Sunday, August 28, 2016

Yeti coffee mug

 Is that a Yeti?
10 oz only $45!

    We had the Plilers over for supper yesterday evening. Virginia and Freeman like ribs, and the two racks in our freezer were taking up way too much space. Those buddies came from one long pig. Kay had to fold ‘em to get them to fit in the freezer.

Years ago, I bought an electric smoker for my BBQ occasions. You ask me, the words “electricity” and “smoke” don’t belong in the same sentence… unless you’re an investigator for the Fire Department.

Since the smoker purchase, I have tried smoking turkey, brisket, ribs and pork butt. Might’ve been pork shoulder, but it’s rare that I find a legitimate opportunity to write the word “butt” without making the spirit of Elsie Hayter cringe.

    The biggest problem with smokers is the amount of patience they require. After about two hours in my low-smoking smoker, I give up and throw the raw meat in the oven until it’s done. Then I slam it onto my charcoal grill and burn the daylights out of it. Burnt meat has somewhat of a smoky taste to it. .
     Virginia and Freeman never complain about my burnt-to a-crisp ribs, because they’re not stupid. --  The Plilers, not the ribs. Ribs don’t have a clue.

    After the meal, we remained at the table so the girls could converse about the unimportant. As Kay and Virginia talked loudly across the table, Freeman looked up at me and said, “Is that a Yeti?”

    Odd, I thought. But, I shifted my view to the window at my left as a way of going along with the joke. I figured Freeman would say, “Gotcha!” as soon as I looked. The Plilers’ great-grandson, one of the blessed few who is responsible for hanging most of the stars in the heavens, has taught Maw Maw and Paw Paw all kinds of wonderfully funny things. – No, I like the kid. I’m just jealous.

    Anyway, I turned back to Freeman and gave him my puzzled look. I acquired my puzzled look from Oliver Hardy. Oliver Hardy? He was the second greatest actor in the world. Before your time, I’m sure.

    My award-winning look of puzzlement got a quick response from Freeman. “Your coffee mug. Is it a Yeti?” Had Virginia asked me that, I would’ve said, “No, most Yetis don’t have a flat butt.”  (Oops.) But, I didn’t say that ‘cause I didn’t want to run the risk of hurting Freeman’s feelings. The guy is so nice you just want to slap him.

That was the moment I found out that “Yeti” is a brand name for coolers and insulated mugs. Expensive coolers and mugs. You ask me, you’re paying for a name. Had they named their products “Slug-slime” I think the popularity would’ve never surfaced.

My mug, the one Freeman mistook for a Yeti, cost me $10. Of course, that was 20 years ago. Accounting for inflation that would be, uh, $11.18 today. Hasn’t been that much inflation of late. You may attribute that to the party of your choice.

I’ve managed to keep my mug a long time, because it’s indestructible and it does what I expect a mug to do. Coffee cups, like shoes and underwear, stay with me for a long time. My policy is that, as long as you do your job, I’ll keep you no matter how bad you look. I call that loyalty. Kay calls it cheap.

The stainless steel feature of the mug makes my coffee stay warm to the last suck on the sippy-lid. The mug is a straight squatty cylinder, with a black hard plastic lid that has a tiny hole on one side, which serves as a vent when the mug is tilted toward the sippy part of the lid. The Huns invented the vent-hole for mug lids. Before that, the lids would burst open when tilted, and cause the barbarians to get beer up their noses. Made ‘em angry as all get out. By the way, in case you were unaware, the Huns got so angry that they eventually conquered Rome. In fact that’s the only true part of my Hun story.

The only problem with my metal mug is that it’s too wide to fit in any cup-holder. They’ve got mugs with narrower bottoms, but that makes them easy to tump over. -- Tump? Yes, it's a word, not completely sanctioned by Webster. -- Engineers have yet to design a cup-holder wide enough my favorite mug. The mug’s base has a diameter of 3 ½ inches. That’s just a half-inch beyond the capability of cup-holder designer. They can design a toilet that will flush in zero gravity, but have yet to master the wider cup-holder. Our priorities are so messed up.

And, yes, I have been carrying on a lot about the mundane. That’s because my mind drifted a lot while the girls were talking at the table. If Freeman hadn’t taken the initiative to get up and clear the table, the conversation would’ve gone on into the night. Freeman. Did I tell you how great this guy is? – Next time.


Quotes to live by

"Avalanche of snowflakes"

    When I run across a good quote, I generally jot it down on the nearest thing I can find. I’ve lost a lot of good quotes that way.

    In the last couple of weeks, I have noticed several good sayings, and would now like to take this time to share. So, look around for something to write on.

    How many of you saw the “Thought for Today” in one of last week’s editions? It is attributed to Polish writer, Stanslav Jerzy Lec. Who doesn’t remember that scholar and his contribution to mankind? I’ve remembered him for about a week now. The quote I saw in the Courier read, “The only fool bigger than the person who knows it all, is the person who argues with him.”

    The fact that the quote was found in the “Opinion” section, screams of irony.  The words appeared on the same page as “Letters to the Editor.” I don’t know about you, but I do not enjoy reading opinions that aren’t mine. It doesn’t mean I don’t read some of ‘em. It’s just that I don’t enjoy the experience. When an article or letter begins with a false premise and is supported by illogic, I see little chance of expanding my mental boundaries by reading further. As you know, I’m a man in need of mental boundary expansion.

    I am by no means advocating a tempering of “Letters to the Editor.” The backlash would cause some serious civil unrest. If you don’t let people vent, some of them will explode right in front of you. There is a lot of anger out there. And, I do sympathize with the angry. If I lit atop a mound of simple answers to ageless problems, it would just irritate the daylights out of me that everyone else didn’t climb up there with me. Can’t they see?

    And that brings us to our second quote. This comes from, of all places, the “Letters to the Editor” published in last Thursday’s edition. In response to an influx of letters containing some angry and less than tactful arguments, Joseph Rodriguez of Conroe began his letter: “When did it become acceptable in the political discourse to insult, defame and be downright rude and arrogant? What ever happened to agree to disagree?” 

I don’t know Joseph, but I’d like to give him a hug. He’s going to need one, because someone is going to tear into him with a “counter” letter. – Hang in there, Joseph. But, try not to respond with a counter to the counter letter. I’m just saying.

    While on the subject, let me pass along another quote. This one is from writer, preacher, Max Lucado. Lucado wrote, “It is one thing to have an opinion. It is quite another to pass a verdict.” Why is it so easy for me to notice the application of that line to everyone but me? Anyone else? Anyone?

    Here’s another quote that speaks to one’s overvaluing an opinion. It comes from the deceased, religious writer, Oswald Chambers, who wrote, “He is a fool who places a ban of finality on his views.” Had I written that thought, it would’ve read, “Hey, keep an open mind!” An open mind is considered a danger to the one who worships a creed. That just came to me, so it’s likely wrong.

    These quotes are making me thirsty. Let’s go back to Stanslav. I researched that guy and found a trove of great sayings. I wish I had met him sooner. Look at this: “No snowflake in an avalanche ever feels responsible.” You might want to share that one on Facebook. Like me, I seriously doubt it would apply to anyone, but it always feels good to recognize the flaw in others.

    Stanslav Jerzy Lec, also wrote, “Everything is an illusion. Even that last sentence.” What? What did he call me? -- I have an increased respect for the Poles. Before Lec showed himself, I thought little of the contributions of Eastern Europeans, but now I’m like a snowflake in an avalanche. – No, I think I’ve already misused the quote.

    Here is a quote from an unknown author. “Bad decisions make good stories.” That is so true that it hurts. Most of my best stories come from bad decisions. Some of Virginia and Freeman’s favorite stories involve bad decisions of mine. It’s done nothing to harm our friendship. Of course, lately I have to get permission before I visit. Not a problem. They usually answer their phone, hoping it’s Kay calling. It is such a downer when a cheerful “Hello” turns into a “Heloooo, Mark.”

    Since we’re approaching the end here (of the article, not life itself) let’s leave with a few uplifting quotes. I neglected to write down the author’s name on this one. I jotted it down on a Bed, Bath and Beyond coupon, and there’s not a whole lot of space to write on one of those things. The quote is, “Peace can come if we respond with a gentle answer.” I know that to be true. Why I don’t practice it often enough is just weird.

    Here’s a quote that has the potential to put to rest a bucket load of negativity. “Whether it’s the best of times or the worst of times, it’s the only time we’ve got.” If all I do is gripe about the unfairness, meanness, violence, apathy, stupidity—What? Right, that’s enough. -- Anyway, if we don’t turn our whine into something fine, we just might end up as snowflakes in an avalanche. Yeah, I like that one.

    Yes, Stanslav Jerzy Lec, had a lot on the ball? He died in 1966, yet, I heard nothing about it. Let me give the man one last chance to express a thought. This one may be related to some of the stuff I’ve been writing about. I’m just not sure. Here is the quote: “Hay smells different to lovers and horses.”  I think that means that Kay likes romantic movies, and I like horses. – I think I’m pretty close with that one. – Next time.


Thursday, August 11, 2016

Pokemon Go: Instructions For Dinosaurs

 “Pokemon Go: The dumbed down explanation"

    When last we left, I had requested that one of you agree to explain the nation’s current Pokemon Go craze. Kay and I were to have you appear or phone in to our “Hanging with the Hayters” Wednesday at noon show on

Well, by the time the show was ready was ready to air, I had received no response. I took that to mean that not one of you is capable of explaining the game. Either that or none of you read the article. I don’t even want to hear that kind of talk.

You want to know what I’m thinking? I’m thinking that each of you wants to expand your horizons and learn about Pokemon Go. Something is going on around here and you want to make sure the Ruskies aren’t planting scary stuff in our brains. Maybe the Chinese. Probably the Chinese.

Well, this morning, I am going to give the Pokemon Go dumbed down instructions that I carefully researched. So, batten your hatches and remove all the metal out of your pockets.

Everything I know about Pokemon Go came from Kay’s computer literate nephew, Steven. Steven stayed with us the night before our show, and, while here, he worked on our computer. He didn’t fix it, but he did manage to take the metal covering off the part that holds all the brains. Having demonstrated his computer genius, I decided to drag his buns to the Lonestar Studio in downtown Conroe and made him explain “Pokemon Go” to listeners.

Unfortunately, during our live broadcast, Steven informed the entire world that he had never played the game. All he knew was what he had read on the Internet. I could’ve done that. I did do that. And I got nothing from it.

But, here’s what I learned from Steven. – The word “Pokemon” is foreign talk for “Pocket Monster.” I’m pretty it’s Japanese, because the animated creatures look like Japanese cartoon drawings. Strange creatures with poorly detailed features. Big eyes. Some look like gumdrops with big eyes and points on the top that are supposed to be ears. Or horns. Hard to tell.

The object of the game is to catch these ill-conceived creatures by sucking them up into an animated ball that appears on the screen of your Smart Phone. If you’re not sure if your cell phone is a Smart one, it’s best not ask anyone. They’ll embarrass the daylights out of you.

The popularity of the game is generated by the fact that it is meant to be played out of doors. You turn the camera part of your phone on and walk around the neighborhood or around town looking for Pokemon. The game, having been downloaded to your phone, works in conjunction with Google Maps. The screen will show you the map view of your actual location, including the direction of your walk, and the structures that are actually around you.

Occasionally, your phone will vibrate so you’ll know that a Pokemon is in the vicinity. How he got there is none of your concern. As you approach the creature, your phone screen will magically turn to a real visual of the HEB parking lot you’re in, or the pier on the lake in front of you. Suddenly a Pokemon will jump onto the screen and taunt you. That’s when you aim and touch the pokey ball key of your phone and throw it at the creature. No, I don’t know which key you press. Just remember to toss the imaginary ball and not your actual phone.

It’s moments like these that have caused accidents. One can only imagine the possible carnage if someone spotted a Pokemon on top of an overpass they were getting ready to drive under. Or on top of the fire hydrant just this side of the bike lane.

It’s one of those games where you’re urged (in the fine print) to read the fine print. – “Don’t play while driving. If you do, don’t point your car in the direction of the object on which the Pokemon is jumping. And, don’t walk into traffic while playing. And, don’t rob a bank while playing, because it gives police a clear view of where you were at the time of the robbery.” – Stuff like that.

Oh, and Pokemons are more prevalent around well-known sites in and around town. The Woodlands has ‘em all over the place. As does downtown Conroe. There were a bunch of them outside the studio while Kay and I were doing our show. I didn’t see any of ‘em, ‘cause I don’t know if my phone is a Smart Phone, nor have I tried to download the free game. Plus, when I turn on the camera of my phone, it will sap all the power in about four minutes. That’s bound to be a sign that my phone is not smart at all.

    That’s pretty much all of  Pokemon Go I care to discuss. If you have questions or arguments concerning my explanation of the game, share them with the person within hearing distance of you. 

    I do hope I’ve shed light on what billions of learned people are so excited about. It is but more evidence supporting the notion that I am completely out of step with those who know how to properly walk along the path of belonging. Japanese-animated figures are, no doubt, jumping all over that path. – Next time. --

Rooftop ramblings

"Thoughts from a nighttime roofsit"

    ROOFTOP – Jerry, I didn’t force you to trade places with me. What I said was, “Jerry, trade places with me.” I wasn’t going to fight you for the far side of the roof. It’s just that I never sit over there, and I wanted to see if there’s a breeze. – There’s not.

    Okay, get hold of yourselves, Rooftoppers. We’re on in three, two and… action-- Glad you could join us. I want you all to know that I waited till nightfall to get us all up here. Any earlier and the fire department would have to scrape us off this metal roof. At the moment, the roof’s not hot, but the air sure is.

    No mosquitoes, though. Mosquitoes are a bit less active during the dry spells. I think it’s because the flies chase ‘em away. There are always pests in life, are there not?

    This is another summer where the grass turns crispy and the flowers take on a look of wilt. Kay has been trying to save the yard and all the plants. The girl has no idea about the intricacies of our water bill. I pay all the bills, so am well aware that the price of water usage goes up exponentially. Once you reach a given number of gallons, the water bill spikes. We can afford the increase in payment; don’t think we can’t. It’s just that it would take a big bite out of our food budget. I’m sure I have my priorities all askew, but between food and the lawn, I prefer meat with my broccoli.

    Each summer, huge areas of our lawn die. Yet, come spring, it springs back. Thus the name “Spring.” It’s much like fire ants. You can kill ‘em off, but they’ll be back. Back with a vengeance. I’d explain how all of this works, but I’m on the rooftop and away from the Internet. The Internet has given me an image of near smartness.

    A few of us remember the days before computers, word processor programs, and the Internet. It was a horrible time, my friend. And, get this, at the birth of the internet I saw no hope for it. 

    My friend Bob Ezell selected me to be one of several teachers to look for the potential behind a system that could link libraries and governmental institutions. It wasn’t called the Internet, but that’s what it was. Bob chose me because he figured if I could catch on, anyone could. He didn’t tell me that, but, hey, I’m no idiot. Beg pardon?

Anyway, the system had no graphics or sound. All you could do is pull up documents that were printed in a font that was a faded-green and was called “dull data-like depressing” It took minutes to download documents. I thought, “No way!” Well, now it’s a “way.” Big way.

    Back in the 80’s and the first part of the 90’s, I used an electric typewriter and carbon paper to get my articles in the proper form. I had to white-out the same mistake on  four copies that were typed on carbon paper. I’d finish the article around 2:00 a.m. on a school night. I’d run ‘em to the newspaper drop off on my way to school. Once received, someone had to typeset the thing so it could be so it could fit the newspaper format -- I’d research how they did all of that, but I’m on the roof. Remember?

    Back in the day, I spent too much time trying to find out the names of books, authors, actors or brand names of chewing gum. Kay was usually little help with stuff like that. I’d have to call Virginia or Dennis late at night and ask ‘em, “Hey, who sang that song about ‘My little runaway, a run, run, run, run, runaway?’ ” If they didn’t know, I’d have to come up with a song by a singer whose name I did know. It could change the whole article. I was bummed out, I tell you.

    Now, I can find practically anything. Earlier this week, I was trying to figure out who the star was in a particular movie. I asked Kay if she knew the person’s name. She appeared to ignore me; picked up her phone and said, “Okay, Google, I need the cast of ‘Beyond the Poseidon Adventure.’ ” Bingo! There it is.

    One can only imagine how many gammazoid rays zipped through the air and landed on her phone. Pinged off a hundred different towers in a second. Makes no sense to me. None at all. What makes even less sense is the new Pokemon Go game. Can anyone explain that game to me? Anybody?

    I saw a short video clip a few hours ago that showed a car run smack-dab into a parked police car. The driver wasn’t drunk. Claimed he was playing Pokemon Go while driving. This game is taking the country by storm, and I have not a clue. I read the rules off the Internet and still couldn’t figure ‘em out. I promised that, on the next “Hanging with the Hayters Show” (On every Wednesday at noon on -- Ba dum, dum.) that Kay and I would have someone explain Pokemon Go to listeners. Now all I have to do is crawl out of my rut and find someone.

Look at this! Just look at it! We’re out of time. I didn’t even get to mention the “plumcot” sample that I tasted at HEB this afternoon. Oh well, another day. Till then, Keep ‘em flyin’! – And, we’re clear!

Okay, everybody, time for some scary stories. And, Jerry, aren’t you glad you’re not seated by the edge of the roof, you big whiner. – All right, Sara first. – “Okay, one night this lady heard a noise coming from the backseat of his car…” (It’s just getting’ good, up here.) – Next time.