Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Singing an American Tune

Technically and there’s not a calendar on this continent that could prove me wrong, we are on the last Wednesday of June in 2016. No more and certainly no less. Except, and I saw your eyes dart to the right counting the days on the calendar, we are just about to begin another three-day holiday weekend, in this case, Independence Day celebrated this year on Monday. 

Some of this will sound familiar because I’ve said it before but that will not keep me from saying it again. 

On this Fourth of July should we be pleased with ourselves and proud of our nation? Of course, but somewhere between the backyard barbecue and that softball game that no one keeps score in and that only ends when it’s too dark to see, we might look in a mirror and then look around at the country we received from our parents and their parents and which we hope to give to our children and theirs.

In the midst of celebration, perhaps we can find a moment of contemplation.

Enumerating what it called our ‘unalienable rights’ to include ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ the founders of our republic, who did not agree on very much except that the present state of affairs such as they were in 1776 could not continue, concluded the only way forward as a people on this largely unexplored, new continent whose size and wealth were not yet known, was to break with the past and declare independence from King and Crown.

And 240 years on, look at us. Out of all of that has come all of this. And along the way, the original magic and meaning have been muffled by backyard pool parties, holiday car sales and chicken fried steaks on the barbecue.

Our politics is spirited even if our interest isn't and our understanding of the issues is muddled and muted. And, again, it’s not that we all agree with who we are and what we are doing. It’s been reported we haven’t been this divided morally, politically and socially as a country since the Civil War. And that should mean far more than it does.

Some say never have so many had so much of life’s material rewards but others say never have so many struggled to hold on to what they have. And there’s a lot to be said on both sides of that argument and there’s also a lot to be heard and we’re not very good anymore at listening to one another.

What may be missing is our national sense of self, our confidence and belief in our own abilities to forever adapt and triumph. We had those traits at the Founding and I would hope each in our own way we might again find them, both for those whose inheritance we are and for those whose promise is yet to be. Happy the 4th of July. May the 5th and all the days that remain be even more so.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

My Heart's Here Upon My Sleeve

The old (and awful) joke goes “I had no shoes and was sad until I met someone who had no feet.” I tend to regard that as an anti-Nike advertisement but suspect they would feel differently. I think the takeaway from it is often, no matter how badly you think things are going for you, they are infinitely worse for one or more others. 

So if you had a rough start to your work week yesterday, or perhaps no start because you don’t have any employment or some other calamity has manifested itself in your life, consider for a moment the far-too-short life of Julianna Yuri Snow.

That a five-year-old could live, and die, with so much grace and dignity catches me up short every time I return to the CNN account of her passing.  If this paragraph about her funeral and the poster her grandfather made does NOT absolutely shatter your heart into pieces which skitter and scatter across the universe, I guess the good news is that you have no heart.

"Text from Julianna: Arrived in heaven! I am healed! Thank you for your love! Hope to see you in God's time," the poster read.
-bill kenny 

Monday, June 27, 2016

Baked Beans Are Off

If the convergence of various technologies has created the world in which most of us First Worlders live, then it has also created the equivalent of the encyclopedia salespeople knocking at our email doors.

And if I am a First Worlder (and I have my Starbucks membership card to prove it) and understand that huge portions of our globe are designated Third World (I think that means twenty-minute parking only), what or who are Second Worlders? And who tracks this stuff? When are the playoffs?

Anyway, my various email accounts have tons of unsolicited correspondence with everything ranging from various people, of both sexes, wanting to meet me at "Pinetops." I have no idea where or what Pinetops is but I think in a previous (or future?) life I was the Mayor.

There's also the usual barrage of sexual enhancement aids email leading me to suspect the sender is carpet bombings folks with email accounts as the products offered sometimes don't seem to be anything for which I might have a use.

I've been saving one in particular for some time now just to see if there might be some sort of an attempted follow-up. And sadly, "Olga" (she of the 'thousands of hot Russian girls want to have sex with you right now') you're not the one I've been holding on to.

It's Fakharuddin Manik (at the Disco? Perhaps) who believes I guess that brevity is the soul of clarity though his note is brief without being clear at all and reads: "Hello, Pls confirm the attachment and revert opinion. Thanks." Don't mention it. Why revert when you can dominate the rap, Jack?
-bill kenny

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Finally! The Advantage of No Discernible Skillset!

I have with all due respect to Raspberry Beret spent a great deal of my life doing something close to nothing, but different than the day before. I cannot pretend to have elevated this endeavor to an art form but, at four and sixty years, I will concede (albeit ruefully) it has become a career. 

Decades ago I used to answer the ‘what do you wanna be when you grow up?’ question with something considerably less insightful than the current flavor of the month, and would dissolve into mumbles and shrugs because that’s what my cohort did.

At some point in the Sixties, the older part of the generation decided to head off in various directions of the compass, leaving the rest of us to wander and wonder. I’m still waiting for my varsity letter to show up for that; I already have the sweater, so spare me the sales pitch.

As for when I would get good, much less reach my peak, at whatever it was I was to somehow choose to be and to do (here in the Land of the Round Doorknobs, the former is almost always the latter), I had and still have NO idea, but will entertain suggestions.

As it turns out, though, says the Washington Post, if you’re a creative artist, like a writer, a painter or a musician, as opposed to a cretinous crustacean such as myself, research suggests it’s possible to predict with some degree of accuracy when you’ll reach your peak, Zebulon.

Of course, as you read the article and compare its ‘best by’ numbers to the age on your driver’s license, bear in mind some settling of contents may have occurred in shipment and that all of us are evaluated ultimately on weight and not volume (that is less than reassuring upon further review). Sadly, as always, your mileage may vary, but more often it's your resolve.

All I can offer you is some sympathy, and you know where to look sympathy up in the dictionary right?, as I’ve accepted the joys such as they are in realizing when you don’t know where you’re going any road will lead you there. Roll the windows up, Skippy, we might be in for a dark ride
-bill kenny

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Shoot My Mouth Off

There are some who will click on this link and say ‘who thought of this?’ and others who might more sarcastically worry, ‘gee, what could possibly go wrong?’ I think both are entitled to ask those questions and (hopefully) will forgive me if I show little interest in the former and pray we never get the answer to the latter.

The Second Amendment to the Constitution, part of the original ten we call the Bill of Rights, is, in many respects, the political third rail in the United States (most especially and tragically again in recent weeks)  and has been for much of my lifetime. 

I do not pretend to know ‘the solution’ to the plague of gun violence in my country except to think a good beginning might be to lose  the word ‘gun’ from in front of violence and then try to address that situation. We’re pretty mean to one another on a daily basis now-giving us guns is almost like drilling a second hole in a sinking boat to let the water out faster. 

I had as much weapon as I ever needed or wanted while in the US Air Force and all I was required to do was fire an M-16 rifle for familiarization. Thankfully. And I say that because I was terrible with it and was more of a danger to everyone in my squadron on the range than to anything purporting to be a target downrange. 

Perhaps in Michigan, ballpark patrons will use this opportunity to build bridges among and between the assorted and various points of view and partisan perspectives. At the very least, I would hope they are more respectful and civil to one another than the sniping and snapping of those who contributed a thought or two in the comments section.

No one has a monopoly on truth on this issue, among so many others, but there are paths we can all walk together to move ourselves along so that we can all benefit.
-bill kenny        

Friday, June 24, 2016

Hamlet's Dilemma

It's still too early on this side of The Pond to know what has happened in Great Britain on the referendum to remain or leave the European Common Market, though as of 3 AM it appears the island nation has chosen to leave.

I only know visits to England as part of the European Union, what we cranky Yankees used to call the United States of Europe, so I don't pretend to know what's "best" for the nation we fought a savage war of Independence to not be a part of.


I'm not sure what the right answer for the citizens of the United Kingdom looks like and how that answer impacts the rest of the EU and the world. We'll have time enough to worry about what it all means and/or doesn't, when we know what we don't know yet. Tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace from day to day. Until it doesn't. So far, so good. So what now?
-bill kenny

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Looks Like I'm Gonna Start All Over Again

In my dotage, at no extra charge, have also arrived aches and pains I can't do very much about except piss and moan. In the course of the last decade, I've one and a half of two knees replaced, an ankle rebuilt and now, for the last six or so months, and ache at the base of my spine that has caused the orthopedist to purse his lips in that thoughtful, worried way they do before adding zeroes to their medical bills (and if you have insurance, the carrier knocking many of them off).

The ache returned Saturday afternoon as part of a drive to New Haven, never the most pleasant outing in my house even when we take the "scenic route" as stated on the highway signs (including the scenic rotaries?) and I struggled to get comfortable behind the wheel.

Not so comfortable my snoring would wake the other passengers in the car, mind you, but so that I could concentrate on the task at hand on a busy weekend day on a busy roadway without the stabbing in my back distracting me.

I still have pills and refills I can take from doctor's visits back in March but I need so little encouragement to head in that direction in the first place, and take more than enough medication for other maladies in the second place so I'll rummage through my 'I may need this later' drawer next to my work desk to see if I can the cheat sheets that James, in physical therapy, gave me at the same time for stretching exercises that I mocked at the time he shared them but that really helped out (much to my surprise and not a little to my chagrin).

It's a fine line between yoga and Yoda. Erasing it, my job it is I think. Again.
-bill kenny