This blog periodically carries postings consisting of clippings from my file labeled “Quotes Worth Saving.” The idea for the file originated with the late San Francisco Chronicle columnist Herb Caen, who once wrote that he kept a file of items he could use on slow days.

Prompting this latest installment was a Jan. 26 Matier and Ross column in The Chronicle: “After a three-week trial — at a cost we can only imagine — a San Francisco jury has determined that a 47-year-old Cotati man was not, in fact, masturbating when he was moving his hands inside his pants as he stood on a Tenderloin corner looking at a 10-year-old girl.

“Jurors instead decided that the accused — who has no history of crimes against children — had been trying to retrieve his heroin, which had fallen down his pants. Since he wasn’t facing drug charges, the defendant walked.”

Lest you think this could only happen to a man in San Francisco, here’s an item from  the police blotter of The Lewisboro (N.Y.) Ledger, as quoted in the May 26, 2008, New Yorker: “Sex offense reported at the Cross River Plaza in Cross River.

“A driver complained to police that a woman was touching herself in a car. Police spoke to the woman, who said that she had just been listening to the Beatles before shopping.”

It could have been tragic. The Gulf News in Dubai reported on Dec. 12, 2008, “Actor Daniel Hoevels accidentally slit his neck onstage after he mistook a real knife for a prop at the Burgtheater in Austria.

“Hoevels… was supposed to be using a knife blunted for use onstage, but the knife had been switched with a sharp one for the show on Saturday night.

“Vienna police said Thursday they were investigating ‘bodily injury caused by negligence.’ The theater company said the original prop knife was damaged and that instructions to blunt the replacement and been ‘carelessly’ disregarded.

“Hoevels received stitches for his injury at a hospital and was back on stage… the next day.”

A headline in the July 18, 2010, Chronicle, rather than the accompanying story seemed to be the real news: “Hamas Bans Water Pipes.” My God, I wondered, will power lines be the next public utility Hamas prohibits? In fact, it turned out that Hamas in imposing conservative Islam on Gaza had banned the smoking of Arabic hookahs (known as shisha) in public.

Was the word really supposed to be gratuitously, meaning done in an uncalled-for manner (e.g. gratuitously violent movies)? Or gratefully, meaning done with gratitude? Whatever the case, a reader last Sunday could sense a poignant story behind the following classified ad.

From Personals in the Jan. 30 Chronicle: “Does anyone remember EX-PFC USMC Oak Knoll-Menlo Park? Any response gratuitously accepted. (Highly & introspective, sensitive, neurotic). Mail response to: 1390 Market St. #1820, SFCA 94102.”

Gallery owner Claudia Chapline (Photo by Lynn Axelrod)

An apt aphorism quoted in a Dec. 10, 1992, news release from the Claudia Chapline Gallery in Stinson Beach: “If you have no troubles, buy a goat.”

I’d think the answer would be self-evident. From Dear Abby on Dec. 29, 2010: “My husband travels a lot — three to four days a week. Sometimes when he’s intoxicated and we’re having sex, he acts as if he doesn’t know who I am.

“I asked him once, ‘Are you married?’ He said, ‘No…’ Another time I asked, ‘Do you have a girlfriend?’ and he said, ‘No, but you’re fine…’ The next day he has no idea he said any of this. Should I be worried?”

Grim news from the Palmetto State in the Oct. 10, 2009, Chronicle: “Officials say an alligator bit off part of a golfer’s arm as he leaned over to pick up his ball at a private South Carolina course.

The man, who is in his 70s, was retrieving his ball from a pond when the 10-foot alligator bit him at Ocean Creek Golf Course in Beaufort County.

“His golf partners were able to free him. Wildlife workers killed the alligator and retrieved the arm in the hope it might be reattached.”

Law enforcement run amok? The Associated Press reported on Oct. 9, 2008: “Police in Newark, Ohio, have arrested a 15-year-old girl on juvenile child pornography charges for allegedly sending nude cell-phone photos of herself to classmates.

“The girl was arrested Friday and held over the weekend. Her defense filed denials in court Monday. Police did not identify the girl by name, and prosecutors promised a statement with details later Wednesday. Authorities were also considering charges for students who received the photos.”

We’ll end with a sentimental report from the Aug. 19, 2008, Chronicle: “A lost humpback whale calf has bonded with a yacht it seems to think is its mother, Australian media reported. The calf was first sighted Sunday in waters off north Sydney, and on Monday tried to suckle from a yacht, which it would not leave.”