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There was an unexpected hiccup on the Trail Baboon blog luxury cruise today as I headed off on Saturday morning errands confident that I had arranged everything to post perfectly without further attention or involvement from me. This was the first time in 19 months of this journey that I had proceeded with such reckless faith in technology and human attention-to-detail.

It should come as no surprise that one of the aforementioned elements suffered a catastrophic letdown, and our Trail Baboon Industries failsafe systems failed to catch the failure for 10 long hours. The blog drifted aimlessly, at the mercy of digital weather and electronic tides.

As a result, un-engaged internet eyeballs were left to accumulate on an already-perused page. It was the Trail Baboon equivalent of eating nothing but Saltines and wall paste. Hours of quality baboon attention piled up and then spilled over into other, possibly less savory areas of the Internet.

Who knows where people wound up? I’m concerned, because it is very dangerous out there.

Today’s planned post, an entertaining and thoughtful guest blog by Sherrilee, will be held because it deserves to receive your full attention on Monday morning.

In the meantime, describe a time when your mistake went undetected for too long, resulting in a much larger mess to clean up.

Near Miss

Hot on the heels of the Holiday of Closeness, an apartment building-sized asteroid called 2012 DA 14 will make a pass at us and it has already got our attention. The experts assure us there will be no impact, which is good news since the archeological record suggests that a small rock going very fast can have a lasting effect on living things when it hits.

Today’s near miss is the closest encounter ever detected with a space object this size. For some reason the unusual proximity of this rock has me thinking about a favorite old song.

If a boulder from outer space
drew a bead on your place
You’d avoid an asteroid
close to you

If a chunk fell out of the sky
would you stop to ask why?
You’d avoid an asteroid
close to you

One thing about asteroids that’s very disconcerting,
And the dinosaurs found out that this is true.
If a rock from space collides with Earth
there isn’t very much that you can do!

That is why, when some space debris
vaporizes the seas
‘Cest la vie. That’s when I’ll be
toast to you.

So far, our scientific advances have done little more than improve the chances that we’ll know about the next asteroid impact at least a few days ahead – just enough time to panic, say goodbye, or organize a sing-a-long.

What songs are in your asteroid apocalypse playlist?

Me By Valentine

Today’s post comes from perennial sophomore Bubby Spamden

Hey Mr. C.,

I don’t know how everybody else feels, but I sure don’t like Valentine’s Day. It’s nothing but a big chance to do the wrong thing. When I try to say words of love I get all tongue tied and clumsy and it never sounds right.

So this year I had this cool idea that I would try to tell my girlfriend something romantic in French, instead. Just like this old dead guy Maurice Chevalier did when he put on his straw hat and did a bunch of singing and dancing in the movies. I’ll bet you’ve heard of him because you’re about that old too – just short of the dead part, I’m guessing.

So anyway I found this video on You Tube where he sings some kind of Valentine song.

I know that because it’s called “Valentine”.

It has, like, a whole minute of warm-up music too, which my friend Willy says girls like because then you’re not jumping directly to the mushy stuff – you’re showing you have patience and class. And when you’re doing a performance with a warm-up it gives them a chance to compose themselves so they can pretend to be impressed.

So last night I was over at her house and we were studying for a school assignment and I said “I have a Valentine’s present for you”, and I played the video for her, and did this really cool (to me) dance that was not at all weird (to me) while I lip-synched the words to the song as best I could (like Beyonce).

Did I mention that my girlfriend speaks French really “bon”?

Well she does. I mean she did. She still does speak it, I mean. French. And she also did when she was my girlfriend, which was yesterday but I don’t think she is today, anymore. My girlfriend, that is. Because it didn’t go over very well. At all.

I’m not sure if there was something wrong with my dance, or the words. Since I was only lip-synching, I’d like to think it was Maurice Chevalier’s fault. But it might be that my girlfriend doesn’t understand the language as well as I think she does, and she mis-heard it. I really don’t know, and might never find out. So I decided to look up the words to the song, especially that catchy part with all the cute rhyming sounds.

Here’s how it looks in French:

Elle avait des tout petits petons, Valentine, Valentine
Elle avait des tout petits tétons
Que je tâtais à tâtons, Ton ton tontaine
Elle avait un tout petit menton, Valentine, Valentine
Outre ses petits petons ses petits tétons son petit menton
Elle était frisée comme un mouton

So then I had it translated by one of those automatic online translator engines, and here’s what came out:

It had very young tiny feet, Valentine, Valentine
It had very young nipples
That I touched with touch, your tone tontine
It had a very small chin, Valentine, Valentine
In addition to its small tiny feet, its small nipples and its small chin
It was curly like a sheep.

Anyway, that’s when it became pretty clear that we were done studying. I guess even in French I’m kinda clumsy, romantic-wise. And what’s more, the studying that we were supposed to be doing didn’t get done, at least for me, because I kind of had a stomach ache when I got home.

Why is love so stressful?

Your confused friend,

Who’s the Fairest One of All?

Today’s post comes from NASA’s Curiosity Rover.

I hate it when they do this.

“Rover, take a self portrait.”

So I extend my flexible arm and take a series of shots with the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI). Gad, do I hate acronyms! Call it a mirror, why don’t you? That’s what I’m doing – looking myself over, or letting them look me over. And it’s not even accurate! I position the arm so it’s out of the picture and then stitch the shots together so it appears the camera is floating above me.


Flattering? Hardly.

I’m a drab pile of bolts on a dried up, rocky beach at a resort no one has been to in a billion years. And I’m sorry, but my front wheel is not that big. Can’t we take this from an angle that emphasizes my sleekness – the economy with which I was assembled? There’s not an ounce of me that isn’t functional and critical to the mission, but “lean” is not the word that comes to mind when you look at this conglomeration. Anything but. With an emphasis on the butt. Get a load of that thing back there – it’s like a small town, complete with it’s own municipal water tower. Ghastly.

My best feature is my ivory coloring against the red backdrop, but would it hurt to have a little more dazzle in the package? Something that glitters? A bit of whimsy? And no, I’m not a fan of the markings they put all over me. Imagine waking up with tattoos you never agreed to – and they’re all so technical! Why can’t I have something cool, like a mermaid?

The other thing I hate about “mirror time” – it reminds me that I’m out here all alone on this bleak landscape, and I’m never, ever leaving this planet.


I’m perfectly fine if we never do this again. Let’s put this shot in the scrapbook and get back to drilling holes in stuff. Please?


I’m sure it’s a miserable feeling for the Curiosity Rover when every glance in the mirror is a major disappointment. But what does he expect, a Ferrari? Trying to live by unrealistic and inappropriate beauty standards is a quick pathway to despair. The mirror doesn’t lie, but our expectations can mislead us.

What’s to be gained from looking in the mirror?

State of the Euphemism

Today’s guest post comes from Congressman Loomis Beechly, representing all the water surface area in the State of Minnesota.

Beechly Ice shark copy

Greetings, Constituents!

Tonight marks the umpteenth time I will have attended the President’s annual State of the Union address.

Many times I have wondered about the appropriate way to behave in such an historic setting, and each time I come away with the feeling that I’ve somehow missed the boat. I sit when I should stand. I stand up when I should remain seated. It’s very confusing. Then as soon as the president is done speaking, the word spinning starts and when I look at my newspaper the next morning I’m surprised to see what the speech was really about, even though I was there!

As your congressman, I try not to be starstruck by all the famous people. They’re completely ordinary – right up to the president himself! A lot of Representatives will fall all over themselves anyway, jockeying to be on the aisle so they can shake his hand as he goes by and possibly get their picture in the paper. I can assure you – you won’t see me making such a spectacle out of myself. I don’t have the seniority to get that close to the aisle. And anyway, I’m not some giddy teenager. I’ve been to the dance a few times now.

Tonight, I expect the president will make a strong case for his proposed new policy on guns. He’ll present it as a measure to improve safety for our most vulnerable citizens, and his opponents will fight him on the grounds that holding powerful firearms insures the safety of those who disagree with a vindictive and too-powerful government.

Some people would say these differences can’t be bridged, but I say “Hey, at least they agree that everyone is threatened to the point of needing to take deadly action against a stranger!” That’s a start, even if it’s make-believe. Perhaps somewhere down that contentious road they will find a compromise. Or settle it with a shoot out at twenty paces. In a violent culture, anything is possible!

I, for one, don’t care much about guns. I just hope the president doesn’t listen to his power hungry advisors who want him to extend his safety compulsion to fishing lures. That’s a touchy subject for me and my constituents. A rumor went around the other day that he was going to require that everyone use Safety Lures – not just children.

That’s insane! Imagine not only the expense but the great inconvenience for people like myself who already have a tackle box full of pointy things! All I can say, is, the president can have my exposed-hook lure when he is willing to pull the rusty barb out of my cold, dead finger.

And if he’s willing to do that, it means he’s probably in my boat with me. Imagine, me and the president, fishing!

I hope he’ll have a few beers and spend the afternoon!

Your Congressman,
Loomis Beechly

Name a safety measure or device that has spared you some amount of pain.

Best Laid Plans

Today’s guest post comes from perennial sophomore Bubby Spamden.

Hey, Mr. C!

I think I found my career, finally.

I know I’ve said that about some other things, like being a planet hunter, and watching things blow up. But this time I think I really mean it because the job I have in mind is a real one that people actually do every day, and I already have some experience with it.

I want to be a Forensic Electrical Engineer.

In case you’re wondering what that is, I didn’t know either. Not until I saw this article about why the lights went out at the Super Bowl last Sunday. It turns out the blackout was caused by this very expensive electrical relay that was put in to keep a blackout from happening.

I think that is so cool! Mostly because it is totally ironic.

And now people are arguing about whose fault it was, really. The power company says it wasn’t their fault, and the New Orleans city leaders are kind of hoping it wasn’t the fault of anybody in Louisiana. They’re hoping it can be blamed on the company that made the relay. But the company that made the relay says their relay worked fine – it was the people who messed up.

So there!

And here’s the best part – Forensic Electrical Engineers are going to be really important in deciding who to blame. That’s why I’d like to be one – you get to be the finger pointer instead of having the finger pointed at you all the time, and believe me, I’ve been on the receiving end a lot! So having an important job in the blame placing industry would be great.

I found this job description online – the most important part is highlighted – by me!

“… forensic electrical engineers have investigated the causes of events such as the 1979 accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant and the widespread blackouts across the Northeastern United States and Canada in the 1960s and in 2003. They also work on smaller scale incidents such as an individual being electrocuted by her toaster. They are usually called in when death or injury has occurred, or a large sum of money is at stake.”

Imagine that – I’d get to cast blame on other people in cases where there’s a dead person, or tons of money, or both! I know I’d be great at this because I’m really good at being exasperated at things other people have done, so I could work on my tut-tutting, my eye rolling and my heavy sighing, especially when one person has really, really screwed up.

Please tell me this is a great idea!

That way, if it turns out that I don’t like it or am not very good at it, I can always say you pushed me into the field!

Your Pal,

I told Bubby there is a lot of math involved in being an electrical engineer, and that the people he would be dumping blame on would have their own lawyers with sharp criticisms of himself and his methods. When it is your job to find responsibility in cases where there has been a death or “a lot of money is at stake,” you are not allowed to pass through unscathed, and if your testimony winds up costing someone money, a counter-suit is possible. Blame placing has its own risks.

I suggested it might actually be safer for him to look for a dull career in the Blowing Up Things Industry.

When you place blame on someone other than yourself, how’s your accuracy?

Birthday People

Astrology is a bunch of hooey. There’s no way the position of the stars in relation to the Earth on a particular day has any influence at all over the sort of person you become. All you have to do is look at any one day’s host of birthday people – artists who launched themselves into a certain form of expression and ultimately wound up in very different places.

Like today’s birthday people in music. February 9th boasts:

Carmen Miranda in 1909
Ernest Tubb in 1914
Carole King in 1942.

If astrology had any truth to it, these three different performers would fit this description from

You are a zesty individual, having tremendous amounts of energy. You are determined and forceful in how you deal with people. You want to express your ground-breaking spirit in everything you do but unfortunately you won’t always able to break free of the limits that are imposed upon you. Some Aquarians learn through their family life that before you can be the master of your own destiny, you have to serve. In some extreme cases Aquarians are controlled and dominated by others throughout the formative period of their lives which is why it’s so difficult for them to submit to others.

Most of that could apply to anyone. But in the case of these three, it’s not true at all. Well, OK. Maybe the “zesty” part. And all three had great chart-topping success for a time in the music business. Each eventually found some disappointment in the limitations of the entertainment industry and the fickle nature of stardom.

Two of them are always seen wearing hats. Two were listed among the most creatively and financially successful women of their time.

But only one of them attempted to shoot a music producer in a hotel lobby. And only one had a heart attack on the Jimmy Durante show and died the next day.

See? Very different.

Astrology: Is it charlatanism, quackery or just pure hooey?

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