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You know the drill -- #2 Ticonderoga, no cheat sheets, no whining, no prizes, so don't even bother to ask. Wisdom is its own reward. This is all stuff you didn't know a year ago. It's all stuff you didn't even know you wanted to know a year ago. Your horizons are widened. The scales (and those dopey Orphan Annie sunglasses) have fallen from your eyes. You're one more rung up the insufferable-know-it-all ladder that leads to ultimate wonkdom and geekiosity. And gets you X'd from everybody's cocktail party lists. You'll thank me later.

1. Southern Californians need help identifying the seasons. As a public service, we discussed which of these traditional and reliable signs of spring?

(a) Roses bloom

(b) There are still places to park in P.B.

(c) Hawks and ravens steal and eat eggs and babies from birds' nests; victims' parents begin dive-bombing, head-pecking wars against the raptors; San Diegans watch transfixed, then write to Matthew Alice to find out why a finch would attack a hawk

(d) Spring training opens; managers begin talking about how the Padres are in a rebuilding year

2. Match the following familiar words with the stories of their origins.

(a) Wgasa (b) Zzyzx (c) Ungawa (d) Matthew Alice

(1) A radio evangelist and snake-oil salesman made it up and used it to name his desert "health spa" so he "would always have the last word."

(2) Movie scriptwriters thought they made it up but later found out it in fact means "join together" in Swahili.

(3) Two San Diegans suggested to the zoo that the word sounded appropriately African, failing to mention they used it as their personal shorthand for "Who gives a shit anyway?"

(4) Who knows what they were thinking when they made it up? They have apologized publicly several times.

3. The official flower of the city of San Diego is:

(a) Bird-of-paradise (b) Poinsettia (c) Carnation (d) Washable plastic geraniums (e) Cactus

4. The official motto of the city of San Diego is Semper Vigilans. It means:

(A) Look out for the cactus! (B) Something else

5. Matthew Alice is pleased to get mail from persons of all walks of life -- anyone capable of hitting an envelope with a stamp. But every year, many of those persons believe it's cute to send mail signed by which of the following?

(a) their cats (b) their children (c) their cats (d) rational people (e) their cats.

6. Which of the following is not a real federal fact?

(a) The feds own the air space inside your mailbox, but not the box itself, which can be shaped like any cute idea that pops into your head, as long as the carrier can identify it as a mailbox.

(b) San Diego County has streets named after every American president except Millard Fillmore. To keep our record intact, anyone planning to vote for Donald Trump or Al Gore should seriously reconsider his or her choice.

(c) There are three exciting ways to break federal law with a common household fax machine!

(d) A woman in Maryland has written a book revealing how Prince Charles of England is being groomed to take over the new world government that is being organized secretly in a back room at the United Nations. Charles will redecorate the White House in a Liverpool pub theme.

(e) The U.S. Mint produced no quarters in 1975.

(f) If you think the preceding is a real federal fact, you're not paying attention, as usual. The feds made quarters in '75, they just dated them all 1976, for the bicentennial year.

(g) We know the Marines don't rent the land at Camp Pendleton from anybody, because not even the feds could afford a cleaning deposit that covered grenade and tank damage.

7. The most scary or disgusting fact we learned this year is:

(a) People are terrified of clowns because of their pasty white faces and googly eyes and huge lips and out-of-control hair and flappy shoes and ballooning costumes that can be hiding almost anything!

(b) Brominated vegetable oil can be found in most U.S. citrus drinks. It's molecules of bromine crammed into citrus oil to help suspend it in the soda. BVO is banned in all those puking, mewling, cowardly countries unwilling to take a gastronomic risk.

(c) If you're so fat that your head would come off if you were hanged, you'll probably win your sentencing appeal; the judges will consider ripping your head off cruel and inhumane. Instead they'll kill you by lethal injection.

(d) Some people believe that other people can spontaneously burst into flames. One such believer explains this happens because we each have inside our cells an arrangement of atoms called a pyrotron, which, if agitated, sets our insides on fire.

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