Reading and writing are fun(ner) when looking for column ideas

By John Toth

One side effect of putting out a paper each week is that I read a lot. Before I can write something, I have to read something.
And, I tend to drift toward the silly side of the news. I like stories that are not earth-shattering, but tell a tale off the beaten path.
Like the story about 300 animals being removed from the house of an Ohio man, including pigeons, chickens and rabbits. The house had a distinct odor to it, which is what probably tipped off whoever called authorities.
I can just see this guy trying to eat breakfast in a dining room with wall-to-wall pigeons. He is probably a quick eater. And, he probably has a sinus condition that prevents him from smelling anything.
And check this out. We’re not the only country where many people have no clue how to read a map.
In Belgium, of all places, a study revealed that secondary school teachers are clueless when it comes to world geography. One in three could not identify the U.S. on a map, and half did not know the location of the Pacific Ocean.
Apparently, we don’t hold a monopoly on ignorance.
Have no fear, the education ministry is going to revamp the training of future teachers. They might start by buying all of them maps.
It’s good to read dumb things happening somewhere else in the world. I often feel that Europeans act like they are “holier than thou” and can do no wrong. I notice that each time I travel to that part of the world.
They have all these old castles, and one Euro is worth about $1.50. In my opinion, you see one old castle, you’ve seen them all. Sure, they have nice old stuff (whatever remains after all those wars). But they’ve had a lot longer to get it than us.
The Euro is not “all that” and a bag of chips. Everything costs too many Euros, anyway. I like hanging out in Europe, but I really like coming back to the USA and to the dollar.
Here is another reason to stay right here and just visit elsewhere every now and then.
We don’t have cheese burning in our road tunnels.
Some 27 metric tons of flaming brown cheese, a Norwegian delicacy, caught on fire in a tunnel near the coastal town of Narvik and burned for seven days.
The burning cheese may have saved some lives, though. It contains 30 percent fat. Eat a bunch of it and get ready for a plumbing job on the good old arteries.
And, if you think our press is sloppy, check out this report from Sweden.
Reuters reported that a cleaning lady stole a train, drove it to the end of the tracks and smashed it into a house.
The train vaulted over the street, separating the house from the depot, crashing through a balcony and into a downstairs room.
I can just imagine what the occupants of the house might have said.
“What’s that noise? It sounds like a freight train.”
It’s a passenger train. Get your trains straight. It’s not enough that you can’t read maps, now you can’t even tell what type of train is in your living room.
Reuters reported the following day that the cleaning lady did not steal the train, and the crash was an accident. At least we’re not the only ones who screw up news stories.
Reading is fun. And rewriting other peoples’ problems is even funner, right, editor? Don’t you dare take out funner. If you do, I’ll sneak it back in right before the press run. Hands off.