From time to time, readers send email or call to pose similar questions: “Is your Uncle Mort real?” My unvarying rhetorical response is: “Do you want him to be?”

I sense their sinking feelings, let down by my failure to provide positive answers. I grudgingly admit that he is a figment of my imagination, but is a conjured composite of some of my actual uncles.

Mort’s “escapades” have been chronicled here for more than a decade. I had taken little note of his “age” until a reader called to question how my uncle had managed to remain 92 years old for a half-dozen years? I’ve been more attentive to “age accuracy” ever since. I kick it up by one year every July Fourth — Independence Day for our country, as well as a reminder that Mort enjoys 365 “independent days” annually.

With a sharp eye constantly out for the quick buck, Mort is usually about as successful as a fisherman with a bare hook. But, like the golfer who keeps swinging — hoping to finally hit that perfect shot — he keeps right on truckin.’ An incurable optimist, he’s as hopeful as California gold rush pioneers, believing that one day, a scheme, invention or half-baked gadget idea will pan out.

We visited on New Year’s Day. I wasn’t surprised to learn he was hard at work on a new “can’t miss” exercise program. I was taken aback, however, that he had aborted his latest invention project.

Since these are distinctively different initiatives, each will be considered separately.

“They’re pushing the Daniel Plan at the church house to lose weight,” Mort said. “I don’t think many seniors are going to buy into it, since most of us get our exercise serving as pallbearers for our friends who exercise,” he laughed.

This set him to thinking about an exercise plan for seniors — one that’s “economical and as effective as participants want it to be.”

“I’m going to market it for a mere $1.99,” he bragged, “And if I hand deliver the bags, I’ll clear $1.87 on each sale.”

Figuring the “whole load” was unavoidable, I requested details.

He said for the first week, participants hang five-pound potato bags from each outstretched hand for five minutes daily. The second week calls for hanging 10-pound bags for three minutes, followed by a final week of 25-pound bags for one minute.

“If folks don’t feel like this is quite enough exercise, they can toss a potato into each bag the third week,” he laughed, emphasizing they have to furnish their own potatoes.

As to his aborted “invention,” he claimed to be well along on a meticulous formula that, once perfected, would cause bodily sweat to accumulate on our feet.

Deodorant companies, he theorizes, will seize the opportunity to aim their products specifically at the feet, where Mort thinks sweat may accumulate in puddles.

He admitted, though, that a “for-real” invention announced recently for drivers’ GPS units may thwart his plans. The new device sends electrical tingles in the proper foot — left or right — depending on which direction drivers are turning. “That sounds like an electrocution waiting to happen,” Mort said. “And I’m afraid I’d face lawsuits from here to kingdom come. Sure as shootin,’ those GPS electric signals hitting sweat puddles in shoes might cause shocks that go way beyond tingles,” he opined.

Before our visit ended, he asked, “Got milkweed?” He expressed delight that monarch butterflies are expected to migrate in larger numbers this spring, mostly because folks have planted milkweed to attract them. I told him that so far, zinnias have given them pause in our backyard.

He left, mumbling about the feasibility of crossing monarchs with lightning bugs. “There’d be the chance for 24/7 popularity,” he maintained, beautiful creatures flying in sunlight by day and bodily lighted at night. Mort said that such hybrids might have a clever name, such as “butter-bugs.” He projected the possibility of a contest to name the new creatures.

This was a better “winder-upper” than the ending of our first 2014 visit. I asked what he planned to give up for New Year’s. His answer?  “Resolutions.”

Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. Inquiries/comments to: Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site: Archived: