Two "strange-ies" today from George Washington University Hospital:

The first is from Elias Savada of Bethesda. While visiting his ailing brother at GW in September, Elias happened to pick up the menu form for the next day's meals, which was sitting on a counter beside his brother's bed. On it, Elias noticed "some interesting items grouped under the subheading 'From the Grill.'"

Like "hard boiled egg."

Like "soft boiled egg."

Could it be that GW had invented a new way to cook eggs in these two styles? Could it be that we finally have an explanation for the glorious taste of hospital food?

"I don't think they grill soft-boiled eggs," said Emily Turk of the GW public relations office. She pointed out that the other egg selections the hospital offers are also listed under "From the Grill." "Since they were doing all the other eggs, they wanted to put all the eggs together," Turk deadpanned. "In one basket, so to speak."

The second case was brought to my attention by a reader in Silver Spring, who called GW to ask what the hospital charges for a chest X-ray. She got stonewalled but good, and she wanted to know why.

The hospital does give such prices over the phone, said Emily Turk. The incident shouldn't have happened. And that would have been the end of it if researcher Linda Josephson hadn't swung into action.

First, Linda called three other hospitals in town -- Georgetown University Hospital, the Washington Hospital Center and Sibley Memorial. In all three cases, she was connected with radiology, and was quoted a chest X-ray price cheerfully and promptly. The prices were $46, $49.65 and $39, respectively.

Then Linda called GW. Again, she was referred to radiology. But the person who answered wouldn't quote a price over the phone. "Policy of the chairman of radiology," she said.

The woman went on to explain that she would quote the price if Linda were scheduled for the procedure. But until you're signed up, they don't want to tell you anything. Why? The woman wouldn't say, beyond invoking "policy" again.

Back went Linda to Emily Turk, who pronounced herself surprised. She checked further, and discovered that the Burns Clinic (an adjunct of GW) does chest X-rays on an out-patient basis, and will quote the cost ($55) over the phone, in advance, to anyone.

So why doesn't the hospital's radiology department do the same? Turk didn't know. She said that if readers get stonewalled a la my reader from Silver Spring, they should call the public relations office (676-6460) and Turk will straighten things out.

Meanwhile, one can only wonder whether GW is reluctant to quote its X-ray price because it's the highest on this list. Sure seems that way.

Hey, I'll quit reporting these when you Washingtonians quit perpetrating them. Until then . . . .

It was Sunday, Oct. 31. Maybe you remember the sunset that evening. Gorgeous. Super. So great you wish they'd invent new adjectives.

Deborah Fratta of Silver Spring was heading west on U.S. Rte. 50, at about Bowie. All of a sudden, as she rounded a curve, the car in front of her swerved. She braked. He swerved again. She braked again. And on they danced, for the next half a mile or so.

Finally, Deborah decided to pull alongside and pass. As she did so, she glanced into the passenger compartment of the offending car, half-expecting to see a drunk behind the wheel.


The driver was aiming a camera at the sunset.

As he drove.

The woman beside him was leaning across the gearshift and steering the car.

All this at 60 miles an hour.

Great one in a recent issue of The Pundit!, the newsletter of The International Save the Pun Foundation.

A New York priest, Eduardo Laserna, notes that, in order to get ahead in the Catholic Church, one has to write articles. Says Father Laserna: "It is a case of publish or parish."