Editor's Column

"Ever since I watched 60 Minutes two weeks ago paranoia has crept into my life. It seems that something called Echelon is listening, so I may be in trouble.Echelon is a world-wide eavesdropping system devised by our NSA (National Spying Administration) which listens in on every international telephone conversation, fax and e-mail in the world. If certain key words that sound criminal are found, the sender is likely to be liquidated.Normally my international communications consists of telling drunken Canadians to pipe down in cheap U.S. campgrounds. But this year I have a daughter, Jillian, in Italy. Now, thanks to Echelon, I'm having second thoughts about some e-mail I've sent about life at home. Here's part of the last e-mail I sent before that startling 60 Minutes episode.Dear Jillian:Well, things back on Whidbey Island are pretty exciting. The SWHS girls basketball team bombed another opponent last week, and it appears they'll do fine in district. I just hope they don't implode and blow their chances of going to state.Hard to believe, but with another mild winter the grass is already starting to grow, although it looks a little pale. I took a handful to the nursery and was told that it could use some nitrogen fertilizer. I bought several bags of nitro and stored it in the garage, right next to all that kerosene I bought for the emergency heater in preparation for Y2K, which never materialized. Anyway, they say that nitro will make the grass turn green and explode out of the ground. I sure hope so. As for the kerosene, I've rented a Ryder truck and will take it to the Navy base. I hear that's what the jets burn. I'll just donate it to the Navy in appreciation for keeping our Red Chinese friends away from our shores.Mom bought an attractive imitation Afghan rug last month; unfortunately it's rolled up in the basement. We put it on the living room floor when we got home, but the cats took an immediate liking to it and started clawing it up. I'd just as soon get rid of the cats, but Mom loves those little Afghan terrorists, so it looks like the rug will have to stay in the basement. If you ask me, it's a shame to get an Afghan and have to hide it downstairs . . .Well, there's more to the letter, but our office manager just stuck her head in the door and said I have visitors. Two men. Two men in black. I'll just see what the want and then I'll be right back. I hope."

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