Trial Balloon

Does a Bear Text In The Woods?

Posted at 5:30 AM on May 12, 2009 by Dale Connelly (34 Comments)

Remember Bart?

Years ago, a scavenging bear found a cell phone at a camp site in northern Minnesota and began calling The Morning Show with alarming regularity. I wondered when his battery would run out, and our recent black bear blackout indicates that it finally has.

But you know how it is in the wild.

Life is a constant search for sustenance, and if inattentive campers leave a few things behind in their haste to put some distance between themselves and a sudden, huge, hairy visitor, well, who can blame that visitor for taking advantage? Here's the message I got:

Bart Blackberry2.jpg
hi frm d w%ds dis S Bart.
My oder ph stopD wurkn n dat md me sad, lk I wznt, u knw, coNectd.
I wz wotchN sum guys campn n UzN their fons.
Dey wr so distractd, dey didn't notis me @ll. surpriz!
as dey wr runN awy, I hrd em sA dey lft blackberries Bhnd. I lykD d sound of dat, so I lOkd ll ovr, bt I cldnt find Ny blackberries, 1ly deez fings W ll d butns.
Now I cn txt.
it takz sm Tm 2 gt it ryt, bt dis S d w%ds n Iv got Tm.
I tnk it wd hlp f I hd thums. thums r realy useful. U shd B gld uv em.
bt U mke do. I prctic my txtN + I e@. Fish.
Dey z fishN Cson s opn, bt Iv bn fishN 4 wks.
Wuz W dat?
M I breakN som law?
F dey wnt me, they'll hav 2 pry dis fish frm my cold, X-) fingAs. *L*

B d B

This is pure gibberish to me, but fortunately there are websites that translate text message talk into actual English. Here's what I think Bart is trying to say:

Hi from the woods, this is Bart.
My other phone stopped working and that made me sad. Like I wasn't, you know, connected. I was watching some guys camping and using their phones.
They were so distracted, they didn't notice me at all. Surprise!
As they were running away, I heard them say they left blackberries behind.
I liked the sound of that, so I looked all over, but I couldn't find any blackberries, only these things with all the buttons.
Now I can text.
It takes some time to get it right, but this is the woods and I've got time.
I think it would help if I had thumbs. Thumbs are really useful. You should be glad you have them. But I make do. I practice my texting and I eat. Fish.
They said "fishing season" is open, but I've been fishing for weeks!
What's with that?
Am I breaking some law?
If they want me, they'll have to pry this fish from my cold, dead fingers.
Ha ha.
Have a nice day.
Bart the Bear.

This raises all sorts of questions, like:
"How did he learn texting shorthand?"
"Why is he holding the phone backwards?"
And ... "Who took that picture?"

Comments (34)

It is good that you translated Bart's message, Dale, I can bearly read it. I think Bart needs an I-Phone so he can listen to RH and participate in the blog.

Posted by Jim | May 12, 2009 6:22 AM

Dale, you surprise and delight us every day - thanks for the chuckles! and now "Ants between your toes" and yesterday that baseball song - no where else is right!
thank you, thank you

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | May 12, 2009 6:29 AM

My goodness, it took me 5-10 minutes to try to read that darn message from Bart, then scrolled down and saw that you had given the translation. If that's how people send texts, then no wonder the car, bus and train accidents!

Posted by Gail in Wisconsin | May 12, 2009 6:33 AM

Welcome to RH, Bart. Did he send in a text to request bear songs this morning? Hope so. What would be those songs? Blackberries -prefer those on yogurt!

Posted by Carolyn | May 12, 2009 6:34 AM

Morning Heartlanders. I have to admit that the whole texting thing has gotten by me. I just don't feel the need to be in communication with someone 24/7, so the cell phone spends alot of alone time in my purse. Unfortunately I think w/ my daughter heading into her mid-teenage years, I'm gonna have to get on the merry-go-round soon! Wish me luck.

Barb -- how are you doing today? And the baby?

Posted by sherrilee | May 12, 2009 6:36 AM

I assume that if Bart could ask for a song he would ask for Dancing With Bears.

Posted by Jim | May 12, 2009 6:41 AM

Good Morning RH,

Yay Bart! I deciphered quite a bit of his text. It's probably because I get lots of practice decoding first graders' phonetic spelling. It can be especially challenging at the beginning of the year, but it's always entertaining. Like Bart!

Sometime, when you're not so busy asking for support, would you please play the Beatles', "I'm Looking Through You"?

Posted by Donna | May 12, 2009 6:50 AM

Sherrilee, thanks for asking - i am sorry to say that the vet came last night, examined Heldig and said that he had some developmental thing - no muscular support for his growing skeleton - and would never be normal. so, very peacefully, she injected something into Heldig and he died an seconds. his body is going to the U of M vet school to determine what it was about Alba's twins. we want to know before we would ever breed her again. as i said, this year has given us a tiny peek into what farmers deal with all of the time.
Alba is fine. i think she gave up on Heldig when he stopped being able to suckle on saturday. we are fine. sad but knowing we did what was possible and kind for him. sorry for being such a downer over the last few weeks....
on the bright side, Artie and Tammy weigh about two tons and are like popcorn the way they jump and run around - so much energy.

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | May 12, 2009 6:52 AM

If Bart has forgotten that blackberries don't come til later in the season, he must not be quite awake yet. With this cold spring maybe he'll fall back to hibernation. But as long as there are campers he'll have some tempting campsites to explore for breakfast.
Good luck, Bart! Keep on textin'.

Posted by Gen | May 12, 2009 7:03 AM

I am among the BlackBerry addicted (and do so wish there were an app for Radio Heartland).

Even with his revised spelling, that poor bear exceeded his 160-character limit for SMS. ;-)

Finally, my five year old is a bit like a bear with a BlackBerry when he gets a hold of mine... speed dialing people in my address book.

Have a great Tuesday, all!

Posted by elinor | May 12, 2009 7:12 AM

Donna, thanks for requesting the Beatles song. I was yearning for one this morning!

Posted by Gail in Wisconsin | May 12, 2009 7:16 AM

Good Morning Heartlanders! Gail in WI, I did the exact same thing -- and then saw the translation. Doh!

Barb - so sorry about Heldig. It sounds like you did all the right things -- be at peace.

Good to hear from Bart. Love to hear more from him, as long as Dale translates. Reading texting shorthand gives me a headache! I'm really grateful that most folks on this blog type words out fully with decent punctuation.

Personally, I prefer blackberries in my breakfast smoothies ...

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | May 12, 2009 7:30 AM

Finally I have HD in my car! I just re-joined RH today for my morning drive. What a treat to hear about our old friend Bart. I get to listen at work, but I'm never in my office more than 10 mins at a time. Dale - keep up the great work. Maybe some of our other old friends from the Morning Show days will call & check in from time to time.

Posted by Ole from Buffalo | May 12, 2009 7:38 AM

I, too, plodded my way through the text message to discover the translation below...duh. And, Joanne, I too prefer my blackberries in a smoothie (daily)>

Barb in know my thoughts are with you...see you at Wurst Days in Mahtowa on teh 23rd. Everyone on Trial Balloon should join us!

Good Tuesday, y'all!

PS Dale, thanks for teh Beatles and really thank you for Nat King Cole. sigh.

Posted by cynthia in mahtowa | May 12, 2009 7:39 AM

Welcome Ole from Buffalo, and Sharon (late yesterday's blog) -- isn't it great to finally find the show again? :)

Barb, my condolences about yet another little goat. I'm a town girl now but milked goats for one summer when we lived on a farm in 1981, and you get attached to the little creatures. I'm glad Alba is doing ok.

Dale, how about a round of Teddy Bears Picnic, the old version where I think it's Phillip Brunelle saying "Up and march around the room!"?

Posted by Barbara from Robbinsdale | May 12, 2009 7:54 AM

Good Morning!

Well I'm glad I wasn't the only one who struggled through Bart's message before seeing the translation.

Barb - Sorry to hear about Heldig. Nature can be as cruel as she is beautiful.

Posted by Mark | May 12, 2009 8:23 AM

I think Bart may have demonstrated that texting is a primitive form of communication. We old people didn't use it because we qctually learned English, but the keyboard generation is regressing to it. I'll bet that all God's Critters would text if they had blackberries ...and paws.

Heaartlanders are getting quite the intro to Mother Nature from the sad loss of the tiny goat twins to the magic of a universal language with bad spelling and translators.

Posted by Beth-Ann | May 12, 2009 8:27 AM

Dale, I clicked on that link for the site that translates text lingo into English (and back). Cool stuff -- who'd have thunk it? Amazing what's all out there .... I bookmarked it in my Favorites. itl prolly cum n h&d sumday.

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | May 12, 2009 8:27 AM

I think we ALL struggled (except for Elinor!) through the text before realizing there was a translation at the bottom. Guess that means that Heartlanders are just always up for a challenge!

Barb - glad to hear the Tammy and Artie are doing so well. Hope you know that you are held in our collective Heartlander hearts for the heartache you've had over Alba's twins this year.

Dale - didn't get a chance earlier, but thanks for the Ants Between Your Toes. I wasn't the original asker, but I loved it anyway!

Posted by sherrilee | May 12, 2009 8:31 AM

Good Morning All! I am sad to say I understood most of what Bart texted, even though we do not own a Blackberry (other than the edible kind) or a cell phone... We are finding ourselves learning this gibberish in self defense with the upcoming Indian AFS student and teenage nieces and nephews writing this shorthand in emails and on their facebook pages (it was the only way to find out what the kids are up to!). Can't say I enjoy it, but it's mostly understandable.
Dale, we are debating in our house about when Bart first appeared on the LGMS. Can you enlighten us?

Posted by Amy in St Paul | May 12, 2009 8:34 AM

Thanks, Dale, for Teddy Bears Picnic. :) Vern Sutton, yes. I had a feeling it wasn't P. Brunelle...
Have a good day, everyone.

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | May 12, 2009 8:42 AM


Thank you so much for playing Prince for Bill this morning. He missed it but unlike back in the Morning Show days, he will be able to hear it again! That is so cool…..
I know Prince isn’t typical RH material but I do appreciate the way you are willing to go outside the box regularly, that’s yet another thing that makes this service so great!
That and songs like I'm considering a move to!
These are reasons to become a sustaining member like I did back when RH started.

Posted by Kate from Eden Prairie | May 12, 2009 8:53 AM

Add me as one who deciphered Bart’s text before finding the translation. Given the bear theme, with a little hacker terminology, I guess you could call that a honey pot ;-)

Listening to the show and reading the blog is a great start to the day. Thanks Dale, Mike and all. BTW – thanks for playing the Ventures “Telstar” yesterday – that’s been a favorite instrumental of mine since I was a kid – I have the LP album.

Posted by Mike in Albert Lea | May 12, 2009 8:54 AM

The answers seem rather apparent to me. Bart is holding his BB backwards because he's showing it to us. Who took the picture is open to more conjecture. Perhaps one of the fleeing campers. Perhaps Bart is using a laptop that was also left behind. We should also consider that one of Bart's "forest woodland creature" friends has another BB or an iPhone. As far as the message, texting (from what I can tell, since I don't own a cell phone) is a phonetically based language. As we've seen, even this week with the cat that meows 'hello,' animals are capable of replicating phonetics and inflection. It seems a rather short leap to assigning the letters that represent the sounds. The nuances of spelling and grammar would be much more difficult but texting discounts those jobs. I also wouldn't be terribly surprised if there was some kind of software that translates 'bear speak' into text messages.

Posted by That Guy in the Hat | May 12, 2009 9:01 AM

Barb – I too was sorry to hear about Heldig. “Ashokan Farewell” was a nice touch Dale. I love to hear it played with the Sullivan Ballou letter from “The Civil War.” That letter, from a Union officer to his wife, is probably the most eloquent piece of writing I can think of. If you haven’t read it, here’s a link:

Sullivan Ballou Letter

Posted by Mike in Albert Lea | May 12, 2009 9:08 AM

Oh, how great to hear from Bart!! I was so worried about him, especially after he got bumped from the last Morning Show broadcast. Was afraid he may have harmed himself!

Posted by Jane in Stillwater | May 12, 2009 9:16 AM

It's a sad commentary on modern life that I had no trouble at all reading Bart's original text. Like Amy, I have had to learn the lingo to keep up with my children and their online lives. It's kind of scary when it starts to look normal.

Posted by Cindy | May 12, 2009 10:46 AM

hey, barb--too bad re heldig----a strange malady of malformation....keep us posted on what you find out re the mom and dad's genetics!

nice to hear from bart----i can't do texting cuz it takes so long to translate correct spelling into what others can read....;-)

i think Waltzing with Bears was one of the first songs from the old morning show that really got me tuning in regularly---i thought any station that played the beatles often and waltzing with bears sometimes was my kind of station...

how about a beatles song every day!!!???

Posted by Kay H | May 12, 2009 11:40 AM

help me out, Dale! I'm trying to find out where that song "This Is The Beginning," by Pat Donohue can be found. I checked out the albums on his website and it doesn't seem to be on any of them. I would really like to get this song!! Do you know where?

Posted by CJ | May 12, 2009 12:34 PM


Pat Donohue's "This is The Beginning" can be found on his CD, "Life Stories".

Posted by Mike Pengra | May 12, 2009 12:46 PM

Oh Barb, so sorry about Heldig. Bless his little soul. I don't read the blog every single day, but I always manage to tune in when a little goat passes on. I shed a little tear for him and you.

So you guys don't think that Dale and Bart planned it so that we would all attempt to read the textese version first and that they are both very amused? I text, but I do it in regular English most of the time. It takes longer, but in some circumstances it's a very handy way to communicate. When you don't need to talk to someone right at the moment, but you need to give them a message, when you are on the bus and don't want to be one of those annoying people who talk on their cell phone on the bus, when you know that the person you want to communicate with is at the library or church or some other quiet place, when your 20 year old step son rarely answers a phone call, but almost always answers a many good uses for texting It's a great way to communicate with teenagers; rather than answering their phone in an irritated voice in front of their friends, saying, "What do you want, Mom?" they can politely text you without any of that adolescent attitude in their voices. Yes, of course, the attitude is still there, but if you can't hear it, you can pretend it isn't.

Posted by Darcy | May 12, 2009 2:04 PM

Darcy -- I think you've really hit on something for parents of teens. My sister has a 12-year-old, but I'm forwarding your entry to her in anticipation of the next several years - a survival technique. You could lead classes or something!

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | May 12, 2009 2:26 PM

Well, who knew I would sound like such an expert? :O) My step kids are 6 years apart and the older one was pre cell phones (at least in our family) and we really appreciated the accessability to the younger one with the new technology!

Posted by Darcy | May 12, 2009 3:56 PM

just thanks to all of you - really great group - and to Dale who, so tastefully, dedicated that lament to Heldig. i promise - well, one never has complete control - no more sad news. we hope for this year - Dream is due on Flag Day. she is sooooo huge! OMG (that's all the text language i know) and the way her udder is filled already i think she is planning on quintuplets (oh i hope not). can't milk her until the kiddos arrive - need to save that colostrum for them. summer babies - uffda - you summer mommies out there probably know how that goes......
again - thanks so much from all of us at MeadowWild Farm.

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | May 12, 2009 4:42 PM

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