Archive for December, 2006

Life inside of war.

Tuesday, December 5th, 2006
Michael McGuire

This Thursday, December 7, marks the 65th Anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, a day that shocked a country into another world war – the type we had hoped to never witness again.

I was able to speak with several WWII veterans on Tuesday to discuss what they remembered about that infamous day, and how it affected their lives both then and now.

Honesty and reality were the common threads to all their answers.

Each person I interviewed was different, four men and one woman. Two were stationed at home, one was on a Navy ship in another part of the world, one was only sixteen, and didn’t understand the gravity of Pearl Harbor until he enlisted at age 17. One man was a survivor of the attack – the only one still living in Chenango County.

They told me what they remembered and what it was like. They remembered being angry, some remembered being scared after Pearl Harbor. Mostly they remembered simple things like teaching school, working in labs, playing music on ships, or transporting troops. They remembered good and bad times, family and friends. They remembered a lot of the same kinds of things most of us cherish in our lives; the things we are all the most thankful for.

How we think about wars can make us forget that veterans, in most ways, are just like the rest of us. And that should give us hope.

It should give us hope because these men and women do not recall with pride the horrific or unimaginable events they witnessed, and in some cases carried out. They remember the simple things, the things that were most like home, the things that were the furthest from actual war. They remember what they are proud of – and they are proud of living their lives. Most of all they are proud of life itself, for everyone.

Based on how they remember their experiences, when ultimately asked to take life, our veterans – either by human nature or tremendous strength – sought to preserve it, both during war and after they got home.

I’ve never been to battle. And I think never seeing fighting first hand makes it easy to try and romanticize it, or always think of it in an action movie type of way. But inside the great battles, heroic stories, and the sadness of death – somewhere there is normal life. And that is remarkable. I’m not saying war is remarkable, I’m saying that hopefully it is task that’s conceived and achieved against our good nature, which despite ourselves seems to shine through.

The Canasawacta Creek Debacle

Tuesday, December 5th, 2006
Jessica Lewis

Who knew a swimming hole could cause so much controversy. I’m sure that when the dam was built, with the purpose of providing a place for local children to swim, no one could have imagined the consequences that would come with it.

The Canasawacta Creek dam has been troubling residents of Plymouth Street and Willard Court for the past two years. Flooding in April of ‘05 and June of ‘06  has made residents in the area stand up and demand that the dam be pulled from the creek. Although engineers have said pulling the dam will make no difference to the water level, residents in the area feel it has become a collection point for debris, and they want to see it gone.

OK, that’s the history. Now to the present. Six months have gone by since the June flooding, and still the dam remains. Residents are understandably peeved. They feel the city has been putting them off, with no intention of removing the dam. The city is equally troubled. Their hands have been tied by the requirements guiding the dam removal.

The snow is falling, and winter has arrived. All parties involved know that  the coming of the new season will only make pulling the dam from the creek a more difficult feat. Am I the only one who thinks a new plan of action may be necessary. If six months have gone by without the necessary conditions occurring, who knows how long it will take before a) the water level becomes low enough for city workers to get into the creek and b) the forecast calls for a week of dry weather, giving them adequate time to finish the project. The weather pattern has changed. Call it global warming or cyclical climate change or whatever you wish, but no one can predict how long it will be, before we have the dry weather necessary to pull the dam from the creek.  It could be six months or six years, and if recent weather is any indication, we may be seeing more flooding before we ever reach that point.

The only logical conclusion is to develop some kind of contingency plan. What that plan would entail, I don’t know. Perhaps the creek should be dredged, and the trees and debris along the banks in danger of falling in with the next rain fall should be removed. If one course of action proves faulty, you need to find another. Preventative measures should be investigated and instituted, because as the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Shop Smart

Friday, December 1st, 2006
Michael McGuire

My first ever utility bill confused me. All the rest did to. I couldn’t comprehend analyzing rates and charges and figures about usage – I just scrolled right to where it told me what I owed and when I owed it.

I was a lazy, wasteful and uninformed consumer.

So I decided it was time to become a smart and thrifty shopper. As you all know, we now have options regarding who provides our electricity and natural gas. NYSEG is no longer the only game in town. Since around 1998, smaller firms referred to as Energy Service Company’s (ESCO’s) have taken-up part of the market share and we can buy our energy from them. We might get cheaper products, we might not. The whole point is to shop around.

So I did. I was sick of being a bystander in my own energy existence.

I compared offers from a number of the different ESCO’s eligible to operate in our region, including Mirabito Electric and Gas, NYSEGSolutions (“we’re separate from NYSEG” a rep claimed), Agway Energy Products and even far-off MX Energy Inc., of Annapolis, MD.

It took some time and a little elbow grease, but I was finally able to find a really great deal.

It was with a little mom and pop ESCO called McGuireAdvantage LLC. This company is great. Not only do they give me a substantial discount on my monthly heating and electricity bill (almost nonexistent supply and delivery charges) but they also provide value-added services above and beyond anything offered by the other guys. Yeah the others might fix my furnace and give me deals on fuel oil, but McGuireAdvantage already does all of that plus they provide a laundry service, continental breakfast, lunch and dinner, full lodging and in-house movie and cable plans (Netflix, HBO, Showtime), all at no charge whatsoever. They keep asking me if I would like to sign up for a fixed service rate, or a month-to-month term agreement, but I assured them I was extremely satisfied with our current business arraignment.

I did a bit a research, and I’m not sure how McGuireAdvantage can afford to give me such great deals. It appears they have to purchase all the products and services they give to me at the same price as everyone else in the energy racket. They use NYSEG’s wires and pipes (sounds like they are freeloading to me), but I don’t see how that gives them a competitive advantage over other ESCO’s or even NYSEG, because they get to use those pipes and wires too. But they say it all works out, and that in the end we, the consumers, are better off. I don’t want to speak for everyone, but I know my life is pretty sweet now that I am a smart, responsible, and realistic consumer. Thanks deregulation, thanks McGuireAdvantage LLC.