Archive for June, 2007

What’s in a name?

Thursday, June 28th, 2007
Michael McGuire

Some government agencies don’t do so hot in the reputation category. I’m sure the IRS and the DMV immediately stand out in everyone’s mind.

These days it seems like FEMA isn’t too far behind them.

But those other two agencies don’t get accused of not getting anything done. Plus, FEMA doesn’t strike fear into our hearts like a cold government bureaucracy should. Not like the “I–R–S” and “D-M-V” do. They command respect – even if they screw up – through fear. I cried last week at motor vehicles and I didn’t even do anything wrong. “If you had only filled out a form wrong or forgotten a critical document like most people do, I wouldn’t have had to yell at you for something totally un-related, like looking like John Candy when he was in Plains, Trains and Automobiles,” barked the DMV lady. She sounded right even when she was wrong.

FEMA, on the other hand, sounds like a good name for a wholesale foods distributor.

They deal with disasters – and not well, some say. But when things go bad – FEMA. When things get worse – FEMA. When despair breaks the levees – FEMA. Like it or not, they are the tax-payer’s answer to the mini-apocalypses. Let’s give them a name and an attitude that suits the part.

Here’s a suggestion for the Federal Emergency Management Administration’s new name:


It doesn’t stand for anything but it sounds nasty and “tuff.”

Read two probable testimonials from disaster victims who dealt with a new-look, more IRS-like, emergency administration:

“Within hours of the disaster, SKULL was promptly there to be surly, cold and apathetic to my situation. The agent I met with misplaced my paperwork, but eventually issued a check to help repair my storefront – not before making me feel really lousy about it. Thanks SKULL.”

“Not only did SKULL deny my requests for federal assistance after floods left me homeless, they said if I kept complaining that they’d come down here and give me something to cry about. I believe it.”

Sounds like they’re taking-care-of-business to me.

If you’ve got a good name you’d like FEMA to consider, feel free to send it in a post-marked envelope to blog comments, P.O. Box 8337, Burbank, CA 91502.

In a world of my own

Thursday, June 28th, 2007
Jessica Lewis

This may make me seem extremely oblivious, but for hours on the morning of June 28, 2006, I had no idea that anything out of the ordinary was occurring. The television wasn’t working, because the rain was interfering with the satellite signal, but everything outside my house looked normal, if a little bit soggy.

I waited until the rain let up, and then decided to go for a walk. (Since I wasn’t about to push my stroller and three month old baby through nasty flood waters, we didn’t get too far.)

The first serious sign of flooding I remember seeing was at Weiler Park. Only a block from my house, which stayed completely dry, the park’s baseball field looked like  a swimming hole, with water covering half of the bleachers and a good portion of the back stop. What really made the image memorable however, was the site of several people (adults and children alike) playing in the standing pool of dirty water. Apparently no one told them what kinds of nasty things are usually in flood waters, because people were splashing in it, riding bikes through it, and even in bathing suits swimming in it.

The next morning, again I ventured out (this time avoiding Weiler Park and traveling instead down Rexford Street, toward the Chenango River. By this time I had heard about the significant damages suffered by many city residents, but even if I hadn’t it would have been apparent. People were hard at work, pumping out their basements and lugging destroyed items from their homes and picking up the pieces after the worst flood Norwich has seen in 100 years, and hopefully won’t see for another 100.

I wonder if I’ll have to go to work tomorrow.

Thursday, June 28th, 2007
Tyler Murphy

During last year’s flood I remember sitting in my living room at about midnight, the night of the storms. I was content listening to the pounding rain and brief flashes of light the crept through my windows and around my closed curtains.

I was steadfast in what had been the center of my attention most of the night, the TV and an old black and white note book I had been scribbling in off and on, for the last few months. My brother and I, being the lonely creative creatures we sometimes are, had been taking turns developing some random romantic fantasy about a traveling mystic circus clown in the early 1920’s while simultaneous defending the human race from alien invasion on my X-Box (video game system) against opponents probably sitting in their bedrooms in California or Japan.

My brother had pulled a late night the evening before and succumb to the comforts of my leather recliner about an hour earlier. The lullaby of the failing rain was beginning to make me feel drowsy; I always found the sound relaxing.

I snapped the note book closed, leaving our depressed hero on the verge of being burned as a witch and ended the intergalactic war with a flick of the remote. Having been rather secluded from the world for several hours I suddenly realize it had been raining hard for an unusually long time. I walk to my living room windows. They offered me a good view of my neighbors large backyard and farther on, the little league baseball fields. Not far from the Oxford High School.

My mind went blank and the weight of the slightest thought could have floored me. From right below my window, lapping at my skirting, at least a foot and a half deep and streching all the way to the fields, was nothing but water.

“Hmm,” I thought quietly to myself, “I wonder if I’ll have to go to work tomorrow?” I laughed at my own quiet joke in the face of such remarkable happenstance and woke my brother up.

I jolted him once or twice on my way to the front door, leaving the curtains open for him to glance out, figuring few words could justify. “Just look out the window, we need a bigger boat,” I had said. I knew my brother understood my ‘Jaws’ movie remark and wouldn’t be able to resist knowing what the hell I was talking about.

My front porch had now become my front dock. The water had also reached across my inclined driveway and was at the bottom edge of my car door.

“Holy crap, hey man there is a lot of water out here,” said my brother from inside, mostly to himself, “Hey, do you think you’ll have to go to work tomorrow?” I laughed again.

I went back inside and slipped into a pair of running short and sandals, then swam back outside to move my car.

The porch light lit the area and its reflection shimmered off the water completely around my small deck, making me feel like I was living in a boat house somewhere off the Mississippi.

“Want to go for a walk?” I asked my brother, “I want to check things out.”
“You mean for a swim, yeah this is awesome, let’s got see if the bridge is still kicking.”

We trudge our way through down town Oxford, visiting the bridge. Water was just barely slapping the bottom of it, with occasional waves splashing on over. Route 12 in the village had been claimed by the Chenango River and my brother made some remark about calling it the Erie Canal for the rest of the night.

We walked to the baseball fields and saw that they were so deep in water not even we would try to venture into them. The heart of the river itself was a terrifying thing to witness. So much water fighting so viciously to move faster and faster. We had thrown some pieces of debris into the surge. It was like they fell straight through a cloud or dissapeared into some other dimension, for as soon as any object hit the surface it was so quickly devoured by the currents it literally vanished from sight.

Apart from the economic devastation and threat to human life, it was actually an incredible thing to witness. The rain never stopped and the land continued to shrink. We barely saw a soul in our two and a half hour journey through the village at 1:30 in the morning.

The next day I got up at 5:30 a.m. and got ready for work, the first thing I thought when I woke up was, ‘I can’t hear the rain.’ I had to wear my shorts and sandals in order to wade through the waist high moat protecting my house. I reached my car, parked up above, on a small incline and headed to work.

I almost made it to the George Town road intersection when a road block and emergency vehicle halted my advance. A man walked over and said “Where’re you headed?” “I work at OSG, I’m on my way to work.” The man laughed. “It’s a state of emergency, the roads are closed.” I looked out across the road to see a vast blanket of water covering it and I felt like a kid about to hear his school get closed on the radio. “I’ll guess I head home and enjoy my day off then,” the man then replied, “Sure wish I could say the same.”

News you can use

Friday, June 22nd, 2007
Jessica Lewis

First of all, I would just like to point out that I read another CNN horror story today. Apparently a girl got her feet cut off on a Superman ride at Six Flags. Convincing me once again to stay away from all amusement park activities this summer. (As originally stated in  my last blog entry.)

It seems like the news channels have been full of nothing but horror stories for the last few years at least. Today, during one internet  visit to an internet news site, I read about the horror at Six Flags, an alligator attacking a puppy, the hidden dangers of  sand and worst of all, Paris Hilton being released from jail. (Are they trying to give me nightmares or what?)

I guess I just don’t really understand what makes a news story important enough to make the national news. Is it the location where the story takes place? The degree of emotion it may evoke, or is it the fact that nine times out of ten, they are presenting something aimed to scare you into reading every other possible threat they come up with.

It’s not just one news agency that is doing this. They all work on the same principle; people are more likely to read/watch the news if they think their safety is on the line. The sad part is that it seems to be working, which is why Monday I will begin my 1000 part series entitled Hidden Hazards in Your House; Article 1, how static electricity can make you spontaneously combust. Read it…if you want to live!!!

Jealous rivals plotted my so-called “defeat”

Monday, June 18th, 2007
Michael McGuire

There’s a lot of harmful propaganda floating around out there regarding my performance in the Dairy Day Goat Milking Contest Saturday.

It’s true, contrary to my claims in a previous blog, I did not yield a single drop of milk from my goat (who I found out later is named “Sahara”).

Not because of I am a lousy milksmith. Rather, I failed because I trust people – people I thought were my friends.

How do I know I was betrayed? Because the technique was there. The pick-up lines and soft music were there. The will to win was there. The only thing that wasn’t there was a working tit on the left side of that goat’s udder.

Clearly sabotage.

Oh yeah, “old faithful” gave it up for Mayor Joe Maiurano the turn after mine – once Dairy Day organizer Janet Pfromm made a “special” adjustment for him (she removed, upon further review of surveillance tape from a security camera, what appeared to be a small rubber plug from the goat’s udder).

I was too predictable. They knew I would volunteer to go first to spare everyone else the heartbreak of loss. I never had a chance.

Betrayed, humiliated, angered and frustrated, I said nothing as the boo’s from the crowd of thousands rained down.

“A kindergartner could do better than that you bozo,” one man said. “You’ll never milk in this town again you bum,” said another. “You made my granddaughter cry you worthless hack,” a woman said as she slapped me across the face.

I took it like a man though, because no one wants to hear excuses. And I ain’t giving any. I screwed up. I lost.

All I want is another shot, a fair shot. If I lose, I’ll live in exile and never challenge the goat milking kingdom again. If I win, I will take the throne that is rightfully mine. All conspirators will be forgiven (mercy they most definitely would not show me) and together we will enter the golden age of this empire under my rule.

Glory to the King

Tuesday, June 12th, 2007
Michael McGuire

Before you peasants pick through my blog, note your inequities as you read the work of royalty.

Well, not official royalty. Not yet.

But unless your name happens to be Mike “The Main Squeeze” McGuire, all you really are is a sniveling subject in the world of high-stakes competitive goat milking – a.k.a my new kingdom.

Come witness my coronation as your ruler at 2 p.m. this Saturday at the Dairy Day Celebrity Goat Milking Contest. Be amazed as opponents run away in fear of my “utter” ability. Be dazzled as goats line-up to be gripped by my gentle, yet purposeful hands. Be astonished as I build a wooden Ark to save my people from drowning in the flood of un-pasteurized milk that will undoubtedly flow from the Fairgrounds’ Exhibition Hall. Come. And you will one day be able to tell your grandchildren that you witnessed my two-handed “Canasawacta Clutch” deliver us to freedom.

Hanging in there

Monday, June 11th, 2007
Jessica Lewis

I was always a nervous kind of kid. Every time we went anywhere or did anything fun, I would imagine all of those crazy, one in a million chance things that just might go wrong.

This was never more true than when my family would make the trip to an amusement park. Even though it was always fun and exciting, every time I would go on a ride, I would imagine the cart suddenly falling off of the track or the safety belt breaking. So when I turned on CNN and saw that a roller coaster at an Arkansas amusement park lost power, leaving riders hanging upside down for half an hour as a result, it seemed like someone was peaking into my childhood nightmares and broadcasting them on television.

It seems like in the last year or so, there have been a lot of scary story about amusement parks and the dangers involved with riding the rides. Several people who were not properly secured in various types of ride have fallen or been thrown from them. Children who did not meet the height requirements have been allowed to ride dangerous rides and recently a woman who was too big for a ride was allowed to occupy two seats and fell from the ride as a result.

I know there are a lot of amusement parks out there and tons and tons of rides. It’s to be expected that accidents and mistakes are going to happen, but since I have heard about so many of them lately, (and because I went from being a nervous child to a nervous adult) I’m pretty sure my summer vacation isn’t going to include a stop at an amusement park.

“Relay for Life’ for dummies

Friday, June 8th, 2007
Tyler Murphy

Mike McGuire is my team Captain and our Pennysaver-Evening Sun organizer for the Relay for Life this year. Early this morning I wondered into Mike’s office and after a few moments of pause I asked.

“Hey man, that relay for life thing, is that for cancer or puppies or what?”

“Wha? Dude it’s for cancer, it’s kinda a big deal.”

“Yeah I think I knew that, I wouldn’t have volunteered for it otherwise. I think I might get stuck paying for most of fee because I can’t get enough donations.”

“You’re doing the relay and you don’t even know what it’s for?”

“Yeah, why?”

Blank stare.

“I heard it was for a good cause.”

Blank stare.

“Everybody else was doing it…”

“Dude, seriously get out.”

“You got my money does it matter if..–”

“–..I got this thing I gotta do right now and I’m pretty sure your still on deadline.”

“Okay, okay…. I have a serious question though.”

“Whew, man, for a minute I thought you were serious.”

“So is it like an actual competitive race or something, and where and when do I gotta show up?”

“Dude, I think I hate you.”

Well maybe things didn’t exactly go that way but…

Relay For Life is an overnight event designed to celebrate cancer survivorship and raise money for research programs for the American Cancer Society. During the event, teams of people gather at schools, fairgrounds, or parks and take turns walking or running laps. Each team tries to keep at least one team member on the track for the entire duration of the 16 hour marathon.

July 13 and 14, 6 p.m. to 10 a.m. at the Chenango County Fairgrounds.
Sign up!

Sorry, Mike.

Protest vs. the State

Wednesday, June 6th, 2007
Tyler Murphy

The Group of Eight also know as the G8 summit is an informal international forum for the governments of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Altogether that’s more than 65 percent of the entire world’s economy at one meeting. They group has year round conferences and researches different policies and holds an annual summit to discussed any factors that may compel a global change.

This year is the 33rd summit meeting and will be hosted by Germany, each year the host, or presidency, rotates among the members. The president also sets the agenda.

The world bank rates Spain as the 8th largest economy above Russia. China, or the People’s Republic of China (as they like to call themselves) despite it’s large population and economic influence is also excluded.

This event draws some of the worlds largest demonstrations. Often protesters and police collide and on several occasions both police and protesters have been arrested.

At the 27 th G8 summit in Italy police shot one person dead and after the summit, investigations revealed police planted dangerous materials, such as molvol cocktails (bottle+gas+rag+fire) in order to legitimize arresting journalist, protest organizers and even medical personal acting as support. The latter of state abuse I find much more disturbing. In Soviet Russia during the cold war police would stage violent acts in order to give them the much needed public appearance of justifing their own use of force.

The LA Police Department has just suffered a serious set back for it’s handling of the May Day protests in the city. Police allegedly had a non-uniformed officer on a bicycle ride into a peaceful but illegal protesting crowd. As a result the crowd began reacting violently towards the instigating and unknown officer creating enough just cause for police to use force to break up the crowd. As one Polish reporter at the scene put it,
“I was in Poland with the Soviets and this was there too. If you can see these things then you know you are now watching the death of your American freedoms.”

So why has the public opinion of protesting seem to have slipped towards the negative in the last few years? If history serves me correctly one of the turning points in developing our free country began with the most famous American protest of them all, the Boston Tea Party. In all these stories I absorb through the Internet and television seem heavy on the gory details and light on why or what these groups are protesting.

Can you imagine if something similar were to happen today, I can see the CNN story now.

Radical left wing group cost the tea business big bucks, city paying for the clean up.

Dec. 17, 1773
By Tyler Murphy
Agency Staff Writer

BOSTON – Late yesterday evening protesters under disguised, in order to conceal their identities, marched down to the Boston harbor and vandalized three separate ships harbored therein.

The left wing extremist group called ‘the Sons of Liberty’ are said to have taken responsibility for the raid which lasted until early this morning.

“Our investigation is still under way but it appears men mockingly dressed as Native Americans forced their way aboard three vessels in the harbor and destroyed nearly half a million dollars worth of private East India Company property,” said police representative Jove L. Regan.

The group released a statement declaring the rioting was in protest to the Stamp Act and Townshed Acts. These acts created a tax on all American Exports and forced many colony businesses to purchase British products. Parliament passed the law following the French and Indian war in order to help off set its devastating cost in which nearly 14,000 British soldiers lost their lives.

“We brought our boys (British troops) over here and fought for the colonies. We shed blood for them and now that we have won it for them all we’re asked is for them to help pay their fair share. These men are not protesters but terrorists and the crown ought to treat them as such,” said Boston’s Governor Thomas Hutchinson

The East Indian Company didn’t comment but released a statement saying, “It is the policy of the East Indian Company to obey all laws, either local or national and although targeted by such gross acts of moral misconduct the Company believes in the freedoms of people every where. The East Indian Company will be cooperating with investigators in bringing these misguided men to justice. We will continue to be a supporter of free trade believing it creates continued prosperity and more fair markets to the benefit of all colonist and Britons abroad.”

The trigger of the protest is being attribute to parliaments recent decision to grant the East Indian Company special rights to sell directly to the American consumer. At these low rates it has made it difficult for black market traders to sell their products at a competitive rate causing unrest among many of the criminal elements in the colonies.

The Sons of Liberty are also wanted in conjunction with a rash of other anti-state activities including, theft, burglary, fraud, and even treason.

“The longer these men go un-caught the longer the public and our businesses are going to suffer. I call on anyone with information on these men to come forward and help us in our investigation,” said Regan.

Clean-up efforts are currently underway with aid from the British government. Market experts speculate a moderate raise in the cost of tea for the next few months and perhaps an increase in local taxes in order to off set the cost of lost state revenues.


The dangers of the cross walk

Tuesday, June 5th, 2007
Jessica Lewis

A couple of weeks ago, the Norwich Common Council discussed the possibility of adding more of those pedestrian crossing signs to Broad Street, in an effort to make drivers stop for people walking in the cross walks. This would be a great idea if the things actually worked, but in my opinion they don’t. Yesterday I was driving through town and I saw that another pedestrian crossing sign has indeed been added, and the jerks who drive through town are ignoring it completely.

In my opinion, there are two types of people who don’t stop for people in the cross walk. The first type are the insensitive and rude jerks who don’t care if your carrying an armful of groceries, trying to control a couple unruly children and still took the time to walk to the cross walk and wait for the go light, they’re still not going to let you pass, because, frankly, they stink. I hate those people, because they’re rude and lack common decency, but the other type might be even worse.

Yesterday I saw a woman with a stroller almost get run down by some moron in a pick-up truck. I guess it’s possible that he didn’t see the sign, or the cross walk, or the woman walking with her baby in stroller since he was talking on his cell phone, smoking a cigarette and driving a stick shift. Who can be bothered by such little details? I know sometimes when I’m painting my toe nails and dying my hair and filing my taxes while driving, I don’t notice the little things either.

I’ll admit that I occasionally answer my phone when I’m in the car. I know I shouldn’t, but once in a while, everyone breaks a rule here or there. The difference is that in these instances I keep my calls to a minimum and try to pay attention to what’s going on around me. I’m not steering with my knees, so I can text message all of my friends about the latest thing to catch my attention and I’m not so oblivious to my surroundings that I’m nearly running people down on the streets.

So my point is, until people become a little more responsible and offer up some common decency, I don’t think a little sign that says yield to pedestrians is going to help.