New year brings new weirdness

January 01, 2004|by TIM ROWLAND

What do the holidays mean to me? Basically they mean that I'll be stuck using that stupid green and red Saran wrap until March.

A new year in Washington County also means new weirdness. For example, does anyone care to explain how we went from zero to 2,497 school board candidates in about six seconds flat?

I don't think it's any big secret why no one runs. The job doesn't pay squat. If you want to make more money than a Washington County Board of Education member, all you have to do is haul yourself off to the Punjab and sew shoes for Nike.

They can't pay anyone to run because they don't pay 'em if they win. (Excuse me, but one piece of housekeeping I need to clean up concerning the recent column about ABC's "Swapping Mothers" reality show: Please stop with all your e-mails helpfully "suggesting" good candidates for the show. Yes, I'm sure Penny Nigh changing families with Bernadette Wagner would just be hilarious, but I'm not interested.)


In one of the most bizarre political scenarios ever, even the incumbent school board members were writing up little newsletters telling people of the vital importance of public service and begging people to run.

All the panhandlers out at Halfway and Massey had changed their cardboard signs from "homeless vet" to "will run for school board for food."

I guess it worked though, because now everyone wants to be a board member. Speaking of panhandlers, I am proud to announce a new, far more accurate Washington County Economic Indicator. I call it the "Consumer Begging Index," and it accurately predicts the county's economic hotspots for the coming year.

Based on the CBI, you get a window into who's hot and who's not in the retail sector, to wit...

Hot: The Centre at Hagerstown.

Not: Wesel Boulevard.

If you've noticed, the bums are slowly but surely migrating away from Wesel and toward 40 West. Seriously, who knows better than the panhandlers where all the bling is flowing? I don't know whether panhandlers go to the trouble of drawing up business models, but it's hard to argue with their cash-flow analysis.

And speaking of business, if you have an e-mail address or listen to daytime snake-oil radio, you have no doubt noticed a company that calls itself the National Star Registry.

For something like $40 they will name a star after you, or someone you know, and send you an information kit telling you how to find your star.

Not that I am the suspicious type - far from it - but there are only 8,000 stars visible to the naked eye under the best of conditions, so unless someone's printing up stars this National Star Registry will rather quickly run out of good ones, and you'll be stuck with some loser star that's completely out of eyeball range.

I still like the concept though, which is why I would like to announce my own new company, the National Grass Registry. That's right, for only $40 I will name a blade of grass after you and give you solid directions on how to find it.

I have to do this myself, since I actually peddled the idea to the National Star Registry via e-mail and received no response.

Everyone complains about it, but I have actually found that I enjoy interacting with spam.

Like the Nigerian chick with $80 million and a dead husband and all she needs to get out of the country, and set you up financially in the process, is your bank account number?

Sure, it sounds like the mother of all scams, but what if it's legit. For all we know, some bejeweled woman at this very moment is flipping through the designer rack at the Deola Sagoe in Abuja, telling her friend "You wouldn't believe it Patrice, I've flashed $12 million at about 750,000 dumb Americans and they just won't take it."

So I took the chance. What the heck, I've drawn down the line of credit in my bank account, and it's not like she can steal negative numbers. So I wrote:

"Dear Madame Umbute;

I would love to help you out of your Sub Saharan pickle. Send details immediately."

And then I signed it:

Tim Rowland


Funny, I have yet to hear back.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist.

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