Friday, March 4, 2016

Trump's dimensions at heart of GOP race

A critical question in the race for the Republican nomination for president of the United States has recently emerged, dwarfing such pedestrian issues as climate change, entitlements and corporate control of our political system.

Long has it been believed that the size of a man's feet is indicative of length and girth in other parts of the male body. Now, thanks to candidate Marco Rubio, attention has centered upon the size of candidate Donald Trump's hands, which appear on television to be smaller than average for a man of his stature. Speculation has arisen that perhaps other physical characteristics of Trump might be less than impressive, size-wise.

In a nationally televised debate on Thursday, Trump gravely and bravely disclosed to  America that the speculation is unfounded, and that the dimensions of other, more male-specific, parts of his body are not a problem. "Guaranteed," he said.

How can we be sure?

I would never doubt the honesty and integrity of a human who aspires to the most powerful position in the world. Throughout history we have seen time and again an American president whose statesmanship, wisdom and honor carried the country from darkness to light and prosperity. It would be unconscionable for one to seek that office who did not possess such qualities.

Yet also it is an American tenet, mostly unspoken, that the nation's president, if male, must be the embodiment of manliness. Traditionally, an indicator of such manliness has been physical dimensions, normally concealed, of an impressive size.

Similarly, it is unlikely that the first female president will not also be the epitome of womanhood with physical dimensions to match. There is  a reason America remembers Loni Anderson from the television show, "WKRP in Cincinnati," but few can recalll the name of the actress who played Bailey on that same program despite that she was an altogether more agreeable character.

I digress, however. As the future of the nation hangs in the balance, uncertain Americans are uncomfortably asking themselves the question: How big is Trump?

I humbly submit to you that the only way to lay this question to rest is to employ a technique as old as the first primitive engineering. "The Donald's" physical dimensions are an object of public scrutiny in order for him to be considered for this august role, so he must be measured.

The circumstances of this endeavor must be fair to the candidate, of course. Some physical  dimensions are not always the same because they have a tendency to change as the result of stimuli, and I suggest it is the stimulated dimension that should be considered by voters when making their decisions about casting their ballots.

It must be discovered, as discreetly as possible, what stimulus would result in the greatest advantage for this candidate before the tape measure is employed. While pictures of his wife without clothes are not difficult to find via the Internet, I suggest that perhaps a 10-foot-by-10-foot portrait of the candidate himself might be the most effective image.

Artists might be able to alter the image somewhat using graphics software to make the hands appear larger.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Landmark decision affects i-Daho, i-Owa

Apple Inc. got most of what it wanted in a federal lawsuit that was decided last week.

At issue was the company's patented "i-" trademark, which the company alleged was being used without a license by scores of products, towns, cities and even states across the United States. District Judge Andrew Stoudt agreed with the company in his ruling, but Stoudt stopped short of giving Apple everything it was asking for.

"There can be no doubt that the 'i-' sound at the beginning of a name belongs exclusively to Apple Inc., as long as the spelling of said name corresponds to the traditional spelling of Apple products in that it uses the letter 'I' in its long pronunciation, that is to say, as long as it rhymes with 'lie' and 'rye.'" Stoudt wrote in his decision.

Yet the judge denied Apple's claims that it also should be able to collect license fees for names beginning with the "eye" sound that do not begin with the letter "I."

"This court is not prepared to rebrand eye-liner as 'i-Liner,' or to change eyeglasses into 'i-Glasses' at this time," wrote the judge.

Most affected by the ruling will be the states of i-Daho and i-Owa, which must pay Apple 4 percent of their tax revenues for the past 10 years and will pay a 2 percent licensing fee on all future revenues as long as they continue to use Apple's trademark.

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter of i-Daho, a Republican, hailed the ruling as "fair" and "ultimately good" for the people of his state.

"Yes, it will cost us over the short term to pay the licensing fees," Otter said in a frank and candid interview with this reporter. "However, how much more might i-Dahoans ultimately gain by i-Daho's association with Apple? Already, my staff is working on rolling out a new and improved i-Daho by early next year. At this point, we're calling it 'i-Daho 2.0.'"

The new version of the state will offer all the same features but in a slick new portable format that is more user friendly for the average resident, the governor said. He expects that long lines will be forming in Boise days before the new state's release.

Not so happy with the decision is Pete Stankler of Gumtree, Maine, whose business, formerly known as "Pete's Winter Time Icicle Removal Service," is now "Pete's Frozen Pointy Thing Removal Service."

"I had to take the 'Winter Time' out of the name because it would have been way too long," Stankler said. "Unfortunately, here in Maine, we have i-Cicles nine months of the year, so now I have to work three times as much."

That's not all bad, however, since the extra hours will help him pay Apple back the $58,000 he owes as his share of the court's judgment.

The Missouri town of i-Beria isn't even trying to comply with the ruling. Mayor Jim Schlupp directed the city attorney to file for bankruptcy protection on Friday.

"We probably could have weathered this if not for the lawsuit we lost last year, coincidentally, with the same judge," Schlupp said. "We have 741 residents who each owe $8,432 to Budweiser and Miller because we have the word 'beer' in our name."

Ken York is the assistant/Sunday editor of The Daily Record. Past columns and other writings may be viewed on his blog at

Monday, June 17, 2013

A flu remedy for Mrs.Claus


Got in a little trouble with my boss, Julie, last week after she saw the article about my exclusive interview with Santa Claus. I guess she was looking for a little more human-interest type stuff, and she said I should have talked to Mrs. Claus too.

Well, how am I supposed to know what questions to ask if nobody tells me? I'm a reporter, not a mind reader.

I grumbled a little about how unfair it all was, then retreated to my cubicle to try again. I figured I could do a phone interview this time. No sense making the Clauses make another trip to Lebanon, and I knew my car wouldn't make it to the North Pole.

I reckoned I could get the phone number from Santa's agent, but the fellow wasn't returning my calls, so I looked it up on the Internet. That Internet is the handiest thing. If you haven't tried it, try it.

I typed "Mrs. Santa Claus" into the search thing and a bunch of different things came up. I was surprised she had so many websites. I figured any one of them would probably have the Claus phone number, so I clicked on one.

Well, I have to tell you, I was a little surprised. There was a picture of Mrs. Santa Claus there in a nightgown. I reckon it must get warmer at the North Pole in the summertime than I had thought, because that nightgown looked more like a bathing suit than anything else.

But I had guessed right. There was a phone number right there. Even better than that, there was a price right next to it that said how much the long distance call would cost. It was $3.99 per minute, which seemed kind of high, but the North Pole's pretty far away, I guessed.

Sometimes it surprises me that people think investigative journalism is so hard. You just have to be canny.

The website wanted me to have my credit card ready when I called. I figured this was official business for the newspaper, so I went over and got the company credit card out from under Julie's phone when she wasn't looking.

I wrote down the phone number and closed the window that showed the website on my computer. I know I shouldn't judge the standards of other countries like the North Pole by my own, but that picture of Mrs. Claus didn't seem decent somehow, and I didn't want somebody passing by my cubicle and getting the wrong idea.

I picked up the phone and started to dial it, but then I realized I didn't know if "900" was a country code or the area code. I tried it with a "1" in front of it and it worked the first time. Mrs. Claus answered on the third ring. "Hello?"

She sounded a little different than she did last week when she and Santa came to town to talk to the little kids about their Christmas wishes. Her voice was kind of deeper and breathy-like. I wondered if she had picked up some kind of a bug here in Lebanon.

"Hi, Mrs. Claus, this is Ken York. Remember me, from last week?"

"Oh yes," she said, still talking funny. She reminded me of our cat, Eureka Stripe, purring. "How could I ever forget?"

"Well, I wondered if it'd be OK to talk to you a little bit more," I said. "Just a couple of questions. It won't take long."

"I'd love to," she said. "First, do you have your credit card?"

I gave her the number. She made me repeat it a couple times, then tell her what kind of card it was, what the name on the card was, what my name was, what my Social Security number was, my birth date, where I lived and other standard stuff like that. I assumed it was all required by the North Pole Phone Company.

"OK then," she said eventually.

The call had been going on for 14 minutes at this point. "All right," I said. "Can I ask you some questions now?"

"Of course you can," she said. "But first, let me ask you some questions."

Well, I guessed that was fair, although it wasn't usually the way the interview process worked, in my experience. "OK," I said. "Shoot."

"What are you wearing?" she asked me.

I thought that was a pretty strange question, but there didn't seem to be any harm in telling her. "Well, I've got on a Bill's Farm and Home cap, a plaid shirt, some blue jeans and my shoes," I said. "Oh, socks and a belt too."

It sounded like she sighed. "Oh my," she said. "Wouldn't you like to get a little more comfortable?"

I laughed. "Would I!" I said. "I've had this same chair since I started here five years ago. It's all right for typing, but the arms are so low if you try to take a nap in the afternoons your elbow sits too low for your hand to support your head and you get a crick in your neck. I have to keep aspirin in my desk."

She didn't say anything for a few seconds. Then, "Tell me about the things you like to do."

It seemed like I was the one being interviewed, but I reckoned North Pole customs must require some kind of exchange to be polite. Truthfully, I've kicked around the world some in my life, but until last week I never had any experience with North Polers. Maybe that was why I didn't exactly hit it off with Santa when we talked.

"What do I like to do? Well, I guess my favorite thing is eating fried chicken and watching Star Trek," I said. I tried to regain control of the interview. "So what do you and Santa like to do for fun?"

"Oh, Santa and I have a lot of fun," she said. "Sometimes we invite the elves to join us."

I was willing to bet that was a good time. I had never met an elf, but by all I had read, they seemed like happy people. I could picture them all around the table in Santa's house, having dinner or playing a board game or just telling elf jokes.

"We don't have any elves around here," I said with regret. "I guess the climate's too warm for 'em."

"Oh, it's pretty hot here now," she said, sounding like my cat again. I wondered if they had a Casey's or something where Santa might go and get her some cough drops.

"Well that's weird," I said. "I would have thought it'd be pretty cold up there."

"No, it's warm, so wa-a-arm," she said. "I feel like I should take off my dress."

"Either that or turn down the thermostat," I said. "On second thought, if you're feverish, you might want to bundle up."

"I have SUCH a fever," she said.

"Sounds like you got a pretty bad cold, maybe the flu," I said. "Do you have any honey and maybe a Kool-Aid packet of lemonade mix?"


"This is something my grandma taught me," I said. "It's kind of a family secret."

"Your grandma," she said. "Well, I've had weirder calls. OK, I've got the honey and the, um, Kool-Aid mix. What do you want me to do with them?"

"Well, I know this sounds weird ..." I hesitated. Would Grandma really want me to reveal this to a stranger? But this was Mrs. Santa Claus, and she needed help. "Take three tablespoons of the honey and put it in a cup, then add half the packet of lemonade powder," I said. "Mix it up. Now, put the cup in the microwave and set it for about 20 seconds."

(Editor's note: This remedy is not recommended as a treatment for a cold and/or the flu. The newspaper denies any liability resulting from its implementation and strongly cautions readers to remember this writer is the same guy who says he has Bigfoots living in his ravine.)

After about $2.99 worth of long distance, she was back. "Oh, it's so gooey and hot," Mrs. Claus said. "Should I rub it all over myself now?"

"No," I said. "Now, this is going to hurt a little, but you have to inhale the rest of the lemonade mix."


"You know," I said. "Kind of snort it. I know it sounds stupid, but it works. Then, as soon as you do, drink the honey stuff."

"You want me to snort the lemonade powder?"

"Trust me," I said.

She sighed, and I didn't hear anything for another $1.50 or so. Then there was a scream. It sounded like it was working just like I remembered from my painful youth.

"Drink the honey stuff now!" I yelled.

"You are a sick, sick man," Mrs. Claus said to me, sobbing. She hung up.

Well, that went pretty well, I thought. A lot better than the interview with Sen. McCaskill.






Thursday, May 30, 2013

How many points is a reward worth?

Originally published March 18, 2012

I was pumping gas the other day at my favorite gas station, reading the various notices on the pump because I didn't have anything better to do except stare at all the other people who were pumping gas and staring at me.

One of the notices on the pump told me that if I would have gone into the store and got one of their free cards, I could have swiped it before I swiped my credit card at the pump and earned some rewards.

Well, now, that's something.

Like Pavlov's mutts, I like a reward as much as the next person. To think all I would have to do to get one is swipe a little card, a FREE card, it just makes me feel spoiled. It's good to be an American. I bet there aren't a lot of rewards in Bolivia or the Sudan.

That's not the only free thing I got last week. I drank a Coca Cola Zero, and under the bottle cap there was a little code. I got onto the Coke Internet site, plugged in the code, and bingo!

Three points.

FREE points, in my opinion, because when I bought the soda, I was just wanting something cold to drink. The three points were a bonus.

I looked at Coke's online catalog and discovered that I could get stuff already with my three free points.

Not much, just a screen saver or a sticker or something like that. If instead I saved those three points, however, I could add to them by putting in more codes. Within a year or so, if I drank enough soda, I should be able to order a free baseball cap that would allow me to advertise Coca Cola products wherever I went.

People say the economy's in a mess, but I don't believe it, There's all these free points and rewards just sitting around for the taking!

It's impossible to be poor in this country.

I saw a TV commercial that said if I use a certain kind of credit card, I can earn rewards from them too.

It didn't feel like I would be earning them, since they were just giving them to me, but that's the way they phrased it. I didn't know if the rewards could come in the form of points, or if one could trade a reward for a certain number of points, or vice versa.

I was sure there must be an exchange somewhere where they post how much rewards and points are worth relative to each other.

A reward sounds grander than a point, however, so I decided that until I learned otherwise, I'd figure a reward must be worth at least 10 points.

If I could earn rewards and trade them for points, I could bank them with Coca Cola and get that hat faster!

That would be sweet.

Come to think of it, a few years ago, before they invented rewards and points, companies were giving away airline miles for just about everything. It seems to me that an airline mile must be worth at least a hundred bottle caps. Think about it, all the energy it takes to get an airplane up in the air, propel it for a mile, and then land. You couldn't pay a pilot to do that for a hundred bottle caps, so I'm thinking that my estimate, one mile equals 300 points or about 30 rewards, must be low.

Joyce probably has all those old receipts that are worth miles in her purse. If I could find at least a couple hundred miles, I could probably trade them for enough points to buy that Coke cap, especially if I started collecting rewards for buying gas and using a credit card. I just had to find out where you could trade these things in for each other.

I called my friend Merri at my bank, all excited.

Asked her about exchange rates, and she thought I was talking about currency or something, because she started spouting stuff about pesos and euros.

When I explained what I needed, she was quiet for a minute and then suggested that the post office might be the place to go.

They've got little flyers up over there that talk about rewards.

So I went over to the post office and, sure enough, they had some little posters on the wall. From what I could gather, if you could catch one of those fellows they had pictures of, you'd get rewards.

Well, I wasn't going to do that when I could get rewards just for pumping my gas.

But they did tell me what rewards are worth. Under this really ugly guy's picture, it said, "REWARD: $500."

Five hundred bucks?

How in the world could the gas station afford to give away $500 when I was only buying $60 worth of gas? The answer was obvious, of course: Few people must really take the time to do the research like I had.

I realized I had stumbled onto a gold mine.

With rewards being worth 10 points, every Coke bottle cap was worth $167 or so. I went and bought a six-pack, drank it, peed, and quit my job.

I went and got one of those free cards at the gas station and drove around all day as fast as I could in first gear. Filled up three times for about $200, but I had earned three rewards, worth $1,500. The gas station wouldn't let me pay for the fillups in bottle caps, unfortunately, even after I explained the whole exchange rate thing. It wouldn't cash my rewards either.

Undaunted, I called Joyce at work and told her to quit her job and start looking for airline miles in her old receipts. Every one was worth 30 rewards or $15,000, by my calculations.

She was a little skeptical at first, using hurtful phrases like "another crackpot scheme" and "Is this going to be like the iguana farm?" (For the record, the iguana farm would have worked except for the humidity.)

When we got home, we totaled up everything we had — points, rewards and miles — and converted it to dollars.

It turned out we had about $3 million. Even better, we got back on the Coke website and found out we could now afford 1,257,368 of those cool Coke ball caps!  We decided we would keep a couple thousand because I tend to go through caps pretty quickly.

The rest we plan to sell for $4 each on Craigslist. We'll use that money to buy more gasoline and Coca Cola. If my math is right, we'll be billionaires before we're 60.

Ethel hears the Call of the Wild

Originally published April 29, 2012
Jack London wrote a book more than a century ago, "The Call of the Wild." It's about this big dog named Buck that gets kidnapped and sent to Alaska to pull a sled. Great book.

At the end off the book, Buck finally has found a home with a master he trusts and loves. But he keeps sensing this call from deep in the forest, and he takes longer and longer spells when he goes into the wild to run with the wolves.

Finally, he chooses that life.

Well, I wouldn't have expected that to happen with a chicken, but I reckon it has.

Of Lucy and Ethel, our Barred Rock hens, Ethel has always been the adventurous one. No matter what haphazard attempts I've made to secure the chicken pen, every day she has jumped out, wandered around the woods for a while, then come and jumped back in the pen to roost at night.

The other chickens clucked at her like they've never heard of such a thing and she ought to be ashamed, but she didn't seem to care.

Starting about three weeks ago, Ethel started staying out all night. She would wander back into the yard in the afternoon and demand to be fed, then disappear again. At first we figured she must be the chicken equivalent of a teenager and tried to impose a curfew, but she ignored it.

Finally, I had to face it: Ethel's hearing the Call of the Wild.

She stays away for longer and longer stretches. I haven't seen her this time since last Sunday.

We know she's still alive because our youngest, Sally, is able to find her eggs. Sally prances in from deep in the forest with a light brown egg gingerly held in her mouth.

She takes the egg into the house and guards it on my side of the bed, growling and rolling her eyes at anybody who tries to collect it.

(Just for the record, Sally is a miniature pinscher, not a human child.)

You don't want to get in bed without a thorough inspection at my house. If it isn't a cool looking bug, it's the back half of a squirrel, a Bigfoot's foot or a chicken egg. We go through a lot of sheets.

I have never heard of a chicken going to live with its wild distant cousins, but that must be what is happening.

I imagine chickens hear a different call of the wild than dogs do. I don't think Ethel would have gotten very far running with wolves.

That brings up the question of what kind of critters she really is hanging out with these days. It would be nice to think it's something dignified, like owls, but since they can fly and she can't, I doubt it.

Same goes for eagles, hawks and falcons. Even if they refrained from eating her, she'd quickly get left behind.

So I'm thinking Ethel must be running with turkeys.

This turkey season we've been printing a lot of young-hunters-with-turkeys pictures in the newspaper. I've been waiting for somebody to submit a photo of a confused looking youth posing with a small black and white chicken, but it hasn't happened yet.

Much as I would hate to lose little Ethel for good, it would be a kick to see the look on the kid's face.

Until that photo comes in, I'll continue to picture her leading her pack of turkeys at a lope through the forest, their beaks upraised in defiance of law and man.

Run, Ethel! Run!

Ken York is the assistant editor of The Daily Record. Past columns and other writings may be viewed on his blog at

My skill commanded ingots and palaces back in the day

Originally published March 17, 2013 

I nearly always know what time it is to within a couple of minutes. It's useful for amazing my lovely wife, Joyce, when we are on a car trip. She nearly always checks on her cell phone to see if I'm right, and I usually am.

Talk about a totally unmarketable skill in the 21st Century. The one nearly metaphysical talent I can claim can be replaced by a three dollar Seiko. I guess it could be worse; I could have a good sense of direction, and a kid's toy compass is even cheaper.

I was born in the wrong century. For many thousands of years of human history, people would have valued my skill.

"Hey Pharoah, me and the boys was thinking we ought to build one of them big fancy sundials like the Phoenicians have. We're tired of being late to the feasts and whatnot."

"Dog! Away with you! I already have hired this bald portly fellow in the glasses to tell time for me. I have given him many ingots and a palace to do this."

The Pharoah would gesture me forward, at which point I would say, "It's 7:14 Eastern, 6:14 Central." Everybody would fall to their knees in wonder. It'd be something.

Of course, we'd have to wait for Galileo or Thomas Edison or somebody to be born so we could get a chart that would convert American time to Egyptian time.

I would have been useful to Native American tribes that wanted to coordinate their attack on neighboring villages. I'd have to have a helper who knew smoke signals, although I have been working on that skill. (Joyce wonders why it takes me so long outside at the burn barrel on Sundays.)

Yep, just about any time up until 1950 or so, I probably could have written my own ticket. Of course, a lot of societies might have burned me at the stake because of my devil magic powers, and that wouldn't be good.

Spring sprang Friday. It got up to 80 degrees here in Falcon, and it got me to thinking about what a wicked sense of humor that stupid groundhog has.

Saturday would have marked the six more weeks of winter that would have ensued if the rodent had seen his shadow on Feb. 2. Since he didn't, we got our early spring - one day early.

I don't like that animal, but I admit it could be because I am jealous. If I could predict the end of winter instead of tell time without a watch, I might still be able to command large quantities of ingots and adoring crowds.

Technology hasn't replaced the groundhog, but his day is coming.

Ken York's past columns and other writings may be viewed on his blog at

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

A brand new mule (with a diaper)

Originally published March 24, 2013

As this interminable winter continues, Joyce and I have discovered a lifeline. There's this thing on television called the Game Show Network.

I don't know why network executives thought people would like to see reruns of game shows from decades past. Until last week, I scoffed at the idea. Game shows are stupid enough in the present day.

But somehow our TV found GSN last weekend, and we're hooked. We debate the various merits of the string of fellows who followed Richard Dawson on Family Feud (they're all lousy). We now know that we're not smarter than a fifth grader. We wonder why some sixth grader doesn't get on that show and win the million bucks. Or maybe a fifth grade teacher.

The really old game shows are fun because of the prizes. One lucky contestant last week answered a question and won a brand new compact disc player stereo rack system. Oh, the good old days.

It makes you wish TV had been invented a hundred years earlier so there would have been 1800s game shows that we could now watch on GSN.

"We surveyed 100 farmers, and the top four answers are on the board. We asked, 'What is the worst thing about a Comanche raid on your farm during the wintertime?'"

The female contestant, clad in a long dress, apron and starched white bonnet, would slap the little buzzer thing, which wouldn't go off because buzzers hadn't been invented yet. She would look to her husband for permission to speak and receive a gruff nod.

Then she would answer, "They take the dried venison."

"Survey says (ding) 'They take the meat!' Number one answer! Tell her what she's won, Johnny!"

A voice would holler from off-stage, "Are you tired of cutting through the tough sod every spring with a hoe and a shovel? Well, say hello to your (dramatic pause) brand new mule!"

At this point a blacksmith would lead a mule onto the stage.

It would have on a diaper (the mule, not the blacksmith), because even in the 1800s it was gross to watch a mule poop on TV. The mule would nip the blacksmith, who would slap its head, eliciting hundreds of angry letters from PETA viewers.

"Bred from the finest horse and donkey on the East Coast, this multifunction animal is capable of pulling a plow whenever it is in the mood! Then, after a long day in the fields, rub him down and hitch him to a cart for a ride through your local town! You'll be the envy of your neighbors!"

The game show would need to run a little disclaimer at the bottom of the screen, letting viewers know that mule technology is considered to be witchcraft in many areas.

Cart and plow not included.

The contestant would look to her husband for permission, receive another gruff nod, then jump around in hysterical glee, accidentally hugging the host, who then would be beaten by the husband with a riding crop.

On second thought, maybe people in the 1800s weren't ready for game shows. It might be more fun to hook your temporal scanner up to the TV via the HDMI interface and watch game shows from the future.

I'm sure in the future all game show hosts will be androids who look just like the 1980s Alex Trebec, only with chrome skin like that guy on Terminator 2.

"I'll take 'Ancient United States' for $100 billion, Alex231," would say the contestant, an androgynous creature with a whole-body tattoo of a human man.

"The answer is, 'Obamacare.'" The contestant's tattoo would look thoughtful, then stumped, and after a couple seconds a buzzer would sound. (Strangely, it would be the exact same buzzer that's in today's game shows, a device with no other known function.)

The android-Alex would look regretful and sympathetic. "Oh, I'm sorry. It was 'What evil monster arose from the sea and devoured everybody in the country in 2016, causing four Dark Ages and a zombie apocalypse?'"

The contestant would slap the tattoo of a head at the top of its body. "I knew that, darn it."

The show would cut away to a commercial during the penalty phase of the game as the losing contestant is dined upon by the show's crew. Even in the 2600s, it's gross to watch zombies eat somebody on TV.

Come on, spring, get here. I just wrote a column about the Game Show Network, for Pete's sake.