Matt's Reporter Blog

A Generation of “Stuff”

Monday, July 21st, 2014
Matt White

BY MATTHEW WHITE

Evesun Staff Writer

I was a humble child – not because my Dad wanted me to be and certainly not because I wanted to be – because I grew up in the eighties.
In the eighties, technology was indispensable and expensive. Not the Vain, “I must have the next generation of iPhone TODAY!” expensive; just in general due to their proximity to innovation, something we egregiously take for granted today.
There was no such thing as “disposable” in the household that I grew up in. My grandmother would use paper towels then drape them over the dish rack to dry them like some folks do with cotton terrycloth hand towels. Likewise, zip-lock bags were rinsed out and left to dry for re-use, and plastic silverware was washed and put back into the box for the next gathering; a custom which I never really understood – why not just use silverware?
The children of today – including my own gaggle – live in a dispensable, plastic world. They’ve grown up knowing nothing different. To them, there is no real value in these gadgets much more than two weeks after they get it, even if after pining for weeks or months – only to be distracted by the next best thing that comes along. Now, it seems we adults are no different. We ogle over glossy black gadgets that allegedly make out lives simpler, if not better.
I assume that the clever ways of the marketing think tanks made it impossible for us to pin-point exactly then this trend started, a kind of absurd “Jedi mind trick” we “consumers” are all under the influence of, so that we’re unable to recall waaay back when things that  lasted more than a year was “a thing.”
I applaud folks who posses the powers of “tech abstention.” Those who have the ability to bypass the system of cyclical obsolescence.My buddy Shawn Magrath is one such super-human. He has managed to find a way to wade through the swampy jungles of the smart phone marketers, ad campaigns and inciting offers.
Shawn has a squeaky old flip-phone (gasp!) that he has been toting around for roughly the past five years, which is pretty amazing considering that it itself is made of cross-linked Chinese polymer and screws no doubt made from recycled sardine cans.
So, I envy Shawn; he’s younger than I and has never used a so-called “smart phone” – yet, Shawn has a masters degree in Educational Technology. He must know something the rest of us do not. Go figure.
Personally, I feel very sad that society has chosen the path of instant gratification and pacification over being able to cherish and hold onto things. We’ve become so addicted to life in the fast lane that we need everything instantly, even if it means we don’t physically own anything in the end.
An example of analog life trumping the digital daze  is obvious when my children marvel over our family photo albums. There was a time in my life when I would take a dozen rolls of film to the drug store for developing. And I was forced to wait. Looking back, the wait made the experience that much more pleasurable… even if the pictures were horribly composed; the experience was almost as rewarding simply because I had four or five decent prints (or 10 if I checked the “doubles” box) out of the 24 frames I shot. I could tack them to a wall or tape them to the inside of my locker: or manage to save a few and place them in a proper photo album in my mid-twenties from my kids to flip through ten years later.

Nowadays, I take a picture with my phone and send it to Facebook so that I can reference it in the future on an electrified screen on a whim. You call it convenient, I call it the cheap equivalent.
I’m no hero, I’ve been duped into the same manner of thinking, just as you have. My purchase of the ever-popular Kureg coffee machine about two years ago is evidence. I persuaded myself into it – 70 percent because the box said it was a time-saver, 30 percent because I thought it was a legitimately good idea. I mean, why brew a whole pot?… in this heat?
It took me a year to become completely disgusted with the idea of throwing a plastic k-cup (or two, in my case – I like strong coffee) in the trash for one single cup of coffee. Not to it mention it tastes like dirty water. Have you ever tried filling a thermos with coffee from a Keureg? – if there’s close second for Einstein’s definition of insanity, picture that and then cast your vote.

I went back to the trusty, seasoned Bunn, which makes 12 cups – on one thermos plus a cup for the road –  in three minutes without fail.
I used to believe that I wanted all the coolest and fanciest things as an adult because I didn’t have many of those things growing up – but the more I think about it, the less I agree with that sentiment.
Midway through my life, I’m beginning to understand that less is more and the most beautiful things are drenched in simplicity.
Now onto the real struggle – convincing my kids (who know no other way) to appreciate this discovery.
Wish me luck.

Hey look!, a soapbox, Just for me!

Friday, June 27th, 2014
Matt White

I’ve heard and seen with my own two eyes the cries from three distinct divisions of Americans recently. All equally polarized are the Left, the Right and lastly everyone else who is just plain fed up with the other other two – who are appeased with the status quo, business-as-usual handling of government and big businesses that perpetuate indignation amongst our middle class.
What I find most grave and appalling are those who disagree with the president so much that they feel it best if he just resign or be ousted in some sort of coup; as if the people of the United States would all be in some magical respite of prosperity if not for the presence of just that one individual.
I’m afraid I have some very troubling news for these folks, none of that is ever going to happen.
And here’s why: Americans don’t have it in them, plain and simple. The number of Americans who give a damn about anything are far outnumbered by those who just plain don’t care to pay attention.
For the naysayers, it’s much easier and convenient  to spin the President as a perpetrator of our strife, after all, he took the job as whipping boy, right?
The reality is, Mr. Obama isn’t what caused this mess… and you’d be a blind fool to not acknowledge that we, as Americans, have a pretty bad track record of blaming the next guy when he arrives at the White House in this country.
I’ll genuinely admit that I’m not happy with the successes that Obama forecast ahead of his tenure, and it’s easy to see that a majority of his original campaign supporters have long since fallen aside the bandwagon for lackluster performances in both his first and second terms – but the fact is, we were punch-drunk on his 2008 campaign kool-aid for a reason: things were really, really bad.
Mainstream Americans are the definition of fickle. So easily we tend to forget where we came from and how closely we were to catastrophe. In 2008 before Mr. Obama even took his oath we faced the single most detrimental economic recession this side of the stock market crash of 1929. My entire education and life was painted with pictures of how horrible it was to live through the depression of 1929, and many of the frugal quirks I have today were forged and handed down by what my father taught me, which was handed down from his parent’s experience through the great depression.
I’m just saying, let us not forget that Mr. Obama had a huge economic black hole dropped into his lap the day he took office.
Let’s likewise not forget the mess in Afghanistan and Iraq that was tossed to the Obama administration like a hot potato. Former Vice President Cheney is pretty good at balking about how the current administration dropped the ball, and that everything was “A-okay” when his term was up, but the history books and even his own press interviews from that time speak otherwise.
With seven months left of his last term in office, Bush II – with Cheney at his side – had such little international credibility that their bluffs were routinely called. They couldn’t get the diplomatic backing of Russia or China on board to make a difference in Iran amid the nuclear development talks, and then handed the mess off to their predecessors because they were so ineffective at bargaining abroad.
It’s the seemingly endless cycle of left-right politics that keep the rich richer and the poor poorer, and that’s exactly what the “powers-that-be” need to keep everyone under their influence. Obama, Bush, Clinton…. they’re all just marionettes. Our problems are much larger than any one person in the oval office.
If anything, we need to take a look back at the past to adjust our ways of thinking in the hear and now. Where were Bush II, Reagan and Clinton five years into an eight year stint?
Clearly, the world dynamics of the world around us differs greatly than they did at any one of those points in history, but I’d be willing to bet that if you were able to travel back in time these guys weren’t sleeping well at night either.
If the people of the United States are ever to accomplish what they feel is necessary to deliver us to a place where collective citizens feel as if their voices actually matter, then we should begin really scrutinizing some policy changes in this country – starting with the most antediluvian mechanisms of them all – the electoral college. But I’ll save that rant for next time. Until then –

Life’s a garden… Dig it.

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2014
Matt White

This year had been filled with firsts for me. A new home in a new in a new town in a fresh year capable of being filled with positive moves in right direction is shaping up to be nothing less than just that. I’m feeling productive at both home and work, and overall satisfied with where I’m at in life, and I’ve found yet another love… the backyard garden.
My childhood memories are punctuated with working summers along side my father in the backyard garden. For years I thought my dad plowed and tilled our plot primarily out of necessity, and I suppose for the most part that essentially was the case. We didn’t have a lot of money, for all his hard work and dedication – we were never “rich” with possessions or money; I inherited much more than that.
At the time I had mixed feelings about the garden; and the work the it – and my dad – demanded.
And it was just that. Hard work, period. There isn’t a pair of Elton John style rose-colored glasses on earth that can make me look back longingly at the blisters, sweat and thirst that came endlessly from the garden emblazoned with a day’s noon sun.
We composted our kitchen waste and grass clippings every year. I never questioned it, as it just what I was expected to do as one of my many chores. We never had a fancy riding mower, just an old Briggs and Stratton push-job with a bagger that had to emptied every three swipes of the lawn’s length. Of course, the compost heap was atop the hill behind the garden, so I would fill the wheelbarrow with clippings and cart it when it was super-full.
Every other day – or everyday when the temperature was relatively high – it was my job to take the kitchen waste out to the heap. On the weekend, it would then be my chore to “turn” the pile with a pitch fork to aid in the decomposition and keep it from catching fire. Anyone who knows how hot a compost pile can get in the summer heat understands the danger.
Picking rock while we prepared the soil for the plants and seeds was especially monotonous work. My hands cracked from the desiccative nature of dirt; my dads hands felt like rough tree bark, so it didn’t bother him… at least, I never heard him complain about it.
Now, as an adult who’s been through his fair share of life, I’m tending to my own garden for the first time on my own since the days in the backyard of my childhood along side my sister, step mom and father.
I find it astounding how much information the human brain is willing to store without coercion. There was never any studying or tests – no quizzing or memorization of the things my father taught me as the fourth grader who needed guidance on the do’s and don’ts of gardening; amongst other things.
I suppose that I did what I was told regardless of how I felt about it because I knew there would be repercussions if I chose not to. More than that – I did it because I wanted to work alongside my dad, and I respected him. The magic of a garden harvest is something that everyone should have the opportunity to experience, and now I’m convinced that was something that he knew all along. I worked shoulder to shoulder with my old man, who was raised on our family farm and was taught those very skills by his father, whose father had taught him and so on.
This past weekend I spend the majority of my time in the garden with my own boys. While at times the frustration of them trampling about the sowed seeds was overwhelming, I kept it together and at least pg-13 –  because I saw something that reminded me of a younger, pure and inquisitive version of myself in them. They wanted to be in the garden, shoulder to shoulder helping their dad… getting dirty and feeling productive.
A look back on the hours I spent explaining what they could and could not do, and what had to be accomplished versus what they wanted to do – that it’s “called work because it’s not play, not because it can’t be fun” (a concept that will most likely take them a child or two of their own to fully grasp) – and I feel good.
They picked rocks, learned the in’s and out’s of the pick axe and how to hoe a row  and plant seeds into the rich earth with their old man, just as I had.
My Dad – my best friend – died when I was all of 19 years of age and so sure of everything some 14 years ago. I feel blessed to have been afforded those 19 short years with him, learning the skills he had to offer from my grandfather, great-grandfather – ancestors.
No doubt, my boys will carry on those same practices with the name and hopefully one day reflect on summer days digging in the garden.

A needle in a haystack?

Friday, May 9th, 2014
Matt White

Drugs are everywhere, and there is definitely a problem coursing though our quaint sub-new England streets – a problem which everyone seems to have been made well aware of.
To many, it seems heroin has killed and claimed the livelihood of our once naïve youth. Members of our community have died from overdose, toddlers are being diagnosed with Hepatitis and the ever growing drug crime rate continues to escalate towards numbers not seen since the 1970′s.
Even at my office, I spend most days proofing and editing copy written by others I work with. They spend their time writing and reporting the hot-button issues surrounding both the drug trade and consequential criminal and penal repercussions associated with the lifestyle.
Luckily, The topic has still primarily been kept at bay for me on a personal level; but things are evolving everyday – and now I cannot help but take notice.
One of the first experiences that peaked my attention was the discovery of a used syringe that was happened upon in the parking lot between the two buildings where I work.
The officer who responded drove his patrol unit to “the scene,” and I estimate that it took longer to drive here than it would had the Officer simply walked across the parking lot that separates the two properties.
I only mention that to shed some perspective on the proximity of my office to law enforcement 24/7. We can literally see in each other’s windows; depending on the direction of the prevailing winds one of my kids could probably glide a paper airplane over there. It’s that close.
At any rate, the police were called to handle the situation and in the end no one was actually hurt, but that’s not to say that it wasn’t an unnerving event. They did handle the needle, and I’ll presume that they disposed of it responsibly according to their protocol.
Later that day while discussing the matter with or editor and publisher, we were informed that if we were ever to discover something of the like, we should inform management who would summon the police to deal with it again accordingly.
Since then, I have become more and more aware of where I walk and where I step for fear of getting poked by medical waste. This is the society we live in now, and I can’t help but feel saddened by it.
I briefed my grandparents – who moved to Norwich in 1965 to raise my mother, aunt and uncles – about the situation; and their reaction was especially disheartening. They were somewhere between heartbroken and appalled.
Recently, I had heard word through an online social media site that an acquaintance of mine – whom I had attended high school with here in Norwich – had an similar, yet amplified experience. He and I are both fathers with children around the same age, as we’re about the same age.
I was originally going to write of his experience as a news piece for my work, but decided that because of how strongly I felt that I couldn’t remain objective no matter who hard I tried.
Tree trimmers had been hired to to work behind his home and they discovered what is believed to be nearly 40 used syringes that tenants of the adjoining property to the rear of his had disposed of by tossing atop a garage roof.
I assume that they (whomever discarded the used sharps) thought that the dirty needles would never be discovered. As addicts often do, they most likely became increasingly ignorant and complacent with the practice – only for it to eventually become routine. The fact that my friend’s daughters swing set and the backyard they often play in together surely never crossed their minds.
My friend summoned the police – who drove over to his neighborhood – and informed the authorities of the discovery, much like the procedure that went down here at the office.
Based on his experience, this is where the similarities of the two experiences begin to differ.
The responding officer indicated that there was nothing that they could do for him… because the litter wasn’t on HIS property.  The officer indicated it wasn’t the Police Department’s  responsibility to pick them up and that HE should figure out how to safely dispose of them. The landlord of the property claimed that he too wasn’t responsible, and scoffed – having no time to deal with such trivial issues.
I surely hope that this is an isolated reaction of both our paid law enforcement and community’s landlords, simply because this behavior only encourages blatant disregard for the future of this country everyone claims to love so dear.
I sincerely hope that they – like the addicts– do not become increasingly ignorant and complacent with the practice – only for it to eventually became routine. At the end of the day, if you’re not a part of the solution, what are you really a part of?

Pot, meet kettle.

Monday, April 14th, 2014
Matt White

I learned of the Bundy Ranch situation near Mesquite, Nevada a week ago and with mixed feelings felt somewhat grey about whose ethics should be questioned. Is the federal government in the wrong for using force and coercion in defending or upholding a law? Should Cliven Bundy get a “hall pass” to renege on his agreement with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and halt paying his dues because he feels that government isn’t holding up it’s end of the bargain?
To me, those issues are just a snippet of an even larger issue.
Although the fight between Bundy and the BLM has widened into a debate about states’ rights and federal land-use policy, Bundy has chosen to not recognize federal authority on land he insists belongs to Nevada, land that his family has grazed its cattle on for centuries.
Funny as history repeating itself (and how fickle the memory) can be – it’s still always there.
Call me a sentimentalist, if you will, but does this country not recall the atrocities splayed upon the Native Americans for over two hundred years?
I know, I know – there’s nothing that we can do about it now because it was in fact our ancestors who concocted to deceive and go back on their word for the rights of the entire North American Continent.
Or can we?
The poignant feelings left on my palette have spilled down through the generations of my family. I remember very clearly my Grandfather and Father explaining to me their sympathy of the natives that came before us. Our family farm in White’s Store was purchased by a Revolutionary War soldier who married a Mohawk Native American long before it was transferred to my family, who would later settle the land into a dairy and live there for six generations.
There’s a great deal of irony and little contrast between the two, including the lack of pigment and facial structures. Bundy believes that he has somehow been disenfranchised, and that his rights – or the rights of his family (his “people”) pre-date the government.
Pot, Meet kettle.
Bundy does not recognize federal authority on land he insists belongs to Nevada… Much like the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne and Arapaho did at the Battle of the Little Bighorn, more eloquently referred to as Custer’s Last Stand.
We all know how that turned out… while the Sioux won one of the greatest battles of Great Sioux War of 1876, Custer and the 7th calvary would end up “winning” in the end.
All I can say is that I sincerely hope history fails to repeat itself.

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain on the Wurld Wide Web!

Friday, March 28th, 2014
Matt White

You’ve gotta love social media at it’s finest. It’s not a stretch of the imagination to say that we all, in one fashion or another, have played the role of the “Monday quarterback” or backseat driver, but the anonymity of the internet’s exploited overuse of emoticons, memes and avatars in a fictitious virtual world is more prevalent to some than good old fashioned face-to-face communication.
Recently a picture of a couple of Norwich City PD officers goofing off in the office re-surfaced on Facebook, and like clockwork the opposing forces collided like some sort of super hero battle of good versus evil. More than 100 Facebookers had strong feelings either for against the photograph from “alleged” locations as far as California.
Personally, I don’t think the act itself was especially heinous or cause for alarm. After all, People fool around all the time at work, and again – sometimes one falls through the cracks. At most is was just some inappropriate tom foolery that, I’ll admit didn’t even go all that far.
Now, you can choose to love or hate the guy over on Chenango County Memes – often known for his seemingly slanderous approach to all things disgraceful in the ‘Nango – for the content that he posts, but at the end of the day there is integral accountability associated with everything that he post. The administrator of that page is comfortable in his shoes and is transparent, rarely (if ever) does he seem to be offended by the slew of derogatory comments often channeled his way from people with differing onions.
Humans are fallible by nature. The one thing that people of all faiths and denominations can agree on is that people make mistakes. Heck, even the anarchists admit that.
You have made mistakes. I have made mistakes.
Four years ago I was arrested and charged with a DWI… I blew a .08%… so I was the legal definition of intoxicated, which for a man of my size really doesn’t seem like much. What was more detrimental for the outcome of my situation was that I “fled” the police and hit two parked cars. My explanation, I panicked – plain and simple.
Needless to say, it cost me greatly. It cost me a marriage, a $35,000 car, at least $5,000 in legal fees, restitution and eventually a short stint in county jail. No fun.
As embarrassing as the entire incident is, I owned it… and I still do. I don’t hide from the fact that I did something callous and stupid, and I never will. It’s in the past and I have moved on. No one died, thankfully. Some will always argue “Someone could have died,” and I’ll always counter, “did they?”
Where the “cop-selfie heard round the entire city of Norwich” ties into my story is when I commented on the Facebook post something along the lines of “Anything shared on the internet is permanent and never goes away,” something that the officers in the photo probably understand well and clear.
Where this story gets interesting is that an unidentified individual with an anonymous profile begrudgingly posted a link to the ES story that a former reporter wrote of my shortcomings four years ago. It was news, and it was his job, and I can now respect that.

This anonymous person basically tried to throw me under the bus and humiliate me.
Did it work? Absolutely not.

In response, I sent a message to this “masked man” (or woman… which I like to assume is the case since the sex of the person in question is listed as “male” on the profile… and deception seems to be his/her thing) calling them out for their cowardly act of trying to oust folks who may have fallen from grace accountable, yet remain anonymous and “untouchable” – effectively unaccountable for their actions.
Moral of the story; When attempting to mar someones character by shedding light on a past mishap –
1) Just. Don’t. Because that just makes you a jerk. And a coward.
2) You’d better have a face and an identity to back it up – and be as transparent as the guy you’re trying to throw under the bus. If you’re going to call someone out, you’d better expect that you’ll be called out. If not, you just look foolish. VERY foolish.

Like watching paint dry. again.

Friday, February 28th, 2014
Matt White

Buying a new (or new to you) home can be one of the most exciting and downright frightening endeavors on God’s green earth, and contrary to so many things in life; the excitement never diminishes no matter how many times you schlep through the tedious process of dealing with bankers, lawyers and more lawyers.
There’s something bittersweet-romantic and refreshing about going through the process again, especially if you’re going through it with someone new – who’s never experienced the process for themselves.
In the case of my girlfriend, Rachel and myself, I have caught myself groaning at some of the things I dislike about the process of a new real estate acquisition and – just in time – I cut it off and turn it into a positive, encouraging remark… see?, men can be trained.
As a more considerate and understanding version of my younger self, I try to be a bit more tactful in my responses. It’s easy for someone who has a history and past such as I do to bemoan things that seem like drudgery, annoying or just plain unbearable.
But I realize that in acting in such a manner, I take something away from Rachel, who is still wearing the rose-colored glasses of being a first-time homebuyer/owner. That little bit of excitement would be tarnished, never to be regained.
I think that is it safe to say that it wound be selfish and unkind of me to – and in essence foolish – take that away from her… So I do my best to keep it to myself.
This weekend, Paint… lots and lots of painting and sanding of hardwood floors punctuated with blisters, splinters and cuts.
My nose will be plugged with sawdust, my hands will crack through the desiccant powers of drywall compound, my lungs full-up with who-knows-what.
But I will not complain. I’ll keep my head down and and smile and put on my dream-face with my arm around Rachel as we get ahead of ourselves even further.
It’s going to be a GREAT weekend!

Cheers!

http://http://instagram.com/p/k-GuTDkKpk/#

Ever and again, any port in the storm can be home.

Friday, January 31st, 2014
Matt White

Dear diary, it’s been five weeks since my last confession. A lot has changed – some for the good, some for the not so great – but nonetheless my group of exemplary cohorts (er, co-workers) and I have weathered through a seemingly treacherous storm amidst a raging sea. If I were to assign a song to the experience that was my first “Progress Chenango,” I would steal a line from a budding Neil Young who sang: “Sailing hardships through broken harbors out on the waves in the night; still a searcher must ride the darkness racing alone in his fright. Tell me why.”
Our ship’s fearless captain selflessly maneuvered the beast to the other side, a battle that I could only liken to driving a ’72 El Dorado with balding middle-aged tires and loose steering down a winding Chenango County back road. Sure, it had it’s moments filled with poise and false sense of security, but for the most part our brilliant boffin was wrestling her sense of dignity with her unwavering ethic-steeped determination.
I’m looking forward to getting back into having time to focus on writing opinion pieces, blogs and more in-depth daily news reporting, all of which – admittedly and with regret – were taxed when juggled with the added workload leading up to the publication of the ten extra papers.
During my absence from blogosphere, A woman I considered to be my mother passed away. Now, I’m not one to bear my soul over loss or let my personal life interfere with my work; but a series of events transpired shortly before her death that has changed my life.
Long ago – shortly after my father passed away – I moved out of the area, married and established my life elsewhere. I all but abandoned my family, losing touch with my siblings, aunts/uncles.
The significance of this is that I had come from a very tight-knit, closely related family… we were raised on a farm in White Store (a hamlet just over the hill between route eight and Norwich) where my cousins and I spent every season of our youthful years together. My cousins were effectively my siblings – and I respected my aunts and uncles with same regard as my parents.
After the passing of my grandparents and father in my teens, moving off the farm and the inevitable passage of time we went our separate ways and became disassociated.
In typical fashion- the ebb and flow of life returned me back to the Norwich area a divorced man with six children searching for his roots.
Last fall, as I started work here at The Evening Sun, I received word that Lanie (mom) was suffering from a rare form of oral cancer and that a benefit had been scheduled to assist in defraying the cost of travel expenses to and from chemotherapy treatments.
I felt compelled to attend, if not only to pay my respect the woman who was strong enough to step forward and raise a hellish younger version of myself in the absence of my biological mother who stepped out when I was all of two years of age.
When I arrived at the venue, I quickly became flush with an uncomfortable fear of scrutiny. I felt what I thought was the disapproving eyes of folks I hadn’t spoken a word to in more than a decade fall upon me. I scanned the room, clawing for a familiar face to comfort me – to which the results were nil.
I had trouble remembering the names of my own family whom played a tremendous role in shaping me into the person I am today.
In my confusion, I failed to notice Jeanine – my older cousin whom I had the strongest relationship with as a child – as she approached me and greeted me with the biggest smile and best feeling embrace that I had encountered in quite some time.
In a matter of two minutes we shed nearly twelve years of age and lost time with minimal diction. I was able to find that one person I’d least expected but needed the most. We laughed and talked, poked fun of one another – I commented “Neenee” on how good she looked, and she was more than willing to let me know that I was shaping up quite like my dad – her favorite uncle Dennis.
Lanie wasn’t feeling all that great and had all of her teeth extracted the day prior inpreperatin of a procedure, so by the time I had arrived at the venue my stepsister Andrea had taken her home. As the evening concluded and we all pitched in to clean up the Sherburne American Legion, I made plans with Andrea to get up to see mom as she was living adjacent to her.
Meanwhile, Thanksgiving and then Christmas had come and gone – Jeanine and I had exchanged phone numbers and had begun the process of re-connecting. My girlfriend Rachel and I had made a few trips to Jeanine and her husband Jason’s cabin on Hatch Lake and acquainted the kids to one another.
It felt good answering my niece’s and nephew’s questions of “will you be coming to see us more often” with a re-affirming “yes.”
Shortly after New Years I learned that Laine had died. She became ill and was admitted to the hospital where her unexpected prognosis of weeks to live was trumped only by her unexpected death the next morning.
My heart sank. I never made it up to see her. Once again, life had become the priority and I would never see her again.
I took a good look at the situation and came to what I consider an obligatory catharsis.
Had it not been for the demise of my mom, I most likely would have spent God knows however many more years away from my past; away from the family I wanted to be a part of. In essence, it took the tragedy of loosing one of the most influential people in my life to bring me back to the ones that I love and missed all along.
Without knowing it, Laine planted the seed for the future of my family. I am lucky, humbled and grateful for such a great gift. I am doing my best to nurture this freshly planted seedling along.

Thanks, Mom.

Often, bad news is good news at a masqurade.

Monday, December 16th, 2013
Matt White

Bad news is rampant. It’s everywhere, everyday. From the 24/7 news channels spewing fourth from their prospective social and political soap boxes to the press and mass media, it seems everywhere we look we’re fed nothing but bad news. There’s a reason…It doesn’t keep the lights on.
Due to the fact that the amount of sex in broadcast and print is largely regulated by our ethics, (and by ethics I mean the FCC) horrible news of society’s shortcomings and “poverty porn” are a close second; Those are the stories that pay the bills.
The big box news networks routinely and predictably punctuate the news hour with a “happy” segment, which is just one point of media’s “Keep them Fat, Dumb and Happy” pyramid of success. The upbeat segment is just a little hook to simulate some dopamine and keep you numb.
I’ll agree that it’s tough, often seemingly impossible to find a stitch of legitimate good news. Again, there is a reason. It’s not sexy. It doesn’t sell.
I work in the media, and in doing such I see what lies on both sides of the fence on a weekly basis. Folks will complain about there being no “real” news in the paper, others will laud over the reciprocal negativity printed in cold black Times New Roman.
There’s an interesting balancing act that regularly takes place here in the newsroom. I’m sure plenty of our readers assume that we just print and write whatever the heck we want with no regard to anyone, most likely only where they’re on the short end of the stick.
Likewise, no one seems to have a problem with what we print if it happens to coincide with their beliefs.
The fact of the matter is that we spend a great deal of our time deciding what to write, constantly weighing wither or not a particular subject matter is too liberal, anecdotal or conservative in nature. We argue, yell and disagree; once in a while a door will get slammed shut. The goal is to make the stories that are newsworthy available to the community. Not everyone in the community will ever agree with everything published here.
There is some good news to be found, however. Sometimes a positive story blissfully falls through the cracks. If the story is really good, it will perpetuate and resound through a great many people with the aid of social media. Love it or hate it, the Social media forums of Facebook, Twitter, et al. do sometimes serve a legitimate purpose.
Sometimes, a tragedy occurs, and a community comes together to do whatever they can for a family that is in need or in mourning.
Other times, it’s just a simple status post on Facebook revealing a random act of kindness that were bestowed upon unknowing.
Stories like these are my favorite. They, believe it or not, make me want to do good things and bolster the sentiment of good will.
While we all have our own problems, stresses and anxieties; I still maintain that we can all benefit to a degree by doing something for someone else… even if it’s someone you don’t know. You’ll never see an abundance of these testimonials in the commercialized media, though.
You will likely never hear about the person who payed it forward at the coffee place this morning or read a breaking news article about the teen who ushered an elderly woman across the busy street. You’ll probably never hear about the guy who made shoveling snow a contest amongst his six children in order to motivate them to clear the neighbors walks. And you shouldn’t. This is not news. This is human nature at it’s best.
I’m not so sure I’d want to live in a society where performing random acts of kindness was so significant that we had to print it on the front page of the paper everyday. If doing something that has a beneficial implication for another human were so remarkable that we demand to read it in the headlines, whats the point? Who’s ego are we stroking?
How about we complain less about the lack of good news, and make some good news? Think About it.

If you love me, you’ll send me to rehab…again.

Friday, December 6th, 2013
Matt White

So many topics to blog about this week, so little time. Okay, that last bit was a lie. I have all the time in the world.
Christmas? Doesn’t everyone write about that? Thought so. Forget it.
Drug addicts? Sounds good to me. Here goes.
As a quick disclaimer, I’ll probably part the seas with this one. Inevitably, there’s the possibility that people are going to feel very strongly one way or another about my opinion, which is fine. That’s as it should be as far as I’m concerned. Feel free to fire back with how horrible and insensitive you may think I am based on my opinion. Likewise, feel more than obliged to send me a gold star if the feeling should strike you. I like stickers just as much as the next eight year old.
I guess what peeves me the most about the “addict” label in our society is the way that our government wields the definition around like some sort of justification for criminals. It seems that nowadays, if you just so happen to be under the influence of your drug of choice, the courts pity’s your debilitating circumstance and offers you a road to recovery.
I understand that life is a struggle for some. I’ve been through my fare share of woes, and I know that times are often hard, but hear this: People kick the habit everyday. True Addict’s that want to succeed and have a better life often times do, with no support.
Recently, a well written article went into our paper about shock treatment programs as an alternative to incarceration in New York State. A local Judge said that he was persuaded, in effect, after touring one of the facilities and now will send more convicted “drug offenders” to shock rehabilitation vs. incarceration.
I’m not so convinced. Let’s look at the numbers of repeat offenders. After 36 months post release from Shock, 50% of those who successfully graduated are re-incarcerated whereas 55% of candidates rejected from admission to shock (those who just end up in jail) re-offend and are incarcerated . So is Shock really all that successful at rehabilitating the individual? You go ahead and draw your own conclusions, but I’ll maintain that they do not.
You can find these figures in the Department of Justices’ National Institute of Justice Program focus handbook here: www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles/shockny.pdf, I promise I’m not making this stuff up.
I guess my point is: the system cannot force an individual into rehabilitation, so why do they even try? Criminals have the system down to a science. Addicts are often very intelligent, albeit manipulative, attention-seeking individuals. Sit in on and open-forum Al-Anon meeting and you’ll be sure to find victims who are past enablers of addicts. They can tell you first hand how addicts identify people like themselves, whom they can control and use them to their advantage and personal gain. Sit in on a sentencing or two in county court, read the headlines… “addicts” (hard drug users) are regularly granted second and third chances while people under the influence of alcohol or marijuana are not granted the same “understanding” or variance.
Calling a criminal and addict and forcing them into a rehabilitation program is a thin veil and is in my opinion overused. We are becoming a society of enablers, and it disgusts me.