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Monday, March 30, 2015

And How Was Your Weekend?

I started Friday morning waking up in my own bed. From there my wife accompanied me to the William Backus Hospital (a five minute walk from our house, just past the historic Yantic Cemetery, which I've always assumed was not by design) for a cardiac catherization.

My job was nod off when injected and wake up after it was over. I did swell, almost. I came to but after the part by my cardiologist explaining the "why" of the next step and only caught the what which was an ambulance ride with Cora and Sara to Yale New-Haven Hospital.

I couldn't persuade them to drive on the shoulder of I-95 with the sirens blaring and the lights flashing. I'm thinking I failed for two reasons: it was an incredibly foolish idea and I was still so doped up and cotton-mouthed that no one could understand a word I was saying. Yeah, just like normal.

We hit the emergency entrance of Yale-New Haven (I'm avoiding the Y-NH abbreviation because there's nothing sadder than an aging hipster (in the words of Lenny Bruce)) and up to the fifth floor of the York Building to the cardiac wing over which Stefanie presided as chief nurse.

In the next two days I met scads of superlative people practically all at once or so it seemed to me, to include Doctors Becker and Healy, the former looking like Doogie Howser's stunt double and the latter dressed in the brightest Hawaiian shirt ever-to include the one I suspect in which they buried Don Ho.

The pair spearheaded a seamless team that went in through a smaller than 1/16" incision in a vein in my right wrist and placed two stents in two different arterial chambers in my heart, without incident like they were walking to the corner to grab a  paper and maybe a coffee. Come to think of it, I did smell a coffee.

When Emily came to visit a little after nine on Sunday morning to tell me I could go home, I may have been dressed faster than any one in the history of quick change artists on the Eastern Seaboard. I couldn't wait for the wheelchair and the elevator and headed for the stairs, with her in tow because she insisted I couldn't go by myself.

When we reached the ground floor and she headed to the coffee shop I pointed out the obvious, that I most certainly could walk myself down the stairs. But before she could counter, and I feared she would very effectively, I thanked her and asked her to relay my gratitude to all of her colleagues, for their efforts on my behalf and walked across the lobby and out onto York Street for the best view of Yale New Haven it's possible to have.

From the outside of the building, by a moments-before-released patient who is "a successful outcome" heading home with his son who had just arrived to pick him up and return him to his life, still scattered but already in progress.
-bill kenny

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Palm Sunday Revisited

Raised in the faith of my fathers, I know that today, Palm Sunday, begins the most important week in the Christian calendar-even if you lost your faith along the way to here and now as I have done. 

What follows is as close to contemplation as I may have gotten in recent years (or decades). It may not make sense to you-that wasn’t my intent. I needed to hold the world still for one moment so that it made sense to me-your mileage may vary in ways neither of us can contemplate.

Karl Glogauer was the wrong man at the right time.

The protagonist in Michael Moorcock's novel who travels from the future to the time of Christ, Glogauer, instead, meets a profoundly retarded child of Mary who is, in Moorcock's account, most definitely NOT the Son of God. 

Glogauer then assumes the personae of Jesus of Nazareth, based on his recollection and knowledge of the accounts in the Gospels of the New Testament, culminating in his crucifixion to fulfill those accounts which shaped history to the moment in the future in which he journeyed into the past to complete the story.

Perhaps the most simultaneously unsettling and reassuring aspect of Behold the Man is not the death of someone else in place of the Son of God but its emphasis and reaffirmation of the importance in the belief that He lived at all. 

For you today for whom this is, an Ecce Homo experience, my sincere congratulations is tinged with more than just a little jealousy and envy.

Not everyone has the comfort of your beliefs and the reassurance of your faith. Some may not wish to have it while others who once did are forced to realize again the distance traveled from then to now which involved a bridge of faith that, once abandoned, has been destroyed and which can very possibly never be rebuilt.

As even Mark reported, help for one's unbelief is not easily achieved and perhaps the realization that such assistance can only be given and never earned is part of why pride becomes the greater of the sins especially for those with so little reason to be proud. 

Perhaps it's doubt that creates the whisper of vulnerability in an armor of faith which then allows a wanderer to know the path but who refuses to walk it again.

Sometimes it's the belief, and sometimes, the believer.
-bill kenny

Saturday, March 28, 2015

No Need to Alert Mensa

Have you seen those TV commercials for the ice cream bar which ask you what you would be willing to do to have one? Yeah, I know-after you’ve watched the first one you’ve seen the entire series even when you haven’t-not intended as a complaint or a shot, but that’s how it works out. 

I think my complaint with that always seems to be a “lack of imagination.” It carries over to lots of other things in life- from movies (seriously, how many more Transformers movies do we really need and when do the Autobots finally transform into something that writes a decent script with less than stilted dialogue) to TV comedies where the current hot show reminds you of something you watched as a kid that when you did that your folks said it reminded them of something nearly pre-historic.

And while I’ve got at least one foot on that soapbox, might I ask for something, anything, with a few less zombies in it? Or if nothing else, put them in a musical or romantic-comedy. Neither would be walk-off the earth new I realize but definitely different. And that would be terrific, at least from where I sit.

Meanwhile, when I skim headlines and come across stories on crimes such as kidnapping, the hair on the nape of my neck stands up, not that anyone would ever kidnap me (see O. Henry’s Ransom of Red Chief for a preview of that coming attraction) but because I worry about my family to the point where it’s more than an obsession, it’s kind of a hobby. That kind of crime has always seemed to be especially dastardly, at least in the fragile construct of a world I have  

And then, you have these chowder heads.  Who thinks up a demand like $8,500? You couldn’t round it up to ten or down to five thousand dollars? And maybe ask for a car or insist the victim throw in a Pocket Fisherman, “or your pet ferret gets it.” Seriously.

The resources in time and talent expended in pursuit of a clown car caper like this, and the diversion from other far more serious situations is just the kind of thing that causes law enforcement officials around the globe to lose their collective composure, among other things that get misplaced. 

I fully expect to read where the original demand also included a Klondike Bar but with temperatures s being what they are right now in California, the criminal masterminds feared it would melt.

-bill kenny  

Friday, March 27, 2015

Accelerating at the Speed of Thought

I’ve spent most of this week watching my blood pressure tick higher as this day approached. I knew as of this Monday past that this would be the day I’d be undergoing a cardiac catherization-I had one a bit more than six years ago but I guess the stamp on my hand has washed off so I have to hit the ride again.

Obviously this is being written before any of that happens/happened (I hate writing in the present for a past tense event that’s still in the future perfect when I’m at the keyboard) and tomorrow’s entry, about which at this moment I have no idea, will also be synthesized in the here and now before setting off on the flume ride that starts in the semi-darkness of this morning at same-day surgery.

I have absolutely no work at all today-everyone else will and with some luck I’ll be almost eerily tranquil throughout. I intend to make doubly sure I’ll be wearing that wrist bracelet they give you in the hospital because otherwise my wife may not recognize me afterwards, assuming there is an afterwards.  

My intention is to be back to writing this closer to real-time and in real-life by Sunday though if I’m not there’s an excellent chance that of the two of us only you’d notice (and that barely, if at all); for my part, I’ll be beyond caring.

I work very hard to be funny especially when I’m scared so at some point in the course of really soon, I’ll be going through a lot of what I sincerely believe is “A” material in rapid-fire order-so if you hear any of it, just laugh and hope it gets funny later on. I know I will.   
-bill kenny

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Pictures of Things As They Used to Be

Forty years ago this morning I woke up in a concrete block multi-story dormitory on the largest US Air Force installation in the world without a runway, Lackland Air Force Base, in San Antonio, Texas.

Memory fails where it doesn’t merely fade but at some point in the course of the morning I’m very sure I received my very first military haircut for one dollar and twenty-five cents. It was as I had been promised by the recruiter in now distant East Brunswick, New Jersey, indeed, ‘closer to your head than far away.’

Along with the full wardrobe make-over of uniform issued items (most designed to fail to successfully answer the question, ‘what goes with olive drab?’) and three (count ‘em!) pairs of shoes to include oxford low quarters, combat boots and something the USAF called Chukka boots and for which many of us had a slightly different name that rhymed (sort of) with Chukka, I was an Airman. 

Whiskey no good, PT so good. Yessir, buddy-from my lips to the Lord’s ear wherever in Texas He may have chosen to be. I can remember exotic fare in the chow hall to include jack-rabbit (but no armadillo), surrounded it always seemed to me by older guys in Smokey the Bear hats (drill instructors, also known as DIs) who did nothing but yollar at MaxVol. In retrospect I should concede they had provocation for their volume and I was a not small part of all that.

I had read Joseph Heller’s Catch-22 in college and thought it was an hilariously brilliant work of fiction. Eighteen hours of standing at attention on a drill pad behind a quadrangle of barracks buildings being shrieked at led me to reassess my definition of hilarity. So much for Captain Yossarian as a role model-I saw his roomie, Orr, in a whole new light.

As I said, memory fades and huge portions of the Seventies BEFORE "off we go into the wild blue somewhere" became part of my hit parade are forever lost but in bits and pieces, like dailies from a film still being shot, some of what did happen after putting my hand up and solemnly affirming still remain, like cheap and stale scent after a very long night.

If we are everyone we’ve ever met, it would explain why so many of us end up in witness protection and asylums, staring at life as it rolls and sometimes roars past the open window. I always keep my head and hands inside the moving vehicle because sometimes it proves to be a dark ride.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

This Town Is My Town

"This old town's been home long as I remember. This town's gonna be here long after I'm gone. East side, West side--give up, or surrender--been down, but I still rock on..."

Realizing those lyrics sound like they could be penned by someone in the Rose City Rockers (whoever they might be), that's actually from "My Town" by the Michael Stanley Band, the pride and joy of Cleveland, Ohio, from about three plus decades ago. Proving, if nothing else, the more things change, the more they remain the same.

I keep that tune on compact disc in my car whenever I need a mini-pep rally of sorts to clear my head of dark doubts and drab thoughts about where I've decided to call home, here in 06360, Norwich, Connecticut.  

Definitely needed it a lot over the weekend, actually on Sunday when I took advantage of the sunshine (if not the less than spring-like temperatures and March winds) to re-visit some of my favorite places to include Ponemah Mills and Uncas Falls, both shaking off the long, hard winter as I continued to fitfully read Norwich's Economic Development Strategic Plan in an attempt to understand not so much how we have come to the place where the road and the sky collide, but, rather, what we are intending to do about it.  

I took a break from reading about "development opportunities and possible targets" (which is a serious examination of who we are and where we should be going, starting on page 23) and turned to the Sunday papers where, splashed across the front page was: "Special Report: 84 Norwich city workers made more than $100,000 in 2013-14."

With apologies to my neighbor, Reverend Cal Lord, whose words appear in The Bulletin every Thursday, I recall somewhere in the New Testament (Matthew, I think) a parable about laborers in a vineyard. I don't believe the story was set in Norwich but my memory is not what it once was.

While we could probably have an extended and intense discussion on the point of the story, my concern, while appreciating the comments offered on line and respecting the right of everyone who offered them to so do, is that we seem again, as a city to have set off on a search for the guilty instead of trying to fix our underlying problems.

I'm not sure why it matters who makes what so much as that we create a shared understanding and common vision of what functions our city government should be providing and agree that those are the ones we support and are willing to pay for.

I can't help but remember a TV commercial for life insurance where Lucy and Charlie Brown suggest the cost "should be five cents" and a grown-up (my emphasis) counters "not everything can cost five cents." That kind of economics makes me worry when someone says a penny for your thoughts, just in case it turns out that's all they're really worth.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

And Pluto's Not a Planet Anymore, Either

So we're off and running, officially, for the Race to the White House in 2016 as the junior Senator from the Lone Star State of Texas has thrown his hat in the ring. For comparison purposes, the "other" Senator is on his third, six-year term.

It is a testimony to what we as kids always called "The American Dream" that anyone can grow up to be the President of the United States, to include the current occupant of the office whom his Loyal Opposition has insisted without surcease is actually a Kenyan and now, Senator Ted Cruz, who was himself born in Canada.

I'm bracing for a world exclusive any day now, probably in Breitbart or infowars dot com, that the gunman on the grassy knoll staged the moon landings in Secaucus, New Jersey after arranging for Jimmy Hoffa to kidnap D. B. Cooper.

Speaking of conspiracists and taps on the wire for every paranoid desire, the would-be President already has my undivided attention with his observations about 'alleged global warming.' It takes a confident person to not allow his lack of knowledge (or interest) in science stuff of any kind to get in the way of forming conclusions.

As if  I might have forgotten Senator Cruz claimed for himself the responsibility for shutting down the Federal Government on 1 October 2013 in an effort to get that Marxist Kenyan President to undo the Affordable Care Act.  Quick aside, Mr. Cruz: when Rick Santorum comes across as the Most Reasonable Guy in the Room, your party needs a much bigger room.

But let me exhale for a moment, not that I'm the only one who seems to have inhaled around here recently. It's a long way from the first Tuesday of Spring 2015 to the first Tuesday in November 2016 when all the voting gets done, except in Florida if recent history is any indicator.

I'm setting my goals a little lower for the moment: no more snow for this Spring might be a nice start, and then perhaps as the week goes on seeing if anyone else is contemplating a relocation from The Great White North to the White House at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC.

No need to signal-we'll send the Cat Detector Van out to search for you. Just stay where you and continue to breathe-there doesn't seem to be any other significant requirements or qualifications.
-bill kenny