Bizarre News-Guard Duty

RENO, Nev. (AP) - Like father, like son -- at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan. Lt. Col. Bartley O'Toole is on his 10th deployment in 25 years for the Air National Guard. But it's the first for Senior Airman Bartley O'Toole, his son. Both are from Reno, Nev., the home base of the 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron. The Department of Defense says it's just the luck of the draw both men are deployed on the same rotation to the same destination. Airman Bartley says his dad keeps bugging him to call his mother.

(AP) - History prof Bryant Simon has a good excuse for hanging out at Starbucks -- and it's not just to get a caffeine fix. The Temple University professor has been studying the coffee chain. He has a new book, "Everything but the Coffee: Learning about America from Starbucks." Simon visited about 425 of the coffee shops in nine countries. He contends Americans are attracted to Starbucks at a time when they're withdrawing from political and community involvement. Simon says if he owned a coffee shop he'd ditch the conversation-killing Wi-Fi. He'd also have a big, round table covered with newspapers to stimulate discussion.

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) - Takeru Kobayashi is the burger eating champ once again. The Japanese competitive eater wolfed down 93 Krystal hamburgers in eight minutes yesterday, in Chattanooga, Tenn., to retake the burger crown. Reigning champ Joey Chestnut went down to defeat with just 81 burgers. The big eaters had to contend with new rules this year. The Krystal Square Off World Hamburger Eating Championship no longer allows the dunking of burgers to soften them up. Kobayashi gets 20-grand and a burger championship belt.

WASHINGTON (AP) - Nagging is going high-tech. Parents are adopting text messages to communicate with their kids. Jacky Longwell of McLean, Va., says she tries not to be too much of noodge. But she texts her three kids for all kinds reasons, from checking on homework to making sure the dog has been walked. Reginald Black, another suburban Washington parent, says technology allows him to "nag more." He adds he can his give his three kids "a little more precise" instructions thanks to technology.

BELOIT, Wis. (AP) - Your mother probably warned you against strangers and not to hitch hike. But Beloit College student Alex Brower decided to ditch the fear and stick out his thumb. He's now a senior at the Wisconsin school. He spent two and a-half months getting rides from coast-to-coast over the summer. Despite hitching rides from ex-cons and those packing heat, Brower says his biggest fear was being hit by a car. He tells the Beloit Daily News there's a lot of unfounded fear in our society. He says most people who picked him up were just looking for someone talk to during a long ride.

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Call them the Knights of Knitting. One evening each month the Wonder Knit shop in Columbus, Ohio, holds a men's only knitting night. Shop owner Libby Bruce says she has as many as 15 guys attending her knitting circles. She adds they range in age from college students to older men, both gay and straight. Bruce tells the Columbus Dispatch the guys appreciate the chance to socialize and practice their hobby. But Bruce says that men knitting are a like women knitting, except for a lot of swearing.

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