I don't know a lot of stuff, plus I seem to have reached a point cognitively where the new stuff that I want to learn doesn't stick well. That likely means one of two things: First, maybe I really don't want to know it, or second, the grey matter isn't working like it used to. Or some of both, I guess.

For example, I don't know and cannot seem to remember starboard and port, one being right, the other being left. ( I just looked it up. Again. Probably for the hundredth time in my life.)

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I also don't know and cannot seem to learn any of the common star clusters over my head in the night sky. As much as I'd like to be one of those people who can point up there and say: "Look! There's Orion." Or, "Look! There's the Seven Sisters." Frankly, I don't really care whether or not I can remember starboard and port, but I really would like to identify something besides the Big Dipper. Even that takes me longer than it should. I've been told that the Dipper points at the North Star. Maybe. I can't find it.

I also don't know, after 30-plus years of writing something every week, what you readers want. I guess I do know that you don't want-or some of you don't want-any more politically incorrect remarks from me about big people and small airplane seats. So I guess I know something.

I just heard on the radio that Minnesota pet owners are now confirmed to have the fattest-wait for it, wait for it--there's that word "fat" that gets me in trouble-- dogs and cats in the nation. I'm passing this information on to you at the risk of some one or more of you taking exception to this information and writing an editor in defense of fat animal dignity. Or something else I don't know about.

I think it's nice that Minnesota can lead the nation in something other than taxation, mosquitos the size of birds, and freezing to death during the run from your door to your car in the winter. Congratulations to us.

Here's something I know, something I just realized as the news that a young couple in NW Minnesota, desiring to make a video that would make them famous on YouTube, decided to take a pistol-in particular, a fifty-caliber Desert Eagle-and demonstrate how you don't really need a bullet-proof vest, just a book.

I know you shouldn't do that.

He held the book. She held the gun. Here's something else I know: The .50-caliber Desert Eagle is, if not the most powerful pistol on the market, definitely in the running for it. After personally shooting NRA indoor pistol competition for several years, I also know that even the little .22's we used caused wear and tear on various ligaments and joints after a while. But the folks who shot the larger calibers over any period of time really had to watch for damage. Recoil damage.

I doubt that the young woman who agreed to pull the trigger on that Desert Eagle knew how spectacularly violent the recoil feels. If you offered me a chance to shoot that pistol, I would flatly refuse. The recoil is vicious. The police report said that the pistol was lying on the grass some feet away. I'll bet it was. There's a good chance that the recoil blew it out of her hand that far, frankly.

They have her in jail on a manslaughter charge, likely because there isn't a statute on the books labelled "stupid things that will get you on YouTube."

Of all the things I don't know, here is one that I really, really do want to know. Which book did they use? (Oops. Was that politically indelicate?) I mean, they don't seem like book-reading people. Probably back in freshman English class, they had no idea that they should have paid more attention, should have learned more about books. Definitely if you're going to stop a .50 caliber bullet, you want something by a Russian, maybe War and Peace, or in a pinch, maybe the multiple works of Proust.

I've read them. They stop just about anything, including most readers.