Category Archives: The Baboon Congress

On Being Funny in Unfunny Places

I will retire in 2021. I set as my goal for the next three years to be as appropriately funny at work as I can.  I love my agency.  We have had a rather rough time over the past couple of years. We are understaffed and stretched to provide mental health and addiction services to an increasing number of people. There are new service initiatives and an  electronic health care  record system that will  start soon. Change is always difficult in government, even when it is positive change.  To complicate matters, in the past two years, five employees have been summarily  escorted off the premises and ordered to not return. This included our top administrator, two senior supervisors, someone from my department, and an administrative assistant.  It has been a little grim. We need cheering up.

I find that pointing out the absurd,  the silly, and the comically sweet  goes  over quite well.  I never tease or get personal. I  find that humor seems to liberate people and makes them bolder.  We need our staff to not be afraid of being leaders in their daily work.  No one seems to be annoyed with me yet. I alternate humor with serious discussion and sound advice.

How do use humor in your daily life? When does humor work the best? When doesn’t it work?

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?

Bah…..

This is hard to write, but I’m thinking my troop of baboon friends can help me out.

I am not a Christian, but I love Christmas. I can massage almost every Christmas tradition into something meaningful for my Yuletide/Solstice beliefs.  I love the feeling of hope and redemption that comes with the season.  I love having a tree filled with lights and ornaments, I love making gifts for my friends and loved ones.  I love baking holiday cookies, I love cookie exchanges.  I love getting cards and reading people’s newsletters.  I love holiday movies (although I will admit I like older stuff better than current films) and I love holiday music.

For decades I have listened to my holiday CDs at the office during December. For many years I played them using my computer but these days I have a little teeny radio/CD player.  I tend to the more traditional music; Mommy Kissing Santa Clause and Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer aren’t in my collection.

This past week I began to bring in my CDs and (as always) I said to all the folks who sit around me that if the music bothered them to let me know. In fact, just this morning, two of the folks who sit on either side of me chimed in on what to play next.  So it was shocking to me when my boss emailed me in the early afternoon that someone had come to her and complained about the music.

I’m broken hearted. Not because I have to use headphones or ear buds to listen to my music.  I’m broken hearted because someone who sits nears me, someone who has worked besides me for YEARS (we haven’t changed seating arrangements in about 4 years) thought it was better to complain to our boss than to stop by my cube and say “Hey, I’m having a bunch of calls today, can you turn your Christmas stuff down?” or “I’m having a really stressful day and your music is distracting – do you have ear buds?”  It’s completely disheartening to think that anybody who knows me even remotely would be able to imagine me getting pissed off about something like that.

I feel like a balloon that’s been stuck with a sharp pin – deflated and completely spiritless. I know it’s just one person, but I’m having trouble shaking my doldrums.  Nonny is coming next week and I have a serious list but right now I don’t feel like doing anything but sitting here feeling sorry for myself. I’m not even in the mood to go downstairs and make hot chocolate.

How would you cheer up an unwilling Scrooge?

I Shouldn’t Say This, But . . .

Today’s post is from Steve Grooms.

They say confession is good for the soul. But, then, “they” say a lot of things that aren’t true.

I’m more inclined to think that a little confession can be a little good for the soul. I have stuff in my past that I could admit to, but wild horses couldn’t drag that out of me. I also have tiny things I can confess without getting me thrown in jail or embarrassed.

The StarTribune recently ran a column that invited people to make small confessions. Many did. I can’t find it now, but they were of this sort: “I don’t care how many times the name is changed officially, it will always be Camp Snoopy for me.”

Some readers made their small confessions and then said they felt better about themselves. If making many such confessions could make me feel better, I’ve got enough questionable stuff to confess that I should be able to make myself love myself.

But in the spirit of confessing to small but wrong ideas, I’ll get things started with a confession that will probably provoke outrage with some Baboons. I like the best hydroponic tomatoes better than “real” homegrown tomatoes.

I used to assume homegrown tomatoes were incomparably better than the things we can buy in stores. Then I got a bunch of “real” tomatoes grown by a friend in Port Huron. They did not—to me—test much better than the best hydroponic supermarket things, and they kept far better. My “real” tomatoes went soft and foul on me within days of being picked. Meanwhile the hydroponics in my fridge tested great almost two weeks after I bought them. I’ve had this experience before. So, with some guilt, I admit to preferring those store-bought hydroponics that have such an awful reputation.

I’ve got more, but perhaps that will do. What about you?

Do you have anything to confess?

 

 

Grateful

It seems to me that Thanksgiving has more expectations attached to it than any other day of the year. I like to read advice columns in the morning (makes me feel like I have a good handle on things); for a couple of weeks the columns have been filled with angst about Thanksgiving.

Grandma doesn’t want to host dinner and two of the daughters are throwing a fit because it will spoil the day. Uncle Joey always drinks too much and everyone is worried about whether he will spoil the day.  Cousin Mary has a new boyfriend who is a vegetarian and everyone is worried his dietary needs will spoil the day.  Grandpa won’t come because he has a new puppy that isn’t welcome and it will spoil the day.  For so many people Thanksgiving seems to be encased in amber; it must be exactly as it’s always been and it can’t be spoiled.

As a person who moved away from home at an early age, got divorced and then became a single parent, I have never had a chance to cement a list of requirements to make Thanksgiving Day overly static. There is however, one thing that I have been in charge of for many years – the thankful project. I’ve done a paper Mayflower w/ little scrolls that people wrote on, I’ve done a large cut out turkey whose feathers became lists of what we’ve thankful for, I’ve done a large tree with leaves for the thankful thoughts.  This year I’m doing a big poster board covered with square of different papers and have a handful of markers for everybody to write with.  I love doing the thankful project as it really brings it home to me where my focus should be, rather than on whether the potatoes are the way I like them.

One of the things that I’ve written down for the last couple of years on the thankful project is “baboons” (which I then have to explain).  I am beyond grateful that I’ve found a community of folks who are thoughtful, caring, sincere, well-read, funny… all these things and more.  I’m thankful for this past year with you all on the Trail and looking forward to the year coming up.

No question today – just heartfelt thanks for all of you!