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Thoughts on life and local events

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My wife teases me about jumping up, looking out the window "every time" I hear a car door or see a car idling in front of our house for more than a minute. She calls it funny. I call it "vigilant." 

You know, I was thinking as I read about the latest shooting incident in the City of Elmira that took place last night. Last week there were two drug busts in the area that occurred because a local citizen took a stand and called the police. That little spark of, "Somethings not right here," led to getting three alleged criminals and a decent amount of drugs off the street. With a simple phone call, a citizen put any other would be criminals on notice: "Not on this street."

All too often when we read about the random shooting incidents that happen around the area we also read that there were no witnesses or those who know something won't cooperate with law enforcement. "Snitches get stitches."

This time people got lucky, there wasn't a kid in the path of one of those bullets.

This time. 

Maybe next time someone won't be so lucky, resulting in a little coffin being lowered into the ground a few days later. An empty place at the supper table. 

I'm wondering when, crimes like this are going to be investigated and prosecuted thanks to the help of people in the neighborhood finally saying, "Enough is enough."

What's it going to take to make that happen ? 

It's understandable some people may feel afraid, fearing repercussions for being a "snitch". You don't have to confront anyone.  If something looks fishy, jot down a plate number, maybe a quick description of the car, or the people involved. Just a simple phone call to police. They even have a number to call if you want to remain anonymous: (607) 271-HALT. 

It's time to take back your neighborhood folks, even if one block at a time. Be vigilant. Shine the light on 'em. 


Music & Memories

As many of you know, among the other things I do I'm also a part time musician. I've been blessed to experience some of the things I once dreamed about. I've met and performed with people I once only knew through the radio. The lights, the crowds... I've been blessed.  

One of the best, and lesser known, things about what we do is getting to be part of the celebrations in peoples' lives. I don't know how many weddings, anniversary parties, retirement parties, etc. we've done over the past 17 years or more specifically, nearly 12 for me personally. These are kind of different from the bars or festivals where people are there to see us, we're not the main event. In a way, it's kinda weird, because we often start the day as outsiders. Yet more often than not we're still drawn in, and we're "family". We've become good friends with people whose celebrations we've been the soundtrack for. It's hard to explain, but there's something special about getting to do that. 

Every once in a while though, a moment comes along that we aren't really expecting. A special moment for someone that wasn't planned, it just happened. This past weekend was one of those moments. 

I'll let you in on a little secret: Every band has a schtick, some things they'll throw in to a performance that perhaps were once spontaneous but got such a reactions someone thought, "Hmm, we need to remember that." Often these will come out when the room needs a little energizing. 

It's not an uncommon thing for our fiddle player to find his way playing on top of a table or bar. ( While people are watching him, I'm watching the staff or owners of the establishment. The looks on their faces are often pretty entertaining. )

This weekend he ended up with company while doing so:


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At the end of the night as we were packing up, he came over to say goodnight. Introduced himself and said he's 86 years old, just had hip surgery this past year.  He gave me a big hug, thanked us for the music, and left. 

No sir, thank you. 

You know, the world around us seems to have gone insane. We're told every day how bad people are. Lord knows I've been feeling like packing up and moving to the mountains somewhere, away from anyone. But then something like this happens, often when I need it most. I get to see people at their best, brought together by the common bond of music and celebration, and everything is just fine, if only for a couple hours. I feel so fortunate to have that opportunity.

I don't remember this man's name, I'm awful at remembering them. He may or may not remember mine. But in some strange, cosmic way, we're forever a part of each other's lives now, part of each other's memories. 

Long after the very last note's played, when he's gone and I'm an old man myself, I'll remember that one night night some old guy climbed up on a table and danced to the music. 

I'll smile.

He'll be alive still. Still dancing.

That's pretty damned cool. 


It's that time of year again, the time of year everyone makes those New Year Resolutions. They steel themselves for the task they've laid out for themselves; gonna get up earlier and go to the gym, gonna stop eating too much, gonna quit smoking, and so on. 

Not that there's anything wrong with that, although I also believe there's an entire industry waiting to benefit from it as well. Let's face it, the salesman knows that treadmill he sold you will statistically end up a clothes hanger or on Craigslist. The gym owner knows that a large percentage of those new members will drop off after a month or two despite having paid for a year in advance. 

Don't get me wrong, I see nothing wrong with an attempt at self improvement if done for the right reasons. Frankly I think the "new year, new me" mantra is a load of crap. We're being railroaded into feeling like we should do something we're not ready to do based on a calendar, slick advertising, or nosy people.

"So, you make a new Year resolution ?"

"Yeah, not talking to nosy assholes."

At least that's what I hear in my own head. But no, we'll play along, we'll post our goals and efforts on social media. And in doing so allow our successes and failures to be determined by others.

No thanks. 

Having said that, I admit to having my own self improvement project going on. But it's already happening, has been for a few weeks. On my terms. 

I'm going to be happy

That's it, simple enough. I have been, and will continue to, take steps to make sure I am leading a happier life. It's a multi-phase project, which as I said has already begun with the reduction of stress in my life. Not the elimination, there's no such thing, but the reduction. I am choosing which stress I will take on and why as opposed to enduring stress put on me by others or out of a sense of obligation. No more feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders. I guess you could say I'm telling the world to lose weight. HAH !

There are things beyond my control, I cannot change, and I'm no longer trying to. The voice in my head that has in the past said, "Well if you don't get involved, if you don't try, no one will." is now saying, "So be it."

It's not easy, and it doesn't mean I don't care. Just the opposite actually. In a book I recently read, the author writes, "True happiness occurs only when you find the problems you enjoy having and enjoy solving."  I'm just choosing between the problems I can handle and can actually change, and the ones that are just causing me undue stress and unhappiness. 

As for those who choose self improvement at the stroke of midnight Sunday, I wish you the best of luck. By all means quit smoking to avoid the disease it causes. Lose that 10 pounds to avoid the "dis-ease" when you bend over to tie your shoe. But make sure you define your progress. You define your successes and yes, your failures. You do it for you, on your terms. 





Traditions & Memories

Last year after my wife and I got the lights on the Christmas tree, we let the boys take over and begin decorating. Historically this has involved them putting them on the tree in the same location within a 6 inch radius and me telling them to spread the decorations out. The grownups will put a couple decorations on the tree as well, ones that must be on there; a couple from a honeymoon trip to the Adirondacks, a mini union suit that commemorated baby's first Christmas, etc. Additionally, there's the decorations that have been on my tree since long before I can remember. 

You see a tradition in our family was for each year the kids would get a new decoration from Grandma, usually around Thanksgiving or shortly thereafter. So I have decorations going back 43 years, each one with my name and the year on it. Some of them have to stay in the box now, or risk being damaged, but I try to put a few from over the years on the tree no matter what. One of those is particularly special, as represents a very specific memory. 

As I recall ( and Mom if I'm recalling this one wrong, I don't want to know ) I was maybe 10 years old, I don't know, shopping with Grandma one year and an ornament caught my eye. A galloping unicorn made of a glass like substance. I can't remember why I was drawn to it, although given my appreciation of fantastical beasts it shouldn't be a surprise. Anyhow, I asked for it, got it, and it became part of the collection. As far as I know it went on the tree every year I can remember after that. Especially after her death in 2010, that ornament is mandatory on the tree, placed by me in front of a light so it shines. 




So getting back to last year, there we are, decorating the tree and I reach for the unicorn. Not in the box. I look in the other. Not there either. I search the remaining boxes, and then becoming more frantic, the two decoration boxes again. 


I began to think, surely I wouldn't have missed it when we took down the tree last year. Would I ? Even if I missed it in the house, I would have noticed it when I put the tree in one of our bird pens. Right ? What if I didn't ? What brush pile did it end up on ? Ohmygoditslostforever....

Folks, if you'd ever wanted to see a 42 year old man rapidly losing his shit, this would have been the time to see it. I was coming unglued looking for it. 

Fortunately my partner "for better or worse"  ( or sudden insanity ) found it. Deep breaths, heart rate settled maybe feeling a little foolish, it went on the tree and we went on with Christmas. 

The point to all of this is, we all have our traditions, and in those traditions are memories that last long after we've grown and others have gone on. We were blessed to have been raised with values that put emphasis on traditions, or more precisely, the memories that remain long after the material things are gone.  

Nevertheless, there is that value attached to small things like a two dollar ornament. Maybe it's something I wouldn't have consciously recognized even ten years ago, but with each passing year do. With each passing year memories fade, it can't be helped, they just do. We forget life's little moments, maybe even memories of people fade. So we treasure those little plastic talismans that bring us not good luck, but good memories that may have otherwise faded. 

And we remember all over again. 


Welcome Back

This is a test blog, do not comment below :)



No, you're not seeing things. 

Six months ago, after nearly five years of running local news websites in one form or the other, I decided it was time to hang it up. 

Over the past month or so I've toyed with the idea of doing something different, involving more multimedia as well as continuing to share the work of some of our areas' talented writers, but the thought process always came back to the beginning. I had the software license, I had the ability, I just needed the spark. 

That spark came in a couple different ways. Around the same time I started toying with the idea I had random people ask me about the site. I also began to see even more of a need in our area for a reliable news source without the fluff pieces that are great for clickbait and driving social media response, but not much else. To be honest, I was also missing the chance to tinker around on the back end of a website. That's always been the fun part, creating the features you see here. 

Additionally, I had a brief conversation with the admin of another site I enjoy. His site gets hits from all over the world and has been going for nearly 10 years. His perspective about why he does it; for his own enjoyment more than anything else, kinda resonated with me.

Having the ability to get unlimited high speed data didn't hurt either.

So I said I'd dip my toe back in. I'd spend the few bucks to renew the license on the software and hosting, and just play around, if only for my own enjoyment. What I found was, the more I did that, the more I missed doing it in the first place. Next thing I knew, the site was here. 

But there's still something missing of course. The people. 

So I'll do a slow roll out. First a sort of "soft opening" for the people who have been part of this from the very beginning. Maybe we'll pick up a few people we lost along the way. Then if all looks good I'll roll it out to the public. Then we'll see what happens over the course of the next year. 

While some features will be familiar, some are going to be different. Many will not be back. Also, I plan to keep the amount of forums to a minimum. Additionally we won't be archiving all the posts from now on. Most will have an expiration date but the better discussions will go to a "Best of" container. This should help keep the costs of hosting down as well as keep time spent at the computer to a minimum.

For the foreseeable future, the most glaring change will be that the site will now be "Subscription Only". However that "subscription" is free, all someone has to do is register an account and log in to read the site. It's my hope this encourages people to respond and add their thoughts to the discussion that takes place here. 

Gone are the days of focusing on making this a "product" or trying to compete with social media. Or anyone for that matter. We're going to continue to offer a place for news and civil discussion. Along the way we'll have some fun and hopefully I can make a couple new ideas I have incubating hatch out. 

Thanks for stopping by again. I hope you make ElmiraTelegram.com a regular stop





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