There used to be a scale in front of a store in Social Circle. You could put a penny in the slot by your astrological sign and a little cover would move to reveal your weight and your horoscope.
It had a sign that said, "Your weight, Your fate." I never quite understood the relationship between your weight and your horoscope. It also didn't take a genius to understand that the penny dropped down to the same place, regardless of which slot you selected.
The horoscope forecast was usually something very generic, like, "Today holds good prospects for you."
Sometimes, we would try to get two weigh-ins for the price of one. After I was done, another would step on the scale platform with me and then I would jump off.
If you didn't do it just right, the little door would close with the message, "Your time is up."
That was perhaps the most memorable message I got from the old scale.
I don't know if they have one of those scales in Fort Collins, Colo., but I hope Richard Henne will soon get the message that his time is up.
Henne is the apparent mastermind behind the great hoax that was pulled on the American public involving a balloon that was supposed to be a flying saucer, but looked more like a fully-popped pan of Jiffy Pop popcorn.
Like so many people, I found myself watching the continuous news coverage as the balloon flew over the Colorado countryside, supposedly with Falcon Henne, 6, on board.
Richard Henne has been trying to find his way onto a reality TV show for several years. Someone came up with a video of him going into a nail salon with heavily bandaged hands and seeking a manicure. That didn't work.
He and his wife somehow made it onto the show "Wife Swap." This is a program where two couples, who are polar opposites, swap the roles of their wives. His wife, Mayumi, has been shown pitching quite a tantrum with her swapped family.
She was crying and howling when she called 9-1-1 and lied about her boy floating away in the balloon. She is quite an actress.
Apparently, being on "Wife Swap" was not enough for the Henne family and they needed more. They may get a little reality time in the old Graybar hotel.
Television networks all tell you that the reasons they offer so many reality shows is because they are relatively cheap to produce and, more importantly, we'll watch it.
Reality TV turned Jon and Kate and their eight children into public figures. Now that things have gone sour, you can't go to the grocery store without seeing some tawdry tabloid story about Jon, Kate or some alleged love interest.
If television was a vast wasteland in the 1960s, it is a widespread disaster area today. The only thing worth watching is stuff that was produced a generation ago.
My childhood was not without some unusual shows, like "The Munsters" and "The Addams Family." But, looking back, Herman Munster seems very normal while Richard Henne seems like a real monster.
Harris Blackwood is a columnist for The Times. His column runs every week in Sunday Life.