So I opened an email yesterday, enticed to do so because for first off, it’s part of the job. And second, the title read “HORRIBLE TRIP TO LONDON. PLEASE HELP.” You can’t not read something like that.
Sure. I’ll read it. I apparently have nothing better to do with my time than read a blatant scheme for easy money.
Here’s the first few sentences of the email, copied and pasted as per your enjoyment:
“I am sorry for reaching you rather too late due to the situation of things right now. My family and I had a trip visiting London (England), everything was going on fine until last night when we got attacked by some unknown gunmen. All our money, phones and credit cards was stolen away including some valuable items, It was a terrible experience but the good thing is they didn’t hurt anyone or made away with our passports.”
The letter went on asking if I could send along $1,550 (or whatever I could give) so these distraught travelers can catch their flight home. My money would be reimbursed when they returned, of course.
Overall, a good effort but not the most creative scheme I’ve ever heard. I’m a fan of the more imaginative ones: “Your internet license has expired. Your annual renewal payment of $100 is due to the FCC by tomorrow.” Sorry, my internet license? One of my favorites is “You’ve won the grand prize raffle but need to submit a $500 down payment now to redeem your $1 million prize.” I won a raffle I didn’t enter… must be luck.
To make an already poorly thought out scheme even worse, I got practically the same email last month. The difference? The traveler (of the same name and same email address, mind you) was “attacked” at a resort in the Cayman Islands. Either this is a hoax, or God clearly doesn’t want this person to vacation.
On a different note, the reporting crew is well into Progress Chenango, the annual undertaking of The Evening Sun that’s traditionally known to suck life and spirit from reporters. Personally, I haven’t thought Progress was that bad in the two years I’ve done it. I’m still learning a lot about Chenango County’s leading industries and non-profit organizations, even the ones I seem to write about on a regular basis. Not to mention, a slowly improving economy is making for much more positive stories for this year’s edition. Who says money can’t provide happiness?
I feel for my good friend Stephen Del Vecchio, a 1988 Notre Dame grad. Yes, the same Notre Dame that was squashed by Alabama Monday night in the BCS championship game. The writing was on the wall early for the Irish, and perhaps Stephen had an inkling beforehand about how this game would shake out. After watching any 10- or 15-minute segment of that game, does anyone believe Notre Dame was one of the top two teams in the nation? What about the top five? Upon further review, Notre Dame may not have been among the top three or four teams in the SEC this year. Don’t blame the Irish, though, blame the BCS system.
What this year’s national championship game revealed was more damning evidence against the illogical one-versus-two title game with the winner take all. Next year, we’ll have the long-awaited mini-playoff, but even the four-team playoff is flawed. Under next year’s new-and-improved college football playoff format, Texas A & M would have been excluded. The Aggies beat Alabama late in the regular season, and were playing as good as anyone at the end of the year. Is there anyone who would NOT want to see a rematch between the Tide and Texas A&M? It won’t be long before pundits will clamor for an expansion of the four-team playoff. Here’s a novel thought: Why not get it right the first time and create an eight-team playoff? That would be too easy.
A few local teams are embracing the technology for summing up basketball statistics, and a program on the IPad compiles nearly every statistic imaginable. Armed with a fast-fingered person entering data in real time, coaches can look at shot charts and rapidly assess individual performance at a moment’s notice. The final results can also be shared by email immediately after the completion of a game. Wednesday, I received the game report from a team that will remain nameless. I looked up and down the statistical lines looking for anything of note. On the last line, I noticed the most revealing statistic – perhaps the most shocking number I have every witnessed. The last line summed up the total turnovers. In this game – 32 minutes in length – the team in question committed 53 turnovers! I contacted the person who sent the email, and verified the total. Surely this was a typo? No, the total was correct. This team still took 44 shots in the game, and lost by just eight points. Those turnovers equate to 53 missed opportunities at shooting and scoring. Take away half of those turnovers – still a large total – and the team wins the game shooting just 20 percent from the field. Former G-MU coach Bill Hartman often used the phrase,in relation to turnovers, “treasure the basketball.” Giving a team 53 additional possessions is simply unacceptable, and a recipe for a coach’s hair loss or premature graying. Treasure the basketball, people.
Some other basketball notes…since losing to Sidney 48-34 four weeks ago, Greene’s boys basketball team has won six straight games to improve to 7-2 on the season. The Trojans are averaging over 63 points a game during the streak and have won by at least 12 points in every game. The team is well rounded under head coach Rick Smith, who preaches an up-tempo, fast-breaking style that lends itself to plenty of offense. “I feel we have the capability to beat the best teams in our league. When we are shooting well from the three-point area we are tough,” Smith said. “We need to complement that with a good inside game. We also have to match an opponents intensity better when things are tough. And as always, we need to protect the basketball and rebound better against our toughest opponents. The next couple of weeks will tell a lot about our team.” Next week the Trojans host defending league champion Unatego, and play at B-G Friday, who have won seven out of eight games…Speaking of Bainbridge-Guilford, a pair of forwards – Austin Bauerle for the boys and Morgan Bullis for the girls – have put up back-to-back monster double-doubles. In the last two games, Bauerle has 41 total points and 39 rebounds. He’s also stepped behind the three-point arc hitting six total trifectas. Bullis, just a sophomore, has 35 points and 28 total rebounds in wins over Marathon and Deposit.*
For those who love wrestling, check online later this weekend for results from the Eastern States Classic, hosted by Sullivan Community College. Other than the New York State championships, you won’t find a New York high school tournament with a better assemblage of grapplers. Norwich’s Tristan Rifanburg and Greene’s Dan Dickman are Chenango County’s top-seeded entries receiving two seeds at 132 and 152 pounds respectively.
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Well folks, our annual Progress Chenango deadline is right around the corner and while I feel I should be worried about making said deadline, for some reason, I’m not. I suppose my previous Progress experience is part of that, as I’m feeling fairly confident about my … err … progress, to date. Granted, I’ll be spending some extra time at the office over the next eight days, but that’s nothing new when we’re talking about The Evening Sun’s biggest offering of the year. Will I be happy when it’s all said and done? Probably, yet I’m decidedly not excited for our very own Melissa DeCordova’s forthcoming retirement. We’re going to miss you, MDC.
If it’s not one thing, it’s another, as usual, even as the gun debate continues to garner national attention. I must say I enjoyed Governor Cuomo’s impassioned speech last night, although there was an awful lot of things-need-to-change-but-I’m-offering-no-real-solutions, if you ask me. And suffice it to say, I’m tired of the whole “government coming to take our guns” nonsense. No one is trying to take your guns away, people. Simmer down.
Let’s see … how about a “Most Ridiculous ‘30 Seconds’ Post of the Week,” just for the heck of it, brought to us by … Woman from Smyrna.
“MFSNB: It doesn’t do any good to report the unlicensed drivers to the cops! these drivers are friends of the cops! It just isn’t fair!!!”
Holy exclamation points, Batman, Woman from Smyrna seems worked up about this one. Sorry to say, but I sincerely doubt reporting unlicensed drivers doesn’t do any good. And I’m absolutely positive the cops are not refusing to ticket said drivers because they are their “friends.” As for the fairness of it all … well, no comment. The fact of the matter is this: it’s apparent you haven’t been keeping up with the Police Blotter, as a week doesn’t go by where I don’t type up an entry which includes a charge of second or third degree unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle. Plenty of people are being caught driving without a license, trust me.
And now, alas, I am headed home. Not much going on tonight, I suppose, except more Progress. Chances are I’ll take an hour or so to wind down and read my new book (Robert Jordan’s and Brandon Sanderson’s ‘A Memory of Light’) before delving once again into my ever-expanding set of Progress notes; another quick break for a bite to eat; maybe another sit-down with my book; and then … how about some more Progress? Not that I’m complaining, considering Saturday is my birthday and it seemed wise to get as much done as possible prior to the festivities. Feliz cumpleaños to me, indeed!
• Thanks to the helpful ‘30 Seconds’ caller who told me that in some cases, the car alarm button on a key fob is used as a kind of “call for help” in an emergency situation, and that I should have checked to see if someone needed assistance rather than bitching about it my blog. Point taken. I did, after a few frustrating minutes, look out my window (although I confess it was more out of frustration than concern) to see what I could see – and saw someone sheepishly walking toward the vehicle in question to shut it up. See? We all learn something on evesun.com don’t we?
• The Sheriff’s Department updated their ‘Most Wanted’ list again. I think Brian keeps writing that story hoping he’ll appear on it.
• Although a more fitting tribute will be forthcoming, since it was announced at our company-wide birthday cake meeting this morning, I’ll inform you quickly here that Melissa deCordova, Evening Sun reporter extraordinaire, will be leaving us at the end of January. Although her go-around with the paper this time was nine years, her employment at the ES actually predates mine by a tad – she was here (well, there – back when we were on Hale Street) on my very first day in 1990. I’ll be spilling some more ink on that later undoubtedly (and probably shedding a few tears), but suffice it to say now that we wish her the very best in her early retirement.
• Kevin did his ‘Punching the Clock’ performing energy audits with Blueox today. He, Brian and Shawn have done a great job resurrecting this popular series. Do you have an interesting job you’d like to have one of my Evening Sun boys perform for a day? Email me at email@example.com. No job is too dirty or humiliating for them, trust me
• It’s about 5:20 p.m. and there’s a car alarm that’s been going off somewhere near our little Lackawanna Ave. hovel now for a good 15 minutes. If it doesn’t stop soon, I am not responsible for my actions.
• Kevin Doonan wrote a nice piece today on Oxford town and village historian Vicky House, who took up the mantle from longtime (long, longtime) historian extraordinaire Charlotte Stafford after she passed away in 2010 at the ripe old age of 91. Being an Oxford boy, I can tell you that Miss Stafford was a village icon in my formative years, a veritable font of knowledge on all things Oxford. In my high school gig working at the village library, I was entertained often by Miss Stafford, who spent hour upon hour out at the back table, poring over old issues of The Review-Times. I never knew exactly what she was looking for, but her discoveries always seemed, to me, serendipitous. She’d often share with me a little tidbit of history she’d come across, and could always relate it to my family or people I’d know. The woman had a mind like a steel trap. Her encyclopedic knowledge of Oxford history was a marvel in the days long before Google, or computers for that matter. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Vicky several times, and dare say she’s well on her way to carrying on Charlotte’s legacy in a true and lasting way.
• You can tell I haven’t eaten dinner yet when I get all “misty water-colored memories” about my job at the library.
• Or maybe it’s the Chinese Water Torture of that *&#%@ car alarm. Seriously.
• Swelby’s got an official launch date – Feb. 6! For those of you who still don’t know quite what Swelby is (in a nutshell: Downtown, Online), click on this link and check it out. Color me impressed by my colleagues next door in coming up with The Next Big Thing.
• Probably dated myself severely with the Columbo reference in today’s editorial, didn’t I? Not even going to guess what the “Murder, She Wrote” reference may have done.
• Nice to see that the Sheriff’s Department is updating its “Most Wanted” list. Hopefully spreading the word will help land some of these miscreants back behind bars. That said, the whole Sheriff’s Facebook page leaves me a bit puzzled. I can see the rationale behind posting their recent arrests on that page, but allowing people to comment on them freely has gotten out of hand on more than one occasion. There was one in particular last week that garnered more than 40 comments overnight – and not even about the arrest itself, but a profanity-laden flame war among the commenters. Guys, Facebook allows you to filter that %&^#.
• Then again, I publish ‘30 Seconds,’ so I should talk. At least the language is clean.
• Stayed up way past my bedtime last night watching the two-hour premiere of “Downton Abbey” season three on PBS. (I like adding ‘PBS’ like I do ‘NPR,’ to make me sound like a smartie). Loved, loved, loved Shirley Maclaine’s turn as Martha Levinson, the aging socialite who turned Matthew and granddaughter Mary’s nuptials upside down. Never thought anyone could steal a scene from Dame Maggie Smith until last night!
Did you know that people are 15 times more likely to die of a falling coconut than picking the winning Powerball numbers? Did you know that architectural plans are in the works to build a bridge from California to the outermost Hawaiian peninsula? Or that climate change has landed the northwestern tree octopus on the endangered species list? If not, don’t feel too left out. I only know because I Googled it. Everyone knows, if it’s on the internet, it must be true.
With each reporter’s story that appears on the Evening Sun website, there’s a chance for readers to chime in with a comment section at the bottom. I usually refrain from responding to negative comments – or any comments for that matter – but when my credibility is challenged, I can’t help myself (understandable, right?). Of course, I’ll spare the details of the all but flattering comments posted to one of my stories earlier this week, but I will say if you don’t subscribe to the Evening Sun, you don’t see the entire story online (and the second half of a story is just as pertinent as the first half. I don’t keep writing them just because I have nothing better to do). “You can please some of the people some of the time…” You know the rest.
Congratulations are in order for the newly assembled 113th Congress. Here’s to hoping it’s a more productive body than the 112th Congress (God knows, they can’t do much worse. My dog could have done a better job). It’s also noteworthy that Speaker John Boehner began to cry after being elected House Speaker for a second term, though it’s still not clear on whether he was crying because he won the job or because he’s stuck with it. Either way, seeing a politician cry for a change makes me feel a little better inside.
• In case you missed my column today, therein I vowed to write more often. So here I am. On a Friday afternoon, no less. Those who have worked here before, or who have ever met me, know what a tremendous sacrifice this is.
• My first editorial topic for Monday will be pretty easy: Amateur sleuthing. With all the intrigue surrounding Jennifer Ramsaran’s disappearance, suddenly everyone in Chenango’s a detective. Angela Lansbury, you’re not. Leave it to the pros.
• Hope you caught the front page feature on the new North End Deli in Norwich in yesterday’s edition. A naysayer on Facebook (there’s one in every crowd) wished them luck since, according to him, no restaurants north of the city stand a chance of survival – except, as he pointed out, Pizza Hut, Dusty’s, Arby’s and Bill’s. There’s logic for ya.
• Very glad we avoided the dreaded Dairy Cliff as well as the Fiscal Cliff. I need my 2 percent. No way I’m drinking milk that comes from a bean.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but this week – actually the last two weeks – have been completely out of whack for this mild-mannered newspaper reporter. This, of course, due to the holidays (and Christmas and New Year’s falling on Monday and Tuesday, respectively), and I’m sincerely hoping for a weekend of “rest and relaxation” (like there’s really any rest or relaxation for an Evening Sun employee at this time considering our Progress deadline is right around the corner). I have, however, been making strides in regards to Progress 2013, although there are a number of distractions I could do without … namely my 36th birthday (next Saturday) and the release of Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson’s ‘A Memory of Light,’ a book I’ve been waiting for for more than a decade now.
Note to readers, ‘A Memory of Light’ is the final volume of Jordan’s epic fantasy, ‘The Wheel of Time,’ which consists of fourteen books (not to mention a prequel novel), hence the long wait for this, the story’s grand finale. To say I’m excited for the book would be a major understatement, and it will be difficult, to say the least, to put it down once I pick it up next week. As for my birthday … well, now that I’m on the downslope to 40 … that I’m not so excited for.
Despite that out of whack feeling, Christmas and New Year’s Day were both a great time, spent with the family up on Prospect Street. It’s not too often we manage to get all four of us together (my mom, stepfather, grandmother and I) outside of the holiday season, and it’s always a pleasure, particularly when you consider mom’s home cooking. Sure I don’t mind living off Hot Pockets and Byrne Dairy subs throughout the week, but a home cooked meal is something you won’t find this reporter turning down very often.
With that … the latest installment of “Most Ridiculous ‘30 Seconds’ Post of the Week,” brought to us by Man from Oxford.
“Assault weapons are regulated under the NFA. The problem is the libs are trying to expand the definition of assault weapons to include semi-automatic rifles. It’s another step in total gun confiscation. We all know that the big city politicians want to ban handguns, too. Next, your deer gun will be a dangerous sniper rifle if it has a scope on it.”
Needless to say, I’m sick and tired (once again) of the gun debate, and both sides of said debate are equally annoying. Nobody … and I mean nobody … has said anything about “total gun confiscation,” something that will never happen in this country even if it were the right way to deal with this situation. Relax, hunters and gun owners, while it may be more difficult at some point in the future to own that semi-automatic of your dreams, you will certainly be able to do so following whatever guidelines our fearless leaders come up with. To say “they” are trying to take away all your guns is ridiculous. And yes, I do think it should be difficult to own a gun, particularly certain types. God only knows we have enough irresponsible (not to mention just plain stupid) people out there, and I think we’ll all feel better if the guns are kept out of their hands. Enough said.
• Happy New Year! Major fail, Mayans. Got us all worked up for nothing.
• Spent a good portion of New Year’s Day at Frank Revoir’s oath of office ceremony at the Chenango County Courthouse. Congratulations to Chenango’s newest county, family and surrogate court judge. It was impressive to see, right in front of you, the lineage of Chenango’s fine line of jurists – Irad Ingraham, Kevin Dowd, Howie Sullivan, and the “newer” generation of Elizabeth Garry and Judge Revoir. While this summer’s race often got mired in the rigors of smalltown politics, it was easy to forget, for a moment, just how important – and auspicious – this position really is. Tuesday’s ceremony brought that home for me, and the packed courtroom in attendance. Congratulations again, Your Honor. It was a hard-fought race, but now the real work begins …
• Speaking of real work, a familiar January cloud is hanging over The Evening Sun newsroom – the deadline for Progress Chenango 2013 looms ever near. If you encounter one of my trusty reporters over the next couple weeks, treadly lightly; they’re more irritable than usual. And once they’re done, stay clear of me for a couple weeks as I slave to put all 10 sections together for you. All kidding and kvetching aside, we’re always quite proud of our annual Progress editions – they show both the best work we can do, and the best Chenango County has to offer. Look for Progress Chenango 2013 in The Evening Sun the week of Jan. 28 to Feb. 1.