Words: land-office, adj.

THE SCRAMBLE for Internet shares echoes the Gold Rush. As if to prove the point, an archaeologist has found the Lost Pioneers of 1849 in Death Valley. The relics include shoes, letters and coins worth $500,000. In another such loop of time, Americans refer again to doing land-office business in a boom - as did those canny entrepreneurs who parcelled out land in the Rush. Fittingly, it now turns out that the relics are a scam.

Meanwhile, in place of that weary cliche about gossiping over the water- cooler, the stylish could revive the phrase about doing so over the picklebarrel. The OED lists the word, but with neither example nor hint of such a metaphor. As for www.dot.com, it exists but - significantly? - is inaccessible.