A Little Bit from Elaine

Elaine Carlson will provide weekly columns to the Beat.

By Elaine Carlson

I know we just had an important anniversary but the news I have been following this week is the fraud trial of Elizabeth Holmes.

For a while Holmes was a celebrity. Many people were impressed with how when she was 19, she dropped out of college (Stanford) and started a blood testing company – Theranos. It claimed it offered inexpensive tests that gave accurate results on small samples of blood ("a drop"). It grew quickly and once the company was valued at $9 Billion. Holmes became one of very few female self-made billionaires.

But it was not long before employees in the new company came forward with reports of problems. Their labs were not getting accurate results on the drops of blood they were testing. And the company was often in serious financial trouble.

 By Elaine Carlson

In a letter I told my sister, "I am now a columnist." I wanted her to know I started writing for The Grant County Beat. I would have told my mother if she had been alive.

Soon I thought I needed some tools to help me with the writing process.

I ordered online a "Used Good" paperback copy of The American Heritage Dictionary Fourth Edition 2001. I already had a 1981 edition of that dictionary but not only was it older it was difficult to use because it was bulky and heavy. With a paperback it is easy to look up the spelling of words and that is what I need because I am a lousy speller.

Next, I decided to get a style manual --- I thought it would be the almost perfect tool for me as a writer. A long time ago I had a copy of the Chicago Manual Of Style (CMS) and liked it. The GCB Editor Mary Alice Murphy told me she uses the AP Stylebook (AP). I spent almost four hours reading book reviews and looking at Amazon Customer Reviews (AP and the CMS are not the only authoritative guides to English usage for sale).

I finally decided to buy CMS (15th Edition 2003). I think I made a good decision. It is well organized and the Table of Contents and the Index are easy to use.

By Elaine Carlson

I think it was in March or April of last year when my husband and I went to the dump (I like to call it that instead of using the more respectful term of landfill). We wanted to get rid of his old printer, some other electronic parts that at one time had been good, and all of the cardboard he had flattened out that the products he bought online had come in. We also took our household trash.

When we got there we could see a sign saying it was closed. I was mad. We wanted to get rid of what we brought. A lot of places were closed because of the pandemic but I did not see why access to the dump had to be cut off. Certainly it was big enough inside for people making a dump run to be able to social distance.

We drove in close to see the sign. It said they were closed that day because of high winds. I withdrew my anger towards city authorities (dump authorities? landfill authorities?). I had never thought of it before but I guess high winds could make a trip to the dump unpleasant.

[Editor's Note: This should have been published last week, but the editor forgot!]

Another Short Story by Elaine Carlson

"I just don't think this is a good idea," Sheila said.

I just wish she would stop talking. For days now she has been telling me something could go wrong. Or that it's not a good idea. Her negativity has been driving me crazy. It isn't as if I don't know there are risks. You just have to do everything in the most prudent fashion you can.

Last week I read the obituary for the mother so now there is no excuse to wait any longer. But first there is something I need to check out. Almost everything points to Robert for having done the bad deed but the name Darrel keeps popping up. It could be his nickname. Or his middle name. I wish I could look at his birth certificate. But maybe, just maybe, he didn't kill her.

But it certainly wouldn't be a good idea to go to the Court House. Going there and signing out Robert Robinson's birth certificate would in all likelihood be a red flag. And I don't want to be raising any red flags. Instead I head to the library. A lot of people will see me but so what. I go there so often I really doubt there will be anyone able to put two and two together.

By Elaine Carlson

Before I went out the other day I reached for my lipstick. Quickly I told myself I don't need to do that. I certainly won't be needing to put on lipstick when I will be wearing a mask. What would be the point?

It seems obvious to me that in addition to everything else Covid 19 has caused the sales of lipstick to drop. What else could you expect when women don't need to use lipstick? Has any market research been done on the subject? Maybe I will be able to find out by looking online.

I go to my computer and type in "Market Research Lipstick Sales." And wouldn't you know it but the seventh response is an article with the headline "Lipstick Sales Just Jumped More Than 80%." (New York CNN May 21, 2021). Such an increase means that before sales were down.

Another Short Story by Elaine Carlson

"Judy," she says, "You should know my house has electricity."

"Yeah that is good," I say.

"And it also has indoor plumbing."

"Yeah that is good, too."

I don't know how far Hilary Branch is going to take this. Is she going to tell me she has a car? A television? A telephone? I wish I could cut off this line of conversation but I don't want to come across as being rude.

"That's good you have electricity and plumbing in your house," I say. "But me? I have a car with a carburetor."

"My father used to say that," I was happy to see she was laughing. "Did you get that expression from your father?"

By Elaine Carlson

What do I want that costs $200 on Amazon Prime? For about two weeks I have been thinking about what I would like to get. The idea of a $200 spending spree has been making me feel a little giddy.

Two weeks ago, my sister contacted me to say she wanted to give me a present. Instead of buying something, wrapping it up and mailing it to me she decided she would buy me something Amazon is selling for $200. She told me I could get whatever I want. She even gave me a few examples – I could get "a phone card, a cat tiara, or a vacuum cleaner."

Thanks, sister, I already have a cell phone that now has 90 minutes on it. And let's forget about a vacuum cleaner. The one I have I picked up at Single Socks four years ago for $35. I put a heavy cord around the front because the latch you use to take out and replace the cleaner bag is broken. But it cleans fine and other than that small detail it is a perfect vacuum. And I guess she was just joking about a tiara.

By Elaine Carlson

Monday I was checking my email when I saw that Carolyn, a high school classmate, had sent a notice that her sister Beverly died. The three of us went to Nordhoff High School in Ojai, California. Beverly was in the Class of 1962 while Carolyn and I were in the Class of 1967.

I was the oldest child in my family and Beverly was the older sister I would have liked to have had. She would tease me, and I would always laugh --- she was never offensive when she was joking around.

Nordhoff was the The Home of the Rangers. Beverly was an accomplished artist and drew our high school mascot --- a ranger, of course, who sat on his horse backward. She did a lot of other artwork.

Several years back I went back home for a visit and saw her. We were glad to see each other. One thing we talked about was our high school math teacher. She said, "Ms. Fukasawa tried real hard to make me interested in trigonometry." I told her it didn't matter that she wasn't a star pupil in math, because she was so good in art. She said her mother always said she was a good artist. We both laughed.

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