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

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.

Catching up with Jerry Rice

  • Shaun Savarese
  • Evening Sun Sports Editor
  • Email: ssavarese@evensun.com
  • Twitter: @evesunshaun

 

As it is Dynasty Month on NFL Network and because it just so happens to be San Francisco 49ers week, I have been watching a number of specials on Jerry Rice. Rice is unquestionably the greatest receiver to play football, if not the greatest player. His work ethic and dedication was unmatched. Though the NFL has changed to open up passing numbers, there is nobody close to the statistical collection of Rice.

The six-foot-two-inch, 200 lb., 51 year-old, amassed 1,549 catches in his career, racking up 22,895 total yards. That is nearly 15 yards per catch. Rice is just three touchdowns shy of 200 for his career.

His best season was 1995. He had 122 grabs for 1,848 yards and 15 touchdowns. His best scoring season, was with Joe Montana in 1987, when he had 22 touchdowns.

These are just a few of Jerry Rice’s staggering statistics. To see them all click here.

While watching the Rice documentaries, Steve Young appeared. Young threw Jerry more total touchdowns than Montana. Sitting in awe, Young recalls 1995 and the Super Bowl and defeating San Diego, then he recalls Rice.

Three days after Number 80 caught ten balls for 149 yards and three touchdowns to lead the San Francisco 49ers to a win in Super Bowl XXIX, he was back at work. Young went to Candlestick park three days after the big game and nobody was there. He made his way back to the field and saw something unthinkable. Jerry Rice was on the field running routes.

That’s what defined him, his work ethic. I remember reading stories about his intense workouts and drills. He caught hundreds of balls from a left-handed assistant coach to gain a feel for the left handed spin of quarterback Steve Young.

His training sessions would begin earlier and occur more often than 90 percent of the league, and his attention to detail was unparalleled.

Starting a new job is one of the most stressful things a person can undertake. It can be difficult to remain motivated and at times I feel the euphoria of busyness cut towards anxiety. Scheduling, organizing, managing my time… in a new place, with new faces… its tough.

But, Jerry Rice worked hard year round. When he came to the league he set a goal for himself, he wanted to be the best football player he could be. Growing up, Jerry was my idol. I loved to watch him outperform everyone he lined up against. In an era in the league defined by toughness and grit, he was graceful. Gliding into position, under pinpoint passes, catching balls in traffic, deflecting hits that would be flagged today, and more often than most, ending up in the endzone.

Steve Young admitted that Rice was in the conversation for greatest of all-time, but he offered an explanation. Maybe when after you’ve accomplished a feat, a grand feat, you don’t stop working. That’s what Rice was doing three days after winning the Super Bowl.

I remember reading an article in Sports Illustrated about how quickly Rice recovered from an injury, and one part stuck with me. He was so fed up with being stagnant and unable to rehab, that he snuck into the garage in the dead of night and cut off his own cast. He was in physical therapy the next week, working harder than ever.

So, as I venture into the sports editors’ realm of early mornings at the office and long nights in the field. I look to my mentor, Jerry Rice and keep working.

I didn’t get ‘live for a living’ inked for nothin’

It’s been ten days since my last blog. Ten busy, busy days. Jam packed full of work, more work, and a couple days of escape. Regardless, no complaints here. Well, I suppose a few – but those are minute and will come later.
• Our new sports writer has been solo for a full week now, and tomorrow will begin week two. He’s adjusting to the way the newsroom operates, and is a welcomed addition to the team.
• The editorial staff has been sick lately, and thankfully I haven’t caught their illness. [Knock on wood]. Shawn cured his illness with NyQuil, and Matt opted for Claritin. I just keep my office door closed just and yell out to them.
• I spent last weekend in New Hampshire, my favorite place to clear my head. Two of my favorite stress relievers: A visit to The Granite State and painting my nails. I returned to New York with a clear head and refreshed spirit, only to have a ridiculously busy work week.
• I attended a court proceeding one day this week that absolutely disturbed me. Without divulging any details, I will say that I lost track of how many times my eyes became watery. Some people choose to do some disgusting things. I’ll leave it at that.
• I had interviews with various folks this week, and have a number of non-time sensitive stories in the works. Those are the ones easiest for me to cover, as editor. Stories with subject matter that can be published at any time provide me the ability to get to it as time permits, and my time is limited. I’ll be spending today writing four or five of the stories on my back-burner. As long as I have coffee, I don’t mind.
• Thursday I did a ride-along with a Chenango County Sheriff’s deputy. My mama always told me not to get in cars with strangers. I opted to disregard that piece of advice for a night, and got in a car with not only a stranger, but an armed stranger. I spent eight hours with him, and will be writing a column summing up the experience soon. Sneak preview: I signed a waiver assuming all risk and liability – up to and including death. I didn’t die. He was also a nice guy. He first majored in environmental science in college, then switched to criminal justice. Eight hours worth of material to come when time permits.
• I’ll be doing another ride-along (hopefully soon), with two NPD officers. A day shift and a night shift. I’m excited about that – and will write about that following the experience.
• Wednesday evening I’ll head up to Syracuse University to hear Ron Paul speak. Absolutely looking forward to that, and I’ll have a story – and separate opinion piece – after I return from that and have some time to write.
• On top of that, I’ll continue to build the paper every day, and continue to have a life outside of work. I didn’t have “Live for a living” inked into my shoulder for nothin’.
• As for complaints, they’re minor. I just wish people who submit posts on ’30 Seconds’ were a little more mindful and a little more thick-skinned. I don’t get offended by the personal attacks toward me. While I might not always publish them due to their vulgar nature, you have the right to ‘write’ your mind. Berating other posters is just not kind. If you read a story about … let’s say the Common Core, and have an opinion, feel free to submit something. If you just check it to say that the “‘Man from wherever’ is a jerk because of X, Y, and Z,” just save it. I’m doing my best to put a paper out, and don’t have extra hours to babysit.
• On a happier note, I’ve been at The Evening Sun for a little more than 11 months now. Neat.

Out of coffee; end blog.

I love March

Spring, the season of life. Tree buds, bright flowers… and a possible nor’easter making its way into the area as early as Tuesday. Dreams do come true.

A tip of the hat to the Sherburne-Earlville Parent Advocate Group for Thursday’s forum hosted at the S-E High School. The meeting served as an excellent resource for parents and students who are muddled by the the contested education reform known as the Common Core. Speaking as someone who believes the Common Core is the worst things to happen to public education since candy bar fundraisers (which I’m typically guilted into), I feel like I can get behind the group and its efforts to inform parents about their children’s options when it comes to high-stakes testing. On the other hand, there’s two sides to every story. In that respect, it’s only appropriate to read what the New York State Board of Regents has to say and make your own judgments.

Additional congratulations to newly dubbed Evening Sun sports editor Shaun Savarese. With Pat Newell’s final farewell last Friday, Shaun finished out his first week flying solo on the job, and did so free of bitter phone calls, hate mail, or any threat of physical harm by readers. Off to a promising start, indeed.

I should also offer a personal apology to Chenango County Sheriff Ernest Cutting, who, for reasons unbeknownst even to myself, I identified in a recent article as “Richard” Cutting (though in my defense, I can recall a professor Richard Cutting from my college days). Just another side affect of switching to auto-pilot at work. On the up side, at least I made the coffee right that day…

Duke’s out already. And just like that, the otherwise tedious task of scoring entries in our March Mania Contest becomes a simpler process. I love March.

I almost got in your car, Pat

I overheard Pat this morning talking about basketball. NBA vs. college. I said from my office, “I like the Mavericks.” I don’t watch sports. I have favorite teams for arbitrary reasons. My father lives in Fort Worth, so bam … Mavericks. Football, it’s the Kansas City Chiefs. But that’s a story for another day.
Anyway, Pat asked if I could name one player from the Mavericks. I could. Dirk. I also knew Jason Terry used to play for them. That’s as far as we went with that.
I didn’t have the pleasure of working with Pat for 18 years. When he started as Sports Editor I was in third grade, probably. I never played sports in school, so he never covered me. I played the cello and took dance classes.
I’ve worked with Pat since April. I remember the Post-it notes I wrote myself my first week with various reminders of writing in AP style. That Friday, I got an email from Pat that started with, “Hi Ashley, I noticed your Post-its, I hope you don’t mind me offering you a few more tips.” I didn’t mind at all. I still have the email.
Pat knows sports. He knows writing. And he knows numbers. When I need quick math, he’s my go-to guy.
He had the most interesting work area I’ve seen. Photos, newspapers, artwork, even a pillow. Dedicated to his job, no doubt about it.
If I needed help, Pat was my person. If he didn’t know how to assist, he knew an employee who could. Mind you, while there are only four of us in The Evening Sun building, there are other Snyder Communications employees that play roles, and Pat has worked with them throughout the years.
I know I’ve written before about how I’ll miss being able to hear him tapping to whatever music he is listening to each morning as he designs his pages. But I really will. I’ll miss walking out of my office to the spot where his wall is lower so I don’t have to stand on my tip-toes to talk to him about whatever-it-is we’re chatting about.
18 years. It’s like he’s all grown up and going off to college. But instead of college he’s off on a four-day road trip to New Mexico to start a brand new adventure.
I may or may not have gotten slightly emotional about his departure. I’m not tellin’.
Shaun Savarese will assume the role of Sports Writer. Pat has taken him under his wing the last couple weeks, and he’s getting the hang of things. I’m looking forward to working with him.
It’s not really my style to say it out loud, but … I’ll miss you, Pat. Best of luck, and keep in touch. I’ll keep an eye on your tree.
Also, I’m sorry I almost got in your car 27 times because ours are almost the same color.
…I don’t know if I ever told you about that.

Home is where the heart is

The winter sports season came to a sorrowful end on Saturday when the Norwich boys’ basketball team suffered their first loss of the year to the Westhill Warriors. As the season ends, so too does Pat Newell’s 17-plus-year tenure with The Evening Sun. As most readers already know, Pat is getting ready to ride off into the sunset, which happens to be over Albuquerque. Pat’s leaving behind a solid standing at the newspaper, a notable reputation in the Chenango County sports scene, and a cluttered cubicle with year’s worth of old sports notes, contacts, newspapers, and I’m guessing a former reporter who got buried underneath it all.

While Pat will certainly be missed by staff and readers alike, his replacement, Shaun Savarese, is just settling in. Shaun brings a fresh new perspective to The Evening Sun. With a background in sports broadcasting and an eagerness to jump into his new role as the go-to sports guy in Chenango County, Shaun’s off to a good start and in time (precisely 17 years) he will fill Pat’s shoes nicely.

For the sake of news, I should mention the number of open murder cases in Chenango County dropped from four to three last Friday, after Geneia Rood pleaded guilty to manslaughter. Rood was accused last fall of causing the death of an infant after giving the baby alcohol while she was babysitting. Over the week, I’ve heard it said several times that four open murder cases sets a new precedent in the county – not exactly the kind of “overachieving” status we should shoot for. Nevertheless, this is our new reality. To the people who have said that Chenango County has lost touch with its longstanding peaceful community reputation, I acquiesce. I love Chenango County; but it has done an about face in the last decade, with increasing drug problems, poverty, felony offenses, and (my biggest pet-peeve) a broad misunderstanding of how all these things are intertwined. But what can I say, home is where the heart is…

On the cheerier side of things, the American Civil War Wax Museum in Gettysburg, Pa. Is set to auction off a life-sized animatronic Abe Lincoln to raise money after completing a recent renovation… and evidently, to clear out its surplus Abe Lincolns. While the museum says the statue is the perfect addition to a collector’s smorgasbord of Civil War memorabilia, we at The Evening Sun envision a much more practical purpose. Lincoln would be the perfect employee to enforce the “employees only” sign on the front door. He’s tall, intimidating, works for free, and won’t argue. We can’t ask for a better fit.

Thank you 21st century technology

I love wrestling, and to this day, I wonder why I didn’t compete on the Norwich High School wrestling team. I played junior varsity basketball for the Purple Tornado, but I knew in seventh and eighth grade that accolades were not coming my way on the hardwood floor.
Post high school I have heard more than a few times: “Did you wrestle in high school?”
“No.”
“Well, you would have been pretty good.”
“Thanks for telling me that 25 years too late.”
From a professional – and personal – standpoint, it crushed me when I had to decide what event I would cover Saturday, March 1. In Binghamton, Norwich was playing in back-to-back Section IV basketball championship games. In Albany at the Times Union Arena, the New York State High School Wrestling Championships were being held.
In the end, I chose the basketball games because I like dealing in certainties.
Driving to Albany early Saturday morning, there was no guarantee any of the local wrestlers would advance to the evening’s finals. But, I did have an ace in the hole: 21st century technology, and a couple of close friends giving me updates.
If this was 1997, I would have never had the details that appeared in Monday’s sports section.
While covering the basketball games, I received text messages from my longtime buddies, John Klockowski and Charlie McMullen. Both were standout wrestlers during their high school days, and each remains passionate about the sport.
Time Warner Sports aired the state finals, and as events transpired, JK sent me messages. I had period by period updates of Tristan Rifanburg’s 7-1 state finals win over Laken Cook, and two weight classes later, received a summary of Frankie Garcia’s state title victory. I remember smiling when Klock gave me a second-period update on Garcia: “Garcia is up 4-0 with two tilts in the second.”
Thank you to my friends, thank you to the inventor of text messaging, and thank you Time Warner for airing the state championships.

Show me some love and follow me on Twitter @evesunpat

Like watching paint dry. again.

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/#

The harder you try, the worse it gets

They call it the law of reversed effect: The harder you try, the worse it gets.

I’m finding the same holds true when it comes to public education. There have been several stories concerning education that made headlines this month that caught my attention, beginning with last week’s proposal by the New York Board of Regents to slow down a full-scale implementation of the hotly contested Common Core learning standards. The proposal also has backing from countless parents and teachers statewide, and legislators who say it was too much, too fast. I couldn’t agree more.

Then there was this week’s pitch from Governor Andrew Cuomo to provide financing for prisoners to obtain an associate’s or bachelor’s degree during their sentence. It’s a deplorable concept in my opinion as it’s not only unfair for the millions of people who have made all the right decisions just to find themselves fighting student loans (people like myself); but also because a college degree held by a former inmate is as useless as a fish with a bicycle. As if a degree will make a convicted felon any more employable. Give me a break. I’m guessing a fancy degree from “RIT” loses some caliber when it comes from Rikers Island Tech.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against educating prisoners. I’m against paying for student tuition for them. Instead of paying their college fees, how about throwing a little money my way so I can pay off my student loans? At least I’m a good investment.

Lastly, I recently read an article from NYSUT United that says child hunger is a growing concern statewide because it’s also affecting students’ behavior and performance in the classroom. One million children in the Empire State go to bed hungry, and those numbers are only increasing thanks in part to a recent $300 million-plus cut to the federal food stamps program. For many kids, this means the only meal they get comes from the school cafeteria, and that makes it difficult for schools to close even when it snows two feet overnight. If ever there’s a downer of a story in education, this is it.

It’s taken our country more than 300 years to get public education where it is today. And it always seems that no matter what efforts are made to enhance it, there’s always a bigger obstacle to overcome. It’s times like this that one of my favorite Homer Simpson quotes comes to mind: “Kids, you tried your best and you failed miserably. The lesson is, never try.”

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

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.

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