Mike Mahardy Reporter

I’m a freelance journalist covering tech, entertainment and urban affairs in Syracuse.

I began writing in sports, covering SEC West football, baseball and track and field at the University of Arkansas, where I transitioned over to feature writing. I’ve since spent time at a number of local newspapers from Arkansas to New York. I also write for sites such as Polygon, IGN and TechRadar, covering everything from emerging technologies to film and TV news.

My favorite room

When I was 14, my parents decided to finish our basement. They had grand plans for it, complete with a pool table, hardwood floors and a closet under the stairs, where my dog would hide during thunderstorms.

The project took weeks, and consumed most of my parents’ free time. My siblings and I tried to avoid the extra work, escaping to our friends’ houses at the slightest sound of a power drill, but being the clever people they are, my parents staggered their schedules. Little by little, they conscripted us through surprise kitchen visits and early-morning wake-up calls.

I remember nothing but sawdust and sweat. And the smell the saw made when it cut through wood. And when a quarter of the basement was done, we had a visitor. It was my brother, a United States marine who spent most of his time on the sunny shores of San Diego. Upon returning to New York, he told us he was going to Iraq, in what would later become some of the bloodiest months of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

That would be our first Christmas without all seven members of the family. So, in an effort to cheat the calendar and popular tradition, we celebrated the holidays early, in that polished corner of an otherwise-unfinished basement. We were unwilling to acknowledge that my brother might not see the basement in its finished form. So we made the best of the time we had.

But my brother did return from that tour, and a second, and a third. And every time, we returned to that corner of the basement, where we always kept a faux Christmas tree, which still has traces of sawdust on it.