Archive for February, 2012

The perfect Valentine’s Day card

Tuesday, February 14th, 2012
Shawn Magrath

Happy Valentine’s Day. If your not tired of seeing red, white and pink by now, you haven’t been outside or online much today.

Keeping my Valentine’s vigor alive, I decided to wait until last minute to buy my valentine a card. It’s OK though – I seem to work well under pressure. I didn’t panic at all while I sprinted down the sidewalk, darted in front of traffic and knocked over two people to get to Service Pharmacy to find a good Valentine’s Day card before they were gone. Work well under pressure, indeed.

Actually picking out a good Valentine’s Day card on the other hand… well, that’s different. Over the years, I’ve learned that picking out the perfect card is an integral part of Valentine’s Day – it’s like guessing which wire to cut in order to disable a ticking time bomb. If I get the wrong card, I might as well not go home at all. I would think it wouldn’t be too difficult, since it seems that so many Valentine’s Day cards say the same thing in different words, but I still can’t seem to escape the risk of grabbing the wrong one.

The trick is to narrow down the options to just a few: Do I want the Snoopy and Woodstock card? Do I want the card with the cheap fart joke that leaves a slight feeling or remorse for having read it? Or, do I want the card that says “You are my everything…Love you so much….Blah…Happy Valentine’s Day?” Right away, I knew that one of those cards is just silliness and wasn’t going to work at all in my favor, so I put it back, which left me with two – the mushy-gushy sentimental one and the one with the fart joke. After another ten minutes of deliberation, I went with the lovey-dovey card. Bomb, deactivated – and with plenty of the day left to spare. I look forward to doing it again next year.

But I just got an iPad 2…

Friday, February 10th, 2012
Shawn Magrath

There’s something about Fridays that makes time seem to stand still, regardless of how busy I try to be.

I had a good day in McDonough today – a place that I’ve kind of neglected since beginning here at the paper. My apologies. A big thanks to everyone I’ve met out that way so far. You have been more than welcoming and it’s changing some of my biased opinions of hill folk, though I’m still on the lookout for the Clampett truck.

Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, which means I have to think of something to do for my significant other. Excuse me, I have to think of something outstanding to do on a very tight budget for my significant other. Why must saying “I love you” be so expensive (and the jewelry commercials on TV aren’t helping any). Maybe I’ll be spending the weekend making paper mache flowers and a macaroni necklace (and perhaps I’ll get a really cool pair of toilet paper tube binoculars). Stupid Valentine’s Day.

So Apple is unveiling its new iPad 3 soon. And just in time, as I’m sure so many people are sick of the iPad 2 they got for Christmas. Money spent on technology seems useless if whatever I buy is outdated in less than a year. I want something I’m going to get a return of investment on, not something I need to replace before taking it out of the box. Oh, how grand to read an entire iPad 3 user manual only to find an advertisement for the latest Apple product on the back cover: “iPad 4 now available.” It might be a better idea to buy another week’s groceries instead.

Editor’s Notebook: 2/9/12

Thursday, February 9th, 2012
Jeff Genung

• Always a good day when I can put a picture of a rabid raccoon on the front page – today in negative!

• Afton defeated a proposal for a new town hall this week, and it must’ve been a hotly-contested issue if over 500 voters turned out in that town! Looks like Julian should get out there more often – tonight, in fact.

• I’m remiss in mentioning that our soon-to-retire classified ad rep, Jan Rowe, was named The Evening Sun’s Employee of the Year here last week. Congratulations, Jan! Don’t let the door hit you … wait, I’ll be nice. In all seriousness, it’s an honor truly deserved, and long overdue. And I would know, because I’ve won it myself. Only took me 18 years.

Sports Editor’s Playbook, Wednesday, Feb. 8, 2012

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012
Patrick Newell

During my sophomore year of college, I took a required business course, statistics. As I remember it, I think I was about the only one in the class who actually enjoyed finagling formulas to complete statistical analyses. Little did I know 20-plus years ago that statistics would be part of my job description. And I still love the computations. Thanks to my friend Greg Bonczkowski (Norwich teacher and Unatego basketball coach), who already inputted the proper formulas, I use a formatted spreadsheet to tally scoring averages, free throw percentage, and anything else numerical that I think is necessary. The process is fun for me as I enter the numbers for each player, and then look to the far right as the average constantly changes. Another one of my friends called me a “sports geek.” Yes, the shoe indeed fits in this case. The number of games is slowing down as the playoffs near, and I was able to not only update scoring averages Wednesday, but also peruse free throw shooting numbers and three-pointers made. Through Tuesday, Feb. 7 games, Unadilla Valley’s Justin Hofer (19.6/game) and Ryan Porter (B-G, 18.2/game) lead the boys’ scoring. On the girls’ side, B-G senior Shania Vandermark is averaging a county-best 15.4 points, while UV junior Jordan Anderson is a close second at 14.9 points per game. For three-pointers, Norwich junior Kyle Edwards has 44 makes, eight more than runner-up Jeff Carlin of Greene. On the ladies’ side, Greene’s Kaitlin Gorton has 32 three balls in 15 games, while Sabrina Brooks of G-MU has 25 treys with one game left to play. In the free throw shooting department, Sherburne-Earlville senior Cassie Beaver is draining a nifty 83.3 percent of her attempts. Norwich senior Dennis Oralls leads the boys at 80.8 percent.

The Section III and Section IV Division II wrestling tournaments begin Friday afternoon. I will have the top-four seeds in each weight class listed in our Friday sports section, and if the number one seeds hold, we could have as many as eight Chenango County wrestlers heading to Albany for the state tournament. Top-seeded Section IV wrestlers from the area are Joe Nelson, Oxford (99); Tristan Rifanburg, Norwich (126); Dan Dickman, Greene (152); Mike Beckwith, Greene (160); Keegan Cerwinski, Greene (182); and Kyle Stanton, Greene (220). From Section III, Sherburne-Earlville’s Spencer Franklin (120) and Cody Santiago (220) are the top seeds in Division II.

Getting back to free throw shooting, I was surprised at the slow start of UV junior Amanda Off. She was a good free throw shooter last year (around 70 percent), so when she was barely above 50 percent through the first five games of the season, I took notice. Off is a returning second team Chenango County all-star who put up 15.3 points per game as a sophomore. I expected better, and over the last 10 games, Off has seldom been “off.” Over the last 10 games, she is hitting free throws at an 82 percent clip to pull her seasonal average to 71 percent, the best on her team and among the best in Chenango County…Oralls, as we noted above, tops the area boys in free throws, and he made 21 straight charity tosses over the previous four games before missing on his fifth attempt last Friday against Owego.

Bainbridge-Guilford’s girls basketball team has enjoyed a great deal of success under longtime coach Bob Conway. The boys? Not so much, until this year. In a season of firsts, B-G clinched its first MAC playoff berth since the 2005-2006 season, and not coincidentally, that was the last time the Bobcats sported a winning record. In the last month, B-G ended two winless droughts. The first was the team’s first victory over Oxford in six years. A week and a half ago, the Bobcats ended an even longer drought defeating local rival Sidney for the first time in 21 years. “People around town have said we have had talent,” said B-G first-year coach Greg Warren. “The biggest thing was getting them to believe in themselves. In the early part of the season when we lost some close games, we spent a lot of time breaking it down and looking at the positives in everything we were doing, and building on those. Now they believe. It’s not arrogance, but (the players) now believe they can compete in any game they are in.” Since a 1-3 start, B-G has won 11 of 13 games, and meets Unatego Tuesday in the MAC Tournament semifinals.

Follow me on Twitter @evesunpat

Editor’s Notebook: 2/8/12

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012
Jeff Genung

• So “tomorrow” turned into “Wednesday,” but here it is – Blog # 217! Woohoo! Why the uncharacteristic use of exclamation points, you ask? Well, as an astute reader pointed out to me (I honestly forgot our website tracked such things), I have now surpassed the much-missed Melissa Stagnaro as The Evening Sun’s most prolific blogger. Trust me, it’s a milestone only in our own minds, but Melissa would appreciate my gloating. Competitive girl, she was.

• Shawn’s story today made me want to break down and finally try out the Caboose diner in downtown Norwich. Sounds like owner/chef/chief bottle washer Kris Passafiume has done a great job with the place. I still have misty, water-colored (or, more likely, smoke-clouded) memories of Millie’s, the restaurant’s storied predecessor. Like the honey badger of recent YouTube fame, Millie didn’t take no *@%^. Especially when you were young, loud, obnoxious and drunk at 2 a.m. after having just stumbled out of Smitty’s. Believe me, I know. But damn I miss those over-easies.

• Congratulations to my friend Karen Sastri, the NBT exec recently elected to the New York State United Way’s Board of Directors. See, Karen? Told you I wouldn’t embellish your biography :) Nice to see Chenango being represented well on the state level!

Truly Giants, the GOP, Hollywood and Hendrix

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012
Brian Golden

Ah, yes, that wonderful feeling of knowing one has bragging rights for an entire year, as my beloved New York Giants pulled out a ridiculously sweet victory Sunday night over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI.

What can I say? I’m giddy.

In other news, Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum pulled out a surprising three-state victory over fellow GOP hopefuls Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. I think I’ll file this one away in the “I-could-really-care-less-because-none-of-you-will-get-my-vote” cabinet. Sorry, but the thought of Santorum, Romney or Gingrich in the White House is simply … terrifying.

Thank the stars Bachmann and Palin never made it this far … I shudder to even consider the possible ramifications for our country.

As for me, I’m thinking I’d better start saving my pennies considering the absolute whopper-esque number of motion pictures coming this way that must be seen in the theater, as far as I’m concerned. “Marvel’s The Avengers,” “The Dark Night Rises,” “The Amazing Spider-man,” “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,” “Prometheus,” “G.I. Joe: Retaliation,” “Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace (in 3-D),” “Battleship,” “The Hunger Games,” “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter,” the list goes on and on (and on). With those I just listed (ten films in all), I’m guessing I’ll need to save up at least $1,175 for tickets, popcorn, soda, nachos and other snacks.

Going to the movies just isn’t the same nowadays, is it?

On a personal note, I’m looking forward to getting out there this weekend and playing some guitar. Besides the most recent Master Thieves’ studio session and a shortish, hour-and-a-half “acoustic” performance at the Bohemian Moon, I can’t remember the last time I picked up the good ol’ Stratocaster and cut loose. And speaking of Stratocasters, my stepfather recently threw me an extensive selection of Jimi Hendrix recordings that I can’t wait to sit down and … err … experience. All I can say is that I’ve had Jimi on the brain lately. In fact, I almost used the legendary guitarist as my topic for today’s column.

Oh well, there’s always next week (or maybe tomorrow … don’t be late).

Facebookitis and Happy Birthday Mr. Monopoly.

Tuesday, February 7th, 2012
Shawn Magrath

I saw an interesting news report earlier today about Facebook and it’s addicting appeal. Apparently, new studies show that Facebook is as addicting, if not more addicting than tobacco and alcohol. Researchers are pointing to the fact that unlike tobacco and booze, Facebook is free, available almost anyplace at anytime and doesn’t come with the same governmental restrictions and social taboos as other addictive substances.

This brings interesting new questions to the table. What’s the cut-off for Facebookers and how much status updating is too much? What constitutes as Facebook withdrawal? Should there be a Facebook support group (I would say Facebook anonymous if it weren’t an oxymoron it itself)? And my favorite, is this a real problem?

The funny thing about Facebook addiction is that it’s only my generation, generation Y, that’s ever going to make claim to such a dumb addiction. Generation X – now there’s a generation that had real addictions: Sex, drugs and rock and roll – status updates were written in graffiti. Their parents never had to listen to lectures on the seriousness of cyberbullying, though if they did, I’m sure they would have had a blunt solution. “What? Cyber wha… Shut the computer off and go mow the lawn … go chop some firewood!”

As far as whether or not there really is such a thing as a Facebook addict (like big-foot, you don’t really believe in it but don’t want to say it doesn’t exist either), the idea of Facebook addiction easily meets 3 of the 4 symptoms of substance abuse criteria outlined in the DSM IV. Scary, huh? Even our Guru News Crew friends at CNN felt it was worth the time to highlight the seriousness of Facebook addiction in past stories and of course, they have a list of symptoms to convince people that they’re addicted; I’m still waiting for the prescription drug that cures the ailment (and if there really is a market for that, please let me know; I’ll happily invest or be the spokesman).

So, off my Facebook-I-got-a-problem-but-it’s-not-a-real-problem rant, today is the 77th anniversary of the board game Monopoly – a game that maintains a nail-biting excitement matched only by other rousing capitalist board games like The Landlord’s Game and Inflation. In celebration of the milestone, I’m going to start brainstorming ways to actually make the game fun.

Editor’s Notebook: 2/6/12

Monday, February 6th, 2012
Jeff Genung

• “Chenango sees double-digit sales tax increase.” Always nice to write a good news headline on a Monday. You’ll have to read the story to find out what the county treasurer attributes it to, of course. Or you can read only the headline, and come to the conclusion, as did one ‘30 Seconds’ poster, that “Sales tax is up because of Agro Farma. Duh. What a bunch of genius.” Indeed. Someone’s eating a hell of a lot of yogurt in Chenango County to cause a double-digit sales tax increase!

• Proud to say I did not follow the lemmings and watch the Super Bowl yesterday, even if just for the commercials. Or Madonna and M.I.A. Yikes. When was the last time we had a good, family-friendly halftime show that everybody liked? I say bag the whole thing next year and let the cheerleaders do a kickline or a pyramid or whatever cheerleaders normally do and call it a day.

• Before I devolve into yet another treatise on the weather, I’m going to call it quits for today. Tune in tomorrow for my 217th blog on, surpassing, I must note, our all-time blogging champion, Melissa Stagnaro, who ended up with 216. I win!

Super Sunday and that Bill Murray movie.

Friday, February 3rd, 2012
Shawn Magrath

I guess it wouldn’t be an appropriate blog without mentioning the Patriots / Giants game on Super Bowl Sunday. Since I’m not a big football fan myself, that’s enough said for me.

Anyone without day-long Super Bowl plans should consider checking out the Northeast Classic Car Museum this Sunday when they have a two-for-one special. They have some amazing things in that building and as a heads up, it’s much, much bigger than it looks on the outside. It’s a fun attraction and a good chance to get out of the house.

After taking a tour of Unison Industries yesterday, I’m still trying to wrap my head around some of the things they do. I watched employees assemble components no bigger than my finger nail but still a crucial piece of a larger temperature sensor that’s essential to keeping a plane in the air… that’s something to consider next time a see a plane flying overhead.

Temperatures are supposed to be back into the mid 30s this weekend, bidding this week’s 50 degree days a fond memory and we all have the groundhog to blame for it (but thank you weather, for once again being the topic of choice when I have nothing good in mind to write about). And speaking Groundhog Day, I didn’t get a chance yesterday to watch the Bill Murray movie and I’ll have to watch it tonight. You know the one I’m talking about – I just don’t know if I’m going to watch Ghostbusters one or two…

Editor’s Notebook: 2/3/12

Friday, February 3rd, 2012
Jeff Genung

• Friday seems to have worked out to be a good news/bad news kind of day, depending on your perspective. The county’s natural gas advisory committee all but gave up the ghost at a meeting earlier this week, deciding to meet half as much due to the lack of progress in the Marcellus Shale prospects in New York. On the good news front, Unison’s proudly declaring a sound, stable future in Chenango County for years to come, thanks to higher demand for its aerospace products and the success of its corporate owner, GE. That’s always good to hear.

• A shout out, again, to my unnamed friends at Chobani, who apparently read my blog a few installments back and sent me a case of their new flavors I’d lamented not having tried yet. I’ll be sure to do a taste test this weekend and report back :)

• On a similar note, I have never owned a Cadillac. Worth a shot.

• Headed over to the Arts Council tomorrow night for “Kaleidescopika” performance (hopefully that’s the last time I’ll have to try to spell that). Should be a good show … and a Members-only reception at the Bohemian Moon, to boot. Pays to be an arts supporter in this town, let me tell you!

• Got any plans for Super Bowl Sunday? … I don’t even know where I’m going with that. It’s Friday afternoon, and way too late to pretend to care about football.

• On a somber note, Brian, Julian and I just went down to Behe Funeral Home in Oxford for Fred Stagnaro’s calling hours. He was, of course, the father of our former colleague and dear friend, Melissa Stagnaro. Our hearts go out to you and your family, Melissa, and our deepest condolences on your loss.