Here we are again, trying to clear a desk that seems to be a magnet for semi-interesting knickknacks and whatnots. Okay; might as well get it over with.

* You can’t buy either one, but you may be interested to know that it costs $100.00 to make a Pulitzer Prize gold medal, while an Oscar comes in at $500.00. (A Nobel Prize? They ain’t telling.)

* Sometimes you win, but more often you lose – especially when you have to cross railroad tracks that run through the center of town.

An explanation probably won’t make you feel better, but we’ll give it a shot.

By the way, someone figured out that if all the freight cars on American railroads were lined up, the line would cross from the east coast to the west coast six times. Which gives you an idea of what you’re up against when you need to be on the other side of the tracks.

Of course, the railroad doesn’t move the freight cars that way, so you’re going to wait quite a while for the barriers to rise and allow you to cross.

Of course, I’d be the first in line because when I approached, I saw the barriers and flashing lights, but I was too close to turn away, so here I was, waiting for a train that seemed to have no end, and after waiting what seemed like forever, I decided to shut the car off, and wouldn’t you know? In seconds, the end of the train came into sight.

But maybe I spoke too soon, since the engineer apparently had other plans. I watched the last car pass, and then the train stopped, paused – without the barriers raising – and started backing up!

Back in the forties, when coal-burning trains were hauling supplies and hardware for WW II, trains got longer and longer, and my brother and I noticed that there were two locomotives on the train going by, so we decided to keep count of the number of cars.

By the time the end appeared, the total had reached just over four hundred cars, with two ‘pusher’ locomotives,

Yep. That was one long, long train. Boring, too!

* Do you have a non-favorite commercial – one that annoys you a little every time you have to listen?

Here’s one to add to your list.

Just when we were beginning to think we were freed of this one at last, Alex Trebek appears to tell us about that ‘inexpensive insurance policy’, proudly announcing that we shouldn’t forget the three P’s.

His version is that these three P’s stand for “Price, Price, Price" – an obvious example of non-creative commercial writing, because the writer cheated, copying that commercial of a few years ago for the Realty Company which told us about the three L’s, namely Location, Location, and Location.

Pardon me if I start yawning, Alex.

* Then there’s that "wonder gadget," usually priced at “only $19.95”, but don’t forget the Shipping & Handling fee, which can be as much as $14.95, almost doubling the total cost, but they aren’t done with you yet, since they now offer to send you a second gadget ‘Free! – just pay the ‘separate fee’, and the total keeps increasing, while you’re wondering why you should by a second gadget because one is all you needed in the first place, and it won’t wear out because you don’t use it every day, but things don’t end there because it’s not anything you’d want to give someone at Christmas, and they’ve probably got one anyway, so there you are, up the old familiar creek, looking for a paddle. And if I have to pay that ‘separate fee’, then it ain’t free.

Maybe you’d better just ignore that fantastic deal and do without, since you’ve gotten along just fine so far.

Well now, just look! I’ve talked myself out of it and save some money at the same time.

Gee, I wish I’d done this with that expensive gadget I bought a couple of years ago, since I used it once right after I bought it and it’s been gathering dust ever since.

Oh well, just add it to that pile of things you’re going to include in your next yard sale and let someone else learn the same lesson.

Okay. That’s enough for now. Maybe next time we’ll find something useful – or not.

— Newton columnist Mike Morton writes weekly for the Kansan. He can be reached at