Are you in the mood for a good mystery story? Try this one:

Janet Murphy Gloss of Woodbridge bought a chicken at a Giant Food store recently. When she got it home and began unwrapping it, she discovered that under the Giant price sticker there was a Safeway price sticker.

If you can explain how that came about, you have a better imagination than I have.

Here's another mystery that might appeal to you. Wednesday morning, I had my gas tank filled at a local service station and then drove to Richmond for a meeting. After the meeting, I had my tank filled again (about a block from the meeting place) and drove straight back to the Washington service station, where the tank was again filled.

I drove to Richmond at a steady 55 miles an hour and I drove back at 55 miles an hour. Both journeys were made via I-95. The only difference was that I didn't need the air conditioner en route to Richmond in the early morning, but used the air conditioner on the way back in the afternoon.

It took 1.1 gallons more to fill my tank in Richmond than it took to fill it when I got back to Washington. This indicates I used more gas with the air conditioner off than I used with the air conditioner on. Why?

The chicken that led a dual life at Giant and Safeway baffles me completely, but two explanations come to mind for the difference in gasoline consumption:

1. One "full" gasoline tank may be fuller than another. "Full" is a judgment call, and different attendants may have different ideas about what constitutes a proper degree of fullness.

2. Whether accidentally or on purpose, one pump's meter may be a bit faster than another's.

So long as I'm posing questions for which I have no firm answers, let me pass along one from Brian Saxe of Alexandria.

Brian wants to know the origin of the term "calling card." Did it get its name from the fact that people put their calling (trade or profession) on the card, or because the card is presented when a person calls upon (visits) another?

My guess is that the latter explanation is the correct one, but I can offer no facts to back it up. My specialty is questions, not answers.



Lee Phillips of Harwood, Md., is still chuckling about a "Correction" we ran on page 2 a few weeks ago. It said, and I quote with great care:

"Because of a typographical error in Tuesday's Washington Post, it was incorrectly stated that the manuals concerning the KH11 spy satellite were printed in 1967. They were printed in 1876."

As soon as the first edition came off the press, about 14 people in our newsroom spotted that whopper and a quick correction was sent to the composing room to change 1878 to 1976. For the next 30 minutes, a phalanx of editors kept an eye on that correction as it went through the printing process. They knew from bitter experience that when a correction creates a worse blunder than the original error, a correction of the correction is likely to make matters even worse. See Gold's Law for a fuller explanation.

The classic story about newspaper corrections is the one about the obituary that reffered to a former soldier as a bottle scarred veteran. The embarrassed editor ordered the offending line reset to change bottle to battle , and a printer hastened to do his bidding.

The new version said the deceased had been a battle scared veteran.

The lesson here is simple: After you've fumbled a ground ball, don't make the throw to first. If you do, you'll throw the ball into the stands and just make matters worse.


Bob England of Silver Spring is pleased to note that the District of Columbia has named a bicycle route after Israel's prime minister. He reports that a sign on the Roosevelt Bridge proclaims: "Begin Bike Route."

I'm reminded of what happened one night while a young man and a young woman were parked in a scenic overlook off the George Washington Memorial Parkway.

The man was amorous but the woman was uncooperative. Suddenly he pointed to a traffic sign that said, "Yield," and asked, "Do you believe in signs?"

She pointed to a trash receptacle and replied, "Well, I believe in that one." It said, "Refuse."