Tyler's Reporter Blog

Drug events of 2009

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010
Tyler Murphy

An extra piece of Progress that didn’t make it into the published edition. This is a list of most of the serious drug events in 2009 including major arrests, seizures, improvements in law enforcement and the reveal of a drug connection in high profile court cases.

March 13: Chenango County Court: Man charge with shooting two men outside apartment with a shotgun in Sept. of 2008, hitting both with buckshot from the blast and causing non-life threatening wounds, says dispute began over money owed for cocaine.

March 27: Norwich PD charged two residents with multiple felonies after raiding two different apartments in tactical gear, one they lived at and another used as an alleged drug front.

April 3: Norwich PD discover a Mercedes Benz coupe, guns and over $25,000 worth of cocaine in a storage unit owned by a suspected narcotic dealer arrested March 27.

April 18: State Police charge an Afton teen allegedly responsible for an alcohol-related car accident that killed one of four his teenage passengers, another had her foot amputated.

April 23: State Police arrested a 21-year-old Bainbridge man for providing alcohol to the five teenagers involved in a fatal accident April 18. He is charged with six misdemeanors.

May 1: Chenango County begins implementation of a Family Treatment Court.

May 1: Sheriff’s Office charged a 75-year-old Norwich man after discovering a growing operation in his garage with about $50,000 worth of marijuana.

May 10: State Police discover $3,500 of cocaine and $2,500 of heroin hidden in a cars frame destined for the Utica area.

June 30: Norwich PD and the New York State Division of Parole, searched the home of a parolee, discovering crack cocaine, psychedelic mushrooms, ecstasy pills, prescription drugs and marijuana. He and his roommate are charged with multiple felonies.

July 9: Sheriff’s Office and the DEA intercepted 10 pounds of marijuana in a postal package mailed from Donna, Texas to a Town of Norwich resident, estimated to be worth around $15,000.

Aug. 18: Sheriff’s Office discovers a $300,000 marijuana growing operation in a remote swamp in the Town of McDonough, seizing irrigation equipment and 400 hundreds plants.

Aug. 11: State Police raided a home in the Town of Edmeston after an investigation by the Department of Child Protective Services and uncover 196 marijuana plants growing on the property.

Sept.: 30: Norwich PD, Greene PD, Sheriff and State Police arrest two Norwich residents for selling heroin and charge them with multiple felonies after storming their home using tactical gear and grenades.

Sept. 1: Norwich PD is awarded a $288,188 federal grant that will allow the addition of a full-time detective who’ll take aim at combating drug-related crimes.

Sept.: 7 New Berlin PD announces the purchase of a K-9 pup to be trained in drug detection. The officer and K-9 are expected to complete their training around Sept. of 2010

Sept.: 8 New Berlin PD and State Police raid the property of New Berlin man and seized an estimated $25,000 to $35,000 worth of marijuana.

Sept.: 21 Sheriff’s Office arrests three men after a patrol stopped to help them fix a flat and found four garbage bags filled with more than $70,000 worth of recently-harvested marijuana inside.

Oct. 5: Chenango County Court: Accused murder Richard T. Babcock admits in court that he and the alleged victim in the case, William E. Lee, were involved in the local drug trade involving cocaine and prescription drugs. He has pleaded not guilty to the murder.

Oct. 14: Sheriff’s Office charges two people for stealing $9,000 of property in dozens of thefts from vehicles so the two could allegedly feed their drug additions.

Oct. 22: Norwich PD welcomes a new drug detection K-9 unit

Nov. 20: Norwich PD discovered more than $25,000 worth of cocaine hidden in the framework of a car and the operator is charged with an A felony

Most amusing of 2009

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009
Tyler Murphy

It’s nearly that time when the reporters at the Evening Sun start to round up out most acclaimed stories of 2009. Looking back on the crime and fire beat I found no shortage of candidates. With a number of drug busts, murder arrest and conviction, fires and fatal accidents I was feeling like a varsity foot ball coach trying to make cuts during the pre-season. More than just the mayhem is also considered- things like community programs with large impacts, big business news and political changes are important too.

My “top” stories now picked I had a handful of runner-ups I thought deserved at least an honorable blog mention but after reviewing the list it seemed a little depressing so instead I thought I’d include the most amusing stories of 2009 I wrote instead. You may find them entertaining (unless you happen to be in them) but over all they aren’t of any great significance.


Man who shoots two people apologizes to the court but not the victims

A man arrested for firing his shotgun at two others during an alcohol-fueled dispute pleaded guilty to an endangerment felony in court June 22 and was sentenced to one year in local jail.
Lee M. Bush, 49, of the City of Norwich, pleaded guilty to shooting at two men outside of his 29 Court St. apartment with a shotgun last September following an escalating argument that allegedly began over money and cocaine.

The two victims in the crime both of Norwich, were hit as they fled Bush’s residence at around 9:30 p.m. Sept. 5, suffering pellet wounds to their legs, back and arms. None of the injuries were life threatening.

At the sentencing, defense attorney Aaron A. Dean reiterated Bush’s story that Squires and Infante were “two drug miscreants” who had “threatened my client after they assaulted his girlfriend.”

“What happened, happened,” Bush told Supreme Court Judge Kevin M. Dowd, accepting his role in the incident and apologizing to the court for his conduct. He did not, however, directly apologize for his actions against the two men – a point Dean noted in his remarks.

“There were a lot of circumstances involved that the average person isn’t aware of on the street. Basically there were some legitimate issues of justification,” said Dean, referring to the reasons his client fired.

Dean also noted one of the men didn’t seek medical attention following the incident.
“Mr. Bush maintains his position that he shot in the direction of the two men, and not at them. It is basically our position that the direct fire ricocheted off the driveway and then struck the men,” said Dean.

Bush pleaded guilty to first degree reckless endangerment, a D class felony carrying a possible sentence of two and a third to seven years in state prison.

Dowd sentenced Bush to one year in local jail with time already served, saying it was an agreed upon disposition between the DA and the defense. Bush, who has been incarcerated at the Chenango County Correctional Facility since the incident, was released on good behavior by the Sheriff’s Office, having served eight months of the one year sentence.

Both victims in the case have since been arrested on different crimes and sent to jail themselves.
– – –

Drugs by mail and the interest of bail

A Norwich man who allegedly had about $15,000 worth of marijuana mailed to him from a Texas border town had his bail reduced to $1,000 after his lawyer complained that credit card interest rates were wreaking havoc on his client’s finances.

52-year-old Carl Smith Jr. was charged with second degree possession of marijuana and third degree conspiracy, both felonies. He was also charged with unlawful growing of marijuana and fourth degree possession of a weapon, misdemeanors.

On July 9, the Chenango County Sheriff’s Office and the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced they had intercepted 10 pounds of marijuana in a postal package mailed from Donna, Texas, to Smith’s home on County Rt. 34 in the Town of Norwich.

Smith was originally remanded to the Chenango County Correctional Facility on $8,000 bail, which his lawyer, Frederick Meagher Jr., said he paid with a friend’s credit card.

Meagher asked the bail to be excused, explaining that the credit card demanded a $700 surcharge for it to be used in the correctional system and had a interest rate of around 29 percent.

District Attorney Joseph A. McBride asked that the bail remain at $8,000, noting the value of the seized drugs and cash was double that amount.

The judge lowered the bail to $1,000.

In addition to the approximate 10 pounds of marijuana, police discovered eight marijuana plants in Smith’s back yard, two small bags of marijuana, a loaded .22 caliber rifle, and an illegal “black jack” weapon. They also uncovered several assorted marijuana pipes and paraphernalia following the month-long investigation by Sheriff’s Office, DEA and Postal Service.
– – –

Truck loaded with dead animals hits house

A delivery truck carrying a load of animal carcasses to a processing plant in Utica lost control in the rain Oct. 28 and careened into a town of Norwich home, injuring the driver.

The unoccupied trailer, located at 1011 along County Road 34, also suffered damage in the impact and left a gaping hole in the structure’s wall, exposing the interior to the elements.

The Chenango County Sheriff’s Office reported that the truck’s driver, 50-year-old Joseph Dimasse of Utica, was taken by the South New Berlin Fire Department’s ambulance to Chenango Memorial Hospital with minor chest and neck pains.

Neighbors at the scene said the home belonged to the Gross family. It was not immediately known how many occupants resided at the trailer or what arrangements were being made to aid them.

Police said the truck was traveling east, down an incline on Burdick-Medbury Road, at about 10:24 a.m. when the driver allegedly lost control of his brakes. The driver was unable to stop the vehicle while attempting to turn left on to County Road 34 and passed through the Burdick-Medbury Road stop sign.

The home was located just to the left of the T-intersection. The truck smashed through a small porch, bushes and the mail box before striking the trailer at about a 45 degree angle, nearly dead center.

At the time of the accident, a steady rain was pelting the area and the road surface was wet. Sheriff’s deputies ticketed Dimasse for inadequate braking.

At the scene, a strong odor of rotting flesh could be detected and police opened the delivery truck’s rear storage area. They discovered more than a dozen 55-gallon drums of discarded animal remains jarred open and thrown around inside as a result of the collision.

Police said the truck was on its way to a Utica pet food plant for processing and the parts were most likley collected from area butchers and sportsmen.
– – –

Burglar only interested in the underwear

A man stood in Chenango County Supreme Court Sept. 23 and said he was motivated to commit burglaries over his desire to steal woman’s lingerie.

Twenty-year-old Paul J. Hendrickson, homeless, but formerly of the Maple Grove Trailer Park in Norwich, pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted second degree burglary after admitting he entered the home of a woman living in his neighborhood for the sole reason of stealing her, or her children’s, underwear.

Although allowed to plead to the technicality of attempted burglary, Hendrickson told the court he successfully broke-in and entered on at least on occasion, removing articles of intimate clothing from the victim’s laundry.

Chenango County Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Richard Cobb said police later “recovered approximately two dozen articles of women’s undergarments that had been stolen from the victims.”

In the plea arrangement with the District Attorney’s Office, Supreme Court Judge Kevin M. Dowd sentenced Hendrickson to two years in state prison and three years of post-release supervision for each of the charges, to be served simultaneously. Hendrickson was also ordered to pay more than $1,400 in fees and surcharges and must now register as a sex offender for no less than 20 years.

One of the victims who appeared in the courtroom to watch Hendrickson’s sentencing said she has three daughters, ages, 10, 13 and 19, who were also victims of the crime.

In conducting his guilty plea, Dowd asked Hendrickson’s public defender, Alan Gordon, to properly execute the plea allocution of the charges before he would accept the terms of the agreement.

“Did you attempt to break into the home?” Gordon asked his client. “Yes sir,” said Hendrickson.

“And with the intent to steal woman’s underwear?”

“Yes sir,” again replied the defendant.

Gordon said because the felony was a sexually-motivated crime, his client would have to become a registered sex offender.
– – –

The real life Hamburglar

Just over eight hours after police responded to the scene of a burglary at the Norwich McDonald’s Jan. 27, they arrested a 17-year-old Norwich youth for the crime.

David D. Brunell, of County Road 47 in Norwich, was charged with felony third degree burglary and two misdemeanors – fourth degree criminal mischief and petit larceny. Police said they identified the suspect caught in the store’s surveillance videos as Brunell by noon and arrested him at 3:30 p.m. after a brief search.

He allegedly broke into the Norwich McDonald’s at around 2:30 a.m. Tuesday after using a park bench to shatter the drive-through window. Police said Brunell then tried to crawl in through the small window, but was forced to make a second attempt after being injured on the broken glass. The teen managed to crawl through the opening and was caught on the security surveillance system, dangling from the window by his sneaker at one point and later eating hamburger buns as he rummaged through the fast food restaurant.

Police also said Brunell failed in his attempts to force open the business’ safe and cash registers, leaving bloody fingerprints at the scene as a result of his injuries.

Norwich Police Chief Joseph Angelino said that after his arrest, Brunell confirmed investigator’s suspicious that he was under the influence of illegal substances at the time of the incident.

“He could be seen staggering around in the surveillance video,” said the chief. Police said they were able to make such a speedy arrest thanks in part to the store’s security system.

Angelino said he wasn’t sure of a motive for the crime, but said the teen’s “thinking processes were probably hampered by illegal substances.”


Tuesday, December 1st, 2009
Tyler Murphy

At 12:30 p.m., 1963, in the bright Texas afternoon an unknown number of shots from a debatable number of assailants, motivated by a contested range of controversial notions, brought their evil intentions to bear and struck down America’s 35th president.

Nov. 22 was the 46 year anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy.

A man’s death is rarely broadcast so widely and can be so vividly recalled by those born before and after its time.

Most can identify the scene, often shown in black and white or in Technicolor, of that convertible strolling through Dealey Plaza in Dallas.

No sound, just the clipping movement of outdated film technology and the violent, unpredictable wrenching of a man’s body smeared in a sudden burst of blood. After seeing the severity of the moment it’s hard to imagine he made it to the hospital before dying.

Nearly five decades later the passage of time seems to make the circumstances of that day and the events surrounding it seem less defined than they were even then.

Apart of his epic assassination Kennedy was a man not unlike our current controversial president- a man of powerful oratory skills, a humanitarian and a candidate ushered in an era of great change.

“The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life.

And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe–the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state but from the hand of God.

We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans–born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage–and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world,” Kennedy’s Inaugural Address, January 20, 1961 United States Capitol, Washington, D.C.

His successes were equality muddled by his failures, which included the infamous “Bay of Pigs” debacle. Still let us remember this is a president who supported racial and social equality in a time of violent segregation. A man who held back the reins of world nuclear annihilation during the Cuban Missile Crisis.

“No man can fully grasp how far and how fast we have come, but condense, if you will, the 50,000 years of man’s recorded history in a time span of but a half a century. Stated in these terms, we know very little about the first 40 years, except at the end of them advanced man had learned to use the skins of animals to cover them.

Then about 10 years ago, under this standard, man emerged from his caves to construct other kinds of shelter. Only five years ago man learned to write and use a cart with wheels. Christianity began less than two years ago. The printing press came this year, and then less than two months ago, during this whole 50-year span of human history, the steam engine provided a new source of power.

Newton explored the meaning of gravity. Last month electric lights and telephones and automobiles and airplanes became available. Only last week did we develop penicillin and television and nuclear power,” Kennedy’s Address at Rice University on the Nation’s Space Effort, September 12, 1962

Perhaps one of the most dramatic accomplishments was challenging America’s ambition to reach the moon before the Russian’s space program, a challenge realized on July 20, 1969 when the United States’ Apollo 11 landed on the Moon, six years after Kennedy’s death.

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

The footsteps of man upon the moon may have roots in Kennedy’s words and in his short time on the American landscape he often challenged, and inspired, his idealism’s to the country.

“In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course. Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty. The graves of young Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe.

Now the trumpet summons us again–not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need–not as a call to battle, though embattled we are– but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation”–a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease and war itself.”

Kennedy served as president from 1961 until his assassination in 1963. His background included military service in World War II where he commanded a Torpedo Boat, the PT-109, in the South Pacific. The boat was rammed by a Japanese destroyer in 1943 and during the collision Kennedy was injured but manage to rally his crew and swam to a nearby island. They carried with them a badly wounded comrade and Kennedy received the Navy and Marine Corps Medal.

“In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility–I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it–and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.

And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country.”

Kennedy was a man of impressive beliefs and I appreciate his role in our American history. Few words have moved me so deeply and many of them carry a wisdom still comparable to our modern challenges. I hope the brief excerpts contained herein are enough to provoke at least a curiosity. I recommend a visit to YouTube or another site with an audio recording, though his words are impressively read there is no equal experience when heard through Kennedy’s own passionate presentation.

To read more of Kennedy’s words visit a collection of his speeches at http://www.jfklibrary.org/Historical+Resources/Archives/Reference+Desk/Speeches/

The blackness of Friday

Friday, November 27th, 2009
Tyler Murphy

The screeching sound that tears dreams to shreds pulsed in nerve-racking and relentless tones. My hand blindly slams at the nearby table without any effort of coordination- I only want the noise to stop. I turn my head toward the now silenced clock. I squint in rancid disgust at the glowing 4:00 before my eyes and slide my face deep into my pillow to curse. It’s a perfect start to a black Friday.

This is one of those experiences that convinces me people are generally insane. Standing before the bathroom mirror as my eyes bring into focus the crazed 4 a.m. visage of myself I wonder how many other people are doing the same thing I’m doing at that moment- questioning their mental health.

Wal-Mart’s sales begin at 5 a.m. and the allure of a flat screen TV marked down a couple of hundred dollars proved irresistible.

“Think of the money,” I tell my fatigue body as I fight the unnatural waking urge to vomit. Two hundred dollars takes me about three days or 24 hours of labor to accumulate but I can save that amount by enduring the next few harsh hours. So be it.

I had decided to get to the store an hour early because I knew they’d be a lot of people doing the same, after all I didn’t want to get up at 5 a.m. and have nothing to show for it. Better to commit the extra hour and assure my objective. I’m lucky I did.

I pulled into a surprising long line of cars all heading in the same direction at about 4:10 a.m. As we went down Route 12 I could see nearly every single one of the 15 cars ahead of me put on their blinkers as we approached the intersection to Wal-Mart’s parking lot. I arrived late to the party and parked in the third to last spot farthest from the store’s entrance. As I walk inside countless headlights continued to swing off the roadway and into the parking lot.

Pedestrian gates had been set up in and outside of the store, the kind you tend to see at a rock concert. Another music concert aspect was the black shirted sercurity/safety personal posted at strategic sales points throughout the store and every entrance. Maybe you remember hearing of the Wal-Mart employee killed in last year’s capitalist hysteria. I’d assume the placement of these new security officials was related to last year’s incident.

Basically instead of having a line outside people line up behind the items they wish to purchase. Pallets containing the most coveted items, usually electronics, are on display, wrapped in black plastic and under guard by a handful of employees.

To get these hot items you must visit the Ticket Master (what I call them any way). They give you a ticket for the item and then you go and stand in line for it. No ticket, no item.

So I joined the latter part of the line waiting to collect their 32 inch LCD televisions. A total of 64 were available. There were maybe a dozen tickets left at 4:15 a.m. The first person in line told me they had been waiting there since 11 p.m., that’s 6 hours before the sale begins.

So I stood there in line with the 50 other lucky maniacs who had received tickets. As we waited you could tell people were tired and a little hysterical… not in the panicking sense but in the “I’m laughing at everything, what did I just say,” kind of way.

Two Wal-Mart employees near us exhibited these symptoms to a high degree, having wandering conversations with sleep deprived patrons covering topics from the stimulus package to Hanna Montana. I asked them how long they had been working. They said they started at 11 p.m. last night and wouldn’t finish their shift until noon today. Trapped in a Wal-Mart on black Friday for 11 hours straight. I began see how the job might become life threatening. After being there for an hour I was ready to kill or be killed.

At 5 a.m. the black plastic wrap came off and a half dozen Wal-Mart employees stood guard fending off line crowders (I hate you people) and those lacking tickets as the rest of us filed by in an orderly fashion to collect our prize.

Now came the escape. There should be a limit on how many carts are allowed inside a store at any one time but obviously there isn’t.

Physically speaking you could not move through the store on your own accord. It was like a slow moving river after an ice break and you were just one piece of the shattered surface drifting along. The carts flowed together in currents of general direction moving only as fast as the slowest person ahead, occasionally bouncing off one another. At times you stood completely idle for minutes… and I wasn’t even in a line for anything I just wanted to get out.

Eventually the time came to check out and as I left the store at 5:26 a.m. people continued to pour in. As I pulled from my distant parking space, the one third from farthest space in the lot, two different cars slapped on their turning blinkers and waited for me to pull out. I don’t know who ended up getting it but there were a lot of showdowns that day, a lot of winners and many more losers. It’s a dog eat dog shopping world.

As I left the parking lot a number of people had double parked in the lanes and at every turn two cars traveling in opposite directions competed to move through a space only big enough for one. Less than half an hour after it started one car was already missing a side mirror and had discolored paint streaked across it. At 5:38 I turned onto the road and headed home.

The worst part… I forget to pick up a piece of equipment apparently vital to hooking up my new TV to the rest of my electronics. So once more unto to the breach dear friends….

A day of veterans

Friday, November 13th, 2009
Tyler Murphy

Jeff was busy playing with the Evening Sun’s new camera, recording the Veteran’s Day ceremony held in West Park in Norwich this Wednesday.

While he tinkered with the device at the front of the loosely gathered crowd I began to wander my way through looking for a familiar face. Instead one found me.

An older man wearing a worn navy brimmed hat extended his hand to me and introduced himself as someone I had briefly met on a previous occasion. He knew my father from the Oxford Veteran’s Home and joked on a recent column I had written poking fun at the real life horror fashion shows that appear in local court.

His wife apparently worked for a court system and she had also thrilled him with her own tales of pink flip flops and the stained stretch pants that appeared far too often before the judge’s bench.

I made an effort not to forget the man’s name and have decide against listing it here. It was a causal conversation we had and I appreciated his courtesy enough to extend the same. He was a retired 20 year veteran of the Navy.

We talked about the veteran’s home, his time in the military and the court before being interrupted in mid sentence by the VFW’s call to begin ceremonies. The man looked at me and nodded, neither of us wanted to continue with our conversation during the opening prayer and the singing of our national anthem. We understood this with out explanation. (Unlike some others in the crowd.)

Following the anthem the VFW’s presenter began talking about the challenge’s facing veterans and the local reductions in the services available to them. My acquaintance leaned near me and began explaining his own challenges in navigating the lack of resources in the system. An elderly woman, apparently familiar with the gentleman near us also added a few comments of her own contempt on the subject.

A few seconds later the gentlemen removed a pair of small metal plates from his pocket, at first I thought they were military dogtags but they seemed different. They were but I was right, they were just older dogtags from World War II.

He held the tags out to me and I inspected them closely. Cast into the metal on the front was the year 1942, a name, a religious preference and on the back imprinted into the metal was a thumb print. At first I thought how’d they do that? Then I thought morbidly of why.

In this moment while holding an artifact worn by solider in a time of high stakes world conflict I recalled a similar sensation from the day before. I had been on the phone with a father who had lost his son in Iraq, interviewing him for a Veterans Day tribute in the paper.

The gentleman went on to tell me he served in the Navy during the Vietnam War and that he had made two requests to serve in the country during that time, once to be assigned to a ship and another to a Navy office in Saigon. He was denied both times. He recalled being denied the office position and said he was grateful it worked out that way. A few months after having his request denied the office was bombed by a Viet Cong insurgent, killing a number of the personal working there.

Having the general ability to relate to those I often speak with I found myself at an unusual loss on how to comprehend the past week’s experiences. I still ponder the last few days in my mind and feel I haven’t quite grasped their true meaning yet.

I’m a long enthusiasts of history, politics and news but to stare at the topics of a remote world so personally before me created a connection to them I rarely feel. To read over the events in Afghanistan or Iraq I can’t help by consider that gentleman, his father’s dogtags or another father who spoke so proudly of his dead son.

The insanity of a social self

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009
Tyler Murphy

There is a facade that we all must admit we have.

Think of yourself as a corporation rather than an individual. When controlling the public image, you summon the company’s politically correct and socially engaging representative for duty. It’s kind of like that – rare is the personality that simply pours forth unabated. More often we meet the tempered “representatives” of people. Especially in first impressions.

I amuse myself with the strange, yet common social interaction of two people meeting, guards up, representative out, so much effort and so little personal exchange extracted.

It’s not just so much wanting to be liked by my peers that drives my particular brand of self-censorship as it is my concern I’ll offend people with my over direct and sarcastic personality. I like a truthful joke at my or someone else’s expense. It took me a while to realize that’s a personal preference. Like all good performers say before going on stage, know your audience.

The social graces are a courtesy that are all too often manipulated into deception of a popular image hiding inner motivations. Politicians, lawyers and real life corporate public relations representatives (journalists? I hope not) come to mind. Walks of life I stroll with routinely.

That may seem like a negative connotation, but when you work in a world of presentation is everything and image can trump truth, you need to be aware of all things expressive.

When your livelihood depends on assuming a position you hardly ever get to pick or even agree with, you have to develop a front to absorb the blows and a character to strike back. But the best defense is one of avoidance, not endurance. And the best attacks are subtle, not aggressive.

Keeping a guard up increases the distance of inner thoughts and emotions from being displayed, which often leaves an individual feeling disconnected. Sociopathic tendencies are adopted by choice and motivated by a means of control aimed at greater professional success. It sounds so reasonably insane to me.

Some people take it one step further and project an image in their mind based on what they wish to portray or what reaction they wish to generate from others before proceeding to assume that identity on a case by case basis. They perpetrate multiple deceptions of self out of a desire to obtain or fear of judgment. I wonder if after playing so many parts if a person ever really knows who they really are or what they even really believe. So much effort spent on not being anything – again the social irony amuses me.

The more I think about people’s positions and their desired image, I start to realize there is more than one person to a life.

There is who we think we are, who others think we are and who we really are falling somewhere in between. How far apart those three things fall can says a lot about a person.

What do they say about you?

(Insert rambling thought disclaimer here)

Finding yourself in a lost place

Friday, October 23rd, 2009
Tyler Murphy

After work yesterday, I got in my car and drove to the most remote seasonal road in the Town of Preston I could find. There, I traveled down the very narrow and rough road with the canopy of red, yellow and orange leaves creating an apparent tunnel through the woods. Aggravated by the cold and restless weather we’ve had lately, the autumn leaves easily detached from their limbs in the surprisingly warm breeze. They flutter to the forest floor and in every direction, dancing leaves descending between the wet trunks.

I stopped and pulled over at a small trail leading into a farmer’s pasture and walked a good half a mile along the deserted path. Even the old road was littered with piles of the discarded foliage of fading color and it all but removed any sign that civilization existed nearby.

The clamoring of rustled tree tops, freely drifting leaves and the crisp sound of my shuffling footsteps seem to be different notes on the same instrument.

When I closed my eyes in relaxation, the anthem of autumn reminded me of lying on some cool beach with the sound of the shore ebbing endlessly on. The rhythmic tides of crashing waves and the constant rustling of millions of leaves seem so intimately related that I was convinced it all must be some how connected. Standing there, I too felt apart.

This is where I’d usually say I was lost in the experience, but truthfully I felt lost until I found that place. It’s amazing how a little peace can bring you back to center.

The toils of a long week or the drag of a bad day fall away with the forest’s delicately collapsing petals.

The crispness of the wet air compelled me to inhale deeply and the fresh smell of changing plant life again reminded me of another kind of nature’s serenity, spring. Every breath felt clear and quenched my tensions.

I stood out on that road staring off into the trees for maybe 30 minutes, I barely moved, never made a sound and let my thoughts move in whatever motion the world around me inspired.

How I learned to spell ‘Hypodermic’

Friday, October 9th, 2009
Tyler Murphy

An easy word to spell once you’ve seen it. Hy-po-der-mic. It sounds just like it writes. A rare blessing in the English language. Yet for some reason it has always been one of those obscure words I hardly ever use in passing conversation that I’m cursed to spell improperly more often than is probably acceptable. I’m embarrassed to admit the Tyler alternatives of hypodermic have included Hypadermic, Hypodurmic and Hipoedurmick. OK, I made that last one up but on a late 14 hour work night at 11 p.m. I don’t think I’d rule any anything completely out.

Luckily I’ve had a great deal of practice in writing the word. I’ve used it less than a dozen or so times in the last few years, but in these past two weeks alone I’ve scribbled it on a note pad or typed into the computer at least twice that number of times.

Typically it falls into an all to common sentence form. “…was charged with 7th degree criminal possession of a controlled substance and criminal possession of a hypodermic instrument.”

I’ve written those words 7 times since Sept. 9 and I can not even remember a specific instance of writing it before that. I’m sure I have once or twice in the last three years, probably each instance months apart, but I don’t recall.

I’ve heard people say heroin has been available for quite sometime in the area and some of the most sought after prescription drugs are essentially prescribe heroin because they’re derived from the same active ingredients, opiates, just refined and processed.

Maybe that’s the truth, there hasn’t been such a fierce focus on heroin as there has been on cocaine in drug enforcement. As one drug counselor remarked, “There was a big focus on getting cocaine off the streets and heroin snuck in the back doors.”

Still the number of people now going to jail for heroin use is up. The cost of using the drug locally is heading down. The demand for it is becoming more common and availability, easier. So say the local law enforcement authorities on such things.

Don’t get me wrong I’m not a complete nazis that believes all drug users every where are evil. In fact I tend to be more liberal in my social sympathies than I probably should be, experimentation is normal thing- to a point. But injecting my body with a chemical I bought from a sketchy strung-out dealer living in a small trashed apartment sets off an alarm.

I’m curious about the needle usage aspect. Do people share or does proper heroin etiquette dictate I B-Y-O-N. (bring my own needle)? I thought I read some where that things like H.I.V. and Hepatitis are transfer frequently in such ways. Can you imagine a heroin user using an alcohol swab before injecting unknown mixture X in their body? Probably not.

Still the concern is rising with the pattern of increase heroin use. I mean if you’re are willing to endure all the alchemy steps necessary to prepare and use the drug what exactly are your substance abuse limits?

The worst part of the abuse, like all addicts, is not usually in the damage to physical health alone but to the psychological. Dependency means isolation from those more healthy and balanced and increased exposure to those more absorbed in drug culture and excess.

All drug abusers risk addition and harm but using heroin seems like the fast lane of consequence.

Reporting the scene of a fire

Friday, October 2nd, 2009
Tyler Murphy

The smell of smoke. I almost always smell it first. The squelched aroma of burnt garbage. The bobbing county road was draped in a slight film of gray haze, like fog but the air was dry.

A half mile from the scene and closing the smoke’s hues darken slightly. Before my eyes cross the top of the hill I can sense the faint reflection of red and blue strobe lights bouncing off the thick air.

There must be at least a couple hundred flashing bulbs on the fire trucks, ambulances and private vehicles lining the roadway. The kind that are so bright that to look at them directly leaves a residual pulsing image stamped in your brain for several seconds after.

In the throes of a fire the scene seems like ordered chaos. Crews dart back and forth from emergency vehicles carrying all manner of equipment. A few tired looking men in full turn out gear sit on the bumper of a fire engine as their oxygen tanks register depletion and set off with the sound of an old ringing alarm clock.

The sound rattles periodically, muffled slightly by the constant sound of crashing water, roaring flame and revving fire trucks. It lets the firefighters know when their oxygen tanks are low and indicates to me that the first people on the scene must have arrived about 15 minutes ago.

Navigating through puddles of water, hoses and heaving firemen I snap pictures as soon as arrive because flames make for dramatic photography and only dwindle as crews work.

The smell is like smudged charcoal beneath your nose and it will linger in my clothes and car for the rest of the day even through I never cross paths with any plumes of smoke.

Soot and wet ash cling and steal the color of everything they touch- including the stained uniforms and faces of responders who can’t avoid getting emersed in the stuff.

A man, typically wearing a pair of pajamas (sweat pant’s in this case) who’s running around the scene is a good indication of the home owner. A second personality often seen is the one sitting on the back of an ambulance in disbelief… again in whatever clothes they threw on at the last minute.

As the urgency of the situation wanes and the crews gained control over the scene you see a few of the firefighters standing and watching those taking their turn at toiling in the heat. This is the time to grab remarks for the story. As I wait for this moment to come I walk around taking pictures and trying not to get in the way. I walk down the road and inspect all the logos of the attending fire departments to ensure those who came get the earned credit.

The who, what and when already known I look for other basics:

What was the condition of the scene when you first arrived?
Was anyone hurt? How and to what extent?
What’s the damage? Does the family have a place to stay?
What was the point of origin and cause? (Often only half answered until hours later in the day.)

After spending over 45 minutes there I usually leave the scene while the crews continue to mop up the last of the dying flames and start the clean up.

death, the destroyer of worlds

Friday, September 18th, 2009
Tyler Murphy

“I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.”
-J. Robert Oppenheimer, Director of The Manhattan Project.

It is estimated that world wide there are about 30,000 nuclear weapons. At any given time, on any given day, it is estimated that more than 1,500 of those weapons are prepared for immediate launch.

The United States lays claim to only one third of the world’s entire arsenal boasting almost 10,000 warheads, carrying a total destructive force of 1,800 megatons- enough to destroy every square inch of life on the planet 18 times over.

Russia and its block states have roughly 16,000 nuclear weapons boasting about 2,900 megatons, enough to 29 planet Earths. (but there’s only one)

All but two percent of all nuclear weapons currently in existence were either made in America or in the Soviet Union.

Side note: The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, North Korea’s formal name, (I’m trying not to laugh) is estimated to have about ten nuclear weapons.

The nine countries that currently have nuclear weapons are Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan, Russia, United States, North Korea, and Israel. (Only Israel has not acknowledged having them publicly, although their diplomats have accidentally confirmed it and so has the U.S. military)

South Africa and several Soviet block states, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine had weapons but have since dismantled their programs with international observers verifying their efforts.

It seems to me, that in my generation at least, the fear associated with the prospect of nuclear annihilation has been largely forgotten.

It’s true we have Iran and North Korea to deal with in our time but their delivery systems and weapons don’t hold a candle to the threat faced by the generations who grew up in the vast shadow of the U.S.S.R.- punctuated by the Cuban Missile Crisis.

I wonder if our complacency is a good thing or bad.

“Nuclear weapons give no quarter. Their effects transcend time and place, poisoning the Earth and deforming its inhabitants for generation upon generation. They leave us wholly without defense, expunge all hope for meaningful survival. They hold in their sway not just the fate of nations, but the very meaning of civilization.”

-General Lee Butler, former commander for all US Air Force and Navy strategic nuclear forces.