Ideas for columns are like boats. Some are yachts. They hold a lot of weight and are worth setting aside space for. Others, like skiffs, are small, under-sized and quickly sink when overloaded.

But I figure several skiffs equal a yacht.Here's a bunch:

- Thousands of kids write letters to Santa each year asking for toys, but I don't recall hearing of one kid sending Santa Claus a "thank you" note.

It might make a nice thing to start up as a family tradition.

In fact, I think we'll start it up ourselves . . . next year.

- Have you ever wondered what a conversation between Samuel Morse, inventor of the Morse code, and "Swing King" Benny Goodman might sound like?

Like this, I think:

MORSE: What hath God wrought?

GOODMAN: Dit-DAH-dit-dit, dit-DAH-dit-dit, dit-DAH-dit-dit, dit-DAH-dit-dit.

- HOW THE WORLD HAS CHANGED DEPT.: When I was a boy you insulted kids by telling them "Your mother wears combat boots." In today's world, however, given the "new army" and all the women on the lines in Desert Shield, a kid thinks a mother wearing combat boots is a point of pride.

- And lastly and leastly, some thoughts about language.

Does English get richer or more muddled with the years?

I'd say "both."

Think of all those people with personal vices, for instance. These days half the time they ask someone for a "light" they get handed a can of beer instead of a match.

And how about football? Just when I realized announcers used the term "pick" to describe the way one receiver screens the defender from another receiver - along come the defenders calling interceptions "picks." And that means defenders can now get a "pick" despite a good "pick."

And how about the critic I heard complaining about "projection problems." Was he a movie critic? No, he was an opera critic complaining that the voices of the singers didn't carry.

It's all pretty confusing. But then what can you expect from a language that makes the words "saint" "Satan" and "Santa" seem like first cousins? Or makes the term "chastity" sound an awful lot like "chastisement" to those holding out for their one true love?