I am a bit behind in responding to letters, e-mails and website comments, so today, ''Burt's Eye View'' dips into the mailbag to clear up a few collecting dust in the corner.
* ''I was reading about the Walter Main Circus and saw the names of George C. Cole and Bert Cole that were with the circus in 1888. ... Just curious if they would be relatives of yours.''
- Betty D., via e-mail
Dear Betty: My dad's brother Tommy once told me that he was a monkey's uncle. I'm not sure what he meant by that.
* ''This is a gross waste of space. There is nothing funny, informative or of any literary value here! I just wasted several minutes of my life on your stupidity, Burton Cole.''
- NomoreCrap, via website
Dear No: In the foreword of one his literary works, Mark Twain wrote, ''Persons attempting to find a motive in this narrative will be prosecuted; persons attempting to find a moral in it will be banished; persons attempting to find a plot in it will be shot. By Order of the Author.'' You're trying too hard.
* ''Mr. Cole: I attended a birthday party today and had chocolate cake AND chocolate ice cream. I feel smarter and happier already. Thanks for all your timely tips!''
- NDalum, via website
Dear ND: I've advocated for years that chocolate IS a health food. When researchers said it also stimulates the brain, I rushed to report it. I am here to serve. Except cake. I'm keeping that.
* ''I actually sampled Play-Doh as a youngster. It smells way better than it tastes, let me tell you!''
- Jolene13, via website
Dear Jolene: Play-Doh is the sweetest smelling substance in the world this side of chocolate. Thank you for your tip. I will stick to sniffing the Play-Doh and chomping the Snickers bars.
* ''Some columns hit closer to home than others I think you were actually describing my family ... You must have been hiding in the clothes racks listening to our conversation the entire time!''
- Peter M., via e-mail
Dear Peter: Honestly, what were you thinking with that green paisley? You should have listened to the family and put it back on the rack. The blue shirt looked OK.
* ''I think I just discovered why I appreciate your writing so much. You write to my heart instead of my head. You get inside people and peek at their soul and then expose a little bit of them to the rest of us.''
- Liz K., via e-mail
Dear Liz: Is it too late to go to surgeon school?
* ''Your self-deprecating article about 'No one would notice if I had Alzheimer's disease' really offended me. ... Maybe if you understood how misunderstood these diseases are, you would not have written a column like you did.''
- Jody W., via e-mail
Dear Jody: I never mean to offend. Both sides of my family already had and still are dealing with both Alzheimer's and dementia. My 9-year-old son died a decade ago from a congenital brain-related condition. I'm staring down both barrels of genetics.
I come from laid-back farm stock who cope with fear, worry or strain through gentle quips or silly cracks. Coles aren't a very huggy sort of people. Coles laugh. My family also prays. Sometimes prayer doesn't change circumstances so much as it changes us.
I hope no one tries to talk me out of either. He wouldn't have a prayer.
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