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Originally published Sunday, April 15, 2012 at 7:39 PM

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Electronic weeds of email

Email is a modern necessity, but it's infested with many nuisances.

Seattle Times staff columnist

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I have nothing against sheep, but I don't really want to read about them every week.

Someone thought I did, because each Friday the American Sheep Industry newsletter would turn up in my email inbox.

At first I deleted it, then eventually I took time to unsubscribe. That's a time-consuming pattern I've followed with lots of email.

Email is a wonderful invention. It's an essential tool in my work, but it doesn't seem to be staying ahead of its drawbacks.

Years ago I thought a bunch of smart techies would wrestle spam into submission and that some of the other email distractions would fall away as better organizational schemes came online.

But it hasn't exactly been that way. I guess good stuff sometimes can't be separated from its evil shadow.

It's like when the sun came out finally, and my wife and I stood out in our yard smiling and looking around. Buds were starting on some plants, and a few even had flowers. Then my wife said, uh oh. Weeds.

I seem to be having an especially robust crop of electronic weeds lately. There are scams; legitimate, but unsolicited newsletters; and random sproutings of various kinds.

I'm getting weekly advice on how to craft a sermon. Is that a hint?

I've been getting notices of job openings in Bellevue and a rundown of upcoming protests in Seattle. I unsubscribed from the job listings, but I'm keeping an eye on the protests.

There are missives from every part of the political spectrum, fertilized by an election year.

Now that Rick Santorum has dropped out, will I stop getting news about his campaign? Please.

President Obama's email machine is especially prolific. Early on he got kudos for being a new-generation politician, but novelty has become nuisance.

Email is so easy and cheap that mass senders operate without brakes, without selectivity, or sometimes without any thought at all.

Why else would I get an invitation to a discussion of dam building on the Mekong River and its tributaries? A discussion that's being held in the other Washington.

Maybe the same reason I started getting weekly invitations to some kind of music party in New York City. It's easy to blast email all over the place.

There seems to be more and more of that kind of stuff, and the old-fashioned email scams are still around.

Look! "You have emerged as one of the lucky winners in this year's Facebook lottery program for a total sum of $1,000,000.00USD (One Million United States Dollars)," read one email. Program? Has Facebook moved to a country that uses British English?

Oh, and it went on to say I should send in the handling fee, $850, and tell no one until the big check was in my hands.

Someone will send in the money, sad to say. Even weeds grow for a reason.

Some have new twists. Lots lately say they are from Apple, Amazon, Verizon or various banks and they've received my order or payment for some unusually large amount. They include a spot to click if I have a question about the payment. Ha, ha.

I'm getting bunches of email in Cyrillic characters. Of course, I can't read them so maybe they're not spam and I'm missing something important.

I suspect I may also miss legit email because it is buried in tons of weed mail, or that I might kill it while chopping weeds.

Sometimes while clicking through screens and screens of detritus, my mind momentarily ascends to a higher, meditative plane. Click, click, click, om.

And so, from frustration there is peace at last.

Jerry Large's column appears Monday and Thursday. Reach him at 206-464-3346 or jlarge@seattletimes.com.

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About Jerry Large

I try to write about the intersections of everyday life and big issues. I like to invite readers to think a little differently. The topics I choose represent the things in which I take an interest, and I try to deal with them the way most folks would, sometimes seriously, sometimes with a sense of humor. My column runs Mondays and Thursdays.
jlarge@seattletimes.com | 206-464-3346

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