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The Slice

Posts tagged: Wednesday Slice

The Wednesday Slice

I have never given birth, but I have experienced straining till I almost passed out as a nurse stood by and exhorted me…”PUSHPUSHPUSHPUSHPUSH!”

Lots of times.

Of course, almost any asthma patient can say the same.

You see, one of the ways medical teams check our lungs is by having us wheezers purse our lips around a mouthpiece and violently exhale into a device that measures air-flow and pulmonary elasticity. To register a useful test, one need continue exhaling even after it seems that all the air has already been expelled.

Red faces are common. And it is not unheard of for some patients to conk out, according to several nurses I've known over the years.

I'm actually fairly good at this test. Or so I am  told. So I suppose it will sound a bit self-serving when I say I would like to see the breathing test become an Olympic event.

But it's not for me, mind you. As always, I'm thinking of the kids.

Here's the thing. I would like to be involved in coaching.

“Tommy, this is your moment. Your whole life as an asthmatic has been leading up to this night. You are going to exhale like a boy who would send birthday-cake candles flying across the room.”

“Madison, they're saying the Chinese girls are a lock for the medals. But I think the reporters and talking heads have overlooked something. I happen to know that the bravest, toughest exhaler in the world is a 7th grader from Spokane, Washington.”

“God and your parents' genetics made you an asthmatic, Ethan. But son, you have made yourself a champion. You were born to be an out-breather. All that's left now is to blow away all the phonies and pretenders. All that's left is to go for the gold.”

OK, maybe it's not synchronized platform diving or the 400-meters final.

But I'd watch.

 

Today's Slice question: What did they not tell you when you were in your 20s?

A) Those dental fillings aren't going to last forever and you are going to need to have them replaced eventually. B) Trying not to be a jerk is fine. But assuming that she is giving you the green light and then discovering that she was not is still way better than letting self-doubt keep you from ever finding out. C) You might think of yourself as an adult but your emotional maturity is, in all likelihood, still a work in progress. D) There's no rule that says you are required to have the same friends forever. E) The music you're listening to is never going away. F) The size of your volleyball shorts will one day haunt you. G) Other.   

The Wednesday Slice

I know a Spokane woman who named her daughters after cities in Australia.

This was not some random whim. The woman in question has spent time living in the Land Down Under. It is an important place to her.

In my opinion, she chose fine names. In fact, those kids don't know how lucky they are.

I took a look at a map of Australia. And at the risk of sounding like a provincial nitwit Ugly American, I have to say that some of the cities and towns she could have chosen for names might have left the kids asking “Why me?”

It's not mocking another culture's place names to suggest that not everything makes a good moniker for a baby.

Consider.

“Time to get ready for school, Ballarat.”

“Gympie, I asked you to pick that up.”

“Eat your vegetables, Dubbo.”

“Cessnock, come here this instant.”

“Is Cunnamulla downstairs?”

“Please ask Ngukurr to step in here.”

“I can't at 2:30, Wangaratta has soccer.”

“Warrnambool, are you finished with your homework?”

“Wagga Wagga, it's your turn to walk the dogs.”

And so on.

Again, I'm not knocking Australian place names. I'm sure many have honored indigenous meanings. And I would be happy to note that most U.S. place names would not make ideal baby names.

I'm just saying I think the Spokane girls, Sydney and Adelaide, lucked out.

So if you were going to pick baby names from cities in a certain country, state, province or whatever, which would you choose?

The Wednesday Slice question

Politics, religion, income and leisure preferences can make one family seem unlike another.

But the thing that really makes life look different in various households is shoes policy.

In some homes, the rule is everyone takes their shoes off the moment they step inside. Stocking feet, slippers or sandals are the order of the day.

Elsewhere, people keep their outside shoes on even if they are sitting soles-down on the couch or lying on an unmade bed.

And there are plenty of in-between approaches.

Of course, households with little kids going in and out 1,000 times a day might lean toward a more relaxed set of rules. And everybody's standards get tweaked during snow season.

But for most of the year, what is your shoes policy?

The Wednesday Slice question

Instead of mumbling “nothing” or “something to do with fractions,” what do you wish you had said when one of your parents asked what you learned in school that day?

A) “The guitar intro to 'When You Walk In The Room.'” B) “That people sometimes say they are upset about one issue even though it's something else entirely that really made them mad at you.” C) “The difference between 'lady friend' and 'special lady' as outlined in 'The Big Lebowski.'” D) “It's not who you play, it's when you play them.” E) “If I told you, I'm pretty sure you would say my teacher is a Commie.” F) “Getting to be a patrol boy is all about whose butt you're willing to kiss.”

G) “Bringing my troll dolls to school was a mistake.” H) “That the fourth grade is not much like a romantic comedy.” I) “We listened to the Tigers/Cardinals World Series game on Mr. Kimichek's transistor radio. He called it independent study. Lolich is the man.” J) “Apparently the assistant principal is just a hired thug.” K) “Jane Matson had a seizure and fell on the floor and I got accused by this one dip of looking up her dress while she was indisposed, but that's a load of bull.” L) “I learned that mocking other people's tastes in music and film is sort of fun.”

M) “The hot lunch in the cafeteria looked like something a child my age should not see.” N) “It would seem that Cindy Kenworthy regards herself as quite beguiling because she keeps trying to 'meet cute' even though I have known her since kindergarten.” O) “I got into a fight on the playground. It was a split decision. But we're friends now.” P) “During a discussion of nutrition during a health unit, this girl named Jamie said 'game' was one of the four food groups and I couldn't stop laughing so I had to go stand out in the hall.”

Q) “A couple of older scholars were comparing pubic hair in the bathroom.” R) “This kid named Dweebin running for student council started his campaign by getting beat up. He's lagging in the polls.” S) “Rob Campbell fell on the monkey bars and hit his face on one of the steel rods. Mrs. Todd told him to shake it off.” T) “Karen Akers made a compelling case that the Stones are derivative.”

U) “The counselor asked me why I am dabbling in self-destructive modes of alienation. I told her that's how I roll.” V) “This boy snapped the back of my training bra so I cut him a look and asked if that was honestly the best way he could think of to get my attention. He wept.” W) “I saw a kid get stuffed into a locker. I think he's still there.”.X) “We heard a lot about Mrs. Wilson's divorce and something I didn't get about her ex having to drive a big truck.” Y) “It was suggested that I totally missed the point of last night's “Man From U.N.C.L.E.” Z) Other..  

The Wednesday Slice

My back-to-school wish for Spokane area students is that none of them start the year the way I did in 10th grade.

You see, it's hard to make a good impression at a new school when you keep worrying that you might explode.

Here's the story.

My family had just moved to a new town. But our house was not going to be ready for us before the start of school. So my mother and I spent the end of August and early September in a rustic rental cabin on Lake Champlain in Vermont. (My dad was wrapping things up back where we used to live, and my older brother and sister had already flown the coop.)

My mother had doubts about the purity of the lake water coming from the cabin's faucets. So we boiled it.

Eventually that got to be unmanageable. So we started buying jugs of water from the grocery.

We didn't know, of course, that the store-bought water was contaminated. We wouldn't realize that until we saw a brief story in the newspaper about a product recall. I can't remember if the problem was one of the lesser strains of E. coli or what. But I can recall with vivid clarity how it made me feel during my first few days of high school.

As you may know, diarrhea occurs in varying degrees of intensity.

There's bad, really bad and surreal.

I experienced that last version. For several days, I staggered through the halls of Burlington High School with a NASA-like countdown ominously droning in my head.

10…9…8…7…

I don't want to go into too much detail here. So let's just say that I damn near achieved liftoff a time or two.

But it could have been so much worse. I might have become a legend, and I don't mean in a good way.

As it happens, I always made it to a restroom in time. I had to get up and walk stiff-legged out of class on several occasions — waving away the objections of teachers who failed to grasp the gravity of the situation. But I always made it to the facilities before anything truly unfortunate took place.

Some 42 years later, I still gave thanks for that.

My mother did not experience the same symptoms because the water she consumed got cooked, whether in coffee or whatever.

On the other hand, I was tossing back tall glasses of made-from-concentrate orange juice as if I was under the citrusy spell of Anita Bryant.

“High in Vitamin C and loaded with unfriendly bacteria! Enjoy some today!”

“A day without contaminated water is like a day without panic sweat!”

Some time later, when my brother heard about my gastro-intestinal misadventures, I thought he was the one who was going to bust a gut.

I will say the whole experience made being a high school sophomore a bit easier. I mean, once you have contemplated going off like Krakatoa right in the middle of third-period biology, garden variety teenage anxieties can seem pretty tame.

Saying something dumb to a girl I liked or forgetting my locker combination wasn't all that horrible compared to the very real possibility that I could have become known as the jet-propelled underclassman, Volcano Boy, Erupto, or the Human Effluent Incident.

I could just imagine my parents reacting to my announcement that we had to move.

“What? We just got here. How bad could it have been?”

“They had to close that floor and send in a Hazmat team.”

Alas, I got lucky. I'm sure I startled and perhaps damaged the hearing of some other boys in the restrooms. But let's say no more about it.

Here's hoping every kid going back to school in a few days has the luxury of focusing on just the usual stuff and not whether his or her digestive rumblings will prompt classmates to sprint for the homeroom door, yelling “He's gonna blow!”

If you attend or work at a school and happen in the coming days to see some tormented Edvard Munchian soul stumbling toward a restroom, try not to judge that person harshly. Just step aside.

Sure, it's unlikely that you are witnessing a repeat of the cruel fate that befell me in 1970.

But why take a chance?

Wednesday Slice question

When you hear people talk about their childhood summer vacation trips, what goes through your mind?

A) I try to picture my parents camping at a national park and start laughing. B) I recall that 100 percent of our summer trips involved going to stay with my grandparents. C) It sounds like everybody else was living an episode of “The Wonder Years” while we were busy worrying about money and an iffy fan belt. D) I recall, with chilling clarity, hearing the words “You'll just have to hold it.” E) I find myself wishing they could have had as much fun as we did. F) I remember how, when my parents were fighting, I used to fantasize about running off and asking a family of grizzlies if they would adopt me. G) I try to recall our summer trip to Wally World. H) “See Rock City.” I) Other.    

The Wednesday Slice

You are not the only person with a fishing story that involves casting from a moving boat near the shore and getting the line snagged on an overhanging tree branch.

Who else has done that, you might ask. Well, that's not important. Just know that mistakes have been made. Others have been there.

Yes, it was embarrassing to find yourself letting out more and more line, as if flying a kite. But boats don't stop on a dime. Of course, you know that all too well. Don't you?

Sure, cutting the line right away was an option. But if the angler in question is a bit of an aborist at heart, the idea of forever saddling an innocent tree with a hook and strand of fishing line can be problematic.

To be sure, it would have been nice if no one had seen your misadventure. But chances are, you were fishing with a companion. And no doubt you clearly recall the convulsions of laughter. You remember hearing “I think you almost hooked a sparrow.”

Here's the thing, though. You got past it. You put it behind you. You moved on.  

And just think how much pleasure your story has provided others over the years.

Yes, casting into a tree was pretty boneheaded. But in a way, it was also a gift.

The Wednesday Slice Question

Are those who know a mind-blowing number of people a vanishing species?

Just asking. I cannot cite any evidence to support an assertion that this is the case. But in 35 years of working for daily newspapers, I've known a few men and women like that. And I just don't see them being replaced.

Sure, all kinds of people today are linked to a bazillion others via social media. That's great. But how many of these folks would recognize one another if they passed on the street?

Look, the good old days were not all that great in many respects. But I'll tell you this. Spending time with someone who knows an astonishing number of people by name has always been a clinic in connectivity.

Not all human contact is of the in-person variety, of course. But face-to-face does have a bit of tradition behind it. And it seems like the most prolific practitioners deserve some sort of salute before they are gone.

The Wednesday Slice

Which of these records did you like best?

www.45cat.com

www.45cat.com

www.musicstack.com

www.classic45s.com

www.45cat.com

www.ebay.com

www.nobilliards.blogspot.com

www.muskmellon.wordpress.com

www.raw-tcsd.com

The Wednesday Slice

Naked girls being the whole point of college, streaking seemed a laudable social trend back in 1973-74.

You would hear a whoop go up in the dining hall and crank your head to see which of your fellow scholars were sprinting through the building sans garments. Or you might be ambling through a grove toward the library and spy a freshman child of nature bounding across campus in the born-free fashion of the time. 

It caught your attention.

Silly? Sure. But the military draft was over and the apres '60s had sort of lost their way.

I got to thinking about this after posting something about “The Streak” being a No. 1 song in May of 1974.

What kind of idiot, you might ask, would disrobe and boldly saunter out into the public square?

Well, the kind of idiot writing this, for one. (Or at least the 18-year-old version of same.)

I don't remember all of the details. There is a chance consumption of fermented grain beverages might have been involved. Perhaps something as spirit-enobling as a dare also played a role.

But one night four or five of my dormmates and I elected to grace our little New England college with the gift of nudity.

So after dropping trou and shedding shirts, down the stairs and out the door we went. We really had no destination in mind. We were just, as Kramer of “Seinfeld” once said, out there and loving it.

Until, of course, we weren't. At some point, we were struck with a dark moment of awareness: We are outside with no clothes on. How does this end well?

Galloping back toward Adams Hall, our exhilaration transitioned neatly into full-blown panic. And as we approached the front door, some of the big-hearted students inside had a brainstorm.

Hey, they thought, let's close the door and lock it. Wouldn't that be fun?

I played sports as a kid. I was on a couple of state championship hockey teams in high school. I have seen a few big plays.

But no last-second goal or crucial save will ever compare in my memory to what fellow streaker Gary Blodgett did. Just as the jokesters inside the dorm had the front door almost closed, Gary grabbed the handle and yanked it back open.

Yes. Yes. Yes. Thank God, yes.

In we went, to don pants and convene a post-streak analysis and verbally replay our brief adventure in the great outdoors.

Here again, fermented grain beverages might have been involved.

Everyone is young once. But you have to make an effort to truly be young and stupid.

The Wednesday Slice

Before The Slice Blog debuted a year ago, I had a concern.

Well, two actually. One was pretty basic: What if nobody reads it?

I addressed that by deciding to have fun and not fret about it too much. Still had my day job, after all.

But there was another worry: What if I use contributions from my regular readers and then anonymous commenters pounce on those individuals in an insanely hostile manner?

In the print world, I can more or less shield my correspondents from abuse. That would not be the case on the blog — at least not to the same extent.

I had this vision of trotting out some proud grandmother's tale about something her grandchild said and then looking on as unhinged commenters flamed her.

Now the print Slice column has appeared on this site for years. My sense is that it doesn't get much attention online. But SR web readers have always been free to bash it at will. As it happens, those few online readers who have bothered to take shots mostly aimed at me. Which, of course, is fine. Affirming, even.

Still, I feared individual blog posts based on a Slice reader's contribution would alter the equation. I was afraid such posts would be a tempting target, even if they were decidedly not about politics, race or law enforcement..

In the end, this didn't materialize as an issue. For one thing, a seemingly high percentage of those submitting  observations, stories and Slice answers to me have no real interest in showing up on the blog. Sad but true. For most, my using their offering on the blog is the same as not having used it at all.

People have been nice about this, but the message has been clear. So I wound up using not nearly as much newspaper reader-submitted material as I had anticipated. 

Another factor is the simple reality that, though it has some readers, this blog doesn't attract many comments. I have mixed feelings about that. More comments would be nice, certainly. But I'm pleased to note that virtually all of my regular providers of visible feedback are good-natured.

Thanks to them and all others who have spent time with The Slice Blog.

One of my posts on the blog's opening day last year was a circular Q and A. I'll conclude this edition of The Wednesday Slice with a follow-up.

Q: Doesn't sound like there's much synergy between the print column and the blog. Why even bother with the blog?

A: Well, I enjoy producing it. And I always hope to connect with readers I might not reach otherwise. Have no idea if its existence has ever once helped sell an online ad. 

Q: Isn't your approach a lot like the way you write your print column, and isn't that considered a classic recipe for failure online?

A: You have a point.

Q: Given the trends for newspapers, I can see why you might want to do something that's not print. But why be so half-assed? Why not jump into social media with both feet?

A: Another good point.

Q: What have you learned?

A: The SR's Dave Oliveria told me that, given the 24/7 potential of blogging and the fact that you can instantly publish from home, it would be a challenge to maintain boundaries between work and non-work. He was right.

Q: Have you considered that The Slice Blog might be inane, irrelevant and boring?

A: Sure. But it seems like there isn't one monolithic audience for any online content except maybe porn and pictures of cats. People pick and choose. Some in Spokane and elsewhere might be interested in the same things that interest me. Well, some of the time.

Q: Of all the journalists and quasi-journalists working in the United States today, might you be the most ridiculously self-impressed when it comes to your own work milestones? 

A: It's quite possible.

Q: Are you going to do some things differently during the blog's second year?

A: Yes.

Q: Like what?

A: You'll have to come back to find out.

The Wednesday Slice

If it comes from the right person, there are few compliments better than “Leave her alone, she knows what she's doing.”

Let's move on.

 

The ones that got away: A brief item in tomorrow's print Slice features a local woman saying that the vision of a cold beer keeps her going in one particular situation. (No, it's not sex.) Anyway, that reminded me of something I witnessed about 30 years ago.

A group of about half a dozen men ranging in age from the mid-20s to late 30s had been hiking all day in the Grand Canyon. Some of it had involved portaging a couple of kayaks (which were not as light as they tend to be now). By the time we stopped for the day and started to set up our camp right next to the Colorado River, everyone was seriously spent.

What happened next would be talked about for years.

One of our party, a newspaper photographer named Jeff, placed an assortment of our beverages in the water to chill. This included a six-pack of beer. Though insanely heavy to be lugging in a backpack, a lawyer in our group named Don had insisted on bringing the beer. It would be, he said, his celebration of surviving the rapids. Or something.

I don't remember exactly how we spent the next half hour or so. Maybe washing up in the cold water, changing clothes and unfurling sleeping bags.

Eventually Don the lawyer decided he was ready to experience bliss. Visions of a cold beer had been foaming up in his head for hours. And now he was ready to satisfy a sincere and monumental longing.

So he strode to river and looked. And looked. And looked.

Where's the beer, he asked.

Jeff the photographer pointed to the water. Don the lawyer shook his head.

A big, fat “Oh, no” dawned on us.

The beers were gone.

The. Beers. Were. Gone.

Though there was a brief period of disbelief and denial, it quickly became apparent that they had floated away in the direction of Mexico on our fast-moving stretch of the river.

Running downstream along the bank was fruitless and, after about 100 yards, not possible because of a rock projection into the water.

For a moment, it seemed that the discussion and blame apportioning might come to blows. It didn't. Still, the hard feelings were quite real and did not fade quickly.

I didn't think Don the lawyer handled it well. Still don't.

But I sort of understand. When you find yourself sustained during challenging exertion by a vision of what's at the end of the rainbow and then discover that the prize has been snatched away, well, that's hard to swallow.

I haven't talked to either of those guys in decades. But if they still go on hikes and have occasion to put drinks in cold, wild water, I'm sure they remember.

I know I do. And thinking of the beers that got away always makes me want to get up and head for the fridge.

 

Today's Slice question: Next Wednesday is The Slice Blog's first anniversary. Should be closing in on 2,500 posts about then. What should I change for Year 2?

A) Less of everything. B) Less personal-recollections stuff. C) Less baby boomer nostalgia. D) Less sports. E) Less old ads. F) Make it less like the print Slice. G) Less oddball local-connection stuff. H) Less about things that interest only those who went to high school in the 1970s. I) Less Expo '74. J) Less opinion. K) Less “Twilight Zone” and No. 1 songs. L) Fewer questions. M) More (please specify). N) Other.  

 

Write The Slice at P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; email pault@spokesman.com. The real pros don't just park in shade — they park where the shade will be just before they come back to the car.

The Wednesday Slice

I rode my bike to work for the first time on this date in 2008. It was a Friday shakedown cruise before Bike to Work Week.

Here are a few things I have learned in four years of two-wheeled commuting.

Never forget your gloves on chilly mornings.

I can't read minds, but the vast majority of Spokane motorists seem to have no problem sharing the road.

If a cyclist is visible and predictable, there shouldn't be a lot of drama out there.

You encounter way more hostility toward cycling and cyclists online than you do in the real world.

If you have decent, properly inflated tires and an OK bike, flats and mechanical breakdowns shouldn't be a frequent problem.

Just as experienced riders warned me before I started, drivers unnecessarily and inappropriately wanting to yield the right of way is a bit of a pain. (Treat us as vehicles, please.) 

Becoming a bike rider gives your family a fun new birthday/Christmas gift theme to work with. (You can never have too many lights and reflecting vests.)

If you stay with it, hills that are not doable at first become doable. And after that, they can eventually become routine.

That “cyclists don't pay taxes” BS gets really, really old.

The speed with which you can instantly shift from happily rolling along to WHAM — “Hey, I'm down on the street in the dark sliding on black ice” cannot be exaggerated.

Being known by your first name at a bike shop is kind of a kick.

If you approached a red light downtown at 5:20 a.m. with zero traffic in sight, what would you do?

Because it is so much quicker, bike riding pretty much ruined my enthusiasm for walking to and from work, which I had been doing for years.

Bike riding turned out not to be a problem for one of my knees that had me worried.

Guys driving pickups seem to really appreciate cyclists indicating with hand signals an intention to turn.

I've always liked useful exercise. Since getting on a bike, I like it even more.

Seeing the smiles of little kids on bikes when you acknowledge them with your own horn or bell can make your day.

Turns out you really can carry quite a bit in those saddlebags.

Riding in the rain isn't all that bad if you are headed home to a shower anyway.

Modern helmets are so light, wearing one quickly becomes second nature.

I silently thank my employer every day for providing a safe place to lock up my bike.

If you are a newspaper columnist who occasionally refers to being a bike rider, there are readers who will actually count the number of times you do so.

I miss listening to NPR's “Morning Edition” on the radio on the way to work. (Earphones and bike riding don't strike me as a safe mix.)

Waving or nodding to other cyclists feels like being part of a loose-knit community.

As I have said on previous occasions, self-styled “elite” riders who fancy themselves too good to acknowledge decidedly non-elite riders such as myself can go to blazes at their earliest convenience.

If you become a cyclist and really get into it, there will be a serious temptation to bore friends and co-workers with bike talk. This impulse eases off a bit after a time, but never completely goes away.

No matter what sort of day at work I've had, getting on my bike to head home feels good. 

 

This date in Slice history (1995): Warm-up question: Which of your co-workers is most consistently obnoxious about suggesting that he or she is too cool for Spokane?

 

Today's Slice question: Who performed at the first rock/pop/country concert you ever attended? 

Write The Slice at P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; email pault@spokesman.com. There are people here who never, and I mean never, go to Seattle.

The Wednesday Slice

Maybe you know the individual who is the answer to this question.

Who around here is the oldest person to have ever called “shotgun” as several people approached a vehicle they were about to enter? 

 

Time management:There's something to be said for waiting until the second day of a new month before flipping the page on a wall calendar. It doesn't really slow down the clock. And as a metaphor for calming the pace of your life, it's pretty weak. But it does allow you to enjoy the previous month's photo a little longer. 

 

Following up on an item in Monday's Slice about defying Spokane stereotypes: “I also do not wear tennis shoes every day with everything,” wrote George Bick. “I wear hiking boots every day with everything. I wear the newest and cleanest pair for dress occasions, and the other pair for everyday.”

 

The sale was news to mom: When Kate Nelson was young, her older brothers found a “For sale” sign. They thought it would be funny to place it in front of their family's home one night.

The next morning, Nelson's mother started getting calls from curious neighbors. Of course, she had no idea what they were talking about at first.

 

Just wondering: If asked to do so, could you produce an authoritative list of the Inland Northwest's Top 10 most popular campgrounds among area residents with extensive criminal records?

 

Colville's Wallace Foster takes a dim view of…: “Those who wear their baseball caps (greasy or otherwise unsightly) firmly planted on their noggins in restaurants and theaters.”

I know. That's only about the zillionth time The Slice has trotted out a reader's disdain for that practice. But I can't help it. When it comes to observing ballcap transgressions, we live in a target-rich environment.

 

This date in Slice history (1995): Today's Slice question: Is it all-you-can-eat night every night at your house?

 

Coming Thursday: The Slice will address — in print and on the blog — the issue of whether there was class tension in the ranks of military brats. You know, children of officers vs. children of enlisted personnel.

One caller who left a message but not his name insinuated that there was something about my own attitude to be inferred from the fact that in Monday's posing of the question I used the word “children” to describe officers' offspring and “kids” to describe sons and daughters of non-officer members of the military.

Hmmm. That sounds nuts, of course. But sometimes we are not aware of our own biases. So I checked with the SR's electronic archives. It doesn't go all the way back to The Slice's early days. But since it has been up and running, it appears that I have used the word “kids” in 1,963 columns, and “children” in 1,293 columns.

So if I mean for the former to be disparaging, I'm doing a poor job of making my intentions clear.

 

Warm-up question: What would you say to someone who suggested that not having an unrelated best friend brands a person a loser?

 

Today's Slice question: This is spun from something Slice reader Eric Rieckers mentioned in discussing tactics he threatened to employ if some neighbors he likes went ahead with plans to try to sell their house and move.

Would you consider buying a house next door to someone who flies a Confederate flag?  

 

Write The Slice at P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210; call (509) 459-5470; email pault@spokesman.com. Your feelings about a neighbor don't always match your feelings about your neighbor's wind chimes.

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Features writer Paul Turner is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review in the Features department. He writes "The Slice" column, which appears six times a week and produces general features stories for the Today section.

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