Mike's Reporter Blog

Let’s be friends!

Friday, October 12th, 2007
Michael McGuire

“I can’t grow facial hair that looks cool so I’m selling these cards and flag pins to make a living.”

If I crept up on you in your office and handed you a card that said that, would you give me money?


Well, apparently I probably would.

I fell for a similar scam a few days ago.

Except the guy didn’t suck at growing a beard. Instead, he claimed he was deaf.

Ironically, I didn’t even hear him come up behind me. I was typing at my computer and he tapped my shoulder.

“Can I help you?” I said, a little startled, no idea who this guy is or what he wants.

No response.

Just staring, and silence.

It was awkward.

I was scared.

Then he hands me a card.

“Let’s Be Friends,” it read. “I am a deaf person selling these cards and flag pins for a living. I love you.”

The card had a chintzy American Flag pin attached to it. On the back was the alphabet for the deaf.

At the bottom it said “Donation, any price you wish.”

“Oh, you’re deaf and you need money,” I say out loud. “Now I understand. That makes perfect sense. Here.”

I handed him $3.

“Sound good?” I asked.

He thanked me in sign language and took off.

Only a real idiot says “sound good” to a deaf person.

I felt pretty stupid.

But, I felt even stupider the more I thought about the whole thing.

What did him being deaf have to do with selling pins for a living?

I actually got kind of mad.

This guy ambushes me at work, ignoring the “employees only” sign and receptionist’s desk, and startles me into forking over a few bucks – just because he’s deaf?

But I realized, the shame was all on me.

If a beggar who wasn’t deaf walked into my office unannounced and asked me for money, I would have told him/her to hit the bricks.

But this guy was “deaf,” so I didn’t. Instead, I gave him money, because, on instinct, I associated not being able to hear with needing a handout.

I don’t know many, but I’m guessing a handout is the last thing a deaf person needs or wants.

Lesson learned, hopefully.

The gloves are off

Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007
Michael McGuire

With the Department of Energy’s designation of National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors, the NYRI fight is living up to it’s billing as a heavyweight slugfest.

Over what?

State’s rights vs. federal oversight.

It’s a rivalry that’s had re-match after re-match after re-match.

In this case, the feds say we won’t have enough juice. The state grid operator says we will.

The state says its energy policy is sound. The feds say it needs a babysitter.

NYRI’s had some victories. It’s opponents have had some victories.

And, while neither will come out and say it, Washington and Albany have been on opposite sides of this issue since day one.

So, if the state Public Service Commission denies NYRI’s project, it would only be fitting, all things considered, if the feds went ahead and approved it anyway.

Something to believe in

Thursday, September 27th, 2007
Michael McGuire

We don’t give much love to farmers anymore.

But I’m giving a big Thumbs up to South New Berlin dairy farmer Ken Dibbell.

When it comes to taking action and thinking outside the box, Ken’s an inspiration – at least he is to me.

He’s got a lot of ideas about how to save small dairy farms from extinction. Some are more popular than others. He’s not afraid to tell you about them, either.

And for an old guy, between farming and fighting, Ken’s got a lot of energy, too (it seems like he’s marching on Washington every other day).

But lately, Ken doesn’t seem to think his efforts will wind up doing any good.

“So why keep doing it,” I asked.

He replied with a smile, “You’ve got to let them know you’re still alive.”

And does he ever (He’s still water-cooler talk in at least one federal building in D.C., because he showed there up with a pitch fork and a list of demands. Although, he says the pitchfork was just for show).

Well, Ken is still alive – more alive than most people half or three-fourths his age, it seems.

He fights for what he believes in. Most people say he’s on the right side, too.

And win or lose, Ken seems happy.

He’s living proof that it pays to believe in something.

Shopping cart marriage legalized, but not yet acceptedized

Tuesday, September 18th, 2007
Michael McGuire

“By the power vested in me by the City of Norwich, I now pronounce you cart and cart. You may conveniently interlock with each other for storage purposes.”

The crowd-on-wheels stationed outside the Norwich City Court Monday rattled their cages in thunderous approval.

“Atta boy, Barry,” Somecart yelled out. “Show ‘er the ole swinging gate.”

With that, Mr. and Mrs. Barry and Randi Greasedbearing, the history-making bride and groom, were showered with shredded sales flyers as they headed for the South Plaza in a rented cart-caddy for their 10-day honeymoon.

The first-ever legal shopping cart wedding had concluded.

About 30 similar ceremonies followed in what many on-hand say was a day-long celebration of love and cart’s rights.

“None of this seems real,” said Randi. “I’m still afraid that it’s all just a dream.”

Just over 24 hours after the unprecedented love-fest, a record number of carts have already been popping-up in blissful pairs on lawns and street corners throughout the city.

According to legal experts, however, Randi’s dream, and the dream of several hundred other carts, could turn into a nightmare.

Officials in Albany are already threatening to challenge the city’s recently passed cart marriage law in Supreme Court on the grounds that “it’s really retarded.”

Others want it banned based on religious and moral standards.

“In the bible it says Adam and Eve,” said Wilton Flowers, a self-proclaimed member of the moral majority. “Not Wheelie and Squeak.”

In fact, it doesn’t mention shopping carts at all in the Bible, experts point out. That’s prompted some civil rights activists to call for a re-write of the good book.

“It’s plain and simple; by not including them in his Bible, God has discriminated against shopping carts,” said Sue Anne Litigate, a legal analyst for A-Cart-heid, a non-profit cart’s rights group. “We don’t care who re-writes it, as long as carts get a fair shake.”

In anticipation of the new carriage-friendly Bible testament, married or soon-to-be-wed carts have been seen wearing shirts that read, “The Greatest Story Ever Rolled.”

Even armed with the bible and the law, things aren’t looking up for the carts’ cause. Currently, over a dozen suits challenging the marriages in some form have been filed in state and federal courts. With no legal precedent set, many are unsure how justices will rule in these landmark cases. When informally polled if they were pro or anti cart, 99 percent of surrogate court judges replied, “are you serious?” The other one percent laughed.

While the judges’ positions are inconclusive, the public is clearly split.

Ironically, two separate groups, one for and one against the law, say they both plan to sue God if he rules in favor of the other side.

However the chips fall, Barry and Randi say they’ll always be in love.

“So maybe we won’t get a tax-break,” Barry said, sipping on a Virgin Daiquiri outside the Tractor Supply, enjoying his 10-day vacation. “Big deal.”

“It was still the best day of my life,” Randi added.

Funny like a hole in the head

Tuesday, September 11th, 2007
Michael McGuire

“Lard and Clear.”

That was the headline on Monday’s New York Post describing an unfit and scantily clad Britney Spears’ train wreck performance at MTV’s Video Music Awards over the weekend.

That’s really mean, unfair – and funny.

But no one will be laughing if she winds up like Anna Nicole Smith – dead. Sure, Brit’s given us plenty of fodder these days, but behind the laughs it appears her life is falling apart. I’m the first one to admit it’s easy to forget that when you’re busting a gut.

And I’m the first to admit it’s hard to feel bad for celebrities. But we have to either love them or hate them. No more kick ‘em while their down and hug them when they pick themselves back up. No more flip-flopping.

If Britney doesn’t get it together, and winds up like all the rest of Hollywood’s cursed, we can’t take the easy way out and feel bad – we should have felt bad while it was happening. It’s an insult to speak or act otherwise. Instead, I say we force ourselves keep laughing, and see how that feels.

But that would be mean, right?

Live at Colorscape

Saturday, September 8th, 2007
Michael McGuire

It’s hot here at Colorscape, but everything else – the music, art, food and folks – is still cool.

Sorry. That was a cheesy line, but there’s a lot going on here and it’s hard to concentrate, so I’m giving you the best I got.

But no amount of handmade crafts, crazy Irish folk singers or flavored coffee – what’s currently occupying most of my attention – will keep The Evening Sun will from providing live updates and web logs from Chenango County’s biggest festival.

Not sure if the weather will hold up, but no one here seems to be worried about it.

Summertime blues

Wednesday, September 5th, 2007
Michael McGuire

The summer is over, and I can’t help but feeling like I didn’t enjoy it enough.

Things I used to do daily from June to September – ride bike, camp, swim, and stay out later than usual – I don’t have time to do them anymore, it seems.

These days, it’s extra hours at work, weeknight commitments, and weekend obligations. Between the work, weddings and events, the majority of the summer is spoken for before it even begins. That makes it hard to enjoy it like we used to – care free.

Most of you are probably saying, “Well, welcome to life as an adult, Sonny.” If so, you’re right. It’s time to grow up.

But I’m not sure what’s worse; feeling bad for wasting a summer or accepting that you did because you’re getting old, and that makes it OK.

Drunk driving a growing concern

Monday, August 27th, 2007
Michael McGuire

I had to convince three different people not to drive drunk this past weekend. I didn’t know them really, they were mutual acquaintances, but that shouldn’t ever make difference. What’s wrong is wrong.

And what struck me was the idea that I was being irrational about the whole thing. That taking a cab was a stupid thing. Is that an irrational idea? These people seemed to think so.

They’re not alone. There’s plenty of people out there who don’t have any fear, or consideration, when it comes to driving drunk. These are often people who have already been caught for doing it once or twice before, too. I was talking with someone else about my weekend experience, and they asked the question, “what is it going to take to make them stop?”

Short of killing themselves or someone else, no idea.

Driving drunk seems to be as much of an addiction for some as drinking is for others. For some, getting behind the wheel after a night of partying is as, if not more important, than the party itself. Taking their keys is like taking an NRA member’s guns away.

I’d try to offer an explanation, some insight into why people feel the need to drive drunk, but there isn’t one. It baffles me. Passing out at home, not having to get-up and get your car and challenging the law are too important for some people. They have to do it. Hopefully those reasons, which are the only ones I can see as to why people drive drunk, will justify the consequences that’ll eventually come every offender’s way. But I doubt they will.

“Fair” assessment

Wednesday, August 8th, 2007
Michael McGuire

Tuesday was my day at the fair. It went great. I think we got a pretty good story out of it, too.

If I had had it my way, the whole thing might have gone completely different.

Originally, I was really hoping to spend the day “in the life” of a carnival worker. Didn’t happen.

Instead I worked with a bunch of real nice people doing a bunch of unusual (to me) odd jobs. Things couldn’t have worked out better.

So it’s like Garth Brooks sang, “Sometimes I thank God… da da dum… for unanswered prayers.”

Looking back on it, I’m not sure what I would’ve got out of working a carnival. Carnies have long hours and spend a lot of time on the road. From what I’ve gathered, it’s a job like most – not much glamour, plenty of hard work. A story, all by itself, that you can find anywhere.

What I learned to appreciate from the fair is; it takes all kinds. Not just carnies. Sounds cheesy, but honestly, most things in life are (I still get goose bumps when I hear The Scorpions “Wind of Change” – you do to).

It takes all sorts of people to make the fair work. It takes the derby car drivers who brought the fans who bought the pies. Or in my case, vice-versa. It takes the caller barking at you on the midway to play their game to scare you into visiting the ag area to see how a farm works. It takes people who can laugh at themselves and others to make the fair a good time, understanding that there wouldn’t be much to laugh at all if everyone were the same. I’ve learned to appreciate everyone and everything at the fair. Because it’s always been about the people.

Real people love “Single-Wide”

Thursday, August 2nd, 2007
Michael McGuire

There are a lot of great local festivals these days. It seems like there’s one every weekend.

Although, I don’t think there’s anything going on this Friday and Saturday.

That got me thinking; if I had to keep the streak alive, what kind of event would I bring to Norwich?

So I’ve come up with a festival idea for the future. It’ll probably never get off the ground, but it’s fun anyway…

“Chenango Single-Wide Showdown 2008: The biggest, nastiest trailer rally this side of Hot Springs, Ark. Folks who like the calm and quiet of their Trailer Park need not apply!”

Trailers of all kinds – from rotten bottoms to high tankers – would be towed in from far and wide. With the promise of music, food and no cops, Norwich would be smothered with propane-toting Landmarines.

Here’s some possible testimonials from satisfied attendees:

“I was at the Rolling Septic Review last year in Tulsa, and I’ve got to say, the Chenango Single-Wide is the rowdiest, most care-free weekend I’ve spent since getting paroled. The “trailer Jenga” was worth the price of admission alone. Those people know how to run a rally.” – Cherry Stem, Hobbs, New Mexico.

“I’ve never seen so many crab-grass patches get laid down in my life, and I’ve been at this a longtime.” – Sally “Brown” McStain, Montpelier, Vermont.

“We got married, had our reception and went on our Honeymoon in a trailer at Single-Wide. That was awesome. What was really awesome is that we got to move into it afterward. The Single-Wide staff said they didn’t want it back. Also,according to Guinness’ records, all that – marriage, reception, honeymoon, life – has never happened before all in the same place. That’s pretty neat.” – Eric “Cool FeBreze” Rogers, Hornell, NY.

Here would be the tag line “Blues people like the Blues festival, art people love Colorscape and athletic people like Gus Macker… Real people love Single-Wide.”