Saturday, October 26, 2013

The cost of vision.

Eyesight on the decline as eyeglass prices soar! Khan!

    There are two things about myself of which I used to really be proud. My teeth and my eyes. Oh, and my ears. Three things.

    I never went to the dentist till I was 40. That’s ‘cause I was raised a Hayter. “Preventive medicine” was foreign to us. Go to a dentist before your teeth hurt? That’s crazy talk.

I eventually had to visit the dentist because of a cracked tooth. Before Dr. Big Jake started work on my tooth, he had his assistant make me an appointment to have my teeth cleaned. Something about my gums. Great looking teeth, but apparently my gums needed some brushing… or something.

But, forget my gorgeous teeth with once diseased gums. And, forget my ever-enlarging ears. I need to talk about my once prized eyes. Not eyeballs. As you can see, my eyes are a pale blue that entices, while whispering “You don’t want any of this.”

No, I’m talking eyesight. I used to have the best in the world. Ask anyone and they’ll tell you, “Mark Hayter’s vision? How the #$@& should I know?” So, you’ll have to take my word. I used to see so well that I could tell if a gnat had cataracts. Just couldn’t see my gums very well.

I got my first pair of glasses when I was in high school. I could see perfectly well, but for some reason, I started hitting to right field. My coach said, “Hayter, why are you swinging at the ball so late? Go get your eyes checked.”

So, Mom took me to Lee Optical. Glasses that once cost $32 were on sale for $25. I chose the gray pair over the black. The only difference in my vision with my glasses on had to do with lights. The stadium lights fractured into multiple beams. I couldn’t catch a pop fly to save my life. All I could see were lights.

I went back to the eye guy and he said that the multiple light sighting would go away once I got used to it. What he wanted to say was “Hey, kid, what do you expect for 25 bucks?”

I stopped wearing the glasses, even though they looked really cool on me. One morning, decades later, I woke to find that the newspaper print had gotten really small. Over night. Since then I’ve been wearing glasses. You can’t tell from my picture there, ‘cause I didn’t wear ‘em all the time when the picture was taken. My enticing, blue eyes are now hidden behind Polycarbonate, PhotoFusion, AR-Teflon Clear coated lenses.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, this milk tastes funny. Maybe two of you are thinking that. But most of you want to know how much a pair of glasses with all that fancy stuff on it cost nowadays.

Actually, there is a price formula used by all eyeglass companies. A used car salesman from Poughkeepsie, New York created it. It’s very simple. -- Think of the highest price you would possibly consider paying for a pair of eyeglasses. Take that number and add 200 to it.

The pair I just purchased cost me $800. For that I got a pair of frames that are lighter than Twinkie filling. I can wad the frames up if I want. And, believe me, I’m gonna want to at that price. The frames are made of some kind of Titanium enriched, uh, flexible metal stuff. (I hope I’m not getting too technical.)

When the eyeball guy rang up the cost for my new specs, it came to $684. I thought, wow, that’s only $84 more than I would be willing to pay. I broke the Poughkeepsie formula! Apparently the eyeglass guy noticed my masked grin, and said, “Oops.” – Oops? Who wants to hear “Oops?” No one wants to hear “Oops.”

“Uh, Mr. Hayter, I forgot to ask if you wanted glare-resistant lenses?” That’s what he SAID. What I heard was, “Mr. Hayter, do you want to be able to catch a pop fly?” The glare-proof coating added another $125 to the price. Instantly a guy in New York started laughing his rear off.

Now, I apparently need to have my hearing checked. Kay tests me daily. She’ll whisper something to me three times before yelling it. “Did you buy toothpaste?!! Criminee, you can’t hear thunder!” That kind of stuff drives me right up the wall.

I might as well get on the Internet and figure out about the price of a good pair of hearing aids. You know, something a little smaller than a cereal box. I have every confidence that my research will dig up something like.  – “Take the Poughkeepsie formula and add another 400.”

End &

Thursday, October 17, 2013

“Get this off my chest.”

    One great thing about having a newspaper column is the fact that you have an opportunity to get things off your mind… off your chest. Wherever it is you keep things.

    Apparently, Kay has listened to everything that’s on my mind and chest for way too long. She no longer cares to listen. Last week, I saw this piece in the newspaper that explained how we should wash our hands in warm soapy water for 26 seconds 
before we start cooking something. That’s the third most ridiculous thing I found in that morning’s edition.

    We shouldn’t wash raw chicken before cooking, but we should wash our hands for 26 seconds before handling it.  I read the paragraph to Kay and then told her to stand by the sink and run water over her hands for 26 seconds. She wouldn’t do it. I then asked her to just stay seated and rub her hands together for 26 seconds. She didn’t even look up. Can you believe that? 

    So, it’s up to me to get someone else to do the 26-second hand rub. Go ahead, rub your hands together for 26 seconds and tell me it’s not an excessively long time to wash your hands.

    If every person in this country were to wash his or her hands for 26 seconds before cooking every meal, there’d be no water left for washing dishes. After washing my hands for 26 seconds in warm soapy water, I could remove your adenoids without wearing gloves. And, I don’t even know what your adenoids look like.

    The young lady at my sleep doctor place told me that the way to clean my CPAP mask is to run hot water over it for three minutes. Three minutes is right at 180 seconds. That’s 180 seconds of hot water going down my drain to clean my nose-over mask. I had been cleaning the thing with one of those baby wipes. Stupid was I.

The second most ridiculous thing I read that morning was – “GASOLINE PRICES TUMBLE FOUR CENTS.” There is absolutely no object in this country the cost of which can recede by four cents and be called a price TUMBLE. At the time of the article, gasoline locally went from $3.12 to $3.08. That’s a saving of 60 cents on a $50 fill-up. That’s not a TUMBLE. That’s an ebbing before a price surge caused by an Iranian border guard sneezing while on duty.” 

Kay’s response to my comment was “Chill, darling.” That knocked any notion I had of sharing my next newspaper tidbit with her. It may have been a letter to the editor that I read just to get the blood flowing to the unexercised parts of my brain. Somewhere in the piece I read, “The American people are tired of seeing the government grow well beyond the intent of our Founding Fathers.”

My thought was, we’d better hope government growth grows well beyond the intent of our Founding Fathers. If we try to carry on today in the manner of which our “Founding Fathers” intended, we’d collect revenue in only two ways. Tariffs (taxes on imports) and a tax on whiskey. That was IT back then. And, that was apparently enough, ‘cause the government didn’t do much of anything.

We had a Secretary of War, but no standing army. In fact, one of this country’s first military encounters came about as a result of a rebellion over the tax on whiskey. Americans rebelling over paying taxes? “Stop the presses!”

To put the rebellion down, President George Washington got on a horse and led a group of militiamen into Pennsylvania. George did that, because our Founding Fathers did not want a standing army. Instead, they were able to get the Second Amendment ratified to make sure the militia would be armed. The Second is the only amendment that actually spells out our Founding Fathers “intent.” – “A well regulated militia being necessary…”

Speaking of which, our Founding Fathers, understandably, didn’t see a “current” need for public libraries, parks, schools, highways, hospitals, anti-pollution laws, food and drug inspectors, national forests, air traffic controllers, broadcasting regulators, a spy network, national police force and several thousand other things.

Fortunately, they wrote a preamble that vaguely covered everything. Stuff like “… establish Justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…” I’m not qualified to speak for “The American People,” but these sound like good things to me.

Some politicians and “news” spokespersons pretend to know how the “American People” feel concerning the proper ways to take care of our tranquility, defense, liberty and general welfare. Who are these “American people” that others are speaking for? The American people want to know. I’m not sure Kay does, but ALL the rest. 

End  &

Friday, October 11, 2013

Sarcasm. I love it.

"When  you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect."   Mark Twain

"Sarcasm, mean as it can be, and fun as all get out"

    In the history of the world no one has ever found any evidence to support the notion that sarcasm has ever helped in any situation. I say that not because I made it up, but because it introduces this week’s topic – sarcasm. Yea!

    The first case of sarcasm, of which I’m aware, was directed at God and delivered by Cain. After murdering his brother, Cain was asked by God if he knew where Abel was. Cain replied, in essence, “Oh, I must’ve missed the memo. I had no idea you intended for me to be in charge of my brother.” 

I can only think that God handled that bit of sarcasm better than my Dad would have. Cain got a bad mark put on him and had to dwell in a place called Nod, east of Eden. I would’ve developed a severe stoop and dwelt in Pasadena Memorial Hospital, west of the Bowling Alley.   

    Let’s face it, sarcasm is mean. And, it’s the most oft used form of thought conveyance in the world, if not the universe. -- I have no idea where these “facts” are coming from. They’re practically writing themselves.

     Most people use sarcasm as a way of humiliating others. What better way to build yourself up than to tear someone down?

Me? I use sarcasm merely for the laughs, ‘cause I’m a swell guy.  -- “Kay, you need to quit punching those buttons at the top of the remote control. They don’t do anything but aggravate your husband.” – Now, that’s funny stuff, and it gives Kay a big ol’ grin right before she tosses the remote at me 

I credit my three brothers for my sarcastic talent. No way could I have been born with this gift. When the four of us get together, we speak in a language called Sarcasmism.

“I’m sorry, Mark, would you show me less profile? Your nose is blocking the light.”  --  “Oh, that was my fault, Mark. I forgot to tell you that we were aiming for the green right in front of us. Not the Ford 150 in the parking lot.” -- See how sarcasm can be used as a teaching tool? It’s invaluable I’m telling you.

While teaching in high school I used sarcasm daily. Had to. In government class, I’d occasionally get something like this. -- “Mr. Hayter, were we supposed to take notes on all that, ‘cause I didn’t bring any paper?” – A perfect teaching moment. – “Well, without taking notes in this class, you likely won’t pass, but, come next year, you’ll still get to vote. And, you don’t need to know anything to do that.”

See? A perfect opportunity to lambaste the failings of government while disciplining a student through humiliation. End result, a sense of superiority for the teacher.

 By the way, that was just an example of how well sarcasm can work. I never really said anything like that. Except to one of the funniest students I ever had who intentionally set me up for such moments. – “Mr. Hayter, could you go over that one more time? Are you saying that the Electoral College is not, in fact, a real college? –Scott always knew the perfect time to crack me up. It was invariably when I was taking myself way to serious. That’s when I used sarcasm just for the fun of it. “Scott, you have once again turned all my efforts into a catastrophic success.” I stole that from “Unknown.”

One of the best purveyors of sarcasm is someone known as “Unknown.” He or she is all over the Internet. Unknown has come up with stuff like --   “I wish we were better strangers.” – “If at first you don’t succeed, try something easier.” – “The person who told you to be yourself obviously didn’t know you all that well.”

    Of course, there are thousands of “Knowns” who have tossed around some great sarcastic remarks. Mark Twain once used sarcasm to describe his visit to Manchester, England. He wrote, “I would like to live in Manchester, because the transition between Manchester and death would be unnoticeable.”

    And related to nothing in particular, Grocho Marx supposedly once told a host, “I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn’t it.”  And, who can forget Abe Lincoln? You know, one of the Presidents? (Sarcasm)  He once said, concerning a government official, ”He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of anyone I know.”

    And, one of my favorite sarcastic remarks comes from none other than Drew Carey, who said, “Oh, you hate your job? Why didn’t you say so? There’s a support group for that. It’s called EVERYBODY, and they meet at the bar.” 

    So there you have it. From Cain to Drew Carey, remarks meant to build one up, by tearing someone else down. When used “properly,” it can be great fun and terribly hurtful. And while sarcasm has never changed anything for the better, the average person uses it no less than 14.6 times a day. Yet another fact that just wrote itself.

Mark@rooftopwriter.come  &

Friday, October 4, 2013

North Star and Lovebugs

“Thuban, the next North Star...
Earth is located inside the Dipper Bucket.  I think.
and other stuff.”

    ROOFTOP – Let me apologize to those of you expecting a lawn chair to be waiting for you up here. The lawn chairs were scratching my metal roof, so Kay ordered that lawn chairs be used only at ground level.

    I do hope you know that I’m not afraid of Kay. I’m fairly sure she couldn’t beat me up in a fair fight, but that girl cheats. At some point she turns into all knees and elbows. Oh, and she pinches. Boy, can she pinch.

    So, during daytime roofsits I’m now using my big blue pillow and sit smack dab on the peak. Keep that in mind for the next daytime roof experience.  At night I commission the hallway rug, and lie flat of my back at an angle for a perfect view of the night sky. See, this isn’t bad at all, is it?

    You know what’s weird? I cannot lay flat of my back on the floor without feeling as if my ribs and spine are gonna snap. But, it doesn’t hurt nearly as much if I lie down on an incline. I was not in the least satisfied with Isaac Newton’s explanation of that principle. The guy was pulling stuff out of his… out of thin air.

    I’m actually sorry I didn’t think of using the rug before. A much better view from this position.  It’s moonless tonight, so the stars appear especially bright, and the airliners just out of Bush Intercontinental are disturbingly bright.

    The rushing sound of the cars speeding by on the highway about a half mile away, added to the sound of the neeker breekers singing in the dark, make for a lot of nighttime activity. No bats, though. That’s a good thing.

    The view of the stars tonight remind me of a trip Kay and I took a couple of summers back to Alpine, Texas. I told you about that. Remember, one night we went to a star viewing session at the McDonald Observatory? An astronomer with the most powerful handheld laser pointer I’ve ever seen was pointing out different stars and constellations.

    It was so dark, I couldn’t see somebody’s hand in front of my face. The astronomer was interesting as all get out. He told us that the North Star (Polaris) hasn’t always been the North Star. In 3000 BC, Alpha Draconis was the North Star. Of course, the 14 or so people who knew about the North Star back then referred to it as “Thuban.” Named after a foot ointment. My guess.

    You may not be aware of this, but 13000 years from now, Polaris will have veered so much away from north that Vega will be the new North Star. Worry not. Twenty-six thousand years after that, Polaris will once more be in position to take over its reign as the North Star. Had you worried, didn’t I?

    It has something to do with the earth having a slight wobble as it rotates. Something about an equatorial bulge. The Astronomer explained how it works, but I was too busy trying figure out whose hand it was in front of my face.

    Wasn’t that a fascinating story? Are there any questions? Anyone? Oh, Cheryl? You want to know if those neeker breekers we’re hearing right now are cicadas? I was hoping you had an astronomical question, but since I didn’t specify, the answer is no. Those are neeker breekers. They’re mystical nighttime noisemakers. Kay told me that Tolkien mentioned ‘em. She is such a smarty-pants. 

    But, since you brought up cicadas, let me ask you something. What the Sam Hill happened to the onslaught of cicadas we were supposed to witness this past summer? Every news channel in the country was warning us about the 17-year cycle of cicada swarms.

    I came close to buying a pair of bug squashing boots. One news station even demonstrated how loud the sound of a few million cicadas would be. The sales of earplugs shot up drastically. Almost as much as the sale of firearms did when Obama started taking away all of our guns.

    Anyway, the cicada threat never materialized. I believe the exoskeleton of a couple of ‘em were seen hanging on a tree somewhere in the Northeast. But, that’s about it. From what I read, it was a combination of climate change and deforestation that likely transformed the predicted-phenomena into the reality normality.

    We find ourselves in a time when we hand people the power to prevent “disasters” by stirring us up about ‘em. Now I’m beginning to wonder about the shift of the North Star. I can’t get over how convincing the astronomer guy was.

    What? Oh, that was Kay yelling for me. I thought she was in bed. Look, nobody climbs off this roof until one of you helps me up. It feels like my back will snap in two if I try to sit up. -- Somebody? Anybody? Don’t make Kay come up here. Please. – Next time.

End &