Matt's Reporter Blog

I’m Scared

Wednesday, July 27th, 2016
Matt White

I’m scared. Very… with the overall general lack of accountability of character when it comes to those that we place in high position for our country. Specifically abuzz this week: Melania Trump gave a speech during the early hours of the Republican National Convention that echoed that of Michelle Obama for the same purpose on the flip side of the coin years’ prior. It was clear that, whether intentional or not, or by Mrs. Trump’s hand or not – many  of the passages uncannily mirrored the first lady’s speech. Many argued that some of the words were the same, but I disagree-a writer would rightly be out on their ear if they tried pulling this baloney. What’s frightens me most isn’t necessarily the fact that she didn’t author the speech and then took a majority of the credit, but the fact that so many are complacent and accepting that she’s not accountable for the words that come out of her mouth-regardless of who “wrote” them. The Trump train was quick to point the finger at some one else, resulting in an unwitting scapegoat to take the fall; an obvious patsy. Where I come from, YOU are responsible for the words that come out of YOUR own mouth, but yet even many that I’ve know for years somehow justified a pass on the pretty college dropout. I don’t get it. We as Americans are facing a major accountability issue in politics that I fear is only going to get worse within the next four years. Same scenario on the democratic ticket: If any other American government employee were to act as egregiously and irresponsibly as Clinton did as Secretary of State, that person would be imprisoned or dealt with like ex-communicated defector ala Snowden.  These truly are scary times we’re living in.

Britain’s brilliant exit strategy.

Monday, July 11th, 2016
Matt White

I congratulate the scores of British citizens who voiced their opinions at the polls, collectively deciding to withdraw their country from the European Union. Many have protested that the decision will inevitably lead to a ‘buyer’s remorse’ taste in the coming months, and financiers are forecasting a dismal effect for global markets; but that remans to be seen. My only wish it that the U.S. would get on with making major decisions via referendums as our British counterparts successfully did with their ‘Brexit’ Poll yesterday. Anyone that knows me also knows my contempt for the electoral college, delegate weight and the like–and I honestly feel that the ‘Brexit’ Poll is an excellent example of how efficient, transparent decision-making can be done. I applaud the British government and its populace for their straightforward approach. Instead, we’re told by our government that making choices via referendum or popular vote is inefficient, ill-conceived and in conflict with the principles of democracy? That’s a bitter pill to swallow with 2016 technology.

Say cheese…all of you.

Monday, October 5th, 2015
Matt White

White/Lake Family

The second half of this past weekend was fantastic. While Saturday was a bit gloomy, Sunday proved to be bight and sunny and colorful. The Giants won and the Cowboys lost, so that was good. But what really has me smiling on Monday was that I was able to capture the loving smiles of my great family all in one picture – without craftily wielding my Photoshop chops.
Between my fiancee Rachel and I, we have seven children. While she’ll be quick to point out that she only has one child – the other half dozen share my last name – the point is we’re all collectively a family.
The logistics of which can be daunting at times, especially with one bathroom in house. They range in age between 15 and five, so with all the sports and activities that they’re involved in, it’s a bit of a celestial phenomenon when we’re all in the same place at the same time.
Fortunately, I seized the opportunity to record this rare glimpse of my gaggle in one photo – so we loaded up the Volvo (and Rachel’s Jetta – since we’re a two-car pack when we all travel at once) and headed out to the early Fall countryside of McDonough for a nice fall photograph that we can display on the wall and include with those upcoming family Christmas cards that I find so annoying.
Much to my surprise, the whole thing went well… and aside from a few – lets say candids – everyone complied and were more than cooperative.
There could have been a little more color on the trees, but hey – there was no way I was going to get this bunch together again until Christmas morning – I have to lure them with gifts, you see.
Thankfully, my meager photography skills yielded some passable portraits, and another year goes on the wall. All is well.

“Pumpkin” flavor: It’s like Fall in a cup.

Thursday, August 27th, 2015
Matt White

Evidently, everyone loves fall. Everyone. So much so that it’s become a cliche of sorts, what with autumn-colored everything and pumpkin flavored EVERYTHING dominating coffee shops, breweries and even fast food chains – there’s no longer room at the table for any of the other seasons now that pumpkins are in season.
Nowadays, it seems that it can’t be fall – or autumn, whichever you prefer – without pumpkins. I don’t get it.
Buy why the pumpkin? I mean – isn’t it really just a big ugly squash that no one knew what to do with at one point?
When I was a kid, we used the bulbous wrinkly orbs for two things only: carving and smashing. Of course, there was pumpkin pie… but we all know pumpkin pie is dead last in the lineup of “actual” pies. Apple, blueberry, banana-upside-down—you know, FRUIT pies; that’s where it’s at.
The Pumpkin pie: It’s a vegetable pie, really. A mashed–up vegetable flesh scraped from the head of a jack-o-lantern. Practically a chicken pot-pie.
I have questions.
1) How did pumpkin “flavor” become so dang popular?
2) Is there some secret marketing collaborative hell bent on selling useless produce?
3) Lastly, why not let acorn, zucchini or butternut have a shot at fame?
It can’t possibly be because pumpkin won the garden beauty contest of 1533. Let’s face it, they’re all pretty ugly.
Try imagining the scene of the first human that attempted to eat a pumpkin. That person was either very curious and daring, or very hungry—you can’t just crack open a pumpkin and start munching away.No, the road to savoring this beast is a labor of love… and spices. And pounds of sugar.
Plain cooked pumpkin tastes as close to mud as I’d like admit. It is a bland, slimy and somehow chalky mush that you HAVE to add at least a half dozen other ingredients to in order to be made palatable.
And then, after a few eggs of a chicken are tossed into the mix, it has to be cooked down to reduce for hours. Who thought of this?
Only then do we get a product that UGG-Schlepping teens and droves of force-caffeinated soccer moms refer to as “Pumpkin Flavor” anything.
But, the harsh reality is that we should just call it a “Fall Flavored” cappuccino and be done with it.
I hate the taste of actual pumpkin, but I do love me an occasional molten-lava-hot paper cup of pumpkin “flavored” liquid.
It’s like fall in a cup. Mmm, delicious.

Like a Snow Day in May. (yeah, that’s a thing)

Friday, May 22nd, 2015
Matt White

My mobile phone is perpetually inundated with notifications, voice-mails, emails, twitter alerts and on and on… So much so that it sometimes takes a day or two to filter through them all and bring myself up to date on everything that’s happening around me.
To my surprise, this week I received an automated message from the Norwich City School Superintendent kindly reminding us to go vote on the budget, before dropping the bomb.
Apparently, last winter wasn’t harsh enough. Somehow NCSD—and some others around the county—ended the snow season with one of those prized snow days to spare. Whomever the powers-that-be decided that students would get an extra day off, extending their Memorial Day Weekend into Tuesday, you know… that day we all have to be back on the books.
That being said, I’m Jealous.
In my entire career as a student in the NCSD system, never did we receive an extra day off.
In fact I recall that Dr. Bob Cleavland would have us in school when even the “walkers” would need to hitch a ride with a plow truck to make it in sans tardy. Uphill, both ways.
Okay, so maybe I’m not “jealous,” but the notion of a fair-weather freebie does have me reflecting a bit on priorities, and I’m having trouble tacking down how we can afford to give students a day off when the list of mandates and nonsensical common core standards continue to increase.
So, while I’m at work on Tuesday, I’ll be sure to wish my kids in daycare a happy and productive “snow day” as I push through my “freebie,” cause all that scratch is going to the sitter.

follow me on twitter: @evesunmatt

A place in the Sun.

Thursday, January 8th, 2015
Matt White

It’s been a ridiculously cold week here in Chenango County to say the least. Despite windchills hovering on the negative side of the mercury, things have been steadily heating up in terms of deadline pressure for all of us here at the Evening Sun as we place finishing touches on 2015′s Progress Chenango edition—due to hit shelves in just a few short weeks.
As a part of that extra workload, I toured the Raymond facility in Greene for the first time ever on Wednesday. What an experience.
As if the sheer size plant wasn’t deceiving from the glimpse you catch of it on route 12 at 55 mph, the level of morale, integrity and quality was equally fascinating.
I’ve worked in several fabrication shops, factories, ect. over the years— let me tell you—those were all small-time compared to what Raymond has going on. Moreover, each of the 1,600-plus employees that work there all seem to be happy and proud to be a part of the Raymond family.
And why wouldn’t they?
I’m willing to bet that there are very few local companies—small or large—that have made as deep of an impact on their particular industry as Raymond has had in the field of material handling. Raymond invented, patented and made the pallet an industry standard three years after the invention of the first pallet jack… all right here in Chenango County, NY… in the tiny Village of Greene.
Consider this. Every single item you have touched today has traveled through a chain of distribution that is based upon pallets invented in Greene. Those simple wooden pallets are basically the DNA of commerce. Tractor trailers that you see driving down the road were designed around the pallet. 100 percent of anything you can buy off a shelf in a store came in through the receiving door on a pallet —more often than not— moved out of a trailer by a Raymond fork truck designed, manufactured and assembled from the ground-up in Chenango County.

The pride runs deep there, and that’s something I can definitely  get behind.
Needless to say, I’m excited to write at least one of my Progress stories.
Also of notable mention this week, I received confirmation earlier today that  the Chenango United Way has reached their $421,000 goal. What an amazing feat!.
For a bit there it seemed as if the organization would only top 85 percent of that goal, but with a healthy combination of tenacity on the parts of Victoria Mitchell and Elizabeth Monaco, and the generous giving spirit of Chenango county citizenry — it all worked out in the end. Great job ladies!
With that, I need to get to work.

Here’s to a great 2015, folks!

A smoke-screen of progress, or the real deal? You decide.

Thursday, November 6th, 2014
Matt White

Progress is great, Especially when economic progress takes hold right here in the heart of Chenango County. If you were to take a look back at a snapshot of our beloved Route 12 corridor say 20 or even 10 years ago, it’s easy to see that things have dramatically changed in our ever-evolving bit of small town USA.
Back when Burger King was Carrol’s, and the Great American was in the South Plaza there was only one shopping center south of the city, an area which now hosts several big-box retailers and three or four shopping plazas for your consumption pleasure.
In the next month or so, the Town of Norwich will become home to two more brick and mortar businesses that are new to our area, both of which are in the process of developing and building those locations from the ground-up.
As I sat at the traffic light in between two shopping plazas with – empty storefronts in each, I couldn’t help but wonder why those locations were overlooked by developers scouting-out prime retail space.
I was confronted by the fact that for some time now, both of those plaza’s, emblazoned with “AVAILABLE” banners have historically served our community – but have nonetheless been dealt the short shrift in favor of new construction.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not one for conserving just any old building, but one site in particular – which I can only assume will be razed shortly after this publication – once housed several residential apartments.
It already possessed a potential profit return in an economy so unwilling to offer mortgages to home buyers. To put it bluntly, there aren’t enough rental properties in Chenango County, and that’s especially the in the case of the City of Norwich. So why would tear down an apartment building to toss up what I’m told will be another auto parts store… in front of an auto parts store—one-half mile down the street from yet another auto parts store?
I am in no way trying to get in the way of business, nor am I condemning economical development to our largely sagging local market – but I am questioning the common sense that was put to task in making these types of decisions. Not just the market analysis, or need for such retail additions in our community, but the rationale behind brushing existing retail space aside.
It’s my feeling that businesses should be both interested and concerned with the long-term effects that their developments and plans have on the local livelihood, and that these concerns should be taken into consideration when the plans are drawn up and laid out.
Likewise, local officials involved with green-lighting PILOT programs and tax write-offs to potential businesses looking for a new opportunity in our hometown should put the screws to developers when they come to town, because—lets face it—who wants to see another new-old empty storefront in Chenango?
Honestly, wouldn’t it have made more sense to utilize one of the several existing structures for a mattress outlet or chain auto parts store and preserve the much-needed affordable housing?
How would that not have been a win-win?
Developers would undoubtedly balk that it would be too costly to update those older locations to meet their specifications, but as a former tradesman I beg to differ.
Even if building new cost “them” less, I’ve got a feeling that it will be us taxpayers footing the bill if or when the new site goes belly-up.
I could be wrong, but what if I’m right?
Food for thought.

A rant, bad drivers and a tip

Thursday, October 9th, 2014
Matt White

I love to drive; It probably should be my profession. Behind the wheel is the one place I can go and have some adequate level of peace; but every so often it’s also the very place where I exhibit the most rage.
I’m not alone, either.
Now, I’m not the “road rage” type, but no matter where you live, I think it’s safe to say you have encountered another driver and thought “what the bleep is wrong with this bleeper.” (immediate apologies if you’ve thought that about my driving).
In my many years on the road, I’ve discovered that good music, a nice sounding horn, a sunroof, and two fingers help keep my rage in check.
An any rate, getting cut off make me especially testy. I don’t understand it at all, and more than likely never will.
We’ve all been there, but for whatever reason I seem to be a magnet for drivers how would like nothing more than to be tee-boned.
Lately I’ve been cut A-LOT. After the initial usual expletives, I find myself asking “why would you do that, what’s wrong with you?” Of course my mind wants to surmise that that the perpetrator is just a jerk – but that can’t always be the case, right? Maybe that minivan with the M.A.D.D. Bumper sticker is a mother late picking up her three kids from soccer practice. Perhaps that guy in the orange Mustang is a surgeon delivering a donated heart to a baby somewhere.
Then again, maybe those folks are just inconsiderate cogs in the rat-race machine trying to get “theirs” before everyone else.
I’ll be driving along observing the posted speed limit, no one behind me and a fellow narrow-minded motorist will dart out ahead of me two seconds before I’m about to pass them.
As a result, I am forced to abruptly slam on my brakes and weave my car in the opposite direction in an effort to avoid colliding with them.
My mind wanders once in a while to a conclusion where the hands of fate and laws of physics are allowed to run rampant – like if I didn’t brake hard and swerve right to avoid a collision.
But car accidents are never good for anyone; there’ll never be a plus side or silver lining to a fender-bender, only headaches and hassle with the police, gawkers and insurances adjusters, if we’re very lucky.
If roads were wide open and nobody else used them, driving would be just as brilliant as the car ads on TV portray. Can you imagine?
What if we all had the Nuremberg ring at our disposal like the chaps across the pond on Top Gear?
What if we could had the freedom to try and get our cars up to their top speed with no recourse?
How much less stress would we endure if we could own the road and travel at our own pace. Now I’m just talking nonsense.
Unfortunately, reality is nothing like television. I live in a village…in a 15 m.p.h. School Zone.
For now I’ll have to share public roads, covered with potholes and packed with thousands of bad drivers, just like you… so we might as well make the best of it.
Let’s try and show some care and respect out there; and take the high road when you can.

A Verge

Friday, August 15th, 2014
Matt White

The cool-air days of Autumn are slowly beginning to weave their way into the forecast as the long, hot days of summer become indelibly out numbered. This is this time of year when throughout my life I find myself in concious awe of the speed of life have looked back upon the summer that was in reflection.
Fall is definitely my favorite season. The fruits of our labor are easily measured, the kids are returning to school and with any luck; the earth’s bounty is full and ripe for harvest in a short time to come.
But not yet.
The day that it all really starts to sink in is always the same for me – and it’s rapidly approaching. For me, the day after the Chenango Blues Fest wraps up is that threshold; the end of yet another summer.
Over the past 22 years, we as a community have been blessed with a special little thing that many of us hold dear and close to our hearts. We know somewhere deep inside that with the exit stage left of the final act, life will assuredly return to “normal.”
I know that I’m not the only one. I once thought that I was the only one who felt that way, but as I’ve grown older and talked to others who’ve waxed nostalgic about out beloved hometown hoedown, it becomes clear that many of my friends and friends that have become family share the same sentiment.
I remember going to my first Blues fest in 1995 when the festival was all of three years of age, I was barely 14.
At the time I had no idea who Lucky Peterson and Kenny Neal were, but once exposed to their brand of blues – Especially Neals ridiculously smooth telecaster work – I was on the hook.
That show enlightened me to an entire genre of music and culture I’d never heard.
I remember a short time later having the opportunity to see B.B. King very up close at Hamilton College in Clinton, NY as part of a school trip – planned very last minute. I sat with life long buddy James Brady on the bus ride up. I remember the two of us thinking aloud “We’re in the same room with a Legend” as we ogled over his signature story-laden adventures put to sweet, sweet guitar riffs once at the show.
I was nearly booted out for taking photographs at the no-flash show. Those were the days.
For me, that’s the magical power that music possesses. For whatever reason, – especially in the Fall – I’m able to be transported back 10, 15 or 20 years to a precise moment; and what more is life than a series of intertwined moments?

Summer’s still here for the time being. Lets get out there and make some moments this weekend.

A little farewell

Friday, August 8th, 2014
Matt White

Every once in a while we’re blessed with the opportunity to meet someone destined for bigger and brighter things. Usually, you’re instantly aware that these people are special and are meant for making forward progress, not to linger. If you are fortunate enough, you might end up sharing a desk and working next to them for a period, and have the joy of getting to know their intricate and kind personalty. This is one of the few genuine joys of the human condition.
My short-time co-worker and now friend Samantha Gillette is one of those few people.
What Sam lacked in experience only due to her age she possessed tenfold in her unequivocal tenacity to learn, work ethic and love of the profession that is taking her to grad school.
I learned from Sam that the world isn’t going to hell in a hand basket after all. She proved that there is indeed hope for the generations that follow behind us, and her indiscriminate objectivity is most likely her most powerful merit.
Amid our often vivacious morning staff meetings, on more than one occasion we (those of us hardened by life’s lessons) jokingly referred to the novelty Sam’s ambition by mouthing “Her spirit hasn’t been broken yet;” but that statement obviously doesn’t apply. I don’t believe that Sam’s sprit can ever be truly broken; she is as strong as she is sincere – requisites most professional writers hone over leather in time, essentials she has already mastered.
Sam is an adept writer and will, without a doubt, make an excellent journalist.
I’m certain that everyone here in the office that had the chance to read and write along side Sam will remember the good times and challenging days we spent over our little publication when we come across her name in the byline of one of the “big ones” or in the international news.
Congratulations on your advancement. Keep doing good things. Keep in touch.