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Rock, Paper, Scissors

by Aunt Clara –

Aunt Clara wanted to go to the prom with Bobby Truant. Yes Aunt Clara was once a young girl with wants and dreams just like any other young girl. Well it should be Aunt Clarified that I was never as silly as the other frivolous girls were and certainly had a much higher I.Q. than any one of them, but that goes without saying.

Anyway, Esther Thomas, the daughter of a local physician and number one cheerleader also had her eye on Bobby (the dreamboat) Truant. Esther had an uninteresting face made to look good by using cream rouge followed by powder, giving the face a “glowing” appearance. In reality she had a pasty white pallor, too large a nose and lips that only a mother would ever want to kiss. I knew this because we had pajama parties and I saw what her future husband had to look forward to. Her hair was flat and depressing and even running a brush through it 100 times a night could not make it shine.

On my first sleepover at her house I watched her mother create what I thought was a cream sauce for tomorrow’s supper. It had eggs, mayonnaise, vinegar, and almond oil. Imagine my surprise when I watched Esther take a big spatula and scoop that goop right onto her head. Note to anyone trying this at home; it did not work.

Aunt Clara knew of course that she could beat Esther in the looks department, but the concern was that Bobby would be blinded by the make-up, the big fancy house and her wardrobe. She had those animal pattern sweaters that were all the rage, she wore dresses sent from Greece and India that had tons of beautiful floral patterns and ankle boots with embroidered velvet. Esther was the first girl in Grafton to wear her hair in a pageboy style and tied back with a Washington bow and the first to wear a tiny sailor hat loaded down with feathers. Aunt Clara admits to being more than a little jealous of that hat! The latest styles worn by Katherine Hepburn, Maureen O’Sullivan, and Marlene Dietrich would find their way onto Esther’s gangly frame.

How could Aunt Clara compete with that? With her superior mind and ability to overcome all obstacles of course. Aunt Clara befriended the vacuous and giddy Esther during that long hot Grafton summer. Listening to Esther giggle and gaggle over Clark Cable, Yul Brennar, and Cary Grant was almost unbearable, but Aunt Clara smiled and pretended to be interested and should have been given an academy award for how well she acted.

In those days there was only one way to settle any argument between teenagers and that was the game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. Now in the hands of most teenagers this was a game of chance, with random outcomes and an even playing field. But Aunt Clara’s superior mind was able to turn this game from a game of chance to a game of certainty. By playing a few games a week for small stakes Aunt Clara learned Esther’s unconscious patterns and predilections. Aunt Clara had learned long ago that most girls will start with scissors and most boys will begin with Rock. Esther was no exception. Aunt Clara let Esther win many of those games over the summer and quietly set her trap, so when it came time for the prom she was more than ready. Since Aunt Clara and Esther were both such good friends and they both liked Bobby Truant, it was decided that it was only fair that one of them should step aside and let the other one have him. It was the only right thing to do.

Of course the only game that could ever be fair in deciding Bobby’s fate was Rock, Paper, Scissors; a true game of chance. As Aunt Clara predicted Esther started with scissors and Aunt Clara threw down rock. Most naïve players will repeat their last choice thinking that their opponent would never expect that. Aunt Clara was ready and again rock beat scissors. Aunt Clara was a student of pattern recognition and had been studying Esther all summer. Esther also had tells, whenever she was going to choose rock she made her fist really tight as if holding a rock. It was like taking candy from a baby and Aunt Clara won the last throw, paper over rock.

All that was left was to choose the dress Aunt Clara would wear. After much thought it was decided that a sleek yet demure mint green Bias cut silk chiffon gown would looked lovely. Her date was dashing and they were the talk of the town for weeks after. For her part Esther always believed that there was some sort of shenanigans that caused her to lose out on having Bobby for a prom date but could never prove it.

40 years later Aunt Clara attended her high school reunion and both Esther and Bobby were there. Poor Bobby hadn’t aged well, the years had truly been unkind. Alcohol and McDonalds had taken their toll. Aunt Clara realized Esther had truly forgiven her about the prom when it was decided they would go for two out of three of Rock, Paper, Scissors to see who ‘didn’t’ have to take Bobby home with them!


Swine ’09

These days, we are over-saturated with news 24/7. Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish facts from hype. There has been plenty in the news about H1N1 (Swine Flu), but I honestly didn’t pay much attention to it. Remember all the hype surrounding the Bird Flu? Then all of a sudden, some sort of flu-like virus started spreading like crazy at Grafton High School where the twins go to school.

Every day last week, more and more kids and teachers were out sick. My boys were out Wednesday with upset stomachs, which I think had more to do with my cooking than any type of flu. By Thursday, 236 students (about 36 percent of the total student body) were out sick. Friday, 46 percent of students and 43 percent of the faculty were sick.

Since the regular seasonal flu was nowhere in the area, it seemed pretty clear that it was the Swine Flu spreading throughout the high school. The school had to be closed early at 11am on Friday and will remain closed until at least next Wednesday. During these four days, the school will be thoroughly cleaned and the students were told to not mingle with other students in order to try to halt the spread of this virus.

On Friday, two students tested positive for H1N1 flu, which means that this is the most likely cause of all the absenteeism.

Grafton High School is the only (or at least the first) school in the entire state that was forced to close because of the Swine Flu. What are the odds that we would be right smack in the middle of this epidemic? So far all three of my boys are fine.

I also got a call from the collaborative where Anthony goes to school. They asked me not to send Anthony to school on Monday and Tuesday, because his brothers attend Grafton High School. So, all three boys will get a mini-vacation. Well, it will be a ‘vacation’ assuming that they don’t get sick…

It is so strange to see our small town the focus of all the local news surrounding Swine Flu. And this was all going on while President Obama was visiting Massachusetts. He got back to Washington and declared a national emergency!


The Grafton News

This blog – along with most of my other leisure internet activities – have taken a back seat recently, because I’ve been working on a new project. I’m helping our local newspaper (The Grafton News) build a website. This is a difficult time for printed newspapers. The extinction of newspapers across the US has been in the news quite a bit lately. The younger generation is not that newspaper-oriented; the Internet tends to be their major news source. This, along with the recession has decreased newspaper circulation and so advertising (revenue) has declined. Also, sites like Craig’s List have taken much of the classified ad revenue away from printed papers. Why pay for news or classifieds when you can get it online for free?

That said, small town newspapers seem to be doing much better than big city papers. This is certainly true for the Grafton News. I think there are a number of reasons for this. Small towns focus on local news, which doesn’t typically have to compete with the internet. Small town populations tend to be older and less addicted to the internet than large metropolitan areas. Small town papers cost less and their advertising is more affordable. They also have less over-head than the bigger papers.

Ergonomics is another advantage for the printed news. When I read a paper, I want to sit back, put my feet up and relax. I don’t want to be sitting in front of a computer. And who wants to drag their laptop into the bathroom? E-books like the Sony Reader and Amazon’s Kindle might solve these problems eventually and of course, that would be good news for the environment. But for now, I think the printed newspapers still has plenty of life left, especially in the small towns.

But even small town newspapers can not afford to ignore the internet. These days, every business needs a web site. But how much content do you put on-line without competing with yourself? This is the current dilemma for many newspapers. For now, is an extension of the printed paper, which can evolve over time. Some of the things you will currently find online include feature articles and time-sensitive information. We also have a Grafton News blog and lots of photos from the Grafton News archives, as well as color photos from the printed paper and many extra photos that did not appear in print. We are building an online community forum and are also taking advantage of the popularity of social networking sites such as Facebook and Myspace. We have photos on Flickr and videos on Youtube and of course we are active on Twitter.

Our local paper is currently playing a balancing act between creating an on-line presents and keeping the printed paper alive. The newspaper is over 50 years old, and the original owner is still at the helm. So the paper has a loyal following. The content of the paper is community driven and relies on an active community to tell their stories and accomplishments. This is similar to public access TV, the content comes from the local residents, so the people have control and “ownership” of the content. The printed newspaper has always been a vital and cherished part of our community and I’m so happy to be a part of the Grafton News.

So, this is what has been keeping me busy lately. Stop by and let me know what you think.