Gee, what a pleasant surprise. A guy returns from a week's vacation and finds a gift assortment of headlines begging for commentary. Let the fun begin:

  • So it turns out Caltrans officials were planning to produce a video and publish a commemorative book in celebration of the long-awaited completion of the new Bay Bridge. You can certainly see the logic.

    How often does the government get to pat itself on the back for a project that comes in nine years behind schedule and $5 billion over budget? Not even David Copperfield can make time and money disappear like that.

    I could envision the book being dedicated to Pete Wilson, Gray Davis, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jerry Brown and whoever turns out to be governor when the east span is completed. Its price tag could be set at weekday and weekend rates, depending on whether you purchased it when sales traffic was heavy.

    The video could be scheduled for release in 2013 but not appear in theaters until 2022. The production work could be done in Beijing and the narration in Chinese. Movie critics could be enlisted to falsify glowing reviews without even bothering to look at the film.

    Now, though, the whole commemorative package has been scrapped. The governor seems to think it's a waste of money. Wouldn't want anyone to associate that notion with the new Bay Bridge.

  • We barely had time to embrace the University of California's new logo and try to determine what it was -- A doughnut being dunked in a coffee mug? A washing machine set for the spin cycle? -- when the administration abandoned the trademark in response to 55,000 unhappy petitioners.

    "While I believe the design element in question would win wide acceptance over time, it also is important that we listen to and respect what has been a significant negative response by students, alumni and other members of our community," said Daniel M. Dolley, UC's senior vice president for external relations, in a statement.

    Translation: If this is going to hurt donations to the university, let's pretend it never happened.

    The UC Office of the President's marketing department came up with the design -- a block "C" embedded in "U" silhouette, bearing a striking resemblance to a toilet seat and tank -- that was intended to reproduce easily in online and electronic applications.

    The end of the logo flap should do two things: one, make alumni happy; and two, give marketing majors pause about enrolling in UC design classes.

  • In a new report, California health officials expressed deep concern about an increase in tobacco use by young adults 18 to 24, those rates jumping from 12.3 percent (in 2010) to 14.6 percent (2011).

    Officials cited findings they say contributed to the problem -- use of smokeless tobacco products, such as snuff and chewing tobacco, has nearly tripled in a decade, and undercover surveys indicate that more tobacco retailers are making illegal sales to minors than they were a year ago -- but it was another purported factor that caught my eye:

    Tobacco advertisements in stores are often displayed less than three feet above the floor, where they can easily capture the attention of young minds.

    If that puts them at the eye level of 18-to-24-year-olds, then smoking really does stunt your growth.

    Contact Tom Barnidge at tbarnidge@bayareanewsgroup.com.