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Because I said So: April 1 2000 column and prior

Because I said so!

The April Fools Edition I'm Too Mature to Run in Place of the actual El Cerrito Wire front page, but not too mature to write

By Betty King Buginas

State steps up efforts to recoup school loan

April (2000) Fools edition!

The state is stepping up its efforts to recoup a loan made to the West Contra Costa Unified School District.

The state has announced it will garnish the milk money of students in the district to speed repayment of a loan made to the impoverished district by the state a decade ago.

"The state has only a $9 billion surplus," said Governor Gray Davis. "Clearly this is not enough to ensure that I look really good in the next election year. I believe we can provide a greater cushion and teach these children responsibility by this move."

Although Brandi Robinson, 5, wasn't even born yet when the district went into debt the Fairmont kindergartner feels an obligation to do her part to repay the funds. "I know it's going to be difficult doing my best on my school work with my throat parched and my stomach rumbling but I'm sure someone as wise as the governor would not ask me to make this sacrifice unless he needed the money really badly."

Pennies for the plaza

April (2000) Fools edition!

With financing of the swimming pool renovation assured by the passage of Measure A, the city's children are turning their attention to saving another beloved facility in town, the El Cerrito Plaza.

Children at the city's daycare centers, who had been collecting pennies for the pool, now say they will collect coins for renovation of the El Cerrito Plaza.

"We really care about the pool because it's a fun place to go," said Erik Smith, 7, a regular patron of the Harding daycare center. "But at this point we felt financing of the El Cerrito Plaza was the greater concern. With our contribution to the effort, we're hoping we'll have enough political clout to get the owners of Albertsons to reconsider ousting Chuck E Cheese."

Albertons' owners have officially stated that they are concerned about the potential hazard of disposal of all the pizza that goes uneaten by children busy playing games at Chuck E. Cheese. The rumor, however, is that the chain is actually concerned that the the arcade-like pizza parlor would conflict with sales at the gumball and sticker machines inside the grocery store.

Test for state assembly members

April (2000) Fools edition!

Students at El Cerrito schools have announced that they will assess assembly members and state senators on their knowledge of Pokemon characters and ability to match each with its card numbers. The scores will be used to rate the legislators on a scale of 1 to 10. The students will also gather information on how often the legislators have their dry-cleaning done and what color underwear they have, and use this to compile a second 10-point scale. Legislators will be given a year to improve their scores, during which time the criteria will change. Legislators who do not improve their scores by the end of that year face having their districts taken over by a team of fourth-graders.

City hall-in-a-mobile-home trend is on the move

April (2000) Fools edition!

El Cerrito city employees, after years of being called trailer trash by officials of other California municipalities, are having the last laugh. El Cerrito has finally embraced the virtues of having its city offices located in mobile homes and are being eyed with envy. In fact, several other California cities have announced that they will abandoned their more stately but fixed abodes in favor of city halls on wheels.

"We're going to be able to take more employees to this year's conference of the League of California Cities than any other city," boasted City Manager Gary Pokorny. "We're simply going to break off a section of City Hall and drive it to the conference. We will not only save on transportation but on lodging. It's a win-win situation."

Pokorny said the idea came from a city employee who is a Star Trek fan. The employee came up with the idea while watching a Star Trek movie in which a section of the Enterprise is detached and flown separately.

Employees of other cities with theatre-like seats and state-of-the-art sound systems in their council chambers once taunted El Cerrito city employees about their digs. Now, however, some of them are moving toward mothballing those immobile facilities in favor of something that requires DMV licensing.

If enough West County cities decide to drive their city halls to the League conference, they may put together a convoy.

Study looks at expanding recycling services

April (2000) Fools edition!

City waste management officials are looking for input from residents on ways in which to expand recycling services.

One of the intriguing early ideas submitted to the city is a plan to expand the book exchange. Residents have suggested that this free swap program be expanded to trade unwanted family members, co-workers and bosses.

Another suggestion would have the exchange stocking jokes.

"My neighbor only knows about 20 jokes" said Elizabeth Smith. "That might not be so bad but he insists on telling them at every gathering, and about 19 of them aren't funny. I'm hoping that I can at least get a few knock-knock jokes or maybe an elephant joke or two for them. If not, I'd gladly trade them for someone else's flattened cardboard boxes."

The state Department of Education has contacted El Cerrito's integrated waste services manager, Becky Dowdakin, about having the center mimic the agency's practice of taking ideas that didn't work 40 years ago and recycling them today in hopes that they will now somehow make some sense.

State announces testing schedule for next year

April (2000) Fools edition!

The state has released its latest schedule for assessing California's school children. Students will be tested on the following dates in the coming school year: Sept. 5, Nov. 8, Jan. 4-15, and the entire months of April, May and June.

The state also has decided that elementary school is too late to begin testing children and has announced it will begin assessing children in the womb.

The Wire is changing with the times

April (2000) Fools edition!

Meetings that go late have often been the thorn in the side of local officials, who complain that they can't help but say stupid things that they regret later when meetings go into the late hours of the night. To help readers differentiate stupid remarks made because of the lateness of the hours from just generally stupid remarks, we will be color coding quotes from officials and members of the public based on the hour at which they were made.

Comments made before 10 p.m. will continue to appear in black. Comments made between 10 and 10:30 p.m. will appear in yellow/orange. Comments made after 10:30 p.m. will be printed in red. Officials who get up in the morning and realize they said something stupid after 10 p.m. the night before have 24 hours in which to contact the Wire and offer rebuttal to their own comments.

The Wire continues to reserve the right to quietly remove stupid comments written by its own staff, regardless of the time they were posted.


The danger of relying too heavily on technology

By Betty King Buginas

I didnít say anything during the November election when the daily newspaper identified Larry Damon by age and profession but neglected to mention he is an El Cerrito city councilman.But garbling the name of a county supervisor as it does in the Feb. 12 issue is just too much to ignore, especially when they decide to call him John Gooier.

Even though John Gioia was elected from way out here in West County, he still is a countywide elected official. Youíd think the folks on the copy desk in Walnut Creek would have come across his name once in a while.

They werenít even consistent. After two Gooiers he became Goiter.

Personnally, if I were John, I would have preferred they stick with gooier. Goiter, according to* Merriam-Webster online, is:ďan enlargement of the thyroid gland visible as a swelling of the front of the neck.Ē

Need I state the obvious? Remember, Supervisor Gioia (pronounced Joy-uh, spelled G Ė I Ė 0 Ė I Ė A), this isnít coming from me. Iíve seen you at all those El Cerrito events. Like the recent Martin Luther King Jr. rally where you sat with your young son on your lap. And the council meeting on the proposed cuts to county Animal Services. I'd never say anything like this. But according to the newspaper: Youíre a pain in the neck.

I hope youíll keep that in mind when you're deciding where to send your hot news tips. The Wire has never called you a swelled neck. It hasnít even called you gooier.

When I was promoted to a city desk job in the Times organization in a previous life, I had to take a spelling test that included words like annihilate and raspberry. This presumably was just in case aliens landed in someoneís garden and I had to edit a story that said something like: "Extraterrestrials land in El Cerrito garden; raspberries annihilated."

I hope if the powers that be at the newspaper, if they werenít already, are considering changing the test to take out things like annihilate and raspberry and put in questions like, ďHow do you spell Gioia? and ďWho the heck is Larry Damon?Ē After all, the spell checker on my computer will let me know if I misspell raspberry or annihilate but it doesnít know quite what to make of Gioia.

It does want to put in gooier so I suspect this is the newspaperís source in re-christening our supervisor.

I highly recommend against going with your computerís recommendations on spellings all the time, especially when it comes to names.

Albertsons, for instance, comes up on one of my spell checkers as albatross (Definintion 2: something that causes persistent deep concern or anxiety †b: something that greatly hinders accomplishment: encumbrance.) Considering the impact the chainís take over of the local Luckys stores has had on the already painfully long process of revamping the El Cerrito Plaza, Iím afraid thatname might stick.

I'm sure, however, that people around here will have way too much class to ever tease our honorable county supervisor about being gooier and goiter. Well, except for that e-mail I sent him.


What you can do for our schools

By Betty King Buginas

When the City Council and school board met jointly Feb. 7, Councilman Larry Damon suggested the board make a list of specific ways the city can help schools.

Knowing the school district as well as I do, Iím guessing this is going to take some time. So Iíve started my own list, just to get the ball rolling.

Councilman Damon suggested teaching should be left to teachers, and only non-educational items be included.I like this suggestion in spirit; it respects the fact that teaching is a job not just any schmuck can do. But the truth is one person canít know everything and it would be valuable if people with special expertise such as in music or business share that knowledge with students.

My list isnít just for the city, either. Thereís been talk about how business, parents, and other community members can help education as well. Plus our schools needa whole lot more help than can be provided by the city, which isnít rolling in money either. So if you see anything youíd like to take on, go for it.Iím sure Councilman Damon wonít mind.

What you can do:

--Volunteer to read to a class; tutor children; set up, perform and clean up from a science experiment or art project;photocopy, staple.

--Donate paper, art supplies and office supplies, sports equipment, books, software, computers, toner cartridges, science equipment, musical instruments, and chairs and tables that donít fall apart while students are using them.

--Read to your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and neighborhood children. Teach them to respect adults and value education. Talk to them and take them places like the Lawrence Hall of Science, the library and on hikes to lure them away from video games and mindless television.

--Make sure all children have health care, enough food to eat and a safe place to sleep at night so they are healthy, and well rested and fed enough to concentrate in school.

--Volunteer to work in a school library.

--Read to children or lead other activities for them at lunch time.

--Offer an afterschool or weekend recreational or educational program in your church, community center, or other facility.

--Offer services such as furniture repair andcomputer repair, programming, training and maintenance.

--Offer to speak to a class about your profession, local history or another subject.

--Perform before an assembly if you are a musician, storyteller or other performer or have another interesting presentation to give.

--Help make a field trip possible by providing a place to go and a way to get there. Offer to guide a field trip such as a hike.

--Repair plumbing, broken windows, leaky roofs, electrical systems; rewire classrooms to provide sufficient electrical outlets and Internet connections; repair broken heaters.

--Build additional restrooms, classrooms, and multipurpose/lunch rooms.

--Slow down when students are crossing the street. They may do something that seems kind of dumb once in a while; some of them are as young as 5 and walking themselves home through neighborhoods some of you wouldnít drive through;

--Substitute for a day for a teacher, administrator, aide, secretary, yard supervisor or custodian and see what the job is really like. Better yet, work as a teacher for a year and see what you can do for test scores.

--Write a grant.

--Run a fundraiser for local schools.

--Donít assume educators have available to themall the resources you have at your work such as adequate clerical staff,telephones, office equipment and supplies.

--Donít take statistics, like test scores, too seriously when the people putting them out refuse to give all the information on which the numbers are based. For any numbers you are given about schools, ask questions just as intensely as you would about spending of city funds, of funds within your business, or of someone asking you for money.

--Askyourself how youíd feel if people from outside your profession decided what you should accomplish at work and how you should do it, asked you to have the job done before they were done telling you what they wanted you to do, then assessed the success of your efforts on something different than what they told you to do.

--Lobby the state for better funding and more rational curriculum, standards and testing.

--Show some respect for teachers, students (even teen-agers), and the parents who devote thousands of hours of free labor to keep the schools going.

Iím sure if we can pull together and do all these things our schools will improve dramatically. And you wonít need test scores to prove it.

Betty Buginas is a first-grade teacher at Castro Elementary School and editor of the Wire.


Bond measures and why I love them

By Betty King Buginas

During one of the many council discussions leading up to the pool-resusitation measure on the March ballot, Councilman Larry Damon accused Norman La Force of never having met a bond measure he didnít like.

Iím not sure if Larry meant this as an insult. If he meant that he had a better sense than Norman of how to write the ballot measure so that the more tight-fisted El Cerritans would vote for it, heís probably right. Iím certain Councilman Damon has a better idea of how to write a ballot measure that will pass than I do.

I donít know if then-councilman La Force has ever met a bond measure he didnít care for, but I know I sure havenít. Every time a bond measure and I have met in the voting booth, weíve embraced like long lost friends.

Itís not that Iím too naive to know there is such a thing as government waste. Heck, I worked in Walter what-me-worry Marksí System for Choice for two years.

Itís just that I know if I give the city $58.46 a year itís going to spend it much more responsibly than I would have.

After all, the city government has to operate under intense public scrutiny, and prepare cost/benefit analyses and that sort of thing to justify what it buys. All I need to do is swish my credit card through one of those little keypad thingies at the checkout counter.

Costco is a great example of why my faith in my ability to spend money wisely has been shaken. I remember well the day I decided I could no longer have a Costco membership.

Nothing wrong with Costco -- the prices are great -- except that there is some kind of cosmic force inside that store that prevents you from leaving with less than $200 worth of merchandise. You donít need to have a spread sheet program to know that goinginto a store to save $4 on a wheel of brie and walking out with $200 worth of junk you didnít even know you needed is not fiscally sound.

It wasnít the five-pound bag of M&Ms, and it wasnít the case of catsup purchased more than a decade ago thatís turning brown (the catsup, not the box) in my garage, or the jug of Hersheyís chocolate syrup that made approximately 270,000 ice cream sundaes. It was the foot and a half tall Mickey Mouse phone. Mickey made it the full length of the five-mile-long store and back before I made the startling discovery: ďI donít need that.Ē (Itís a good thing, too, because now I have room for my 18-inch Snoopy phone.)

So thanks to the Mick, the Costco card is gone. Otherwise I could have spent four yearsí worth of my share of the bond money in one fell swoop.

Iím guessing there are plenty of other people who arenít going to spend that $58.46 any more wisely than I am. Hey, I wasnít standing in line at Costco alone. I saw what some of you had in your carts.

I also remember a tough-as-nails reporter I used to work with who came in one Monday morning eager to put in some overtimehours because she saw a pair of purple boots over the weekend she just had to have. More overtime hours were no doubt in order once she realized she had nothing to go with her new footwear. (Iím not going to give her name, though, because that would be very embarrassing to someone who is now chief of staff for a state senator.)

If it does pass, hereís just one of the plans Iíve put together to compensate for the loss of funds:

The cost of the pool measure breaks down to $4.87 a month. Once a month, I can skip the popcorn at the theater and smuggle in my own. Broken down by week, itís $1.12. My plan is to order pizza with one less topping and add it myself.

If it doesnít pass, here are some other uses to which that $58.46 could be put each year:

* Place 61.54 directory assistance calls through ďOĒ operator:

* Rent ďAustin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged MeĒ 19.49 times;

* Send a 45-pound package Priority Mail to New Jersey;

* Buy 84 percent of a Harley Davidson Barbie No. 3.

Iím just thankful my spending doesnít fall under the scrutiny of El Cerritoís Finance Review Team.


Live from El Cerrito, itís Monday Night !

By Betty King Buginas

As he took his place as mayor, Mark Friedman said heíd like to make City Council a little more fun.

This makes sense. The council meetings are broadcast during Monday night prime time. Clearly five people sitting behind a table talking about economic development and the waste stream cannot compete with Moesha, Ally McBeal and Monday Night Football.

Iím assuming Mark has something more sophisticated in mind than party hats and whoopie cushions. Just in case Iíd like to offer a few suggestions.

Letís start with the meeting agenda. Each agenda should include one fake item, with a prize for the audience member who figures out which item it is.

Then weíll need a theme song. (Entries are now being accepted; extra points if you rhyme ďinfrastructure.Ē) And the lighting could use a little work -- perhaps the neighboring Contra Costa Civic Theatre could be called upon to help add a little razzle dazzle.

The staff reports are usually informative but the presentation is a bit dry. Staff members should be given alternatives, kind of like school kids do on their book reports, such as preparing a diorama (those little scenes built in shoe boxes), performing a skit, or presenting the report in rap. Ditto for members of the public who wish to speak.

Further ideas for audience participation:

* borrow inspiration from midnight showings of ďRocky Horror Picture Show,Ē for example, throwing calendar pages when the consent calendar is passed, doing a special movement every time someone ďmakes a motionĒ; etc.

* assign a section of the audience to each council member with each group cheering their council person, applying body paint to match the sectionís color scheme, and heckling the other council members and their sections;

* select a council member and everybody try to make faces and see who can make him or her laugh.

If the meeting goes late, we up the ante a little.

Every council packet includes a note that ďThe City Council believes that late night meetings deter public participation, can affect the Councilís decision-making ability, and be a burden to staff.Ē You might think this means the council meetings stop at a certain time. But no, it just means they make a motion to keep going, despite the absence of any medical proof that a council motion bolsters the councilís decision-making ability, sparks public participation, or relieves the burden on staff.

So if the meeting goes late, more stimuli are needed. Either the council has to do something drastic to liven things up, or the audience is going to have to take matters into its own hands. I suggest pulling out blankets, bunny slippers, teddy bears, blankets, and hot chocolate, and yawning, snoring, and setting off alarm clocks. My personal favorite: reciting ďMarvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now.Ē (The time has come. The time is now. Just go. Go. GO! I donít care how. You can go by foot. You can go by cow . . .)

For the Cable TV rebroadcasts of the meetings thoughtful political analysis could be provided by those little wiseacre robots from Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Next stop the school board.


Open this column in the year 3000

By Betty King Buginas

A while back some folks in Livermore went to dig up a time capsule. Only trouble was, they couldnít find it. Many of us can relate to this. A friend of mine uses one-hour photo so she can pick up her prints before she forgets she took any pictures.

If we canít find our keys or the remote control we were holding 15 minutes ago, why would be think weíll be able to find something we buried 50 years ago?

So if youíre going to do a time capsule for the millennium you might want to try some other options like: Put it where you canít miss it, or get the kind of time capsule that beeps when you clap. Unfortunately, the first could interfere with your interior decorating and to my knowledge the second hasnít been invented yet.

Another possibility is to mail it to yourself but address it really badly so that it takes a while for the Post Office to get it back to you. (Another approach, address it correctly but mail it UPS so you wonít recognize it when it gets back to you.)

Iím personally going with the letís-not-and-say-we-did approach -- you donít make a time capsule, you just say what you would put in it if you did. This saves time, money, and the embarrassment of running around a field with a shovel followed by a bunch of people including journalists with cameras trying to find a misplaced time capsule.

So basically Iím just going to list what I would put in a time capsule if it werenít for the fact that Iím totally unmotivated to locate a container, put stuff in it, and find a place to bury it that a) the dog wonít dig up and b) I can find again.

Now for the question of what to include:

If youíre going with the approach where you put actual things in an actual container, Iíd recommend burying things you donít want to see for a while. Why take something you like and put it where you canít get to it for many years? Put in stuff that is reminiscent of recent years but you wouldnít mind not seeing until say the next millennium, like Barney, that screechy voiced lady from The Nanny, or all those ugly cartoons theyíve been making lately. That Luckyís Reward Card isnít worth squat anymore; toss that in.

Time capsules also often contain letters to the people of the future and heck that will cost me virtually nothing, so Iíll throw in one of those:

Dear Futurians (I got that from an * American Heritage article so that subscription has practically paid for itself already):

Itís like 1999 and we are really excited about this millennium thing so I just wanted to tell you what itís like right now.

Home computers are relatively new right now so we are seriously obsessed with them. We spend almost all of our time on them. We are able to do this by saving time on other activities like eating, sleeping and bathing.

Weíve found some wonderful applications that are improving the quality of our lives: We play solitaire on them, which previously required a $2 deck of cards; We have computers all over the world hooked up together so that we can do important global projects like voting on whether Beanie Babies should continue to be made (see enclosed purple hippo -- oh wait, I might need that. See enclosed photo of purple hippo) ; and, We can play games and have dumb conversations with people all over the world, whereas we used to have to do this with our own relatives.

You may laugh your butt off at this, but I have high hopes that computers will lead to all those things weíve been wishing for all these years like world peace and a clean environment.

First of all, on this clean environment thing: We really donít need paper for much any more, though a lot of sentimental types still do things like print out their e-mail messages to read them. Also, weíre needing to drive less and less since we can do so much just sitting around in front of these screens. Really, most of us could work at home most of the week, though itís taking employers an inexplicably long time to figure this out -- I think they are either highly suspicious types or perhaps just slow. You can buy stuff this way too. I know the postal carrier or UPS truck still has to drive around, but I figure thatís like carpooling for merchandise. And really we donít need as much junk as we used to. Maybe you still need a few clothes, especially if your boss hasnít figure out this whole telecommuting thing yet. But you can find stuff to listen to and to read, and you can play games so you donít need to buy so many plasticky things that you canít figure out how to get rid of when you donít want them any more.

As for world peace, when youíre on the Internet you get to communicate with people everywhere. You learn that there are other people just like you all over the world, meaning other people who sit at their computers listening to little clips of songs because they are too cheap to pay to download the full version, and looking for parodies of Dr. Seuss stories, and trying to find out whatever happened to the guy who played * Andy on ďWKRP in CincinnatiĒ (OK, maybe that last one was just me.) I mean, what if we drop a bomb on some foreign country and it turns out we just blew up CyberGuy007 from my favorite game room? Plus, if we hardly ever leave our houses we donít need to fight over silly things like borders.

So anyway, thatís how things looked as we entered the year 2000. If youíre reading this thatís a very good sign, because it means we havenít f#$% up the planet to the point where it is unlivable. Plus it means you figured out where I left my time capsule.

Betty King Buginas is the editor of the El Cerrito Wire. She is able to do so much more with her writing now than when she was a print journalist a few years ago, thanks to the Internet and the fact that she has no boss.


How the Grinch Stole Education

By Betty King Buginas

Every person in Richmond liked children a lot
But the governor who lived just east of Richmond, did not!

The governor gypped children! A whole district of children!
Now please donít ask why. No one quite knows the reason.

It could be his head wasnít screwed on just right.
It could be, perhaps, that his staff was too tight.

But I think that the most likely reason of all
May have been that his heart was two sizes too small.

But whatever the reason, his Hart or his compassion
He sat there in office, without taking action.

Staring down from his office with a tight, Grinchy fist
He left those needy children off his holiday list.

For he knew not a child had time nor money to lobby
And contributions to campaigns arenít their favorite hobby.

ďYouíre not paying Marksí debt,Ē he snarled with a sneer,
If I let you off the hook other districts will hear.Ē

Then he growled with his Grinch fingers nervously churning
"I must find other ways to stop children from learning."

I guess what he doesnít know
Is that someday children grow.

And then! Oh the votes! Oh the Votes! Votes! Votes! Votes!
Thatís one thing heíd miss: The Votes! Votes! Votes! Votes!

When the voters, young and old, walk in to cast votes
How theyíll Vote! Vote! Vote! Vote!

They might vote for John Gioia, and the third George Harris
But they sure are unlikely to vote for Gray Davis.

In the meantime weíll do something he likes least of all
All the folks in West County, the tall and the small

Weíll work close together so he canít ignore it
Weíll call, write and fax to say that weíre for it.

Weíll write! Any weíll write! And weíll write, write , write, write!
And the more the Grinch reads maybe heíll see the light!

ďWhy, for eight whole years theyíve put up with it now!
I must stop being such a Grinch, but how?Ē

Then he got an idea! An overdue idea!
The Grinch got a wonderful, overdue idea!Ē

ďI know just what to do!Ē The Grinch said just in time.
And he make a quick Santy Claus suit that looked fine.

He loosened his fist, and decided to put children first.
So as governor we wonít remember him as worst.

He still worried what would look to the public best
So instead of ďforgiveĒ he said heíd reinvest.

And while he was in the true holiday spirit
He saw if you have an absence and donít clear it.

Or mom or dad forgets to put the date
An $ 8.6 million fine is a bit hard to take.

So he stopped by the controllerís and said with rare sense
"I really canít believe you guysíre that dense.

I know where to find money, I know just what to do
Letís take the tests and incentives that reward just a few

And letís stuff them up the fireplace flue
The test sellers, theyíll all cry boo hoo.Ē

We can bring back the supplies, seal the roof in a cinch
And maybe just maybe kids wonít think Grayís the Grinch.

By Betty King Buginas, in the spirit of Dr. Seuss' "Richard M. Nixon Will You Please Go Now."

Background on the move for debt relief see * West County School Watch including * May 27, 1999 and * Oct. 22, 1999

Response from governor's office

Background on attendance money see * superintendent's letter


Friends donít let friends forward annoying e-mail

By Betty King Buginas

When little kids get mad at each other, one of the meanest things they can think of to say is, ďIím not going to be your friend anymore.Ē Well, Iíve just gotten another one of those stupid e-mails that says if I forward it to five friends I will a) get something for free, b) bring about world wide peace, or c) save the life of a dying child.

Although I was trained as an investigative journalist and have links to sites that list urban legends and hoaxes, I make no effort to investigate the validity of these claims. Iíve gotten less jaded since leaving the world of daily journalism, but Iím still pretty convinced we canít cure all the worldís ills by forwarding e-mail.

So if you happen to get one of those e-mails from one of your so-called friends, and youíre trying to decide who you should forward it to: Iím not going to be your friend anymore.

Donít take this too hard. When kids say, ďIím not going to be your friend anymoreĒ it usually lasts, tops, about five minutes -- until the other child: gives them the ball, lets them cut in line, gives them the good chair, etc. So our breakup only has to last a short while, until you are done forwarding that annoying chain e-mail. Or better yet, until you have something for a spine besides jelly and develop the inner-strength to *gasp* delete it.

I hope youíve enjoyed this column. If so, please forward it to five friends. It will not a) get you or them anything for free, b) bring about world peace, or c) save the life of a dying child. It will, however, likely mean you will get fewer dumb messages in your e-mail in-box. It may tick of a few of your friends, but hey, it will probably raise the opinion your remaining friends have of you by several notches.

This brings up another point, which is there is really no need for all these tests and assessments the state is imposing on school districts. You can figure out how smart someone is simply by sending them an e-mail that tells them they can make $50,000,000 by forwarding e-mail. If they delete the message, theyíve passed the statewide just-how-stupid-can-you-be proficiency test. If they forward it to five people, serious intervention is needed.

Betty Buginas is editor of the El Cerrito Wire. During her 10 years as a reporter and editor at daily newspapers, what she really wanted to be was a columnist.

* This is relevant plus I really like linking stuff


Run dates: 2000-04-01 - 2000-05-01

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