Ask Dr. Babooner

Dear Dr. Babooner,

My husband is totally wigged out by the irrational fear that he might die under a piece of the falling UARS (Upper Air Research Satellite) later this week. I told him the odds that the satellite would break up and come crashing down to earth on exactly the right trajectory to hit him in the forehead with a killing shot are, frankly, astronomical. He said the satellite was designed to be an astronomical object, so beating those odds would come naturally to it.

I didn’t think he really understood what I was saying, so I pointed out that his personal chance of being struck by a piece of debris is about one in several trillion. He pointed out that the satellite is a government object, and several trillion is like nothing to the government.

I told him there was no record of anyone ever being injured by a piece of falling satellite, and he said the government would have to make sure that any record of such a thing would certainly be erased. The fact that no record exists is, he says, sure proof that many injuries have already occurred.

Why doesn’t he worry about bad things that actually could happen, like snow blowing in under the broken front door that he said he would fix this summer, but didn’t?

Possible UARS Widow

I told PUW that her husband, like most people, worries as a form of entertainment. Risk is a stimulant, and so is rage. As a government-hater, the remote but enticing possibility that this tax supported object will harm him provides your husband with an irresistible high. His body is producing waves of adrenaline every time he thinks about it. That problem with the front door, however, is a terrible downer, and any attempt he makes to fix it could end in failure. Thinking about Big Brother trying to kill him with a satellite is win-win. If it actually does take him out, it proves he was right all along. And if it misses him, it means he dodged a school bus sized bullet.

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

Classy Warfare

My favorite off-the-map Member of Congress, Loomis Beechly, is apparently dipping his toe in the presidential pool. Which only makes sense, since he represents all of Minnesota’s water surface area. He sent out this provocative e-mail late last night:

Greetings to all my 9th district constituents, and congratulations on once again making it to that time of year when all the visitors go home and we have the beautiful waters of Minnesota to ourselves!

It is encouraging to see the success that one member of my state’s congressional delegation, Michele Bachmann, is having on the national political stage. True, a lot of the pundits are saying she’s a bit careless with the facts and the scuttlebutt is that her campaign is on the decline, but the truth of the matter is this: they’re still talking about her! As long as you’ve got that, you’ve got a chance.

But the main thing you have to do when you’re running for the top office is show people you have serious, common-sense, popular ideas for fixing all the things that are wrong with our country! Bachmann is great on presence and passion, but she’s lacking a plan.

Congressman Beechly reaches out to floaters in his district

I don’t have her fiery attitude and camera-ready hair, but I do have a great strategy to get us past the horrible, agonizing “tax the rich” vs. “no new taxes” show down we went through in Minnesota this past summer and are about to re-live on a national, (some would say nuclear) scale.

My idea?

Tax happy people.

That’s it. That’s my whole plan.

Happy people should pay through the nose to get us out of this mess. This works much better than “tax the rich” because wealthy people fight back and they have the means to win every time. Happy people, by contrast, come from all points along the economic spectrum and while some of them might have the resources to mount a counter-attack against a new tax burden, why would they waste their time? Clearly they’ve got something special going on in their lives – something that makes them happy. Better to concentrate on that than to ruin your day by thinking about stuff the government is doing!

Some will say this idea doesn’t have a chance because Tea Party Republicans will oppose any tax of any kind on anyone. Possibly. But what I see developing is an endless confrontation where the two sides try to shift most of our financial burden onto the strongest supporters of the other side. Democrats want the bill to be picked up by well-to-do Republican donors. Republicans want loyal Democrats in organized labor and education to shoulder the burden. Tea Party Republicans? I don’t know what they want, but I’m pretty sure that none of them are happy. So if they could be convinced to support any form of new revenue, the “Happy Tax” has the best chance with them.

Who are the happy? I think we all know. And really, let’s face it. Nobody who is paying attention to the state of the world today cares very much for happy people. Their buoyant spirits just make us angry, so let’s tax them to the hilt! Chances are, they’ll keep on smiling.

I’m not saying this great idea qualifies me to be president. But you may say it if you wish, even though it most definitely will not make me happy.


Loomis Beechly
Your Congressman

Great plan, but how could we measure taxable happiness?

G.O.A.T. Notes

Today’s guest post comes from Barbara in Robbinsdale.

It’s a very creative group of Babooners here on the Trail, and we sometimes use words not found in your standard English dictionary. So Jacque and I (back in April) put together a little Baboon dictionary, ultimately dubbed the G.O.A.T. (Glossary of Accepted Terms). I’ve been keeping track of some real gems that have appeared since then, and here’s what y’all have been adding to the mix. If you’re a newcomer, it may help explain some (but certainly not all) things. And if you’re an old hand, it will serve as a reminder of how we talk ’round these parts.

Baader Meinhof – defined by the Pioneer Press’ Bulletin Board as “encountering a piece of previously unknown information twice within a 24 hour period.” (It’s surprising how often this comes up.) See Joy of Juxtaposition for clarity through contrast.

Blevensing – going on and on about something, as the Austin Lounge Lizards (et al.) do in the chorus of the song, Old Blevins: “Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah…” and as follows: “Niblet is sometimes described as “long-suffering”… Imagine having to spend your days listening to [Mr.] T, blevinsing away…” (See Out to Pasture in upper right corner for more on Niblet and Mr. T.)

Cannardly – a more elegant way to express mixed ethnic heritage, as in: “He said he was Cannardly – so many different ethnicities that you can hardly tell…”

Ectopic – out of place, as in: “Ectopic comments are always welcome!” which followed: “Ugh, I … meant that reply to go under Beth-Ann’s comment.”

Fusspot – a very fussy person, as in: “Fusspot is a term created by my husband, who is much more of a fusspot than I am.” See also Troublespot, and Lucy in Peanuts for the variation, fussbudget.

Hooby – either a cross between a hobby and a hubby, or a hobby that’s a hoot… as in “become involved in a hooby or something that is real…”

Incumbent bike – a bike that’s going to stick around for another 2, 4, or 6 years.

Ingrown narcissism – self-regard that has become problematically internalized, as in …“if we stop for ice cream we may not have enough money to pay for Timmy’s operation to fix his ingrown narcissism”.

Jamicized: to be clothed in your jammies, as in: “There is an ice cream truck that frequents our neighborhood. We do not patronize that [ice cream] truck (partly because sometimes he comes around after we have called it a night and are jamicized, thank you very much).”

Joy of Juxtaposition – a confluence of references to something that was already in your knowledge base; see Baader Meinhof for clarity through contrast.

Latent utility – usefulness in the future, and a reason to keep an item, as in “There are the remaining painting and carving supplies, which I may one day use, and I consider latent utility useful.”

Pawlenty (verb transitive) – to hide something from the public, and then do what you want, as in: “the masses don’t realize until after they’ve already been pawlentyed.

Punctuational – on time for the blog, and keeping track of it throughout the day, as in: “Didn’t we tell you how important it is to be punctuational?”

Rojak (roh-jark) – a Malaysian colloquialism meaning a mix or a salad, also used to describe language, e.g. using several languages/dialects in a single sentence. See also Cannardly.

Schaumkessel – a German word for boiling or foaming kettle, or a relative who acts like one; as in this interchange: “My maternal grandmother was a Schaumkessel…” “Do you know what Schaumkessel means? It has such a cool sound.” “I think it means boiling or foaming kettle… and she kinda was….”

Snort – short for “That made me laugh so hard I’m snorting coffee (or some other beverage)”. Also a baboonish substitute for LOL or ROTFLOLAWM (see New Acronyms). Snort could be an acceptable short form of the TBB’s mission statement.

Spedition – a shopping expedition that include ice cream, as follows:
”When my son was younger and had to accompany me on errands I started to call them expeditions thinking it would make it easier to jolly him into going. The name was shortened to speditions. At one point I upped the ante and offered ice cream to make the journey sweeter. Then with an elephantine memory my son proclaimed the definition of a spedition included ice cream every time. ”

Spiritual tithe – a fine paid to a good cause, as in: I even ENJOY paying my library fines because I feel as if it is my spiritual tithe to an (almost) holy space.

Storage brains – the (often older) family members who recollect the family’s historical information, “Unfortunately all storage brains… have died so we have not much more than she could find in public records.”

Troublespot – those relatives and acquaintances who have been difficult or naughty. “It would be really unfortunate to be a fusspot and a troublespot all in the same day.” (See also Fusspot)

Wikiwalk – a “pernicious online phenomenon”; specifically, an unintended, possibly long and convoluted journey through the internet, as in: “today you are a lost soul on an endless internet search on into the time tunnell where minute turn into hours and the days go by without any indication that you were ever there. a little you tube video, a piece of information from the wikipedia archive on the topic.. off into the vast amounts of miniscule detail folks have assembled on whatever the topic.”

New Acronyms:

OFTLOW – oh for the love of wool

ROTFLOLAWM – rolling on the floor laughing out loud and wetting myself

TTFN – ta-ta for now (from Winnie-the-Pooh)

WOT – way off topic

What language would you like to be able to speak, and why?

Buddy Photo

Yesterday was the anniversary of the taking of this photo, snapped from the Voyager spacecraft in 1977. It shows Earth and its moon – the first photograph ever taken with both in the same frame.

Imagine, these two celestial bodies, linked forever in a gravitational embrace, but never photographed side-by-side.

That is, unless you count that time they went clowning around in the photo booth at Dayton’s Arcade in downtown Minneapolis.

It was a spur-of-the-moment thing. They’d been orbiting Block “E” for much of the day, feeling tired and a little goofy, when some people came out of the booth laughing. Earth happened to have a couple of quarters in her pocket, and she thought, ‘why not’?

There’s something about that photo booth environment that makes the pictures taken there more memorable than most of those high-buck, carefully posed portraits.

Maybe it’s the built-in incentive to mug for the camera. After all, you gave up your pocket change for this and the shutter is going to click whether you’re ready or not, so you might as well do something to make it look like you’re having fun!

The Voyager photo cost more – lots more. Bazillions. And it is an amazing, historic image. But there is an icy distance to it that simply couldn’t exist in the close confines of the photo booth. If it’s a buddy picture you want, something full of warmth and fun, the photo booth is where you want to be.

Describe a favorite photo of you with a friend or a relative – where was it taken and how did it come about?

Lovesick Blues

Today is the birthday of Hank Williams in 1923. He only recorded 66 songs under his own name in the short time between his emergence at age 25 and his death at 29. Thirty seven of those recordings became hits. That’s 56% – a hit-to-miss radio that I suppose will never be equalled. It amazes me that I can sit here in 2011 and at my leisure call up Hank Williams to perform one song on video while he is heard singing another. I doubt that Hank could have imagined such a result when he stood in the studio and looked into the glassy eye of that TV camera.

The Hank story is one of the saddest among the endless volumes of tragedy that fill music’s dark library of biographies. Near the end he was drugged, in pain and unreliable – missing show dates and losing his gig with the Grand Ol’ Opry, singing in beer halls in Texas and Louisiana.

Hank Williams had a great talent. He made the Lovesick Blues famous, though it’s one of the few songs he did that he didn’t write. If he had managed to hold things together, he could have had a much longer career but probably not the same legendary profile.

It’s odd how well we remember the ones who crash and burn.

Live long and stay obscure. Die young and be remembered. Your choice?

City of Democrats

Today’s guest post is by Barb in Blackhoof.

I have fond memories of listening to TLGMS In the barn. While milking, I would sing (and sometimes dance) along to many of the songs. “City of Democrats” la, la, la. Wow. How strange that there’s actually a city of democrats. Pretty cool, huh? Hmmm.

How many times have you been singing a song for years, with lyrics that you figured were correct, only to find out that you had mistaken? For example, Dale and Mike were playing “City of Immigrants” (by Steve Earle) not city of democrats. Drat. I had already made plans to move the herd.

There are a lot of songs for which I have my own lyrics, I guess. I don’t hear so well. But it wasn’t until John Prine (at a concert in Duluth) spoke of “mondegreens” in an intro to one of his songs, that I learned there was a term for these mis-heard lyrics. John said a fan requested a song that was her favorite – “It’s a happy enchilada and you think you’re gonna drown. That’s the way that the world goes ’round.” The actual lyrics go: “It’s a half an inch of water, and you think you’re gonna drown.” This is a very common phenomenon – and not a terribly new one.

Sylvia Wright coined the term “mondegreen” in a 1954 Atlantic article. As a child, young Sylvia had listened to a folk song that included the lines “They had slain the Earl of Moray/And Lady Mondegreen.” As is customary with misheard lyrics, she didn’t realize her mistake for years. The song was not about the tragic fate of Lady Mondegreen, but rather, the continuing plight of the good earl: “They had slain the Earl of Moray/and laid him on the green.” (this paragraph from Mondegreens: A Short Guide by Gavin Edwards.)

And if you really want a good chuckle, look at the columns by Jon Carroll – an example: “Cleaned a lot of plates in Memphis, pumped a lot of Tang down in New Orleans?”

And here are some of mine….. can you guess the correct words and artist?
Oh, a Tree in Motion (from my teen-age, little teeny transistor radio)
Solid Citizen (this one is way off and very embarrassing)
Salivate, Salivate, Dance to the Music (this one is pretty easy)

Have you got a favorite mondegreen?

Buy Back Program

Another desperate sales letter from my favorite Automotive motivator.

Greetings to all my good friends in the car buying public! With the seasons changing, I’m here to remind you that there’s one sure way to stay warm when the weather turns cold – climb into a metal box and set off a rapid series of gasoline explosions mere inches on the other side of a plastic and foam barrier. I know it sounds crazy and dangerous, but if you do it right, you’ll be hooked! Here at Wally’s Intimida (home of the Sherpa – it’s a Mighty Big Car), we have a parking lot full of these polished, comfortable, new-smelling metal boxes all gassed up and ready for the spark of ignition, primed to blow heat on your feet, your middle and your face, all while you sit in your electrically warmed seat looking out the window and winter’s wrath! What’s more, if you pop your heated metal box it into gear, you could actually GO somewhere.

But if the prices scare you, don’t feel like you have to buy a new vehicle this year.

All the industry buzz is about the hot , hot market right now for used cars, and here at Wally’s we have those too! Want to buy used? C’mon down! Want to sell your old car on our mammoth, high traffic lot? All the better – c’mon down! We’ve heard from a lot of people this year who want to sell their pathetic jalopies and use the money to buy another, newer used car. Great idea! We’d love to help you do it with Wally’s Retail Detail Spiff n’ Jiff Program!

Here’s how the RDSNJ works – bring your dumb old clunker to our shop. We’ll buy anything! Then we’ll vacuum it out, wipe it off, polish it ‘til it’s star bright and cover it with a layer of wax so deep, it’ll look like it’s encased in glass. Then we’ll put your refreshed old friend on the lot and sell it for whatever the market will bear. And the market will pay top dollar for your rejuvenated jalopy, trust me.

How good will it look?

You’ll develop a serious case of Seller’s Regret! In fact, nine times out of some larger number I can’t remember right now, the sellers buy their loyal old companion BACK from us! After all, there was a reason you chose it in the first place – give us a chance to show you why! We promise we’ll let you have it for $150 more than we paid you for it – and believe me, that’s A LOT cheaper than buying new.

A bargain of one kind or another awaits you at Wally’s Intimida. It’s only a matter of degree. And a matter of degrees! Turn up the heat inside a metal box with gasoline explosions at Wally’s Intimida, home of the Sherpa S.U.V. It’s a Mighty Big Car!

Ever had Seller’s Remorse?