Archive for December, 2006

My Favorite Holiday

Thursday, December 28th, 2006
Tyler Murphy

Why at only the end of the year do we all try and dredge the back of our minds for a way to improve ourselves, shouldn’t this be an on going process? I think that’s what a good resolution might be.

Watching my feet with each step forward into the future I sometimes forget to look up at the horizon. I’m determined this year and every after to keep my eye on that horizon. I have plenty of real problems that will follow me into the new year and many more lying ahead the trick is being able to see past them. I hate the days that are consumed by the trivial difficulties of life, and although I don’t think they can always be avoided, they can be taken in stride. One of my favorite expressions is that life is 10 percent action and 90 percent reaction. Most of us have control of only the latter, which when you look at the numbers isn’t a bad deal if you can handle it. We pay for our mistakes in more ways than one and others often have to pay too. Sometimes it’s probably better for everyone if we never got out of bed. I know that I’ve handled a few days so badly I’d rather attempt brain surgery with a lead pipe on myself, but life goes on with or without us, so we might as well go along for the ride.

No one is perfect, and I’m sure a required element of success in my plan is to included family and friends as intricate parts. Those loved ones will either carry or drag you kicking and screaming through the harder times. If you can’t walk; crawl. If you can’t crawl; get a friend to carry you.
So since I’m now relying on my friends and family I suppose I had better do the same for them either out of love or obligation. I truly believe we are all in this together the only trick however is finding someone who knows the same. This now also obligates me to get out of bed because you never know who might need you today. In the grand scheme of things we can all do a greater good although on occasion we inflict serious damage. I will remember that how I handle the average day will inevitably lead to the sum of how I handled life.

A last quote I love, that says it with more class than I ever could.

“The World is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.”
–Thomas Paine

“Get busy living or get busy dying,” -Andy Dufresne

Resolve this

Thursday, December 28th, 2006
Michael McGuire

The abandoned New Year’s resolution train has officially been ridden to the max, and I will no longer abide.

Each year I can depend on completely tanking my resolutions, succeeding with the same assurance of the sun coming up and me having cakes on the griddle (thank God I’m a country boy). Why? Because I don’t take my own advice – which is to never play a game you know you can’t win. And I know I’m not alone in the New Years loser’s column – unless your counting the solo thumb wrestling matches I’ve attempted to swear off in consecutive years since Jan. 1, 2003 (.507 career winning percentage).

So assuming most of us fail, why make resolutions? It’s because we think we have to. More specifically, we think we have to make resolutions in some life changing, get-ourselves-out-of-a-rut kind of way – and we are really just lying to ourselves. Not to say no one should resolve to better their lives in the new year, maybe just reset the bar a little bit when doing so – alter a few rules of the game in your favor from the get-go. I mean whoever said, “new year: new person.” How about trying on this no-brainer, “new year: new underwear.”

I can hear you now, you’re saying “avoiding failure is not the answer, it’s just the solution given by those with negative attitudes.” Au contraire! Avoiding failure is positive, and you have to admit, it even sounds positive.

“What’s on the agenda today, McGuire?” the boss might ask.

“When I get back from lunch I plan on avoiding failure, after that I might send a fax – maybe make some phone calls.”

Which at that time my boss would follow-up with a hearty, “Atta boy, Mike.”
Talk is cheap however, and it only works on Fridays; we need to practice some real-life avoiding/bettering.

There are a number of ways you can upgrade yourself without really changing at all (very little at the most).

For beginners fresh off of last year’s disappointment bus, I recommend baby steps. Start simple, make this year’s resolution a sure fire bet, an in-the-bank winner. For example, resolve to do your laundry, feed your cat, make your bed, or consider giving that college loan payment a shot (don’t get carried away). There’s no sense trying to fix the world when you’ve got plenty of problems in the village, if you know what I’m saying. Trust me, a few of those cup-cake personal victories and you’ll be back on the fast track to Complacency Spas Hotel & Casino, with not a care in the world.

If your quitting skills are more advanced, I suggest the “do everything opposite” approach, made famous by George Costanza from Seinfeld. You’re already hardened by some bad beats, so why not take it all the way – what have you got to lose? If you stink at trying to do the right thing, maybe you’ll stink at trying to do the wrong thing too. If not, at least you’ll know you’re good at something.

New Year’s Resolution

Tuesday, December 26th, 2006
Jessica Lewis

Evening Sun New Year’s Resolutions
By Jessica Lewis
Sun Staff Writer
As the last week of December begins, one question keeps entering my mind; what will be this year’s New Year’s resolution. Every year I, along with millions of others, create arbitrary and often easily forgotten resolutions that we stick to for a few weeks before moving on to other tasks. This year, I want to set a resolution that is worth keeping,
There are always the obvious resolutions; to be more organized, to lose those pounds that we packed on during the holiday season, to rid ourselves of bad habits, but these are the types of resolutions that people keep for a matter of weeks, and then discard like yesterday’s trash.
This year I have several resolutions. I resolve to be more environmentally conscious. If this winter, with it’s mid-forty degree temperatures and lack of considerable snow fall, has made me aware of anything, it is that the climate has changed, and the end results may not be as favorable as they now seem. I enjoy not having to shovel the drive way and wade through the snow drifts as much as the next person, but I’m becoming increasingly aware that something about this winter weather is a little strange.
As part of my New Year’s resolution, I am going to try to do more for the environment. I will recycle more, including batteries, despite the fact that it requires twice the effort, and I will try to limit the amount of frivolous trips I make in my car. I know my actions won’t be enough to change the course of events for the planet, but at least I will know I did my best.
The rest of my resolution is much more subjective. It involves simply being a better person. Sometimes I find myself, as I’m sure many do, thinking of my own hardships in life, and feeling sorry for myself. This year I will try to remember the people who are less fortunate than myself, and instead of wasting time taking pity on myself, I hope to find the time to help others. Volunteering is such a kind and ambitious undertaking. It’s always difficult to try to find the time to give, but I hope this year I will be able to do just that. Perhaps I can forgo some of my less meaningful activities; give up a day of shopping or visiting with my friends to help individuals who need it.

Nice Car

Tuesday, December 19th, 2006
Michael McGuire

How are you doing?

Good, that’s good.

How am I doing?

How nice of you to ask.

I am fine – especially now that I’m off the road, where my fellow motorists nearly parked me in that great garage in the sky on several different occasions this past weekend.

Holy cow! You sand-baggin free-wheelers need to learn to apply the breaks, along with some gold bond (and hopefully cool off that rash that’s got everybody so chaffed behind the wheel these days).

Everybody was weaving and winding, high-beaming and blinding; speeding and cheating; white knuckled and possibly reading – with the pedal through the floor gunning right for me.

I don’t think I was doing anything wrong, other than driving my trusty gray squirrel (a 1992 pewter GEO Prism that’s worse for the ware). In fact, I happen to think I’m a pretty good wheelman, who has a great deal of respect for my fellow wheelpeople, with a very good and well-defined understanding of the importance of good wheelmanship.

But many others obviously don’t. So that being the case, why do we even bother with the pleasantries and niceties of life outside of the car? Why should we care for civility in general – like family ties, friendships, greetings, compliments, and hand shakes – if we are just going to try and exterminate each other the second we start up the engines?

Who hasn’t seen this before:

“It was great working with you today Bill. See you tomorrow.”

“You too, Marty. Hey, thanks for being such a great friend. Tell Kelly and the kids I said hello.”

Then they get into their cars an ram on the interstate like two mountain goats, ready to crush each others’ skulls for no good reason other than that’s their natural instinct.

I’d rather that you give me a hockey-fight wedgie (up and over) and say “Your shirt made me do that,” than say with a smile, “That’s a sweet mock-turtle neck,” and then later on give me the old “McDonough Meltdown” into a guard rail somewhere.

We have got all our positive and negative energy directed in the wrong places. Let’s be kind on the road, and wretched everywhere else. In December, let’s decorate the road with Holiday lights and cheer. We’ll even slow our vehicles to trade Christmas presents with each other by way of a light toss.

During normal days on the road, carefully drive and write or mouth messages to each other that say “How do you do,” “Nice Weather, Huh?” or “I like your style.”

And we’ll fight and riot in the streets.

At, going to, and coming from work we will battle. In the malls we will rumble. At the movies our cell phones will ring, at our kids little league games we will bleed (bad examples).

We will put our lives at risk without conscience or care.

And we will get back into our cars and be thankful for where we live, and all our blessings.

Merry Christmas. I will break check you.

Memories of Christmas Past

Tuesday, December 19th, 2006
Jessica Lewis

The holidays from my childhood were always filled with excitement and wonder. My sisters and I would be so excited on Christmas Eve, that we would spend the whole day trying to make time go faster, or trying to tire ourselves out. The sooner we went to sleep, the sooner Santa Claus would come.

We would dive eagerly into our beds at 7 p.m. and lie there for most of the night, unable to sleep. We would wake up at 4 a.m. every year, and Dad would tell us to go back to sleep, even though he was every bit as excited as us. It took many years before we caught on, finally realizing that the loud noise that always woke us up at 4 a.m. was my dad, stomping around in his bedroom, with the intent to wake up his anxious children.

We were never expected to get dressed or have breakfast before the presents were opened. Once everyone was gathered around the tree, presents were handed out and we oohed and aahed over each and every one. Hand made Care Bears, the only thing my mother was ever able to sew, or games or Barbies. We would spend the morning playing together, while Mom cooked the Christmas dinner.

Many years have passed since my four sisters and I all crowded into one bedroom, a holiday tradition, to pass Christmas Eve by telling stories and giggling through half the night. I think of our excitement and wonder and can’t help but miss the innocence of our youth and the closeness of five little girls, camping out in one room to enjoy the excitement of Christmas Eve together.

Wlasiuk vs Television

Wednesday, December 13th, 2006
Tyler Murphy

This Friday I will again be in court as a spectator in the murder case of Peter Wlasiuk. As far as I can tell this will be about as close to prime time television as any other case I will probably see. That isn’t saying much as anyone who is familiar with real a courtroom understands. The stage however does seem nicely set at least from a reporter’s point of view.

You have two attorneys, Joseph McBride and Randel Sharf, who are not exactly friends. In fact the two have had harsh criticisms for one another both in and out of the courtroom. I expect their personalities to clash throughout the trial. Mix into that pot an intimidating, intelligent, independent defendant who has admitted in court his contempt for the DA and the whole judicial branch of Chenango, and it gets even spicier. Wlasiuk actually acquired his legal research degree in prison and is becoming increasingly active in his case. Everything for him is on the line. The next mysterious element flavoring my writing pad will be the newly-appointed judge. Judge Smith is not a complete stranger to Chenango County, but runs a courtroom very differently than Judge Sullivan. There is also a rumor he enjoys introducing humility to those attorneys unlucky enough to grandstand in his courtroom. The basis of this trial is because of an appeal, so I expect even more scrutinizing over court procedures and facts. I can’t wait to see the jury …

All the media attention surrounding the case has deepened people’s emotions. There is a developing bitterness with many local citizens about the case and I hardly meet a person who hasn’t formed an opinion. I, for one, have none. I don’t know if he is guilty and I think it would be wrong to assume so, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t. Perhaps after I sit through the trial and hear the facts and testimonies of the case, I will form an opinion. The thing I look most forward to is seeing how this legal system designed by so many great minds measures up. I have seen trials before, but this one will be distinctively different. I hope, guilty verdict or innocent, I walk out of the court room with a feeling of respect. I do not care about the verdict so long as the steps taken to arrive at one are sound.

Bright Idea

Tuesday, December 12th, 2006
Michael McGuire

How does going without lights for two hours show that people are against NYRI? It doesn’t.

It shows that they are together.

From 7 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, December 21, STOP NYRI Inc. is urging residents along the 200-mile NYRI route to turn off their home and holiday lights, and demonstrate a collective opposition to the power line, and a collective adherence to community welfare.

I think it’s a great idea, and I’m sure many others do too. But I’m not sure many people will participate. Homeowners living in the line of fire definitely will keep it dark for a couple hours, however, I am generally pessimistic when it comes to everybody else.

It would be awesome to have a black swath eating a hole from Central to Southern New York state – it would be newsworthy. Apathy (a good portion of people don’t care about NYRI), the holiday rush (a good portion of people care about the holidays more than NYRI) and the general addiction to convenience (a good portion of the people care about convenience more than anything, i.e. that is why energy starved areas downstate won’t put up generation plants or power lines in their own backyards, but are willing to Upstate) will keep people keeping their lights on.

Hopefully the darkness will spread beyond the frightful homeowners. Hopefully the light hasn’t spread too much.

Thoughts on the city budget

Monday, December 11th, 2006
Jessica Lewis

The City of Norwich has put together a preliminary budget for the 2007 year. A public hearing will be held on Tuesday night to discuss the proposed budget. Although the City Financial Director Bill Roberts said the tax rate increase had dropped from 38 percent to 5.85 percent, there has been some discussion over the programs that had to be cut to make that possible.

Youth Bureau Director Bob Mason explained at a previous meeting many cuts that he’d had to make to his budget, including cuts to the swimming lessons program, youth bowling at plaza lanes, bus trips, and other youth oriented programs. The total savings of these cuts was reported as $7,944. The amount does not seem like a great deal, especially when the next item under discussion was the purchase of a new copy machine, the cost of which would be $12,000.

I am not debating whether or not the city needs a new copy machine. I am sure that if it is in the budget it is necessary, however, I wonder about the need to make so many cuts to the Youth Bureau, which total such a paltry amount. First Ward Alderman A. Anthony Abraham spoke up, discussing this issue. He stood up for the youth programs, saying the young people in the city deserve our support, and I have to agree. The youth bureau’s budget has been cut almost every year since 2002. Even though Mason found a way to save some of the programs without the funding, I feel that the youth in the city deserve all the opportunities we can give them. As a taxpayer, I would much rather see those tax dollars go to support the youth of the community, than be spent on other endeavors.

The death of my dog and the last pieces of my childhood

Thursday, December 7th, 2006
Tyler Murphy

When my dog died so did the last of my adolescence. It’s been a slow death beginning with the loss of a few distant friends from high school that I didn’t really care too much about. It moved inch by inch from the back of my mind closer to the front.

I put my dog down not too long ago and I’d never been through such a thing before. I can’t honestly say I’m overly close with any particular family member apart from my brother who lives in Dallas now. I do remember spending what seemed like eons of my childhood with what used to be my puppy. I picked her from the litter when I was six and couldn’t come up with a name, being so young I called her ‘Brown Eyes’ after the touch of brown reddish hair that surrounded only her eye brows. A strange name to most more mature than I but in the mind of a six year old it rang true. The name quickly stuck in my adolescent heart and eventually became what she was called.

All day today I knew what was coming but never really stopped to think about it.  When I saw my companion for the last 19 years waddle into that office I felt a wave of mercy that still feeds my undying feeling of guilt that I am sure in some form or another I will carry with me the rest of my life. I shed the first tears since I had become a teenager. I was always taught to be a man and I learned long ago how to fight back the tears in face of both blood and despair but I lost that battle today. I slowly watch her brown eyes drift back into unconsciousness. I barley managed to utter one last “I love you” before she closed her eyes forever. I never said a word during the entire ordeal to the doctor or the aid helping, I simply nodded and hid every ounce of feeling until left alone.

I sat in the empty room with my dog constantly reminding myself apart from me it was completely devoid of life. I looked hard at her and saw mostly the memories of myself. I realized that most of the times I remember seem so long ago. I am young I suppose but never have I felt so far away from youth. I saw in the death of my dog the death of one of the last connections to a past I no longer have any ties to except in my mind. I sat a long while thinking about all the burdens of my current life and how they subtly obstructed all the older memories. Thirty tears and four shots later I came to grips with reality again and punched a wall. I was always taught to be a man but I think in the last four years I’ve taken the final steps in understanding why.

I lost more than my dog today.

We need another judge

Wednesday, December 6th, 2006
Tyler Murphy

Judge Howard Sullivan has been handling double his regular case load for over fours years now. The Administrative Judge Judith O’Shea has personally written a memo to our state representative in the assembly and in the senate pleading with them to push for a second judgeship in Chenango County. Sullivan handled more cases last year in the county than any other except Broome which has two criminal judges and three family court judges. Most of our surrounding counties have about the same case loads as Chenango but they all have two judges.

Judge Sulivan is responsible for county, family and surrogate court. He also helped sponsor and operate a successful drug treatment court and had designs on a domestic violence court as well. O’Shea will not allow a the domestic violence court to be formed and denied the treatment court hub status because of the considerable constraints on the judge already. Sullivan should be given great credit for his performance in Chenango county. Politics and press aside for whatever you may or may not agree with, he has made incredible efforts to fulfill his responsibilities to the public.

I wonder how long will it be before Sullivans juggling act does degrade to a level that will inflict an injustice on the people of the county. One could hardly blame him for an error, the deck is stacked and many that might fill his shoes would have erred by now. The out cry has been made from the professionals surrounded by these sorts of things, maybe because they understand the potential for negative impacts better than the average lay man. The most powerful out cry of course comes from the public which in time may find itself so inclined if face with possibly of suffering at the hands of injustice, but not yet.