Monday, March 31, 2014

We May Need to Arm Bears

Sometimes your right to bare arms gets in the way of other folks' rights to arm bears, or to steal them while they're small and try to sell/rent the opportunity to pet them.

From the archives and submitted for your review and approval, John Chadwick Montgomery, whose brush with the law is captured here.

I have a lot of questions but the one that jumped out at me was mathematical in nature. That $1 to pet the bear cub, was that a dollar for every pet of the bear cub or was it an all-you-can-pet price? Does the bear cab, Newell, have a bald spot where folks were really taking advantage of the price?

I love the quote from the director of the preserve about Montgomery's behavior, "It almost makes me think he wasn't thinking." Its applicability to a range of behaviors beyond the realm of bear cub napping is nearly universal, I think.

And let's not forget about Lizzy who, it's reported, rushed to the aid of Petey, a fellow capuchin monkey, who was Montgomery's first abduction target. I will admit to some admiration of Montgomery for persevering after getting bitten by Lizzy.

Lizzy ended up with a black eye as a reward for her rescue efforts and I'm inspired to wonder if monkey boxing might be worth considering as part of a new triathlon for the Summer Olympics. Three rounds of monkey-boxing, five minutes of petting a Kodiak bear and two laps around an indoor track with a lion while wearing liverwurst after shave. I'm pretty sure no one will win any medals but the TV ratings should be rock-star spectacular.
-bill kenny

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Tenuous Assumption of Innocence

As a Scarlet Knight, I'll always have a soft spot in my heart for the young men and women of Rutgers University who represent the State University of New Jersey to the best of their ability in a dizzying variety of collegiate sports.

In some sports, such as men's Division 1 basketball, this past season made it hard to do as victories were as scarce as the proverbial hen's teeth and I, for one, might have settled for losses that were, at the least, sort of competitive. RU kidding me became the way I checked the scores all season long.

I went to Rutgers so long ago, and so long before Big Time College Football (I always capitalize every word of The Evil that destroyed the greatest college basketball conference in the USA, The Big East, because of the seduction of the money in televising football) arrived on the Banks of The Olde Raritan, we, the students could attend home games for free. But usually didn't because we were trashed from whatever had gone on the night before.

Besides, who wanted to get up both stoned and hungover to attend games against the likes of Delaware, Villanova, Lafayette and Bucknell. It was to be another decade until we swapped cupcakes like those guys for beat downs of epic proportion by Penn State (motto: "we beat you on the field and in the shower") and others of  that ilk. And then another decade before we got close to being in the same weight class.

A lot of factors finally coalesced for the Scarlet Knights to not be a joke. The program matured, some very talented people joined the staff and a lot of successful recruiting paid off with hard work and long practices. One of those who profited, literally and figuratively, from that fortuitous turn of events was a youngster of exceptional talent and for whom, until very shortly ago, I was always happy to cheer, Ray Rice.

I don't pretend to know if he owns or broke every single Rutgers football offensive record, but he's probably close. He went on to become a successful professional football player, currently in the employ of the Baltimore Ravens.

When he showed up in headlines Thursday for punching out his affianced, Janay Palmer, who is the mother of Rice's child, in an Atlantic City casino elevator, I was sickened and saddened.  But I wouldn't claim to have been surprised.

Then I found this on Saturday afternoon. Cynic that I consider myself to be, I'm obviously an amateur because it surprised me. Looks like Ray-Ray got his Chris Brown imitation on and he nailed it. Perfectly.
-bill kenny

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Gabby or Purple

I met someone the other day whose name I understood to be Harry Krishna. I attempted a joke by inquiring if we had perhaps met one another in an airport. My smile disappeared when I saw his reaction and realized the temperature in the room had dropped dramatically.

He explained his last name was Kirchner, thus obviating my humorously intentioned bon mot and we were left with an awkward silence and the realization there was no way we could ever go shoe shopping again, or for the first time.

I don't why I just thought about that or remembered from Germany, in another life, stalking the crafty and ubiquitous veal fig newton. When Sigrid and I were dating, I'd share the couch as we watched programs on German TV (either first, ARD, or second, ZDF, as there was very little else-back in the days of ein geteiltes Deutschland).

Prime time TV back in the day had, for me as an American, a curiosity, hostesses or viewer guides, who offered you a minute's worth of preview and highlights of the night's coming attractions before the schedule kicked off. At that time I spoke just about no German at all; and have been constant and consistent for nearly the last four decades.

But back then I'd just sit there and let it wash over me and the mind being the way it is, or at least mine being the way it is, I would manufacture meaning from the verbal churn and hear what, to my ears were English language words and phrases, even if no one else did. Hence, the veal fig newtons.

The TV hostess, having offered us, the lieber zushauer, a preview of the evening's broadcast would always close with some variation of 'wir wunschen ihnen ein veal fig newton' (we wish you a veal fig newton). On Saturdays, long or short (a topic for another time), when Sigrid would go grocery shopping, I would tag along and prowl the aisles, trolling among the cookies and snack cakes, or keks, in search of the wily fig newton.

I had no idea what the packaging might be and knew from popping into the commissary (the military's grocery store as opposed to The Exchange which was sort of like Sears) that the Fig Newton folks had introduced strawberry and apple flavors, but to my knowledge, no veal.

My searches among the lebensmittel were never crowned by success and eventually, somewhat in despair, I asked Sigrid where Germans could buy veal fig newtons. Her look, come to think of it, was very similar to Harry's of the other day, as she explained to me that what I took to be an exhortation to enjoy a snack cookie was actually, 'wir wunschen ihnen viel vergnügen' (we wish you much pleasure).

Oh. Well why didn't they just say so? I was Saint George's stunt double in Jousting with the Mondegreen and hadn't realized it. And while I've always enjoyed the Sky Marshall, I liked him even more once he stopped lip locking with that guy who looked nothing like that fellow who wasn't from the airport.

Though him I can describe: Red and white sweater, hand in hand with Carmen San Diego, sharing some fig newtons. Eww.
-bill kenny

Friday, March 28, 2014

I'm Sweeney Todd and I approved this Message

I concede that for serious and sober people especially in the Far East of the world, Kim Jong-un is equal parts menacing and challenging, but for bozos like me, thousands of miles away, he's like something the writers on Comedy Central's Daily Show might imagineer if they were washing 'ludes down with Annie Green Springs.

The good news, I suppose, is they're not. Leaving the bad news that another grease spot with legs is wandering the world tyrannizing his own countrymen and terrorizing his neighbors. There is, in the opinions of people who claim to know this stuff, very probably a no more oppressive, backward and evil regime on earth than the one Jong-un, Dennis Rodman's H-O-R-S-E buddy, heads in North Korea.

Armed to the teeth, paranoid (and with good reason, so I guess in that sense, they're cured), always on the brink of starvation as they continually and continuously fail to produce enough food to feed themselves, and engaged in a form of international relations that makes brinkmanship look like Neville's return from his Weekend in Munich the best thing since Vlad's staff assistance visit to the Crimea, the reason why we haven't nuked North Korea, I feel, is that the South Koreans prefer to be part of a peninsula instead of an island.

And now, in addition to learning 450 recipes for gluten-free rock soup (North Korea's sole cash crop unless braggadocio and BS have been added to the list), Jong-un has skin in the game in terms of haircuts.

This showed up some time ago on line and, once you realize the site is a leisure time activity of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, it's actually quite nice, albeit in a you-folks-live-on-a-different-planet-doncha kind of way. I especially enjoy the drop down window on the right side of the screen where moderators and world wide guests exchange invective while pretending they're having a conversation.

And for a moment, it looked like we had gone to ludicrous speed, as the Web was abuzz with 'news' that the men of North Korea were all going to learn the Korean tonsorial command for 'high and tight' but perhaps that's one one tale that's beyond the credible.

I'm still working on the career choice of Simon C, quoted in the story, who describes himself as being someone who arranges foreigners' vacations to North Korea. What do you suppose his client base might be? People who've already seen the Killing Fields of Kampuchea? Does he offer other packages, perhaps a "Flaunt Human Rights" 8 days and 7 nights in some dark corner of the world and/or perks like 'Have Your Picture Taken with Kony'?

Perhaps Jong-un who could be the Pillsbury Dough-boy's evil twin, physically, has stumbled onto a greater truth though he'd never concede it, not even to himself. "Because in all of the whole human race Mrs. Lovett, there are two kinds of men and only two. There's the one staying put in his proper place And the one with his foot in the other one's face."

I'm sure some North Koreans cannot wait for the jackboot to be on the other fist.
 -bill kenny

Thursday, March 27, 2014

I'd Feel Sorry for You but.....

I think the world is actually spinning faster now than it was when we were kids. Everything seems to move more quickly and relentlessly forward, good or bad.

The summer vacations we used to look forward to as schoolkids will be here in an eye blink and gone again. Why put the snow shovels and winter clothes away, aside from a glance out the window, as the next winter will be here before the ink is dry on the calendar page.

At some point in recent days, I read a story on the murder trial in South Africa of Oscar Pistorius, charged with the shooting death of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, in which he described himself as 'having a tough time' as the prosecution seemed to carving holes in his defense large enough to drive a truck through. I realized a moment ago I'm still processing that whole story.

I make no judgements in terms of guilt and innocence. How could I? I don't know the man but know of his struggles and his triumph over daunting circumstances in becoming a paralympic sprinter. But still, cynic that I am, my black as coal heart and soul prominently displayed finds the idea that he sees himself in any way as the victim to be just beyond the surreal.

With apologies to Willie and the Globe Theater, Queen Gertrude's acerbic observation comes to mind as I recall with a start, perhaps better than Oscar himself does, that while he may feel persecuted, it is his affianced who is dead and feels nothing. And by his hand, though I'm thinking he'd prefer to gloss over that detail as well.

Again, I don't have any idea of the merits of the case or the legal burden of proof in this instance but the gracelessness under pressure being displayed gives me pause before extending sympathy to a man who is doing quite a fine job of feeling sorry for himself. Besides, I'm told he's very competitive and I'd hate to start something I couldn't finish.
 -bill kenny

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

You're in the Middle of the Ride

C. S. Lewis, author of "The Chronicles of Narnia," once offered that "(I)t may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird but it would harder, still, for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg."

I'm not sure if he had yet read the Hampton Project Municipal Development Plan created by the Norwich Community Development Corporation at the direction of the City Council or if I'll run into him tonight at 6:30 when a hearing on the plan is held in Council chambers of Norwich City Hall. He and I should really do breakfast some time.

Might I suggest we owe it to one another to attend or watch on public excess (sorry, access), assuming it's offered so that we have some sense of what is being risked and what is being gained.

Actually, I not only suggest that but insist on it, because my biggest concern (and why I've taken my time reading the plan and fully intend to attend the hearing) is that I don't know what I don't know. And I may not be alone in being that way but there aren't nearly enough of us willing to admit it to themselves or to one another.

I'm dismayed by some of the comments posted online and offered in person critical on this proposal to "do something" as I call the subject of tonight's hearing but that offer no suggestions or alternatives. Let's be real: we already know what happens when we do nothing in Norwich. If you're new here or you've just forgotten, take a look around you. See what I mean? We are what happens when all we do is talk.

Twice a day I drive past that bag of bricks and glass near 395 and no matter how hard I wish it would be come a thriving hotel (perhaps offering pony rides to guests), it hasn't happened. Not yet and not ever at the rate we're going.

We can keep wasting each other's time and our own breath about the original choice of sites or who should have done what to whom and when but that's boxing with a pillow- when we get done, we're tired and all that's changed is the shape.

How about giant billboards on 395, North and South as the descent down the hill begins, telling motorists to just close their eyes for the next mile so they don't see our failure of both a hotel and to find a resolution?

Or we could hire Christo to wrap the building and conceal our own inability to act for our own good? Certainly an idea not without appeal especially since if we never do anything, we can't do anything wrong.

You are entitled to your own opinion, but NOT to your own facts. The hearing starts at 6:30 tonight in City Hall. I'll save you a seat in the middle.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

That First Step Is the Hardest

We have spent so much time in the last two weeks transfixed by a multi-media seance approaching and surpassing a real life, real time version of Lost with the human tragedy that is and forever will be Malaysian Air Flight 370 playing out on every screen possible across the country and around the globe, it's almost crass to suggest we refocus on something else, as opposed to anything else.

Friends and families of those who perished deserve answers and the peace of some form of closure and I hope they get both, most especially out of the gaze of a world of gawkers as we all slowed down to take a look and offer opinion masquerading as fact that was often as far-fetched as it was fatuous.

The winner in the mass media category, knowing you realize my heart beats on the left side of my body, is (perhaps for you a surprise) not FAUX Gnus who were, I think, really in their element, unencumbered by actual facts and free, if not eager, to throw anything that might be a theory against the wall to see it stuck.

Nope, in my view, the nadir of coverage was CNN putting a psychic on the air I guess because it's a violation of policy to just look into the camera and say "we got nothing." It could have only been worse had Piers Morgan been allowed to interview her.

Meanwhile half a world away, for those too young to have ever witnessed it and those too old to remember it from its seventy year off-Broadway run, the Cold War emerged from retirement, prodded by Vlad the Other Impaler as Russia proved the wisdom of that old expression, "you get more with kind words and a tank than you do with kind words alone." So praise the borscht and pass the 125 mm shells and clear the heqq out of the Crimea if you're affiliated with the Ukraine military.

Perhaps escaping your notice, though not mine because he's always been a loathsome grease ball, was, in the aftermath of the previous Sunday's Crimean referendum whose sole question might as well have been "would you like to be shot in the back of the head as you stand here?" the endorsement of the result by none other than Harmid Karzai, the head of state of the increasingly embattled nation of Afghanistan.

Mr. Karzai is certainly entitled to his opinion, at least for now while ISAF troops protect his position to express himself. I'm sure the fate of Dr. Mohammed Najibullah after his Soviet protectors departed a little over a quarter of a century ago cannot be too far from his waking thoughts.

And I, mindful of how often the oceans of the world were discussed in recent days, think about a German expression that most neatly captures Karzai's conundrum, "he who abandons a sinking ship that does not sink, needs to be a very good swimmer."

It's often a fine line between Mae West the actress and the life vest, though sometimes the mileage may vary.
-bill kenny

Monday, March 24, 2014

A Long, Lonely Taxi Ride

I'm looking forward to Spring, assuming we are to have one at some point before the New Year arrives as I've semi-decided to take a day off from work, probably a Friday, and take the love of my life on a train ride into New York City.

We have popped into The City on occasion, in the late fall and early winter time frame actually catching part of the Thanksgiving Day parade from the route itself (meaning we had a chance to see the backs of the heads of people who had gotten up even earlier than did we and who stood in line even longer to see the backs of other people's heads) and admired the Macy's windows and did all the touristy things I never really did when I was in school in Manhattan.  

I got to thinking about this trip on Saturday when we had a brief, as in a cloud passing overhead, rain that fell just long enough to create slight steam in the parking lot of the local market and produce that aroma of wet asphalt that will always mean Spring and Spring most especially in Manhattan for me forever.

My yearning didn't cause me to head immediately to New London or New Haven and catch a train, though I have a tracker on my cell phone that lets Sigrid know where I am since I tend to wander and get lost/hurt in equal proportion on a recurring basis but it might have been fun to have seen her facial expression as my little red dot headed south.

All of that is for another time and the anticipation will not dampen the actual enjoyment when the time arrives. But in the meantime, I can enjoy the quiet and less brash tones of where I live now.


That is one of a bunch of shots I took on Saturday in one of the villages that makes up the city of Norwich, where I live. Sometimes we seem more like seven villages in search of a city rather than a major population center and the largest pocket o' people on this side of the Connecticut River (I will try to copyright that 'pocket o' people' thing, just so you know) but it works far more often than it doesn't, at least for me.
-bill kenny

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Some Assembly Required

Not sure which I love more, the graphic and its point....


...or the song and its point.

Tie goes to the runner and I'm wearing one because I'm on my way to work, or leaving. It's hard to tell.
-bill kenny

Saturday, March 22, 2014

I Think We Owe Iggy Money

It was less than an eye blink, the time it took for us to pass one another in the hallway of a common use building the other day and quite frankly the two folks heading in my direction were so engaged and engorged in their conversation I doubt they even realized I was there until I was gone, if even then.

For many of us, the story of our lives, but I digress because that's not the story today. Bear in mind, I caught about two and half seconds of the conversation because that's about that was audible from the six or so feet away from each other we were when I could make out words being spoken and they seemed to sound like "so I asked her what's the difference between a dog we buy in Virginia for fifteen hundred dollars and a rescue animal we get here?"

I'm working on impulse control so I didn't immediately shoot my hand straight up in the air and beg 'call on me! call on me!" because I knew the answer, which was the difference is $1,500. That seemed too easy and in hindsight, I'm thinking that money aside, the larger issue was taking in an animal that had been abandoned more likely than not for having committed the sin of being inconvenient...We're moving and our new place doesn't allow pets...When I got her/him I didn't know the breed go so big....The color doesn't match the living room drapes.

All those two-bit weasel-worded alibis we offer here in the disposable age in which we live and where we jettison living creatures like they were day-old pate because they no longer suit us. Let's hope that idea never catches on across the universe, eh? Except, living in the material world as I do, and having the rental receipts to prove it, I got hung up on paying a thousand and a half dollars for a dog.

I'll tell you here we have no pets, and never have so if you're a "pet parent," this is probably a good time to move on because I tend to see you as a pet owner and you tend to see me as an oaf or an ogre. And that's fine.

My purely pecuniary point is that for that kind of money the animal needs to play a horn or ride a bike (a pony is a perfectly acceptable substitute) or do math problems or perhaps interpretive dance.

But returning to the more universal concern, there are are far more dogs and cats and Lord-knows-what in shelters who have done nothing to deserve being there and who will end their lives in those places not because anyone is so inherently evil and awful that they wish them harm but rather because those who seek out a companion seem to never look in their direction.

This is not a "cue Sarah McLachlan" moment by any means, though I guess it just became one, but if we really are the crown of creation as we tell ourselves we are, we have a concomitant responsibility of sorts to take care of the other travelers here on the Big Blue Marble.

And with all due respect to Steve Miller and Al Stewart, let's take to heart the words of James Osterberg even though the more I think about them, the more spooked I get.
-bill kenny

Friday, March 21, 2014

Not Exactly Free Bird

Even though I missed it completely in its first incarnation, I couldn't help but perk up my ears (okay, actually I arched my eyebrows but what's the point of majoring in Metaphors while studying at English for Runaways University if you don't mangle a dangling participle or two while obfuscating your tenuous premise upon which you presumed to build a blog entry?) when reading of the probable, dare I say inevitable, return of Flappy Bird.

As I discovered yesterday to my profound chagrin, I don't actually know how to use the phone part of my smart phone (mine was kept back a year in Smart Phone School I suspect) so playing games is in a universe far, far away from my abilities and interests.

To be honest and feeling a little unclean as I point this out, I read someplace (else on the Interweb) that we put a man on the moon and brought him back safely with less computer power in all of NASA than any of us have in our cell phones, today.

I don't pretend to speak for you but suspect your mileage doesn't vary that much, but I use mine to listen to music, take pictures of things I'm eating, or not eating as it turns out, and looking at other people's pictures of food and grumpy cats.

Of course, in the hands of a professional, those 140 character tweets can be strung together to approximate the counterpoint and repartee at a session of the Algonquin Round Table, minus the table and probably also lacking any one named Al, though not Paul.

And just look at the thumbs we have built up from all this gaming and texting. The only muscles in my body even close to being toned are the ones that enable me to text my wife to ask 'What are we having for dinner?'

And yes, I'm a dinosaur so I spell out ALL the words and use punctuation, often coming up with words my phone hates and changes to other, different, and frightening words that were never my intent and which provoke reactions that quickly overtake my pedestrian concerns about dinner, leading me to conclude 'never bring a smart phone to a knife fight.'

And if you're dueling with the World's Most Interesting Man memes at ten paces, you can bring an extra flappy bird, at no charge.
-bill kenny

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Our Most Hopeful Season Begins Again

In light of what the calendar says, far more so than what my window has been offering in recent days, on this, the first full day of Spring, I can continue to whine about the winter I so hope is really and truly over. Not nearly as much as I am over it.

If you live in most of these occassionally United States I know you know whereof I mewl. And sitting in the shelter of Long Island Sound I would not be surprised to learn we here in Southeastern Connecticut got off lighter than many others. We didn't get what we deserve, thank goodness, but certainly more than we bargained for.

And I also concede that none of cold weather kvetching will keep me from piteously bleating when the heat and humidity of August are here, because they never come on little cat feet but stomp right in wearing Size 44 Triple E jump boots. Where oh where will any of that polar vortex be when this happens? Your guess will be as good as mine.

I endorse the emotion that suggests worrying and complaining about the weather, while completely human and often humorous, is a waste of our time and talents. It will change nothing and dilute our enjoyment of the moment in which we find ourselves.

Now and Zen, I remember, "Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes and the grass grows by itself." Make a moment for yourself to take off your thirsty boots and stay very still for awhile so you can enjoy the shifting of the seasons in your own time and at your own pace.

Spring, the most hopeful of seasons, awaits. I hope yours will be everything you want, and most importantly, everything you need.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

A Penny for Your Thoughts

The calendar says Spring starts tomorrow-I was outside not that long ago (Truman was still President, I think) and based on the latter part of last week and earlier this week, I'm not sure if we didn't get stuck with defective calendars. But even though the dogs bark, the caravan moves on and it won't be that long before we're complaining about the heat and humidity, wistfully missing those same March winds that knifed through our clothes just the other day.

The days are getting longer and brighter but before we both fly away on gossamer wings of rhapsody, let's stay earthbound for just another moment and talk about municipal budgets. Ouch, that was a tough landing.

I've visited the city's website and looked at the meetings calendar,  so I can work out with my personal calendar a schedule to attend the budget hearings for our city departments as the City Manager and, ultimately, the City Council, begins what (mark my words) will be called (again) 'the toughest budget year' anyone in City Hall can remember. Except, of course, for last year. And the year before that and, well, you get the point. Someday, these will be the Good Old Days, just not now.

We select neighbors willing to accept the challenges of leadership who are our elected officials. (How many people turn out to vote and how they feel about are topics for another time.) We demand they and the appointed professionals with whom they manage so much of our city 'make hard choices' at budget time and then, when they do, we get angry with them for not making the hard choices we would like made.

But, hands on our hearts, none of us volunteer to serve a term of office. Nope, nobody's got time for that much head noise-but we can all make the time to watch from the sidelines and offer contradictory opinions we expect to be heeded as pure, unadulterated budgetary genius. This time of year, when it comes to money, we know it all and we know it all better.

 As we used to say in the Air Force, "if you're so smart, why aren't you rich?" (actually we said a little more than that but I'm trying for family appeal). And if we were rich, we'd still be unhappy with so much of how of our tax money is required for the successful operation of all levels of government.

Listening to the often sincere and thoughtful, but also conflicting, opinions offered at public hearings it always seems to come down to taxes and services. And there's no stomach for compromise and bargaining.

I think about that TV commercial for insurance where Peanuts' Lucy offers that insurance 'should cost five cents,' and the only non-cartoon character on the screen says rather quickly, "not everything can cost five cents." True that.

Looking at last year's budget, also on the city's website which has scads of useful information that people who have never been there complain bitterly about never finding, I admit I have no idea how much money it "should cost" for a public works department, or our school system or our police, fire and public safety.

I'm very happy we have experts for those questions, but I do think of myself as an expert on what happens if we don't have what we need. The trouble is I cannot tell you how to pay for what we want. We're almost to the point in the year where residents learn both the cost of where we live as well as the value. I hope we decide we're worth it.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Not Too Sexy for a Hair Shirt

I'm at a loss to explain the mixed sentiments being posted on line about the imminent passing of One of The Most Miserable People To Have Ever Lived (OfMMPTHEL), Fred Phelps, wackadoodle and hate-monger who founded the Westboro Baptist Church even though no one had losted it.

As a matter of fact, by the time you read this, he may be dead. If not, read faster, please. Fred and his (former) flock are exactly we can't have nice things and why if there is a God, S/He is looking down (why do we look up when we say 'heaven'? And where is Heaven if you're Australian in comparison to living on this side of the orb?) and looking at Jesus and going, 'suffered, died and was buried....for these bozos? Seriously?'

We almost had a brush with the Westboro Wingnuts some years back here in Connecticut in the wake of the tragedy in Newtown when Adam Lanza murdered so many innocents and they had huffed and puffed and blustered and bully-pulpited about picketing the memorial service and in general being hateful and hurtful.

As someone who has always advocated for peaceful solutions in confrontational situations mainly because I bruise like old fruit, I was taken aback somewhat, at my own blood thirstiness and near-yearning for violence, at least in the abstract, that these bigots might show up so those with muscle and motivation could interact with them at a more intimate, immediate and cellular level.

Cooler heads (= other than mine) prevailed but I still wonder what kind of a God lets people like this represent the franchise? Realizing final arrangements are probably still in flux, or a word similar to it but shorter, I'd suggest consideration of a selection from the Randy Newman songbook be included perhaps as part of the recessional or even graveside. It's not catchy, doesn't have much of a beat and, as Fred would surely approve, you can't dance to it. In other words, perfect; right, Said Fred. Not.
 -bill kenny

Monday, March 17, 2014

Return Engagement: At Home on the Green Fields of Amerikay

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Let's treat the over consumption of dark beer and the ensuing drunken stumble-round in celebration of the day as read. Not all of us who claim the heritage are drunkards. I, to cite but one example, stopped drinking. About four hours ago. Ah, yes that scintillating "Irish wit" I claim to possess. Now I know how far my humor can take me-the next punctuation marks the demarcation.

The Irish's arrival in America was, for its time, the largest and most prolonged migration of one ethnic group since the nations of the world had begun keeping track of such things. Those who fled Ireland for America, and they were not only family members, but extended families, whole neighborhoods and, in many instances, entire villages and townships, were half a step ahead of starvation and destitution. 

To remain in Ireland was to die but fleeing to America was often death of another kind, only more slowly. Having already been made into outcasts in their own country, the immigrants hardly noticed how their treatment in the New World often resembled their handling in the old.

And still they came, by the thousands every month, by the tens of thousands and into the millions. At one point, very nearly twenty percent of all Americans were of Irish ancestry which is a statistic offered on Saint Patrick's Day to help not just those of us who were part of the Irish Diaspora to remember where they came from but to remind all of us how far we have yet to go.

"Farewell to the groves of shillelagh and shamrock.
Farewell to the girls of old Ireland all round.
And may their hearts be as merry as ever they could wish for.
As far away o'er the ocean I'm bound.

Oh, my father is old and my mother quite feeble;
To leave their own country it would grieve their heart sore,
Oh the tears down their cheeks in great floods they are rolling
To think they must die upon some foreign shore.

But what matter to me where my bones they may lie buried
If in peace and contentment I can spend my life
The green fields of Amerikay they daily are calling
It's there I'll find an end to my miseries and strife.

So pack up your seastores now consider it no longer,
Ten dollars a week isn't very bad pay.
With no taxes or tithe to devour up your wages
Across on the green fields of Amerikay.

The lint dams are gone and the looms are lying idle
Gone are the winders of baskets and creels,
And away o'er the ocean, go journeyman cowboy
And fiddlers that play out the old mountain reels.

Ah and I mind the time when old Ireland was flourishing,
And most of her tradesmen did work for good pay
Ah, but since our manufacturers have crossed the Atlantic
It's now we must follow on to Amerikay.

And now to conclude and to finish my ditty
If e'er a friendless Irishman should happen my way
With the best in the house I will treat him, and welcome him
At home on the green fields of Amerikay."

-bill kenny

Sunday, March 16, 2014

It's Not Just Rock & Roll that Never Forgets

I was rummaging through the folders of some of the different email addresses I maintain and I'm always surprised and never disappointed by what the various services snag and bag for later cogitation and review. Except in the case of my WillibaldohtheMaginficenbutModest@hallucination.com address which never gets any mail, or pony rides, now that I think about it though there's a tell-tale aroma of manure in the vicinity.

I was intrigued to have email from Amazon about ordering in honor of spring some Blue Peeps or Peeps in general. I'm not much of a fan though I do have a soft spot for their tribute to The Beatles (some years before the 50th anniversary hype got started).

At first I drew a blank on possible triggers for the email, since it is my experience Amazon does next to nothing for no reason at all. Okay, soon they'll still do next to nothing for no reason at all but if you're an Amazon Prime subscriber it'll cost you an additional twenty bucks a year, but I'd submit it's still such a good deal you might feel a little chuffed when complaining, though some of us will anyway, almost as a visceral reaction. Imagine that the price went down instead, and I suspect there would still be clamoring and yammering.

Back at the Blue Peeps Cafe, I suddenly remembered a now-former colleague and still-Facebook friend at that time in the military who had volunteered for a second tour in Afghanistan. Perhaps being the opening act on the first tour wasn't quite the rush she was hoping for so she held out for headliner status? I don't know so I don't judge. I can only understand another's behavior but make no claims about motivation.

I ended up being part of a Peeps posse where a not inconsequential number of us, all unknown to one another both then and now, decided to ship her what proved to be boxcars of Peeps (or close to it)...right after she had suggested in an online posting that some Peeps would hit the spot. Gesagt, getan. And be careful what you wish for.

I had completely forgotten about the order and the rhapsodical reports posted about how many were shipped (fyi: all of them were eaten, 'devoured' I think was a word she used) and how much they were enjoyed. I'm still in awe of the dizzying and dazzling panoply of choices.

If I were to be challenged to a duel I could easily see myself suggesting as a weapon, Marshmallow Peeps at ten paces. Thanks to Amazon's automation and memory for detail, I wouldn't lack for resupply when the ammo ran low but not the Praise.
-bill kenny

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Hint of the Century

I was so consumed with pushing clocks forward last Saturday night/Sunday morning (total lie: I spent a not inconsiderable time moving clocks forward on Sunday after I'd gotten up, having set my bedroom clock forward and there's always one I miss-the clock in the a car. In our house my wife handles all time measurement.) that I lost sight of the fact that it was the First Sunday of Lent.

Ash Wednesday came and went and let no mark (pun intended) though I did pause to remember with some nostalgia the comfort, in retrospect, I took from being a loyal son of Holy Mother Church. As you've surely realized no later than the past tense of the verb in the preceding sentence, I am a fallen away Roman Catholic.

No rant and not even an Apostate's Screed (I am rather proud of that one) just a sense of regret over the hole in what may have been my soul when, from a very limited perspective on life on Earth (my point of view), I decided God and I should see other people.

To be honest, when I was a practicing Catholic, I wasn't kidding anyone. I was never going to turn pro and knew it, only moments after everyone else did. Moving from a public elementary school to a parochial one, and crawling from the wreckage of that encounter fixed me. I suspect the Sisters of Charity who had toiled without surcease but also with little success were probably not upset when our paths diverged after graduation.

When I came across this article I smiled in a fashion approximating what "wanly" might look like though I have been accused at times of smirking. I'm not sure if that were indeed what I were doing if that would be a venal sin and where on the scale it would go, but I have no doubt someone, somewhere tracks all of this.

On a day whose date I will never know, I'll have an opportunity to discover Nelson's not the only mandela in the universe and learn the difference between dharma and karma, but it could be distinction without difference and that was just a dream.
-bill kenny

Friday, March 14, 2014

Lionel or Inns and Suites

I have a soft place in my heart for Florida and not just because my Mom lives there year round (and only that long because she can't figure out how to live there even longer). As a certified Four Season Feaster of the Northeast for far too many years, she's long since earned the right to toast and roast to her heart's desire.

Actually, the thoughts of her mapping out her day to include just the right amount of beach has helped me through the long, cold and snowy, but mainly really cold, winter we've been having in these parts. After all, it was Florida almost a decade an a half ago that helped spark a Sixties Revival in at least half of the Brit-pop duo, Chad & Jeremy, that lasted longer than their hit, Summer Song. That long already-the years go by much too fast, don't they?

Actually, speaking of fast times and Florida, I fell across this story in (where else?) the New York Times and smiled because it rings true at so many levels and I have never ever been anywhere near Hampton, which I'm sure is beautiful.

I especially love (not intending to ruin it for you) the passage near the end of the story where one of the subjects protests that she is in no way 'some criminal mastermind.'

Ma'am, I think the point of the current state investigation has been an attempt to prove that assertion, at least the mastermind part. Talk about Raw Democracy, this is some singular stuff.

I'm sure we have cases across Connecticut that would remind someone from Florida a great deal of Hampton-I just realized, I think we have a Hampton, yep, but all I keep seeing is Barbara Bach in those Daisy Dukes (Ringo, you got some 'splaaining to do) as Boss Hogg schemes and dreams as only we can not just in Evening Shade, Arkansas but in bedrock Americana like Hampton.
 -bill kenny

Thursday, March 13, 2014

First World Problems Have a New Zip Code

Where ever you are living in the world, unless it's as my neighbor here in The Land of Steady Habits, Connecticut, you have my sympathy. I've only been here about twenty-two and a half years so it had escaped my notice but we have, it seems (obviously), solved all the major, and minor, challenges facing us as a small, aging population with mostly obsolete skills, state in the Northeastern part of the United States.

I mean to say, we must have if our (part-time) state legislators have decided to take on Hollywood and be the first state in the country to turn down the volume of movies at cinemas across the state. I cannot make this stuff up, though technically the Associated Press' John Cristoffersen could I suppose, though why is another question entirely.

I confess my first reaction was WHAT? You or I might look at a legislative agenda where an item like this pops up and wonder 'why not just stay home that day rather than burn daylight on this?' Bearing in mind, not just in my state but in yours as well, many of those in state legislative chairs will be there until they decide to NOT seek re-election or die in office.

Seats at the state legislative level across this nation are like chairs on the New York Stock Exchange or personal seat licenses at an NFL stadium. Once you're in, you're in. Forever.

I mention that because the Connecticut state government has (almost) criminally been pooching municipalities since the late 1980's and passage of the Teachers' Enhancement Act in how much of the costs of paying our public school teachers are borne by the state and how much locally. Ideally, the split is 50/50 but it has never been that and it continues to skew south in favor of the state with each page turn of the calendar. Every two years there's a lot of talk about 'fixing the math' but all we do is talk and never fix.

The rate of reimbursement for Payment in Lieu of Taxes, PILOT, continues a slow, downward spiral and don't talk to public employees about how much or well of their pension plan is funded, per state law, by the same legislature (and Governor, sometimes of the same majority party in the state house but sometimes not) who has mastered the art of magic bookkeeping so brilliantly that the last gubernatorial election here sort of turned on a pledge by one candidate to tell the truth when it came to accounting and reporting the budget.

We voted him in but then learned his pledge was to tell his truth and for the most part, we shrugged as taxes were raised again on items that in may other places on earth aren't taxed at all. Between turning down the movies and expanding the 'returnables' list of of glass and plastic containers for which (in theory) a consumer pays a deposit that s/he collects when recycling the containers, we are, as an older generation once suggested, 'farting through silk' because we just don't have anything more serious to worry about.

Aging and aged transportation infrastructure that makes riding a local bus nearly a pipe dream and has rendered regional rail non-existent while our highways and bridges crumble and commuter rail like Metro North plays hooky for mechanical failures three times and more a month....

But we're getting a handle on the volume of movies in our local theaters. Thank goodness. When it comes time to make a documentary on The Nutmeg State in the 21st Century, I'm thinking a title like Silent Scream, perhaps narrated by Marcel Marceau.
 -bill kenny

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Vox Populi but Whisper

At the risk of angering “The Most Interesting Man in the World” I would offer that I don’t always go to Norwich public meetings, but when I do, I wear elbow pads, a helmet and other protective gear. Surprisingly (for me) I keep my mouth shut and try to pay attention to the product and process of governance.

I go to a lot of meetings involving all manner of volunteers who offer their time and talents, and often toil and tears, as a way of helping make where all of us live a bit better today than it was yesterday.

I get to be a horn once a week around here in my local newspaper to the despair of Literacy Volunteers everywhere, honking about whatever in my state of self-absorption I think deserves your attention. That sometimes there’s not nearly as much thinking as there is shouting and pointing is all my doing and thank you for your patience and forgiveness.

The real work, from getting the ball fields ready for the Little League season through a line by line review of the city’s operating manual, our charter, to serving on any of a number of boards or committees, is what lights us up as a city and brightens every street and house.

Our neighbors, those who volunteer on our elected bodies, the City Council and the Board of Education, appreciate the truth of Harry Truman’s advice (applicable officeholders everywhere) “(i)f you want a friend, buy a dog.”

As the winter snow melts and budget deliberations for the city’s next fiscal year heat up before the first robin of spring has even arrived, we should all have important work to do in defining what we, the residents and consumers (if you will) of municipal goods and services, expect from our city and what we are willing, and able to pay. And speaking of money.

The City Council’s agenda for this Monday night at 6:30 came thisclose to including a public hearing redefining the paid fire department as a “general benefit and for general governmental purposes, the cost of which shall be borne by all of the inhabitants of the city of Norwich.”

What was driving this, said some, was fairness; others suggested it was a matter of more tax dollars. We may never know because while the history of a separate and additional tax levy for the City Consolidated District, CCD, goes back to the middle Sixties, we have worked hard for decades to never have a meaningful and fact-driven debate and decision about it. And we still haven’t.

We all agree ‘something must be done’ but the something? That’s the rub. People prefer a problem that’s familiar to a solution that is not. We can get so passionate we fail to remember in this city there should be no “them”-just “us.” An informed discussion on the issues requires we open our ears and minds much more than we open our mouths. Let’s talk to, not at, one another. And don’t raise your voice, improve your argument.
 -bill kenny

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Alles Gute zum Geburtstag

I make my living with words. In my little more than six decades here on the Big Blue Marble I have used my allotted share and probably most of yours already. So on that rare occurrence when I have had the good fortune to pretty well nail what I wanted to say about a given occasion, I've decided there's no value but only vanity in rebuilding some revisited sentiments that were and, remain, as good as it's gonna get. What follows isn't "new" but "true."

Tomorrow, despite my decades-long wheedling, cajoling and campaigning, will NOT be a national holiday, though I'm hoping we do celebrate it pretty large at my house. It will be my wife's birthday. That she has spent a majority of her years on this planet in my company is a testimonial to her patience and deep love rather than a refection or implication of any skill or ability on my part.

I won't go through the how we met on Christmas Day evening story again (except for that right there), or how as I was proposing she at first thought I was suggesting we go our separate ways (even then I had a gift for speaking in tongues other than my own) and there are few around who know just how awkward and expensive the question "where do I sign?" actually can be as well as I and my best man, Chris, the day she and I wed.

Suffice it to say, the first time I saw her I knew I would marry her and from that day to this, I have enjoyed the life she has created for us and our children because she was the one so doing. When we met I didn't eat chicken and I hated rice (private joke) among other foods I now enjoy on a regular basis. My life is proof positive that anyone, no matter how crippled inside, can be transformed through love.

Little did she knew when she said 'yes' that when you buy a ticket, you get the whole ride, but she's been around for all of it, and, from my perspective, has been the best part of it for me every day, sometimes the only part worth anything. I cannot imagine anyone more perfect with whom to spend my life and cannot help but marvel at how smart(er) I was back in the day to so rapidly realize how truly marvelous she is and to always hold her  in my arms and in my heart.

"It must be something only you can see, because I feel it when you look at me. So tonight I'll ask the stars above how did I ever win your love? What did I do, what did I say to turn your angel eyes my way?"
-bill kenny

Monday, March 10, 2014

Len Barry Would Be Thrilled

I had to do something and a Len Barry reference seemed most appropriate. Let me explain, or try. For reasons that had a lot more to do with the mechanics of the treadmill in the fitness center than any form of iron discipline and control I might be pretending to have, for most of my session yesterday, as measured by the two cross handles that keep me from being dragged off the device, my heart rate was a steady 123.

I cracked myself up all the while struggling on the treadmill when I realized that and then sort of made a game out of how steady I could keep going so that the heartbeat number never wavered. Of course, I've read the disclaimers on the label (understanding is another matter entirely) and appreciate the display doesn't purport to be accurate but what does the manufacturer know? How did we all decide what an "A" sounds like or how to write in "Q" in cursive. And what smell does the number nine actually have? (I still think backwards it says 'cranberry sauce') The line between real and surreal often is narrow and when you add cereal, it's part of a good breakfast.

I've returned to the fitness center after the roto-rooter surgery (my doctor's term) on the artery in my right leg and with his knowledge and agreement. He stipulated I NOT lift anything heavy (like our National Debt or Crisis of Conscience) and to call him immediately if while treadmilling (treading? milling?) it starts to hurt.

That makes me giggle, too, since I'm usually at the fitness center around four in the morning (do not ask what time the bars close) and can only imagine what an otherwise very polite and mild-mannered person becomes when awakened in the dark of night by a Wisenheimer (from the Von Wisenheimer Family of Upper Ober-Knerdelheim).

With my luck, should there need to be a 'next time' he'll be the one with the scalpel and I'm just now remembering how painful the location of the incision was and how with very little additional provocation on my part how much MORE painful it could be next time. Like taking candy, from a baby.
-bill kenny

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Carpe Diem (Plus One)

This is a blast from my past that I think was and is still appropriate.
Your mileage may vary. I won't even mention your enjoyment and neither will you.

If you're just reading this and you think it's early Sunday, and technically the first Sunday of Lent, it may in fact be much later than you think. While you were out, be it cold, cutting a rug or working a swing shift, we have leapt forward here in North America (void where taxed or prohibited by law) and at oh dark early this morning returned Daylight Savings Time to the vernacular.

I'm not sure why we do it early on Sundays-what would be so terrible about a Friday afternoon at four suddenly becoming five? Good night, everybody! And have a great weekend! Instead we do one of those 'say! isn't that Elvis over there riding a bike eating one of them sammiches?' MOVE THE CLOCK FORWARD maneuvers.

For a while, whether winter is now finally in retreat in the Northeast or not (from my typing finger to God's eye on the dollar bill), what we'll have is more daylight in the afternoons. I'm a big fan of daylight, period; unless/until I'm trying to sleep then I like it dark as, well, dark as night (really thought that was going somewhere; need to contact Simile School and Analogy Academy to ask about their refunds policy before I end up clerking at Metaphor Mall).

Having the time is one thing-doing something with it is something else. I'm not going to lecture or hector because each of us is who each of us are but there are people and projects in need of your time and talents, be it on your street, neighborhood, city or state.

Consider it an exercise in bread upon the waters and unless you're expecting soggy rye to show up on the shoreline, your return on the investment, from reading to a child at the local library, helping an elderly neighbor grocery shop or just visiting someone who's a shut-in will benefit more people than of whom we can conceive in our poor imagination.

Outshine the sun. We have extra time, so why not burn it? Start today and fall through like change in the daylight. It's alright.
-bill kenny



Saturday, March 8, 2014

I'm Gonna Be Careful for Brussels

Living no small part of my life as I do on-line and in the blogosphere (reminds of a sign I always see in Willimantic, Connecticut, for a restaurant which purports to be (have?) 'Pizzarama.' I've no idea what that might mean unless it's a variant of this.) I hear from people motivated or perhaps provoked into sharing with me about a turn of phrase, what they think is my perspective on any given day or who need to tell me what an unshirted bozo I am (and with our winter in these parts, that hasn't been very easy to do).

I enjoy the notes, or have convinced myself I do. I remember from a different life, The Other Bill (TOB) offering a scale to measure radio listener feedback in the era when there were No Interwebs (after the meteor shower killed the dinosaurs but before Al Gore arrived on the scene) and listeners actually wrote letters with addresses on the front and postage to deliver them. Yep, legendary times.

Anyway, and I don't get the particulars correct, his scale gave a point to someone who typed you a letter, five points to a handwritten missive on 'regular' paper in ink and so on, ever upwards until he gave (something like) 500 points to anything written on a napkin in grease pencil or crayon.

His point being that a note such as that was nearly priceless because it meant that something you had done or said on-air had so moved your listener they were compelled to respond. Makes me old just thinking about it.

My point is we live in an era where machines write and read for us and sometimes without us at all. The process whereby I write this, a part (though I know not how of Google) called "Blogger" has, based on algorithms, typed like I know what phrase means when I don't, created a filter that grabs what it (and all of us) calls 'spam' (what, I wonder, do the fine folks of Hormel think of the appropriation of their somewhat gelatinous nearly-meat intellectual property? Probably the same as they think of this) from the comments section and stores them in a non-visible (to you) limbo where at my leisure, I can examine and re-add them to a posting or dispatch them into the void.

 I'm amazed at the amount of this stuff that accrues like barnacles on a boat's bow in the course of a day and how much of it is machine-authored though the purpose of all the mentions of a variety of pharmaceuticals and erectile dysfunctional correctives is impossible for me to fully understand or appreciate.

In the last couple of days perhaps because the winds of the Web are forcing the electronic flotsam and jetsam to wash up on my shores, I have been having a fire sale on spam with the phrase "I'm gonna be careful for Brussels."

I suspect for the computers authoring the line it's the equivalent of humans who get tattoos on prominent personal pieces of epidermis with words or characters in languages other than their own without understanding what those tattoos 'say' to people literate in those languages.

Between those folks and the computers, while I fear the End of Days will find us all in a very crowded Belgian capital, I also suspect we'll be very safe.
 -bill kenny

Friday, March 7, 2014

Half a Hundred Tries Later

Here's some news from the newsroom floor I came across while sweeping up shortly before Closing Time. It's no longer immediate or current or even urgent (actually it was never urgent) but it says a lot about who we are as a nation and how far we've come.

Whether we've lost our direction, I leave for your personal speculation and hope you'll reciprocate but if I still had a soul, these are the times that would try it. As it is, all I have is Pain(e).

I share my life with a lover who grew up in another country and culture shaped far more by the triumph of arms by mine than I believe either of us fully appreciate. I've always wondered and worried if there are as many things we do that she doesn't fully appreciate as there were for me when we lived in her country. Sometimes, I'm very glad if she does have questions that she doesn't ask them because my paucity of answers is reaching epic dimensions.

And it doesn't look like the players preening and pouting on our national stage, in both wings of the theater so to speak, are doing much to still the disquiet. I fear all of this cognitive and political dissonance is part of a larger disease/infection or perhaps more ominously, a Plague, in which we, as adult Americans, no longer speak TO one another but, rather, AT one another.

We have opted to trade slogans rather than discuss solutions and demonize anyone who disagrees with us. Our political processes seem to always include search for the guilty and scapegoating though neither one has ever contributed to helping a single human being.

 Somewhere, somehow, the Land of Round Doorknobs and unbegrenzten Möglichkeiten stopped being about having ideals and choosing the best ideas for the most people (the nearly legendary, 'greater good') and became choosing a prom king and queen while we shopped for personalities. Now we are reduced to a dialogue that more often resembles a diatribe of "love me, love my dog" or "and the horse you rode in on"  and we are surprised. It's so sad about us.

We have the brightest generation of uniformed men and women (and all shades of the rainbow in-between) in the course of our country's existence who are better educated, clothed, and nourished,  all outfitted with the most impressive and variegated arsenal in the history of war-making defending our One Nation under God, void where taxed or prohibited by law, that has ceased to exist for many of those who swore to defend it from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

Instead of fixing things and helping people we apportion blame and try to get none of it on us. The same hand that can help instead points at 'those others' on whom we blame our misfortunes. It's a miracle we haven't outlawed the sale of mirrors by now since many days, I get nauseous at the sight of the abomination I have become while staring into it. Breaking it is an option, if I can handle the seven years of bad luck which makes me wonder how many have we destroyed and how many more are left?
-bill kenny

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Widow's Mite and What Might Befall Us All

This isn't news, I know, and I apologize to Omar and the Howlers for appropriating their sentiment as well as their song title, when looking around at what I can only believe is Hard Times in the Land of Plenty.

We read about it every day and a not inconsequential part of our politics at the national and state level is arguing about into how many pieces we can slice an ever-dwindling pie. The discussion, such as it is, often overlooks that not only don't all of us have pie, so much as we possess neither plates nor forks.

This very hard winter has made The Invisible Poor far less and so far more often right here in our region and our city. There are more and more people shivering in the cold, clutching cardboard signs at exits and entrances to shopping malls and stores seeking work, shelter or food, sometimes all. I lack the resources to help them and I can't watch them nor can I look away. There but for the grace....

Yesterday one of our local newspapers had a story on the impact the hungry and homeless are feared to be having on efforts to use our riverine resources to attract outdoor recreationalists. Read it for yourself.

I hope you'll agree it's a well-written article by a very hard-working young reporter that is very even-toned in its assessment and report. There are no good guys and bad guys, heroes and villains, here-it's a sad situation and we each need all the help we can get to work out of it.

That's why I was saddened and sickened by a reader's reaction, "just put them all in jail!" President Lyndon Baines Johnson, LBJ, as part of his Great Society declared a War on Poverty that, despite so many well-meaning people working together, seems a half century later to more closely resemble the 100 Years' War. That's just an aside to my attempt at a point on the reader's reaction that so disheartens me.

The poster, as is his write/right, adds, "they hang in front of modanna (sic) place drinking and drugging all day and no one does anything to stop them!" If I may: if you're going to hate on people for what has happened to them and for events over which they may not have control (suggested in the article itself) it might be nice to learn to spell the location of the place you think is the nexus.

In my lifetime, we have gone from a War on Poverty to attacking the poor. If you're more than a paycheck away from being in a cardboard lean-to, covered with a plastic bag to keep the cold out, then you have my congratulations because a LOT of us aren't.

And how the hell does a broken box and a plastic garbage bag keep single digit temperatures from chilling and killing anyone forced by circumstance and otherwise to live like that?

The effort to enhance revenue streams and increase the tax flow for the city is just the ticket we need and I'm fortunate to know the very generous man (with both his time and treasure) who's attempting to raise awareness on an issue he sees as a challenge requiring all of our efforts.

And he's right and if more of us can agree we need to treat one another with the same dignity and compassion we would wish for ourselves, we would all be a lot better off. In terms of the Widow's Mite, I confess I've never been good at quoting the Bible, Old or New Testament, so you'll have to look it up for yourself but I can't help but notice how rarely even those, maybe especially those, who can and do quote are willing to live its words everyday in their own lives.

The poverty reflected in our wallets need not find its echo in our hearts and souls. No one wins unless everyone wins. Hand-wringing is not help-bringing. Amen.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

When Irish Eyes Are Smiling

When you have my last name, every day is St. Patrick's Day but I must confess my surprise when I learned that, weather permitting, Norwich's St. Patrick's Day Parade is this Sunday afternoon, stepping off at one from Ferry Street, practically across from the Otis Library on Main Street.

I think much of my surprise was the realization that this will be the Inaugural Parade. We have a terrific assortment of community celebrations for the various cultures and their contributions to our city throughout the year with festivities and feasting so forgive my bias as someone whose middle name is Patrick when I wonder, "Cad Thog chomh fada?" (what took so long). 

Actually, I'm trying to start a rumor that we've been using the other festivals as practice for Sunday's Parade, but I do not think that'll catch on, though I am hoping, based on the success of this Sunday's parade, that we can have one once a week or at least annually.

Here's the website that has all the details, from the downtown route march through how to buy a commemorative tee-shirts, to include the best places to park (let's not have that tired, old 'jeepers! there's never any parking in Norwich!' argument again, okay? Besides, I'm all out of jeepers, or should I say O'jeepers in honor of the parade?).

If you feel like marching you will not be alone as friends from as far away as New London and New Haven will be joined by some/all or part of the Norwich City Council and the Mayor, as well as members of the Police Department, Yantic Fire Department, the Fields School Marching Band and a whole lot more local and regional agencies and businesses.

It makes perfect sense to have so many people in motion as I can tell you that the Irish have a history of moving (how do you suppose there came to be so many of Hibernian heritage here in the USA in the first place?). The route looks to be about a half a mile through downtown, long enough to work up a broad grin but short enough to not break a sweat. And if you'd prefer you can pick a spot along the route to sit and enjoy the music, marching and merriment.

Eventually like the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade Perhaps we'll have helium filled balloons of Colcannon and Soda Bread though I fear the harbor ducks might be a bit rough on the latter but after the inaugural parade, there's a street festival with eat and drink and fun for the young and young at heart.

There promises to be corned beef and cabbage and a variety of both traditional and otherwise adult beverages to quaff a marcher's thirst as well as face painting and other activities. I used to hear as a child, "(i) f there were only three Irishmen in the world, you'd find two of them in a corner talking about the other one." Sunday, let's give 'em something to talk about.
-bill kenny 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Remember the Fuchsia

I went down the hall yesterday to retrieve a document I had hoped (usually forlornly so this was a pleasant surprise) to print and was greeted with what, for the printer, was the equivalent of a Shakespearean soliloquy in the message box on the front. "Magenta cartridge is in need of immediate attention; check #2 paper tray as well." I very much liked that "as well" touch of humanity; almost as if there were a tiny person in the machine sending an SOS to the world.

The more I thought about it the less the message surprised me. I would have NO idea how many words the machine prints every day from a bout a dozen users some, believe it or not, even more prolix than I. It stands to reason a few of the words would be retained in the buffer someplace and reserved for the printer's use to deploy as needed. For instance when the magenta cartridge is in need of attention.

That's why I had to use that title today, circumstances insisted upon it. Besides, who doesn't like Nektar? Can you have a written rhetorical question? And is that a second one right there? And speaking of something else entirely, exactly which color is magenta and where does it show up on the color wheel? More imponderables.

Fell across a great article if you are related to me by blood, especially if you're a son or a brother of mine. We don't live in the Ozarks so you can only be one or the other not and the other. I was diagnosed a diabetic about a decade ago, perhaps even a little longer. And I just heard at least two people thinking "that explains a lot" which is not only hurtful but also less than correct. Politically and otherwise.

I'm very fortunate in that I'm not on insulin but have reasonably decent control on the disease through diet, exercise and medication. For some of the Kenny men, beyond the three original founding partners of the firm, Grandpa is semi-mythical as he had shuffled off this mortal coil before many of us were born but I don't recall in my life, or his (now that I think about it) his ever being diagnosed as a diabetic but a lot of the tell-tale signs of the illness were evident with him, but he wasn't a fan of doctors so a diagnosis would have been very unlikely. If you're keeping track at home, calling people a Polish thief is not one of the symptoms of diabetes.

As the first male child, chronologically, to cross all the bridges (so far (and no, that isn't a Chris Christie joke, though thanks for the thought), I tend to fret for my siblings first (it's in the job description for oldest child, you can look it up) and then for my own children. This type of hard-won knowledge will at some point down the line result in a 'breakthrough' that was a decade or more in coming and will be of some use and more value to the sons of the brothers though not so much the brothers themselves.

And that's all good as "You are me and that's the way it's always been, you are me."
-bill kenny

Monday, March 3, 2014

Not the Encounter Spielberg Thought

I worry sometimes if The Founding Fathers and Mothers could see the muddle we've made of their democracy they might take George Bernard Shaw at his word and tear up the Declaration of Independence.

I'm old enough to have almost met Carl Schurz in person, we went to different high schools together judging by our varsity jackets, but I still admire his thoughtful position on wrapping oneself in the flag or as is more commonly the case in our current political climate when confronted by positions on issues not to one's liking, sticking Old Glory in one's ears with one's fingers and la-la-la-ing at the top of one's lungs. And as Harry wrote and Three Dog sang....

So America in 2014 is still arguing over the Second Amendment, the entire amendment not just the parts that suit one side or the other of the never ending debate conducted while innocent citizens become casualties and now, as I understand this news story, the separation of church and state are, along with batteries, sold separately (but equally).

I suppose this use of tax money is better than another Bridge to Nowhere but only just barely and I'm not all that sure of my math. As someone who has checked out the Pastafarians in recent months, I would concede I live in a Lucite if not actually glass house and the only Stones in whose presence I should be are Rolling, but I worry, again, about why we fear science and when this happened.

If you want to believe Moses rode down Mount Sinai on a dinosaur with the Ten Commandments, or Suggestions (based on how many of them we pay any attention to), that is entirely your business. UNTIL and UNLESS you take my tax money to build a museum, a puppet theater, a cigar box, an oil painting or a PowerPoint presentation offering your perspective as The Truth (definite article deliberate).

We shout one another down in the halls of Congress and shoot one another down in the streets of every city in our nation. The notion of free elections has become obsolete as every campaign for every office becomes a consultant exercise where an open debate and exchange of ideas on various topics is reduced to creating wedge issues and pinpointing a handful of critical voters and the devil take the hindmost.

Makes me wonder what animals Ken Ham's Noah failed to get aboard the Ark and how many of them knew how to swim.
-bill kenny

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Country Mouse in the Land of Concrete and Glass Mountains

Thelma and Louise and I spent yesterday afternoon in Providence, technically in a separate entity from Providence, at Providence Place. It wasn't exactly where I thought we would go in search of something I know one of us wanted to replace but I found myself in agreement as we left and headed North.

On its best day, for reasons that have a lot to do with me and nothing to do with it, Providence will never be on my list of favorite places. From the time I went to look at Brown when I was a senior at Carteret Academy for Boys (yes, I was, and am, one of those people), I've never warmed to the city. I always feel like I'm in Newark when I wanted New York. Poor Providence always feels like a consolation prize for Boston.

The Mall has precious little to do with the city, truth be told and has its own exit off of I-95. That we headed up there via 95 has a lot to do with genuine lack of enthusiasm by the time we got there as I suspect everyone on the East Coast from (possibly) Maryland to Maine decided to go there yesterday.

I have no idea what either Connecticut or Rhode Island did with the gasoline excise tax money supposedly dedicated to highway infrastructure, by the same token the Feds as well as I-95 in a Federal Road, but they must have spent it on candy as none of it went to repairs of the roadways. Check their teeth and call their dentists.

I need little provocation to became an idjit behind the wheel and by the time we arrived at Providence Place I was in full idjit mode. There are more stores than you can imagine and at least twice as many as you'd ever need in one lifetime all under one roof and we had, all three of us, a  very pleasant afternoon despite my white s=knuckles and gargoyle like grimace for sometime after we'd arrived.

Eventually the blood returned to my hands and my tensed facial features relaxed though I will concede we're talking relative degrees of  'ugly enough to make a train run on a dirt road' (courtesy of Dave "Lips" Malone). And we stopped for dinner on our way out and caught the dying rays of the setting sun as we headed home, fearing that by this time tonight we may be staring into the teeth of Winter Storm Titan (why not Terence, or Terry? Sounds friendly and folksy not fearsome). Talk about Bright Lights and Big City. We had ourselves a time and no redwoods were harmed in the making of our adventure.
-bill kenny

Saturday, March 1, 2014

So This Is Better than Nothing?

I had every intention of working on something more suited, dare I say a touch more lyrical,to mark the first of March. And I have nothing. A head full of hospital aches and pains that I hope continue to recede as the days slowly lengthen and warm.

I'm doing lots of nothing today-okay, I'm hoping there's an exhibition game on YES with the Yankees or I'll watch the Red Sox if I have to (checking to see if you're wearing your BoSox), anything to help me think that the winter is ending even if the weather and the calendar aren't holding out a large amount of hope yet.


This time last year we were still talking about Nemo, pictured above and I can only hope when (or do I mean if?) this winter ends, that we don't have fodder for similar tales. I still get cold looking at those photos and we have had more chill this winter than is to my liking so if the typing gets sloppy, it's because I'm wearing gloves.
-bill kenny