According to my American Heritage Dictionary (New College Edition, 1976), Spam is “A trademark for spiced pork products.” Somehow it’s also become the word to describe the repeated and unwanted e-mail communications that clog computer screens. Most say if you want off the list click here. But it doesn’t work, and the number of messages that are really trying to sell me something keeps increasing. Most of these begin with language that suggests the sender got my name from an acquaintance of mine who was concerned about my dire financial situation and that this e-mail correspondence might just pull me out of trouble. They are usually signed by a guy named Paul, who thinks this first-name-basis thing will make me respond. I replied to Paul and asked him to stop sending these things, but Paul’s not listening.

This is worth checking out (not to mention this is a favor to a pretty good guy): The Second Baptist Youth Group is heading to Fresno for a teen convention of some sort. They need to raise $2,000 to make the trip. So Joe Person Sr., famous for his culinary expertise at the grill (recall Joe’s Old Fashioned Pit Bar-B-Que of Oroville and Chico), is firing up the barbeque once again, March 24. Plates go for $10 for adults and $5 for kids 12 and younger. The menu offers ribs, chicken or hot links, bread, baked beans, coleslaw or potato salad. The event takes place at the Second Baptist Church in Chapman, 1053 Ohio St., and runs from 10:30 in the morning to 6:30 in the afternoon. For more information call 345-0741 or 345-4764.

Did you see the ad in last week’s E-R that offers a $25,000 reward for information on the disappearance of a Siberian husky named Jake? I called the number and was greeted by a woman named Linda who said, “Ben’s Truck Repair.” I asked about the reward, cautioning that I had neither Jake nor information as to his whereabouts. I was curious about who would offer 25 grand for a dog? The person who did so is named Ben Sale, and he owns a truck repair service in Red Bluff. He has also dabbled in the development industry here in Chico, getting a 10-acre parcel of land on the north end of Ceanothus Avenue approved for a subdivision that will see 35 to 40 houses built. He has since sold the parcel and approval to the Ritchie construction family of Chico. How’s that for useless information? I just wanted to tell a dog story.

Though they’ll be history by the time you read this, congratulations to the Golden Flashes of Kent State University for their win over the Indiana Hoosiers in the first round of the NCAA tourney. I actually attended that school for a while when I was right out of high school. The school has a reputation established 31 years ago when Jim Rhodes, the former Ohio governor who died just last month, thought of a way to stop those pesky students who were torching the ROTC building in protest of the Vietnam War. He sent in the National Guard, who fired a few shots to capture the students’ attention and it worked! They stopped their destructive behavior pronto and the war was able to continue for another five years. Writer Tom Wolfe has suggested the pendulum of political thought in this country stopped swinging to the left at about this time and has been moving right ever since. Anyway, congratulations to the basketball team. (There used to be a saying in Northeastern Ohio that would explain how I was accepted into school there: “If you can’t go to college, go to Kent.”

I obviously had little to say this week (except for the barbecue thing). That’s because I wrote this about an hour before I went on vacation and just wanted to fill this column. I was going to do the old "Tom’s on vacation this week and left one of his favorite columns" thing. Instead I decided just to use some of my favorite words from those columns.