Friday, January 30, 2015



            Do you know what makes you laugh?  No, not a fork. Who am I talking to here? .  It’s your brain that makes you laugh. And though, all but Ernie knew the answer, I must tell you that’s the easiest part of this episode of Learning from Mark. -- Hold on to something.

            Scientists have done much research about laughter. Make that “little” research. I’ve only read two studies. In one study, a technician stuck diodes all over this person and then told him a joke. The joke went like this:

            “This guy is sitting in a restaurant and has to pass gas. He’s listening to the music in the restaurant, and decides to release some gas pressure during the beats of the music. After a couple of tunes he is gas free and feeling so much better, uh, until he noticed everyone staring at him. It was then that he realized that he was listening to his iPod.”

            The guy stuck to diodes didn’t laugh enough to do any good, ‘cause technicians are lousy joke tellers. That was proved in a whole different research grant. Fortunately, the guy finally laughed and the diodes immediately registered brain activity. It started in his frontal lobe and then hurried over to places like the amygobala and the hippocampus, and uh, a few other weird-named places.

            The guy’s heart rate and blood pressure went up and he started gesturing and making ha ha sounds. The same person could also make a “ho, ho” sound, but not during that particular laugh. That’s something else the research showed. You may “ha ha” or “ho ho”, but you can’t do both in the same laugh. Laughter is nuts, you ask me.

            All the findings I read, raised more questions than they answered. There were no tests at all to determine why villains and other mean people laugh while threatening their prospective victims. What’s that all about? – “You’ll never leave here alive! Ah ha ha ha!” Why is that so funny to bad people? It’s certainly not a contagious laugh.

            That’s another thing the laughing lab looked at. Why do you get tickled listening to someone else laugh? It’s all in the neurons. There’s a weird place in your brain that neurons go when you hear laughter... not bad people laughter. The neurons trigger your mouth to make weird noises and your body to shake and your lungs to gasp for air. Ooookay.

            Nowhere did I read anything about bathroom humor being funnier than knock, knock jokes or “a-duck-walks-into-a-bar” joke.  Nor was it determined why a “duck” walking into a bar is funnier than a crow walking into a bar, but not as funny as a priest, a rabbi and a seagull walking into a bar. I can almost imagine what the duck’s gonna do, but the priest, rabbi and seagull are just out there. No idea what’s gonna happen.

            According to the research, it is the “unexpected” that makes your neurons visit the funny places in your brain. Your brain wasn’t expecting to hear the weird occurrence in the punchline, so it summons the neurons to your amygobala. Then they zoom all over the place and you start with gasping and weird noise. According to the research.

            Do you know who laughs the most – men or women? Women, but only when t they’re the one doing the talking. While discussing something, women laugh 126 percent more than men. Yep, somebody pulled that number right out of a lower cavity. The only fault I find in that assessment is that the percentage is too low. I think it’s really in the four digits.

            Another thing that the scientists pulled out of the, uh, air, was why it’s funny to see someone trip or get hit in the noggin or the testicles. One of my best laughs was while watching “The Simpsons.” It was when Homer skateboarded down a ramp into a deep canyon. At first he was feeling great… like he could fly. But during his decent his head kept hitting the sides of the cliff. And, each time he’d yell, “D’oh!” There were about 20 D’ohs on his way down. Then an ambulance picked him up, but his stretcher fell out the back during a turn and he went down the cliff again.. A riot!

            Kay walked in to see what I was laughing at. I showed her the scene and she didn’t even break a smile. Why are women that way? Their brain is just—Whoa! We’re about out of time, so let me leave you with this last tidbit. -- The average person laughs 17 times a day? Where did they find this average guy? I know people who haven’t even smiled 17 times in their entire life. They wouldn’t laugh if I hit myself in the head with a tire iron.

            Which begs the question, why is a tire iron funnier than a rock? Don’t get me wrong. A “bag of rocks” is funny. A bag of tire irons, not so much. But interject a SINGLE tire iron and it’ll get a laugh. Especially from a woman who mentions it during a conversation. -- One hundred and twenty-six percent more laughing? I’m thinking women must have a much larger hippocampus. What I’m thinking. – Next time.


Saturday, January 24, 2015

Predictions that were duds for 2014

"All you need is to nail one big prediction"  

            Thomas John is an internationally known psychic, medium and clairvoyant. At least that’s what I read on the internet. Before reading that, I thought he was an ex- pitcher for the Dodgers with an elbow procedure named after him.

            But, this is a different Thomas John’s whose name showed up in the first section of individuals who predicted stuff to happen in 2014. Google listed 139 predictions TJ made for 2014. The way I see we lambaste weather prognosticators for getting the weather all wrong, why not psychic and clairvoyant prognosticators? Let’s see if T John deserves castigating.

            He was spot on with his prediction that shots would be fired at a major sporting event. That’s pretty much how most races start at track meets. A dumb prediction, but accurate. He also predicted that Israel would be attacked by foreign terrorists at some point in 2014. That’s like me predicting that one or both of my houseshoes will get lost at least once every week. I order my slippers on-line. They’re called “Somewhere in the House Shoes.”

            China was supposed to have “very negative energy” with regard to the U.S. in 2014. You think? And, a political figure was supposed to get a sexually transmitted disease last year. Wow. Stop the presses. I am so glad I wasn't there when TJ saw that apparition.

            A major politician was to have been involved in a financial scheme in 2014.  Boy, he was really went out on a limb on that one. -- India was supposed to have experienced a “toilet revolution” in 2014. (I kid you not.) I feel fairly sure that a nation of 1.2 billion people did have some toilet issues last year. I live in a house with one other person and we had a couple of toilet issues. One of them proved revolting, too.

            I’m also fairly sure that TJ’s prediction that China would experience a bus crash that kills many was accurate. Let’s see, a population of 1.4 billion? A bus with “many” people on it? A city with smog as thick as a slab of Vernon’s meatloaf? Yes, I imagine a bus crash occurred. – A ship was supposed to sink in 2014. TJ couldn't tell if it was a cruise ship or a tug boat.  Fortunately, he did predict that only a few lives would be lost. 

            There was supposed to have been a shooting in Washington DC last year. John sensed that during the 365 day period somebody in Washington D.C. might get shot.  I don’t think I’m going out on a limb to predict that in 2015 someone with the last name of Jones will get shot in Washington D.C. I would like to add to that someone with the tattoo of a tear next to his left eye will either get shot or will shoot somebody in every major city in the nation at some point in 2015.

            The best guess TJ had for 2014 was his suspicion of a cyber-attack against the U.S. by a foreign country – “Possibly China or Korea.” – Now that’s a prediction Thomas John will definitely include in his resume. TJ also predicted that Paris Hilton would get engaged in 2015. I don’t care enough to verify it, so I’m crediting TJ with it being true.

            All right, time for a few that TJ got wrong. He shouldn't feel bad, ‘cause it’s really hard to predict stuff. You’ have to practically be a psychic. Speaking of which, Prince William did not become the King of England in 2014 as TJ predicted. Neither did the next in line, Prince Charles, whom TJ completely overlooked. But, if, out of a whale of a lot wrong predictions, John had gotten the Prince William one right, he’d be considered the modern day 
Nostradamus. (Pronounced in Pre-K “Nose the llamos.”)  

            Flying cars with famous celebrities driving them were not introduced into the market in 2014. Perhaps TJ meant to say “Drones.” Those things are as prevalent as reporters camped out at Home Depot a week before a predicted “big” freeze.

            I am not aware of any extinct species being brought back from extinction in 2014. Of course that doesn’t rule out the probability that they’re currently working to bring back the Mohave Fire Ant. How on earth do they figure out what they’re going to genetically mess with?

            I don’t remember Sharon Stone making a major comeback in a great picture in 2014. However, I’d like to predict that a movie will come out in 2015 with Meryl Streep playing Charles De Gaulle. I saw that in a dream.
            I don’t remember there being a major mechanical malfunction in a ride at Disney World back in March or April that cost some lives. Regardless, they have got to start keeping a better eye on those spinning tea cups. You’ll think it’s a small world when you get decapitated by a runaway saucer. In fact, let me just make that a prediction for 2015. Saucer decapitation in the Small World section of Disneyworld. 

            Okay, that looks like a good place to stop this thing.  I should’ve stopped right before the toilet revolution in India. That’s an image this is going resonate well into 2015. – Next time.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Ramblin' Rose

"Can openers that won't"
The things we'll swallow for health
"The talent of pulling numbers out of a body cavity"

        Have you noticed how I too often ramble all over the place before I get to where I’m going? You have? I do that a lot, do I? Well, that’s great, because today we’re starting off with can openers
        During the last two months, Kay and I have purchased four can openers. Three of ‘em were made in China and couldn’t open a can unless you attached a blasting cap to it. One “opener” was electric. A $10 electric can opener. Does it get any better than that?

        The other two weren’t electric, yet each cost as much as the electric. One thing they all had in common was the fact that they were made in China. I’ve got nothing against the Chinese. Not crazy about how they cut up a chicken, or how their alphabet works, but they’re okay.

        There is one thing about the Chinese that has become quite clear to me of late. The Chinese have not yet grasped the art of can opening. And this is the crazy part – owners of retail stores in the U.S. refuse to stock their shelves with can openers unless they come from China.

        I don’t know what these retailers use to open their cans, but whatever it is, they do not offer it to their customers. Granted, my findings are based on the purchase of only three can openers. Perhaps every fourth one actually works. It’s possible. 

        Kay finally found one company on-line that sells Non-Chinese can openers. The name of the company is “Made in the USA.” I kid you not. Kay purchased a red-handled can-opener for $15. It looks like the one Elsie used to have, but without a red handle. And, get this -- it actually opens cans. It costs more, but it works. 

        Sure, I can save a couple of bucks for something that doesn’t work. And I have. But, now I prefer paying a little more for one that works.

        I do not blame the Chinese for this. They’d be stupid not to sell lousy stuff to nincompoops who are willing to buy it. I’m just saying, uh, did you hear how much rain fell on California during the last deluge. (He’s wandering! Seat belt time.)

        A couple of weeks back, a reporter with NBC News had the audacity to read what someone put in front of him. He read, “The storm deposited 10 trillion gallons of water on California.” I begged Kay to tell me that he didn’t say that. She said, “He didn’t say that.” – I said, “Yes, he did.” – She said, “Fine. So, I wasn’t listening.” I then reached over and stole her ciabatta roll. 

        Ten trillion gallons of water? Why tell me that? It’s like saying that the average warthog carries 396 ticks on any given day. Am I supposed to think that NBC’s research staff is smarter than all others? Is 10 trillion more believable than 800 billion gallons? How about 1017 ticks on a warthog? Are you more amazed than you were when you heard 396?

Looks like 10 trillion gallons to me.
        Someone out there is convinced that we are fascinated by bull defecation. Are we? Are you? Then why are they wetting our legs with superfluous hooha and calling it news? 

        And while we’re at it, what’s all this about coconut oil? (Hold on! He’s moving again.) Coconut oil has been on sale in the U.S. since 1843 when Captain Blake entered Boston Harbor with a massive supply of the stuff. No one was all that crazy about Blake’s cargo, but a moderate amount stayed in Boston, and, over time became available in most cities. 

        Like NBC, I made all of that stuff up.  But, I’m not making up the fact that, today, coconut oil has become God’s gift to the circulatory system. At the last Hayter gathering, my niece (who is an absolute doll) was singing the praises of coconut oil. It’s God’s gift to—oh, I already said that. Anyway, when Shauna cooks with oil, it’s always coconut. She says that it leaves no coconut smell or taste in the food. When I use it, the coconut smell and taste remains in my food, but that’s ‘cause I cook it wrong. 

        Shauna occasionally eats a spoonful of coconut oil, ‘cause it tastes great and it’s full of the good cholesterol. I took her word for it. Jill didn’t. Jill put a heaping spoon of that stuff into her mouth and then began looking for a place to throw up. My kid sister has a gag reflex that can be set off by the smell of a raisin. Yet, she put a glob of Crisco into her mouth. (That’s what it looked like.)

        I could do nothing for her, except give her my I-can-do-nothing-for-you look. I don’t know how she got rid of it or where she got rid of it, but after about 10 minutes, she was standing there in the kitchen wearing her semblance-of-sanity look. (That girl can make me laugh like no one else.)

        And, none of this explains how Kay and I ended up being the only ones in the theatre wearing 3-D glasses. But, we’ll have to save that for another day, because now I have finally arrived at the point of my intended theme.

        That would be my wish that all of us have a productive, worthwhile and fun 2015. You can try to do all of that by yourself, but it’s so much easier and enjoyable if you share the journey with the friends God keeps putting in your path. If I’m not one, it’s probably because I’m always wandering all over the place. -- Next time.