Friday, November 29, 2013

Gout: The rich man's disease?

My foot looks like this only hairier.

“Ben Franklin and I…”

     Have you ever suffered from gout? Well you need to. I’m pretty sure it’s scriptural. In one of the Corinthians it says something about God helping us when we hurt so that we’ll be able to comfort others ‘cause we know how it feels. That’s the Mark Version.

    That being said, there is no way you can possibly identify with me unless you’ve had your toe or foot or other body extremity throbbing in pain due to excessive uric acid. Bottom line: You need to get your gout on.

    God gave me my gout experience because of what I did to my old teaching buddy, about 15 years ago. I came into Larry’s classroom right before school started and noticed that he had his shoeless right foot propped on a chair next to his desk. I pick up on little things like that.

    When I asked him why he was drawing attention to the fact that he forgot his shoe, he informed me that he was suffering from gout. Gout? That’s what I said, “Gout?” Then I said, “You do know that Ben Franklin died of that?” I followed up by saying that I thought gout had become extinct.

    Larry had no words for that, so I figured it best to leave him alone. As I made my exit, I just barely tweaked his toe. Instantly he let out a groan that about scared me to death. I apologized profusely. He said, “Not your fault. I should’ve told you that I had gout.” I learned much of my sarcasm skill from Larry. 

    Well, 15 years later I’ve got gout. Remember last week’s article about tripping on the step and tossing corn everywhere? Well, I did, and my article will no doubt save lives. The foot that I crunched is the one that’s now gouted. It looks just like a picture I pulled up on the Internet of a foot with gout. In fact, it could’ve been my foot.

    My foot was healing nicely from the fall to the point where I was happy as a clam in sand. Then on Day Five, I woke up with my foot throbbing due to the pressure of the sheet laying on it. “Larry!” I screamed. I’m joking. I instantly blamed the pain on Kroger.

    Last week, that crazy store had a big sale that I wasn’t even aware of till I stepped inside. They had so many people handing out free samples that I thought I had unknowingly ended up at Sam’s. While walking through produce I saw this giant washtub thing filled with of bags of pistachios. Normally, you can get ‘em two for seven dollars. But, during their big sale, they had ‘em two for three dollars. I left the store with 12 bags. I paid for ‘em first. They pretty much insist on that.

    I was planning to eat a bag a night. On the second evening, I chased a bag down with some mixed nuts. The next morning I was dying. When Kay came in from work, she took my groaning as long as she could. That’s about four hours. Then she ordered be back to Urgent Care, the place that x-rayed my foot from the fall… which is soon to be a movie “Foot From the Fall.”

    After an hour and half of waiting and listening to people’s names being called – patients who only thought they were in pain -- I was finally summoned. I assured the assistant doctor girl, that I knew I had gout because I saw it on the Internet and because I tweaked Larry’s foot. She told me that she knew I had it ‘cause she saw it on my x-ray last time I was in, but didn’t think it quite that serious at the time.

    When I told her about all the pistachios I ate, she told me that she was not aware that nuts caused gout. She blamed it more on red meat, sugar and other wonderful stuff. The realization that I could finish off my pistachios made me forget my pain for three seconds.

    I was written a prescription for something in a steroid and then a pain medication that works particularly on gout. I had no idea. I love science.

    Do you see what happened here? God made it possible for me to realize what pain Larry went through when I touched his toe. He made it possible for me to do more than merely sympathize. Now I can emphasize with anyone who suffers from the torturing disease spawned in the bowels of hell.

    When I got home I noticed that both pill bottles had printed on ‘em – “Take capsule by oral route.” -- I had never seen that before. I’m glad it was included on each bottle, because one of the pills was bitter as all get out. I hate to think what might’ve happened had I thought it to be a tiny flat and circular suppository. -- Lawyers are responsible for these insanely obvious instructions, you know?

    Oh, and I have since researched Ben Franklin’s death just to verify that he died of gout. Turns out, it mentioned that he had gout, but didn’t say that he died of it. It merely said that he died peacefully in his sleep on April 17, 1790.

    That is so much hooha. Franklin might’ve died in bed, but I assure you, he was not sleeping peacefully. Hey, I can feel his pain.     


Friday, November 22, 2013

The 30 minute fall

Corn everywhere. Oh, the horror...

Before you start in on me, just let me say that it could’ve been so much worse. Whoever does the obituaries for The Courier could be proofing Kay’s write up about me. – “Mrs. Hayter, do you really want to mention that he didn’t like cats?”

Fortunately, the mishap had nothing to do with cats. Had to do with pigs and corn. In that order. I was digging through our packed freezer department looking for my TV remote when I dug out a couple of gallon Zip Locks containing baby backs. They were bound to be old, ‘cause I had not written a date on ‘em. I believe it was 2006 when I started writing dates on stuff before I froze it.

I decided to set the ribs out to thaw before continuing my remote search. (Turned out, the remote was sitting atop the dryer.) I normally do a lot of prep before smoking ribs, but this was a lucky find. Just seconds before I thought I was rib-less.

The ribs were still frozen in parts when I tossed ‘em into the smoker. I planned to let ‘em smoke for three hours before chunking them on the grill. I like my ribs charred on the outside. – What? Yes, I hurt my foot. I’m getting to that.

So, I had the ribs in the smoker when Virginia calls to ask Kay and me if we wanted sit outside with her and Freeman and their two-year-old great-grandson, Shane. I could’ve told her that I couldn’t leave the house ‘cause I was cooking, but Virginia would’ve asked what we were having and I would’ve said “Ribs” and she would’ve said, “What time do you want us over?”

Hey, I know the girl. And, I can’t lie to her, ‘cause lying is bad and I’m bad at it. I develop a slight stutter and a weird laugh. So I invited ‘em all over for ribs. Virginia said that she didn’t know if Shane liked ribs, but she knew he liked corn… so now “corn” enters the picture. – What? Yes, I getting to the foot.

So, the Plilers are seated at the table just as smoke starts belching out of the oven. Kay had the oven set on “broil” and was toasting a bunch of buttered ciabatta bread. I forgot about the bread and shut the oven door in passing. That’s when I discovered that flaming, buttered ciabatta puts out more black smoke than burning tires.

We needed no smoke detector to tell us what was happening, but the thing went off anyway, ‘causing the piercing scream that will not die. Kay grabbed the bread pan and ran out the back door. I grabbed a chair and climbed up so I could pound the life out of the smoke detector. I could’ve pressed the button on it, but I was really ticked.

The Plilers are still seated and Shane isn’t even crying. He just stared and looked at his Grandma and gave her the “Uncle Mark is the pretend uncle isn’t he?” look.

Kay eventually returned to the kitchen and instructed me to open the windows in the mudroom for cross ventilation to get all the smoke out. I knew that, but was too busy trying blow on a bowl of corn that I’d set aside for Shane. The kid hates hot corn. So, I took the bowl of corn with me and headed to the mudroom.

There is step-down into our mudroom. I know that because we’ve lived here for over 20 years. But on this one occasion I forgot about the step-down. Blowing on corn can make you forget stuff. Anyway, it was one of those 30-minute falls. On my way down, my first thought was that Kay would have to call Cindy and tell her that I wouldn’t be able to make it for tomorrow’s Mark and Cindy Show 10 to 11 Monday through Thursday on (I’ll wait while you grab the pencil on the corner of the desk.)

Then I thought, “What am I saying? The direction I’m headed here, I’ll be breathing, eating and peeing through tubes for the rest of my unnatural life.

Before I hit the floor, I heard the sound made by a thousand marbles as they flew from the ceramic bowls that Kay had perched on the baker’s hutch… the one that I kicked with my once good foot. “Please, let me beat the marbles to the floor.” I was at the “…beat” part of the prayer when I landed.

Everything hurt except my foot. When I looked I saw corn. Oh, the horror. It hung from the ceiling, the wall, and the windows. Some even made it to the floor. I could feel it in my hair. When I looked up, Kay was at my side almost in tears. Shane was standing in the doorway with a strange look of wonder, mingled with excitement, and wore a weird grin that said, “Really?”

The accident did nothing to keep us from eating the ribs. They weren’t my best, but that’s ‘cause the package predated dating. It was late in the night when my swolen foot started giving me trouble. The next afternoon Kay dragged my rear to the Urgent Care place where they x-rayed me and told me that nothing appeared broken. Just put ice on it occasionally and keep it elevated.

Virginia called to check on me that evening. I told her that my foot hurt like everything, but I’d be all right. I could hear Shane jabbering in the background. Virginia said to him, “Shane, Uncle Mark is okay. He told you to stop worrying about him.” When I asked what his response was, she told me that he just said, “Corn.”

And that’s the rest of the story.


Saturday, November 16, 2013

How to save hundreds of bucks: Watch football on TV.

“If you have to ask, you can't afford price of ticket."

A friend of mine from my college days at SFA, found me on Facebook a few months back and invited Kay and me to come to Dallas and go to the Cowboys/Viking game with her. She had a couple of spare tickets and asked us up for a fun weekend. Promised a fun weekend she did, and she didn’t lie.

Gail is a country girl from Apple Springs that I met in my speech class. We hit it right off. Had very little in common, but just enjoyed each other’s company. That girl was a hoot. Still is. The relationship was strictly platonic. When Kay came to SFA during my senior year, she roomed with Gail at the dorm. Just so you know.

For diehard Texan fans, let me say that if Dallas plays The Texans, I’ll root for the Texans. Other than that, I’m rooting for the Cowboys. I’ve been a fan since the days of Dandy Don Meredith.

Like I said, we had a fun time. The only downside was when I learned about the tickets. I thought someone gave Gail the tickets. Turns out, the girl started buying season tickets a few years back. She had to pay $5000 for the privilege to hold season tickets. I had never heard of such a thing. Then, each year she pays $125 each for three tickets to 10 games. (That included two pre-season home games.)

You do the math. And, that doesn’t include parking. It cost $15 to park in the “stadium” parking lot located about a mile or two away from the stadium. Gail usually goes with a dear friend who has mobility issues, so she pays to park at a lot closer to the stadium. The previous week she paid $60 to park near a familiar restaurant. However, last week the owner upped the price $20… just because he could.

I had to force Gail to let me pay the $80 parking. She was already out $250 for our tickets. I know what you’re thinking. Gail must be rich. She’s not. She just really likes the Cowboys. Some people spend money on home accessories or cars or sending the kids to Harvard. Gail prefers spending money on the Cowboys.

She’s not alone. The Dallas Cowboy AT&T Stadium was packed. Our $125 seats were high up in the corner of the end zone. I watched most of the game on the giant screen suspended from the ceiling. It was like watching TV at a 170-degree angle. Somewhat of a distortion effect.There was a smaller screen attached to end of the colossal TV, but it was too small for me to see.

I used to think snacks at the movie theatre were expensive. Food at a Football stadium is apparently imported from a space station on Mars. Had I tried to sneak food in I would’ve never gotten it past the frisking at the gate. I had to empty my pockets and get metal detected. The detector kept beeping for some reason, but the guy let me pass, ‘cause I have a “safe” look. (By the way, if you arrive at the stadium 15 minutes ahead of kickoff, you might get seated by halftime.)

 I did buy a hotdog with mustard and relish. Kay got a chopped beef sandwich, a bag of chips and a drink. The total came to slightly less than a car payment.

I learned a fascinating thing about tailgaters. In Dallas, tailgaters can pay $150 for the privilege to park in the actual stadium lot. The people I saw apparently never entered the stadium. They sat in lawn chairs and watched the game on their portable TVs.

The cost of the stadium experience, though brutal, did not prevent me from enjoying the game. I was seated next to a guy and his wife who had flown in from Minnesota. In fact, there were Viking fans spread throughout the $125 “cheap” seats. Yet, I witnessed no rude behavior. In fact, people were actually joking with one another.

The Cowboys managed to pull the game out in the last 40 seconds. The Viking fans hated it, but we still patted one another on the back and walked away realizing we had seen a good game.

Even the players seemed to hit it off well. Adrian Peterson, for the Vikings, ran for about a million yards in the loss. However, on one particular play, a defensive back brought him down hard. It was a rare occasion when one person was able to tackle Big Number 28. When Peterson got up, he faced the defensive back and slapped him on the top of the helmet as if to say, “Wow, that was a good hit.” The defensive back returned the gesture. I like to see moments of camaraderie between players on opposing teams. It’s classy as all get out.

Had I been watching the game on TV I may have missed that moment. Was it worth the price of admission? Good grief no! Of course, had we not gone to Dallas, Kay and I would’ve missed the visit with our old friend.

That girl laughed constantly. She could barely finish a sentence without cracking up. Took me right back to my days at SFA, and it helped me remember what it was that attracted Gail and me to one another. Forty years later and that girl is still such a joy to be around.

Listen to the Mark and Cindy Show at every weekday morning from 10 to 11.

Social scientists find that children who were spanked are dumber.

“Spank or Not”

    Do you want to know why so many of us are messed up? Do you? Me neither. But, some really smart people out of Columbia University spent serious bucks to find out.

What they found was that disciplining children by spanking does a number on their brains. It not only makes them more aggressive it also makes them dumber than non-spanked children. Makes them do poorly on vocabulary tests.

There is little doubt that the survey was well founded, uh, well researched… whatever. Questions were asked of 1500 parents of children born between 1998 and 2000. I assume the years were inclusive or else they would’ve just written “Children born in 1999.” My vocabulary may stink, but I’ve got logic out the wazoo.

The parents were selected from 20 different cities. That was so the researchers could rule out any possibility of choosing a city that was a safe haven for parents who spanked a lot. Just a guess.

The findings from questionnaires revealed that fifty-seven percent of all moms are spankers, and only 40 percent of all Dads. We can only take their word for it, ‘cause none of the homes had hidden cameras installed. The questions asked went something like this:

If a classmate grabbed a packet of fruit juice from your child, which reaction would mostly be that of your child? –
A) He would say, “Not to worry, you need the nourishment acquired from fruit products more than I. 
B) He would bop the kid in the mouth and scream, “That boy take my sip-sip! Mess boy up!”

I was born a generation or three before 1998, so one might question my qualifications as a test subject in spanking research. Regardless, I was spanked a lot. Almost exclusively by Mom. Dad took care of less than one percent of all spankings. Had it been a full percent, my vocabulary would be much worse than it is.

    When Dad was home, we were the best behaved seven kids on the planet. When he was at work we were spankings waiting to happen. I loved my Mom dearly, but I put that woman in situations where she just had to spank me. And, the woman never argued or tried to weigh the fairness of the hand-or-belt-to-bottom course of action. She never once hurt herself more than me. -- “A parent should never spank a child when angry.” Who comes up with that kind of stuff? 

We made Mom spank us ‘cause it was the only way we could tell when she had reached her limit. We didn’t want to push her to the brink of “I’m going to tell your daddy.” Nobody wanted that. Mom didn’t even want that.

    If spanking were an adequate method of discipline, I doubt we would’ve gotten so many. If you’re getting a spanking a day, the practice is apparently not working. Schools caught on long before most moms did. I cannot tell you the year that corporal punishment was outlawed, but I do remember the time I gave it up as a teacher.

    I remember giving only one kid “swats.” I taught junior high during my first year of teaching, and had one kid who would never bring his book to class. I couldn’t threaten him with more work, ‘cause he wouldn’t complete what he had. After the ninth warning about his book, I summoned the principal and took the kid into the hall. The principal had to witness.

    On three occasions I gave that kid swats. I didn’t hit him very hard, ‘cause my heart wasn’t in it. After the third episode, the student tried to make me feel better about what I was doing. He said, “It’s okay, Mr. Hayter. I don’t blame you. I don’t know why I don’t bring my book.”

    Teachers are not supposed to make exceptions when it comes to discipline. If you cut one kid some slack, all of ‘em will expect equal treatment. There is only one rule that supersedes the equal treatment rule -- “Pick your battles.”

I could not win the battle of the book, so I ended up keeping a book in the side cabinet for “Mike” (not his name) to borrow during class. I told him to keep his other book at home for when he had homework. I also asked him not to make a spectacle of getting the book out of the cabinet.

    I never gave swats to another kid. I can say in all honesty that swatting hurt me more than it did Mike. Fortunately, the following year, I started teaching high school-aged kids. I was better able to reason with most of ‘em. It’s so much easier to reason with kids once you realize you were one of ‘em once. Weird how that works.

Truth is, I doubt there is a definitive answer as to whether or not it helps to spank children. I do know that it was unnecessary for Daddy to ever spank me. All he had to do was look at me and I’d start crying. But, Mom? I don’t know what to say about that. I loved that woman to pieces, but I drove her to spank. All of us did. -- Hayter kids. What are you gonna do? We didn’t have a good enough vocabulary to understand reason.

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Friday, November 8, 2013

Mark and Cindy Cochran are hosts of internet radio talk show!

“The Mark and Cindy Show”
    I took up signing several years back when I was a beginning high school teacher. By “signing” I’m referring to sign language. Not signing stuff with a pen or pencil. I’m still working on that.

None of my acquaintances or members of my family were hearing impaired back then, so I started learning sign language because I got hooked on the “Signing with Cindy Show.” Remember “Signing with Cindy” on PBS? Cindy was the best signing teacher in the world. And, she had a great sense of humor. Reminded me of one of my Oklahoma cousins… only, Claudia couldn’t sign.

I didn’t like it when Cindy taught the letters of the alphabet. I always had trouble with my fingers… my fingers and my inability to remember which finger positions stood for which letters. Turns out, that’s pretty important.

I was much better with whole words. You only use the letter signs for names and words that defy description. Most words can be acted out. Words like “crying” and “anger” and “horseback riding.” Since the age of five, I’ve been the best horseback riding signer in a the lower 48.

Songs were Cindy’s best teaching tool. As she signed a song, her expressions were absolutely mesmerizing. It was as if she were dancing without using her feet.

I was a quick song learner. One morning in front of one of my History classes, I signed the entire first stanza of “Sunshine on my Shoulder.” I was so proud of myself. My students? Not so much.

Cindy became a nationally known figure. She appeared on Johnny Carson twice. I never got a second invite by Johnny. Might have, had I gotten a first. Johnny liked Cindy ‘cause she was smart and funny as all get out.

Over the years, “The Signing with Cindy Show” went its way, taking with it my signing skills. I still know the sign for “shoulders” but that’s about it. I later learned that Cindy went on to do stuff for other Networks, but I never saw her on TV.

However, -- And this is the exciting part -- I recently ran across her at church. When someone told me that Cindy Cochran attended, I was unfazed by the news, ‘cause the Cindy I knew had “Cindy” as a last name and “Signing With” as her first name and middle. As soon as I learned the truth, I elbowed people out of the way until I met the one and only Signing W. Cindy.

Turns out, Cindy lived in The Woodlands for a good while, before moving to Willis with her husband, Sam. She was immediately so impressed with my charm and speaking manner that she suggested we have a talk show. -- There’s more to it than that, but who cares?

Long story coming to a short ending, starting Monday morning October 28 (that’s tomorrow) “The Mark and Cindy Show” will be broadcast live in downtown Conroe at the Lonestar Internet Radio Station, located on the South side of the Crighton Theatre. We’ll be live Monday through Thursday from 10:00 to 11:00. Friday mornings will be a “Best Of” broadcast. You can join us at After a day or two you can catch the reruns, or the Lonestar website.

Cindy won’t be signing on the show ‘cause its radio. I wasn’t clear on that at first. However, you’ll get to hear her say stuff that I likely won’t agree with. Turns out, what Cindy and I have most in common is our sense of humor and our pretend horseback riding skills. Other than that, she’s a mess… a mess with a winning personality. If you don’t like Cindy Cochran, you clicked on the wrong program. Again, it’s .

Dick is the President and All Around Person-in-Charge of The Station. He’s a youngster, somewhere between the ages of 14 and 30. I’m better with old people ages.  Despite his youth, Dick certainly knows what he’s doing. Definitely has a clear vision for his Internet Radio station.

Before I leave you in eager anticipation of Monday morning’s launching of The Show, I must remind you of another important broadcast that airs Wednesday night, the night before Halloween, October 30. (Hey they already had it and it was a big hit. You can re-play the event by visiting

The Players Theatre Company Old Time Radio Hour is going to perform live “The War of The Worlds”, the radio broadcast that was produced and performed by Orson Welles. This is the program that scared the willies out of thousands of people across the country on the same day back in 1938.

And it’s all right here where we live.

(The Mark and Cindy Show has aired for two weeks now.)  Replays can be viewed a  Please pay a visit. 

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