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There's no such thing as a bad idea--especially if you have none

July 15, 1998

Tim RowlandIt is important you know that, much in the journalistic tradition of Peter Arnett of CNN, I did not contribute one comma to the writing of the following column.

However, if it happens to win some journalism prize, I will happily walk to the podium and accept the award on behalf of all the people whose ideas I have stolen today.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* " NATURALSIZEFLAG="0" ALIGN="BOTTOM"> The first idea comes from a Hagerstown gentleman named Blair Schaefer, who is rightly concerned with all the bedlam that will be precipitated by the turning of the year 2000. His solution? Skip it. Go straight from 1999 to 2001.

With that in mind, I would like to announce the formation of a group that has the potential to solve a lot of the problems associated with the end of the millennium.

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I call it CYST, the Coalition to Skip the Year 2000. (Yes, very good, Poindexter, but CSYT doesn't spell anything, and who else but you would have noticed).

As you know, the year 2000 is potentially the root of innumerable problems, from computer glitches to Doomsday for Planet Earth itself. So what's to be lost if we do not acknowledge it, just as some elevators do not acknowledge the 13th floor? It will save millions in property damage alone, because who is going to get as pumped up on New Year's Eve for the year 2001 as they would for the year 2000?

And what better way to short-circuit all those preachers and gurus who are predicting the end of the world? Doomsday in the year 2000? Perfect, if 2000, like tomorrow, never comes.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* " NATURALSIZEFLAG="0" ALIGN="BOTTOM"> The second idea which was not mine comes from a colleague who is, like most of us, flustered over the high number of candidates for Washington County Commissioner. There are three incumbents and 26 challengers - it will be impossible for us to sort their respective merits and demerits on our own.

Her solution? Paintball. Put all 29 out in the woods somewhere and arm them with those high-pressure airguns that spit out wads of yellow dye. The last five candidates who remain unsplattered win.

Hey, one of two things can happen. We can end up with the five most savvy, creative and skilled candidates - which would be an improvement - or we can end up with the five who are best at ducking - which at least would be no appreciable violation of the status quo.

HEIGHT="6" ALT="* " NATURALSIZEFLAG="0" ALIGN="BOTTOM"> We agreed over lunch this week that something much be done about the proliferation of criminals who do not use real guns in their robberies. You've read about it a hundred times - the robber points something at the teller from under his coat which turns out to be only a clothespin or a nail file. Imagine, right here in Western Maryland! The audacity! This is like selling soyburgers in a Kansas City truck stop.

This came to our attention when we noticed someone had attempted to hold up a Brunswick liquor store with a caulking gun.

As one colleague noted, had she learned to use this implement for its intended purpose, she could be legally ripping people off in any one of various trades.

And what of the good old days? Can you imagine Jesse James holding up a bank with a cement trowel? Bonnie and Clyde sticking a coping saw under the chin of the county sheriff?

So we decided it would be best if local banks and whiskey stores would discourage this chicanery by posting signs "Robbers Will Please Display Weapon At Time of Stick-Up."

This would restore the honor of the thieving profession, while at the same time spare clerks the embarrassment of having to tell their boss they were cleaned out at caulk-point.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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