Burton Cole column

Eye-opening childhood truths turn into messy myths

I hate it when truths that I hold to be self-evident turn out to be mere myths. It ruins my whole day. Did you know that maximum speed for a road runner is 20 mph while a coyote tops out at 43 mph? That means Wile E. Coyote could have caught the Road Runner without breaking a sweat — or any ...

I-llama-nating young grandson

A guy learns a lot having a 10-year-old grandson. Mostly, a guy learns that he can’t run, jump, climb or wrestle more than seven seconds without gasping, wheezing and collapsing. The second thing a guy learns is that he’s become horribly out of touch. I remember watching the Grammy Awards ...

Guys don’t let truth get in way of good conversation

The great philosopher Patrick F. McManus once wrote, “No greater bond exists between two male friends than shared ignorance.” In his 1995 essay “Hunting the Wily Avid,” McManus asserts, “Shared knowledge is fine as far as it goes, but one friend invariably knows more about a given ...

Sound alarm on stupid stunts

I awoke this morning in the usual way — to the whooping of my alarm. Or maybe it was to the microwave beeping to let my wife know her mug full of coffee was heated. I blipped, beeped and blooped my way through the morning routine. The timer on the oven bip-bip-bipped when the oatmeal was ...

Thrifty folks can’t handle throwaway season

Editor’s note: It’s hard to believe but Burton Cole is on vacation again. While he’s snoozing, we bring you this Cole Classic from June 27, 2004, when Burt was still a bachelor — which explains his behavior. We are diving headlong into another picnic season, and you know what that ...

Time to enjoy the great indoors and take a nap

Dad was wrong. As a kid, every chance I got during the summer, I flopped onto the couch in front of a fan to read books until I drifted off to sleep. Summers were for napping. Dad toiled at a full-time factory job before coming home to climb onto the tractor and work the fields the rest of ...

Tasty morsels don’t come with side of veggies

Gardening season has sprouted, which means there will be plenty of fresh vegetables soon. It’s horrible. I’m not against healthy eating, it’s just that dining on what’s good for me is, to use a scientific term, yucky. Do-gooder nutritionists claim we need lots of fresh veggies, ...

Technology could learn to be embarrassed from us

I read the other day that San Francisco won’t let lawmen use facial recognition technology anymore because sometimes the computer hoots and hollers, “Hello!” across a crowded restaurant at the wrong person. Me, too. The difference is that technology never pretends to be waving instead ...

The best way to learn is mastering by disastering

Years of far-too-personal research have taught me that the best way to learn something is to screw it up. This is not true in all cases. Folding fitted sheets serves as the prime example. Experience makes a lousy teacher when it comes to sheets that frustrate me into fits. I end up wadding the ...

Sharing the wit and wisdom of Mama Bombeck

For a generation — my mom’s — Erma Bombeck was the voice of motherhood. Not the Shangri-la, idealized, TV commercial version of every-hair-and-tablecloth-in-place mothers. Erma wrote about the real-life adventures of mothers with piles of dirty dishes, dandelion bouquets and smuggled ...

Grow up and dig through the stacks set for kids

One of the coolest things about my secret identity as a children’s author is that I get to read kids’ books and pretend that it’s research. “I’m working on my next novel,” I sputter to the librarian. “Oh, I believe you,” she chuckles. She hands me the comic collections of ...

May days bloom with tubas, socks and sea monkeys

May is the month of blossoms, as set forth in the Ohio Revised Code: “April showers shall bring May flowers.” When I was in school, I thought the Pilgrims brought the Mayflower. I refuse to live any longer in that kind of ignorance. I consulted a few offbeat calendars to find out what ...

Wondrous words from children

Why doesn’t God have a cellphone? That’s a question that stumped my friend Lisa the other day. “I’m 73,” she told me. “I was talking to my 5-year-old granddaughter about Heaven because I didn’t want her to be sad when I’m gone. I told her I’d be watching over her from ...

Watch out for black holes in garages, tables, purses

The big news in science this past week was the release of the first photographic image of a black hole. Black holes are those outerspace phenomena that make things disappear. Anything caught in the gravitational pull of a black hole gets sucked in with no hope of return. Just like my ...

Put on pizza when the IRS comes to arrest you

I don’t mean to alarm you, but I need $10,000. Quick. Otherwise, I’m gonna get arrested. See, I got this extortion notice with an official CIA logo pasted at the bottom. For $10,000, the technical collection officer who signed promised that he can make my name disappear from the case file ...

Spring splendor sits in baselines

It’s not the groundhog, the daffodils nor March 21 that tells me when spring has sprung. And it’s definitely not the weather. As the great philosopher Charles Dickens wrote, “Spring is the time of the year when it is summer in the sun and winter in the shade.” Or as the great ...

Words are important so use this guide frequently

That great philosopher Mark Twain once mused, “The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter — ’tis the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning.” Exactly. One of those two things is what kids put into jars during the summer to ...

A cellphone’s alarms can tell a lot about its owner

Few things bring out the blush in your cheeks like forgetting your cellphone at someone else’s place. It gives your friends hard evidence of something they’ve long suspected — your synapses are firing a couple of spark plugs short. “Poor ol’ George,” they’d say — providing ...

Cow tipping no joke but there are plenty to go around

Amid a bludgeoning of news about floods, fires, assaults, walls, cheats, liars, murders and other mayhem, a pastoral headline went largely overlooked: Oklahoma City’s airport no longer is selling cow-tipping T-shirts. After more than 10 years, Will Rogers World Airport has sold out of ...

Sweet talking a woman requires more than a sundae

The more a man talks, the less likely he is to say something significant. That’s the word from several experts on the subject, all of whom happen to be female. Most are related to me. According to their standard of worthy talk, I haven’t engaged in a meaningful conversation since 1983. I ...