HERE ARE some holiday-party tips for us guys:

Say you spill your eggnog on the hooters of some woman you work with. You can't wipe it off 'cause maybe she wouldn't like that.

No getting a little too carried away by trying to French-kiss the cuties under the mistletoe.

And if you have anything to do with giving out the bonuses, now you have to reward the ugly broads too, not just the hotties. (Even if you never slept with any of them. Not even once.)

Surfing porn on the office computer is a no-no, even at lunch.

So I know what you're wondering - what makes me so smart about all this stuff?

Well, I picked up a few things from my company's mandatory video training on sexual harassment and something called "office etiquette." That's how I know what you can get away with. I had to watch it for more than an hour. In the future, I can always say I forgot what was on the tape, and the company can say it told me so in case it gets sued. That's what they call a win-win.

If you already know all this stuff, I bet it's because you watched a video, too. Lots of people do these days.

Except some rocket scientist out in California. He says he won't.

His name is Alexander McPherson. He teaches something called molecular biology and biochemistry at the University of California at Irvine. (That must be close to Hollywood.) He thinks he's better than the rest of us 'cause he knows this stuff and so he shouldn't have to watch the video. Even though there is a law that says he has to.

California forces companies with more than 50 employees to provide that training to supervisors. That doesn't cut it for McPherson. He's been around for 30 years, so he's probably old and cranky. I read that he has something called "tenure." (I think that's treatable with antibiotics.)

"I refused to take it, and I told them I was deliberately refusing to take it on the grounds that I found it offensive to my sensibilities, and I said it called into question my character and my reputation and most of all it called into question my intelligence," he said when I called him.

The nerve of this guy. Who is he not to watch the tape?

He says watching the video makes it seem like he did something bad. It makes him and his friends feel "somehow guilty in advance of some crime, and we have to be trained to mend our ways so it won't happen in the future."

So McPherson wants his boss to give him a piece of paper that says he didn't do nothin' wrong. And his bosses told him to pound sand.

Now the university has taken away his some of his jobs in the lab. No more teaching assistants get sent to help out in his classes. That stinks 'cause I'll bet some of those T&As looked good in a lab coat, all buttoned up with those goggles and everything. They've even taken what McPherson calls the "unprecedented" step of interfering with his grants.

The smarty-pants professor thinks he knows what's in the training sessions. His pointy-headed friends told him they sit in front of computers and read a bunch of questions about holiday parties and other stuff. You don't even need to get the right answers to pass the course and this guy still won't do it.

'THE IDEA IS not to train you in anything. The idea is to comply with some ruling or some edict that the state or the company has laid down," McPherson told me.

Ten bucks says he gets in trouble 'cause he doesn't know what I know. All these new rules and stuff.

You really gotta be a rocket scientist to know what you can and can't do. Don'tcha? *

Listen to Michael Smerconish weekdays 5-9 a.m. on the Big Talker, 1210/AM. Read him Sundays in the Inquirer. Contact him via the Web at