Jessica's Reporter Blog

A break from texting

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009
Jessica Lewis

Cell phones cause distractions. This is obvious from the state laws against talking on them while driving cars. It’s more obvious if you read the CNN article about the teenage girl who fell into an open sewer hole while walking down the street because she was trying to text her friends.

While both of these things could be potentially dangerous, I saw something that seemed ever more dangerous the other day. As I was walking through Norwich, I saw a teen texting while riding his bike down the road. That was almost a week ago, and I swear, I’ve seen several more doing the same since then.

To me the problem with this scenario seems obvious, but maybe I’m just  becoming judgmental in my old age. Once you pass 25, it’s all downhill, right?

I’m decent at texting. I don’t particularly like the texting vocab or the lack of punctuation, but I can do it fairly quickly. But for even the quickest of texters it would seem that looking down and reading the screen is a must. There in lies the problem. How exactly are you supposed to watch where you’re going and text your friends at the same time. While this is dangerous when done behind the wheel, at least in a car you’re surrounded by steel and secured with a seat belt. What’s going to happen if you veer into oncoming traffic while riding a bike? The answer isn’t pleasant.

Being able to talk to your friends any time and anywhere you go can be fun, but no one needs to be so accessible that they can’t take a five minute break from the digital world.

Do it yourself

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009
Jessica Lewis

The faltering economy and a need to become more frugal has led many people to attempt “do it yourself” projects with varying degrees of success.

I’ve always been a proponent of doing things for myself. I often underestimate how complicated something truly is and think I will have no problem doing it myself. This has led me to discover that for some tasks, I’m pretty dang handy, and that others should probably be left to the professionals.

Even with my overconfidence, I still am capable of seeing when a certain task is completely outside my skill set. After reading a story posted on CNN today, I see that not everyone has that same ability. <http://www.ktvu.com/news/19922727/detail.html>

The article was about a woman who attempted to perform her own plastic surgery, at home. Without reading anymore than the headline, I knew this one would not end well. But what really surprised me was that the article insisted, this was not an isolated incident. Apparently, given the current economic situation, many people are under the impression that they too can be their own plastic surgeon.

As money becomes tight for some people, bucking down and looking for ways to save are smart ideas, but there are some areas where you really shouldn’t cut.

My glimpse of Oxford

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009
Jessica Lewis

After three years as a reporter at The Evening Sun, I’ve never seen a School Board meeting as exciting as the one in Oxford on Monday night.

Don’t get me wrong. The topic was a serious one. On the line, the job of at least one, if not two, school administrators. While it was interesting, it was far from idea. However, what made the meeting so incredible to me, was the outpouring of input from the community at large.

I can’t say how many people attended the meeting, but I know there were at least 20 teachers and twice that many community members. Despite an hour long wait in a room that was badly in need of air conditioning, all of those individuals patiently waited for the board to come out of executive session and listen to their thoughts and opinions.

Another hour passed as teachers, students, parents and tax payers voiced their support for the high school principal, and some made clear their lack of support for the superintendent.

I don’t know what effect, if any, the public’s opinions will have on the board’s final decision, but the response from the community was overwhelming. Although it often takes a polarizing event to garner this type of community attention, it always makes me happy to know that the community is paying attention, and when it matters to them, there are many who will speak their minds.

Memorial Day in a small town

Tuesday, May 26th, 2009
Jessica Lewis

I live in one of the smaller towns in Chenango County. While Otselic is far from the smallest town, (we’ve got German, McDonough and a few others beat) it’s a far cry from the larger areas like Norwich, Greene or Sherburne and the events that take place there.

Still, there is nothing like life in a small town, especially during Memorial Day weekend. Most people have probably seen their share of Memorial Day parades, but unless you’ve been to a small town like Otselic for one of these events, you haven’t fully experienced the day.

On Monday morning, I drove to South Otselic for the annual parade. As always, I, along with the rest of those in attendance, picked out a prime spot on one of the lawns along the main stretch of road in the middle of town. (No one seems to mind this intrusion onto their properties.)

Parked in a truck along the parade route was the emcee of all Otselic Valley events, James Dutton. It’s a well known fact that any event in the valley requiring an announcer, will be handled by Mr. Dutton, including sporting events, parades and whatever else may come up. None of these events would be the same without him.

The parade may not contain a ton of floats or marchers. In fact, it is usually made up of a few fire trucks, some groups of people marching, the school band and some ATVs. Occassionally we also see some tractors, horses or other animals. It might not seem like a lot, but I doubt there is another town in the world where the emcee can announce that the next truck will be driven by someone named “Oatmeal” and everyone in attendance knows exactly who to expect.

It might not have the glitz and glamor of some of the larger events, but it’s the little things that make me enjoy life in a small town.

Healthy living

Thursday, May 14th, 2009
Jessica Lewis

In the last few months, I’ve attended several health related events. The most recent were the Celebration of Women, Chenango Health Network’s Tobacco Free open house and the Go Red Chenango, healthy heart event this week.

A lot of the same organizations and businesses have been represented repeatedly at these events, and after seeing all of them, time and time again, I think it’s easier to make healthy choices than people really think.

Ok, I’m the first to admit that every now and then I like to indulge in an ice cream cone or sit around with my sisters watching marathons of House and eating junk food, but I think choosing a healthy lifestyle is more about the everyday choices than the occasional slip ups, and guess what, sometimes, it can even be fun.

I know after hearing an explanation about what a Zumba class at Aim Fitness entails, (a mix of Latin dance, cardio and some other fun sounding stuff) I was excited about the idea of trying it out. I’ve also gotten excited about some of the offerings at the Y, like the possibility of trying a spinning class or even the simplicity of spending an hour in the pool swimming laps.

A lot of people hear the word healthy and automatically think it can’t be fun, but it’s what you make it. I left Wednesday’s Heart Health event with a card for one free Latin Dance lesson, some delicious and healthy recipes provided by Sue Carson of the Canasawacta Country Club and some renewed excitement for trying to make some healthy choices.

I also stopped at Ives Cream for a cone before I left, because if you’re going to make those healthy decisions, you can afford to slip up every once in a while.

The cost of being a victim

Friday, May 8th, 2009
Jessica Lewis

Being the victim of a rape or sexual assault must be a horrible and painful experience, and in most cases, police and medical professionals do everything they can to minimize that pain. That’s why I was shocked when I read an article today about rape victims in Texas who are  being charged for medical expenses related to the collection of evidence for rape kits.

Statistics show that every two minutes, someone is the victim of an attempted or successful sexual assault. That’s not a number to be proud of, but with the regularity of these incidents, you would think the technicalities of handling things like medical exams would be easy to follow. Apparently that is not the case in Texas, where despite the existence of a fund dedicated to paying for those expenses, many women are receiving bills for medical exams related to their assault. If the bills go unpaid, phone calls from bill collectors and threats of damaging their credit score convince many women to pay the bills, even though they should never have to.

I understand that like everything else, the medical field is a business and businesses need to cover their expenses, but instead of going after a victim in these types of cases, why can’t the hospitals harass the agencies who should be responsible for footing the cost. Reason, logic and humanity should be a factor, because if the victims of sexual assault start to think that they are not only going to have to relive their assault, but also pay unnecessary bills in order to report their ordeal, women will be given another reason not to report these crimes.

Who’s afraid of the newest pandemic

Friday, May 1st, 2009
Jessica Lewis

Sure the name swine flu sounds pretty disturbing, but other than the disturbing mental images conjured up when you think about that one for a while, I have to admit, I’m not all that panicked by the newest illness to be making its way around the world.

The reasons why I’m not running for cover and shouting that the sky is falling seem pretty evident to me. Compared to many other diseases and illnesses out there, including say the regular flu, swine flu has killed a relatively small number of people and while the idea of an illness that strikes healthy, young adults is scary, I don’t really think it’s going to bring about the destruction of our entire way of life.

There are many people however, who disagree with my lack of utter panic. People who think that this newest illness could be some kind of bio-terror weapon or who are convinced that the problem is much more serious than anyone is letting on. Frankly, I’m fairly concerned that those people are much more likely to suffer health effects from stress then from swine flu, but I guess only time will tell. Let’s all calm down, wait a few weeks and then determine whether this is the next black plaque or just another needless cause for panic.

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.

Spring is in the air…

Thursday, April 2nd, 2009
Jessica Lewis

There are a lot of things in life that I don’t really like, but to be honest there are few things that I truly detest. Littering is one of those things.

Spring is finally here. Pretty much since Christmas was over, I’ve been anxiously awaiting the arrival of spring. I love the warm spring weather, the way everything starts to take on a fresh shade of green and flowers begin to bloom.

Unfortunately, the fun of spring is always ruined by something else. As soon as the snow and ice begin to melt, the first thing you see is all of the garbage lazy people have tossed on the ground over the winter months. All winter long, snow would cover the trash and hide it from view, but as soon as the temperatures begin to climb, the amount of garbage that people have tossed all year becomes apparent.

I’m not a neat freak. In fact, with an almost three year old, I’m almost always likely to find some forgotten food wrapper, juice bottle or other miscellaneous item in my car, but I’m not so lazy that I’m just going to roll down the window and toss it out. If it’s an issue, I’ll make a point to stop and throw it out in the garbage, and until then, it can stay in my car.

I’m not sure why more people can’t adopt that attitude. Unfortunately, too many refuse to take that tiniest bit of responsibility and instead throw their trash in the streets. My three year old knows better than that. It’s a simple idea, pick up after yourself.

What’s in a name?

Thursday, March 26th, 2009
Jessica Lewis

Yesterday was an exciting day for me. After five months of pregnancy, it was the day I finally got to go to the doctor’s office and find out the big surprise; boy or girl.

Although I was certain I already knew the answer, I was still excited to hear the doctor confirm that this time I would be having a girl. For the last few months, I’ve been picking out girl names and my oldest sister has been explaining that I have to have a girl so that she doesn’t have to. (After having two boys, she would rather just share a girl with me than to actually try for one again on her own.)
To my utter shock and amazement, however, the first thing I saw when the baby appeared on the screen was not indicative of a baby girl. No, I was proven wrong on Wednesday. The new addition to my home will not be a little girl as I had originally thought, but a happy little baby boy.

Of course, I will be thrilled as long as he is happy and healthy, but this does pose a dilemma, and not just because my sister may have to rethink her plans about future children. Since I was convinced that I was having a girl, I haven’t really dedicated much time to picking out a name for a little boy. In fact, I have no idea where to begin. Sure, I have the next four months to think it over, but I’ve decided a little input might help. So, any suggestions?