sanders? I could not feel comfortable in a city that featured, say, a Pneumatic Torque Wrench as part of its skyline. The urban environment is noisy and dusty enough!

What’s your favorite (or least favorite) skyscraper?

WeatherVane

The Prescient Prognosticator Prize – 2013

Last year on this very day, baboons on the trail were asked to offer their predictions for the year 2013. Of those who took up the challenge, only one impressed me with his accuracy.

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I cannot go down the list point-by-point to verify each of the things Chris predicted, but he gets credit from me for picking some easy targets and combining those automatic points with a few bold guesses. Chris knows the seer must choose words carefully. He beautifully hedges his bets with guaranteed-to-succeed-on-some-level predictions like:

“The Gophers will win the NCAA Hockey Tournament.
(Uh-oh, I may have just jinxed them.)”

No, the Gophers did not win the NCAA Tournament.
But Yes, it may be because you jinxed them.

And he is frustratingly non-specific on seemingly simple pronouncements such as:

2013 will be cooler than normal. (Just a hunch)

Cooler locally, nationally or globally?
Cooler temperature-wise, or in overall (or individual) hip-ness?

This is the kind of vague prediction that is certain to be both true and not true.

I don’t know if Chris managed to find a publisher or an agent this year, or if he won that hoped-for writing award. But I do have the power to make this part of his scenario at least partially true by awarding him a laurel he didn’t seek and doesn’t expect – the Trail Baboon Prescient Prognosticator Prize for 2013.

Care to enter for 2014?

Make your predictions!

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Built To Not Last

Lots of attention has been given to yesterday’s final game at the Metrodome, with the consensus that the highlights of its three decade life span were the Twins’ World Series victories in ’87 and ’91, and the Vikings loss in the NFL’s National League championship game in ’99.

Metrodome_Aerial_2006

All the recent references I’ve seen to the Metrodome’s cost (55 million dollars) have had to do with what a bargain that was, considering the history that happened there and the new stadium’s price tag of around one billion dollars.

I’m old enough to tell you that the many, many public discussions leading up to the building of the Metrodome did not often include the word “bargain”. Many people found it amazing that any community resources at all would be used to help pay for a sports palace. And “palace” is the right word – though the building is portrayed as being rather utilitarian in the modern press, at the time it was considered to be a remarkable advance. But there was strong opposition. And if anyone leading the effort to build the Metrodome had said that the thing would be used for only thirty years and then abandoned, it would have scotched the deal, I’m certain.

What I haven’t seen mentioned lately is how much of the Metrodome struggle was about strengthening downtown Minneapolis – returning excitement and activity to the city’s center at a time when everything seemed to be moving to the suburbs. Though literally none of the promised surrounding development materialized, to the extent the building kept downtown as a regional destination point, it was a success. But the sports arena longevity prize will have to go to some other structure. Williams Arena, perhaps?

What torn down building would you like to have back?

Yellowstone_caldera

Fire or Ice?

Today’s post comes from Bathtub Safety Officer Rafferty.


At ease, civilians!

But when I say ‘at ease’ of course I mean you should remain extremely watchful. A healthy amount of trepidation is better for you than multivitamins, as we just discovered, though that’s mostly because everything is better for you than multivitamins.

And do not worry that you will ever run out of things to fear because there is always another catastrophe looming on the horizon.

Case in point: I have spent many hours worrying that a major asteroid will crash into our planet, causing an enormous explosion that will eject massive amounts of dirt and gas into the atmosphere, obliterating the sun and making life as we know it unsustainable.

But last week I discovered that maybe I should be looking down instead.

Yellowstone_caldera

New research suggests the supervolcano under Yellowstone National Park is much bigger than previously thought.. Now they’re saying it could be 55 miles across, which makes it big enough to cause an enormous explosion that will eject massive amounts of dirt and gas into the atmosphere, obliterating the sun and making life as we know it unsustainable.

Of course scientists say they are monitoring Yellowstone closely and there is no indication that it is in any way about to blow. Should changes occur that suggest an eruption is at hand, we would have time to prepare.

Somehow I’m not comforted.

And what if an asteroid crashed into the Yellowstone caldera? Wouldn’t that set it off immediately? This is the sort of thing that keeps me awake on long winter nights, which is, by the way, the season we’re in. It is a time of despair, which suits me just fine. I may be the only person who has seasonal affective disorder all year round. Stepping outside, I pause to wonder if the prevailing northwest wind will freeze us in our tracks before we can be incinerated by speeding rocks from above or molten rock from below.

It reminds me of my favorite poem about armaggeddon, Fire and Ice by Robert Frost.

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

Yours in Safety, B.S.O.R.

Bathtub Safety Officer Rafferty is at his usual life-of-the-party best here. He suggested this post should run on Christmas Day because it might give families a chance to talk about their Volcano Evasion Plan over dinner, but I hinted to him it was a bit of a downer and we might go with it a day or so early. He said the prospect of things happening before he expects them to is another scenario that keeps him up at night.

Fire or Ice – what’s your preference?

We are ALL Dr. Babooner

Ask Dr. Babooner

We are ALL Dr. Babooner
We are ALL Dr. Babooner

Dear Dr. Babooner,

I was traveling over the Thanksgiving holiday and found myself in the San Francisco airport suffering from an undue amount of stress because I had just been told by an unsympathetic gate agent that my baggage was headed to Cincinnati while I was returning home to Minnesota.

I have spent all my life suppressing feelings of rage and I was in the process of quashing these latest destructive urges as well when all of a sudden I found myself on the edge of a hysterical screaming fit. It was as if every bit of frustration I had  experienced for any reason at any time was going to come pouring out of me in the form of an extremely dramatic tantrum.

Just then, a volunteer approached with a dog that was wearing a “Pet Me” vest. I fell to my knees and hugged the animal as the savior that he was while his handler explained that several dogs had been dispatched throughout the airport as a stress-relief measure.

She explained that this particular dog, whose name was ‘Toby’, was exceptionally good-natured. “Toby has never done anything inappropriate,” she said. “He is a model canine citizen.”  She noted that Toby had already pulled several distressed travelers back from the brink of madness that very day.

As I petted Toby I felt years of built-up rage leave my body – not just the anger that had erupted over my lost baggage but anger tied to the emotional baggage I had started collecting the day I was born. I was elated to sense these poisonous feelings were leaving my body, but at the same time I noticed that Toby’s eyes got wide and his muscles tensed up.  The more I embraced him, the more relaxed I became and the more agitated he seemed.   

I told the volunteer how very grateful I was for the relief Toby had provided. As I watched them walk down the concourse, I watched Toby’s gait stiffen a bit, and when they were right in front of a crowded TCBY I was horrified to see Toby pause, glance over his shoulder at me, wink, and poop.

Now I’m concerned that I have poisoned Toby with my years of accumulated stress and may have turned him from a “model canine citizen” into a very naughty dog.

I’d like to find Toby again and take back some of my offloaded negativity so he can live a happy life. But I don’t know what sort of human-canine interaction would allow stress to flow the other way. Do you?

Sincerely,
Dogwrecker

I told D.W. I”m not aware of any way you can recover stress from a dog once petting that dog has removed it from you.   Canines are notorious for being possessive, so don’t even try.  As for the ‘evidence’ that  Toby’s emotional equilibrium was upset by D.W.’s rage transfer, a little bit of awkwardly placed poop is a small thing in the universe of potential dog mischief.  For me, the real question raised by this story is this:  How do you teach a dog to wink?

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

Beechly promoting brains on the water.

The Way The Wind Blows

Today’s post comes from 9th District Congressman Loomis Beechly, representing all the water surface area in the State of Minnesota.

Pandering to Paddlers.
Pandering to Paddlers.

Greetings, Constituents!

The first I want you to know about me is that I’m on your side – and that’s true no matter which side your side might be. I will always support the closely held opinions of We The People. And when I’m talking directly to you, I support the notions of You The Person.

Some hyper-critical pundits complain that this makes me inconsistent on the issues. Like that’s a bad thing. If I’m hard to pin down it’s because I’m consistently in favor of you, and you’re only human. But I want you to know you can rely on me anyway.

That’s why I’m not so sure we should celebrate the birthday today of famed opinion pollster George Gallup. Gallup was a decent enough fellow, I suppose, who thought prevailing public attitudes should be taken seriously in a democracy.

That’s good, I guess. But Gallup wanted to do scientific surveys to tabulate the opinions of large groups of people all at once, and I just want to deal with the notions of the person I’m talking to at the moment. That’s the way politics should be conducted, in my opinion – face to face. Whatever ridiculous thing you say, I’ll agree for as long as we’re together, no matter how pudding-headed it is.

When I go on to the next person, well, that’s a different matter.

So all this data telling us what vast numbers of people believe at any particular time is useless to me. Pollsters claim to be neutral, and nothing frustrates me more than neutrality, unless it’s fairness! The sad truth is, people’s responses can be guided by the way questions are asked, and outcomes can be determined by the selection of answers they’re allowed to give. You may think otherwise but we’re not standing next to each other right now, so I can afford to not pay any attention at all to what you think.

If I had my way, all public opinion polling would be illegal.

And so would fact-checking.

Your Congressman,
Loomis Beechly