Tuesday, April 18, 2017

I M nuts

"Signs to help recognize that you're not like others"

            ROOFTOP –  Jill called me on Friday night. I hadn’t talked to my kid sister in over a week. It was about at the 40 minute mark of the conversation when she asked me if I thought she was nuts. Seems one of our more remote family members told her that the rest of the family thinks she’s nuts. So she said, “Moke, do you think I’m nuts?”

            Immediately, I started pondering a bigger question. Is it wise to lie to a person who thinks she might be nuts? It didn’t help that Jill had just told me about having to get rid of one of her Facebook friends so she would have an even number of friends. She doesn’t like to have an odd number of things. Does that make her nuts? – No, I’m asking, “Does that make her nuts?”

            Then it hit me. Whop! This is Jill! Over the years, we’ve shared all secrets. Most secrets. That’s when I said,  “Of course you’re nuts, Jill! Do you feel normal? No way!"

            I went on to tell her that I’m nuts. There were signs during First Grade. I’m the only kid in Pasadena who thought First Grade just lasted one day. I had no idea that I was supposed to return for Day Two and Day Three and on to oblivion. (I’ve shared the story with you.) And, there was no one who ever went to school more surprised about “test day” than I did. – “What? A test? How were we supposed to know? Oh, she told us before she wrote it on the board? Was I born yet?”
The worst school year of my life. Can you find me?
            But forget about my younger days. Right now, I’m sitting on a large pillow atop my roof, pretending that you’re up here with me. If ever there were a sign of nutness that’s it. In fact, when I said I was “pretending” you were up here, I lied. Some of you are sitting to the left of me, some to the right of me… Reminds me.  I memorized “The Charge of the Light Brigade” in high school. -- “Cannon to the right of me. Cannon to the left of me. Cannon in front of me volleyed and thundered. Storm'd at with shot and shell, boldly they rode and well, into the jaws of death, into the mouth of hell rode the 600.” I saw the movie before I knew there was a poem. Tennyson wrote the poem. Alfred Lord. Errol Flynn starred in the movie. 

            So... where was I? Oh yeah, I’m nuts. The point I was trying to make with Jill was that being abnormal isn’t bad. After all, what is the measure one uses to determine normality? Or “normalcy” as Warren G. Harding, our 29th President called it. Harding was one of those persons whose middle name or initial was crucial in name recognition. Like Ulysses Grant. You take the initial of his middle name out and I don’t know who you’re talking about. Nobody ever says “Edgar Poe.” I don’t know an Edgar Poe. It’s Edgar Allan Poe. Isn’t that weird? It’s like Alfred Lord Tennyson. All along, I thought his middle name was Lloyd.-- Forget that. It's nothing like that.

            By the time I finished my discussion on being crazy, Jill was convinced that she was the sane one. I’m pretty sure she was tempted to tell me that everybody in the family thinks I’m nuts, but fears hurting my feelings. Ridiculous. I’ve come to embrace my condition.

            I’ve never really felt normal or natural, ordinary, typical or regular. Definitely not regular. I stood in HEB yesterday for a full three minutes trying to figure out if the slightly higher price per ounce on the quart jar of prune juice was worth not buying the big jug that I’d have to wrestle with.

             Okay, enough of that. Let’s move on to—What? Where’d the time go? Sorry about that. So, uh, watch your step on the way down. I’m going to stay up here a bit longer to settle my mind. – Beg pardon? Of course you don’t have to leave. I’ve always appreciated your company. So, what say we look to the eastern sky? No, to your right… – Next time.

mark@rooftopwriter.com – Please tune in on Wednesdays at noon (CST) to listen to Mark and Kay on “Hanging with the Hayters”. --  FM 104.5 and 106.1 for local listeners, and www.irlonestar.com for all parts of the planet. You can find videos of past shows on YouTube.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Language flaws

“An economy of words”

            According to the “Grapeshat Book of Best Things” English is the favoritest language in the world. It’s got better words that are easier to pronounce and faster to write. Plus, you can make up words and people will still know what you mean. Words like “favoritest.”

            Grapeshat was not all that impressed with the predominant language spoken in China. It was said that Mandarin Chinese has the same tone as a handful of forks and dimes hitting glass. German sounds like dropped furniture. The tonal quality of someone speaking Russian is much like the sound of someone starting a 1965 Dodge pickup. -- English? English sounds normal.

            Plus, English has more words than any other language. Yet, we don’t use many of ‘em, because we believe in an economy of words. That and we don’t know what most of our words mean. Not to worry, we have one word that can mean anything we want it to.

            Astronomer Carl Sagan used to talk about “the stuff of life.” The Chinese don’t have a word for “stuff.” A billion and a half people with no stuff. That’s why they hated Carl Sagan. To write “ the stuff of life” in Mandarin Chinese, it requires 87 diagrams using 36,436 symbols. And, it has to be spoken in the tune of "Jingle Bells" or no one can remember how to say it. That’s pretty much why the Chinese invented gunpowder.

            That being said, I discovered something just yesterday that was bumfuzzling. -- The Brits refer to it as  “fuzzling my bum.” -- I discovered that all languages have words, the equivalence of which, do not exist in other cultures.

            Take “shinrin-yoku.” That’s the word the Japanese use to explain the relaxation one gets from bathing in the forest. We’ve got nothing to match that… at least we didn’t up until now. You see, I’ve taken on the responsibility of creating words to keep the English language at the top of the Grapeshat list. – No, no. Stop the applause, and take your seats. -- So, in American-speak, the feeling you get while taking a bath in the forest is now called “woodsnarkers.” -- Yes, best keep notes.  

            Hungarians have a single word that refers to “quick-witted people who can come up with sophisticated jokes or solutions.” The word is “pihentagyú.” (No joke.) We can’t come close to pihentagyú.” What say we refer to sophisticated joke-telling, solution-devising individuals as “stuffers”? Works for me.

            The Eskimos have come up with a word that explains the anticipation of looking to see if your friends have arrived. They call it “iktsusarpok.” (Seriously.) In English, I suggest we call the constant checking up on arrivals as “tharyet?” It's spoken in a questioning tone.

            In Bavaria, the feeling one gets when a stoplight suddenly turns red and no one else is at the intersection is called “scarspit.” (I made this one up.) In America we will call such happenstance -- “handouch.” The word is derived from the sense one gets after smashing the palms of both hands on the steering wheel.

            In a language of the Philippines called “Tagalog”, the word “gigil” refers to the irresistible urge one gets to pinch or squeeze on someone who is adored. (True.) In America, we actually have gilgil’s equivalent. It is called “second-degree-felony.” 

            Back to Japan. “Natsukashii” is a Japanese word that expresses a “nostalgic longing for the past, with happiness for the fond memory, yet sadness that it is no longer.” (A deep thinking people, the Japanese.) In America, if anyone expresses such deep emotion, we shall call it “getoverstuff.”

            No language has a word that expresses the notion one should have when buying an item not knowing exactly what it is. -- Half and Half? It’s half cream and half milk. But, what kind of milk? Two percent? Four? Non-fat? – From now on, the practice of purchasing an unknown item will be referred to as “zagnut.” I got the idea while standing in the checkout at Cracker Barrel and spying a Zagnut candy bar. Does anyone know what kind of nut a zag is?

            No one has a word for the sense one gets when noticing something described as being from France, when it isn’t. -- French vanilla? How can the French possibly claim vanilla? They get theirs from Madagascar. -- French fries? The early French didn’t even eat potatoes. They fed ‘em to the hogs. It’s the Belgians who fried thin strips of potatoes. -- French toast came from America. – French’s mustard? Not from France. -- French pecan salad? Doesn’t even exist.

            Here’s the kicker. The French aren’t responsible for naming these items. We can blame it mostly on the British, the Belgians and the Americans. Yep, sim moi. So we don’t need to make up a word for, uh, whatever it was I was talking about, because we already have one. -- “Bullstuff.”

            Right now I think it wise to cease dispensing with the frivolous and let you get on with your rat killing. That’s what my dad used to jokingly tell us when he wanted us to leave him alone. – “Okay, get back to your rat killing!” -- That's known as a “Farisism.” – And, yes, best add it to your notes. – Next time.

markhayter@suddenlink.net – Please tune in on Wednesdays at noon to listen to Mark and Kay on “Hanging with the Hayters”. --  FM 104.5 and 106.1 as well as at www.irlonestar.com.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Aging friends

When your friends get old

            Lately I’ve been paying greater notice to my circle of friends. I started paying more attention to what they talk about, what they do, what they don’t do, where they go and how they get there. – In other words, I’m vetting them.

            At one time or other, we all need to scrutinize our acquaintances. The sooner the better. I’m going to thumb through my notes here and tell you what I’ve found. One thing that is glaringly apparent about these people is that they’re old.

            I never saw it coming, either. Just crept up on me. I used to go places and do things with these people. We’d play softball, volleyball, go on trips… we never bowled or roller skated, though. I probably shouldn’t read anything into that. 

            Most of them don’t even travel well. Just putting on their seatbelts is a monumental task. – “No, it’s still back there, Zelda. Floyd, give her a hand, would you? Floyd, she's the one sitting right next to you.”

            There were times when we played cards and board games. Charades, for heaven’s sake! – “I've I guessed ‘Matlock' six times and you're just now hearing me?"

            I was listening to an acquaintance talk about his new “C-PACK” machine. Can’t sleep without it. He went on and on, until I tactfully mentioned that the sleeping machine is actually called a C-PAP. – He say, “C-PAP? That doesn’t even make sense. No, what I’ve got is a C-PACK.”

            It’s happening in my family, too. About three weeks ago, Dennis met me in the parking lot of place where I was to give a talk. As we entered the building, I pointed to a restroom sign and told Dennis I needed to make a pit stop.

            He must’ve taken that as an invitation, because he followed me. I headed for the door on the right, the one that had “men” on it. It wasn’t until I pushed on the door that I noticed the “Wo” in front of the “men.” I told Dennis that the restroom had been moved, since the last time I was there. I could've sworn it was the door on the right. In fact, I thought that was the law. Lefty Lucy – Righty Teddy.

            Eventually, we both ended up in the gender appropriate facility, where upon I finished my business and was toying with the soap dispenser waiting on Dennis. I used to be the last one to finish, but that was before the doctor yanked out my prostate. -- TMI -- So, I’m playing with the soap dispenser when Dennis says, “Boy, I’m glad I came in here. If not, I wouldn’t have known that my paints were unzipped.” I would've led with that story for the talk I was to give, but by the time I got up there, I had forgotten about it.

            I read something last week about research suggesting some exercises to keep our minds alert. Did you see the article? One thing recommended was the making of crafts. You know, getting a big stick and carving a chain out of it? Arranging flowers. Make a kite and land it on a power line. Make jewelry out of dried toadstools. Stuff like that. – This kind of cra-- uh, craft is supposed to tune our minds.

            Board games were also mentioned. Chess came highly recommended. Personally, I’d learn to play the piano before I’d learn to play chess. And, I'll never play the piano. It was even found that going to the movies helps you remember stuff. Don’t sit in front of the TV and watch a movie. Get off your rear, get in the car and drive to a theatre. It’ll keep you alert.

            Unfortunately, few of my acquaintances will not go to a movie theater. It costs too much. They remember when a bag of popcorn was a dime. "You could get a bag of popcorn and coke for 20 cents. A big pickle for a nickel. A ticket cost 20 cents! So, there's no way on God's green earth, that I'm paying $3 to see one movie!" I though it best not to mention the actual price of a ticket.

            I get that. Burgers, tires, gasoline, Luby’s… everything costs more. Just keep in mind that, for most of us, a bottle of shampoo lasts a lot longer. I don't even have to wash the top of my scalp.  Oh, and since you’re old, you can cut in line at the expensive movies or at HEB and no one will yell at you, ‘cause YOU’RE OLD!

            I have no idea how I’m supposed to handle the problems with my old friends. I can’t see me outliving them. I can’t start being rude to them, ‘cause it’s just not in my character.

            I can’t see me befriending many younger people, because they're mean to me. They have so much energy and potential. They make me feel like an old man.

            I tell you where I am here. I’m at one of those conundrums. Or, I’m in one. However, a person experiences a conundrum, that’s where I am. Do I want to keep hanging around all of these old people, and just shuffle through life along with them? Will they detract from my mentally alert state?

            And, horror upon horror! What if I end up being the last one capable of driving? – Somebody hand me a big stick and a knife. I'm going to carve me a chain.
markhayter@suddenlink.net – Please tune in on Wednesdays at noon to listen to Mark and Kay on “Hanging with the Hayters”. --  FM 104.5 and 106.1 as well as at www.irlonestar.com.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Roofsit Jan 2017

First Roofsit of 2017

            ROOFTOP – Tell you what, let’s give the latecomers a few more minutes to find us. The first roofsit of the year is generally a big draw… for those few who enjoy sitting on a metal roof in late January.

            Had I started before dusk I would’ve had you notice how nice the yard looks. We’ve had some strong winds of late, and there were limbs all over the place. This morning, I got my tarp out and started dragging it across the yard. That’s how I pick up limbs. A wheel barrow is not good for toting limbs, so I toss tree debris on my tarp and drag it to the burning pile. Occasionally, I’ll grab a cat or two just to teach ‘em a little respect. Those things see me as no threat.

            I was tempted once to write Heloise about my ingenious way of using a tarp to haul off limbs, leaves and cats. However, I realize her readers are more into coffee cans and clothes pins. Did you know that some people actually use ziplock bags to hold spare buttons? That’s not nearly as surprising as the thought that some people actually think they’re the first ones to think up alternative uses for ziplocks.

            I guess I should’ve lit the burn pile tonight. Seems someone else within our Smell Zone has a fire going.  I doubt it’s a campfire because nobody camps out in this neighborhood. I should know, because on nights that I camp out, I walk around to see if anyone is as childish as I am. (That’s fake news. If I walked around at night, someone would shoot me after being awaken by the dog that was chewing on me.)

            At the moment, I think it’s best we take advantage of this crisp, clear night to look heavenward. Right now, it’s so dark that I can’t even see Melvin’s hand in front of my face. – Quit it! What did I tell you about horseplay on the roof, Melvin?

            Once again, the brightest light in the moonless night sky is Venus. Do you have any idea how long a day on Venus is? Of course you don’t. It takes 243 earth days for Venus to spin around one time. That’s not the weird part, though. While it takes earth a tad over 365 days to orbit the sun, it takes Venus 225 earth-days to complete its orbit around the sun. In other words, a day on Venus is 18 earth-days longer that its year.
A year is less than a day in the life of Venus

            A fascinating planet, Venus. It’s the evening and morning star, you know? I believe it was the Egyptians who called Venus a star. This was back when people didn’t know a planet from a fig. Nowadays, we know a lot about planets. In fact we now know that Pluto isn’t one.

            Turns out, Pluto does not meet planetary qualifications. Yes, it’s round and revolves around the sun. However, it doesn’t meet the third qualification. Pluto has not cleaned up the neighborhood in its orbit. – What?

            Pluto is a big rock in a gravitational field of other big rocks. In fact, there’s a rock behind Pluto that’s bigger than it is. Yet it’s not considered a planet because it’s circling the sun in an asteroid belt. Now, earth has cleared its neighborhood. Over a few billion years, earth’s gravitational pull has drawn in practically everything its vicinity. The only things keeping up with us are the moon, a bunch of satellites that we’ve launched, and some wrenches and lug nuts that escaped the grip of some astronauts.

            So, Pluto is orbiting with a bunch of trash, thus relieving it of its planetary title. Pluto’s official name is now 134340. (That’s true news.) All of our books and sky charts will need to be changed, and all extraterrestrials will need to be notified of our mistake.

            Wait! Hold onto your toast! Turns out that last year Professor Mike Brown, announced his discovery of our real ninth planet. Planet Nine is 40 billion miles further from the sun than Big Rock 134340.

            It’s so far away that Prof. Brown hasn’t even seen it. He discovered it through the use of math. Seems something is affecting the movement of Neptune and the rest of the planets. If you’ve been feeling a little odd lately, it’s likely due to Planet Nine. Brown mathematically proved that the gravitational anomaly affecting the eight planets is caused by a planet 20 times the size of earth.

            Planet Nine has yet to be officially named. I believe Mike Brown is hoping it will be named after his dog, Flaffy. (Fake news.) Assuming the person who finds a planet gets to name it, Brown could wisely sell the name to the highest bidder. With that in mind, our new ninth planet could end up being called “Budweiser.”

            Hokey smokes! Do you see what’s happened here? We’re outta time! So many things left unsaid. Tell you what, what say you call home and tell your significant other that you’re camping out with Hayter? I’ll bring some pillows up here, get some crackers, peanut butter and cold drinks. We’ll have a rooftop campout. We’ll sleep on a slant.  

            Round about 3:00 a.m. we’ll take a walk around the neighborhood. There’s bound to be safety in numbers. We’ll let Melvin take the lead. – Next time.
mark@rooftopwriter.com – Please tune in on Wednesdays at noon to listen to Mark and Kay on “Hanging with the Hayters”. --  FM 104.5 and 106.1 as well as at www.irlonestar.com.

Fake News

Fake News

            Twelve hours from now, I’ll be standing in front of members of Montgomery County Retired School Personnel in an attempt to make them laugh. That’s what was written in the newsletter. “Mark Hayter will be the speaker, so prepare to laugh.”

            I don’t mind the challenge of making retired teachers laugh. I find retired teachers to be a very receptive audience. For one thing, they’re retired. I thought I mentioned that. Plus they have experienced faculty meetings and in-service meetings that would make members of Seal Team Six weep. Yet, they voluntarily show up in the morning to hear about the problems surfacing over retired teacher health insurance. These people will be grasping for something to laugh at.

            Regardless of the group I’m speaking to, I find that the best approach is to honest, even if it requires some verbal brutality. Most audiences can tell when a speaker is shoveling the proverbial bull defecation.

            Unfortunately, honesty is less in demand nowadays. I’ve never seen anything like it. Two things I never thought I’d live to see. Three if you count rap music. One was the fall of the Soviet Union. I thought that by my 50th year there would be a nuclear exchange. We still may have an exchange with Russia, but it won’t be with the USSR.

            The other issue I didn’t see coming was this phenomena known as “fake facts.” In graduate school I had to write so many research papers that the joy of life was completely ripped out of my chest… or wherever I store it. Kay was pretty much in the same boat, because she was the one who got to type most of my papers. This was back when you had to stop at some point to insert footnotes.

            The biggest problem was research. Professors kept stressing “primary sources.”  They didn’t want to read hearsay. They were looking for the exact words of Theodore Roosevelt or Nixon.  Nothing but the facts. It didn’t matter if you were writing about misinformation; you had to gather the facts surrounding the occurrence of the misinformation.

            I imagine fact-finding is still required in most universities today. But, in the real world, it’s not that much of a priority. Today’s “facts” come from those who report what you want to hear. Many a bowl of oatmeal has been ruined for me while I’m reading letters to the editor in this newspaper. Since I make myself out to be a humorist, I choose not to qualify that last sentence.

            No, I never thought I’d live to see fake facts reported so confidently by the purveyors of fake news. Fake news is not considered propaganda, because those who choose to believe it, don’t care one way or the other if it’s true. A politician can be seen on video making an outrageous statement. When the video is shown to the candidate, he denies saying it, and many of his supporters believe him.

            See what happened here? The whole tone of this conversation took a nose dive. I did that intentionally so as to segue into something funny. Get it? Tomorrow morning, I’m going to introduce some fake news to the retired school personnel. I started a fake news segment in our “Hanging with the Hayters” radio broadcast, and will incorporate one item in my talk. It will begin something like this: Whoa! This just in. --

            “Jimaku Tamagasi, the actor who portrays a figure-skating Sumo wrestler in an infuriating Geico commercial is in intensive care in a Dallas hospital after being recognized while unloading his tray at a table in Luby’s. Tamagasi suffered 86 fork stabs and 37 butter knife jabs from irate Luby’s patrons.

            “Police Detective Vince Devine said, ‘The big guy is lucky to be alive. Had he chosen to dine at the Texas Roadhouse across the street, he would’ve bled out.’ The ambulance crew dawdled for a full two hours before slowly transporting Tamagasi to Dallas Memorial. He was in stable condition up until the time a nurse asked if he wanted carrot salad with his lunch.”

            Now that’s fake news, but we all wish it to be true… so much so, that after the second telling it will become reality in the minds of many. See how fun it can be?

            If “fake news” catches on as well as rap music has, it will become a major part of our culture. When that happens, humor, not honesty, will be my public-speaking goal. I can make up anything I want and just throw it out there. The audience will be able to choose which “facts” to believe. Everyone goes home blissfully ignorant. When that happens, we will all begin to witness more and more changes that we never saw coming.
mark@rooftopwriter.com – Please tune in on Wednesdays at noon to listen to Mark and Kay on “Hanging with the Hayters”. --  FM 104.5 and 106.1 as well as at www.irlonestar.com.

photo sorting

A billion pictures
            I have no idea what possessed her. I thought I might be dreaming, until I noticed I was wearing all my clothes.

            I kept staring at Kay as she sat at dining room table. Speechless I was. She had piles of photos scattered all over the table. As soon as she noticed me, she smiled and said, “Oh, I decided to organize all of our photos.”

            I was discombobulated. Completely flummoxed… which, incidentally, is only the second time I’ve used that word in my column. The first was last week. That’s two weeks in a row of flummoxation. There’s no accounting for that.

            Before uttering a word, I said a quick prayer asking that I not say anything to ruin the moment. I then summoned some tears and said, “Darling, I have never been more proud of you than I am at this very moment.” – Whoa!

            Kay smiled and said that this was just the first box, but she was determined to organize all the pictures in all the boxes in one day. It’s hard to say how many boxes we’ve got. They’re stored in every closet, cupboard, utility house and outhouse in our house. But, Kay was resolute. I don’t use that word often, either, but that’s what she was.   

            I wisely walked over, stooped and gave her a kiss. Told her I had a bunch of work to take care of in the study, or else I’d help. Part of that was a lie. -- I reeked of wisdom.

            At first I had a lot of trouble focusing on what I needed to do in the study, ‘cause Kay kept  calling me to the dining room to question me about pictures. -- “Who is this girl?” She had found a photo from the surfing trip to Mazatalan that I took with the Sutton boys during my college days. I was dating Kay at the time, so I know she’d seen the picture before. It was only, what, 48 years ago?

            I said, “Oh, that’s the housemaid where we stayed by the beach. I think her name was Carmen. Spoke little English. Just cute as a— I mean, she was sweet. Not sweet like, you know, sweet, but, uh, kind and pleasant is what she was. Yeah, pleasant.”

            I don’t know why I get like that when someone suspects me of something. You’re bound to realize that I’m as innocent and naïve as all get out. But, when I perceive suspicion I get flummoxed. No defense lawyer would ever put me on the stand.

            Kay didn’t call be back very many times after that. She did start throwing away pictures. She tossed photos of unknown women, photos that were blurred, or near duplicates or of scenery with no people in ‘em. You can get that kind of stuff on the Internet. She ended up grabbing a laundry basket to hold all the discards. I was okay with that. We had at least 500 pictures taken on our trips with the Plilers. The only difference in many of them was how much we aged between trips.

            There’s one picture of Freeman with a swollen jaw. The guy looks terrible. I reminded Kay that it was taken during our softball tournament in Baytown. Freeman was standing on first base, ready to head to second at the crack of the bat. Unfortunately, Mark Allen was batting.

            Mark Allen always pulled the ball to right field. At the crack of the bat, Freeman was in mid-step when the line drive met the side of his face. He was called out for interfering with a ball in fair play. And, he was knocked out, but only for a few seconds. Once conscious, it took Freeman a good while to figure out where he was. He once asked where his glasses were. Some of the guys started looking for ‘em. I eventually reminded them that Freeman didn’t wear glasses. He was just a little out of it. I think he was flummoxed.

            Virginia might’ve run him to the nearest hospital, but it was Saturday. And, we were in Baytown? Where in Baytown can you get stitches taken inside your mouth on a Saturday? Besides, the tournament was double elimination, and we had yet to lose our first game. Wisely, Virginia decided to take Freeman to the emergency room in Conroe when we got home later that evening.  – Oh, the memories.

            Yep, Kay threw away as many photos as she kept. Yet, we still have hundreds, maybe thousands left. They just need to be labeled. We all know that’s not happening. And, since we’re childless, we have no offspring who will care to even look at the pictures after we’re gone.

            Besides, the idea of hard copies of photos is foreign to Millennials. – By the way, that’s the first time I’ve ever used “millennial” in anything other than a crossword. I think I’ll insert the word into my next two articles, in hope it will get “flummoxed” out of my mind. – Bottom line, all is well at the Hayter house. Kay hung in there like grim death until the task was complete.

            And, get this. At the end of a most grueling day, she ended up still liking me. I’m not pushing 
it beyond that. 

                    Larry, Jill, Al, Lynda, Mark, Susan and Dennis -- From several years back.


mark@rooftopwriter.com – Please tune in on Wednesdays at noon to listen to Mark and Kay on “Hanging with the Hayters”. --  FM 104.5 and 106.1 as well as at www.irlonestar.com.


"The more I know, the less I understand"

            Do you have any idea how many times I’ve mentioned that I don’t belong on this planet? Nine, this year alone.

            Don Henley said it best in his song “The Heart of the Matter.” – “The more I know, the less I understand…” I really like Don Henley. And, unlike me, he really belongs on the planet.

            For whatever reason, I’ve been interested in science a lot lately. Biology, chemistry, technology… Not entomology. Not crazy about bugs. But, I’ve developed a fascination for the other stuff.

            Unfortunately, I don’t have anyone I can share my fascination with. I’ll mention some supernatural phenomenon to Kay and she’ll nod and say something dazzling like, “O’ wow.” Or “Cool beans.” It’s patronizing as all get out, but she thinks I don’t know that.

            On the “Hanging with the Hayters” radio show today, I was telling listeners about some of the scientific stuff I’d read. I was talking about how much argon is in the air. Did you know that there is more argon in the air we breathe than there is carbon dioxide? Our air contains about 1 percent argon and about .05 percent CO2?

            We use argon in light bulbs and double-paned windows and other stuff. We use carbon dioxide to make dry ice and, uh, beer and for fire extinguishers. And, plants seem to like it. Unfortunately, an increase in the level of CO2 in our atmosphere heats the planet it up. Too little makes the planet too cool. The key is to reach a happy point.

            The problem with talking science on the radio is the fact that can come across as boring. Especially when I’m the one talking about it. You get no feedback from a radio audience. I know how many of ‘em have tuned me out. The only audience I have is Kay. Did I tell you about patronizing she can be? Oh, and the director, Dick? I get no feedback from him. He could be over there gnawing on one of those beef sticks for all I know.

            That’s pretty much the reason I’m sharing all of this with you right now. I’m going to continue to bounce science info around, knowing that some of you will respond. I’ll get a couple of nice comments from really sweet fans, and several nasty comments from some of the more argumentative among us. Which is good, simply because it offers me a segway/segue into another topic on science. It has to do with complaining.

            I recently read that complaining gets easier to do the more you do it. Some of us can actually become experts at it. It has to do with the synapses in your brain. Our brains function my electrical charges that are created by chemical reactions inside our bodies. Different chemicals are carried to different parts of our bodies. – Stay awake! – The combination of some create electrical charges, due to electrons from the atoms of… whatever.

            The electricity is used to spur new thoughts, old memories and reflexes. Your lungs actually have to be told to inhale. In our brains the electricity shoots chemicals to one or more of your synapses. We’ve got synapses for different feelings and they’re positioned in different parts of your brain. We’ve got happy, angry, sad, apathetic places in your brains.

            When we start complaining, our synapses that are the big complainers are drawn closer together to create somewhat of a bridge so the electricity can move more easily between the blank areas in our brain. (Oh, yeah. We’ve got some air space in our brains. I’ve been told I’ve got a bunch.) The more we complain the closer the synapses and the shorter the bridges need to be.  After awhile we have actually programmed our brains to complain. We become what are known as malcontents. You know who you are.

            What we to do is to build more bridges to our happy, kind, patient, nice synapses. We do that by playing the Pollyanna game. Think of happy stuff whenever you can. Soon, our pleasant synapses will be really close to one another and our minds will be wired to happy thoughts. Some of us would rather take a big shot of booze or opiates to get there. Stuff like that builds a whole different set of bridges.

            Isn’t it weird to think of our bodies functioning through the use of electricity? I just imagine that’s how we can shock people’s hearts back to beating. And, how we can shock people to make ‘em forget bad stuff. Of course, never over-shock. It’s like CO2. You want the exact right amount.  

            I see we’ve lost a bunch of you, so let me mention this one last thing. It has to do with those devices that actually recognize your voice. You can plug ‘em into an outlet in your house, and tell your air conditioner to come on. You can tell the thing to order you a large pepperoni pizza with extra sauce. Tell you bank to shift money from one account to another.

            I cannot even imagine the technology that goes into something like that. I can buy a device like that for about $50, but it won’t work in my house, because my house is as dumb as I am. However, Kay can pick up her cell phone while we’re 46 miles this side of San Antonio driving at a speed of 70 mph. She’ll say, “Okay, Google, where is the nearest Arb
y’s?” In a few seconds there is a display on her phone showing her the nearest place to get a roast beef sandwich and curly fries.

            Somehow or other, radio waves or some kind waves are keeping up with us, and flying back and forth to a bunch of towers to some central source that sends different waves back that just so happen to hit our fast moving vehicle and tell us what we didn’t know.

            That is exactly what I’m talking about. I do not belong in place where something like that can happen. And, you wanna know something? By the end of this year, that kind of stuff is going to be old hat. Roast beef sandwiches will be dropping from the sky. I don’t know that I can handle something like that.

            Don Henley can deal with it. I know that from the second line in that song lyric. Remember? “The more I know, the less I understand.” Then he says, “All the things I I thought I knew, I’m learning again.” – Me? I’ll never be able to learn how stuff works. All I can do is take advantage what’s happening. I can deal with that in the spiritual realm. But when what used to be supernatural becomes natural, the humanness in me starts freaking. What I’m saying? – Next time.

mark@rooftopwriter.com – Please tune in on Wednesdays at noon to listen to Mark and Kay on “Hanging with the Hayters”. --  FM 104.5 and 106.1 as well as at www.irlonestar.com.