Friday, October 20, 2017

Is This What Ian Meant?

This photo has NOTHING to do with the words below. I just like it.
Somedays, this stuff writes itself (I know you’re hoping this is one of them). You’re in luck!  
-bill kenny 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Can't Hardly Wait

My wife, Sigrid, has her wedding anniversary this Saturday. Technically, it's mine as well though I usually defer for a couple of days to allow the marching bands, the balloons, and the floats to clear out from in front of the house (so the prize patrol van has enough room to park because this is my year to win).  

I'm kidding, of course. I celebrate our wedding anniversary whenever she tells me I can. You're not married as long as she and I are and not have a few rules to live by. In our next lives, I'm hoping it's my turn to have a few as well.  

It's our fortieth anniversary which makes me smile even as I type that because I find the length and strength of our relationship, when I look at those I've known and at those around me, be it at work or home, to be pretty amazing. 

Sigrid is admittedly a bit more tempered in her enthusiasm, observing that it feels like a lot longer than forty years. I'm pretty sure she says that because the Germans use the metric system though I'm not sure just how many hectares are in a German year. I was just told it's square hectares. Okay.

Of course, I want to do something special. I am, after all, the eldest son of a man who once bought his wife (my mother) a vacuum cleaner for her birthday, and not just any plain old vacuum cleaner but the roll-around pull-it-behind-you with the hose type. Yep. The apple certainly doesn't fall far from the tree. 

I've been racking my brain to find the perfect present that says, of-all-the-people-in-the-world-you-love-me-and-if-could-choose-anyone-to-marry-I'd-choose-you-all-over-again. When I opened our local paper Wednesday morning, it jumped right out at me. 

Stunning, innit? Just sort of screams "I LOVE YOU!"  What? Oh, it's a butter cutter. I know, now you wish you'd thought of it, right? And since we're on the East Coast I can skip that whole ordering the multi-size butter cutter stuff, as we don't have the dairy diversity that I guess the folks on The Other Coast have.

Second time in my life I've known the meaning of love at first sight (don't tell Sigrid, okay?). And what clinched it for me was this dynamic short video, very nearly professionally produced. When Mr. Announcing Guy shared "It can be used with one hand or two, depending on your strength and the hardness of the butter," my heart was like a brick of Kerrygold and melted into a little puddle just above my belt. (Did you notice the variety of colors? So many choices!)

I can't wait to see Sigrid's reaction. I've already made up the pull-out sofa we keep in the garage for managing marital misunderstandings but I think I may still need to fill out a change of address form. Certainly hope it's a bright, sunny day; it'll help me explain the dark glasses
-bill kenny

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

If You Have Abibliophobia

I love events that become traditions even if they didn't start out that way. And this Friday marks the kick-off of the fall edition of one of my favorites, the biannual Friends of Otis Library book sale. 

Our daughter and I go every fall and spring and I've been preparing for this by eating double portions of carrots at every meal and hitting the mirror at the gym to practice my eye rolls because I want to be ready to read when it's time to crack open a few books. 

I've offered the words which follow previously and don't mind repeating them because this event is important to the library and it should be to each of us. 

The book sale begins this Friday morning with a sneak preview from nine to ten which  attracts collectors from across the Northeast (check out the license plates on the cars parked in a two-block area around the library) who gladly pay $10 for the head start it allows them on all manner of goodies and great deals. 

There's no reason to fear that all the good stuff will be gone by the time we get there because the basement is always filled with treasures waiting to be discovered, purchased for pennies on the dollar and taken to a new home.

I have tsundoku and my doctors say there's really no cure. I don't  suffer from it so much as enjoy it and the Otis Book Sale is an opportunity to hang out with other bibliotaphs shuffling between the shelves, not sure exactly what we're looking for until we find it. And judging by the increases in attendance for every sale, I'd say more and more of us are finding what we're seeking. 

The book sale is open to everyone from ten until three on both Friday and Saturday and from noon until three on Sunday. It's a great way to refresh your home shelves (I probably need to buy some more) which is already a terrific reason but, in light of the current fiscal challenges libraries across the state are facing as a result of the Governor's Executive Order (because of the lack of a state budget), the money raised from the three-day sale helps keep the lights on the doors open at  Otis. 

Libraries, and I'm thinking the Otis in particular, are far so much more than the sum of the goods and services they offer to their communities which can make it difficult to put an accurate price tag on their value for all of us throughout the community who use them.

What is Otis worth to you or your family aside from a trip downtown to rummage through the shelves and bag yourself some bargains? Check out this item on I found on the American Library Association's website, the "Library Value Calculator," and be prepared for a surprise.

I've spoken before about the oft-mentioned 'problems with downtown parking' myth, and that's the word I use because it is a myth. I think what many people mean is they cannot take their car with them into the library. But cheer up, there's plenty of free municipal parking with hundreds of spaces no more than a four-minute walk. And we are wearing shoes....

Browsing for book bargains can cause you to get awfully hungry so I'd make the time before or after hitting the library to grab a bite at one of the restaurants along whatever path you choose to use to get to the library. There are tables for every taste and plates for every palette, all steps away from the library and one another at Franklin Square. And you'll have a chance to check out first-hand how much more alive downtown is since the last time you looked.

A cynic, I'm told knows the price of everything and the value of nothing. At the Friends of Otis Library Book Sale, show you know how valuable this regional resource is to you, and buy a bag of books. Borrow my glasses and buy two bags.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Sometimes Silence Is Superior to Saying Sorry

I’m not sure I knew (or cared) who Harvey Weinstein is/was until late last week but I’m willing to concede I probably won’t forget if I live to be one hundred and five. 

As a son of a woman, a brother of women, a husband, and father of a daughter, the behavior outlined by people like Rose McGowan defies description in terms of my reaction and revulsion. That Weinstein is not alone isn't an earth-shaking realization. I am not the first person to be aware of this kind of behavior but I am still shamed by yet another reminder of how the world works for people other than myself. 

I read postings in my newsfeed from women who are Facebook friends over the weekend into the early morning hours of Monday about their own experiences as the objects of sexual harassment and sexual assault they had endured (neither of which are ever acceptable) and from others who offered a simple and simply eloquent "Me, too" on postings about the same subjects. 

For reasons that have to do, I hope, with how I was raised, I offered this with good intentions: 

That adage about better to say nothing and be thought a fool (or a patronizing or even worse clueless cad), rather than open your mouth and prove it. As a twitter poster reminded me, and countless other men, albeit too late at least in my circumstance:

As a well-meaning buckaroo, I was at a loss as to what I could say when silence in this matter and at this moment was the right response. This I knew before and have NO trouble saying: Wrong is wrong no matter who does it or to whom. 

You don’t ever have to say anything to anyone ever but I want you to know if you choose to, I will always listen and will always try to help. Hopefully better than I did this time around.
-bill kenny

Monday, October 16, 2017

I Was Born in an Abundance of Inherited Sadness

I was getting in a weekend walk yesterday afternoon while the weather allows it as, judging from the large number of motorcyclists I saw out doing, in their way, what I was doing in mine (gathering rosebuds without risk of thorns), we probably are running out of daylight and nice days to do that.

I hiked down McKinley Street until it became Franklin and then walked that all the way to Main Street, past the Wauregan and then a slight left beyond the courthouse until I was at the Norwich Harbor. 

I doubled back so I could walk past the Mercantile Exchange and curse the (absence of a) view of the Harbor they have from their back plaza (too much and too many ugly parking structures that someone before the Nineties began thought was a great idea; it wasn't then and it isn't now) back down Main Street and renovations that will create a new business, just past the Main Street Garage as you make your way back towards the intersection with the Shannon  Building and the Wauregan Hotel on opposite sides.

I noticed the sign hanging from the building a little farther down Main Street for Encore Justified was missing and started to fret until I remembered, 'when you hear hooves, think horse not zebras.' And speaking of zebras since the crosswalk was right there, I used it and continued up Broadway past the not-quite-ready-to-open Craftsman Cliff Roasters coffee shop next door to the under-construction  Fairhaven Hotel that's one of the Broadway properties the Stackstone Group is transforming. 

Proving I'm not as predictable as I'm often accused of being I chose to NOT take a photo of City Hall and continued up the hill, on Broadway rather than Union Street, towards Little Plains Park and past the Cathedral of Saint Patrick. I admired the foliage on a tree in front of a yellow house facing the park that's in desperate need of TLC and dollars to fund a renovation and restoration. 

I came upon a bumper crop of lawn signs on a corner house near Broad Street supporting a multitude of folks, incumbents and newcomers alike, seeking seats on the City Council though the one that caught my eye because it towered over all of the others was a For Sale sign causing me to wonder about the  support from someone who is probably engaged in packing and leaving.

As I neared Chelsea Parade and home I paused as I often do, to admire the exterior of the Mount Crescent House Bed & Breakfast (and smiling at the memory of the afternoon I had the opportunity to enjoy the view of the outside from the inside (and it is gorgeous)), and then hurried past the Teel House and a moment later, was home again, home again, jiggity jig.
-bill kenny

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Clear Your Calendar

If you decided to sleep in this morning you may not ever get the chance to read these words. Or pay off that credit card bill or return that book to the library. 

When they say "you snooze, you lose" this is what they were talking about. 

Don't know about you but I feel fine.
-bill kenny

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Of the Rosary Might Be More Appropriate

I started sitting and typing what passes for thoughts, hopes, and dreams (interspersed with the occasional invective, veiled threat, and innuendo) exactly ten years ago. Wow. I'm rarely at a loss for words, as you would well know if you've been reading this at any time during the last decade, but that's really all I have today, wow. 

These are the ones that got it all started (plus some Grateful Dead just because). 

Driving past Washington Street this morning, it looks like a growth industry is the hardware business-selling neighbors large plywood sheets and paint so they can erect signs to yell at one another on the issue of spot zoning.

New signs insisting on the right to do with their property what they wish, possibly from those who've sold options to developers, angry at 'the select few' (as their sign says) who insist this commercial endeavor be turned away.

Another sign boasts about the increase in tax revenues and the additional (service) jobs a new mini-sprawl, I meant mini-mall, will bring to Norwich (even though the pharmacy hailed as 'new' will be the existing one from across town.)

Jobs, much like Einstein's matter, can neither be created nor destroyed, at least in development models. If we take six inches from the front of the blanket and put it on the back, the blanket is NOT a foot longer. Let's hope we do NOT need a thirty-seven-minute PowerPoint slide show Monday night at Norwich City Hall for that to be understood.

Everyone's signs ignore, or seem to, our inability to look ahead and plan accordingly.

When you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there. 
Right now, most of us think any movement, even the circles in which we are turning, is the same thing as direction. Most don't know the difference between smart growth and economic development (all ducks ARE birds but not all birds are ducks) and until we learn that, we're fated to waste a lot of time thinking we're having a contest between 'property rights' and 'NIMBY'. It's not really what it's about.

Meanwhile, those whose agenda is not and will NEVER be that of advancement and enhancement of Norwich's economic basis will prosper while residents remain reactive instead of proactive.

-bill kenny

Friday, October 13, 2017

Can’t Tell the Phobias without a Scorecard

No one, to my knowledge, is afraid of Thursday the 13th or Sunday the 13th. But when we start contemplating the calendar and fall across today, some folks get way beyond afraid and transcend 'skeered.'

Their terror is so real and so large that having just one poly-syllabic word to describe that fear of Friday the Thirteenth, friggatriskaidekaphobia, isn’t quite enough so we have to have a second word as well, paraskevidekatriaphobia.

I wonder how often either comes up as a word during the National Spelling Bee. I’d ask ESPN since they air it live (because we can stretch the meaning of sport beyond all belief) but they’re working on their own fear, JamelleHillMayTweetAboutTrumpAgainphobia.

Friggatriskaidekaphobia seems to have its root in Frigg, who is/was the Norse goddess of wisdom (and for whom Friday is named) as well as two Greek words, triskaideka, meaning 13, and phobia, meaning fear. 

Paraskevidekatriaphobia is derived from Greek: paraskeví means Friday, and dekatria is another way of saying the number thirteen.

Girl Scouts would have been smart enough to ask for directions.
What other blog gives so much value on the flimsiest of pretenses? And how do we do it at such an everyday low price?  Volume!  We buy directly from the dictionary factory and pass the savings, as well as diphthongs and diacritical marks, still farm-fresh right to you. Helps me avoid Athazagoraphobia.
-bill kenny

Thursday, October 12, 2017

As Mathy as I'm Likely to Ever Get

A blast from my past. For comity's sake, I'll offer that I hope you enjoy.

Driving home yesterday afternoon on Washington Street I saw a lady walking with two dogs-one barely a dog at all, in terms of carbon footprint while the other looked like a Great Dane crossed with a Brick House. I flashed on that expression always attributed to people from the South (I wonder if Bridgeport counts, if I'm in Norwich) about 'it's not the size of the dog in a fight but the size of the fight in the dog.' while looking at the pair take their mistress for a pull. 

She had her hands full. The big one, whom I named Lenny, was slow and plodding just taking it all in. The tiny one, George, was pushing to get ahead and move on--possibly not even sure where he was heading, but making great time while doing it. He barked at every falling leaf while Lenny moved as if in slow-motion while we were back up in the booth reviewing the replay. 

It was entirely possible that one of Lenny's umm, movements (quick save on my part) would probably weigh more than George with his leash and collar on and from the distance that George kept from Lenny it seemed, perhaps, he had come to the same realization. A chopped Honda with a rear spoiler, because that's what keeps the rear wheels on the ground when the nitro kicks in on the 1.8-liter engine, went Humpty-bumpy down Washington, windows wide open, the driver sharing his music with the world. 

The microscopic rep from the Animal Kingdom was the first to voice his displeasure, I suspect because the bass was so overdriven (cracks seemed to appear in the sidewalk and birds and bugs were plummeting stone deaf and dead to earth) it was probably painful for such sensitive ears. George, as befit his size, actually sounded like a squeak toy as he registered his protest. 

Lenny, on the other paw, seemed at first to not notice or mind, as he plodded on oblivious to the SOHC of the Apocalypse heading in his direction, boom chakalaka boom. When the Honda could have been no more than ten feet from him, Lenny let out a HUGE bellow, the force of which may have actually slowed the Honda down and stepped into the street, dragging his dog-walking companion with him. 

The Honda hot rod stood on the brakes, at least as good as his subwoofers, and Lenny stood on his back legs with his front paws on the car's hood and howled in a piteously pathetic tone that simultaneously told you he was hurting and promised he wouldn't be in pain alone for much longer. Even I, who have difficulty telling which end of the dog to pet and which not to, knew there was no translation needed from the Dog Whisperer. 

The driver fell out, more than exited from, the car, frantic that he'd hit the dog. He should have had such luck, instead, he had the animal's fullest attention. The woman was struggling to control George who was doing that small dog classic barking while straining on the leash routine that translates as 'let me at him and I'll murder the bum!' 

Meanwhile, woebegone Lenny yelped for relief from forces he could not perceive. Eventually, the driver realized the sound system was the culprit and turned it all a tick to the left of eleven, the dogs quieted down and he got back into his ride. I was just driving past as I watched George, always quick to hold a grudge I suspect, christen the guy's front tire. I figured as angry as he'll be about that later, he should be grateful Lenny hadn't followed George's lead.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

All These Letters but None of them Are Varsity

This time a month from now will be the day after we've elected a Mayor, a City Council, a Board of Education and a City Treasurer (I almost always forget that last one). You're better at math than I am so I'll let you do the countdown as long as we agree to not lose sight of the importance of an informed vote. If you just speed-read through that last sentence, please go back and read it again and tell me which word is the most important. Yeah, you know me too well: informed

Every election, be it for the Presidency of the United States or the fourth-grade, I spend a lot of time reading as much as I can about those running for office. The higher the elected office the easier it seems to gather insights and information on the persons and programs asking for our vote.

In theory, for local elections, we should have easy access to the beliefs, accomplishments, and plans of those who are, literally, our neighbors, and yet politics can sometimes be a strange intoxicant causing some to become a person they themselves don't recognize in order to capture an office. 

I listen to my neighbors, attend debates and candidate forums, take copious notes, read all the news articles I can find, and yet I always seem to get lost wading through letters to the editor of the local newspapers. 

Don't get me wrong. I think those letters of support to the editor are a marvelous idea and an integral part of our tradition and institution of local governance, but as the years have gone on, they're less about learning something informative about those seeking to be a member of the City Council or the Board of Education and more about what the other gal/guy/party will/didn't do. Instead of enticing/exhorting me to run towards a person or a party, they too often encourage me to run away.

Letters assuring us the people seeking office are good to their Mommas, crazy 'bout Elvis, rescue stranded kittens from trees, and, generally, are kind and generous people. But, we already know that. We are extremely fortunate to live in cities and towns with carloads of people who want to help and who will work hard to make things better. The road to a proverbial warm place (no, not Miami) is paved with good intentions so mind the potholes.   

Except not all of us who want to help can actually do so. All things being equal, how do you pick the best of the well-intentioned? I suggested it earlier, do your research. Talk to your neighbors but don't let them make up your mind for you. Decide what issues matter to you and seek out those who share your beliefs. 

And please, find the time to attend a candidates forum even for people you don't think you'll vote for (maybe especially those people). As a matter of fact, you can get a start on that tonight at seven in the NFA Slater Museum auditorium for a debate among all five mayoral candidates. Many of us spend more time picking out the clothes to wear to work than considering who should be on our Board of Ed or City Council. And if that doesn't bother you, it should., 

Since I was speaking about letters how about some from you, the candidates? Tell me your goal, your plan for achieving it and how you'll measure our progress on the way to the Emerald City so we don't get lost or stalled. You've got one opportunity to tell me. Do NOT mention puppies. Go. Gimme the Truth.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Universe Is Not Made of Atoms

Today's electronic scribble is of value actually only for me. Sorry how that works out for you. And when I say ‘value’ I think I mean therapeutic only.

I’m watching a situation develop that I can neither stop nor steer and to make it more frustrating for me, I’ve been told in no uncertain terms to “be careful what you type” a warning with just an undertone of menace which is not the best way in the world to recruit me for your cause but recruitment is about as far from the goal as imaginable.

I remember the first time I read Joseph Heller’s brilliant first novel Catch-22, while I was an undergraduate in mass media on the banks of the Olde Raritan at Rutgers University (#WOULDTHATWEHADTHESAMEENTHUSIASMFORANEWCHEMLAB), strange how jocks still rule and thinking at that time that it was the funniest book I’d ever read.

Forty plus years later (#!!), the humor is a little thin as the wisdom “Catch-22 says we have the power to do to you anything you do not have the power to stop us from doing” fills up the room, displacing all the oxygen while making the art of breathing impossible.

Except, as it turns out, that’s the point, leaving me to remember Ben Shahn and ‘you have not converted a man because you have silenced him.’ To be continued? Absolutely.
-bill kenny 

Monday, October 9, 2017

In Honor of the Day

I'd wish you a Happy Columbus Day but only if we were in Ohio. This is from some years ago and seems to have aged well which is more than I can say about myself. Back then I called it: 

Flat Earth Membership Cards Accepted Here

I wrote this a number of years ago thinking if I wrote it down and read it aloud all of it might make more sense than to struggle silently. It turns out it still doesn't seem to be right and I'm not sure we care enough to ever fix the wrong.

When we were kids, Columbus Day was a big deal. In New York City the Department of Public (almost dropped the L off that; awkward) Works used to paint the white line on Fifth Avenue purple for the annual parade that was always held on the real date of the holiday, October 12. In light of so much, I, as a man now know that as a boy of twelve didn't about the Rape of Paradise which ensued after Columbus' arrival, I think perhaps blood red might have been a better choice of colors. 

When I was a kid, all I ever cared about was the day off, just like kids across the country. We all recited the rhyme because that's how we knew what we did know about Columbus and since there wasn't a snappy couplet about genocide we didn't hear anything about that aspect of discovering the New World (I also don't remember the Arakawa natives part but some of the little gray cells have had some rough days). 

Looking at the world as it is and how all settlement and civilization has developed, I'm not sure it's just Old Chris we should be putting in the defendant's dock and charging. I'm thinking a look in the mirror, as well as a glance out a window, might increase our catch significantly.

And to compound the cacophony of facts clashing with opinions is the realization that not only did Columbus not discover the New  World, he wasn't the first anything anywhere. We've spent hundreds of years observing a historical event that is neither historic nor actual. Sort of like being the second runner-up in a three-legged race.

And now, as it's the dot on the "i" in Monday holiday, we have another excuse (and sales opportunity) to buy bedding or is that just me in the last couple of days? Sandwiched between the 'My candidate is on the special advisory committee to Gawd while yours eats bugs" commercials have been a steady stream of ads selling mattresses. I'm not sure there's any more of a connection of one to the other than there was to India from Bermuda back in the day. 

Speaking of which, you have to cross an ocean from a basement warehouse at Bertramstrasse 6 in Frankfurt am Main to get to a certain city in Ohio. All I know for sure is such a journey can take decades and cost you more than you ever believed you could pay when you first started as both Chris H and I can attest. But it's worth every penny, for your thoughts and otherwise.        
-bill kenny

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Worlds Change

Watching the news last night I saw stories about Hurricane Nate bearing down on US Gulf Coast and remembered something I had written this time a year ago. And now a large piece of the other side of the sky is gone as my mom, whom I mentioned in that note died in early June and I just realized again how I'll never hear her voice again.

Matt and Joan

Sitting in my living room watching the evening news most of this week as Hurricane Matthew continues to wreak havoc and other clichés of destruction in an ever-widening radius, realizing from the local forecasters we here in The Land of Steady Habits will see next to nothing in terms of adverse effects.

I'm not unhappy to hear that as I like my weather nice enough to walk around outside with nothing more on than a light jacket (during the winter) and considerably less than that in the summer months (all while wondering why my neighbors pray for blindness and/or darkness), but my Mom has settled in down in Florida through one of the corridors these things tend to rush through and Matthew is severe and she is my Mom.

Mom raised six of us (think 'cat rodeo' without the cats), survived multiple bouts of breast cancer (the belts are in the trophy case) and almost thirty years of marriage with our Dad before he died so if I were a betting man, I wouldn't put too much money on Matthew, or on any other meteorological  depression, getting the better of her, but I have been known to light candles more out of habit than devotion and then admire their flame.

I called her Wednesday evening and she had just finished putting the hurricane shutters up on her house and was a little out of breath from that and very much out of patience with Matthew for the oceans of commotion these storms always stir up. She sounded okay on the phone but mentioned she had a fallback location on the far side of Jupiter, the city in Florida where she lives, not the planet, farther away from the ocean than she is.

Mom walks across A1A every morning to go to the beach so I think farther away is in the eye of the beholder but I've decided to keep my thoughts to myself on that subject. She spent so much of her life worrying about me and my brothers and sisters, the least I can do, I suppose, is to slap a tight smile over my big mouth and make sure to keep it closed while she rides out this storm.
-bill kenny  

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Don't Do Me Any Favors

I've read all the articles I'm willing to read about how NOW, less than a week after the carnage caused by weapons in Las Vegas is not the time to bring up the importance of controlling gun violence. Maybe we can send a note to Miss Manners and get a reading on when is the right time. I will point out that I think enough time has passed since the murders at the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando by a person with guns that we can talk about that if it pleases the court. 

I'm sorry if I'm coming across as cranky. Fear for own's life will do that, I guess. For those wrapped in the 2nd Amendment and who want to talk about prying etc., from your cold yadda, yadda, good news, I have industrial pliers and am willing to use them. 

I call bullshit on the 2nd Amendment being interpreted as 'own as many guns as you want' and think it's time for 'own as many guns as I want.' Might put a dent in this statistic. What do you suppose might be "other guns"? Staple guns? 

I get the whole "Guns don't kill people, people kill people" mindset but it would appear that guns are the choice for a lot of those people killing other people. Just sayin'. What has me so red-faced and red-assed is reading news stories waiting for someone, anyone, to look at the issue of bump stocks, concede their sole purpose is to subvert the feeble gun control laws we claim to have and make semi-automatic weapons fire just like (banned) automatic weapons and not ask the most logical question so far, "why are bump stocks legal?

And now that the NRA has given a tentative thumbs-up to a halting discussion that might accomplish something but not nearly enough, we all breathe a sigh of relief and return to staring at our phones waiting for the next news alert. Here's a bullet for your boyfriend.   
-bill kenny

Friday, October 6, 2017

Head Start

I have errands to run today so I took a  day of vacation (actually I can take vacation in hourly increments, which, even after all these years I find astonishing and pretty cool) which works out pretty well for me as Monday is the Columbus Day holiday, even for those who are a little ashamed that we still celebrate it (I’m not technically in that number but I also understand how and why people who do feel that way should be encouraged to feel that way; Christofo is a man who inspires passions on all sides).

I always tell myself I should catch up on my sleep on a day off as if I worked in a bank and could just make small deposits against a large withdrawal later in the week. I’ve tried that so many times over the decades I’ve lost track and so far (in 65+ years) it hasn’t actually worked out though, technically this could be the weekend where the planets align and the moon is in the Seventh House (which it found on Air B’n’B) and peace will guide our planet.

In light of how the week started, that wouldn’t be a minute too soon as far as I’m concerned.  Summer, which ended on the calendar two weeks ago and then disappeared from the region a couple of days later, has returned, at least the heat and humidity part has but I’m thinking we’re living through the last hurrah of sorts before autumn arrives in earnest.

I’ve mentioned before that I hate autumn and I must always add that it’s not autumn’s fault. I will concede that I do love the crisp snap in the air and the palette of shifting colors on the trees but it’s the ‘what comes next part’ of autumn that has forever soured me. We could skip winter, as a concept, a season or a state of mind and I would shed not one tear.

And if you were looking forward to ice skates or snowshoes for Christmas, I hope instead you get an airline ticket so you can fly to someplace that has cold and snow and leave the rest of us around here alone to look forward to Spring and beyond. Which seems to me like a pretty good project for this day off I’ve given myself. It ain’t a pony ride by any means but it’ll do. Giddyup.
-bill kenny          

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Some Days You Eat the Bear

And some days the bear eats you. I always have napkins, to cover any eventuality. 
This is from long ago, maybe before you were born; maybe not. 

As we head towards the Holiday Season (mental, if not always actual, capital letters), we (or at the very least, I) start to lose sight of the reason for the season and regard this time of year (between Labor Day and Hallowe'en (which isn't a holiday dammit!)) as just another obstacle to be cleared, another steeple-chase to be run, another 'thing' to be gotten through. 

I'm not alone. I'm seeing lots of grumpy and frumpy folks out in the stores in recent days probably doing what I'm doing which is wondering 'what the heqq are all these people doing out here shopping today while I'm shopping?' We have a landmark store and chain closing forever around here tomorrow, I think, and going in there right now is like going to a wake.

We are blessed with choice. It's a cliche, I know, but that doesn't make it less true: and we are blessed as a society. We really do throw away more of everything than most other people on earth have had, or will ever have. And yet, given the chance, we cry for the moon and the stars and cry even louder when we all we receive is the sun. Is it possible our greed grows exponentially as our needs grow arithmetically? How much is enough and how much more is too much?

Did The Lord give us two hands just so we could take as much as we could grab and two pockets to put it all in? Maybe. Here's another question: how are we supposed to say a prayer of thanks when our mouths are full?
-bill kenny

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Hearts and Minds (Not Knees)

I was taught that it takes all kinds of people to make a world. In light of how much of a knucklehead I can often be I’m grateful we seem to using a very loose definition of “all kinds” though I am becoming concerned and not just a little vexed at how frequently we seem to be trying to impose a public definition on what should be among the more privately personal of our individual values, patriotism.

George Bernard Shaw observed, “Patriotism is your conviction that your country is superior to all others because you were born in it.” I guess with that as a definition, I’d have to plead guilty as charged, but if it pleases the court (of public opinion), your mileage may vary.

I’m a white sixty-five year old male and from that perspective and with my experiences, I can effortlessly endorse a sentiment that says this is the greatest nation on earth and perhaps the greatest country in the history of this planet. Except….    

I have eyes and ears (we both know I most certainly have a mouth) and sometimes they see and hear things that tell me there are many others with whom I live side by side and/or street by street whose American Experience has thus far been dramatically different from mine.

It’s all well and good to believe we are a country with justice for all but we need to be honest with one another and concede that’s a goal and not yet a fully shared reality.

I'm not always comfortable being reminded we're not all equal or treated equally, but my comfort aside, we're not and there are too many reminders every day of the journey we have yet before us. And that conclusion brings me, almost inexorably, to the NFL and the brouhaha over protests, insults, call-it-what-you-will, and our National Anthem.

I’m not sure we’ve paid this much attention to Francis Scott Key’s words since he first wrote them after witnessing the siege of Fort McHenry. But I do know TV networks rarely if ever included coverage of it at any sporting event until very recently.

Some see the players’ behavior as an “insult to veterans.” I wore an Air Force uniform for eight years to defend the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave,’ not just for me and mine, but for everyone, so I’m not insulted when players are taking a knee.

Rather, I’m angry that they have to call attention to who we are because it means the promise of our anthem, of our flag, of our way of life, is a lie, when it doesn’t extend to everyone.     

Carl Schurz, a patriot of another time, once said, “My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.” We need to stop arguing about who takes a knee or why and, instead, take a stand and make our country the nation we claim it is for all.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

This Much Madness

I think I am completely out of "thoughts and prayers for the families" at this point. I suspect it may be time for the current tourism slogan to #take a knee because this charade of hapless helplessness has gone on just about long enough, hasn't it? 

In all likelihood, this is a much better question except asking it would invariably lead to a sequence of events that could end somewhere around here and we have somehow, somewhere, and at some point decided we'd rather die than irritate or antagonize the National Rifle Association, except (how's this for irony) that's exactly what's happening.

Too often we do this: 

because we have decided to do this: 

-bill kenny

Monday, October 2, 2017

Taking the Long Way Home

Sunday was a wonderful day, weather-wise, here and I hope was as nice where you were. I walked from our house to the market where I'd normally buy a salad for lunch at work tomorrow but I'm awfully sick of eating what at times tastes a lot like lawn clippings, especially when I can smell other folks' lunches' aromas from their microwaves. 

I am about 20 yards from the highway, but in a different space altogether.
I grabbed a couple of heat and eat meals that always lie about how many they feed ('approximately three servings' HA!) and started walking the long way home when I opted for a road, in this case, a railroad, not taken. 

The light is in not at the end of the tunnel.
I'm not encouraging trespassing but I've always wanted to walk along those tracks and so yesterday I finally did. About a minute into the walk a small fox crossed my path along the tracks which took me aback and made seeking and finding a good solid stick a rather practical matter. I didn't see a fox again leading me to wonder how large a stick the fox had picked up.

View from the tracks at the Upper Falls (which aren't right now)
I knew the way or thought I did and knew where the railroad line would come by as I've seen it a thousand or more times as I've walked. Except this time I was walking it backward or inside out (I'm never sure which) and so everything looked familiar but was in a different space and time from I'm used to it being.  

TheYantic River trestle seemed like an old friend when I rounded the corner.
I had a self-created opportunity to see the familiar in an unfamiliar way. Not so much a journey on the road less traveled but more being mindful of the road you're on
-bill kenny

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Money Speaks for Money

I don't really care which newspapers you read, or TV news you watch, or if you're an alliterate imbecile who doesn't have the attention span that can accommodate even the briefest of news updates (I'm keeping my hand up as no one told me I could put it down; typing with one hand is awfully hard, in case you wondered). 

If the disasters of foreign policy that are happening in Korea and Iraq aren't your cup of tea especially when compared to the natural disasters befalling so much of our own nation while those whom we have elected to protect and defend us from all enemies, foreign and domestic, look on mostly from a par three-sixth hole on a golf course we'll never belong to, check your own bank balance, pay packet and see how much less, and many fewer dollars, your salary is buying you.

If you suspect you're getting screwed, I have good news: your suspicion is correct. And yeah, I know it's a lot of words, but you really should read this, or find someone who does read and have them read it to you. And as anyone will tell you, wages is never the whole story, so tell me about your savings account because as short a story as that will be when we discuss your health insurance the silence will be deafening. 

It must be a comfort to know how many people in Congress on all sides of the aisle have no idea what happens when a wage-earner falls ill or what a working family gives up when someone in it has an illness. And as long as health insurance, coverage and costs remain a statistical abstract we'll keep having stupid people lecture other stupid people as if the former were describing the latter as being from another planet. 

And for anyone who was ever in, or was ever the beneficiary of, a union, the no joy lamp may have been lit as Not Really Diana Ross and the Other Supremes unravel another part of the social safety net while insisting the private sector and the greedheads who run it will make everything all right and that hole you and yours are falling through is actually your own damn fault. Again.

"Money speaks for money, the Devil for his own.
Who comes to speak for the skin and the bone?
What a comfort to the widow, a light to the child,
There is power in a Union."
-bill kenny

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Would You Lie with Me and Just Forget the World?

Like just about everyone on earth, I look forward to the weekend. I'm hoping for this one in particular for a double dollop of uneventfulness (or uneventitude? I'm never sure which).

I brought my wife to our local hospital's emergency room yesterday at late morning, for a sharp pain in her chest, right around where she had similar pain in June of 2015 which turned out to be a heart attack.

While the staff ran tests of all manner and origin, I unpacked all the worst-case scenarios I keep tucked up inside. That way, no matter how awful their medical report might prove to be, and it really wasn't in hindsight, I've already imagined infinitely worse.

As good fortune and excellent healthcare insurance (Attn: GOP, Clean-up at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, bigly) would have it, she was allowed to go home with the promise to behave herself. 

About three hours after we'd returned home I realized I was still shivering from the fear of a loss I am powerless to prevent. We're married forty years next month and the thrills never stop though I'd be lying if I said a bit of a break would be kinda nice for both of us.
-bill kenny

Friday, September 29, 2017

Reaching Beyond Merriam-Webster

How a reality TV star has redefined acceptable dissent: 

Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say,
Get that son of a (expletive) off the field right now. Out. He’s fired. He’s fired!

"If you look, there were people protesting, very quietly, the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee."

Thursday, September 28, 2017

I Read the News Today

One of the dilemmas of these far-too modern times might be reduced to the simple question, "just because we can do a thing, should we?" It's timeless and has always haunted us. 

I'm sure Milli Vanilli would have faced it after Girl You Know It's True if they hadn't gotten tripped up by Rose Mary Woods' tape deck. (Alas, poor Maxell, I knew him well). Everything in moderation, to include moderation, is a wonderful thought to live by. Too bad too few do.

That said, I'm sure we could have had far more letters than just 26 in our alphabet but someone, someplace said 'two dozen plus two is just peachy' and spared us the turmoil of the Dano-Norwegian Alphabet, with its Ø also known as the "not an O letter," to say nothing of the Æ (and quite frankly the less said, the better).

So it's with some trepidation I read news reports of Twitter doubling the character count. I do appreciate the idea of testing the concept with a selected group of users before offering wide-scale deployment. I hope I can be forgiven for praying that NOT among the double capacity testers is someone who has caused me to wonder about his testes and their size especially in the last eight months. 

As Little Marco shared with us once upon a time and long ago, he already has tiny hands. Trying to type 280 characters could mean a tweet that denigrates Colin Kaepernick, while simultaneously insulting Senator John McCain, disparaging three governors and two (or more) foreign leaders and nominating Steve Bannon for a B'nai B'rith award all in one swell foop. 

All of which could cause, I hope,  something other than those itty-bitty hands to catch on fire.  
-bill kenny