Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Eh?

Raised on Mr. Wizard and grown old (though not wise) with Bill Nye and Neil de Grasse Tyson, I revere science and technology and vastly benefit from it on a daily basis, as do we all, without understanding much more than half a lick of any of it. 

I’ve read a great deal about Michael Faraday, but all I get out of any of the material is when I turn on the wall switch the overhead light comes on. And when it doesn’t I click the switch a few hundred times in the hopes it will now.  

But speaking of dim bulbs and light switches, I heard about this international cooperative effort on the ABC News station of my Slacker Radio smartphone package while pounding away on the cross trainer at my Planet Fitness center in the wee small hours yesterday morning and was entranced-okay, I was also a little winded but mostly entranced, at the possibilities. 

I understand it’s not on the order of the International Space Station or the Manhattan Project (though thanks to Space X, the two do resemble one another more than intended), but what a wonderful ‘one small step for mankind.’

Perhaps, depending on how often you say the magic phrase, a slightly wobbly step, but stay home for the holiday (either Canada Day this Wednesday, 1 July or our own Fourth of July) and your room of consumption will eventually stop spinning ‘round though the fool on the hill will remain perfectly still. With apologies to Kiss and kabuki enthusiasts everywhere, shout it out loud.

Part of me hopes in the interests of inclusion, they’ll program it to respond to “I Am Spartacus,” but the chances of getting Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis  to wear toques are about the same as my success in stopping the electricity leakage by taping my wall outlets shut. Good Day
- bill kenny  

Monday, June 29, 2015

Burke and Niemoller Say to Stand Up

I live in Southeastern Connecticut, specifically in Norwich which, says happyzebra.com,, is 5,907.8 miles from Baghdad, Iraq.


I think the visual is a nice touch. It's what's called in the biz an 'embedded learning object,' and as we all know there's no biz like show biz. Enhances and deepens understanding say folks who get paid large amounts of money to tell me stuff like that (explains my wallet).

I don't need a visual to understand that a year after they started popping up in news service feeds from the four corners of the globe, ISIS, or ISIL or DAIISH , are very definitely a human plague of incalculable magnitude.

Were they to be restricted to/confined in the "Middle East" they would be horrible enough but these zealots who murder in the name of their own perversion of a Divinity so awful that S/He, in Her/His infinite wisdom, would not recognize itself in their belief system, are the perfect version of Churchill's fanatic. They will not change their minds and they cannot change the subject.

I/you/we can continue to worry about what Kim and Kanye will call their next baby, or what Marvel comic will get turned into which movie in the next decade and get so butt-deep in the minutiae stream that we can nearly forget about the barbarians at the gates, but they won't forget about us.

And we have the voices of the past, and the lessons they offer us if we choose to listen, from whom to learn. If you're someone bearing a strong resemblance to about half the folks seeking the Republican Party's nomination for President who believes that Arabs and Muslims (they're not one and the same. sorry FNC) haven't strongly said 'enough is enough' you're wrong.

One more embedded learning object to underscore the point of today's lesson? Only if you insist.


Silence is murder and murder is always evil.
- bill kenny

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Four Words Forever

It's funny how people prove to be bigger (and often better) than the labels we, in our intellectual haste and arrogance, slap on them. The last ten days have proven to be that way for the caped crusaders who work at 1 First Street Northeast, Washington DC, 20543.

Not sure how revolutionary or evolutionary any of changes that result from decisions by Chief Justice John Roberts and the rest of The Supremes will be one hundred years from now but at this moment I'd offer they've made a much larger impact together than any of the Presidents who individually nominated them or the Congresses which approved them could have ever imagined.

The big excitement was early in the day on Thursday though it wasn't as gripping a read as Dashiell Hammet's The Glass Key, it was still quite a good one. One that we'll be talking about, or at least members of one political party will be, through the Presidential elections next year.

If you're looking for a good snooze, you might want to check out the decision rendered on this past Thursday the 25th reference the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs et al Inclusive Communities Project et al but you'd be wrong in terms of excitement. I always think when you have ET as a plaintiff, it's a tough fight, but then again I have a bike without a basket.  

Of course, on Friday, for some the world ended while for others it began anew. And for those in the former camp, I recall a sunrise yesterday morning and am confident, depending on what time today you're coming across this, we'll have another one, just like all the other ones, today as well.

Not sure my little brain understands all the hullaballoo since I can read simple English and understood the conclusions were foregone when you read what's over the doorway, "Equal Justice For All."


-bill kenny

Saturday, June 27, 2015

A Rather Snappy Little Tune

Almost thirty million Americans have diabetes; one in four of us doesn’t yet know it. I’m not in that  group. In the interests of full disclosure, I should tell you I have Type 2 diabetes. I control it with reasonable effectiveness through diet, exercise, and medication. Actually, with lots of medication that I will take every day for the rest of my life for as long as I continue to like typing “for the rest of my life.” 

Type 2 diabetes or adult onset, as it's sometimes called, is often seen as akin to a self-inflicted wound. Lifestyle choices, in what to eat and drink and how much care I take of myself have a great deal to do with my diabetes. Your diabetes or that of someone you know and love could be very different in many aspects but have as a sad similarity a frightening number of serious illnesses and medical conditions that it helps exacerbate. In my case, everything from impaired healing after surgery to retinopathy. 

There’s no need to feel sorry for me as I do a good job of that all by myself and I’m very competitive. I'm a cautionary tale. If you wanted to spare a thought for those with Type 1 diabetes, that, I think, would be more than appropriate and probably much appreciated. 

A donation to help with research even more especially, though truth to tell with the escalating rates of diabetes, research seems to be bailing out the ocean with a teaspoon.  Actually all the annual donations don’t even come close to offsetting the one billion dollars the American Beverage Association spends on advertising to encourage the consumption of their most popular product, sugary soda. 

Some have pointed out the chances of finding your name on the side of an insulin vial pale in comparison to that of a can of the real thing. Maybe it’s time to change the tune.
-bill kenny

Friday, June 26, 2015

Skin in the Game

I take a great deal of comfort from my belief in karma which allows me to rationalize before I close my eyes at night that all the evil and horrible things I did to people during the preceding day they (somehow) had coming to them.
It’s always the simple lies that help us sleep…

I’m thinking maybe the universe shares my belief. What else should I conclude when an article is called, “Report Says Erectile Dysfunctional Drugs Increases Skin Cancer Risk”? So much for sitting in adjoining bathtubs with a smile as your umbrella I guess.    

All this time I had assumed the greatest danger was risk of injury in a horseshoe pitching competition immediately after taking an ED aid. Curiously, I’ve never read/heard of any reports noting an uptick in calls to the Guinness Records Book people for any reason. Of course, unlike eating before swimming in that instance you’re supposed to wait for four hours.


The report on the (very, very) preliminary research did NOT suggest to me that scientists had any specific insights into where men were getting skin cancer, but between us. I think we can guess. Some advice, much like Coppertone, cannot be slathered on often enough, and we may have the research to prove it.
-bill kenny

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Time for a New Lesson

I’ve spent a large part of my sixty-three years (and counting) on the planet trying, and not always succeeding, in understanding my own behavior and motivation on everything from actively disliking almost all seafood to an irrational passion for the New York Yankees.

I’m wired the way I am because of heredity, environment, and life experiences. So are you. Good and bad, Sekt Oder Selters, we are each the way we are. Not better than one another and certainly not worse, but different. And those differences between us are a way to recognize each of us as unique.

Another is how much we have in common, despite our differences. Our biology is the same regardless of our religion or skin color or fondness for pistachio ice cream. With my apologies to Reggie Jackson, we are each in her/his own way more than able to be the straw that stirs the drink every day and any day.

I have no deeper insight than does anyone else on this as to what clicked the switch inside the head of that white young man in Charleston, South Carolina, last week. If I did, I’d have offered it by now and you wouldn’t be able to shut me up about it. But I have no words, and only sorrow without surcease because the firestorm of reaction we are experiencing is not the first and, more importantly will not be the last time.


I don’t know what I don’t know, but I do know this: It’s not guns, or flags, or skin color or left-handedness that’s the root of our national crisis. We are

If I'm arrogant and foolish enough to think I’m better than you because of (insert right here however many excuses masquerading as reasons as you’d like) WE have a problem and all the talk about anything else will NOT fix it.

In the midst of all the attempted conversations in large and small groups across this country in recent days, I found this article online and knew in the marrow of my bones that we still haven’t unlearned all the stupid stuff we need to if we are to move forward as one nation, under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. 
We’ve got to be carefully taught, starting today because tomorrow is too late
-bill kenny

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Please Don't Dominate the Rap, Jack

Now that the shouting and pointing, posturing and politicking are done for another municipal budget year, what have we learned, assuming we learned anything at all.

It seems to me we have NOT yet learned that budgets are a political process that ideally, define desired goods, outcomes and services and then deliver the appropriate amount of public financing to those agencies and departments to pay for those efforts.

We continue to make the process personal which is helpful only when you seek someone to bless or to blame. Instead of looking at an incendiary situation like paying for public education, we get distracted by artificial distinctions (such as I saw repeatedly on-line this year in the comments' section) between property owners and renters. I realize there is a tendency to include as part of any solution a step that involves searching for the guilty, but I've never seen anyone achieve any permanent, long-term solutions by scapegoating.

I'm told it's a part of our nature to believe that "for me to look good, you (whoever you are, from the acting City Manager to the Superintendent of Schools) need to look bad." Based on the frequency with which we do this to one another, it seems to be regarded as true. There's no gain to this game, but we play it rather than seek to directly address the challenges we collectively face.

And who can blame us? Life is hard. And developing a different model of government that involves lowering our voices and our expectations has so far proved to be too hard for us to do. People prefer problems that are familiar to solutions that are not.

Money, often blamed as the root of all evil, is in reality the root of our discord and discontent. We want everything we've always wanted, but we want more of it and we want it to cost less. Someday soon but not soon enough, we may concede silently but never in a collective that we can't continue to have unlimited appetites for public services because we can't afford them.

Every year, in the aftermath of the car crash that was the run-up to the new budget's creation, we promise do better next year, but we never do. We continue to be unhappily surprised that we're never rewarded for all the hard work we didn't do.

As it is, again, we've crafted a budget that increases taxes to beyond a breaking point, doesn't have enough money to educate our children, that requires sacrifices and workarounds for public safety and postpones investments in an infrastructure already thread-bare and well past its best-by date. Instead of joining hands we ball our fists and vow 'next time will be different' but the blame remains the same.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

All Ducks Are Birds

Sunday, Father's Day, I got a new cellphone. I know what you're thinking, but you're wrong. There's no causation between those two sentences though both by themselves are absolutely correct.


Sunday was Father's Day, and as you can see above, and below and below and below that, I have a new cellphone. If it helps, Sunday was also Raymond Douglas Davies' 71st birthday.

He did not get me a camera for his birthday though perhaps he did get himself one. It's one of those imponderables. So is this: this camera in this new cell phone takes remarkable photos.


Its audio player has superlative fidelity, at least to my ancient ears at three something in the morning when I'm panting like an Irish wolfhound when all I really am is long in the tooth on a treadmill at Planet Fitness.

There is a better than average chance that I may someday use the cell phone to make a telephone call. Once I learn where the slot is to put the dime.


Meanwhile, I can watch this and wait for someone to come back with change.

video

- bill kenny

Monday, June 22, 2015

Burnin' Like the Midnight Sun

Maybe it was all the rain we had yesterday (and we had a lot) that caused me to be introspective (it did cause me to have to find a dictionary and look up the word to describe what I was feeling).

It was a combination of the rain we needed and the rain we deserved, with the emphasis (I think) on the totality of the amount rather than on the steadiness of the downpouring

I had hours yesterday to examine the circumstances and people I have in my life and how the former led to the latter and what became of us once that happened.

I was more than a little surprised by the number of people I can remember from my days growing up on Bloomfield Avenue in New Brunswick (actually Franklin Township), across the years and classmates at Rutgers only one of whom, Nat, am I still in contact with to those with whom I served in the Air Force and elsewhere, like the Other Bill, Beau, Roger, Floyd, Lee, Mark and the decades since where I've stayed in one place, mostly, while the earth has moved.

I have had a great deal of good fortune to know remarkable and talented people, many of whom I am related to by blood and/or birth and others who tolerate me for reasons that say far more about their talents than about my abilities.

Eventually, at least around here, the rain will stop. I hope, not so quickly as my admiration for those who have chosen to make a place in my life. I'd like that to linger for a while or more and burn like the midnight sun.
-bill kenny

Sunday, June 21, 2015

We're Still Here

I love symmetry even when I have trouble spelling it. Exactly SIX years ago today it was also the 21st of June AND Fathers’ Day. How clever did I have to be at that time to know that what I wrote then would ring as true in 2015 as it did tat that time? It’s hard to be humble, sometimes; perhaps that’s why I have a mirror and a family.

In any event, aside from some updating (time and tides, you know),  es war einmal…..

True story I've just remembered: from so long ago, Patrick is our only child. He and I are driving from our home in Offenbach to my work in Frankfurt am Main. He is about three or so in the back seat of our car, in his car seat. The car is waiting for the light to change at the intersection of Eschenheimer Landstrasse and Adickesallee, just a block down from the old Frankfurt cemetery. "You know what?" he asked me, in German (as that's all we spoke), looking out the side window at a kebab-laden or a trinkhalle, "if Mom had married someone else, I would have a different father." Thanks for playing, indeed.

Both of my brothers, Kelly, and Adam are fathers, so Happy Father's Day to them and to you, even if you're not one of my brothers. All three of us are fathers without a reference library as our own father passed away almost years earlier and, quite frankly, set an example before his passing that I suspect none of us would have been interested in following so precisely.

I don't know if either of them have in the course of their own families had moments where they've wondered 'what would Dad have done?' I have had a few, but not as many as being the oldest, perhaps, I should have had. 


My wife and I are married for almost thirty-eight years, and all but about eleven minutes of that are because of her hard work and certainly NOT mine. We have two children, a son who celebrates another orbit round the sun in about three weeks and a daughter whose birthday (her age is her business and not my story) a little more than a month ago.

When my son was small and when my daughter was (much) younger, I was fortunate that my wife's Dad, Franz, was close at hand to serve as a sounding board to his somewhat befuddled and other-cultured son-in-law as he struggled to remain competitive in the Parenting Olympiad. 


I didn't yearn for children or at least I wasn't aware that I did until Patrick and Michelle were born. I was very fine with defining myself as Sigrid's husband, but I think 'and father of Patrick and Michelle' adds a lot to my resume.

I don't have happy memories of interaction with my Dad and learned many years later he could have said the same about his relationship with his father. I grew up thinking somehow I was the screw-up and judging from the caustic comments, I wasn't alone.

I was numb, literally, after we learned my wife was pregnant with Patrick because I feared I would be forging the next link in that chain, but that fear evaporated in the first moments of his life on this earth and while his sister later brought her own challenges (how could someone so tiny be so insanely defiant I used to wonder as she would glare up at me, no higher than my knees it seemed, and tell me 'no' for hours on end), I kept coming back to Freshman Orientation at Dad's College: Help Them Do Well and Be Happy.

I've since discovered, aside from being very hard on my father (which I’m still learning to come to grips with), as have probably all fathers, it is pretty easy (especially in hindsight) and not unlike the lesson of Dad's College. You can't do too much about the skinned knees or the first true loves that break hearts but tell yourself, and your child, 'this, too, shall pass' because you know it will even when they know it won't.

All you can wish for your son or daughter is that they are well and happy-two conditions for which they, themselves are most responsible. I used to fret that their father, unlike the parents of their friends, couldn't afford cars for them to drive in high school, or ski holidays or wardrobes from A & F, wasting so much of my energy on pointless worry since both of them grew up never missing what they never had.

Today, Father's Day, both of our children are adults with lives very much their own and have more or less accepted that in the heart of their dotty Dad they will always be his kids. And should the day come when they choose to have children, I think (or hope) they'll have good memories from their own childhood to draw upon and smile.
-bill kenny 

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Silent but Dadly

Yeah. I know. That was awful, wasn't it. And in poor taste (and not even all that funny). Sounds like most kids talking about their dads at some point in that relationship and perhaps that's true. Or your mileage may vary and that is fine as well.

Tomorrow is Father's Day and I will expound expansively or exhale expensively, I'm never sure which to do when and no one else cares, but I wanted to leave this right here right now that our son, Patrick Michael, sent me the other day.  It made me smile when I saw it and remembered the outing that was the day it was taken.


I hope it makes you smile too. Someplace, decades ago before he was born I found a quote that fit, when I allowed the time, the relationship I had with my dad and the one I have with Patrick: "A father is a man who expects his son to be as good a man as he meant to be."
-bill kenny

Friday, June 19, 2015

And if My Thought Dreams Could be Seen

Tomorrow is Juneteenth Day. For the fisherman who use the Marina at Norwich Harbor, it will feel a little bit stressful but it's all for a good cause. We've seen Ferguson, Missouri, Baltimore, Maryland, Charleston, South Carolina in the last few turnings of the calendar page, we are not those places.

I could offer you an explanation on the origins and history of the day but that news article does a better than good job of it though I think for us in Norwich, unlike a lot or urban areas in recent months we have a softer focus on the day and the events around  and behind it.

But don't kid yourself, there's unresolved
 sorrow, fear, resentment, anguish and anger associated with the origins and causes for the system of oppression whose end, in the United States as we knew it came back then one-hundred and fifty years ago on June 19, as on June 19, 1865, when slaves in Galveston, Texas, learned the War Between the States had ended moths earlier on 9 April and  they were now free. 

Starting at noon tomorrow and lasting until six, it will be the 27th Annual Observance of Juneteenth Day and it promises to be quite a do. Everyone is invited and anyone who chooses to attend will be welcome 




Holiday celebrations help bring different people, and peoples, together, to reflect on who they are, who they were and who they are on the way to becoming. Ideally, each of us sees in one another a reflection of ourselves as well as a better understanding of our unique talents and gifts-the stuff that makes you, you and me, me. 

That's why the Juneteenth party at the Norwich Marina is so large--not only all the people who are going to be there are at it, but all those who've come before them and those generations as yet to be born who will fulfill their promises and who will dream their own dreams and then live those as well. 

So celebrate with us here in Norwich or where ever in the world you find yourself today.Sometimes, unless and until you look back it's hard to see how far you've traveled. It can be easy to realize the journey has a distance yet to accomplished and to feel daunted by the challenge of that task, but it is sweeter and sweetened by the knowledge of where we were and where we are now. 

"And if my thought dreams could be seen, They'd probably put my head in a guillotine. But it's alright, Ma, it's life and life only." 
-bill kenny

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Joys of Small

I've been home this week more by accident than design. I intended to accompany my wife when she visited her primary care physician on Tuesday for the fist time since suffering a heart attack and to be with her yesterday for her first visit to her cardiologist who is also my cardiologist and the man who saved my life in March.

Instead, a sore throat and a headache that I had near the end of last week spent all this past weekend kicking my ass and helping me to have a dry cough by Sunday night that sounded like I was going to bring up a lung. I decided to stay home on Monday, got into see my doctor a day early and ended up with more drugs to treat bronchitis that, spirit of helpfulness that I am, I also managed to share with my wife, complicating no doubt her recovery.

So instead of striding purposely through this week, I've been stepping cautiously and somewhat diffidently. It's Thursday and shaping up to be the first day I've gone to work (not that many of my colleagues are complaining about the void in their lives my absence has created). I'm not sure as I look at that line, it's quite the achievement on the screen that it felt like in my head.

I've been feeding the birds every morning this week as I wait for my coffee to cool. I fill the feeder and they stand on the wires and roof of the garage until I go back into the house  and then they descend. Sparrows, titmice, some cardinals, a few starlings and even some of the very young squirrels who eat  the seeds that get knocked to the ground.

I've struggled for years to do big things but maybe it's the little ones, done well, that should be my area of concentration. And maybe when the roar of the work week is back full in my ears, I'll forget I wrote these words and stumble along again until I fall off the path and have to retrace my steps to remember where I was going.
- bill kenny

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

It's Great to Be Part of the Home Team Crowd

"People ask me what I do in the winter when there's no baseball," said Rogers Hornsby who began playing pro baseball for the Saint Louis Cardinals exactly a century ago, "I'll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring." 


Looking out the window, I think Rogers is on to something and if you need more proof, head to Dodd Stadium in the Business Park Friday night at seven, as our Connecticut Tigers begin their 2015 Single-A season with some home cooking hosting the Tri-City Valley Cats. We're an affiliate of the Detroit Tigers and the Valley Cats are with the Houston Astros if you keep track of that sort of thing but for at least this Friday night, who cares

Here's the only thing that matters: it's professional baseball! We have a great night of family entertainment at a bargain price, right here in our own backyard. If you've been to Dodd, you know there's not a bad seat in the place and if you haven't, why not? Please do NOT give me that excuse masquerading as a reason about 'how far we have to drive to get to Dodd.' Seriously? 

We actually say that with a straight face and then drive to Fenway or Yankee Stadium, spending more just to park there than we would on tickets, food and drinks for four at Dodd but still having to buy tickets, food and drinks at the Big League park (and thinking we got off cheap).
 
Meanwhile, back a Dodd, ticket prices, in keeping with the sport, are a steal. The beverages, soda or sparkling are both crisp and cold while the grub is great with specialties all over the concourse. Show up Friday and you'll get a magnet schedule for the Tigers' 2015 season (refrigerator sold separately) plus there're fireworks after the game. In a perfect world, there would also be pony rides but I suspect the horses get spooked by fireworks.

As you have already surmised, I love baseball, not merely because it's about the only sport I was ever any good at, because I really wasn't (I like to think I was and I'm very convincing) but because there are as many different ways to be a fan as there are fans themselves. At the Major League level, I am a Yankees fan and have been for my whole life (so far) but I will watch anyone, anywhere play anytime and will root for them if they call my town home.

I've reached an age where summers get here faster and leave sooner than they used to. The kids on both sides of the ball trying to make it to The Show seem to get younger as each succeeding summer arrives. On a good day, downhill with a following wind, I can almost remember when I was an early twenty-something so I envy the kids who've got the world by the tail (in honor of the Tigers). You have to root for them because we each in our way, have had their dream as our own.

Sunday's game in the homestand against the Valley Cats has the most daylight of any other day of this year as we get to the top of the seasonal roller coaster and make sure our hands are safely inside and we have our seat belts on, it's important to recall life is still a dark ride, every day, for all the days that remain. They take just as long if you love what you're doing or are just going through the motions so maybe we should pretend we, too, have major league dreams and aspirations.
I think Hornsby would agree. All this pro baseball is not going to play itself, so put the Connecticut Tigers' home games on your kitchen calendar, and your butt in a seat at Dodd Stadium. It's finally our season, make the most if it.
- bill kenny

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

A Priest, a Rabbi and Sepp Blatter Walk into A Bar.....

It is very little fun these days I would image being the press spokesperson for the Federation of International Football Associations, FIFA, but by all accounts Walter De Gregorio, the director of communications and public affairs, was a gamer. 

Notice please the past tense of the verb.

He’s cashed in his cards and shuffling off his FIFA coil in a manner of speaking perhaps to pursue a career in stand-up since it’s in all likelihood what caused his premature evacuation.

I'm thinking he'll want to spend some time woodshedding to hone his delivery unless he intends to change his last name to Digiorno because then the delivery takes care of itself.

Reading the story again, I wonder if maybe it was the language? Take two, this time in the original: “In einem Auto mit Sepp Blatter, Jérôme Valcke und Walter De Gregorio, wer fährt? Die Polizei.“ 
Hi. Larry, Us. Okay, maybe not so much.

Thank you ladies and germs. I’ll be here through Tuesday; try the veal.
- bill kenny

Monday, June 15, 2015

A Sea of Hopeful Faces

We live a five-minute crawl from Norwich Free Academy, which is on the far side of the Chelsea Parade. We are on the near side of Chelsea, actually on Lincoln Avenue just a little down from where it intersects with Washington Street. We take our history pretty seriously (if somewhat selectively) around here as you've probably already realized.

I was up yesterday with the chickens, who are poor losers in such competitions, with every intention of hitting the outdoor track on the far side of the NFA campus and getting in some of my daily steps in a low impact on my rickety knees environment.

The school sits right in the middle of the city and works hard to be a good neighbor (I think) sometimes more than we work to be its good neighbors. In recent years, area school boards, Norwich first among them might wish to quibble in regard to the word "free" in the school's name, but that's as may be.

Our two children attended and graduated from the school and during that time our lives as a family were attuned to school year starts, vacations, teacher's conference and the like. Our children have been graduates for a very long time so I was surprised but not really to discover on Sunday the track was closed so the field could be fully prepared for this afternoon's graduation.


Ready or not, the Class of 2015, spreads its wings and takes flight today with exercises starting at four. On behalf of the world waiting for you beyond Converse and Latham, you are arriving not a tick too soon.

We've made a right hash of it, I and my fellow graduates of the Class of 1970 and all the others since then. If you want to fix the world, you are entering a target-rich environment.

I resisted the temptation to hope the fence and stand on the podium on the center of the football field, facing all those rows of white folding chairs in neat rows with the metal bleachers, which will be filled to beyond capacity with family and friends later today behind the graduates.

What's to say? Good luck. You'll  need it and a damn sight more than that. We of the classes who preceded you traded our values and beliefs for BMW's and now with the price of gas heading North again, we're in a pretty pickle.

For those of you wondering if you're now in the real world, you have been since the day you were born. How much your parents shielded you is another matter. But no matter when that was, welcome to the here and now.

Our boat is taking on water in rough seas so you have a choice: row for shore or bail. You can choose one or the other. You don't get to NOT choose.
-bill kenny

Sunday, June 14, 2015

I Am the Flag




On this date in 1777, the Second Continental Congress meeting in Philadelphia as a war between the (former) colonies and the British Empire raged, adopted the flag of our United States of America.

In the ensuing two hundred and thirty-eight years, almost countless wars but an even larger number of joyful and joyous moments, we have a flag with thirteen alternating red and white stripes and fifty stars representing each of our states (even the ones that don't like each other very much) on a field of blue.


I spent eight years on active duty in the Air Force thousands of miles from home and daily ceremonies involving the raising and lowering of our flag were part of my day. So sometimes I get a little cranky (actually, I get a LOT cranky) when pinheads and politicians of all stripes wrap themselves in the same flag under which three people whom I knew while in uniform died. Yeah, weird, it was peacetime and airmen, marines, sailors and soldiers still die. If that surprises you, glad I could help expand your college of knowledge.


Please don't take this the wrong way, but take it to heart. Our flag is a symbol of our nation, the use of the indefinite article deliberate. It is nothing more than strips of cloth sewn in a particular pattern.

Too often for reasons that say much more about us as a people than we should like, it is made in countries far away where what we have and complain about is the subject of aspirations and dreams by those toiling in sweatshops to make it.


We, the people of the United States of America, all of us are our flag. No matter the color, the religion, the gender, the politics (or lack of any or all of the preceding), we are, each of us, our own flag. And today is as good a day as any, and better than most, to start acting like it.
-bill kenny

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Happy Birthday, Mom

Today my Mom celebrates her 87th birthday. Actually we, who are her children should be celebrating it and her since without her, well the circle of life is much smaller. That said, we are, no matter what you are thinking right now, reasonably close. My mother raised six of us to adulthood without ever succumbing to the temptation to lose or drown any of us. Knowing me the way I do, I have to believe that couldn't have been an easy temptation to overcome, especially since while I was the first, but rarely the first choice for a good example.

Mom had a child, no names please, who used to lock her/himself in the school lavatory while in Mrs. Brennan's kindergarten, more or less out of boredom. My mother's husband, and our father (NOT named Art, though you could be forgiven for thinking so), was a schoolteacher who used to go manic when this happened. Mom was a bit more mellow and used to advise Mrs. Brennan to go back to whatever she was doing and within ten minutes, her reluctant student would return like a skin-covered boomerang to the classroom. Sure enough, that's what happened every time.

Another of my siblings specialized in the art of the 'goodie bag'. A goodie bag was a plain brown lunch bag into which, as we wandered around behind Mom or Dad as they shopped, one of us would place items they wished to further explore outside the confines and strictures of the mercantile environment (= take stuff home without paying for it).

This child very early in life developed a "what's mine is mine, but what's yours is negotiable" mindset that Mom always managed to overlook and forgive as she'd go through the day's catch as Kid Klepto readied for bed to make sure to return to the merchant all the items that had made the accidental trip home with us.

My mother has survived the death of her spouse, catastrophic health situations and hardships and challenges of all varieties without a murmur of complaint. As I said, she raised six of her own and on more occasions than I'd like to recall she helped with advice on the two grandchildren of foreign manufacture.

She came to visit us while we lived in (then West) Germany, earning the nickname Oma Amerika from our daughter, Michelle, who, because we'd picked Mom up at the Frankfurt Flughafen, thought for months afterwards that this was where Oma Amerika lived.

Mom was never a fan of snow. I can remember as a child bundling up to play outside in Wanamassa, the first home my parents owned in New Jersey and waving up at her watching from the living room picture window while building a snowman on the front lawn.

Now when I call her, as I shall today because I never quite get the birthday card best-by mailing date right, I’ll try to guess what time she'll be heading to the beach, as she moved to Florida about a decade and a half ago and loves it.

She always calls me on my birthday, so in a way turnabout is fair play as she is the woman who made me what I am, literally and figuratively-even when I'm not the most attentive child, or son, that has ever walked the planet. Happy birthday, Mom, love always and every good wish for many more birthdays to come.
-billy 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Time Crawls and Flies as It Wishes

This is actually from six years ago (yeah, I know you think it feels like I've been writing for longer than that) and I don't think I have any more to say on the subject (or at least I hope not).

Every organized religion and a couple of the somewhat disorganized ones have sacred writings, scriptures if you will. No matter the region, or the religion, it's part of our human genome, the need to be a part of something bigger. 

Be it the Koran, the Old Testament, the New Testament, or the latest roman a clef by Danielle Steel, there's a narrative a place to go look for details. When you argue a matter of theology and someone says, 'you can look it up!' the texts are what they're referring to.

There's the blood of the Lamb, the descent of the dove, the tongues of fire, the burning bush and an almost unending number of symbols and signs that The Lord (however you perceive S/He to be) uses to get our attention and pass along the Word. 

What if we were the first generation of people on this planet who had a Deity? I don't pretend to know what all of those before us had, I'm just saying we're the first and Our God uses the tools we have today in much the way as in the days of old we've read about.

Someone speculated on how would God communicate the Ten Commandments if S/He had to use text and here's what it looked like: 

Perhaps:
1. no1 b4 me. srsly.
2. dnt wrshp pix/idols
3. no omg's
4. no wrk on w/end (sat 4 now; sun l8r)
5. pos ok - ur m&d r cool
6. dnt kill ppl
7. :-X only w/ m8
8. dnt steal
9. dnt lie re: bf
10. dnt ogle ur bf's m8. or ox. or dnkey. myob.

M, pls rite on tabs & giv 2 ppl. ttyl, JHWH. ps. wwjd?

What would you ask if you had just one question?
-bill kenny

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Sail Away Raymond

As I was watching the doctors and nurses working speedily and confidently on my wife in the hospital emergency room on Sunday evening, realizing I had nothing to contribute but some tight smiles and rueful looks, I allowed my attention to wander into the adjoining room where drama of a different kind was playing out.

Or had reached a pause, I have no idea which. From what I could see standing in the thoroughfare looking half into the room where Sigrid was and half next door it was curiouser and curiouser. A person, perhaps the patient was sitting straight up in the bed, at the foot of the bed on the floor were pointy-toed cowboy boots which may seem off but in the context of the room were logical.

On the head of the person sitting on the bed with the cowboy boots on the floor in front of the bed was a white ten gallon hat (37.8 liters for readers outside CONUS) but, as they say on TV, wait there's more.

Over her/his (I never did sort out the gender involved) right eye, but under the shade of the hat brim (had it been sunny and the brim had cast shade) was a black eye patch. I flashed on what was missing: a palomino pony with a western saddle and a parrot attached to the saddle horn.

You would not believe the movie I started making in my head as I watched the health care folks between the shadow and the light. It was far more amazing than any reality could have ever been. Just pay separate shipping and handling.
- bill kenny

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Build Tomorrow from Yesterday's Bones

I love how new beginnings are often found in old endings and how that which itself was old can become new again. In this case, I’m thinking specifically of the 1783 Dr. Daniel Lathrop Schoolhouse at the Norwichtown Green, which is one of the oldest intact brick school buildings in all of Connecticut.

The dismissal bell for its last class rang decades if not centuries before any of us were born but it’s just days away from helping us teach and learn (again) new lessons about who we once were and, perhaps, who we may on the way to becoming.

This Friday afternoon at four the Lathrop Schoolhouse is the site of the Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting for the Norwich Heritage and Regional Visitors’ Center and we’re all invited to look back at the way we were as well as peer into what could be our future as a tourist destination.

Talking about “historic tourism as an engine for economic development” is all well and good and if talking about it made it so, we’d be on to other topics around here but there’s a lot of moving parts and huge amounts of heavy lifting to get from a spirited conversation at a workshop to an actual brick and mortar visitor and history center that can effectively tell the story of who we once while helping us become whom we want the world to see.


The Center is the latest effort by The Norwich Heritage Group, an umbrella for the collaborative efforts of fifteen different heritage groups throughout the city, whose collective mission is to promote heritage tourism in Norwich and build awareness of the many rich cultural resources here in Norwich, Connecticut.

The Center hopes to educate residents and visitors about Norwich's rich past and to offer information about regional tourist attractions here in the present. It’s intended to be a gateway into Norwich for visitors to learn about our numerous important cultural sites as well as our various local businesses and services.

Friday’s ribbon-cutting offers a chance to check out the “Discover Norwich” exhibit which is a 10-panel exhibit on Norwich history from the 17th to the 20th century, from the founding to today.  It’s intended to offer visitors and locals an overview of Norwich’s history and also deepen both the knowledge and appreciation of the City 

The actual ribbon cutting is at 4:30 with light refreshments before and period music from the Nathan Hale Ancient Fife and Drum Corps afterward. So come fashionably early and stay historically late. 

Considering it took Norwich 356 years to get to this point, I’d hope you’ll find fifteen minutes between four and six PM this Friday to come by and stop in.
-bill kenny 

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Sometimes it Takes a Good Scare

My wife, Sigrid, suffered a heart attack at some point Sunday and we went to our hospital, Backus, and their ER early in the evening when her heartburn and nausea concerned even her.

It took less than forty minutes for the very talented folks at Backus to decide she needed to take a helicopter ride to Hartford Hospital where, confirming she had indeed had a heart attack, the doctors put a stent into one of the arteries on the right side of her heart.

My heart has just started to return to normal as each passing minute since all of that on Sunday night suggests she will make a full and speedy recovery, as long as she is very good and does what her doctors tell her to do.

My job as fretter-in-chief will be to make sure she does. And she will. I promised her an exciting life when I asked her to marry me. The intent then (as it is now), was to take her breath away and make her heart glad. Thinking it's time to double down and get to work. Loving someone for forever doesn't happen by itself.
-bill kenny

Monday, June 8, 2015

Besser ein schreckliches Ende....

Tonight, no matter what type of a day it has been, will be the absolute worst day of our entire lives since just about this time last year. Why?

Because tonight in Norwich (and I suspect all kinds of towns across Connecticut who all had to wait on their final municipal budgets for the folks we elect and send to Hartford to come up with a budget, which is the entire point of the journey to the State Capital in the first place) the City Council will adopt a municipal budget for the Fiscal Year 2015-2016 that no one will like.


For those who wanted more money in education, infrastructure, public safety, public works, pony rides for birthdays, or personnel (and a dozen other areas), no soup for you.

If you'd hope to see your property taxes stabilize or even drop, no soup for you either and there's a tax on the ladle you're not using. And if you think we're unhappy here in the Rose of New England tonight, wait until three weeks from tomorrow when the tax bills for personal property (mostly cars, trucks, boats, motorcycles, and I'm thinking scooters, too, but unfunnily enough NOT ponies) arrive in the day's mail.

You'll be able to hear us from wherever it is you live. Again, we will have spent 364 days talking about how to do business differently in every nook and cranny of our city and zero seconds actually attempting to change how we do business.

And then we're surprised and angry (again) at the people we elect to the City Council who have no other way to do business but to antagonize all of us, as happens every year. Better a horrible ending than horrors without end. As long as we never need to change we're all in favor of change.
-bill kenny

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Read Him His Miranda Rights, Carmen

I guess we’re making headway on getting a handle on drugged and drunk driving. I say that without seeing any statistics of any kind from federal or regional law enforcement officials but have decided see this story as a ‘the glass is half-full’ tale, though we should be concerned a little about what liquid is in the glass. 

We’re only six months into the calendar year, but I’m thinking Logan Shaulis is already seriously in the lead for the Somerset County, Pennsylvania, “Man of the Year.” Hell, as someone who grow up in Somerset County, New Jersey (no relation), I’d vote for the guy.  

I don’t have the heart to tell him in that picture he has on FB, wearing the BDU blouse and the PFC rocker (Battle Dress Uniform/Private First Class), I can still see him (perhaps because this galaxy has a yellow sun so I have x-ray vision?). Maybe he needs to get his money back for the uniform top. 

Quite frankly, based on the reports of this encounter and the amount of perturbation it will create in his life for the immediate future and probably beyond, he might want to take that money and whatever he can get after pawning the BB pistol and invest it in legal services, or more road flares; depending on his priorities.
-bill kenny

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Revisiting Accidental Heroes

I wrote this five years ago. No matter how much has changed, this is a subject I know I will never feel any differently about. Ever.

What had seemed like a beginning in the near daylight off the coast of Normandy in France, seventy-one years ago was actually the end, if you will, of the planning phase of Operation Overlord and years of planning from an embattled outpost, England, that had been left to fight on practically alone after the fall of France in June nearly four years earlier.

This time last week we were all talking about those 'who made the ultimate sacrifice' and 'who paid the ultimate price' and here we are today commemorating an event that marked the beginning of the end of the murderous darkness and mayhem into which first Europe and ultimately the entire world descended that resulted in the deaths of over sixty million people, marked the end of the British Empire, helped redraw the maps of Africa, South East Asia and the Middle East and redivided much of the world into communist and non-communist spheres of influence.

The personages and personalities we always associate with this event are enormous and epic and their fame is well-deserved, but I found an old clip, its source made me smile, that focused more, and more accurately, on the hundreds of thousands of men leading lives of quiet desperation, who did what they were trained to do, when they were trained to do it, and thought in nothing larger than one step increments.

They struggled and died by the tens of thousands wading ashore from the landing craft to the beach, getting off the beachhead to an embankment for cover, rejoining a unit and moving forward, a footfall at a time, until the trickle from the beach became a torrent and that torrent became a flood facing murderous opposition from men who in many respects were their twins, but were on the other side for reasons that had as much to do with accidents of geography and birth as with ideology and politics.

Back in 1984 I had an opportunity with Bob 'The Human Sachtler' Garvin to retrace the assault on Normandy with a US Army unit who took their history very seriously. Bus loads of us, all stationed in Germany, arrived in considerably more style and comfort than the advance party in 1944 to discover every, or seemingly every, bar in the city limits of Normandy is called 6 Juin. 

At the bar (whose name you can guess) across from the church where a US paratrooper's chute had gotten snagged in the steeple and John Steele supposedly died in a hail of bullets from a Wehrmacht defender, spotlights illuminated the church top and a parachute still billowed as a human replica dangled and twisted from the rigging. As it turned out, he didn't die but was captured by the Germans only to escape and rejoin his unit.

Army chopper pilots are tough, hard cases, but even they softened when we toured Pointe du hoc where the US Army's 2nd Ranger Battalion achieved the impossible and it was but one brief moment in a non-stop amazing story of heroism that went on for weeks that summer for twelve allied nations, 

The beaches of Normandy are quite beautiful, if you don't mind looking at the remnants of the Mulberry Harbors that the Allies needed to use to stage reinforcements and supplies prior to the final assault on the beaches themselves.

The seagulls and sandpipers run ahead of you, by just inches, often backwards staring up at you, the flightless sojourner, walking among the washing of the waves trying, and failing, to imagine the carnage and chaos that covered every inch of these beaches all those years ago.

Our final day there, we devoted to the Normandy American Cemetery, a beautifully sad or sadly beautiful island of peace and calm created to honor those who died for those whom they never met but whose lives were made possible by their sacrifice. 

Today, if only for a moment, think about those men and, in looking at the challenges you face in your life, resolve to make a difference as best as you can, in much the way that they did, alone and far from home and hearth on a beach half a world away.
-bill kenny

Friday, June 5, 2015

Bagel Seeds

I hadn’t realized this past Monday was “National Be Nice to Someone Day” so I’d like to offer a belated thank you to you who obviously have nothing better to do to with your time. Might not be what the organizers had in mind but I’m not going to lose any sleep over it.

Actually, checking the calendar, which I do usually too late in the game to do me any good, I was bemused (no other word comes to mind) to discover today is National Donut Day (jimmies included), and proving (sort of, I guess) that knowledge is power, because you, too, now know it, we could go to Dunkin’ Donuts and get a free donut.

The holiday is SO BIG it has a second date, November 5th; I most certainly hope the Christmas People are paying attention-and would it kill the pony rides for birthdays guys to follow what I think is a truly excellent example?

There are other places besides DD with free donuts, to include these guys. I haven’t seen or heard anything about Starbucks’ planned observances though I tend to see them as more coffee than cruller in this situation. 

I’d hope perhaps like that Christmas Truce of 1914, today could be a day where corporate competition and hostilities are set aside if only for the time it takes to brush the crumbs from your shirt.

And, silliness aside, it would be nice to search out the folks who (wo) man those red kettles around those aforementioned holidays, and make a donation because as they can tell you, need knows no days off.  And if you’re watching your figure, today is your day because you’ll never gain weight from a doughnut hole.
-bill kenny