Burton Cole column

I dunno, it’s nothing — why do you ask?

Is there any word lurking in the English language that’s more jam-packed, crammed and stuffed full of nuance, meaning and danger than the word “nothing”? Ask a 2-year-old what he’s up to and he will nothing you to death. You come home from work and find your spouse curled in a fetal ...

Sock it to me with theories

Despite how it appears, it’s not a conspiracy. The mystery of the missing sock, I mean. Feel free to keep claiming conspiracies for all that other stuff. I began pondering the age-old quest for missing socks the other morning when I saw a Tweet from my buddy Ed: “I literally can find one ...

Feeling fancy with cuff links, tie tacks and collars

Whatever happened to cuff links? They still exist. You can pay well more than $100 for a pair. (Or a mere $55 for a pair shaped like bacon and eggs — to wear during breakfast meetings, I presume.) But no one I know wears them. And I’m not allowed because they’re “fancy.” Cuff links ...

Vote for belly rubs and biscuits

As another political season chock full of prickly primaries, vicious debates and campaign ads of dubious reliability wrestles to a weary end, I can confidently say I am well-informed on one fact: For trustworthy messages, I will depend on my dog. Let’s examine one prominent political race ...

Too much talking deafens art of listening

My ninth grade Latin teacher was famous for — when we’d once again failed to follow her directions — glaring at us and booming, “How do you listen?” We hoped that one of us would be brave enough to pipe up, “With my knees? Why, did I muck that up, too?” None of us ever worked up ...

Dust mites mighty tricky when making beds

“It happened again!” I grabbed my wife by the hand and tugged her toward the bedroom. “You’ve gotta see this.” Terry looked right. Left. Up. Down. And shrugged. “What?” I spread my arms. “The bed. Can’t you see it?” “Big flat thing with pillows on it? Center left of ...

The right tool for the job is always a loose screw

It took me three nights over two weeks, but I rehung that section of gutter that had fallen from the edge of our roof. Yep, I’m handy like that. True, it would have been a 10-minute job for most guys. But, as I keep telling my wife, Terry, I’m not like most guys. Plus, I couldn’t find ...

Confusion sets in as smartness fades in the twilight

I used to believe that I was intelligent. In elementary school, I was considered the smartest kid in the building. The teachers nicknamed me The Little Old Man. My classmates gasped if I gave a wrong answer on a quiz. But like so many other childhood traits, my brilliance wore off. The needle ...

Celebrate with a whiff of Play-Doh

Play-Doh — it’s the sweetest-smelling substance this side of chocolate itself. Both Play-Doh and chocolate provide excellent stress relief. Both have been molded into bunnies, eggs and Star Wars figures. Both have been shaped into birthday cakes. But one you squish between your fingers ...

Science says beards boast maturity and confidence

My beard has taken it on the chin a lot over the years: “What are you supposed to be, a lumberjack?” “Is that where you store all the food you couldn’t eat at dinner?” “Hey, did a sick cat die curl up and die on your face?” Well, ha, ha, the joke’s on you, my ...

How many words does that doggy in the window know?

You don’t have to learn animal languages like Dr. Doolittle did. Your dog understands human. One of the big news stories last week was that researchers conducted MRI scans on the brains of 13 dogs while their owners talked to them. The scan images showed that dogs processed words with the ...

Annual physical like seeing Santa, only not as jolly

Is it possible to pass out from neglecting one’s minimum daily requirement of Oreos and Coca-Cola? I’m thinking yes. It’s been more than a week since I’ve started my morning with Coke and cookies and I’m feeling faint. But I’ll stick to it. For now, anyway. Because I have only ...

Dumbed-down definition of word ‘dumb’ isn’t smart

You know what's dumb? The definition we've created for the word "dumb." That's not what it means. It's just another example of word abuse that's, well, dumb. According to wordsmith Noah "Merriam" Webster - a guy who probably eats Alpha-Bits cereal every morning and slurps alphabet soup for ...

Getting schooled by dumb jokes

As we stretch and inhale deliciously warm breezes, we lazily drift into yet another long, luxurious summer ... Hold on a second. It’s what month? What happened to June and July? Did we skip them? Well, then, as we madly charge through stores, clutching shopping lists the length of term ...

A passion for pockets becomes pain in the pants

The guy in line in front of me unzipped a small pocket of his cargo shorts and extracted a customer loyalty card. He pulled his wallet from another pocket. After he paid for his merchandise, he unzipped a long, narrow pocket at the bottom of the array of pouches on his shorts and tucked the ...

Good grief, I’m good, but is that a bad thing?

We set up my author’s table at the Westmoreland Arts & Heritage Festival and spent three days selling the children’s books I wrote. Since they’re humor novels set on a farm, we also passed out animal stickers to any kids who wanted them. (Sometimes, the “kids” looked to be 60 ...

Pirates plunder others’ words, even pre-emptively

Much to-do over a twice-done speech was made last week. It’s far from the first time plagiarism reared its ugly, photocopied head. It’s like the late, great guitarist Jimi Hendrix once said, “I’ve been imitated so well, I’ve heard people copy my mistakes.” At least I think he said ...

Here’s looking at you, Big Type

I checked out library books from the Large Print section. On purpose.The times and the eyes, they are a-changin'. As is where I do my book browsing.I used to chuckle at old people who took off their glasses to see. Senility setting in, I figured. Why else pop off the peepers to peer at pages?I ...

How do your weeds grow?

I do not have a vegetable garden. I’m not opposed to gardens, nor do I harbor any animosity toward those who engage in such activities. On the contrary, Mary, I ardently support how your garden grows — as long as I’m not drafted to do the weeding. Some people remember their childhoods ...

It’s all how you use the extra brain cells

Editor’s note: Burt is on vacation, though from what, we’re not sure. While he’s resting his brain, we present this neuron-filled Cole Classic, originally published March 12, 2000. xxxx Yes, that’s right. Men have more brain cells than women. It is a well-established, scientific ...