Trial Balloon

Trial Balloon Category Archive: Ask Dr. Heartlander

Ask Dr. Heartlander

Posted at 6:00 AM on June 4, 2010 by Dale Connelly (124 Comments)
Filed under: Ask Dr. Heartlander

Today's "Ask Dr. Heartlander" comes by emergency e-mail from an iPhone somewhere in North Carolina. If you have never seen this Trial Balloon feature before, it operates on a simple premise - many minds are better than one, and we are ALL Dr. Heartlander.

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Dear Dr. Heartlander,

I work for the US Census visiting uncounted households. Because we have confidentiality rules, I can't tell you exactly where I am at this moment.

I just finished enumerating the individuals living in the F_stein residence (lovely castle by the way) and was slowly backing down the long, treacherous, winding driveway when a sudden flash of lightning and the howl of an incessant wind momentarily distracted me. The rear wheels of my car slipped over the embankment and now I'm balanced on the edge of a precipice overlooking a 1,000 foot drop. Each time I move, the center of gravity shifts and my vehicle tips a little bit more towards oblivion. Opening the door or climbing out the window is not an option. I'm middle-aged (really) and by no means quick or nimble.

I honked the horn a hundred times before Dr. F_stein came out of the house to see what was going on. He took one look at my situation and went back in the house, rubbing his hands together and mumbling something about "releasing the creature". I don't know if he's talking about me (we are all God's "creatures") or if he's going to get somebody else. He said he lived alone, but I'm not sure I believe him - there were strange crashing and moaning sounds coming out of the basement. He said it was the water heater. Dr. F_stein was kind enough during our interview (it was long) but if he brings another person out of that house I know I am going to feel betrayed and I will have to start the enumeration process all over.

On one side is certain death. On the other, sure disappointment and a lot of extra work. Plus, there's an element of fear in the air - something sinister that I can't describe. That's why I decided to write to you.

Dr. Heartlander, what is the secret to happiness?

Sincerely,
Tipper

I told "Tipper" that the secret to happiness lies in never having to back a car down a winding driveway in a thunderstorm without someone to help you. Even if you are working for the government, it is dangerous to visit strange, remote households alone. Now that she has already violated some cardinal rules and is in this difficult situation, her only remaining choice is to keep a sunny disposition, expect the best of others, and be careful around fire.

But that's just my opinion. What do YOU think, Dr. Heartlander?

(124 Comments)

Ask Dr. Heartlander

Posted at 6:00 AM on May 14, 2010 by Dale Connelly (20 Comments)
Filed under: Ask Dr. Heartlander

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Dear Dr. Heartlander,

I have been diagnosed with SSS (Severe Suggestibility Syndrome), a rare malady characterized by frequent and changeable symptoms that mirror whatever medical condition I've recently been told about.

For example, a few months ago when my mother came down with hives I suddenly felt itchy. When my friend got the flu I couldn't eat for three days and once when a woman at work told me she was lactose intolerant I had a sudden bout of extreme flatulence that made it necessary for me to go home in the middle of the afternoon.

My doctor gave me some cube shaped pills that he identified as a new medication designed to treat my problem. He said the drug was called "Feelbetterin". I was supposed to dissolve one with coffee in the morning and another in hot tea before bed. I did as I was told and the symptoms went away.

I was delighted. At my next visit I asked my doctor if I could get a prescription for a long term supply of the drug and he told me the paperwork wouldn't be necessary - "Feelbetterin" was just ordinary sugar cubes. I felt embarrassed and betrayed.

I accused my doctor of duping me for his own amusement and he admitted that he does have a problem with compulsively lying to gullible patients about phony treatments ... a practice defined in the clinical dictionary of rare disorders as "Bamboozling Suckers". There is no cure.

I know my doctor can't control his BS Disorder, but I'm still angry.

And now I find myself compelled to tell all my friends about the benefits of Feelbetterin. I even re-packaged and sent a box of sugar cubes to my anemic brother-in-law with a note saying it was a free sample and he should take two a day.

Dr. Heartlander, has my untreated SSS given me a bad case of incurable BSD? Or am I just being spiteful?

Sincerely,
E.O. Placebo

I told E.O. that not only was "Feelbetterin" a fake medication, but Severe Suggestibility Syndrome and Bamboozling Suckers Disorder were both phony illnesses. Since only make believe treatments can work on non existent conditions, he should go back to using the two sugar cubes daily until a time comes when he forgets to take them.
At that point, he should consider switching to honey in his tea.

But that's just my opinion. What do YOU think, Dr. Heartlander?

(20 Comments)

Ask Dr. Heartlander

Posted at 6:00 AM on May 7, 2010 by Dale Connelly (29 Comments)
Filed under: Ask Dr. Heartlander

Dear Dr. Heartlander --

I'm dreading Mother's Day once again because it makes me feel awkward and sad for my for Aunt Esther - a dear relative and gentle soul who loves Victorian novels, afternoon tea and breakfast plates with food arranged in the shape of happy faces.

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Aunt Esther has been like a mother to me while my biological mother, her sister Grace, (I refuse to call her "mom"), has been traveling the world as a Cher impersonator. Grace's stated reason for getting into the business? Bright lights and free drinks.

Each Mother's Day since I turned 16, Grace pauses her never-ending tour to present herself on our doorstep to be feted and fussed over, claiming that she's making up for lost time since she skipped Mother's Day in my earliest years because I was so selfish and needy. But now that I'm 19 I am apparently old enough to do something sufficiently "fabulous" with her in observation of this significant day.

Dr. Heartlander, the past three years I've feigned illness to avoid the stress of facing this uncomfortable situation, and this year I'm genuinely sick with worry. Not only is poor Aunt Esther not getting the attention she deserves, but as a person who is accustomed to the life of a Cher impersonator, Grace has highly unrealistic expectations when it comes to having a good time. Flowers and a nice brunch don't seem to impress her - I think she's hoping for something glitzy and spangly, possibly involving cocktails and dancing motorcycle dudes in skin tight leather.

But that's only a guess. Though Grace gave birth to me, I don't really know her. Plus, she insists on calling me "Chastity" even though that's not my name.

Dr. Heartlander, what can I do to properly observe this day? There is only one mother's day and I think of myself has having only one mother, though technically I am her niece.

Conflictedly,

Aunt Esther's Girl


I told Aunt Esther's girl she should celebrate Mother's Day in the way that feels best to her and not worry about the expectations of others. Perhaps Grace will be disappointed, but anyone still working as a Cher impersonator today has already found a way to deal with rejection. Bookings are simply not what they used to be, and it's not just a side effect of a bad economy. Perhaps that's the real reason she has decided to re-enter your life - loneliness and that continuing, insatiable need to be adored. Of course, it's never too late to make room for the person who gave birth to you, but be honest! Is there some place you could take both of them? A biker bar where they serve waffles?
If you time it right, Sunday brunch might dovetail into happy hour - then everybody could get what they want.

But that's only one opinion. What do YOU think, Dr. Heartlander?

(29 Comments)

Ask Dr. Heartlander

Posted at 6:00 AM on April 30, 2010 by Dale Connelly (35 Comments)
Filed under: Ask Dr. Heartlander

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Dear Dr. Heartlander,

Last year our daughter turned 16 and begged for a credit card linked to our checking and savings accounts. All her friends had that kind of access, she said. And besides, it would help her learn the value of money.

Reluctantly we gave in, and Ashley proceeded to wager our family savings in an internet betting pool focused on the outcome of "American Idol". I suppose it could have turned out OK except that nasty Simon Cowell said some stupid thing to turn the whole nation against our pick and we lost everything. Under the best of circumstances, an impulsive kid wouldn't get the kind of freedom that allows this to happen, but she assured us she knew what she was doing and we believed her.

Silly us.

Anyway, we've taken out some major loans to stay afloat and we're re-grouping, trying to put our lives back together. One of the tasks is to come up with a set of spending rules for Ashley so she doesn't do this again. I think I have a written a reasonable set of strict guidelines full of common sense limits backed up with a series of checks and balances, but her mother says my rules are too harsh and they'll drain Ashley of her free enterprise initiative, sending the message that big daddy is going to take control of all the variables, risk is bad and playing a hunch should be avoided at all costs.

That's exactly the message I mean to send. No gambling!

Ashley's mother points out that she rolled the dice when she married me and the jury is still out as to whether or not that huge, irrational gamble paid off. Under rules similar to the ones I'm proposing, she says, I would never have had a chance.

I'm confused. I thought this was about money.
Should I re-consider?

Sincerely,

Too Big To Fail

Here's what I told TBTF: "Good rules are an important part of any game, and Ashley does seem to view this as a game above all else. If her "free enterprise initiative" is easily damaged by a few limitations, it wasn't going to take her very far anyway. Her mother is probably just trying to scare you, which is also an important part of any system of oversight. Note the risk and move forward with care and determination."

But that's just my opinion.

What do YOU think, Dr. Heartlander?


(35 Comments)

Ask Dr. Heartlander

Posted at 6:00 AM on April 20, 2010 by Dale Connelly (37 Comments)
Filed under: Ask Dr. Heartlander

Radio Heartland has tickets to Eliza Gilkyson in concert at the Cedar Cultural Center this Saturday, April 24th at 8pm.

Enter the drawing.
Obey the rules.
Good Luck! Thumbnail image for Ann_Landers small.jpg


Dear Dr. Heartlander,

I have made plans to be entertained at a show this Saturday night, but another event came along that looks equally or perhaps even more entertaining than the first one. Still, I can't change my original plans since I already bought tickets. So now the first performer is going to have to be even MORE entertaining - she will have to overcome my blues at not being able to see the second performer before I can even begin to have a good time. If I'm still bummed out by intermission, I might ditch the first event and run across town for the second part of the other event. But if that turns out to be really good, I'll be terribly depressed that I missed the first part.

I'm feeling paralyzed by doubt. Maybe I should just stay home.

I picked you to give me some useful advice on this, Dr. Heartlander, even though Ann Landers has a much better track record. She's dead and somewhat more difficult to reach, but I considered trying because this situation has my stomach tied up in knots. Don't make me regret coming to you!

Sincerely,
Suffering Second Thoughts

I told SST that "entertainment" is supposed to be "fun". If you're agonizing over the possibility that you won't enjoy the choice you made as much as the choice you might have made, you're missing the point.
Work causes stress. Entertainment relaxes. Don't get them mixed up!

But that's just my opinion.

What do YOU think, Dr. Heartlander?

(37 Comments)

Ask Dr. Heartlander

Posted at 6:01 AM on April 13, 2010 by Dale Connelly (45 Comments)
Filed under: Ask Dr. Heartlander

Radio Heartland has tickets to give away for a performance by Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas at the Cedar Cultural Center coming up this Friday, April 16th at 8pm.
We'll accept entries until 1pm today and will notify winners by e-mail later this afternoon.

Enter the drawing.
Obey the rules.
Good Luck!

My apologies to the Trial Balloon and Radio Heartland community for my absence over the next few days - even though I just had a wonderful week-and-a-half vacation, the show may sound somewhat "canned" as I attend to a bit of family business that simply can't wait. I'll be back, live in the studio, on Friday!

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Dear Dr. Heartlander,

There's this guy I hang out with who is sometimes "there" and sometimes "not there" and it can be really difficult for me to tell the difference.

You know how a person sometimes can say kinda generic things and he stares off into the distance and then tries to give the appearance that he is engaged and paying attention to you but it's obvious that he's really not and his mind is actually, like, somewhere else?

Well that's this guy every now and then, although lately it seems like its been pretty much all the time. What's with that?

I worry that he's on drugs or something, and then I worry that he just doesn't like me and is thinking about someone else all the time. And then I get annoyed that maybe he's so, like, selfish and uncaring.

He says it's just his personality that's remote and he only seems kinda detatched and, well, uninvolved and stupid. But I don't know ... I think maybe that the remote control zombie vibe he gives off is the real him, and I should be ...

Looking Elsewhere

I told "Looking Elsewhere" that it's human nature to personalize the actions of others - to think that what they're doing is really about you. But often it's not the case - everybody wrestles with their own issues for their own reasons and all they want or need from you is a little kindness and some understanding.

But then again, some people are just jerks.

Looking back on my advice now, I guess I wasn't very helpful.
What do YOU think, Dr. Heartlander?

(45 Comments)

Ask Dr. Heartlander

Posted at 6:00 AM on March 8, 2010 by Dale Connelly (33 Comments)
Filed under: Ask Dr. Heartlander

Dear Dr. Heartlander,

When I tell a stranger my name they usually do one of two things - laugh out loud or pause for a moment to gather their composure before saying something like "that's a really unusual name. Where'd you get it?"
And then they laugh out loud.

I always reply "I got my name from my parents, same as most people. "

The conversation that follows goes something like this:

Stranger: "Well, you certainly must have an interesting job."

Me: "Depends on what you mean by 'interesting'."

Stranger: "Like, you know, a singer. Or a cowboy or something. Or a singing cowboy. Is that what you do?"

Me: "No, I can't carry a tune and I don't like animals."

Stranger: "Well whatever you do, it must be something special. You can't have an ordinary job with a name like the one you've got."

Me: "I'm a custodian at a bowling alley. "

Stranger: "No, that's not it. You must be an author. A romance writer. Or science fiction. Or science fiction romances!
Can I have your autograph?"

People refuse to believe that I don't have an exotic job or an exciting life. No matter how hard I try to prove to them that I am as ordinary as dirt, they wind up thinking I am "amazing" and "wonderful" because of my name. I feel like I am living a lie! How can I end this nightmare?

Sincerely,
Orbison Blackhoof

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Dear Orbison Blackhoof,

Your name is your name, and you do not need to suffer through someone else's impression of what it means. Never apologize for being a custodian in a bowling alley. Cleanliness is essential for bowling. Not enough alleys focus on it.

Concerning the expectations of others - nuts to them. Only you can define what it means to be Orbison Blackhoof, so go ahead and keep oiling those lanes and let others think your head is full of breathless beauties with heaving bosoms, or space battles or cowboys running free over the western plains, or drunks singing in a bar if that is what your name conjures for them.

The expectations of strangers are not your concern. It diminishes you to spend even a moment worrying about it. Why should you? After all, you're Orbision Blackhoof !

But that's just one opinion. What do you think Dr. Heartlander?

(33 Comments)

Ask Dr. Heartlander

Posted at 6:00 AM on February 23, 2010 by Dale Connelly (41 Comments)
Filed under: Ask Dr. Heartlander

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Dear Dr. Heartlander,

I am a sculptor who hopes to be thought of as a great artist long after I am dead. In order to do that, I will have to employ all my talents in terms of beauty and grace, but the work must also speak of my time and the culture I live in.

My problem is in choosing a subject. I find it hard to pick someone to sculpt who has the time to sit for me and who people will agree is worthy of the effort.

It would be so easy to make a mistake. If I pour all my talent into creating a figure that represents some liar, cheater, a Ponzi scheme perpetrator or some other kind of pathetic loser, I'm afraid my work will be disparaged or worse, ignored! In the old days, you could always chisel out the figure of some God or mythological creature and you could be pretty sure people would accept it as magnificent. Who's going to risk the wrath of Zeus by suggesting his nose looks crooked or his head is shaped like a melon?

In antiquity, it was easy for sculptors to get a rave review. Today, all you get is arguments about whether your subject is qualified to stand on a pedestal. Politicians, athletes, movie stars ... I wouldn't dare take the chance on any of them. I once sent a letter to Tiger Woods, asking if he would sit for a portrait. Now I'm so glad he didn't answer. I could have wasted a year with that one.

Help me, Dr. Heartlander! Who can I sculpt?

PS - it would also help if they had enough money to pay me something now, while I'm living. I'm famished!

Signed,
Starving Artist.

Dear Starving Artist,

Stop being such a baby. It doesn't matter who you sculpt. The nastier the better - critics of the future won't care if you put a pedestal under somebody who doesn't merit the honor. Is there anyone who truly deserves it?

All you have to worry about is the art itself. Take your time and make it something special.

And if you want to be famous in a thousand years, always remember to look at your subjects as if they were missing their heads and arms. Because that's the way they'll end up. Torso, torso, torso!

But that's only one opinion. What do YOU think, Dr. Heartlander?

(41 Comments)

Ask Dr. Heartlander

Posted at 6:03 AM on February 3, 2010 by Dale Connelly (21 Comments)
Filed under: Ask Dr. Heartlander

Dear Dr. Heartlander,

I'm feeling a little bit down today.

I entered the precinct caucuses last night thinking I had a pretty good chance to demonstrate some substantial support for my life long dream - to be elected Governor! I was organized and my people turned out in all areas of the state, but when the numbers came back on the straw poll I was a disappointing not-very-close-to-the-top. Not only did I finish behind "Undecided", I was also beaten by "Contemplating a Move To North Dakota".

I sense that people are hungry for government that can accomplish things, but in retrospect, my slogan "He Knows When to Compromise" may not have been the best strategy for getting votes at this point in the process.

Still, a talent for bargaining hard and splitting the difference at the last minute in order to get things done has always been my greatest strength. So this feels like a personal rejection - like I have been stood up on a blind date. I'm a really good person, but it doesn't even seem like they want to get to know me!

Am I over reacting?

Sincerely,
Moderation Is My Middle Name

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Dear M.I.M.M.N.,

You HAVE been stood up on a blind date. But just because the party faithful don't want to take you to the big dance, that doesn't mean you're repulsive.

You might just be uninteresting.

The good news is, there's still time. Take a hard look at yourself in the mirror. Identify your most exciting features and find a way to work them to your advantage. Note that the "most exciting" aspects of your personality may not be the same ones that give you the most pride.

Though moderation is smart when it comes to drinking and gambling and your willingness to compromise may be a good quality to have when it's time to finish a deal, it's not the sort of thing that will make people walk across the room to meet you. After all, they already know you'll meet them halfway. So focus on something else right now.

If you can do animal impressions, dance or tell jokes, or do all of those at the same time, now is a good time to put that on display. Governors have been elected with less.

But this is just one way to look at M.I.M.M.N.'s problem.

What do YOU think, Dr. Heartlander?

(21 Comments)

Ask Dr. Heartlander

Posted at 6:00 AM on January 12, 2010 by Dale Connelly (54 Comments)
Filed under: Ask Dr. Heartlander

Dear Dr. Heartlander,

I am struggling with the difference in the feeling I get when I'm doing what I want to do as opposed to when I'm doing what I think I SHOULD do.

When I'm doing what I think I should do, I feel disappointed while I'm doing it and satisfied afterwards.

When I'm doing what I want, I feel satisfied while I'm doing it and disappointed afterwards.

All I want is to feel satisfied all the time. It disappoints me that I can't seem to ever get there. Am I asking too much?

Sincerely,

Gil T.

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Dear Gil,

When I was a boy, eating ice cream made me happy and eating beets did not. I did not understand why I couldn't have ice cream at every meal. At first, my mother said it was just too expensive to eat ice cream that often, but I figured that was a dodge and I wouldn't stop complaining about it. Finally, she explained it this way - if I ate nothing but ice cream, I'd get fat, my teeth would fall out, and I'd die. I accepted that grudgingly, figuring mom knew more than I did.

Now that I'm older, I realize that I have eaten beets so many times I don't have any specific memories about them, while every dish of ice cream I've ever had stands out like a beacon in the night!

And I finally figured out that late in life, you get fat, your teeth fall out and you die no matter what.

Think of all the money I saved not buying ice cream!

But that's just ONE opinion. What do YOU think, Dr. Heartlander?

(54 Comments)

Ask Dr. Heartlander

Posted at 6:00 AM on January 5, 2010 by Dale Connelly (39 Comments)
Filed under: Ask Dr. Heartlander

As you know, there is more than one Dr. H., and he/she sees all the angles.
Good thing. This week's question is rather abstract.

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Dear Dr. Heartlander -

Everyone says "Happy New Year", as if we are guaranteed to get a full 365 days out of 2010. But I say Hogwash! Here we are less than one week into it, and I feel bamboozled!

Yesterday, I had 3 errands that should have taken an hour and a half. I left the house at noon, but I didn't get back until 5:30!

What happened to the extra 4 hours? I'm SURE they did not pass through my life, so they must have gone through someone else's.

I suspect that people are intercepting minutes that were supposed to come to me, and they are wasting this time on their own idle pursuits! Probably the culprits are Captains of Industry and Wall Street Bankers who are siphoning off my seconds to fritter away on their stupid meetings, their extravagant family vacations to Vienna, and their endless commutes from Manhattan to Connecticut.

This is worse than identity theft, because once time is spent so casually, it is almost impossible to trace! Nobody seems to know where the purloined moments go.

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And please don't suggest that I keep an eye on the clock. I have tried that, believe me, but watches seem to have a way of slipping off my wrist, vanishing completely. And here is a picture of a public timepiece not far from my home. As you can see, it is a blurry, drippy, useless mess. Clearly, someone wants to keep me from knowing what time it is! I suspect a conspiracy that goes to the highest levels of government!

How can I keep greedy people from stealing my time?

Signed, Salvadorina Dali

Salvadorina, your story seems surreal to me, but who am I to say that your perception is any more or less real than my own? So let's assume that there IS a conspiracy afoot to pirate minutes from your day. What of it? When it comes to time, we are not guaranteed equal shares - far from it. The Wall Street Bankers you accuse of stealing from you may wind up with far fewer hours when all is accounted for, even though they have done you wrong. And by worrying over their theft of your time, you unwittingly hand them MORE. So control what you can. Make good use of the time you get by devoting it to things that make you happy ... AND I hope that includes these counseling sessions of ours.

But that's just my opinion.

What do YOU think, Dr. Heartlander?

(39 Comments)

Ask Dr. Heartlander

Posted at 6:00 AM on December 15, 2009 by Dale Connelly (22 Comments)
Filed under: Ask Dr. Heartlander

Radio Heartland has tickets to give away to the Americana Showcase at the Rochester Civic Theater this Wednesday night, December 16th! It's bound to be a festive event, with Six Mile Grove and the band Trailer Trash and their "Trashy Little Christmas" show.

Enter the drawing.
Obey the rules.
Good Luck.

Today brings another installment of "Ask Dr. Heartlander"!

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Who is Dr. Heartlander? She/He is All Of Us! Dr. Heartlander gives practical, reckless, helpful and dangerously misguided advice, sometimes all at once.

If you'd like to ask the doctor a question, send it to dale@radioheartland.org. I'll re-write it to disguise your true identity, and then you may take advantage of the rare privilege of offering yourself advice, online.

Here's today's question:

Dear Dr. Heartlander,

I have a terrible time giving thoughtful gifts. People try to tell me about the things that make them happy, but when the topic strays from me and my interests, all I hear is a loud rushing sound. Later, when I try to recall what they said, I only remember how annoyed I was that they were boring me with so much of their own personal information.

As a result, I my gifts are lame. This is embarrassing to my friends and family, and I'm sure that behind my back they talk about how well-meaning, but clueless, I am.

Too bad, because if they would include me in that chat, we'd finally be having a conversation about something I find interesting!

Is there an easy way to get people to speak openly with me?

Sincerely,
Enough About You

Here's what I told "Enough About You":

You are probably more aware of other people's needs and likes than you think you are. After all, you seem to be aware that they feel embarassment over your hoplessness in the thoughtful gift-giving department. But don't make it your goal to get people to "speak openly" with you. Being included in behind-your-back conversations about you is not that satisfying - they are very often about other people's problems, and not about you at all.

Try using e-mail conversations instead. Write to people about what YOU like. That should be easy enough. They'll write back about their own interests without much encouragement. Save the e-mails. You can ignore what they say (as usual) until it becomes useful to you - during gift-giving season!

I'm sure you have your own thoughts about this subject, Dr. Heartlander.
But what do you think about my advice?

(22 Comments)

Ask Dr. Heartlander

Posted at 6:00 AM on December 8, 2009 by Dale Connelly (40 Comments)
Filed under: Ask Dr. Heartlander

Radio Heartland has tickets to give away to Neal and Leandra's Christmas concert this Friday, December 11th, at the Cedar Cultural Center. We're also marking Radio Heartland's 1st anniversary at the event. We'll allow entries until 1pm today.

Enter the drawing.
Obey the rules.
Good luck.

Today, we continue what I hope will be an ongoing advice series - "Ask Dr. Heartlander".

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Who is Dr. Heartlander? Look no farther than the tip of your own tongue, for Dr. Heartlander is All Of Us, and as such, Dr. Heartlander gives practical, reckless, helpful and dangerously misguided advice, sometimes all at once.

If you'd like to ask the doctor a question, send it to dale@radioheartland.org. I'll re-write it to disguise your true identity, and then you may take advantage of the rare privilege of offering yourself advice, online.

Here's the latest question:

Dear Dr. Heartlander,

I feel compelled to contribute to an online discussion almost every day. There are three things I like about it.

1) I don't have to be seen.
2) I can think before I speak, and
3) No one knows if what I say is true.

I can pretend I have a herd of goats or horses or chickens. I can pretend that I have moved to Utah or live in Mankato. I can pretend that I sing in a chorus, build beautiful things, advocate sustainable farming, buy local, ride my bike everywhere, spar in Karate, plant beautiful gardens and can all of my vegetables, have three beautiful cats all rescued from animal shelters, have a clean house, decorate for the holidays, keep up to date on current events and drive a fuel efficient car.

Self improvement is easy when you don't have to back it up. I am starting to avoid contact with the outside world because I prefer the online me to the me I actually am. And what's worse, I'm not sure I know the difference anymore.

How can I correctly identify reality, and stay in touch with it?

Sincerely,

Not Myself Lately

Speaking as one portion of Dr. Heartlander's brain, I told "Not Myself Lately" that we all have ideal selves we strive to reach. The "self" that NML projects online is very ambitious, but dishonest, whereas the "self" that has confessed to all this confusion is open, humble and truthful. Thus, the conflicted, confused "real" self is actually more noble than the "ideal" fantasy version, and therefore superior.

The real question is: "Why are you going online to pretend to be something LESS than you really are?"

Answering a question with a question is an underhanded technique, but I hope it will bring some clarity to "NML". Or I could be making a bad situation much, much worse.

What do YOU think, Dr. Heartlander?

(40 Comments)

Ask Dr. Heartlander

Posted at 6:00 AM on December 1, 2009 by Dale Connelly (26 Comments)
Filed under: Ask Dr. Heartlander

Radio Heartland has tickets to give away to a performance by WPA with Antje Duvekot at the Cedar Cultural Center tomorrow night, December 2nd.

As is our habit, we'll keep the gate open until 1pm tomorrow afternoon, the day of the concert, so stick close to your e-mail tomorrow afternoon for a message from producer Mike Pengra. You might be going out!
But only if you ...
Enter the drawing.
And obey the rules.
Good Luck!

Today we begin what I hope will be a recurring Trial Balloon series dealing with the one thing we all long to give away.

Advice.

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I'm calling it "Ask Dr. Heartlander".
Who is that?

Dr. Heartlander is a sage, a crank, a mystic, a charlatan, a wise Latina woman and also a man of perspective and insight. She is the Mother of Discretion and Mr. Tough Love. Judge Judy and Dr. Phil. Part Landers, part Freud, part Homer Simpson. In short, Dr. Heartlander is All Of Us, and as such, Dr. Heartlander gives practical, reckless, helpful and dangerously misguided advice, sometimes all at once.

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Any one who reads the blog is invited to offer a problem for the Doctor to consider. I will re-write your query and change all the names so you will be able to clandestinely give yourself advice in a post attached to your own question. Nice, huh?

Here's our first letter:

Dear Dr. Heartlander,

I recently acquired a cat and am struggling to come up with a proper name for him.

My children, who are grown with lives of their own, want to be in on the naming because they think of this new addition as kin, and have started calling him "William".

"William" jumped on my dresser the other morning and knocked over my coffee. Another time he jumped on the counter and tore apart the bread sack and before that he jumped on the table and knocked over a plant. He attacks my socks, while they are still on my feet. And to top it off, he's being mean to Gozer, my daughter's pug. Gozer is a beloved pacifist and doesn't know what to make of the cat's malicious swats.

In his defense, "William" has been homeless up until two weeks ago and still has testicles. Maybe he'll mellow out once those are removed.

In the meantime, I'm tempted to call this cat "Devil", though the kids strenuously object. You'd think by choosing "Devil" I was literally choosing The Devil. But they say their opposition isn't religious, it's based on the supporting theories of Personal Nomenclatural Science - namely that names determine behavior and disposition, not vice-versa.

But why would Meddle and Harangue even think such a thing?
It's just a cat, for Pete's sake.

Dr. Heartlander, what can I do to keep my children happy while giving this animal an appropriate moniker? And what do YOU think would be a reasonable name?

Please help. I'm not desperate, but I am ...

Cleaning Satan's Litter Box

Well Dr. Heartlander? What do you think?

(26 Comments)
April 2013
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