Check out the new Grafton site!

I innocently clicked over to the official town of Grafton website, as I’m wont to do several times on Mondays and immediately was taken aback.

This morning, the website was the ugly but serviceable site that we all know and tolerate. This afternoon, it’s… beautiful!

There are rotating photos of Grafton scenes! A background in a shade of green that does not assault the eyeballs! A tab for business that instantly links to the appropriate town bylaws and departments!

And — I think this is new — there’s a subscription feature that allows you to get emailed updates of news and events from around town. You can opt-in for emails about recreation offerings, emergency news, missives from the Council on Aging, the Department of Public Works and the Board of Health (you can also opt-out, which is always a useful feature).

I just signed up for all of them and I’m in the process of confirming that I my email wasn’t maliciously added.

Also, I hopefully clicked over to the school department site and, sadly, found the same old site.

More self-promotion

Greater Grafton is proud to be a featured blog at Boston.com. I hadn’t even realized they listed local blogs until it was pointed out to me.

Also, stats junkie that I am, I freaked out when I returned home after being out all morning to discover that absolutely no one appeared to be reading my blog, which turned out to be a Word Press-wide issue (seriously, you haven’t seen someone flip out online until you see a blogger who has been deprived of her stats). I ended up adding Site Meter to get my stats fix and now I know even more interesting details about visitors to my blog.

That’s right. I totally see you reading on your iPhone.

Greater Grafton now on Facebook

Remember a few months back when I gleefully mocked a candidate’s press release about his creation of a Facebook page?

Oh, I still find the tone of the release, and the straightforward Grafton News re-printing of it, amusing. But today, I’m going to make a little room for Facebook mocking of myself.

Last night, my friend Darren, a master of self-promotion, contacted me through Facebook with a plea: he was registering his Culture Schlock blog (if you check it out, you’ll discover we independently chose the same Word Press theme) on Facebook, the application required that other users confirm that he was, in fact, the owner, could I help a friend out? I did so and there was an option to “add your blog,” so I figured “heck, I have a blog” and filled out the form. I thought I was adding it to my own Facebook page.

Now there’s a Facebook page for Greater Grafton and, ridiculously, it lists “1 fan,” which would be me. Yes, pathetic, thy name is Jenn. I’ve apparently gone and created my own Facebook group. And I’m my #1 fan!

Grafton on Facebook

Have you noticed the Boston Globe recently discovered Facebook? Friday, they had an article about how the website is spoiling the high school reunion (because now it’s impossible to lose touch with former classmates) and today, the magazine had a story about how sometimes, people may friend you on Facebook, but (gasp) they may not actually be your friends because they never really talk to you. The latter was written by a former co-worker and, for the record, I haven’t friended him on Facebook.

I attribute these articles to the old newsroom adage, “If it happened to an editor, or he saw it on his way to work, it’s news.” And I attribute this post to another news meeting standard, “Is there anything we could localize?”

So how is Grafton’s presence on Facebook? You may need an account to see these, but here are a few groups you may or may not be aware of:

Swirls and Scoops, our harbinger of spring, has its very own group for “scoopers, veteran scoopers, Graftonites and loyal customers.”

There are two groups dedicated to the memory of Kevin Vulter: one a memorial page (at which friends leave messages for him), one for the quest to get lights at Grafton High’s football field.

Since Thanksgiving weekend is traditionally the high school reunion weekend (unless you graduated Bellingham High in 1985, which means your reunion is randomly scheduled in the middle of summer), you may want to check out the Grafton High School Alumni Association page, which was created by the class of 2004.

But this is my favorite group, because it’s an inside joke that I totally don’t get: “I had class with Fran ‘The Man’ Graves at Grafton High School.” Here’s the description:

If you had class with Mr. Graves, and was called a dumbass, jackass or an asshole.

Did he give you a nickname, or make you look like shithead in front of the whole class. Did he ever team up with Mr. Carter or Mr. Pig or both of them and make fun of you…

If you were ever put up on the “wall of shame” for playing games on the computer’s while he was talking, or you were suppose to be working…

If you were ever caught leaving class to go play matball..

if this happened to you join this group and other’s who went thru the same things…

JOIN AND SHARE SOME FUNNY ASS STORIEES !!!

Well! It’s good to see industrial arts teachers haven’t changed that much in the decades since I went to high school!

Grafton’s mushroom man

Did you catch the story in the Globe this morning about mushroom hunters? The photo on the front was of a Grafton guy, Vladimir Gubenko “a self-proclaimed amateur mycologist,” and it’s worth checking out the online version just to see the video, which was shot right here in Grafton.

I have a soft spot for mushroom hunters. When I was covering Gardner, I was sent to do a feature on this colorful guy in Templeton whose hobby was mushroom gathering. He was especially busy in the fall, and his basement was just filled with boxes of the things, which he’d give to friends and occasionally sell to local restaurants.

He was easily one of the most fascinating people I’d ever met. The son of Polish immigrants, he was taught all about flora and fauna by his father. He would have had a happy, nondescript life in Templeton if it wasn’t for World War II. He joined up as soon as he was able and soon found himself part of the crew of a bomber.

He was shot down over Stutgartt, Germany and was the only member of his crew to make it out alive because, he believed, he was the only one blown clear of the plane. He ended up stuck on a church steeple and a crowd gathered to tear him apart before some German soldiers intervened. The officer who interrogated him, he recalled, was Harvard-educated and chatted with him about life back in Massachusetts.

He spent the remainder of the war as a prisoner of war. He was able to keep himself alive, he said, by remembering his father’s teachings about edible mushrooms and plants. He kept his mind active by embroidering the scene of his bomber’s last moments on a handkerchief, bartering with other prisoners for different colored threads from their clothes and metal for a crude needle and embroidery hoops. The handkerchief, carried with him “in ways I’d rather not talk about” through the entire war, had pride of place, framed, on his living room wall.

His last months of the war were spent on an extended death march, foraging for food when he could and hoping his captors wouldn’t shoot him for faltering as they had done to so many other prisoners. One day, they marched over a hill and were greeted with a line of American tanks. His countrymen urged him to eat a chocolate bar which, he said “was just as sweet coming back up and it was going down.”

I loved this guy. He was such an odd duck. He found a Hen of the Woods once, a giant mushroom, and attempted to register it to vote. Throughout my time in Gardner, he’d periodically just show up at the paper bearing news tips and gifts — a loaf of black Russian bread, an arrowhead he’d found in the woods, a piece of amethyst geode.

All of this, of course, has nothing to do with Grafton, but it’s Saturday and I felt like writing about my mushroom man.

Wesley is auf!

Final post about Project Runway, just to cope with all the Project Runway traffic the blog is inexplicably getting: my colleague interviewed Wesley Nault yesterday — that brown dress was inexcusable and, yes, the romance rumors are true — so check it out here. And here, have a bonus link.

And now, back to all-Grafton, all-the-time…. unless the charming Lauren Browne answers the interview request I sent.

Update on Blackstone guy

I’m NOT going to make this all about Project Runway, all the time. But a fair number of people visited yesterday and today looking for information about Wesley Nault, the designer from Blackstone, so here’s an interview a colleague did after he watched the first episode. He talks a bit about the all-yellow dress he designed but, alas for the person who Googled “Wesley Nault short shorts,” he said absolutely nothing about the short-shorts he wore during the episode. Yikes.

Joss Whedon! This week only!

Joss Whedon has absolutely nothing to do with Grafton, but he’s the guy behind “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer” and, therefore, can do no wrong. Anyway, click the banner, this week only — he has a 3-part Web-only short series streaming online. Part I went up earlier this week, Part II today and the final chapter goes live Saturday — and everything disappears after Sunday, so check it out.

(Hey, I’m following up a somewhat passive period of posting with a lot of activity. There’s more below if you’re wondering why I’m not getting my Grafton on.)