Story ideas can come from anywhere.
They can be phoned in by a tipster, generated during local government coverage or plucked from the study of societal trends.
And sometimes they crawl across your neck.
A few weeks ago, I took a walk through a local state forest to look for deer tracks, scrapes and rubs. It was a nice little walk, although I didn't see much in the way of deer sign.
A few hours later, while watching television at home, I felt a tickle on my neck. Reaching up, I pulled off a deer tick.
Deer ticks are the primary vector for Lyme disease. But the last time I had looked into the issue of Lyme disease, I had noted that Otsego County did not have a very high incident rate. I remembered also hearing something about how deer ticks weren't too prevalent in the area.
The next day, we received a media release from the State University College at Oneonta Biological Field Station. The subject: a suspected increase in prevalence of deer ticks on state forests in Otsego County.
The result was a combination story on the increase Lyme disease in Otsego County and the prevalence of deer ticks.
Fortunately, I was not on that deer tick's menu.
This will be the fifth Christmas I have spent in Oneonta, and the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train has become a tradition in my family.
There is just something really neat about an old-fashioned train decorated for the holidays traveling across North America. The musicians are pretty good, too.
It's tough to complain about a free concert, especially one designed to help raise money to help feed struggling families over the holidays.
But the one thing I heard people take note of is how short the 30-minute shows seem, especially this year's edition, which started and ended a few minutes early.
There were about 600 people in Oneonta for the Holiday Train on Sunday. Many must have traveled here from outside the community just to watch the show.
My wife's friend drove down from Delmar. I spoke to a family of five who drove up from Deposit. My parents made the trip from Saratoga County.
They weren't the only ones I heard talking about it.
Mayor John Nader's name recently appeared in an advertisement in The Washington Post.
Nader and Norwich Mayor Joseph Maiurano are among more than 500 mayors nationwide who appeared as signatories for the Mayors Against Illegal Guns advertisement that urged the federal government to close the "terror gap" and repeal the Tiahrt amendment.
The group was founded in 2006 by a group of 15 mayors, including New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is also MAIG's largest financial backer.
Fort Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan's name also appeared in the ad five times to muster justification to ban the sales of firearms and explosives to people on the government's terror watch list, which hit 1 million people in 2008, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. The Tiahrt amendment requires the FBI to destroy background check records of firearms purchasers within 24 hours.
Jake Palmateer can be reached at 432-1000 or (800) 721-1000, ext. 221, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.