* Y’know, with our television sets being currently overloaded with commercials and programs that either annoy or just don’t interest us for one reason or another, sooner or later we reach a saturation point and reach for the remote control. We have two choices; switch channels or switch off.

But there just might be a small positive side to this.

Maybe the exercise we get from changing channels or pressing the ‘mute’ button will help us prolong our lives because we’re in such good shape! Maybe even good enough that we wouldn’t need so many of those medications those companies are trying so hard to sell!

Which is sorta ironic, since they made us do it.

* Your eyes are not deceiving you; that "pound" of coffee doesn’t weigh a pound – and it says so, right there on the package.

It started quite a few years ago, and there wasn’t a thing you or I could do about it.

Remember when we had that coffee crisis – and the shortage made coffee producers raise their prices – and then the prices seemed to go down again?

Then we took a second look and realized that the coffee can was the same size, but instead of a sixteen-ounce pound of coffee, it now held only fourteen ounces, or thirteen, or even eleven and a half – but the price stayed the same per package!

And that’s where things stood for a while – with a sixteen ounce can which held maybe less than twelve ounces, and the producers apparently figured ‘why not?’

It’ll cost money to change their factory over to smaller packaging, so they just didn’t call it a ‘pound’ any more because it isn’t! Same package or can, same price, less coffee.

Well, was that the only reason?

Nope. They didn’t switch because, regardless of brand names, if not everyone changes, buyers will choose the bigger package no matter how much it contains, and the smaller packages will lose sales, so we shoppers end up being offered a partially-full can of coffee.

Logical? Nope. (They call it "being competitive.")

And it’s not just coffee. Look around and you can find other products doing similar things.

But they really are changing - gradually. Just don’t hold your breath.

Yeah. Being competitive.

* "Your call is important to us." or so they say.

The other day, I made one of those calls and got that old familiar song and dance, so I kept count, and while I was waiting to speak to a real person, the automated system told me how important my call actually was – eleven times! - interspersed with loud, bad music and commercial after commercial offering other services, none of which I was calling about, and it took that machine over five minutes to tell me that!

Maybe these folks should crack a dictionary once in a while, and look up the definition of ‘important’.

* And how about those phony phone calls, the ones made by a computer, where someone just punched the ‘start’ button and let the computer do all the work until some unsuspecting victim actually answers. Then a real person makes a pitch playing on paranoia, like, "Do you know that you are responsible for any malfunction of connections from the Water Main to your house?"

(Yes, you are, but how many times have you heard of someone whose connections failed?) Or, the same thing about your natural gas pipes, or even try to make you feel that you need to insure your power lines! Forget it. Just call the local folks. They’ll give you the real story – and you’ll be able to sleep nights.

* I watched the wrong interview program the other day. It was wrong because the interviewer insisted upon asking a question, then adding to it before his guest had a chance to answer – and then, to make matters worse he tacked on two more additions.

By the time the guest got the chance to answer, he’d forgotten the original question!

Things didn’t improve, as the host also made a cardinal mistake. He broke the rule “only one person speaks at a time” so then we couldn’t sort out who was saying what, and it sounded like they were at the Tower Of Babble! (Right. Babble, not Babel.)

That’s when I exercised my thumb again and switched channels.

Dad was right. He used to say, “Speech is silver, but silence is golden.”

 — Newton columnist Mike Morton writes weekly for the Kansan. He can be reached at m24r24fm8445@att.net