Category Archives: B. Marty Barry

Kids vs. Dogs

Today’s post comes from Trail Baboon’s Living and Loving Correspondent B. Marty Barry.   He’s a bottomless well of wellness!

Yes, it’s my life’s work to be there for people when they need to talk.

And once we get past the preliminaries and start to explore hidden areas that are truly and deeply painful, my clients will ask me why their children are not as sociable as their dogs.

There is a great deal of guilt and anguish here, because people just naturally feel responsible for how their kids turn out.  They believe that it should be more pleasant to hang out with Timmy or Susie than it is to spend the afternoon sitting by the fire with Sparky.

After all, children have the ability to speak an understandable language and hold conversations.  They can tell stories and jokes.  They’ve got  the higher brain functions to enjoy and create art.  There are all sorts of enjoyable pastimes that are family-friendly.

Meanwhile, dogs shed, have bad breath, and poop in the yard.

It should be no contest!

My clients feel terrible about preferring their dogs to their kids.  When I ask them to tell me more, I usually hear that the children are sullen and self-absorbed.  They barely speak and only interact with their electronic devices.  And they almost never make eye contact with another person, especially not their parents.

The dogs, on the other hand, are enthusiastic and playful, unless you’ don’t want to play.  If that’s the case, then they’re patient and attentive, but quiet.  And eye contact is a canine specialty – they do it constantly, with intensity and love.   Unless you’re holding a treat, in which case they watch you with joy and anticipation.  But dogs are always totally OK with whatever you want to do.

Once I get them talking along these lines, people eventually realize they are unfairly judging the children because no human can compete with a good dog for sociability.

I always take note of the children’s names.  Someday they may need to talk deeply about how they resented Brandy’s easygoing relationship with mom and dad.

And now academia has decided to address dog cognition.  Look at these programs!

What this means is that now those same sullen, uncommunicative children who were less engaging than Fido can someday leave home, go off to school, and run up $300,000 in college debt watching  a dog, which is basically the same thing you did, for free, while they were away.

But if this scientific research bears fruit and we are better able to understand the level of awareness of dogs, maybe it will open up a whole new range of opportunities for people like me.  Getting dogs to talk would be a world-changer.  After all, I can only guess the emotional toll it takes on old Buster to know that he is, and always will be, the favored child.   

Who was your parents’ favorite? 

Button Pushing

Today’s post comes from living and loving correspondent B. Marty Barry. He’s a bottomless well of wellness!

I am quite distraught over the news that Facebook is considering the addition of a “dislike” button to go alongside their already worrisome “like” button on pictures, comments and posts.

If the “dislike” button idea were a Facebook post all by itself in this possible new universe, I would press dislike dislike dislike dislike dislike dislike dislike dislike just to be sure you got the idea that I’m NOT in favor of it.

But would that work? Human emotions are so complicated and single-word communication often falls woefully short of delivering the message. It would be simpler if Facebook created a “distraught” button, which means “so upset you can’t think clearly or behave normally.”

But that’s just my reaction to this particular idea. I’m not always so upset, but to indicate it clearly on Facebook they’d have to add individual buttons for when I’m feeling incensed, perturbed, nettled, vexed, or merely annoyed. And then there are times when I’m just conflicted.

I get what Facebook is trying to do – reduce human communication to a simple menu of quick choices because accurate expression is such hard work, especially when it requires writing! I would push a “conflicted” button a lot!

But that’s the nice thing about language – actual words add precision, even when they’re inexact.

Back when I was a boy, cars started coming out with automatic transmissions that were operated by a series of buttons on the dashboard. Some designer had the bright idea of putting those buttons right in the center of the steering wheel for ease-of-use.

But the center of the steering wheel was already established as the place for one-note communication – the horn honk – which meant at least three things depending on the situation – “Look Out”, “You Idiot” or “Hi Neighbor”!

Of course people are creatures of habit, so they kept mashing the center of the wheel whenever they had one of these three feelings. The result? Ruined transmissions in their new push-button automatic cars.


(That’s not directed personally, but rather, at an idea. Although I’ve never met you, I do care about you very, very, much.)

B. Marty

If you could design a button to do one thing only, what would it do?

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?

Lonely City Seeks Mappiness

Today’s post comes from living and loving correspondent B. Marty Barry.

First, a word of assurance to all the people out there – although I’ve never met you, I do care about each and every one of you very, very much.

That’s why I can sense a problem – namely that some people are feeling really delighted and emotionally validated by the decision yesterday from NFL owners to send the Super Bowl to Minneapolis in 2018. Of course it makes me happy to see people happy and it’s always wonderful to feel good about yourself.

But I’m concerned that we have loaded too many eggs into our basket of civic self esteem.

Some people are saying this single event will make Minneapolis a world-class city that will finally be recognized as being “on the map” in the eyes of those who apparently don’t spend much time gazing at maps – otherwise they would have found us by now!

I seem to remember the very same result was promised in connection with the Super Bowl Minneapolis hosted in 1992 at the then-fabulous Metrodome. Didn’t that create a sufficient level of on-the-mapiness? Apparently not! The Metrodome is now a dirty hole in the ground and we’re still longing for someone (anyone) to award us that elusive “world-class” status.

Every day as part of my mission to bring happiness and self-sufficiency to distressed people, I hear these wounded souls talk about a burning hunger to see approval in the eyes of their fellow beings – especially the kind of approval that comes from others they have never met in far away places they have never seen.

It is because of this urge that I sit in a chair back behind my clients while they talk to me. I have found that not being visible to those I try to help makes me much smarter (in their eyes) and it raises the value of my favorable opinion by about 20 points.

To be so needy is very human, I think. But if I’m being completely honest, it’s also a little tiresome and somewhat pathetic. But I’m not thinking of anyone in particular when I say that, and of course I’m not here to judge. It’s just that I don’t understand why we are suddenly so giddy to have a Big Date with the NFL – an organization that counts its conquests in Roman numerals (XLVIII so far) and readily admits to having “franchisees” in 26 cities around the country! Franchisees! How cold! And yes, we’ll be in the spotlight on February 4th, 2018, but so what? What happens next?

I’ll tell you! The very next year that same significant occasion will be held at some other franchisee’s place and we will be forgotten!

Yes, it’s nice to be chosen. Our date will leave lots of money here, but we will also spend a pretty penny on new infrastructure – primping and improving and getting ourselves ready. Maybe too much? Time will tell, but already I can see that we are quite eager to please!

Let’s re-visit this next time. Until then, why don’t you set aside a morning and spend it locating yourself on as many maps as you can find! The more often you hear yourself say “I’m already there,” the healthier your perspective will be when it comes time for the Big Date.

Whose opinion matters?

(Don’t) Sit!

Today’s post comes from therapist, personal coach and mass communicator B. Marty Barry. He’s an online relationship manager, a bottomless well of wellness, and although he’s never met you, he cares about you very, very, very much.

Dear Reader,

I was thinking about you yesterday when word came from the experts that sitting too much is a serious problem for public health.

I know sitting has a bad reputation. And of course I’m concerned, because in my day-to-day work as a therapist, I sit quite a lot. My clients are in even worse shape – they’re completely horizontal for hours and hours while I listen to them talk about their problems and neuroses – many of which have to do with not getting enough exercise and a chronic fear of fitness! So when researchers start to criticize sitting, it’s hard not to feel singled out.

But I wonder if there’s isn’t something else behind this – a smoke screen of sorts. Because I can’t help noticing that the world is essentially run by people who make their livings in the sitting professions – lawyers, bankers, politicians, etc.

Who stands all day? Laborers, cashiers, school teachers, and the greeter at Wal-Mart. Even baby-sitters sit less than the people who make the decisions that shape our lives, and “sit” is in the name of their profession! I rest my case.

I’m not saying the sitting professionals have it easy. Can you imagine how many years a politician has to perch on a folding chair in meetings and hearings and conferences before he or she can have a shot at becoming president? No wonder they campaign by standing on “stumps”. They’re desperate to get their heads up where they might smell a fresh breeze every so often.

Sitting down is hard, but if you do it right, it pays.

So I say sit as much as you like. And parents, teach your children to sit as well. If your goal for them is to be trim, healthy, athletic and poor, then by all means disparage sedentary work and roust them out into the sunshine. But if you want them to have power and influence, get them started early sitting at a conference table or a dais, and teach them to make the kind of deals that guarantee they will come out ahead. Then someday they’ll have the money to hire a financially impoverished personal trainer who never learned to sit.

That’s not an order, just a helpful suggestion – offered here because although I’ve never met you, I care about you very, very, very much.

B. Marty Barry

How much time do you spend sitting?

Big Softies

Today’s post comes from personal counselor and mass communicator B. Marty Barry. He’s an online relationship manager, and a bottomless well of wellness!

Yes, that’s what I do. I work as an unseen online intermediary using only words and emoticons to help people I have never met as they struggle to acknowledge each other’s humanity.

And yes, I see the irony in that job description.

But what I’ve learned is that the world is a very troubled place and it does not provide a happy environment for hard line extremists. And when I say “extremists” I’m talking about those who won’t budge concerning matters of conscience or the time of day or personal morality or the color of the sky or closely held beliefs or their harsh opinions of the habits of others or just about anything, really. They are steadfast in their opposition to everything that is not already a part of their value system.

And if you think you recognize someone in that description, please understand that I am not permitted to reveal identifiable details about any of my clients, no matter where they live in the world.


And just because I know a thing or two about extremists, that does not prove I am working with a group of Taliban Commanders who have accumulated a little money and plan on opening a string of political activism and ice cream salons called Hard Lines and Soft Serve Cones and Drones. Or that they dream of expanding it to Florida by 2018.

All I’m saying is that radicals and immovable scolds are people too. That’s being proven right now by all the kinder, gentler talk coming from Pope Francis and Iran’s new prime minister.

Which just goes to show you that one of the nicest gifts a person can receive in any line of work is to have had a harsh predecessor. If the person you replaced was widely known as a party pooper, they can help you look instantly better to almost everyone!

And to all you wild eyed fire-breathers out there, keep up the good work and thanks a bunch from the rest of us! You know who you are! And although I (maybe) have never met you, I do care about you very, very, very much.

Are you a toughie, or a softie?

Friends Forever

Today’s post comes from living and loving expert and relationships thought leader B. Marty Barry.

Dear Readers,

I want to assure you that although I’ve never met you, I deeply care about each and every one of you very, very much! This simple act of caring is so powerful and life-changing, I’ve always been surprised it doesn’t get more attention at the highest levels of society – particularly among our governmental leadership.

But now I’m encouraged to see this changing with the latest news out of Washington that some national agencies are collecting data from our phone calls, Facebook posts and Google searches. I see it as a welcome sign that government has finally realized there is something crucial missing from so many lives – an expression of interest!

So many of us simply want to be acknowledged.

Listening = Caring
Listening = Caring

Oh, some presidents have said “I feel your pain”. Well, at least one said it. Critics poo-poo that kind of sentiment, trying to minimize the significance as a cheap gesture by saying it’s “just words”. But words are powerful! And it matters when we know someone is paying attention to us! Every day I see heartbroken, invisible people who want their voices to be heard, their posts to be read and their slideshows viewed! They’re desperate for someone to care.

In the coming days, as details continue to leak out about what was information was collected and by whom, I hope we discover that it went beyond the simple stockpiling of metadata and that someone, anyone, in the Intelligence Community or the Justice Department or the White House had the courage to simply reach out and “friend” someone. Or anyone. Or everyone!

In fact, with unemployment still so high, why don’t the NSA and the FBI hire young people to “friend” ordinary overlooked Americans, suspicious gun lovers, rowdy foreign nationals and even suspected terrorists? It needn’t be dangerous, since no one has to ever be in the same room together anymore.

And a simple “Whassup?” can uncover worlds of information.

You can spy on people and learn a few things, but I’ve discovered they will tell you absolutely everything you want to know (and then some) if you simply put an arm around their shoulder and ask!

Your for-always friend,
B. Marty Barry

Would you make a good spy?