Saturday, April 21, 2018

backyard with Kay

“Gardens, drones and fans”

            BACKYARD – I’m fairly sure the temperature today is the coolest it will be till November. I’m wearing shorts and a tee-shirt, and I feel the least bit chilled. Don’t turn around, but Kay’s sitting behind you wearing jeans and a plaid, long-sleeved shirt, and drinking hot tea. She’s in a zone.

            There’s been a lot of activity since our last backyard visit. Do you remember Harley, the dog next door? He’s just a pup, but he’s big. Looks like a boxer-rhino mix. Nice dog, but he’s a digger.

            Mary came home from work the other day and found Harley sitting on the driveway waiting for her. At some point during the day, he decided to take a walk, so he dug a hole under the gate, toured the neighborhood, and then returned home. The hole under the gate was big and deep. It had to be or else Harley would’ve gotten stuck.

            To prevent Harley from duplicating his adventure, Mary stuck a heavy metal lawn chair in the hole Harley had dug. Sensing that Mary didn’t want to have a lawn chair permanently  blocking her gate, I got a couple bags of concrete and, with Kay’s help, poured some rocks and concrete into the hole under the gate. Problem solved, but not for long.

            Two days later, Harley was sitting on the driveway waiting for Mary to get home. He had dug another hole next to the gate. Mary put the lawn chair over that hole, but the next day, Harley dug another hole next to the lawn chair. Harley is now camped out in the garage.

            Excuse me a second. Kay needs my attention  – What? No, Dear, I was just telling readers about Harley. Yes, I’ll keep you out of the article. Nothing to see here. Just keep reading. – Sorry. Where was I?

            Oh, right. So, Kay told Mary that she needed to shovel some fresh Harley poop in the holes that Harley dug, and toss some dirt on top of it. She saw a trainer on one of her dog shows do that, and it worked perfectly. Unlike cats, dogs don’t like to dig in their own poop.  

            If Mary runs out of Harley poop, she can get some out of our yard, because Harley makes our yard one of his stopovers during his walks.

            I’m sorry. Kay’s got something else to share. I’ll turn up her volume.  – “Honey, do you remember that vine that we couldn’t identify? The one with five lobed leaves?” --  Yes, sweetie. – It’s a Virginia Creeper. I found it on my Kindle.” – Well, thank you, doll. By the way, you’re now in the article.

            Okay, what else has happened? Oh yeah, we’ve got a drone in the house. Hank, one of our other neighbors bought a drone, but didn’t know how to assemble it, so he asked me. I turned him down, because he had no instructions. A few days later, Hank commissioned Kay to put the thing together.  That girl is such a pushover. Excuse me. – “I’m a what?” – Pushover. – “I know you are, but what am I?” --  I’m sorry I ever let you watch Pee Wee Herman.

            You’ve no doubt noticed the new gardens here in the backyard. Kay did the one next to the house by herself. I was taking a nap at the time, so couldn’t help. I did help her dig the garden right in front of us. The two rose bushes were full of blooms until Kay moved ‘em from the first garden and replanted ‘em here. She had planted them right under the drip-line of the house. They got pounded during the last thunderstorm. Excuse me again. – No, darling. I said “drip-line” not “zip line.” And, yes, I know you once went on a zip-line. And, yes, I’ll let readers know.

            Uh, Kay once went on a zip-line. So, where was I? No, I’m tired of gardens. Ceiling fan. Kay and I installed another ceiling fan. We put this one in our bedroom. It took us six hours, but only because I had to take it down and rewire it. We’re still not completely through, because the fan has a tremendous wobble when set on “high.” All I have to do is find out which of the five blades is out of kilter and put a weight on it. The part of the instructions printed in English are as understandable as the ones printed in Portuguese.

             Oh, and get this.  Both of our fans are remote controlled and both remotes are keyed to the same “1234” code. I didn’t see that as a problem until I discovered that when I turn the bedroom fan off, it also turns off the one in the living room. The signal from the remote creeps through the walls. I could change the code, but then I’d have to take the fan down and disassemble it to get to the code box.

            Hold on a second. – Yes, Smoocher Cakes? – “Did you know that poison ivy and poison oak are the same thing?” – No, I didn’t, darling, because they're not.
            I’m sorry. This may take awhile. Let’s get back together next week. – No, Sweetie, they both have three leaves, but the poison oak has leaves that look similar to the leaves of a post oak. Thus, the name ‘poison oak.’  – “That’s not what it says here. – Look, I’m a forester. I know these things.  – “Oh, yeah? Well I’ve been on a zip-line!”

Mark can be contacted at An archive of Hayter’s articles can be found at

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Strange facts

“Weird Stuff”

            I’d like to start a contest with the few of you out there who have been classified by society as senior citizens. What I need you to do is start exercising moderately. Nothing rigorous. Do that for five years, while I continue my regimen of not exercising for five years.

            At the end of that time, someone at the University of Miami will see which one of our brains looks 10 years younger. Considering the brain autopsy, I know this is a whale of a sacrifice, but I need it to prove a point. Point being: is it true that exercise is conducive to a young brain?

            That’s what scientists at the U of Miami think they’ve proved. They picked 876 senior citizens and had half of them exercise for five years, and the other half replace the exercise program with naps. Something tells me they started out with 1000 senior citizens. The exercisers who survived the test, had brains that looked 10 years younger than the nappers. (I was joking about the dissection thing. I imagine they used an MRI instead of a skull-saw to inspect the brains.)  

            Each day I try to read weird stuff like that in my attempt to learn new things. I’m failing miserably in my attempt, because the only way I can remember stuff is to write it down. I’ve got it bad, but not as bad as Frankie Muniz. Muniz is the boy who played the lead role in the TV serious “Malcolm in the Middle”.

            This week I learned that Muniz has had a total of 9 concussions while playing soccer, basketball, football, and while racing cars. Since 2012 he’s had 15 mini-strokes. The young man (early 30s) is still active and healthy, but he’s lost much of his long-term memory, including the part about when he was on “Malcolm in the Middle.” I now consider it a blessing that I was a lousy basketball player, never played soccer, and only got my bell rung a half dozen times in football. Oh, and I’ve yet to wreck my race car.

            Speaking of exercise, look at this: Barbells and dumbbells in a gym have 362 times more bacteria on them than a toilet seat. The only thing with more bacteria would be the toilet seat in a gym. I’m just guessing at that. At times when I think we have nothing left to contribute to society, somebody comes up with staggering info like that.

            Here’s a fact I discovered on my own: British impersonators aren’t nearly as funny as American impersonators. While looking on YouTube for a girl who sang one of the songs on the sound track of the movie about the three billboards in Missouri, I got hung up on comedian impressionists. The Brit comedians would speak in an accent that sounded to me like any other British accent, yet the audience would go wild. I had no idea who they sounded like. What a waste of talent.

            I also saw some Americans impersonate Country Western singers. One guy did 20 impersonations in four minutes. I only recognized the names of eight of ‘em. It was obvious that each impersonator had a lot of talent, in that they could play a guitar and sing in a multitude of different twangs, but it’s wasted on a person who doesn’t know the person they’re impersonating.

            By the way, the lady singer I was searching for was Iris DeMent. She has the twangiest female country voice on the planet. Turns out she wasn’t the one singing the song on the billboard movie. Still, I love her song “Our Town.” (Here it is)

            I wrote down on my note pad the words “soil improver.” It came from a commercial about a garden fertilizer. It took me too long to find the remote to fast-forward through the commercial, so I had to hear the commercial voice say that the fertilizer contained a “soil improver.” Do advertisers have so little respect for us that they think we’d fall for something like that? Now the people who make canned chili will throw in a line about their chili having an additional chili improver in each can. Just beats all.

            Oops. This just in. “All Bran contains only 87% bran.” I have yet to run across anything that shows the amount of bran in 40% Bran, so I shall withhold my judgment. But, I’ve gotta say, if All Bran only has 87% bran in it, I don’t want to taste the stuff that has the full 100%.

            Do you tend to forget a person’s name right after he tells you? What you’re experiencing is something called the next-in-line effect. After asking a person his or her name, my mind instantly starts searching for something to follow, thus not taking time to register the person’s name in your brain… which rhymes with train and stands for fool. Regardless, from now on, we’ll listen for the name and then take a five-second pause to think up something to say.

            Okay, here’s the one you’ve been looking for. The last one. After a seven year study, scientists at the University of Alberta, found that human urine contains 3,079 chemical compounds. Those Canadians aren’t sitting on their laurels. Not to be outdone, professors at Northeastern Southern University in Central TX, discovered that the number of chemical compounds in urine shoots up to 3218 for those using the restroom in a gym. (I’m fairly sure that the NES University finding was the only fabricated fact.)     

Mark can be contacted at An archive of Hayter’s articles can be found at