Archive for April, 2009

The best friend of man’s best friend

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009
Jeff Genung

 

Man’s best friend (and kitties, too) lost a longtime supporter and staunch advocate recently with the death of Rosalyn ‘Roz’ Scheuerman at age 70.

 

Although she’d left Chenango County in her later years, Roz had served as director of the local SPCA for a decade and a half, retiring in 1998. Her legacy? Turning the East River Road animal shelter from a depressing, dilapidated halfway house into a clean, efficient, friendly and well-run facility with an excellent adoption rate. 

 

Though her physical work on the old shelter was demolished a few years ago to expand Rt. 32, her contribution to furthering the cause of animal rights in Chenango County will live on forever. Countless school children in and around Norwich will no doubt remember Roz entering their classrooms with longtime SPCA mascot Shelby to teach them about animal safety. Her love of animals and enthusiasm for their proper treatment and care was infectious and no doubt inspired scores of those kids to walk their dog or play with their cat a little more often.

 

Roz was always a good friend to The Evening Sun and to me personally. She’ll be missed.

Everyone remain calm, it’s just seasonal allergies!

Tuesday, April 28th, 2009
Melissa Stagnaro

The talk of our little newsroom on Lackawanna Ave Monday was swine flu. There was sharing of information, speculation and even a bit of wonderment over high school kids going to Mexico over Spring Break. There was also a heck of a lot of coughing, sneezing and blowing of noses. At least in my cubicle, anyway.

You see, my seasonal allergies chose the same time as swine flu to strike. Despite a regular dose of my histamine-blocker of choice, all of that pollen got the better of me. If you are looking for something to invest in, might I suggest the makers of Puffs Plus?

To the best of my knowledge I haven’t been canoodling with any pigs, nor have I made any recent trips south of the border, so it never crossed my mind that the cause of my sinuses kicking into overdrive could be from something as insidious as swine flu. Yet I still felt the need, well more of a compulsion really, to inform everyone I came in contact with that my sniffling was allergy related. I even posted it on Facebook. (I told you it was a compulsion.)

I’m not a hypochondriac by any means. Unlike my friend Rachel, who was convinced she had SARS several years ago. Boy, was she wrong. (Literally. It turned out she was pregnant with her son Colby.) But many people are easily influenced by the power of suggestion.

In fact, I’d wager some are probably more susceptible to the idea of swine flu than the actual virus. And what do you expect? We have media outlets are throwing around words like “pandemic,” governments issuing travel advisories and health officials describing symptoms so ambiguous they could be anything from a common cold to a hangover.

My favorite so far is a directive issued by an official from the Philippines, advising people to avoid kissing or hugging in public. I know, I know. They are probably telling people to avoid these this type of behavior when greeting someone, but doesn’t it sound a bit like, “Get a room!”

I’m not the only one trying to find a bit of humor in the situation, mostly to avoid panic. One of my college friends, Nick, posted a comment (also on Facebook) saying that between Mad Cow disease, avian flu and now swine flu it sounded like breakfast was trying to have its revenge.

Does that mean vegetarians are immune?

I’m clinging to those bad jokes, because lets face it, the idea of a pandemic is scary. Swine flu, a quickly mutating virus which attacks the strong harder than the weak, has the potential to wreak havoc with the world.

So what can we do to minimize our risk of becoming a statistic? After reading through all of the advisories being given by various health organizations, I think I can sum it up quite simply with the acronym WWAMD.

When faced with a social situation, just asked yourself, “What would Adrian Monk do?” The answer: Don’t touch anything you don’t have to, don’t shake hands, wash your hands often and carry plenty of wipes. And if you act odd enough, people will avoid you on their own accord thus avoiding the need for unnecessary social interaction.

So far there have been 65 reported cases in the U.S, none of which as far as I know are in upstate New York. And I would like to state one more time, for the record, that these are just seasonal allergies.

No siree, no swine flue here. Just high pollen counts.

Counting down the days

Friday, April 24th, 2009
Melissa Stagnaro

Next Friday, I leave on vacation. One week in Fort Myers, Florida; I can’t wait.

I’ll be honest, I’ve been counting down the days ever since I got my tickets (for an absolute steal, I might add). Now, I’m in the home stretch. Just seven more days and I’ll be boarding that flight. I plan on spending lots of quality time splashing around in the surf and soaking up the rays.

My niece Jessica has graciously provided the reason for my trip. She is graduating from Florida Gulf Coast University after spending the last four years working on her undergraduate degree in Forensics. She’ll be staying on to finish her Masters, but it still means I get to come down and see her do the whole cap and gown thing. I’m excited.

But I’ve also got some angst. Not about the trip itself, no I’m long overdue for a getaway. There is just all the stress of getting ready for the trip. It’s all work related for me. I’ve got a ton of articles to write before I go (I know, I should be working on one of those right now. Obviously I’m not.), and then events/meetings I would normally go to which I’ll miss while I’m away. Because let’s face it – I’d never be able to pay any of my coworkers enough to go to any of my school board meetings.

Once I board that plane, I’m sure I won’t give any of them a thought. (Like Jeff, I’m going to try to stay far removed while I’m out of town). But for now, I can’t help worrying. Hmmm…I bet if I did less worrying and more writing, it might just go easier on me. Nah! That would be entirely too easy.

Maybe if I try visualization.  Me on the beach, the sound of the waves crashing at the shore, umbrella-ed drink in hand… Ahhhh. I can’t wait. Just seven more days and counting…

Going green

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009
Jessica Lewis

In the spirit of Earth Day, which was celebrated on Wednesday, I felt the need to share a recent experience.

Last weekend, I decided to take my adorable three-year-old and go shopping. Our first stop took us to a shoe store located outside Chenango County. After selecting our purchases we went to the check out counter, where the cashier asked us if we’d like to purchase a reusable bag. The girl was sweet and eagerly explained how the bags were being sold to help save trees and reduce the amount of plastic bags dumped in landfills every year.

It sounded completely reasonable to me, and since I like to take little opportunities to help the planet, I gladly agreed to fork over the extra $1.50. The reusable bag was cute and sturdy and I felt good about making the minimal effort to do something for the earth.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure the girl at the register understood exactly how the bag was supposed to help the environment. After ringing us up, she quickly shuffled my purchases into the traditional plastic bags before folding the reusable bag in half and placing it in a separate bag. I stood there for a second, waiting for understanding to dawn on her, but she just smiled and pushed our purchases across the counter. I’m not entirely positive, but I think even my three-year-old saw the irony in the situation.

Regardless, of the outcome, I enjoy seeing more and more businesses taking  steps to encourage and promote environmental awareness, even if those attempts aren’t entirely understood by all.

Out of touch

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009
Jeff Genung

 

In case you haven’t run across the numerous other print and online references, I’ve been on vacation for the past two weeks.

 

Under normal circumstances, I generally don’t leave The Evening Sun (or Norwich, for that matter) for more than a day at a time. Once or twice a year, I’ll take off five days in a row. But it’s been over a decade since I vacated the captain’s chair for two whole weeks. Jessica Lewis, with the help of her noble comrades, manned the store in my absence — and again for the first time in decades, I did absolutely no checking in on them while I was gone.

 

That’s right. Even in this digital age (and my brand new iPhone), I remained completely disconnected from all things newspaper for 14 days. It was a much-needed respite, but as I sat down last night with two weeks worth of newspapers, I was amazed by just how out of touch I’d been.

 

My colleagues toiling at larger metropolitan dailies often wonder in jest just what we find to write about every day in sleepy Chenango County, but I can tell you for certain that if you miss an issue – or 14 – you miss a hell of a lot.

 

Of course, I’m a self-proclaimed news geek, entrenched in the political and social soap opera that is the Land of the Bullthistle, so I find everything that went on since April 6th fascinating. But even for those who’d prefer to live under a rock, there was still a lot to take notice of in that time frame – accidents, fires, resignations, budgets, verdicts, political maneuverings and even an apparently highly controversial Easter Egg hunt! 

 

(Insert shameless plug for why everyone should subscribe to The Evening Sun to keep on top of local news here).

 

Ode to a Thin Mint

Monday, April 20th, 2009
Melissa Stagnaro

This week’s weather forecast is a bit of a let down after the beautiful sunny days we had last week. Now that I’ve had a taste of Mother Nature’s best, I’m finding it hard to return to status quo gray skies. And I hate to say it, but it’s making me more than a little cranky.

Thankfully, (and to my co-workers’ relief) I have found solace. You see, Girl Scout cookies are in. And while the ones I ordered all those months ago have not yet been delivered (that’s a hint, Kerri), I have managed to score a couple of surplus boxes. Thank goodness for booth sales and Jan. They’ll hold me over for now.

As I type this, I contentedly munch on a Thin Mint, the cookie variety which has long been my favorite. And not just mine. Apparently they make up fully a quarter of annual cookie sales each year.

It’s their versatility that I like. Sure, you can eat them straight out of the box, but you can also dip them in your milk or hot tea. I like them with vanilla ice cream. And I usually store a box or two in the freezer; they make a nice, cold treat on a hot summer day. Or any other day, for that matter. (Mostly this keeps them out of sight, so I’m not always tempted.)

Maybe I shouldn’t say that Thin Mints are my absolute favorite, as I wouldn’t want the Caramel deLites (a.k.a Samoas) to get offended. Coconut, chocolate and caramel over a shortbread cookie – come on, what’s not to love?

I’m also a huge fan of Lemonades, which is a much newer variety. With the light, buttery shortbread and citrusy glaze, it gives the illusion of being low fat. Without compromising taste, caloric content of any actual fat grams, of course. (We all know this isn’t health food.)

I could go either way with Do-Si-Dos (commonly referred to as Peanut Butter Sandwich cookies), but I am really not a fan of Tagalongs/Peanut Butter Patties. And while I like the idea of Shortbreads (I refuse to call them Trefoils), I’m always disappointed by them in reality. Give me Lorna Doones any day.

There is a new flavor out this year, Daisy Go Rounds. I haven’t sampled those yet. I hear they are crispy cinnamon cookies in 100 calorie packs. I’ll reserve judgment for now.

As I sit savoring this Thin Mint, the last in it’s sleeve, I’m no longer concerned about the dreary forecast. To me, it’s truly a beautiful day.

Spring fever

Friday, April 17th, 2009
Melissa Stagnaro

To say that I’m having a hard time resisting the lure of the sunlight streaming in our office windows today would be an understatement.

Oh, how I envy all our local school kids who, by luck of the draw, ended up having the nicest week we’ve seen all year off from school. A whole week of sunny, 60 degree days in upstate New York. I didn’t even realize such things were possible!

All this gorgeous weather, and what have I done with it? Not enough, and it’s a crime, an absolute crime. I assure you it’s not because of a lack of desire on my part. I’ve got spring fever, and I’ve got it bad. I am positively itching to get outside and enjoy this gloriously beautiful day.

And by “enjoy,” I mean one thing and one thing only: spending some quality time on the golf course.

All week I’ve been good. I’ve worked diligently at my desk, trying to ignore that blue sky and desperately trying to block out thoughts of playing 9 holes when all I really wanted to do was fake an illness or family emergency so I could skate out early and play nine holes. Or at the very least, hit the driving range. But no, I’ve been good.

Despite my good intentions, I have to admit that even I have my limits. Last night I broke down and put my clubs in the back of my car. Just in case, I told myself. Just in case…

I tried to tell my coworkers it was just by chance that I decided not to wear jeans today (which we typically do on Fridays). I thought the khaki capris went better with the short sleeved, collared shirt I grabbed out of my closet.

What was that, Tyler? Oh, I guess it does look a little bit like a golf shirt. Why do I have a glove on my left hand? Ummm…I always wear that. I can’t believe you’ve never noticed.

It’s too bad I’m going to miss our usual Friday lunch. I wasn’t thinking about it when I set up my tee time, I mean, ahem, that interview I was telling you about.

Calling it your job don’t make it right

Friday, April 17th, 2009
Tyler Murphy

So President Barack Obama released the Bush administration’s dirty little torture secrets Thursday. In the memos CIA operatives received direction from the Office of United States President to ignore standing domestic and international law in violating the most fundamental human rights of prisoners.

The document goes as far to authorize the threatening of prisoners’ families in order to make suspects comply with their interrogators demands.

Obama also released Thursday that he would not seek the prosecution of CIA members who followed these directives.

Ironically this is going on while in an unrelated case the United States is working to extradite a suspected Nazis prison guard for crimes he allegedly committed 66 years earlier. Couldn’t one argue that he was just following directives too?

You can and should hold people accountable for their actions. Soldiers and secret agents are caught in a tough spot when it comes to following immoral orders but honestly I have little sympathy for them. A human being is not a machine and there are always options. Loyalty is often confused with integrity but they’re not the same thing.

I do understand the line of thinking in moving forward and focusing on those creating illicit policy rather than those who enforced it. In that regard I give Obama great credit because although he offered to spare the torturers he hinted that the attorney general would looking into those who implemented the policies.

I despise all the people who were directly involved in making these shameful acts a part of my country’s history. CIA operatives, U. S. soldiers, even past presidents, any and all who conspired to torture and kill another person, without trial or charge, are traitors everything America stands for. National extremism and sanctified violations of civil rights are as dangerous to the people of this country as any act of international and domestic terrorism.

One of my favorite movies Paul Newman said it best in ‘Cool Hand Luke.”

In the movie Luke returns home after fighting heroically in World War II and his free spirited nature lands him in prison. While there he suffers abuse at the heavy hands of the conservative prison administrators.

As he’s being moved to solitary confinement a likable character playing a guard turns to Luke and says, “Sorry, Luke. I’m just doing my job. You gotta appreciate that.”

Luke: “Nah… calling it your job don’t make it right, Boss.”

Road Rally

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009
Melissa Stagnaro

When I heard that Coventry was incorporating a road rally into their Spring Fling this Saturday, I laughed out loud. Not because I thought it was a ridiculous idea, but rather because I think it is absolutely fantastic.

I instantly pictured myself, map in hand and gps at the ready, racing through the scenic highways and byways of Chenango County, a la Herbie Goes to Monte Carlo. (What can I say? I was always a huge fan of all those Love Bug movies when I was a kid.)

The more I learned about the event from Coventry Events Committee Chair Doug Besemer, the more excited I became. At registration (9 a.m. Saturday Morning at the Coventry Fire House, only $20 a car), participants will get a list of clues rather than directions. Those instructions will lead them on a 3 1/2 hour tour of the area. While it’s timed, it’s not really a race per se, but a test of driving skills and local knowledge, from what he said. So each car needs a navigator as well as a driver.

Doug assured me that there is no off-roading required (darn!) and that it’s all timed out at legal driving speeds (double darn!). Despite my superb powers of persuasion, I couldn’t get him to reveal any of the super secret instructions. But what he did say was that he’d taken a look and wished he could be doing it himself. I was sold.

I’ve checked the weather for the weekend. Saturday looks like it will be in the low 60’s, sunny with a smattering of clouds. I’d say that’s perfect weather for a road rally.

I’m definitely game, but unfortunately I haven’t found anyone else who is as excited about it as I am. (Although I know my niece Jessica would be up for it if she wasn’t a thousand or so miles away.) I need a teammate!

Having been my father’s co-pilot (both in the air and on the ground) for years, I don’t feel shy about touting my navigating skills or experience. I read a mean map, have a close, personal relationship with my GPS and love road trips of any kind (to which my college roommate Liz can attest.)

Now all I need someone to do the driving (and preferably has a classier ride than my ancient Explorer.)

So, who’s with me?

Local seasonal businesses back in bloom.

Friday, April 10th, 2009
Melissa Stagnaro

Ahh, springtime. The trees are starting to bud, the first of the spring flowers have poked their head above ground and there is just enough new growth to get my seasonal allergies kicking in. Gotta love it.

One of the best parts for me is that it’s not just tulips that are starting to open up after being dormant all winter. All those establishments who scaled back hours during the winter months, or outright closed for the season, are starting to open up as well. And not a second too soon in my opinion; I’ve been going through withdrawals.

It always seems a bit like cruel and unusual punishment to me. Not only do we have to endure a long, cold winter, but we also have to do it without some of our favorite places. Unfair, I say.

But, never fear, finally they too have begun to unthaw.

Well, maybe unthaw isn’t quite the right word, since Ives Cream tops my lists of places that signify that spring is officially here. Katie told me earlier this week that Friday (Today!) will be their first day back in business. And to kick of Spring Break in style, they’ll be giving away samples from noon to 8 p.m. I encourage you to do as I’ve done, and plan your entire day accordingly.

Of course, Ives Cream isn’t the only seasonal business back in, well, business. One by one, all of our local golf courses have been getting back into the swing of things. (Yes, that pun was completely intended.) I am anxiously awaiting my first round of the year. Maybe if the weather is nice this weekend…

I’ll need to get practicing as soon as possible since I’ve joined my first golf league this year, Thursday nights at Canasawacta. It’s not just the golf I’m looking forward to there. The restaurant will be back up and running on the 20th, and I’ve got a serious hankering for a long lunch on that back deck.

For some reason it’s been even harder for me to adjust to the places which stayed open but abbreviated their hours. I can’t tell you how many mornings I pulled up outside of my favorite French bakery, La Maison Blache, in search of a latte and one of their delectable croissants, only to realize that I was a day or too early (or too late, depending on how you want to look at it.) Thankfully, they went back to their normal Tuesday through Sunday schedule as of April 1.

In some cases, it seems like pure cruelty. I mean, does the Bohemian Moon realize what kind of torture they made me endure? I got my pregnant co-worker hooked on their cappuccino mousse right before they shortened their hours. I’m not going to lie; I breathed a healthy sigh of relief when B. Moon reverted to their regular hours. I don’t ever want to have to tell her again that she’ll have to wait until the end of the week before her next fix.

Even if I’m not necessarily inconvenienced by a shortening of hours, I’m still thrown off by it. Take Hoppies for example, which is often a lunch destination for me. Even though their daytime hours stayed the same, I was still strangely traumatized when Danielle switched to her winter hours. I just don’t like to feel like my options are limited. They are back to normal now, though, and once again I feel all is right in the world.