In one sense, the woman from Wheaton called the wrong guy. For I have a post-graduate degree in Electronic Helplessness.

Whenever I try to set the alarm clock, one of two things happens: A) The alarm doesn't go off when I wanted it to, or B) The machine emits raucous buzzes rather than Beethoven. Reason for both: my total inability to deal with anything mechanical.

There are Levey microwave stories too. And Levey VCR tales. And Levey camcorder yarns. But my Wheaton reader's request was so disarmingly fascinating that even hopeless little old me got involved.

Seems her TV set goes slightly bananas.

At exactly 47 minutes after every hour.

"It gives off a little beep," my reader explained. "It sounds like the noise a microwave makes when it has just finished cooking something. Just one little beep. But it beeps every hour, at 47 minutes after the hour, all day and all night. And I can't figure out what to do."

The TV set is "a basic five-year-old TV, a Magnavox, nothing special." It sits in my reader's upstairs bedroom, against an outside wall. My reader does have cable. However, the set delivers the beep whether the power is on or not. And the beep doesn't have any effect on the set's performance. The set works fine, my reader says.

"This has been going on for one month now," my reader says. Needless to say, she hasn't been sleeping real great.

Any electronic whiz have any idea what could be causing this? Not only will we take my Wheaton reader out of her misery, but we just may loosen Levey's tongue.

It was Sunday morning, see, and there was this electric frying pan, and I figured I'd make some pancakes . . . .

How not to succeed in business:

Barbara Nooger of Arlington stopped by a carryout in Crystal City for a little lunch. The customer ahead of her in line was trying to pay for his purchase with a large collection of change, including a Canadian penny.

The woman behind the cash register refused to accept the penny. She claimed it was worth nothing.

Of course, a Canadian penny is worth about 9/10ths of what an American penny is worth. That's not a king's ransom. But 9/10ths of something is hardly nothing.

The debate got ugly. The customer insisted that the woman accept his Canadian penny, since Canada is a friendly ally and she must see Canadian money all the time. The woman said he might as well throw the penny in the trash can because that was what it was worth.

Finally, hunger or good grace (or perhaps a combination) got the better of the customer. He extracted other money (all of it American) and paid. But as a parting shot, he hurled the Canadian penny at the trash can on his way out. He missed, but he had made his point.

Very soon, the woman made her point too.

Before waiting on Barbara, she bent down, retrieved the "worthless" Canadian penny and tossed it into the penny drawer of her cash register.

Thanks to Posy Jim of Latrobe, Pa., for clipping and sending this marvelous classified ad from the Latrobe Bulletin:


Lola Oberman of Bethesda recently spotted what she calls the ultimate in vanity plates. They were aboard a spanking new green Mercedes. They read:



If Memorial Day is almost behind us,camp will soon be ahead of us. Our first crop of campers heads off on June 25. But the second and succeeding crops won't go anywhere unless all of us help send them there.

Our campers are among the Washington area's most underprivileged kids. Many live in foster homes. Some have been in trouble with the law. Some have never seen the country, and the soul-enriching pleasures it holds.

Let's help these kids see some of the good things. Please send a check to our campaign -- and please do it today, while you're thinking of it. All contributions are tax deductible.


Make a check or money order payable to Send a Kid to Camp, and mail it to Bob Levey, The Washington Post, Washington, D.C. 20071.

In hand as of May 24: $27,774.60.

Our goal: $275,000.