"Dear President Clinton" (Or How to Email)

Carole Grace Menefee


John sat at the kitchen table, a cup of coffee cooling, staring at the paper in front of him and the salutation he had just written. He felt torn between the hundred and one things he needed to be doing (clean the next block of flights, mix up more feed for the coming week, check the infirmary to see how the baby Blue and Gold is, call about ... ) and trying to write a letter to the President as he been urged to do at the club meeting last night.

Letters to Washington

He knew that letters to Washington were important. It was his voice, right? But the people at the meeting knew the words to use and right now John was having trouble even remembering what the subject had been. Wasn't it something about the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service changing the rules on the WBCA? And the WBCA was ... umm ... Wild Bird ... ?? The phone was ringing but one of the kids would get it. Maybe it's that customer who wants those six African Greys. Have to get the shipping papers ready for them or maybe Mack could drive them down and make a couple of errand stops ... oops back to this letter. Let's see, "I want to voice my concern ... "

John's son Andrew walked into the kitchen, grabbed an apple and walked over to see what his dad was doing. It was unusual to see his dad writing a letter when there was so much to be done. John explained that officers at the bird club meeting he had attended last night had stressed the importance of writing letters to the President, congressmen, and senators to voice opposition to regulations that would impact on his (John's) breeding operation. Andrew commented that they ought to use e-mail and wandered out into the yard, munching his apple as he went. Mystified, John watched him leave, wondering to himself, "e-mail?" Sighing, he returned to the letter, still worrying.



Andrew had the answer to his father's dilemma and that of many other hard working, concerned Americans. Recently added to the list of powerful tools for the commercial breeder as well as the casual pet owner is the communication tool known as e-mail. It involves a computer and can be thought of as a form of faxing. Instead of using a fax machine, this process uses a modem (in the computer) and the now familiar "Internet." Done as a club activity, e-mailing can take the labor and fret out of the famous "writing a letter to Washington."


E-mail works something like this.

John's bird club chooses a member who has a computer with a modem (hopefully they actually volunteer, right?). Internet software and a dial-up service are next. Letters are written voicing the club's stand on current exotic bird legislation (or any subject


that warrants the club's attention) in Washington D.C. or in their own state. At the general meeting, attended by the club members, the numbered letters are on display with signature sheets. Each member reads the letters and then signs, printing his/her name and address, indicating by number, which letters each person wants his name attached to. The volunteer adds each person to the bottom of the particular letter they picked, dials up the Internet, and using the e-mail "addresses" the volunteer has already obtained from various sources, sends the letter electronically to each addressee. Any civil servant who does not have an email address can be faxed from the computer as well.

Various Uses for E-mail

Obviously, e-mail can be used for any purpose. Many families members, living distances away, communicate weekly, even daily, by e-mail. E-mail is cheaper then a phone call or a fax and quicker then a phone call or writing by hand. A person with a computer and a modem can install the software, obtain


a dial-up service (there are many to choose from, several cost only $20 a month) and have immediate access to the most powerful communication tool since the phone. Additionally, a breeder can e-mail a seed order, converse with other breeders, check the upcoming weather (day or night), "talk" with family members, and contact potential customers having put an ad on the Internet for the birds ready for sale. A very useful tool.


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