Madison County Opinion...

SEPTEMBER 25, 2002

By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
September 25, 2002

Frankly Speaking
Time to turn off your TV and go to the fair
Once upon a time a young man was walking alone in the woods when he heard a voice coming from a mud hole. He looked down and saw a frog looking back at him.
“Please help me,” the frog said. “I am a beautiful girl that has been cursed by an evil witch. I have to find a handsome young man to kiss me in order to break the spell. Will you help?”
The young man picked up the frog and put it in his pocket. He went home and stuck the frog in a bird cage in his room.
That night, the frog started taking again. “The Comer fair starts tomorrow,” she said. “If you kiss me and break the spell, I will go with you to the fair and make all your friends jealous.”
“Every guy at the fair will have a pretty girl on his arm,” the lad answered. “But I but I will be the only one there with a talking frog!”
At least one part of that story is true. The fair is in town this week. The fairgrounds will be filled with young men and pretty girls, mothers and fathers with their children, animal shows, live entertainment, rides, political candidates, food and community displays.
The Madison County Fair is sponsored by the Comer Lions Club and funds go to their worthwhile projects. Many other groups will have booths at there. You will find people representing public services, charitable organizations, faith based and Southern heritage groups.
This is the best chance you will have to turn off the TV and spend time visiting with your friends and neighbors at the fair. Everyone can find something to entertain and educate themselves. You will benefit from the exercise you will get walking up the hill to the rides, down the hill to the agricultural displays and through the buildings and around the bandstand for commercial and non-commercial booths. There will be plenty of food if all that walking makes you hungry.
I will be there all week at the Sons of Confederate Veterans booth next to the old Ferris wheel. We will have boiled peanuts, Southern heritage items, information about our local SCV camp, and lots of good conversation. I invite all of you to come by and visit. I can’t promise you a talking frog. But if you ask, I might tell you another story.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His web page can be accessed at His e-mail address is

By Kerri Graffius
The Madison County Journal
September 25, 2002

Guest Column
Technology and apologies
Technology, lately, has been a source of apologizes for me.
When we all started surfing the Internet and using personal e-mail accounts several years ago, many people thought it was the “revolutionary” way to keep in touch with friends and family members. Instead, it has made us into a bunch of slackers—and I’m sorry for that.
Since my birthday two weeks ago, I have yet to click on a simple button on my e-mail account and say “thank you” to those who actually remembered. Yeah, I’ve read the messages, but I just can’t find the time to respond. And I’m sorry for that.
It seems like that’s a common response among those of us who use e-mail frequently.
We read a message, maybe we put off answering for a few days, and when we do, it’s usually a short, boring apology of why we haven’t written anything yet.
Or we apologize for our “busy” lives keeping us from actually writing decent e-mails.
If your e-mail inbox is like mine, it probably has a few messages from various friends along the lines of: “hey. how are things going? sorry I haven’t written in a while. work has been crazy lately. thinking of changing jobs. i moved into a new apartment. it’s ok. sorry i can’t write more, but i’m at work now. will write more later. bye.”
Gee, and we can’t even bother writing in complete sentences or capitalizing letters either. Choppy and emotionless phrases, that’s how our writing skills have evolved in the past few years.
And we’ve resorted to using too much e-mail at work instead of actually talking to our co-workers.
I always thought it was stupid at the public relations firm that I used to work at that we would send every form of communication through e-mail.
“Susan, have you contacted the Miami office about sending the weekly report?” I would write.
“Yes,” she would respond (with the answer and previous message carbon copied to the Miami office).
Susan’s desk was right next to mine (on the other side of the cubicle wall). Why did we have to send messages through cyberspace just to get a one-word response?
Sorry, but verbal communication leaves no proof that the conservation actually took place (so the policy went).
Even the possibility of conversation is something that is lacking in most e-mails from friends. When someone e-mails me, I like them to tell me what’s going on in their lives. Tell me how the job is going (beyond “well”), tell me about your family life and tell me anything else that may be going on in your life.
Just, please, don’t send me another rehashed, forwarded e-mail.
I have one friend that when I see her name in my e-mail inbox, it does mean that she was thinking about me, but just not in the way that I hoped would be more personal. She usually includes me in one of those “send this message to 10 people and something will happen” e-mails or a chain letter on how Jesus loves me.
“Jessica,” I write, “I know nothing happens when you send these things to 10 people and I know Jesus loves me, but, please, write me a ‘real’ e-mail.”
“Sorry,” she writes back. “But nothing new is going on here.”
There’s also that one friend who can’t help but send e-mails that shouldn’t be opened in public places. Things start making noises, animated art begins moving and you’re left in an embarrassing situation. Oh, how that’s made me run out of computer labs before. And when I later tell that person I REALLY didn’t want to see that, he usually comes back with, “Sorry, but it was funny.”
Then, there’s the person who NEVER e-mails, except every few years—literally.
A few weeks ago, one of my friends from the Walt Disney World College Program suddenly sent me an e-mail. I hadn’t heard from him since 1998 and I actually posted a message on my website saying, “Have you seen this person?” When I asked him why he hadn’t dropped a line after four years, he said, “Sorry, but things happen.”
On a final note, I meant to write this column earlier, but my computer at work crashed. I then managed to bring down two more computers at the MainStreet Newspapers office on the same day. Sorry, but I couldn’t do anything.
Kerri Graffius is reporter for MainStreet Newspapers. Her e-mail address is

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