Category Archives: Baboon Blog Redux

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.

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).


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?


Baboon Redux – Nature Gets Louder Than Trump

Billions of noisy cicadas are set to rise from the ground in the northeastern part of the United States.   It’s about time something outshouted you-know-who.

The Weather Channel included them in the spring bug forecast, and a TV station in Ohio now claims the relentless critters are crawling out of the dirt even as we speak.

I have written about cicadas before – to be precise in June of 2011.

I was in central Illinois, visiting my father for the better part of a week. We worked around the house doing some routine maintenance – cutting grass, plugging woodpecker holes, fussing with the water softener, replacing broken windows, slathering roofing tar on a leaky overhang, etc.
We did all this in the midst of a prodigious hatch of cicadas, which is a humbling event for humans who are accustomed to feeling dominant, or even merely significant.

The bugs called the tune that spring – a tune that literally filled the air, resembling the constant ring of a busted wheel bearing early in the day, and by mid afternoon becoming a steady rattle, like the nonstop shaking of a huge tambourine. It’s the males who make the loudest noise, relentlessly advertising their sexual availability.

Why can’t they just quietly post some images of their parts on Twitter?

Working outside, we were subjected to a random sideways rain of buzzing, bulgy-eyed revelers who covered the trunks of trees and erupted in clouds from the shrubbery whenever branches were disturbed. At a nearby grocery store, the girl who tended the cart corral did her work with one hand wielding a flyswatter to keep insect invaders from getting tangled in her hair. This small gesture gave her necessary courage to face the onslaught, though she was bailing the ocean with a teacup.

The cicadas will do their work. They have an assignment to hatch, mate, and die, planting the next generation in the process. Six weeks of glory and see you in 2024! There’s no confusion about purpose or wondering ‘what I want to do when I grow up’ in the cicada world. I envy their focus and devotion to the task at hand.

I guess that’s really the task “at leg.”  Thank God they don’t have hands!

Choose an animal to do a six week infestation of your life.