RETURNING FAVOR: Vladimir A. Yakovlev, deputy mayor...

RETURNING FAVOR: Vladimir A. Yakovlev, deputy mayor of St. Petersburg, Russia, told officials he saw something on a recent Orange County trip that he'd rarely seen in Russian local government: a woman, specifically Supervisor Harriett M. Wieder, sitting in a position of political prominence. . . . Impressed, Yakovlev gave Wieder a medallion recognizing her "courage to participate in local government." The medallion bears the image of Catherine the Great, Russia's empress in the late 1700s. The only rub: the county's gift ban forced her to give it back.

LAST LAUGH: Students at Rancho Alamitos High School in Garden Grove have decided to give their teachers a break. . . . In honor of next week's national Day of the Teacher, a student group persuaded the comedy club Brea Improv to give all 100 of the school's teachers and staffers free tickets to a performance there. Quips Lynn Hamtil, a school district trustee: "Is this supposed to mean teachers do or do not have a sense of humor?"

NAME GAME: Author Sue Grafton titles her mysteries with letters from the alphabet ("A is for Alibi"); Neil Albert uses months. Fountain Valley author Earlene Fowler, above, is taking another tack: quilt patterns. . . . Her latest book, "Fool's Puzzle," is the first of many she plans on naming after patterns well-known to quilters. Says the author, "I used to quilt; now I write."

ON TARGET: Speaking of writers, Huntington Beach author Robert Peters--who wants to start a workshop for local gay and lesbian writers (E1)--once met his literary hero William Burroughs on the legendary author's Kansas farm. . . . At the time, Burroughs was painting canvases, which he shot full of bullet holes and then sold to art galleries. After watching Burroughs unload his pistol that day, Peters picked up the empty shells and later wrote a memoir of his Kansas encounter, 15 copies of which were reproduced "complete with spent bullet casings" glued to their title pages.

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