Category Archives: Baboon Blog Redux

Salty Language Advisory – Redux

In honor of “Talk Like a Pirate Day” today, this post comes to us from the archives, gratitude to Dale Connelly.

With some sharp language-related news cutting through the air of late involving the U.S. Navy and some people standing in the road in North Carolina, I thought it would be enlightening to consult with someone I consider to be an expert in the field of salty talk, the skipper of the pirate clipper Muskellunge, Captain Billy.

I tossed some relevant press clippings into a bottle and launched it down the Mississippi through a hole in the ice near Fridley about a week ago, and much to my surprise a reply from the Captain arrived on my desk late last night, boldly dashed on a piece of damp parchment by someone using a parrot feather dipped in pomegranate juice. I deduce that it came from somewhere in the southern climes. Maybe Mendota Heights or even as far away as Cottage Grove!

Ahoy!

Many thanks fer yer question about public language an’ what is an’ what ain’t considered foul!

As Cap’n of a pirate ship, people automatically assumes I has a sharp tongue, a form of stereotypin’ which I resents. Me and me boys labors under heavy expectations from landlubbers regardin’ our manner of public discourse.

Fer instance, if’n one of me boys enters a waterfront saloon anywhere in th’ world, he ain’t taken serious until he either punches somebody’s lights out or utters at least a half dozen choice curse words in th’ local dialect. This gets t’ be a problem on account of th’ vast number of places we visits an’ all th’ different local standards fer rough talk. We ain’t scholars out here, an’ it’s quite a chore t’ keep up wi’ current foul language fashions.

Believe it or don’t, a surprising number of me boys is kind hearted souls who took t’ th’ life of piratin’ t’ get away from uncouth situations at home, an’ they ain’t much inclined to employ harsh language anyhow. They often declines shore leave, on account of th’ fact that it’s too much work to make th’ kind of impression a pirate has to make merely to get served a beer in some places.

But I caution’s ye against thinkin’ pirates is in any way refined. I prefers t’ think we’s Libertarians, language-wise. On board th’ Muskellunge there’s no rules about what a pirate can or can’t say, an’ that goes both ways. Most standard obscenities is allowed as well as any kind of precious, non-piratical sissy words like “Gosh”, “Jeepers” an’ “Swell.”

Where I draws th’ line is attitude. Me boys is not permitted t’ be mean spirited towards one another or anyone else, unless it has t’ do wi’ official pirate business, such as pillagin’ a quiet coastal town or ransackin’ a defenseless vessel.

Th’ one spoken word I never wants to hear on board th’ Muskellunge is th’ last name of that famous FAKE movie pirate, Johnny Depp. If’n one of me boys curses another with a “God Depp” or a “Depp You” or a “you’s a no good barnacle Depper,” I’ll wash his mouth out with a fruity wine cooler – a horrible insult t’ any boy what loves his grog.

Yers in love o’ th’ language,

Capt. B.

The captain has a strong point that the “bad”ness of words is more a question of local custom than universal truth, and the attitude we bring to any exchange is more important that what is actually said. Given that, I do think he is a bit of a hypocrite for taking such an uncharitable attitude toward Johnny Depp.

Do you have to watch your language?

Gadzooks – It’s Our Anniversay

Trail Baboon has reached a milestone – TEN YEARS!  In honor of our anniversary, I am re-running a piece from our first week (with Dale’s approval!)   I was going to change the question, but it’s turned out to be eerily prescient in our current situation.

SIX MEN IN A TUB
An intriguing human experiment has begun in the western part of Moscow at the Institute for Medical and Biological Problems.

Six men just started a 520 day “mission” to Mars.  They are enclosed in “a series of windowless steel capsules” for the duration, with enough food and activities and chores to keep them busy.  There’s also ample time for relaxation.  The “voyagers” will have to exercise two hours a day but will only be able to shower once a week.

Uh oh.

There are many obstacles to overcome in a real journey to Mars.  There would have to be a shield to protect the humans from solar radiation.   And psychologists predict that one the greatest emotional hazards is the likelihood that the crew would begin to grow tired of each other’s company.   But at least in a genuine Martian trip there would be a sense of excitement and anticipation of arriving on the planet – something that’s missing in this effort.

Perhaps the greatest hurdle in this make believe exercise is to get six grownups to pretend for almost a year and a half that they can’t just walk out for a smoke or a bit of vodka.   After all, it takes skilled actors years of training to get you to suspend reality for two hours on a stage.  How long can fact-based scientists and researchers last?

Because a similar effort ten years ago ended badly (sexual harassment allegations, fistfights), the mission commander is quoted in an AP article as saying “Each crew member has the right to end the experiment and walk out.  We have had such negative experience in the past, and I hope it won’t happen during this experiment.”

Double uh oh.

Which guy will make a bid to scuttle the mission after 500 days because he can’t stand “Commander Flatulence” or would just like to get out and feel the sunshine? The longer you’re in, the greater the pressure to stay in.  And the longer you’re in, the greater the leverage for anyone who threatens to leave.

This sounds like a twisted reality show disguised as a scientific experiment.  All it needs a name and a theme song, like that ditty that introduced “The Brady Bunch”.

Here’s the story of a group of fellas
Who were simulating flying into space.
They were scientists and they all liked each other
Which is not commonplace.

They’re pretending to go to a planet.
If you’re Martian it’s the place that you belong.
In the movies when the Martians meet the Earthlings,
they never get along.

Till this mission where these fellas met this planet.
Well not really but they tried to make believe.
They had almost made it there when it started.
That’s when everyone declared “I’m going to leave.”

I’m going to leave.  I’m going to leave.
I can’t stand you, and you, and you I’m going to leave.
I’m going to leave.  I’m going to leave.
This is Moscow we’re on Earth I’m going to leave!

What would you need to survive 520 days enclosed in a series of windowless steel capsules with five other people, all pretending that you can’t go outside?

 

Baboon redux-Bully!

This post went up on 11/17/ 2016.  Since then, it has all gone to hell in a hand basket.

North Dakota doesn’t have a native son who became president. I think the only president who ever lived in North Dakota was Teddy Roosevelt.  We have clasped him to our collective bosom, however, and his only presidential library is due to be built about 4 blocks from my house, on the former rodeo grounds at our local college.  The Theodore Roosevelt Center At Dickinson State University website tells us:

“Theodore Roosevelt established two ranches in the badlands of western North Dakota: one called the Maltese Cross seven miles south of the Northern Pacific Railroad (1883) and the other called the Elkhorn, 35 miles north of the village of Medora, North Dakota (1884). Roosevelt never owned a single acre in North Dakota. Like most other ranchers in the badlands, he was a squatter on lands that still belonged to the public domain or the NP Railroad. The Maltese Cross (Chimney Butte) Ranch had already been named by the time he invested in it. He named his second ranch the Elkhorn after he found the horns of two male elk interlocked at the site. The elk had been butting heads in a struggle for primacy when their horns became locked. Unable to extricate themselves, the elk died of starvation. This appealed to Roosevelt, who regarded life as a Darwinian struggle.”

“At the Elkhorn Roosevelt ranched and played cowboy, went on long solo horseback rides, often for many days at a time, and hunted for elk, mule deer, white tail deer, and other quadrupeds. He also grieved for his mother and his first wife Alice, who died together in New York City on Valentine’s Day 1884. In fact, at the Elkhorn TR wrote the only tribute he would ever pen for Alice, who died two days after giving birth to Roosevelt’s first child Alice. He also wrote parts of two of his 35-plus books at the Elkhorn.”

The plan is to rebuild the Elkhorn Ranch house next to the library. For that purpose, large cottonwood logs have been collected from the area, and local ranchers are encouraged to donate logs to rebuild the 60 x 30 foot cabin. A builder from South Dakota has been hired to build the cabin by hand using only tools that were available to Roosevelt’s builders. You can see some of the logs that have already been hauled to the grounds.

It will be quite a job, and I look forward to seeing progress on the cabin when I drive to work each day. The Legislature set aside many millions of dollars to build the library, as long as the TR Center could raise 3 million more. They have a ways to go, but are optimistic that the library and the cabin will both get finished.

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June, 2018.  Well, the library committee, a group of people who are not from North Dakota,  decided for multiple reasons last month that the cabin and the library will be built in Medora, about 40 miles west of here.  The logs will be moved to Medora.  They are stacked in sad piles and it will be hard to move them.  The college administration is upset because they gave up the rodeo grounds and now they want the library committee to pay several hundred of thousands of dollars to restore the rodeo arena. The city donated a couple of hundred dollars to endure the library came to our town.  Now they want their money back.

From a recent local newspaper article:

Dickinson State University had to sacrifice its rodeo grounds to make way for what was going to be the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library—but with the library gone now to Medora, what remains is an unkempt field, neglected logs and a looming cost.

“Many of us were very hopeful that the library would go in Dickinson but we understand there are other desires by the foundation board,” Nicholas Hacker, chair of the North Dakota State Higher Education Board’s Budget and Finance Committee, said in a phone interview. “Our goal at this point was ‘how to ensure the land will be returned in the condition it was provided. DSU provided … about 25 acres of land, which effectively was a rodeo grounds.”

The university has been making use of a rodeo arena provided at the Stark County Fairgrounds south of town, but they had previously had their own grounds on their own property, which was in proximity to the department of agriculture building, allowing animals to be brought from the indoor structure there to the rodeo grounds without a lot of exposure.

“We removed the DSU rodeo grounds for the impending coming of the library. I’m extremely grateful to the county … who built rodeo grounds south of town and that allowed for DSU to not have to drop competitions but it’s still removed from the campus. We would not have taken down our own facilities had we known the library was not going to be built in Dickinson,” DSU President Thomas Mitzel said in a phone interview. “I’m asking that that structure be rebuilt and for the (Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library) Foundation to do that for us.”

Tell about debacles you have experienced or observed.

Space Shanties – Redux

Jupiter has been in the news this week as well as more discussion of the first manned mission to Mars.   In honor of these events, here is a repeat of a fun blog from 2015!

Today’s post comes from Captain Billy, skipper of the pirate ship Muskellunge.

Ahoy!

Me an’ me boys is crazy-excited t’ hear that NASA has discovered a underground ocean on th’ largest moon of Jupiter!

Not that we’s lookin’ fer other seas t’ sail, on account of this one here is fine, an’ plenty large enough. Plus, a Jovian Lunar ocean with a roof over it made of 95 miles of ice raises serious questions about navigation an’ winds an’ how tall can yer mast be t’ keep from scrapin’ th’ underside.

There’s no disagreement among me boys on this point – a ocean up in the stars don’t have th’ same allure as th’ one under the stars that we all enjoys so much.

But th’ possibilities is what has us thrilled.

If there’s oceans out there orbitin’ that vast gas giant, then what’s there t’ prevent there from bein’ Jupiter pirates? An’ if there’s Jupiter pirates, don’t it follow that there’d be Jupiter grog an’ Jupiter booty?

All of it incredibly massive, of course!

So naturally our imaginations ran away wit’ us, an we began t’ wonder what sort of sea shanty we might sing up there if we went, even though there’s no way we’d go (so don’t ask)!

Th’ song we made up is t’ th’ tune of one of our home world favorites – Stormalong.

O we’re sailin’ under an icy dome.
Way,hay, Ganymede.
We’re a long long way from our Earthly home.
Aye aye we’re on Ganymede.

An’ there ain’t no wind for to fill our sails
Way, hay, Ganymede.
It ain’t clear what sailin’ here entails.
Aye aye we’re on Ganymede.

But the ocean’s salty an’ dark and deep.
Way, hay, Ganymede.
If there’s monsters in it, let them sleep!
Aye aye we’re on Ganymede.

If there’s fishes swimmin’ beneath our feet
Way, hay, Ganymede
Please be slow an’ fat an’ O.K. to eat.
Aye Aye we’re on Ganymede.

Though it’s scary here an’ th’ water’s cold,
Way, hay, Ganymede
May the seas be calm an’ the booty gold!
Aye Aye we’re on Ganymede.

If you’re voyaging to a distant planet, what song do you want to take with you?

Jurassic Coincidence

Last summer I read a string of books that I didn’t enjoy – all from my self-imposed “lists”. I beat myself up for a bit and then went to the library website and typed in “dragon”.  All kinds of books came up, from all the Ann McCaffrey books to The Black Dragon River (a book on a journey down the Amur River) and then Dragon’s Teeth by Michael Crichton.  I’d never read anything  by Crichton (not sure how I managed that) so I put it on my waitlist.  This was the book that his wife found among his papers and published posthumously.

I just finished it and really enjoyed it. The postscript shed light on which characters were fictional and which were historic.  Charles Marsh and Edward Cope were real people – famous in paleontology for their 19th century rivalry.

Fast forward 24 hours. I just started A Brief History of Almost Everything by Bill Bryson (about the only Bryson I haven’t read yet – but that’s another blog).  As I got to Chapter Three, suddenly he is talking about Marsh and Cope and their rivalry.

I understand in my head that coincidence is just coincidence, but sometimes in my heart I wonder how I can go six decades and never discover something, then within a day or so, run across it again. And we’ve talked about it here before – including pointing out that it is common enough that there is a phrase for this – Baader Meinhof.  We’ve even put this phrase in our Baboon Glossary.

But it still amazes me when it happens.

Any coincidences in your life lately?

Black Friday / Tree Friday

While America now knows the Friday after Thanksgiving as Black Friday, for the last couple of decades at our house it’s been Tree Friday. For many years this was the day that Child and I headed out to chop down a tree for the holidays.  These days I head down to Bachmans (they have a 25% off fresh trees on Black Friday and they are really close by).

In fact, it was 7 years ago on Tree Friday that I got my nickname from Jacque. Dale had written that day a great bit about Black Friday and used some Shakespearean language to get us going.  My bit was:

But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the north and Hansen Tree Farm is the sun.

Open up, fair Tree Farm and await the crowds
Who, already stuffed and sleepy from yesterday
Swing saws and other implements of destruction.

https://trailbaboon.com/2010/11/26/deeds-good-and-otherwise/

Jacque came up with Verily Sherrilee that day.

So what about you? Taking part in Black Friday shopping?  Online purchasing?  Just taking it easy?

The Allure of Radicalism, Take 2

The following is the first guest post I wrote, back in the days when Trial Balloon blog was just a fledgling. I’ve updated slightly and given it a different question – only a handful of our usual readership has seen it before (I think).

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A few years ago when Husband and I were on a Minnesota stay-cation, we were honored to attend a memorial service for a man who had been a real “mover and shaker”, someone who was active in many arenas and really got things done. In addition to this, he was considered a “radical.” On a hilltop overlooking the gorgeous green valleys of Southeastern Minnesota in August, people told stories about this man for three solid hours – how he kept to his principles, questioned and at times defied authority, blazed trails, and worked incessantly for environmental and community-building causes.

I grew up in a household of mixed messages: Be Different (but not So Different That You’d Embarrass Us). In the late 60s and the 70s, there were so many ways to Be Different! You could blaze a little trail by trying out vegetarianism or marching in protest to the Vietnam War. Some of us left for the East or West coasts, or abroad, hoping to find something radically different, and of course we did. When ready to settle down in the late seventies, I came to the Twin Cities, hoping what I’d heard was true – there were Radicals in Minnesota. I’ve never been disappointed – the coastal hot spots had nothing on this state!

Most of us are now more subtle in our radicalism – there are hundreds of ways to be a little bit radical. I still enjoy getting people to raise an eyebrow by telling them, say, that I participate in a blog peopled by listeners to a former public radio Morning Show.

What would you like to do that’s a bit radical? (Or have you already done it?)

5,000 Challenge

Trail Baboon?

I was thinking I wanted this blog to have a familiar title – something easy to recognize, but sly.  A turn of phrase that describes information that’s sent out solely for the purpose of observing the reaction of the audience. Something catchy but common.  However, somebody else has that title locked up, and so one must make do with the opportunity that one has.

Maybe “Braille Typhoon” would be better. “Teal Ballroom”? I’m open to suggestions.

This was how we started out 7 years ago – a rag tag bunch still mourning the end of TLGMS and following our favorite DJ into a new venture. Earlier this year we completely hijacked the trail and made it our own.

And as of yesterday, we have 5,000 followers to our little blog. Some days it feels quiet on the Trail, but even then we have many likes and probably a few lurkers.

I have a challenge today. If you are reading this blog, but have never commented, please put one quick comment out there.  One word or two or even a sentence is fine.  If you been here before you know we are a kind community and we’d love to hear from you.

For everybody else – do you remember your first comment on the Trail (or the Trial Balloon)?

Baboon Redux: Zorie Story

Today’s re-post comes from Verily Sherrilee

A 2016 note from the author:  My company is doing its usual “Summer of Love”.  The dress code is relaxed and flip flops will be an acceptable footwear for the next three months.  I don’t really have anything new to say about my massive flip flop collection, but if you’re looking for things to re-run for the holiday weekend, we could re-run my flip flop bit from a  couple of years ago.

My father’s sister, Joan, spent a couple of years in Japan, teaching English. I was four when she came home, bearing exotic gifts. One of these treasures was a small black enamel chest of drawers; since it wasn’t to my parents’ taste, I lucked out. For reasons that I’ll never understand, it was always referred to as “the Chinese chest”. I still have it; it lives in my dining room and now I’ve raised another generation to name it incorrectly.

The most enduring gift, however, were the zories; she brought 2 pairs for me and 2 pairs for my sister. I had never had anything like them and nobody else I knew had them either – not the older, traditional Japanese style with tatami soles on wooden platforms, but plastic zories. White. If my mom had let me, I would have worn them everywhere.

My parents were ecstatic because they discovered a perfect gift for me for any occasion. Zories weren’t popular foot ware when I was growing up, but they did manage to find zories in places like Ben Franklin and Woolworth’s. I didn’t know anyone else who wore zories; in fact, I was in college before I knew that everyone else in America called them flip flops!

The last 15 years have been zorie-heaven for me. These days you can get zories in any color, any design and they are CHEAP. I have an Old Navy account so that every year I am eligible for their $1 flip flop sale. I have white zories, blue zories, purple, yellow, coral. I have fourth of July zories, Halloween zories, Christmas zories, flowers, stripes. Four years ago my company started a super-casual summer program – the dress code is pretty much thrown out. This means I can wear my zories to work every day in the summer.

As the Old Navy sale was approaching this year, I thought I would do an inventory of my zories to see what colors I could add to my collection. I pulled them all out of the closet, paired them all up and laid them all out, beginning with the white and finishing up with the black.

Then I made my fatal error; I counted them. THIRTY-EIGHT!!! I own 38 pairs of zories. 38! I didn’t go to the sale this year.

I may not go next year either.

What do you have too many of?