kevin's Reporter Blog

“Comfortable hole, Bye”

Friday, September 13th, 2013
Kevin Doonan

Cleaning out my desk has turned out to be a lot easier than I thought it would be. Moving on can be tough but everything comes to an end, every end is a new beginning, yadda yadda yadda. 
Working at The Evening Sun has been pretty awesome and I will miss it. Unfortunately gum can only be chewed so many times before it loses its flavor. 
As this is my last contribution to the paper I feel there are a few things I should clear the air about. I think guns are cool and like having them, but do not believe there is any logical explanation for every whacko to in turn have one and therefore question my own right to possess lethal weapons without 1) being a member of the mafia, 2) being a hunter 3) being an avid shooting competitor. “But I need it for protection…” lock your door, get a Taser, learn how to defend yourself. If you need a gun to defend yourself it may be because you’re overzealous or easily provoked. I would like to think we have come a long way since the O.K. Corral, but if the aggressor is packing heat then well yeah a shotgun probably would come in handy.   
Also I think people make law enforcement a necessity. Whatever slight anyone may feel about the existence of police is a fair tradeoff for the countless sex offenders and violent criminals who are to a degree kept at bay by law enforcement. I love people, I think we are all fascinating, interesting, beautiful creatures. However, I wouldn’t trust my neighbor nor the mother who bore him not to sell my kids a pound of heroin should they come on hard enough times. Within us all moors the ships of good and evil. Without the checks and balances of an organized society who’s to tell which ship will cast off. To the utopian anarchists who think otherwise, take a vacation in Columbia, maybe you’ll get lucky and someone will mention you on the radio afterwards.    
On another side note sometimes – and this is just a thought which has occurred to me – arguing about the specifics of high-volume hydraulic fracturing is a little like arguing about whether or not Santa Claus is trespassing.
Digressions aside, I love Chenango County. As a 24 year old single guy though, I find it might not quite be my speed. At least for now. I do have every intention of one day settling down and growing roots – as well as children, which also require a copious amount watering – in the area. The truth is I have neither the inkling to berth in port nor the consort to do so. So for now it’s time to go out into the world and see what there is to see. 
You haven’t heard the last of me though for I will be contributing frequently to 30 Seconds. “What the heck was that liberal garbage in today’s paper! I am canceling my subscription because I have been offended by a tittle to an article I haven’t read! Rabble rabble rabble.”
To the individuals I have worked with it, it has been great. I’ve loved everyone of you and I wish you all the best of luck.
P.S. in case anyone read my “thumb” today and did not get that I was joking, I was. I think the paper will not even notice my departure.

Anyone seen my shoe? (column)

Thursday, August 29th, 2013
Kevin Doonan

There are some things in life I just do not understand. One of the great mysteries in my life is how does someone lose a shoe? I see discarded shoes alongside the road all the time while I am driving. It really is a bizarre and commonplace sight for me … and I just don’t get it.

It’s always just one shoe at a time – never pairs of shoes – and I can never imagine a logical situation in which someone would lose a single shoe alongside the road, or really anywhere for that matter, but especially on the shoulder of a road in the middle of rural upstate New York. What was that person doing and how could they possibly have not noticed such an important article of clothing was no longer attached to their body? It is not like I’m talking about a scarf or anything that could just blow away. Maybe someone was driving along with their foot out the window, a gust of wind knocked their shoe off, and they were like … to hell with it, I’ve gone too far now and there’s a Payless up ahead. Or maybe someone was hitchhiking and they got picked up by a serial killer who always leaves a shoe behind as a statement. I don’t know.

I was driving to work the other day and I saw a sandal in the middle of Norwich’s main street. It left me wondering, did someone lose it while they were crossing the street and just didn’t notice they were missing a shoe. It’s not like North Main Street is a freeway or anything, they could have gone back and gotten it. Maybe some people just carry a spare set of footwear with them wherever they go and when a sandal falls out of their pocket they just don’t notice. I mean, what kind of excursion are people on which only requires one shoe? Unless that person only has one foot, which of course makes perfect sense. But even so, why bring the extra shoe along in the first place if the plan is just to throw it into the street.

We all lose things in life. In many ways, life is all about loss since every facet of it truly is transitory. It’s definitely a prevalent theme. I haven’t been around all that long, but even so, I have still lost many things over the years. From things as superficial as a raincoat in kindergarten (man my ma was sore with me for that one), to people and loved ones, like a beloved dog and all of my grandparents. And while some of those examples are far more serious in nature, the sense of loss was there for all of them … to varying degrees, of course. I handled each loss in a different way (the raincoat I lied through my teeth about, but mothers always know). With my dog, I kind of just ignored it and went on with my life … what could I do. But it haunted me for a time, for years I frequently had reoccurring dreams about her. Losing her changed me. Now when I am petting my current dogs I incessantly think about how their time on this Earth is limited. Figuring out how best to handle loss is not something I have mastered. I’ve broken up with girls and then pine for them for years. I guess coming to terms with the fact that everything ends is just something we all have to do soon or a later.

Still, I wonder if those unfortunate souls who lose a shoe in traffic experience the five stages of grief when faced with the debilitating and enigmatic absence of a lone piece of footwear. I imagine it goes something like this … 1) Denial: “It can’t be gone! It’s here somewhere I know it!” 2) Anger: “Who is responsible for this!?” 3) Bargaining: “Please, dear Lord, return my shoe.” 4) Depression: “Without my shoe, I can’t go on.” 5) Acceptance: “I have come to terms with my loss … and bought a new pair of shoes.”

A lot of things in life though are not so easily replaced, like grandparents for instance, so maybe losing a shoe is actually a good place to start learning an important life lesson by experiencing loss and testing our mettle.

“My trip to the hospital” or “Kevin goes on an adventure”

Friday, July 12th, 2013
Kevin Doonan

Last weekend I was being real cool goofing around in some shallow creek when I slammed my shins into a protruding rock submerged beneath the the murky water. Now my left leg fared fairly well, but my right shin was demolished. I had a gash from about here to China.
It didn’t really hurt – really I promise it didn’t … not in the least –, however I was mighty concerned about it getting infected. I guess I have just watched too many documentaries about the Civil War or something like that. Still I told myself I didn’t need to get it checked out, that I would be fine with enough hydrogen peroxide. Subsequently I did not consult any sort of medical authority, instead I relied on my innate manly sense to do what is right – meaning absolutely nothing.
And things were peachy … for a time. I made sure to pour ample amounts of over the counter disinfectants and smear my wound with liberal amounts of Bacitracin. Lo and behold, with me tender nursing it began to scab up nicely. My short attention span started to get the best of me though and my enthusiasm for dumping bucket loads of hydrogen peroxide on my leg began to wane.
A couple of days later after going for a run I noticed that my ankle was looking a little odd. On a slightly closer inspection I realized it had swollen to almost twice its normal seize. Putting pressure on the upper portion of my Tibialis anterior it came to my attention that it too was swollen and after a few more pokes it also dawned on me that I had lost feeling in it.
So I got an ice pack.
The next day I went into work. Joking around with the intern I mentioned my horrific war wound and felt complied to show it off to in an effort to illustrate my epic tale. She starting cracking up and suggested I get it looked at. I brushed her off comment, making sure to strike a heroic pose before walking away. But when I got back to my cubical I checked it out again for myself. Things had really changed and for the better. Not only was my ankle swollen but a halo of enflamed scarlet flesh now encircled the gash which spontaneously began to ache in a disconcerting manner while I examined it. Now I was starting to get a tad bit concerned, though still not enough to actually do anything about it. After all I know I’ve read some place that if the immune system isn’t challenged frequently enough it starts to weaken.
I let a few more days pass without taking action, all the while the intern gleefully informing me the delight she was going to take when it came time to tell me she told me so. She also pointedly made sure I understood the time for her to tell me “I told you so” would be right after the amputation.
It all finally got to me.
So I headed over to the ole’ UHS Memorial walk-in clinic – not the ER mind you, panic hadn’t completely robbed me of my pride … yet – to get a fix on the situation with my now throbbing shin. Surprisingly, not long thereafter a doctor was examining my discolored leg. I winced as he pressed all around the red ring of deathly looking skin and braced myself for the inevitable words, “we’re going to have to take it.” Instead though he said, “see how it’s not oozing or there is any pus? That means there is no infection.”
Ah.
I asked to prescript me some antibiotics anyway.
“If it will make you feel better,” he shrugged.
It did. I may not have needed them but some how leaving with that prescription made me feel as though going to the hospital had been the right thing to do.

Well that’s one way of doing it

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013
Kevin Doonan

I happened upon a rather interesting news story earlier today. This guy in New Mexico was seen having sex with a women while he was driving – allegedly at a high speed to boot – before running a red light and crashing into another car. The unclothed women was ejected from the vehicle via the front windshield. Luckily aside from a series of cuts on her face and head she is reportedly in stable condition. The guy on the other hand was not ejected from the vehicle so naturally he attempted to make his get away by driving away and leaving his damsel – I’m not actually aware of her martial status but one can hope – in severe distress. Fortunately someone managed to get the keys out of the ignition preventing the would be fleet footed Don Juan from making a clean exit.
But did he let a little thing like that discourage him? Of course not! For a man as ingenious as he there is always a way. So in an effort to evade detection he made for a nearby cacti, expertly concealing himself in amongst the prickly vegetation. Unfortunately some loudmouthed witness must have tipped the cops off because they managed to find him despite his brilliant concealment.
As is to be expected, once he was detained the man did what anyone else in their right mind would have done and refused to keep his pants on, much to the chagrin on the police cruiser’s backseat.
During the course of their investigation police found a half empty bottle of vodka in the man’s vehicle and it is also alleged that he really was quite drunk.
Thankfully it doesn’t sound as though anybody was injured too badly but I can only imagine what it most have been like to be the driver of the other car. I doubt they saw that one coming.

Groucho Marx

Friday, March 29th, 2013
Kevin Doonan

Groucho Marx, one of my favorite comedians penned a great line when he wrote in the 1950s, “I don’t want to belong to any club that would accept me as a member.” Seemingly a self-deprecating comment, Groucho Marx was responding to a club which had asked him why he wanted to cancel his membership with them. Though Marx seems to be making fun of himself, in reality it was a clever and disarming statement that put an end to any further inquiries. In his biography, Marx makes fun of the club on top of that he was well known for his sardonic sense of humor so it is more then likely the comment was meant to be ironic.

Making ‘Progress’

Tuesday, February 5th, 2013
Kevin Doonan

Last Friday marked the conclusion of this year’s Evening Sun edition of Progress Chenango. As has proudly been articulated by many of those involved in the process, Progress Chenango is among the best of its publication class in the state. This was my first year being involved in the project, and I found it to be an interesting experience. In the months leading up to Progress, the other affiliates of the newsroom spoke of Progress in hushed tones reminiscent Harry Potter’s cronies’ reluctance to say Lord Voldemort’s name out loud. In fact I had no clear idea of what Progress even was until it came time to sit down and discuss the journalistic endeavor as a conglomerate of writers, editor, and sales team. To this day I am not sure if the others really just weren’t trying to mess with me a bit to put the fear of Progress in me.

In truth I don’t really find Progress to be as overwhelming as I was led to believe it would be. Just as in school, as long as I stayed ahead of the deadline and didn’t procrastinate to a debilitating degree, I managed to avoid the sleepless nights and stressful crunching I had heard so much about. Not to say I didn’t have to clock in more time at the office than normal, but not to the degree where it felt as though Progress was eating me alive. Now that the dust has settled, I can look at the endeavour with pride, but also with an appreciation for how much more I have left to learn.  

Women in combat

Friday, January 25th, 2013
Kevin Doonan

Jan. 24, 2013: the United States government finally lifts its 1994 ban preventing U.S. female soldiers from assuming combat roles. An estimated 14 percent of the United States Armed Forces are women. “Today every American can be proud that our military will grown even stronger, with our mothers, wives, sisters and daughters playing a greater role in protecting this country we love,” President Barack Obama said subsequent to the lifting of the ban.

Each and everyone of us is indoctrinated with the legend of Rosie the Riveter. In elementary school we are taught how she represented the growing equality between the sexes as well as symbolic of American women’s wartime contribution. Relatively unheard of in the west though, is the tale of Rosie the Riveter’s counterparts across the ocean and the role they played in the bloodiest conflict of all time.

Soviet female combatants died in droves along side their male counterparts fighting the Nazis in Eastern Front trenches, a theater of the war characterized for its staggering brutality. Female Soviet soldiers gained distinction specifically as proficient snipers and fighter pilots, but also fought the Germans manning machine guns and working in tank crews.

Historians have established a remarkable trend regarding the stark difference between the conduct of German soldiers on the Eastern and Western Fronts. Without receiving any known orders from the high command, German soldiers who were shipped between the two fronts, drastically changed the way they functioned. Historians have traced a multiplicity of individual soldiers who fought with a measure of civility on the Western Front. But when those same soldiers were shipped to the Eastern Front, they would cut loose, raping, pillaging, and enacting all manner of war crimes. Then the same soldiers would be freighted back to the Western Front and immediately revert to pseudo-civility. The most plausible explanation for this abrupt change is the indoctrination of German soldiers with the notion of Slovak people as subhuman, though even this general explanation still leaves one wanting. It was in this context of unimaginable brutality and revolting defilement that the Russian female soldier existed.

To this day, the most distinguished female sniper in the world was a member of the Red Army who spent her wartime days picking off soldiers brandishing the swastika. Lyudmila Mykhailivna Pavlichenko served, along with 2,000 other women, as a Soviet sniper during WWII, and by the end of the war she had 309 confirmed kills.

Before the Nazi war machine assailed their Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact cosigners, Pavlichenko had been an amateur markswomen and history student at the Kiev University.
In 1941, when the Soviet-German War broke out, Pavlichenko volunteered as an infantrymen and was assigned to the Red Army’s 25th Rifle Division, which fought the Wehrmacht and the Romanian Armed Forces at Odessa and throughout the Crimean Peninsula.

Pavlichenko was later wounded in 1942 during the siege of Sevastopol, at which point she was pulled from active duty having already become a symbol of heroism for the Soviets. When Pavlichenko recovered she toured the United States and Canada, giving public speeches and was received by Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt, making her the first Soviet to be a presidental guest at the White House. While touring the United States, Pavlichenko made a speech in Chicago. In her speech Pavlichenko famously pointed out she, at the age of 25, had killed 309 fascists, and asked the men in the audience if they felt they had spent enough time hiding her shadow to clamorous applause.

During the war Pavlichenko became a major and received the Gold Star medal along with the tittle of Hero of the Soviet Union, the highest distinction in the Soviet Union. Pavlichenko’s face was also plastered all over Soviet postage stamps. She served the remainder of the war as a sniper instructor.

After the war ended, Pavlichenko completed her education and worked as a historian until she died at the age of 58 in 1974.

Another intriguing female Russian soldier who gained distinction during WWII, was a fighter pilot named Lydia Litvyak. Litvyak, also known as the “White Lily of Stalingrad,” flew on 66 combat missions and was awarded the most distinguished Soviet honors including the tittle of Hero of the Soviet Union and the Order of Lenin. Today Litvyak is still considered to be the world’s foremost female ace. By 1943 Litvyak had received the Order of the Red Star and was chosen to take part in an elite tactic of “free hunter.” Litvyak working with another Red Army pilot would track down and eliminate enemy fighters of on their own accord.

The object of Litvyak’s fate is still disputed. A first hand account form one of her fellow Red Army aviators was unable to verify whether or not she was shot down. What is certain is that Litvyak never returned to base after an Aug. 1, 1943, engagement with a German bomber and its escort. According to Litvyak’s comrade, while she was engaging the German bomber she failed to notice a detachment of fighters swoping around to attack her from above. Although she was able to survive the initial assault, Litvyak was forced to flee into nearby cloud cover, with Luftwaffe fighters hot on her heels. Litvyak’s comrade last saw her, through a gap in the clouds, pursued by eight German fighter planes, her plane trailing smoke.

After the war, a 39 year hunt was conducted to locate the White Lily of Stalingrad’s crash site. A body was discovered and authenticated as Litvyak’s, but only after a controversial and unverified autopsy. Some historians maintain Litvyak was captured alive and served time as a German POW. Years latter, a friend of Litvyak identified a woman on Swedish television as White Lily of Stalingrad.

An historic model of peace under fire

Friday, December 28th, 2012
Kevin Doonan

Last week Shinzo Abe was elected as Japan’s new prime minister. Abe has promised to review Japan’s post-WWII constitutional security policies and no one seems even remotely concerned that the only national to have ever constitutionally rejected war, is on the path to rearmament. After WWII, Japanese policymakers made it unconstitutional to have a military, in an act of defiance to their American occupiers who were intent on rebuilding the defeated nation as an armed ally in the impending Cold War.

Since signing its new constitution, Japan has prospered economically, going from a nation leveled by firebombing and atomic weapons, to one of the strongest economies in the world. Not having to seep money into a bloated defense budget has been one of the attributes lending to Japan’s economic success, though there have been many other contributions.

Today Japanese WWII-era policy makers having passed from power, policy makers who understood firsthand the horrors of war after they had witnessed their friends and loved ones mutilated or burned to death. Since new generations, who cannot recollect the horrendous nature of war, have come to power in Japan there has been a concerted push to reinstate the military. Already Japan has developed a small military under the pretense of creating a defense force. Japan even committed a small symbolic detachment to the war in Iraq dispute, explicit warnings that the gesture would garner Japanese citizens negative and unnecessary attention from extremists.

Another hallmark of goat fanaticism falls victim

Thursday, December 20th, 2012
Kevin Doonan

Since 1966, a guerilla war has raged beyond the confines Sweden’s Scandinavian shoals. Authorities have battled each year to protect a majestic goat, constructed out of 3.6 tons of hay. The elephantine goat is erected every holiday season as a Scandinavian symbol of gift-giving, predating Santa Claus.

Over the past 56 years, only 12 of the goats have survived the onslaught of arsonist Swedes, who annually concoct schemes of goatly demise. This year, the goat hunters were able to evade security patrols, and set the mountain-high Scandinavian Yule symbol alight, even despite an icy coating designed as a flame retardant.

In years past the goat nimrods have utilized other means to dispose of the afront to grinchdom. In 1976 there was the famous high-velocity frontal assault with a car bumper. Then there was the confounded ploy of 2010, to swoop in low with a helicopter, and whisk the towering hay bail away to Stockholm.

Although the prodigious goat met its demise via inferno, the contest of wills shall resume once more next holiday season. With no end to the hostilities in sight, the Swedish goat wars may one day spell doom for giant symbolic goats across the world.

Russians save elephants with distilled potatoes?

Monday, December 17th, 2012
Kevin Doonan

Today in the news there was a story about a Russian zoo director claiming vodka saved the lives of two elephants. When the elephant’s trailer caught on fire, they were forced to wait, exposed to the elements, in the deadly cold of a Siberian winter until back up was able to arrive. Despite spending hours in the frigid cold, the elephants only suffered minor frostbite on the tips of their ears.

How were they able to escape this potentially life threatening scenario virtually unscathed? By drinking 10 liters of vodka diluted with warm water, claims zoo director Rostislav Shilo. The ten liters of liquor, enough to kill a grown man and the mother that bore him, was reportedly not even enough to hamper the walking mountain’s ability to operate a motorized vehicle. Yet it was apparently enough to save them the pain of breaking off frostbitten extremities despite the fact that alcohol thins the blood and lowers the body’s core temperature.

What a stereotype though, Russians curing the cold with vodka, God forbid they tried using a blanket. Now what will the rest of the staff drink?