Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Middle more so than Moving

Lincoln and Douglas.

Kennedy and Nixon.

Clinton and Trump.

One of these things is not like the others. After last night you can guess which.
Nothing Is Revealed. 'Nuff Said.
-bill kenny

Monday, September 26, 2016

On All Platforms

The speed of light is much faster than the speed of sound which is why so many people seeking office can look good until you hear what they have to say. 

We'll get our chance to test this theory tonight at nine when Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the Democratic and Republican candidates for the office of the President of the United States have their first debate, moderated by Lester Holt of NBC News. If you needed my identification of either candidate in order to know who they were, do us all a favor and don't watch and then in November, don't vote. 

I've made my unhappiness at the selection in this election very obvious for a long time. Please don't get me wound up on the exclusion of both Gary "Where's Aleppo?" Johnson and Jill "anti-vaxxer" Stein (hopefully they'll both be watching tonight and will learn something). 

Over the weekend, Kim Kardashian announced she is supporting Mrs. Clinton and Senator Ted Cruz announced he will endorse Mr. Trump after explaining some months ago he could never support someone who insulted both his wife and his father. In light of how both these 'celebrities' make me feel (hint: it's not 'pretty, oh so pretty,' though it rhymes with that word), I'm thinking it's a wash.  

If you believe there's no difference between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and that your choice has been reduced to the lesser of two weasels, you may be right but this is what it is and these two are the choices. No, I'm not smiling as I type that. Watch tonight for substance and the presence of thought and facts in the answers and we'll talk again soon. 
-bill kenny

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Inside a Hollow Shell

Not quite predisposed towards whimsey here on the first Sunday of Autumn 2016 and I should point out it has nothing to do with our weather which is suitably autumnal (and quite lovely in many respects).

We had red and fallen maple leaves on the roof of our garage as I was leaving the house yesterday morning shortly after nine. I know a lot of folks enjoy the "leaf peeping" season and here in New England, it's a very successful magnet to draw out of area visitors, though as this website (to me) underscores, there's much to be said for the wisdom of the saying all things in moderation, even (and perhaps most especially) moderation itself.

I didn't really have time to do much yesterday in terms of reacting to the leaves on my garage as I was hurrying to the car to take my wife of nearly thirty-nine years to the emergency room of the hospital.

She complained of chest pains and feeling much like she had after her heart attack in June of last year and we live a four-minute drive from the hospital. We were there in less than two. They'll keep her until at least Monday which gives her respite from me but officially it's to make sure the pneumonia that the x-ray in the ER revealed is all the serious malady she has for now.

We promised ourselves we would love one another forever and for a very long panic-filled moment yesterday morning, I had feared the definition of forever had been changed.
-bill kenny

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Alex and Donny

I'm not going to go on about the uncaring remark about refugees made by the son of one of those seeking the office of the US Presidency because Junior is, in my jaundiced view, an abject waste of skin and his catty and caustic comment wasn't even his own (absence of originality has been a hallmark of his dad (a/k/a "The Orange Skittle") and his campaign for the White House from the day it started with a bad rehash of Ronald Reagan's 1980 campaign slogan).

I'm not going to waste the bandwidth to share his social media comment that wasn't actually his own. But he does prove again that a picture is worth a thousand words. I guess it depends on the picture, because try as I might, between us I have no words for this.

So I'll listen to this young man's words again on behalf of all us and hope he's part of who we are in this country and not what we once were.
-bill kenny

Friday, September 23, 2016

Letting Go of the Past

Thirty-three years ago this morning, at twenty minutes after nine (or thereabouts), I stopped being in the United States Air Force. It was, more or less, a mutual decision; we both decided to see other people. I offered to turn in the clothes, both the olive-drab (pre-battle dress uniform (BDU) days) utility uniforms and the off we go into the wild blue yonder blue ones and was thrilled beyond words when they opted to keep their haircuts.

I never really got the hang of the haircuts. When I asked the recruiter in East Brunswick, New Jersey, a wise old Master Sergeant about the haircut we'd get in Air Force basic military training (BMTS) at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas (the largest airbase in the world without a landing strip, I kid you not), he paused and looking very steadily  at me offered, 'your hair will be much closer to your head than far away.' Believe it or not, he was right on the money with that.

In the years I served, I learned there were two types of haircuts men got in the military. One was the haircut they got when they needed one and the other was the kind they got when they were told they needed one. You strove to avoid the latter and in my eight years of active (if not enthusiastic) service, I prided myself  on never needing to be told to get a haircut.

I was never a big fan of head gear either, I should add. It was the era before everything and everyone had ball caps (except baseball players) and no one I know, in any service, ever enjoyed the bus driver hat (the formal one we've seen in all the photos) or the flight cap for which we had a rather coarse nickname I shan't repeat here but I certainly used enough in my time. It always seemed to me that in the interest of "uniform" appearance, if we all wore the same cover, who cared about the haircuts.

For reasons I never fully understood, I failed to press that argument successfully to those in charge of my every waking and sleeping moment. I always suspected the Air Force was a leisure time activity of the barbers' union or some other hirsute conspiracy because no matter the discussion (we never argued in the Air Force; actually, those of us who were jeeps never argued upwards) and no matter how correct your position or research, the famous last words always seemed to be "and you need a haircut." And I certainly never got to say them.

So in honor of a moment of my personal past I've passed out of, I'll walk past the barber shop during my lunch break and not hop up into the chair and ask for the special. I decided long ago that eight (years) was enough. It was a close shave, but I've never regretted not living on the knife's edge.
-bill kenny        

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Freedom from Choice

Acquaintances ask me if I'm a Republican or Democrat (a question as we near Election Day will have a larger resonance I suspect) and I don't know how to answer. I used to tell people I considered myself a 'relentless pragmatist' which didn't, and doesn't, sit well with those whose ideology drives their belief and value system instead of vice versa

We have, as I see it early on a Thursday morning four dozen days away from the second most important Presidential election in my lifetime (the first, JFK and RMN happened before I was eight years old and I really didn't grasp it. Not only had we not yet walked on the moon we'd not even escaped the Earth's gravity. It was, indeed, another America), we've devolved from a political system where 'the idea' is paramount to one where 'the game' is the definer. 

Did it begin with the "New Nixon" and his Southern Strategy in the late sixties and early Seventies? Did Reagan Republicans (a Citizens United blog operation?) collide with Clinton Democrats and produce Newt Gingrich and Bush Père et Fils? And if any or even all of that is true how to explain the unhappiness that permeated the primary season on both sides of the aisle and produced the survivors of the demolition derby we have before us now?

I don't pretend to know enough political science to explore any of that or to even realize it may well all be pap and crap. I do remember an American politics where there was dialogue and not diatribe, where reasoned and researched discussion trumped bumper stickers and sound bytes, where we lowered our voices but never our expectations where government was always part of the solution and never the problem, but that America has gone the way of high top sneakers, it seems, and old school is for old fools. 

We no longer vote our hopes and dreams but our fears and failings. We decide truth and accuracy of facts on how we feel on any given day. And despite, or more likely, because of all of that we are then surprised when we're reduced to a choice of cancer or polio. If you wonder who is to blame, look no further than your mirror. 
-bill kenny

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Enough to Eat Is a Basic Right

If you remember the old expression, “a penny for your thoughts,” you probably aren’t surprised to learn the going rate now is more like 37 cents.  (Not necessarily for any of mine, but that’s a rant for another time). A trip down the aisle of your local grocery store confirms a dollar doesn’t go as far as it used to. 

So you can very easily imagine just how far $4.17 a day doesn’t go when that’s all you have to spend on groceries. I’m not talking about just for lunch or actually for any particular meal. I mean for the entire day. And if you are someone, or know someone, who receives Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, no imagination at all is required. That is a seven day a week reality.

And with SNAP benefit recipients numbering into the hundreds of thousands here in a state that’s ranked fourth highest in median household income in the United States, it means when we look to either side of us, there’s a pretty good chance we’re looking at someone trying and failing to make do.

September is more than back to school and the end of summer. September is Hunger Action Month, HAM, an effort by the Connecticut Food Bank to raise our awareness of what far too many of our neighbors go through on a daily basis to make ends reach even though the ends keep moving and an opportunity for each of us to help all of us.

The Connecticut Food Bank prepares about 17 million meals annually for people across our state and throughout our communities, which is a mind-numbing number to someone like me who gets hungry at the thought of missing a meal (and my reflection in the mirror suggests I don’t make a habit of that). 

That is a lot of food and yet, it’s still not enough to feed the need.

I’m not talking about helping many, or even any, of those who are indeed in need of assistance we read about in some far corner of the globe, and who sometimes seem (perhaps only me) to be more of an abstraction than an ongoing situation, but right here.

Another expression suggests “charity begins at home,” and here on the home front a lot of people don’t start the day with a good breakfast, probably skip lunch and end up going to bed hungry after dinner because there’s just so much Connecticut Food Bank and all of their partners throughout the state can do to help.

That’s where we come in.

By volunteering time or donating food and money to people like St. Vincent de Paul Place, here in Norwich, or places like the Gemma E. Moran United Way/Labor Food Center, in New London, we do more than just put food on plates. We show one another that no matter what happens, we are here for each other.

Actions always speak louder than words so during Hunger Action Month do more than talk. Help
-bill kenny