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March Madness: Dupes And Hoops

March Madness isn't just about basketball. When March rolls around, everything seems to be a little “madder” than usual.

My daily collection of e-mails is a good example.

On Monday morning when I pressed the “Get Mail” button I discovered that I had become a multi-millionaire over the weekend – thanks to Clara, Vincent, and Rosemary.

Clara e-mailed that she knew “on good authority” I was a lucky person. That's why she recommended me for a Microsoft Lottery Award of 1M pounds (little did Clara know that the only thing I ever won in my life was in pounds – yes, 50 pounds of tractor grease). Victor sent an e-mail missive informing me that he “fined a deal” in my favor to the tune of $12.7M (a deal with a “fine” attached didn't sound like such a bargain – Victor needs to go back to English 101). Last but not least, Rosemary, an aging widow in the UK, “stood ready” to deposit the sum of $8 million to my account. I'm not sure just how Rosemary “stood ready” when her condition was described as being “in a state of comma.” Rosemary did, in fact, overcome her punctuation problem long enough to send me an e-mail.

A typical March Madness day on the Internet!

It's easy to see why I start my day feeling “trashed.” Fortunately there's a way out from under all those extraneous e-mails. His name is Mr. Trash Can. Yes, I depend on that little wire-mesh icon in the corner of my screen labeled “Trash.”

It's not basketball, but I certainly enjoy hitting that hoop on a regular basis.

Whatever happened to the good old days when junk mail never made it to the workplace? Now it's part of our work to get rid of it!

Adding to the annoyance of errant e-mails is the threat of computer viruses. I understand “flim-flam” schemes, but the idea that a computer can actually get a virus from an e-mail attachment is beyond my grasp of technology.

Nevertheless, computer viruses are real – as real as the IRS.

In keeping with my March Madness vibe, I received an e-mail last week from the IRS marked “urgent, respond at once!” Along with an attachment labeled “more information” there was a letter that hinted of “irregularities” and “tax penalties” which threatened to take what might be left of my after-tax income.

Talk about taxing! It was only 9 a.m., and the IRS had already taxed my brain!

Then I looked at the heading on my e-mail: “Dear Social” it began.

Ah-ha!

They were after Ms. Social, my alter ego at The Herald. The only “return” this phony IRS message might deliver was a computer virus.

With an e-mail address like social@farmvilleherald.com, I frequently get messages addressed to Ms. Social, Dear Farmville, and even Mr. Herald.

Mr. Herald, of course, loves to peruse all those e-mails directed toward the male segment of the population – but I don't let him. This is, after all, a family publication with certain standards to maintain.

I let Mr. Trash Can handle e-mails from unknown females – with or without attachments.

I'm sure Mr. Herald is behind a recent influx of messages from e-harmony.com.

“Love is out there; we can help you find it!” the message states. Maybe so, but Ms. Social doesn't need a computer to tell her that. Anyone who's been married for more than four decades knows all about harmony anyway.

Harmony, at any rate, is not the name of the e-mail game. By the time I weed my way through the daily messages of legal and financial woes and read the requests of the dying I'm exhausted.

I'm not keeping score, but it seems that more of these tales of woe appear in March than any other month.

Which brings up another interesting point – with March Madness in full swing I'm surprised more e-mails aren't basketball related. So far I've been spared from any shot-in-dark scams involving ailing basketball players asking me to manage their fortunes.

Even if a legitimate request ever came my way I'd send it on to Mr. Trash Can. The way I figure it, if my trash can friend ever did strike it rich and head for the beach on some Caribbean island, I'd notice it.

So until the madness subsides I'll continue to send those e-mail requests, via Mr. Trash Can, off into “e-ternity.”

Fortunately, “e-ternity” isn't far away.

It's as close as that delightful little button marked “Delete.”