Friday, March 21, 2008

Chinese warning: Mind crotch

From the blog of the great Dave Barry comes a story about some of the great attempts at translating Chinese to English.


"Mind crotch."

Eighth grade fight with a twist

A pair of eighth graders get into a fight. It happens all the time. Big deal.

Wait a second. They were eighth grade teachers. Fighting in front of their students. So, so nice.

This paints a nice picture of a couple of people who should be in a different line of work.

Eighth grade teachers Tawana Horton, 30, and Cambrella Pinckney, 28, bumped into each other during a hallway class change Friday afternoon at St. Andrews Middle School and began fighting, according to a report by the Richland County sheriff's department.

'80s Flashback: Avoid the Noid

Friday is here again, so it's time for another '80s Flashback.

Before a word from our sponsor, here are the recent '80s Flashbacks:

'80s Flashback: Mary Lou Retton
'80s Flashback: One night in Bangkok
'80s Flashback: Adams Atoms
'80s Flashback: Don't you forget about me

OK. This week's '80s Flashback is brought to you by the 15-cent postage stamp. Yes, that's what a first-class stamp cost back in 1980. By '89, it had bumped to 25 cents.

Remember when Domino's Pizza was one of the few delivery places? Domino's has lots of competition now, but back in the late '80s, its main nemesis seemed to be "The Noid."

At least in the commercials ...

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Who enjoyed the wedding?

I've been to several weddings the last few years, and if anyone reading this was either a bride or groom at one of those weddings, I really enjoyed the wedding.


OK, maybe.

I think The Onion might have it right:

The lavish, 250-guest wedding of James and Mindy Gallagher, held Sunday at the New Rochelle Country Club, was enjoyed by no one but the bride.

Automatic ball thrower for dogs

If I had any technical expertise, I would make one of these for my dog. Maybe then Maggie wouldn't get lonely when the family is away and start chewing on things.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Thirty bucks, a frozen lake and a dare

We all know about the economy woes in this country and how the dollar is losing value against other currencies. But in some cases, the dollar is still strong.

For example, you only need 30 of those dollars to convince a dumb friend to run naked across a frozen lake.

Biggest surprise about the story:

The man was apparently sober.

When mascots go bad

March Madness begins Thursday, coinciding with a virus that will force many people to call in sick. To prepare for the tournament, here's a good ol' fashioned mascot fight.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The most expensive corn flake ever

How much would you pay for a corn flake shaped like Illinois?


(At least there's free shipping)

Paul McCartney says goodbye to millions

Heather Mills got nearly $50 million from Paul McCartney for a four-year marriage. Not bad, huh?

I like this sentence from the story:

Mills emerged from the three-hour private hearing to declare that the settlement had secured her future and that of her 4-year-old daughter, Beatrice.

Yeah, that's pretty secure. All you need is love, the Beatles sang, but $50 million makes other things easier.

Monday, March 17, 2008

St. Patrick's Day is about Grandpa

This is a column I wrote several years ago when I still thought that my receding hairline was because I wore hats too often. On St. Patrick's Day, I thought it would be a good rerun.

St. Patrick's Day is about Grandpa

The Dallas Morning News

Another St. Patrick's Day has crept up on me, leaving me no time to
shop for St. Patrick's Day presents, send out St. Patrick's Day
cards, decorate the house with green lights or go St. Patrick's Day

It's probably a good thing. I bet people living in a house with a
huge, glowing shamrock on the front door wouldn't get an invitation
to the next neighborhood party.

But my grandpa would be green with envy over such a display of
Irish heritage. Nobody celebrated St. Patrick's Day like Eugene
McKenna, the king of everything Irish. He played Irish music. Wore
a green bow tie and green derby hat. Even had green mashed potatoes
for dinner. I think he longed for a time when his favorite holiday
would become so big that newspapers would have headlines such as:
"Retailers hope sales slump will end with St. Patrick's Day rush."

His Irish fervor only trickled down to me. St. Patrick's Day meant mint
shamrock candies and green lollipops, but in my childhood world, it
couldn't compare with the gluttonous joy of a Christmas or
birthday. And the history of St. Patrick's Day was a mystery. For
all I knew, the holiday started when St. Patrick discovered the
Blarney Stone while running from a bunch of classmates who were
trying to pinch him because he wasn't wearing green.

That's what St. Patrick's Day meant to a 9-year-old. Now, to a
29-year-old, it means remembering my grandpa.

He died when I was 13, well after he had become one of my heroes. I
also believe I was predestined for the newspaper business because
he worked for many years at the St. Paul Pioneer Press in

He was a pressman, but I think he should have written stories. He
could sure tell them. And he never let the facts get in the way of
a good one. He would point to the navel on his Santa Claus belly
and say, "That's where I got shot in the war." He also told me that
he once ran so fast that people only saw a blur. A green blur, of

But my grandpa's most famous story came when my friends and I were
playing basketball in the driveway - under the basketball hoop he
made for me.

"I once made 10 free throws in a row blindfolded," he said,
grabbing our attention. "And I shot them backward."

He added that he put light bulbs around the rim during the free
throws and didn't break one. He then offered to duplicate the feat
when the darn charley horse in his leg went away.

Not surprisingly, the darn charley horse never went away. But
neither did my grandpa's imprint on the family.

Each St. Patrick's Day, it was obvious. My mother would put up
decorations, dress us up in green clothes and plop green derby hats
on our heads, at least until we were old enough to object. One
year, my mom even served green milk with dinner. Irish pride aside,
milk just shouldn't be green. Getting it to go down took more than
the luck of the Irish.

Thankfully, I have the luck of the Irish. The luck of spending much
of my childhood with two heroes, my dad and my grandpa. I remember
my luck whenever I see the picture of my grandpa reclining in the
La-Z-Boy, sound asleep with his mouth wide open. I'm sitting on his
knee, reclining on him, sound asleep with my mouth wide open.

That's why, even if I'm only a little Irish, I celebrate St. Patrick's
Day. There won't be any St. Patrick's Day caroling or a green glow
to the house this year, but to honor my grandpa, maybe I'll give
green milk another try.

On St. Patrick's Day, I want his Irish eyes to be smiling.

The Little Leprechaun visits

Happy St. Patrick's Day, everyone.

For some people, this is a big holiday. For others, not really.

But my 5-year-old son loves it because on St. Patrick's Day, the Little Leprechaun leaves a scavenger hunt for him to follow. I thought this would be a one-time thing last year, but Ryan remembered it and asked if the Leprechaun would be leaving a treat again this year.

So this morning, I followed Ryan and my 2-year-old, Cooper, around as they found the clues that led them to the ultimate prize ... a Leprechaun treat. It was green Jell-O powder in a ziploc bag, which the boys are making to eat later.

One of the clues was this:

"My friend Santa uses this to come into the house."

That led the boys to the fireplace, and it led Ryan to say, "Wow, the Little Leprechaun knows Santa!"

Isn't childhood innocence great?

Humor Me: Spring cleaning for the brain

The Dallas Morning News

The other day I walked into the kitchen to get something, and when I got there, I had forgotten what I was looking for. I stood there for a minute but still had no idea. Nothing came to me.

But here’s something I could remember:

The mechanical advantage of a simple machine is equal to that factor by which the machine multiplies the effort force.

I remember that -- word for word -- from science class in elementary school. I also remember that we had pictures of the simple machines, such as a lever, pulley and inclined plane, posted in the classroom. The picture of a wheel-and-axle was next to the poster that was in nearly every 1980s classroom, the one with the dinosaurs smoking cigarettes and the message, “the real reason dinosaurs became extinct.”

I remember all that from two decades ago. And now, in 30 seconds, I can lose my purpose for walking into the kitchen. Hard to explain.

Or maybe not.

Our brains are kind of like computers, right? And when your computer is running slow, what do the technological gurus tell you to do?

Well, they tell you to turn your computer off and then back on. After all, that’s the universal I.T. quick fix. But if that fails, the tech experts often recommend deleting unneeded programs and files to improve computer performance.

I’d like to do that with my cranial hard drive. There’s so much that I could delete.

That time when I was on a date and ended up falling down some icy steps? No need for that memory. The times in my life that I’ve been forced to dance in public? Outta here. That time when I left a party and didn’t know whether to shake the host’s hand or hug her and ended up giving her an awkward half-hug that probably made her think I was a germaphobe? That could be gone, too.

Deleting those embarrassing moments will free up some space. But to really make a difference in my hard drive -- to really make sure I don’t go to the mall with my three kids and return with two -- I want to delete some of the useless info I’ve acquired.

I think a good place to start is with “x equals negative b plus or minus radical b squared minus 4ac all over 2a.” That’s the quadratic equation, which I memorized back in high school. I still remember it despite using it one time since my last math class.

That one time was in this column.

There’s so much more to delete, such as my high school locker combination, 27-37-6. For some reason, I still remember that. My brain has also held onto importation such as how to play “Hot Cross Buns” on the song flute and that, on Mount Rushmore, each president’s nose is 20 feet long.


Another item clogging up my brain is the McDonald’s jingle “two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame-seed bun.” I’ve also got space devoted to “Gimme a break, gimme a break, break me off a piece of that Kit Kat bar.”

It gets worse. Last week, the ‘80s song “Eye of the Tiger” started playing on the radio. I changed the station before the first word was sung, but for the rest of the day, this was playing in my head:

It’s the eye of the tiger, it’s the thrill of the fight, rising up to the challenge of our rival.

I don’t even like that song, and I can’t shake the lyrics from my head. So who knows what other fragments of information are lodged in my brain, hampering my performance, taking up the space I need for remembering to put the trash out on Thursdays and not drive off in my car with a cup off the roof.

As far as my lost venture into the kitchen, I did eventually figure it out. I had gone there to get a stick of gum out of a drawer. I remembered it a few hours later.

Fortunately, I had forgotten about a stick of gum and not something important, such as one of my kids.

Wait, hang on a second. One, two, three. OK, they’re all here. Now what was I talking about?

I’m sure I’ll remember eventually.

To be on the list that is sent out when a new column in posted, e-mail Have a great week.