Johnny-on-the-Spot … by John Foster …
How many times have you stomped on an ant or flicked one away at the picnic table?
Every spring, we get ants in our kitchen.
It requires me to place those ant traps at strategic locations with hopes that the little critters will follow the instructions on the label and take some bait back to the colony to lessen their numbers.
Recently I read from a study at the University of Hong Kong that there are 20 quadrillion ants crawling on this planet.
That’s 20 followed by 15 zeroes.
If the world’s population is roughly 8 billion people, that means there are about 2 million 500 thousand ants per person.
So, if my math is right, if kill one ant a minute, I’d only reduce their population by about a half a million in one year.
There are a lot of ants around us.
The greatest number are in the tropics.
The combined weight of all the world’s ants is about 12 million tons which is more than the weight of all the birds and mammals on Earth.
Looks like the Raid people will have a solid business plan for the foreseeable future.
Now, as a kid, we’d use up an hour or so per day during summer vacation pretending we were bomber pilots.
I’d give each of my buddies a golf ball and we’d “fly” around our blacktop driveway, dropping those dimpled balls on carpenter ants crossing the asphalt.
We obviously did not put a serious dent on the ant population numbers but our “bombing missions” occupied us on hot summer days.
Man, if ants ever figure out how to get giant golf balls into trees, we are doomed!
As a kid, we used to stick firecrackers into anthill tunnels and watch them scurry about, usually moving ant eggs.
These days, the ants try to settle up the score when I turn my mulch pile.
I’ll get those little critters on my hands and arm and they can bite.
So, even though ants are relatively small, they have us by the numbers.
If they ever get better organized, they could run this place.
Those little things could mean a whole lot more.
Speaking of little things, “by the way” can be a pretty strong thing to say.
Like the time our young family went tent-camping at a central Ohio state park.
We drove into the facility and noted how nice it was and wondered aloud why there weren’t more folks camping.
After we set up our tent, the park ranger came by to collect our “rent”.
As he left, he said, “Oh, by the way, we have a bit of a tick problem right now.”
He was right.
We spent time in a family circle each night, looking over one another’s bodies for ticks.
And we found several.
Our youngest daughter even had one on her eyelid.
I knew she needed glasses but she couldn’t see a tick on her own eyelid?
We survived the experience but my ears always perk up when someone says, “Oh, by the way.”
Now, there’s another experience to share with you.
The difference between “water-repellent” and “water-resistant”.
Most times it doesn’t matter a whole lot.
But, if you’re my older daughter sitting with her family during a football game downpour, her “water-resistant” jacket, as fashionable as it might be didn’t keep her as dry as the gawdy “water-repellent” rain ponchos her parents were wearing.
Sometimes “fashion, be damned!’ if the goal is to stay dry.
Did you ever ask someone for directions and they say, “Oh, it’s just a little ways down the road.”
More often than not, that road turns out to be the Oregon Trail and the destination is two time zones away.
In some areas, that might be described as a “fur piece”.
Or someone will ask for your help with a project and they tell you, “Oh, it’s just going to be an hour or so” and you wind up becoming eligibile to collect Social Security before the task is finished.
Be prepared for a long wait when some people tell you, “I’ll be back in a jiff.”
When I hear that, I wish I had brought my razor because I know I’m going to need a shave before they return.
Which brings up the question, which seems longer; 15 minutes in the dentist chair or 15 minutes with your lover?
It’s the dentist who will also tell you, “This is only going to hurt a little bit.”
I’ve found one way to guarantee that is to grab hold of something on the dentist that I will squeeze if the pain estimate he provided was off a bit.
It’s one of those little things I’ve learned over the years.
It’s 900 seconds either way.