Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Day Trip to Haunted Bay

Today, as if you didn't know, is Halloween, or All Hallows' Eve. Yeah, hate to suck all the fun out of the room by sounding like an advisory from the American Dental Association but this all got started as something other than a novena to Our Lady of the Popcorn Balls and Jawbreakers.

What I've never understood is how we managed to add the boxcars of candy to this (in the manner similar to Easter originally being the Resurrection of Christianity's Jesus and now it's about the Cadbury Bunny) and nearly as puzzling would have to be how it evolved into an excuse for adult masquerade balls.

I remember one year a lifetime ago when my father created a 'walking bomb-shelter' costume for me (I was born during the reign of Eisenhower the Wise and grew up in Camelot and old in Great Society) which looked very much like a cardboard outhouse because of my father's artistic ability bordering on disability.

I hated the thing but wore it in the costume parade that was staged for all the students of the  Saint Peter's (sic) School in New Brunswick (all gone now) with spectators lining the sidewalks to watch and wave to us (and we waved back).

I can still see the silhouette of Sister Immaculata at her office window, lips pursed and visage darkening as I trooped on, turning the corner into the home stretch. She dropped into our basement classroom moments later to tell me in no uncertain terms, "your father must think he's very funny, Master Kenny."

And not knowing sardonic wit when I heard it, then or now, I replied eagerly, 'my dad knows he's very funny!' which somehow earned me an hour's detention after school and a very long walk home to ponder over what I had said or done. Many years later it struck me that the clue I had missed was the bubbling cauldron.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Some Forgotten Dream We've Both Seen

Not that long ago, I wrote about the faces and people behind the big numbers and abstractions we think of when we speak about the Federal Government (capital letters deliberate). What we actually mean, I think, is 'we the people.' As in 'we the people' had both sequestration and shutdown which are synonyms for other people's pain.

Harm has been visited upon some in our community who are too young to have done anything to deserve it (the defunding of Head Start programs), and too old to defend themselves from bottom-liners who know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

I'm not good at math and never have been but I know how much forty is, as in the forty consecutive years the Thames Valley Council for Community Action, TVCCA, has asked the City of Norwich to help fund some of costs of the senior citizens' nutrition program Meals on Wheels (that currently feeds about 125 people who live here), not covered by federal grants.

Perhaps because they've asked so politely for forty years, saying 'no' hasn't ever been news and never seemed to hurt anyone. Until now, that is.

Earlier this summer, sequestration created a $66,000 shortfall in the TVCCA grant. They had to lay off a dozen drivers and cut their deliveries to Norwich senior citizens from four meals a week to one. Don't be fooled by the name. The meals are as much about human contact as they are about nutrition. The drivers and others in the program are often first responders when a recipient needs Chicken Soup for the Soul and not just soup and a sandwich.

John Prine once offered in “Hello in There,” ‘old people just grow lonesome.’ A kind word from a warm heart with a hot meal can work a small wonder and some days a small wonder is enough. I'm haunted by the story of Christina Copeman of East Flatbush, Brooklyn, in the heart of the Capital of the World, New York City, surrounded on all sides by people who, nevertheless, slipped away unnoticed and lay dead in her own house for over a year and a half. All the newspapers wondered was "how did this happen in Brooklyn?" rather than how could it happen at all.

These are not the best of times even for those who have enough but they are nearly unbearable for those who lack. Monday, at the final meeting of this Norwich City Council before the election, hopefully right after the public hearing on the ordinance the Council members will unanimously agree to pay (at least some of) what we owe TVCCA for this year and for our seniors who need us.

We will not fix the world Monday night, but we will know we helped repair a small and special piece of it where our neighbors, friends and, perhaps, family members are waiting for "someone to say hello in there."
 -bill kenny

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hit the Books, Abner

I was hoping this was the year the World Series lasted until Spring Training. Of course, I also hoped my Yankees would be the AL representatives...what is it they say about wishing? 'Wish in one hand and spit in the other and see which one fills up faster.' That's as may be, but my rule after watching somebody do that is to just wave instead of shaking hands.

Anyway, it's now one and done for somebody and two out of three for the other body when the Series flies back to Fenway and everybody unpacks for Game Six (and maybe Game Seven).

Then it's the Hot Stove League and about 110 days until pitchers and catchers report (based on this season's car crash of a finish I hope the Yankees have a BIG spring training facility to hold all those auditioning for either position. Too bad the E in PEDs didn't stand for English, Francisco).

But before we carpool with Dave Logggins and please come to Boston I have two words in reaction to Bud Selig's observation fueled by the presence of David Ortiz whom even though I root for Pinstripe People, I deeply enjoy for the sheer delight at which he goes about his job. Shut up.

Mr. Selig made some headlines in St. Louis by suggesting, for attribution, in light of the Red Sox having to decide to play or sit Big Papi that maybe the National League should get with the modern era and have a designated hitter (DH) just like they do in the American League. Yeah, shut up works, just fine.

I hate the DH and not just because I wonder where guys like Ruth, DiMaggio and Aaron might have ended up if they could have sat on the end of a dugout seat during the dog days of August and come out and bat three or four times a game and then sit down again. Do what I did a couple of the times over the summer.

Stop some place where kids are playing sandlot ball and ask how many want to play professionally when they grow up (though many of the professionals I root for haven't grown up at all, so that may not be crucial to the process). When you ask them what position, guess how many say DH? Yeah. Game, set and match, Budster.

Talkin' about game-the purpose of baseball caps evolved as the game matured. They were intended to shade your eyes from the sun because God intended baseball to be played outdoors and during the day. The purpose of work during the baseball season was, and is, to get in the way of going to a ballgame.

I do not understand why other sports' teams have baseball caps. It's not part of their uniform, and for the No Fun Losers, how would your guys even wear them? Under the helmet or over it? Take it easy, NHL, I'm looking at you.

But here's the thing, because the sport is driven by dollars, day games have gone the way of the dodo, or just about. Remember when we were kids bringing the transistor radios to school and asking permission to listen to them during recess after lunch. That's when Jim Hightower and Rush Limbaugh are on now, not the World Series.

So to go back to my sandlot full of kids playing baseball maybe none of them want to grow up to be players because it all happens after their bedtimes. And let's face it, professional DH's need their beauty sleep too, right, David?
-bill kenny

Monday, October 28, 2013

Down to the Dirty Boulevard

Lou Reed died yesterday in New York (where else?), by all accounts peacefully which I think would make him smile, possibly from complications of a liver transplant last Spring. I had a chance to see him perform back when there were still two Germanys and he was in another post-Transformer configuration that would have disquieted Michael Bay.

Reed had already recorded and released Metal Machine Music which for many was as close to unlistenable as is humanly possible. It was a shock for many of us who had championed him from his days in The Velvet Underground to realize he had done so deliberately.

The release of The Bells and the subsequent tour of West Germany might have helped his career, but that wasn't anything he ever seemed to worry about and when all hell broke loose that night in Offenbach (I was at the show with a friend of Sigrid's, Holger, who had never seen Reed and who kept asking later, 'is he always like that?') all that could be done was to shake your head, swallow hard and take a deep breath.

Born on the Jersey side of The River with the lights of Manhattan sparkling in the distance like a diamond, I grew into adulthood with the yearning and learning of the music of Bruce Springsteen and it will always speak to my heart, but it was the quintessential New Yorker who spoke to my head and who had more moments and memories of gritty greatness than any one I've ever seen, even if he so angered a crowd they destroyed a venue.

Seventy years seems like a long time, but it's a lot shorter now that tomorrow is yesterday. Things change in the blink of an eye. Fare well, and fair seas.
-bill kenny

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Come Together

Happy 29th birthday (plus sales tax) to my brother's wife and my sister-in-law, Margaret. May your day be a great one filled withe laughter and red velvet cake that refuses to go to anyone's hips. Perhaps Margaret's birthday is why my new jacket arrived here yesterday rather than get shipped directly to New Jersey.

Let me backtrack before we both get lost and give up. Some months ago, being foolish and feeble but undaunted, I essayed a hike together with our son, Patrick, after we had eaten breakfast from the hotel we were staying in while visiting my brother and his wife and though we didn't get lost, technically, we did end up on a far more lengthy sojourn than we had originally planned.

My wife and our daughter, Michelle, later-risers, were having breakfast and the plan was, after their breakfast, we would leisurely make our way home to The Land of Steady Habits. My turning a twenty minute stroll into an hour's power walk wasn't part of the time line and Patrick and I returned to the hotel, hurriedly threw our clothes into suitcases and checked out, joining the women of our family at the front desk. Perfect timing.

Not so much. Two hours after we got home I realized, at about the same time he did in his house in Mystic, that I had left my brand new jacket, a birthday present from my wife, hanging in the closet of the hotel room in our rush to exit. So, too, had Patrick. Sigrid called the hotel, shared the room number and the descriptions of both jackets and the following day Patrick made arrangements to have them both picked up and shipped back to us. Except....

According to a different voice of a different person on the phone when Sigrid called back the next afternoon, no jackets had been turned in or found, despite Sigrid's distinct recollection to the contrary in a conversation with a previous hotel worker some sixteen hours earlier. Nope, never happened; we are so sorry and have a nice day. Thanks for staying with us.

About that....when we headed south (for us) for The Wedding in September, we stayed elsewhere (I for one, never took my jacket, or trousers off which made showering problematic) but did drive by our previous hotel and let them know we still thought they were #1.

Yesterday afternoon, in a dark colored plastic sack, my new jacket that my wife ordered a week ago arrived. I'm thinking if she had been more judicious in opening the shipping container, and I had a better idea how big to make the holes for my head and arms, I could have gotten a second jacket out of this deal. But one and one and one is three. Got to be good looking cos he's so hard to see.
-bill kenny

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Give Pizza a Chance

I came of age, as we used to call it, in the draft age. Compulsory service as was the case in many countries around the world was practiced in the USA until 1973 and has a long and not always glorious history.

I was nearing the end of my days at Rutgers College when I traded my draft card with a 2S 'deferred' status ("studies in support of the the national defense," Army ROTC) from the Selective Service offices on Banta Place in Hackensack, New Jersey (never was there but this could be where they were) for a lottery number of four in the only one-time drawing no one wanted to win.

Two year later, conscription eliminated, I enlisted in the US Air Force and the rest, as they say, is hysterical or historical. I joined shortly after Orville and Wilbur managed to land the plane safely. They had mastered the art of the abrupt stop but technically, airplanes are NOT allowed in the arrival lounge and legions of lawyers had to work out all the details.

We had just disengaged in Southeast Asia, at Getty gas stations premium was 35.9 a gallon and out in the field 'on maneuvers' we wore olive-drab fatigue uniforms, 'pickle suits,' and ate C-rats (rations).

Three and half decades later, we're up to our keisters in Southwest Asia, complain about the price of gas as we all drive muscle trucks with garden hoses for fuel lines, look tres chic in our designer cammies and eat MRE's ('Meals Ready to Eat' but with other meanings for the acronym closer to the truth than the folks who developed them would like to believe). Gotta love progress.

I'm surprised that my cohort, not in the halls of Congress so much where few folks on either side of the aisle ever served in the military, but among the general populace ('gen pop'? I think not) believe when they see their children and their children doing and being what we did and were at the same age 'if we only had the draft again.' (adding 'you whippersnappers!' because I think we should).

How about instead of dreaming of high and tight haircuts (I hated those), or tanks and generals we strive to create a world where none of that is necessary. And hopefully we can leave the pizza to Digiorno.
-bill kenny

Friday, October 25, 2013

Insert Your Title Here:

Congratulations to The Gloved One. No, I don't mean Mickey Mouse, though that was a good guess but rather, the late Michael Jackson, who has been named to the absolute toppermost of the poppermost list of highest earnings by celebrities who have shuffled off to Buffalo and points Yonder.

I am not allowed by law and the canons of good taste to make this up. I am, however, impressed that MJ has returned to the top spot after a year's absence and that of the last five years he has occupied the #1 position three times. Perhaps distressed is a better word than impressed.

Of course promotion of dead celebrities has lower overhead than when they're topside here on terra firma-no touring expenses and entourage overhead costs and Bubbles can scavenge for food out of garbage cans for all any of the hangers-on would ever care. I'm not sure these days whom Tito Jackson calls for advice and/or cash advances (I am the meanest person alive and mock Tito for no other reason than I can).

I think the saddest thing in all of this is that it has nothing to do with the music the man made so well for so long. Once he climbed into the Sleek, Chic Freak Machine and allowed his every waking moment to be chronicled around the world, thanks to connectivity, often in real time, Michael Jackson became a sideshow to his own life and collateral damage on the human highway.

 William Shakespeare, who didn't make the top ten again this year in the rankings of post-mortem earnings, once wrote in Julius Caesar, "the evil men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones." Jackson would not be the only one of whom we might say "he is a dreamer, let us leave him."
-bill kenny

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Difference between Nuclear and Unclear Thinking

Today is the birthday of the United Nations. The Hallmark store was fresh out of UN Birthday cards the last time I checked though they may still have some (or lots of) Keepsake Ornaments. Why anyone thinks Star Trek, Tom and Jerry or Agent P have anything to do with a Christmas tree is beyond me but I'm not the one trying to sell stuff at exorbitant mark-up for the holidays. Call before midnight tonight and we'll get your money faster!

Actually if you want to drive into lower Manhattan today and double park in a fire lane, in honor of the UN's birthday I'm sure the NYPD are very understanding. Or not, especially not.

More importantly, though Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon may disagree, at least for me, is that today is my brother Kelly's birthday. Kelly, as you may recall my mentioning was, briefly, the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. Okay, technically he was only almost the Pope but only because, as it turned out, not all bears do $hit in the woods all the time and on that technicality, the Curia decided otherwise.

And, it turns out, two of the electors may have been monkeys and their antipathy towards my brother knows no bounds. Or is it the other way? I get confused sometimes probably because I haven't actually seen Kelly since the fall of 1981 when he was sitting on the floor in my sister's kitchen in Jersey City.

But despite the time and distance we are still very close. We have the same slightly jaundiced view of the world-he is a Rangers devotee and I like Chuck Norris. We think so much alike we complete one another's sentences-for instance, when he says 'go fuc*' I say "yourself." Incredible, right? Do not try this at home, ladies and gentlemen, we are professional siblings.

So, later today, when you finally ransom your car back from the clutches of NYPD impound (didn't know they towed them to Staten Island, did you? And people say the Internet isn't educational!) find a place to watch cartoons and brace yourself for Bugs Bunny who, if he did not already exist when Kelly started to watch TV, he would've had to have invented.
Happy Birthday!
-bill kenny

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Where the Heart Is

Today, twenty-two years ago, I found the home we were to live in as a family (of various sizes) to this very day. Unlike a lot of people you and I encounter on a regular basis who were apparently sentenced to live here as a punishment, I chose Norwich for me and my family to settle in and have settled for nothing ever since.

I will confess for about two weeks after I moved into our house near Chelsea Parade and waited for my wife and children to join me I was less than entirely accurate in explaining to the people in Groton with whom I worked exactly where it was I lived.

I told them I lived in Norwalk. Growing up in New Jersey, Norwalk was a city in Connecticut I had heard so I went with it-it made sense, at least to me. My co-workers' reactions were more often than not variations of the hundred yard stare when I'd tell them that and more than one would ask me how long it took me to get home.

My response, 'about twenty-two minutes,' would get me a stern talking-to, mostly "you do realize you don't live in Germany anymore" and "remember, I-95 isn't the autobahn." My reaction to the lectures led me to fear at one point that I was the only sane person on this side of the Connecticut River until I passed the 'Welcome' sign just outside of Backus Hospital at the Route 2 and 32 connector and realized I was residing in Norwich. To this day, I still haven't overcome my fear of speeding tickets.

But what I have overcome is my tendency to wait for the other shoe to drop. I had to ditch that habit as the realtor drove through Laurel Hill and past the shuttered Thermos Factory. As a school kid, I had a lunch box and a Thermos and look at me now-at the nest. My Thermos always amazed me.

It kept hot things hot and cold things cold and I always wondered how could it possibly know which was which. About a decade and a half later, the 'abandoned' factory became the home of one of the first new educational initiatives in Connecticut in a generation, the Integrated Day Charter School, and it's still going and growing strong.

When we got to the foot of the (old) Laurel Hill Bridge, I came face to face with the fate of many New England Mill towns. I could see the buildings of a bygone and more prosperous era, almost perfectly preserved but empty sidewalks and vacant storefronts.

There seemed to be a buzz behind us on what I was told was the "Harbor" as we headed up Washington Street and later as I walked around I could see why. Between the beautiful vistas and all manner of pleasure fishermen, and lots of out of state plates, even if I knew nothing about economic development, I could see potential at every turn.

Our soon-to-be house, as I said, was across Chelsea Parade on a side street just seconds from Washington Street and a three minute walk from what I thought was a college campus but actually was our children's high school, Norwich Free Academy.

As we moved in an settled down, we found the grocery stores, the schools and the library, the best place to get ice cream in the summer (now gone but not forgotten) and all kinds of people from the neighborhoods, large and small who lived in the villages that comprise Norwich. There's something a little bit tribal about how we interact and work together, fitfully sometimes and often more successfully than we first hoped when we started.

These days when people ask me where I live, I tell them "home" and know exactly what I mean and where I am.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The First Drop

Shortly before the dawn's early light of what was Sunday, October 23, 1983, the first American military casualties of The Next Nameless Unending War occurred.

At the time of the murderous bombing at the Beirut International Airport, the Evil we were facing seemed to have no shape or name, at least none that we knew or knew of. We now know that Evil to be Al Qaeda and to include the various crazies who've broken off from the Mothership to form themselves into even more virulent and violent sects but who share a common heritage of depravity and deprivation and a goal of the triumph of a Hate so unbearably bleak as to be beyond comprehension.

In other times and circumstances its adherents would be invisible and insignificant within a global context that marginalized them to the brink of extinction, doomed to lead lives of quiet desperation but the emergence and the convergence of technologies and the ubiquity with which lies make their way into fundamentalist belief systems, regardless of the beliefs, has inflated their importance and impact beyond all beats and bounds.

The rest of us, three decades later, live at such a pace that even attempting to think of the 241 American Marines, Soldiers and Sailors who died in what we've come to call the Beirut Barracks Bombing, requires more time and thought than many of us are willing to spare and so we've reduced these First Innocents Murdered in the Global War on Terror to an intellectual abstraction because contemplating their individual humanity would reduce us to sorrow without surcease with our tears like unending rain.

And no single drop of rain feels itself responsible for the flood which follows.
-bill kenny

Monday, October 21, 2013

It Was a Blink of an Eye Ago

Sometime around mid-morning today, I'll catch myself, no matter where I am or what I am attempting, remembering where I was and what I was doing thirty-six years ago when the most beautiful woman in the world made me the original fortunate son and married me.

The last twelve months have borne little resemblance to the picnic I promised Sigrid I would offer her everyday of our lives when I asked her to marry me (unless you count the ants). Some days have been diamonds and others more like coal under a lot of pressure and yet, sechs und dreizig jahren danach, hier sind wir.

For such a wordy guy, I sometimes lose the power of speech when I think about all the twists of fate that had to happen for she and I to become we. I'm smiling as I type this right now remembering that poor elderly German woman on the other end of the phone number I dialed she had given me the night we met that was the wrong number.

Never one to take a hint or read an inference correctly, I didn't draw anything like the obvious conclusion and persisted in dialing the wrong digits every night all week long until I next saw 'that girl' again the following weekend and her first question to me was 'why didn't you call me?'. I probably should've invited that lady to the wedding.

As it was, we had Chris, Moni, Rick and Evelyn and Franz and Anni together with Beate, Klaus Peter and Gabi and every once in a while I remember the look on your Dad's face as I'd catch him studying mine trying to appreciate what his oldest daughter saw in the Ami. I'd like to think before he passed he felt about me the way I always felt about him. Moni is an absent friend but both Sigrid and I keep her in our hearts.

When someone asks as they always do, 'how many years have you been married?' after I answer I always add, in a feeble attempt at humor, 'my wife says it feels longer...but that's because the German use the metric system."

And then I remember a lyric from an underheard Don Henley song, "I dream, and my dreams are all glory and light. That's what I've wanted for my life. And if it hasn't always been that way; well, I can dream and I can pray on my wedding day." Angel Eyes, I will always love you.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

You Want Fries with that Subsistence Wage

If you're planning on heading towards a fast-food joint to grab some breakfast on the way home from church today (nothing seems to complement a Eucharist wafer like a hash brown), something I fell over during the week about the actual cost of McWages (to all of us) might be cause for pause.

In the course of the last year and a half or so I've made my own discoveries about Fast Food Inc., to include how much cheaper to purchase empty calories, the super size jumbo-mambo foods and drinks, are instead of buying  the occasional and rarely-sighted healthy salad or bottle of plain water.

But in light of the Affordable Care Act and Papa John mumbling about cutting back the hours of his wage slaves so as to avoid responsibility for having full-time employee health benefits, I find myself wondering why we are so quick and so glib to do one another in when it comes to employment with dignity and, perhaps more importantly, with living wages and transportable benefits.

If the article I mentioned had too many words (someone dropped me a line the other day about something I cited and that was his complaint. Suck it up Senator Cruz! The Cat in the Hat is a classic even if you're not.), try this eye chart on for size.

Later feel free to let me know how that breakfast burrito tasted.
-bill kenny

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Waiting on a Tee Time

As a Yankees fan, this is hard to type....the American League Championship Series has been awesome (except for the announcers). Wow. Just spectacular games as Detroit and Boston have at it.

We have tiger cubs, of sorts, here in Norwich as the Connecticut Tigers of the New York Penn Short Season A League play at Senator Dodd Stadium and Red Sox Nation is less than ninety minutes north on I-95. In a way, my loyalties such as they are, are divided.

You can't root for the kids down on the farm and then NOT root for 'em when they get to the show on the one hand especially when they have a meatloaf cupcake and on the other, the Red Sox are an honorable if ancient foe of my Yankees since the time of the Flood, or nearly, so even if too many of them look like stunt doubles from Duck Dynasty you have to applaud how they've bounced back from last season.

How terrible a Yankees fan am I to root for a seventh game? Let's face it, the first five have been tremendous. Why not push through a quick rule change and make it a best of thirty-seven or something. Remember, when the ALCS and NLCS finish up this weekend all that's between us and the winter of our discontent is the World Series.
-bill kenny

Friday, October 18, 2013

Babble On, Sister

The things you can't hear when you haven't got your shotgun microphone. In the rush to a place very similar to where we were during August, the House of Representatives decided to adopt the "Senate Budget Compromise" that had started out as theirs until the looners showed up, this seems to be no more than just another road side attraction.

But it's not. Since there are now as many media channels as there are people to watch, or in this case, listen to them, check out Dianne Reidy's Rap(ture) here. I especially like the homage to MC Hammer she gets off at the sixteen second mark-not sure it offsets the "speaks truth to power" character generation that starts the clip. She would have sold it better if she'd a pair of gold genie pants.

Meanwhile back at the clip, about a half minute into it are words to the effect that "had it been, it would not have been" whose logic is as tortured as it is irrefutable so I'm thinking she and Ted Cruz share a library card. I suspect because she seems to be taller, she can reach the poly-syllabic books on the next shelf in the Library of Congress leaving Ted with Green Eggs and Ham all over his face.

Do you think Senator Cruz knows before he was elected to the US Senate that President Obama had (also) taken a crack at reading it aloud? Aside from Mrs. Obama being underwhelmed at his effort, rumor has it that the reading was listed as a significant achievement of his first term, using the same criteria, perhaps, that defines the Affordable Care Act as significant health care reform.

The distinction between the real and the surreal grows finer in moments of stress. Let's face it, there was certainly enough of that in Dodge City Wednesday night and we could've used Perry Mason or his cousin, Free. Of course, I'm not sure what to expect from an uploader who calls him/her self WorldStarScarface. I'm looking forward to drinking that kirschwasser; it's the pause that truly refreshes.
-bill kenny

Thursday, October 17, 2013

All Hat, No Cattle

For a number of years, a friend of mine originally from Dallas used to joke about the similarities between "Texas" and "taxes." In the last couple of years he has become more of an acquaintance as where we each are, vis a vis the center line of politics, has varied more than just slightly as our world has kept turning.

I'll concede some of the low regard bordering on contempt I've felt for the Party of Lincoln as represented in the lower chamber of Congress in the last three or so weeks has been colored by how, as I see it, their machinations put me and 800,000 other federal colleagues on the street without paychecks so that an empty-headed prattler like Senator Ted Cruz of Texas could have a better view of Moot Point.

If you live in Texas, you have my sympathy and an offer to loan you a few cardboard boxes because you really need to move. In addition to Cruz, you also have Senator John Cornyn about whom the nicest thing I can think of saying about him is that he's not Cruz.

I've been to Texas and it's a terrific place (what I saw of it which included San Antonio, Houston, Dallas and Austin) with mighty nice folks of all shapes, sizes and colors who deserve more than a Rick Perry as Governor at least in my opinion. Love the glasses by the way-looking smart is a lot easier than actually getting smart.

I'm sure in a couple or three years I'll calm down and take a longer view of the junior Senator from the Lone Star State (and it would be sped up if he'd agree to leave now and walk East until (cowboy) his hat floats but, to borrow from another Texan much earlier in my life, the athletic director at the prep school in West Orange I graduated from a very long time ago, 'if they put his brain in a mosquito's ass, it'd roll around and make a noise like a bee-bee in a box car.'

Putting the din back in you're a better man than I am, Gunga Din.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Outdoors and Indoors

You wouldn't know it to look at me, but I am a believer in life-long learning (despite my own having stopped somewhere around age nine, on a good day), and whether you prefer indoors or outdoors, or some combination of both, there are ample opportunities all month long to broaden our horizons if, perhaps that should be capitalized, IF, we are willing to do so.  

We are a little more than halfway through a calendar of events The Last Green Valley calls Walktober 2013. It's more than just hiking and exploring unfamiliar places and spaces; it's proof positive that real eduction is often what you learn after you know it all.

I discovered last Saturday on a visit highlighting the Civil War Memorials in the Yantic Cemetery that there's a former Vice President of the United States interred there. I've mentioned I do a lot of walking and that cemetery is one of the places I've walked by frequently in the last twenty plus years.

But Saturday in addition to seeing the restored Sarah Larned grave marker it was inspirational to make the acquaintance of Lafayette S. Foster, the President of the Senate when Andrew Johnson succeeded the assassinated Abraham Lincoln in 1865 and, elsewhere, to see the final resting place of two US Navy Admirals, who were also father and son-in law (but who never met). Amazing stuff.

Nearly every Walktober event, and we have a ton of them all across the city, is held twice so despite the month being half over, for instance, the Yantic Cemetery tour will also happen this Saturday, the 19th, at 11 AM. And if you missed the first Legend of Uncas Leap, that will be this Sunday at one.

There's something for everyone, to include four-legged friends earlier Sunday morning as A Dawgs Day in the City kicks off, or barks off I suppose, at 9:30 at the Estelle Cohn Memorial Dog Park.

How about a hike along the Norwich Millionaires Mile on Broadway and Washington Street a week from this Sunday, or a visit to The Golden Clock Tower that is our City Hall on Monday, October 28? These walks are part of other chances to appreciate our everyday surroundings as we pass through on our way to other places.

Of course, one of those places should be the Otis Library especially as The Friends of Otis Library are staging their annual Fall Book Fair Friday through Sunday giving all of us a reason to stop in and read up on so many of the memorable moments of history we have here in our own backyard, when we learn to look.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Goji Nuts and Monkey Butts

The title today came thisclose to being a huge hit for the Seattle grunge band, "Please touch the item to purchase." If not for a simple twist of fate....actually sort of an arm stand with a pike and an inward twist ending in a tuck.

Sorry. I was drinking water in my official Michael Phelps glass and got a little carried away. He has a twitter account as well-how weird must those look after a couple of hits on the bong? (He probably has a 'person' who tweets for him-there's a show stopper when you're screening resumes...)

Anyway. If I had ever  been in Seattle when grunge was popular and I had been thirty years younger and knew how to play an instrument and had been in a band perhaps I'd have called them well, you know, and we'd have played, you already guessed. But it didn't happen and that's that. That's why Billy Bass is hanging in my study instead of a gold record.

Except-just in case my local supermarket had already breathed a sigh of relief, but too soon. It has a self-checkout which I prefer rather than facing off against the pimply, dour, gum-chewing, ill-tempered wish they were somewhere, anywhere, else cashiers they tend to hire.

It's not my fault their parents make them work here after school to earn spending money. I doubt they make enough to do anything with though that's the least of my problems especially right now.

Meanwhile, at the self-checkout I scan my membership card and a voice welcomes me to the store which is stupid as I've already been in the store-and am attempting to purchase stuff I found at the store so I can leave the store. I digress.

I always have only one item: the salad I made at their salad bar back near the fruits and vegetables (I have a scene out of Casablanca playing in my head with a variety of vegetables sitting on stools in a dimly-lit juke joint nursing tall drinks with celery stalks in them). I press "Produce" and the same welcoming voice that wasn't now tells me 'Touch the item to purchase.'

I make, or used to, my living with words. I have never used increase when I mean enhance or other ex-PFC Wintergreen prolix prose tricks, so when I have a machine which tells me to touch an item when what it actually means is to touch the representation of the item on the screen, I will touch that item everyday for my own amusement, for ever. And chuckle at my own cleverness.

The salad is in a clear container and is no danger to me or to itself. And that may be why I find it so droll to go through the drill every day at the cash register. I'll bet I wouldn't chortle nearly as much were the goji berries to come onto the belt, especially since I know what's next, which would be awkward as I left the gloves in the car.
-bill kenny

Monday, October 14, 2013

Through the Past, Darkly: The Law of Intended Consequences

It was six years ago yesterday that I took to the blogosphere (still a stupid word no matter how many times I use it) to try to maintain and retain my sanity (I hear you: 'a miss is as good as a mile.' Stop thinking so loudly). 

Despite my sincere belief that much has changed, when I look around my corner of the world, as I'm sure happens when you look around yours, I'm not so sure that such an assertion is true. 

Here's where I was 2,195 days ago. The word I'm thinking of to describe the progress: glacial.

I Read the News Today, oh boy: Was less than surprised this morning to read a front page story in the Norwich Bulletin on how comments solicited during a Thursday candidates' forum could impact how the next city council votes on the "Washington Street Rezoning Application."

Was disappointed the forum moderator, advised BEFORE the forum's start about the prohibition suggested by corporation counsel on comment, noted that he still intended to ask all candidates about the project (and damn the consequences?).

Big Flick: When the process of governance is structured so that the members, and potential members, of the City Council cannot speak to and with the people whose votes they seek on an issue of importance to all of us (the Council, by City Charter, also serves as the Zoning Board of Appeals), then the process is BROKEN and needs to be repaired-not patched and not worked around.

That a local newspaper reporter would, regardless of consequences, still attempt to solicit (some might say 'provoke') comments that could disqualify members of Council from participating in this decision after the next Council is seated is, and should be, shameful for the reporter, his newspaper that hosted the forum and this blog (for that matter) and for all of us in Norwich.

Half-full or half-empty: I counted close to seventy people at Thursday night's forum (don't know how many were friends, spouses or parole officers of the candidates) which, in light of turnout at other forums in the past is heartening, I guess. 

Except, Norwich is a city of close to 37,000 residents-leading me to wonder where everyone else was/is. Was that new episode of "Ugly Betty" really that important you had to stay home and watch it?

Shape of things to come: Turnout in recent elections, to include hotly contested Congressional races rarely exceeds 25% of all registered voters. And yet the callers to local radio shows on a daily basis overwhelm the switchboards as they offer insight and insist on their right to be heard (and heeded, I suspect). 

It takes a lot more energy to be a light than a horn a mechanic once told me. Perhaps call-in radio programs need to develop a test to make sure callers have actually voted in elections before they get to voice their opinions. Democracy is a contact sport and you cannot win if you do not play.

Here & Now: "In a soldier’s stance, I aimed my hand At the mongrel dogs who teach. Fearing not that I’d become my enemy In the instant that I preach. My pathway led by confusion boats, Mutiny from stern to bow.
Ah, but I was so much older then I’m younger than that now."
-bill kenny

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Rhymes with Woozle

I'm still prepping for my role in this afternoon's Walktober event in Norwich, A Jaunt Along the Heritage Walkway starting at three in Howard T. Brown Park (the T is for tenacious (maybe)), but I fell in love with a crime stoppers story yesterday not for the story but because of its opening line.

There are a LOT of versions of this story but only one with 'bamboozle.' I have no idea what use of that word is worth in Scrabble though I did see a "Tourette's Edition" the other day and knew exactly who should be getting that for Christmas.

But bamboozle is such a W. C. Fields' kind of word to me-a verbal postscript of another era, or error in light of how our nation is heading sometimes. Had the story also used rapscallion, and a reference to hornswoggled my joy would know no bounds. But something tells me Sylvia would have known that. Or at least her mom.
-bill kenny

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Getting Frantic in Yantic

In another lifetime, someplace I worked (when I used to work) had a special promotion all month long to support listeners called Rocktober. I doubt that it was anywhere near as original as we pretended to one another it was. We were all pretty young, okay Muni wasn't, and we can be forgiven for a youthful indiscretion and for our enthusiasm, right?

I still rock-quite frankly better than the pallid imitation of a station from another lifetime but I've learned a new prefix, W-A-L-K as in Walktober which is what we in the know and on the go during the show from Kokomo (MAKE ME STOP!) thank you, call October throughout the towns and cities of The Last Green Valley.

For purposes of this discussion, pretend I am holding up a map of Eastern Connecticut-are you doing that?- and let's say where my thumb is, is where Norwich is located. It makes no difference if I'm wearing gloves unless I'm wearing a baseball glove. Believe me, I've booted a few.

Today at eleven, amigo, we ride or technically we walk as we spend an hour or so in the remarkably well-preserved and terrifically historical Yantic Cemetery on Lafayette Street, literally down the street from my house (not that this is mentioned in the brochure anywhere which is probably not a bad thing). Look at it this way.


Way cool, eh? On Sunday, I'm the leader for a Jaunt Along the Heritage Walkway (the link is for the second showing later this month which will be completely different from the 3 PM Sunday show, believe me!). In the interests of quelling any unrest before it gets started if I may offer three words of advice, from  me to you: Bring your passport.

Monday is a holiday and as near as I can determine I still don't have a job to go to on Tuesday so dress warmly my friends, and stay thirsty.
-bill kenny

Friday, October 11, 2013

This Is Where My Claim Falls to the Ground

This election season, at least in my neighborhood, is what in the Major Leagues is called 'small ball.' We're not choosing representatives or senators to either our state or nation's capital. We are choosing neighbors to be on the Board of Education and on the City Council as aldermen and/or as a Mayor.

We don't usually do much better than about 25% voter turnout (on a good day, with a stiff breeze, downhill) even though traditionally the polls open at six in the morning and don't close until eight at night. I'm always impressed by the number of folks who carp and mewl at how things get done but who don't vote because (I suspect) they don't want to get any on themselves.

And that's too bad as the easiest level to affect meaningful political change is right here and now at the local one. Find a drummer and march along and if you don't like any of the beats, march to your own, otherwise, you'll get the expected result.

I went to prep school practically around the corner from that shop and stopped by there often not that I dared purchase anything-I cannot imagine the item that would have survived the train ride home to Jersey especially in light of my Fellow Traveler, but that's not my actual point today (or any day).

We have some hard feelings, reports a newspaper, about original ownership of an idea and basically who claimed what first for Spain (in the metaphoric sense of the word). As you may have realized where you live, too, charter revision is to government what reorganization is to business-a panacea, a holy grail and a dessert topping all rolled into one.

The fellow who's reportedly perturbed at the theft of his idea also goes to great lengths to point out at every occasion that he is the only veteran seeking the office of Mayor. I'm a veteran as well (twice as much time on active duty as The Candidate) but I guess I'm not as good a veteran since I fail to see what being a veteran has to do with being the Mayor. Perhaps that's his other original idea.

It's possible I'm just jealous about ownership claims because the last time I had an original idea it died of loneliness. I was going to write a poem about that with my wife but I decided I wasn't going to simply sit here bickering. 57 varieties of not.
-bill kenny

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Ultimate Test of Cerebral Fitness

Last week, this Coast was abuzz with reports of an assault by a 'motorcycle gang' (= three or more cyclists in the same zip code at the same time) and the aggravated assault on a motorist in front of his wife and daughter. There will be a lot more about this story and I fear very little of it will be good.

Meanwhile, on the other Coast, we're beyond choosing a hand containing a piece and when I say piece I don't mean weapon, or maybe I do. In what might seem like a counter gambit to the Sicilian Defense, proving while not everything in this life, or the next, is black and white, the best defense remains a good offense.

Unless you're Tony Bennett or a policeman who's left his (or her) heart and other anatomical accoutrements in San Francisco. Then you have yourself some renegades and maybe a crime spree. Or maybe nothing more than a variant of the Siberian Trap in the Smith-Morra Gambit against the Sicilian Defense.

It remains a puzzlement to me as to the identity of the bald-headed guy.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Floats Are Both Motorized and Root Beer

We still have a couple of days left to get ready for the big celebratory parade this weekend marking the recognition last week by the American Planning Association, who named downtown Norwich, the Chelsea District, as one of its Top 10 Great Neighborhoods of 2013 (and the year's not even over yet). Wow. Maybe even double-wow.

The Rose of New England is only the second site in all of Connecticut to receive such a designation since the awards program first started in 2007, joining the New Haven Green, which was selected in 2009.

Chelsea is in some pretty swell company this year, with the likes of Chinatown in San Francisco as well as Minneapolis, Minnesota.  I would hope they and the other selectees are as impressed to be included with us as I am to be included with them. And I really hope we practice at least once that synchronized hat toss into the air that Mary Tyler Moore does before the parade starts.

You hadn't heard about the parade? Where have you been? There are floats, at least two dirigibles and, according to the rumor I've gotten started, pony rides. Yep, so much for that old saw that the reward for doing a good job should be the knowledge you have done a good job. We should party like it's 1659, or at least we should try to have some indoor fireworks while we look forward to what's next.


In case you cannot tell, I am being (somewhat) facetious (that means there is no parade; sorry). My tongue is so far in my cheek as I write this, my eye teeth can't see what I'm typing. You should be so lucky.

But please do not mistake my attempt at humor for a diminution or diminishing of what went on last week in terms of national recognition. This is a big deal and the first rule with big deals, like fight club, is we don't talk about it like it's a big deal.

You may have encountered people in person or on line, discouraged experts I like to call them (when my mom is around; I have another name for them when she's not), who are and always have been less effusive in their praise perhaps because they are less confident in themselves.

Having lived here for twenty-two years I have come to realize that if they ever make dread, envy and self-loathing the new triathlon, you'll find residents of Norwich on the medals podium. The rest of us will be in the stands mumbling about how the medal sash makes some body's ears look big-and yes, ears wasn't my first choice of word-or how we would have been better and faster.

So many of us work very hard in many different ways to do what we can to make Norwich the place we are happy to come home to-for ourselves, our family, our friends and neighbors. Take a look at the scores of volunteers we have in our schools for everything from escorts for outings to organizing bake sales to raise money for class trips.

There isn't a weeknight, and often weekends as well, that doesn't have one or more meetings of an advisory, board or committee, composed entirely of people we see every day from our neighborhoods, wrestling with issues in developing answers we can all live with.  

It's okay to feel good about who we are and where we are. And that, I believe, is what's really behind the Top 10 Great Neighborhoods Award. Nobody is suggesting Chelsea is just like heaven (except for the 'we have to wear clothes' part) and when I hear/read mumbling and murmuring about what we don't have that someplace else does, it makes my hair hurt. Let's face it, we are why we do not have nice things-because we don't recognize them when we do have them.

I do not miss what I do not have and when I dream of what is to be, I dream as large as I can so that everyone, both those whom I know, and those I've yet to meet, can have as much of the joy of success as each of us wishes.

I choose to lean and to look forward. I wonder where we'd be if a few more of us tried that. And if feel unsteady, we can always grab that Great Neighborhoods Award to keep our balance. I've got a feeling that'll work out just fine.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

A Dear John Letter

Dear Speaker Boehner,

I had a phone call yesterday afternoon from my boss within the Department of Defense for which we both work. Well, me not so much as it turns out which was actually the point of his call.

What he was telling me in an as excruciatingly awkward conversation as is possible for two people to have with one another was confirmation that I, as my parents had always told me, was indeed one of God's Special Creatures, though what they and he had in mind were two very different entities.

That announcement Saturday by the Pentagon to recall almost all of its employees, I learned yesterday afternoon, Sir, does not apply to me at all. I felt a little bit like whatever that pair of creatures who had finished second in the Last Seat on the Ark Lottery Noah organized before The Great Flood must have been experiencing.

This is the second time in two score or so years that the Department of Defense for whom I've worked has felt it didn't need me. The last time, it was on a different continent and feels like it was in another life, probably because it was. The hole in my heart from that never really healed, but the scar tissue still pumps. And now this time. If I had any, my feelings would be hurt.

Except-I've learned something from you and it's not just that orange isn't a primary color nor an extremely good look for a Caucasian man; though those conclusions are entirely correct and in your case, sadly valid.

I've learned that the way to negotiate is to be unreasonable and irrational and make sure that while you're holding people hostage you put everything on the table-to include stuff that has already been decided. Because you never know when 'that's final' is subject to review and recall.

Here's a preview of what I'm writing to tell my congressman who is most certainly not you, Sir. I hope he spreads the word among his colleagues as the debate on raising the debt ceiling (which is the ability of Congress to pay the bills it has already incurred, Sir, in case you forgot whom you are saving) heats up.

I would very much enjoy watching you being hoist on your petard even if funding for petards has actually been temporarily halted. Ready, from your playbook:

Before the debt ceiling can be raised, we need to abrogate the Citizen's United Ruling by the Supreme Court early last year before the national elections where all that corporate money did a good job of drowning out private free speech. Supreme Court Ruling, pshaw! What's good for ACA is even better for ALEC.

That's for starters, Sir; I'm just getting warmed up. Then we can dismantle the unconscionable decision and indefensible logic behind Vance vs Ball State. But don't schedule that debt ceiling vote yet because we're still not done. What?

All of this has been decided by courts already? I know. I'm as interested in that as your Toilet Paper Parrots are in the legality of the Affordable Care Act. Let me know when you want to rebuild the Voting Rights Act that the Supremes (albeit without Diana Ross) gutted this past judicial session.

I know, my machine can call your machine and do lunch. And while we're at it, let me know when Antonin ('You Talkin' to Me?') Scalia will announce, with regret (of course), his resignation from the bench and take Clarence Not Exactly Darrow, but the other one, with him.

And let's be clear-I've adopted this approach because you've insisted on it. As a matter of fact, I'm demanding it out of self-defense. I could thank you, I suppose, for showing me the light, or I could add that to the list non-negotiables the next time we're not negotiating-which should be in about an hour or so.

Anyway. You shouldn't be proud or happy about everything you've taught me though I wouldn't blame you for being grateful that I can only NOT vote for your kind once. If it helps, I will-early and often, Brother John, early and often.
-bill kenny

Monday, October 7, 2013

No One Says Anything about a Moose

Moment of Zen yesterday evening as night descended in earnest, one of the many things about Autumn I don't like. I'm a big fan of daylight until half past eight so this a few-minutes-darker-sooner-than-yesterday stuff wears thin in a hurry.

My wife and children joined me here in the Land of the Round Doorknobs nearly twenty-two years ago-and I was reminded again last night of how Americanized we can be (I have a head start; I am an American).

Sigrid was startled by one of the neighborhood squirrels, to whom we feed peanuts on such a regular basis they look like the Michelin Man in a fur suit. Bibendum is his actual name; those French! They have a name for everything. And people say you learn nothing from reading blogs. HA!

I realized she was surprised because she was carrying on a conversation with, at first, one and then the other of the animals as they swung by on their home to the nest from a full day of foraging just to see if the timid woodland creature act might net them a few peanuts for the road.

Times have been tight in our house thanks in no small part to the turmoil in Washington DC and its impact on my bank account. The peanut budget hasn't been spared its portion of 'shared sacrifice.' Of course, squirrels have a brain about the size of the legume they are eating so a serious discussion on the failures of the Keynesian economic model in the US public sector is completely wasted on them.

Not that Sigrid was leading that particular discussion, but, rather, she was offering a lecture on why they needed to get along better with one another (and the subtext was to stop frightening her by popping out of nowhere). I'm starting to think that's why her English is so conversational; ubung macht den meister.
-bill kenny


Sunday, October 6, 2013

Jesus Loves You

Out yesterday enjoying a marvelous Saturday that, by the calendar, should be somewhat less spectacular than it was, I ended up with this image finding its way into my camera.


And I smiled. If I were a religious man, I might have given thanks though I'm neither a pilgrim nor a huge John Wayne fan, but I had two thoughts one chasing the other almost immediately. I'm betting you can guess the order of the thoughts.

"Coincidence is God's way of remaining anonymous." - Albert Einstein
"All God does is watch us, and kills us when we get boring. We must never, ever be boring." - Chuck Palahniuk. And you had wondered why there was no Our Lady of Perpetual Palahniuk?
-bill kenny

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Anything Made of Paper

I spend a lot of time involved in and engaging with 'Social Media' and I don't even know the half of it though I am knee-deep in Big Muddy, more or less with them.

The way we can extend our humanity through our command of tools and technology is awe-inspiring when you think about it and that we are so callous and careless in how we interact with one another suggests to me we don't think about it very often.

There's a back story to today but not the one I am not telling you. It begins in long ago in Frankfurt am Main and then forms into two streams, one in Austin, Texas and the other in Norwich, Connecticut but only involves two of us until right here and right now.

As of here, take and make of this what you wish and remember everything sooner or later is West of Memphis. Especially Anything Made of Paper.
-bill kenny

Friday, October 4, 2013

Everybody Knows How to Raise Children

I'm wondering if we're not the best humans we can be when we first arrive as opposed to in the here and now (in my case at nearly 61.5 years of hanging around the water cooler).

I have no idea if there's any government money for a study (actually at this moment I know there's NO government money of any kind, but that's a rant for another day) but I got to thinking about this reverse smart-stuff again a bit ago after I fell across an amazing article in the Huffington Post.

Amazing article and Huffington Post is not a turn of phrase I use lightly or often, so this is quite impressive stuff. I was and have always been mostly neutral on the HufPo (her accent is baked as far as I'm concerned) until they, and their corporate masters at AOL, did a truly stupid thing to someone I know here in my end of the ant farm and now I usually think they suck a lot. Except for this on "18 Things Children Can Teach Us About Happiness."

How are you coming on getting the backing off that Band-aid anyway? Look at that Owie, will ya? Maybe I'm a gonna amputation or something. Don't you have anything besides Powder Puff Girls?
-bill kenny

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Just a Few Words in Defense of Our Country

I'm numbed by the political poop from just about everyone who's popped up on my TV since Tuesday at midnight when I found out I and about 800,000 other federal employees would go from a summer where we got screwed out of 20% of our salaries because champion chimpanzees couldn't take yes for an answer, to an autumn where we would get screwed out of the rest of it.

I've since learned neither John Boehner nor Ted Cruz called any of the people to whom I owe money to explain it was they and not me who is keeping them from getting paid. I am sorely vexed, gentlemen.

And what exactly was that theater of 'Let's show The Honor Flight Vets of World War II Their Memorial Which Our Own Porcine Obstinacy and Arrogance Closed" video clip supposed to be all about?

Seriously, Far Right Noise Machine of the late, great, Republican Party-now you care about veterans? Should I tell you that nearly two dozen veterans kill themselves everyday and you've cut the budget to the Veterans Administration AND now you've closed it? Helluva a photo op, ain't it?

The Tea Party is the Republican Party's cross to bear-not mine or yours and we cannot fix them or help them heal. Speaking just for me-I don't want anyone with an R behind her/his name to get better at all. And if I have my way they won't.

Here's the deal current members of the Republican Party seeking office, anywhere within the sound of my voice. Even if I liked you (note the verb's tense) yesterday or voted for you previously, the blush is off that rose.

For me to pull the lever (old image-new one is darken the circle) for you on the first Tuesday in November, you need to rid yourselves of those meddlesome Tea Party priests. Sorry-not interested in why you can't or how come you won't. Not my problem just as how they're wrecking my life and others isn't yours.

Welcome to quid pro quo, population: you. If you don't unload the Tea Party, I will vote for whomever is NOT a Republican; anyone-even if that choice is a slug, and it may well be. Yep, I will cut off my own nose to spite my face; that's why I have a fresh roll of duct tape to help me keep my glasses on.

Here's a handy list of everything your gals and guys in the DC Main Office helped shutter as of Tuesday morning-just so you know I'm not being petty. I finished filing for unemployment compensation yesterday, because I and my colleagues don't have jobs. Sorry, that was being petty. But y'know what?  Ted Cruz is right-it feels great!
-bill kenny

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Signs if not Signs and Wonders

I saw a sticker the other day on a nearly-vintage red station wagon, 'Honk if You Can Read This." I didn't quite know what to make of the silence from the vehicle behind him. Perhaps that driver was an illiterate...

We are a nation of fans who wear our passions and convictions along with our hearts and other organs on our sleeves, tee-shirts, bumpers, and ball-caps. As the autumn shadows lengthen and the leaves pile high on fallow grass, lawn signs for a plethora of candidates for political office spring up practically overnight.  

I smiled walking around this weekend at the number of signs and their size and in which neighborhoods I came across the most. If there is a seasonal growth business, aside from beach cabanas at the shore, it's most assuredly campaign signs.

While we have the good fortune to have volunteers willing to seek office for City Council and Board of Education, it's easy to forget the costs they pay in terms of time and money to become candidates.

And there's more to costs than meets the eye. There are the things you cannot buy because you're paying for campaign materials and there's the time away from family and friends because you're knocking on neighborhood doors and visiting with registered voters hoping to get them to at least hear you out. Conversations require two persons and when one is missing, it's a monologue.

I don't mean to offer that last point flippantly but there's a lot of things we don't too well for the most part and while this isn't a complete list, it's a pretty good start:

push the chair back in under the table when we we get up;

put the seat down on the toilet;

come to a full stop at the red light before making a right turn;

not talking on a cellphone while driving

and definitely not voting in municipal elections.  

We complain about a lack of freedom of choice but I think we actually prefer having freedom from choice. By insisting that 'there's nothing I can do' or that 'no one cares what I think' we absolve ourselves of all responsibility and blame when things fail.

And as we all know, things fail frequently. It's all part of life and why life is a contact sport. You can continue to claim you're a victim or you can listen when a candidate for office stops by and tell them what you'd like them to do for all of us. What are they gonna do? Tell you to shut up? They started it!

We can continue to tell each other that 'it doesn't make any difference' and 'one vote doesn't count,' and guess what? Eventually, we're right. We become our very own self-fulfilling prophecy-aside from maybe winning a tee-shirt, I don't see what the benefit is to that kind of behavior.

Did you ever hear about that city in Connecticut whose residents became more passive in each successive election until they barely reached double digits in voter turnout? You haven't? Neither has anyone else.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Happy HalloThanksXmasYear!

The countdown to "the holidays" has already started. I was disquieted when my local big box stores were rolling out the "Dumpsters O' Candy" for all the trick or treaters before Labor Day (the ghost with the most can wear white even after, I guess).

And then I saw Christmas lights on a shop entrance this past weekend and my first impulse was to contemplate burning the place down. I'm inclined to use flaming figgie pudding as an accelerator because that's how my sense of humor runs and send firemen with seltzer bottles to battle the blaze.

I love Christmas and hate nearly all the hookum that comes with it, to include but not limited to all the different calendars that count down the days to Black Friday or whatever it is we are calling that increment on the calendar when Santa Claus brings the Baby Jesus a gift certificate to the Gap for Kids or whatever you get children born in barns.

Stop rolling the various holidays together but, first of all, let's STOP pretending Halloween isn't just a creation of the Mars and Hershey's folks, okay? If you're a grown-up and you get excited about this non-holiday holiday, there are no words to capture my contempt for you, if you try to force me to 'celebrate.'

If you stay over on your side of the universe with whatever you do on Halloween, (please don't call them 'customs' or I will be ill) that's terrific and thanks. But only if you don't send me a card, okay?

Thanksgiving is for families and not for anything else. If you like to watch football, I'd be a lot happier if you did it with your family at your house. And if you're in a relationship where you and your significant other have discussions about which holiday is spent at whose parent's houses and you have a schedule set up, you are in the wrong relationship.

As we get ready to hit the holidays, please.... Start your own traditions with whomever you call your family. And remember your family is whomever you care about and whomever cares about you. If you have a legal or biological relationship to one another, great, perhaps even better, but if not, so what? And NOT knowing today how many shopping days there are until the Feast of Saint Hubbins may be enough to start a family.
-bill kenny