Monday, April 24, 2017

Nice Weather on a Day We Could Use It

Saturday around these parts was a washout; actually more like a drizzle out, but yesterday! Just look!

Gorgeous, innit? Those views are NOT actually from my house, but rather some of the views my brother Adam enjoyed while running at his house.  Here's my view of his view.

Not shown in this photo are the very spiffy swimming trunks I'm wearing just in case.

Actually on my walk yesterday, I enjoyed a neighbor's initiative in planting daffodils in the berm between the curb of the street and where the sidewalk starts. I think they look lovely, and they made me smile.

On my way back from the grocery, I met the youngest and smallest squirrel I have ever encountered. I suspect I was the oldest and/or ugliest bi-ped it has ever met (so far).

I could hear you musing at how much the me in that photo at the computer resembles that squirrel. Sticks and stones, my precious. And speeding cars, if you're a small squirrel.

This was another part, and just about the capper to my walk yesterday.

Another view of which I never tire.
-bill kenny

Sunday, April 23, 2017

It's in the Cards

I have a routine when I get up in the morning, still before the chickens though not before my brother, Adam, that sometimes causes me to rush into the early morning hours more wide-eyed and wild-eyed than wary and wily (the twin coyotes from different mothers).

It happened again last Thursday. The first thing I check when I go online is my bank statement, even though it's really NOT a bank but, rather, a credit union statement. Anyway, listed as 'pending' last Thursday morning was a purchase on my debit card from "Amazon Luxembourg" for sixteen dollars and change. It didn't ring a bell with me.

I checked the 'on order' account with Amazon, hoping that I was trying to surprise myself for my upcoming birthday with a frilly, pretty something or other, but nope, I wasn't. I'm so thoughtless that way.

That was followed by a phone call to a very nice and bright person with a relentlessly cheerful voice at wherever the help center is located, who canceled my card and the purchase (we have a yellow sun so conventional limits on super powers do not generally apply) and arranged for me to walk (because it's that close) to the nearest branch and get a new debit card.

I then got to spend a not inconsiderable amount of time amending all those different on-line activities where I've stored the number on the now old card to pay for goods and services. FWP, I know, and yet here I am still getting weepy-eyed remembering the travail of it all.

I'm very appreciative of the superior customer service though I remain a little disquieted that I've now go through this same drill twice in the last six months. It competes for time and space in my front lobe with the sense of puzzlement that comes from trying and failing to understand why someone, somewhere would expend all the energy and time to nick my account to steal something worth under twenty dollars. Talk about possessed by your possessions; time for an upgrade.
-bill kenny


Saturday, April 22, 2017

It's Just Eh?

Happy Earth Day 2017! I would have gotten you a card but I always worry about where it might end up, recycling bin or land fill and saw no need to take that risk, especially with a corporate captive like current Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency standing the watch. And with the current Secretary of Education, how long before reading becomes a lost art?

Anyway. In terms of talking about being reassured on protecting Spaceship Earth, about all we can do is talk about it because if we're looking to the Fed to set the tone it'll be a little like trying to keep the deck chairs from going over the side of the Titanic (but with the even less actual success, I fear).

This is all the planet there is, as far as I am concerned. I was almost eighteen when I and a contingent of classmates from the Carteret Academy in West Orange, New Jersey, marched down NYC's Fifth Avenue in the first Earth Day celebration in 1970. Okay, we'd gotten lost while in The City for the day ( a senior trip of sorts, class not citizens). Not quite sure who it was, but someone figured the parade would be a great chance to meet girls. Who cares why we were there! Still.

I thought then and think now if we work to make the place on the planet upon which we stand and live the very best we can, each of us can rescue all of us. So not just today, but every day, when you see something, environmental or otherwise that causes you to say 'somebody should do something!' please remember you are that somebody.

Me, I just bear up my bewildered best and some folks even see the bear in me.
-bill kenny  

Friday, April 21, 2017

Requiem for a Blowhard

When Larry and Alex regard the Fox News Channel as "Main Stream Media," Houston (and Cleveland, and Scranton, and Dayton, and Fresno, and all points in between) we have a problem. All three of those websites cause my browser to shiver and their perspectives on world events, both large and small, never fail to perplex me.

It's been a rough thirty-six hours (and more) for all of them, what with their Culture Warrior, Bill O'Reilly, having taken one in the 'nads (I prefer the more traditional spelling with the apostrophe) at the hands of a large contingent of SJWs and will in all likelihood hurt himself trying to carry to the bank the tens of millions of dollars in settlement money he'll receive from his now former employer.

It's wrong to gloat though I have been known to enjoy a certain amount of schadenfreude so I admit to chuckling at this farewell to the Bloviator. None of that helps reduce the humiliation and feelings of inadequacy and injury to self-worth that many, many women employed at, by, and with Fox News Channel endured at the hands (small and otherwise) of O'Reilly and the other sexual predators in Ailes' Guy Club. I can't offer anything more than that which he refuses to do, which is an apology though I know it is entirely inadequate (in much the same way as he is).

To formally mark the end of an error, please let me share a truly magical interview moment from long ago when No Spin Bill met No Shit Dave and was absolutely o.w.n.e.d.

Farewell, you "self-righteous landfill of angry garbage."
-bill kenny

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Making Awesome Happen (Voodoo Chile, Slight Return)

I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed writing this until I rediscovered it. Hope you feel the same about reading it again.

If you must steal, and since the last time I had an original idea it died of loneliness I have to steal, make sure you steal quality. So I do and I did. Came across today's title as a status description by SF on Facebook Sunday (though NOT SF Sorrow) and a light came on (so thank you for letting me appropriate it even though you may not know I did. I will know).

Admittedly, the light was NOT the million candlepower type on a search and rescue helicopter but rather more like the bulb in the fridge at one in the morning when you seek sandwich fixings only to find some desiccated lettuce leaves you thought you'd already pitched in the bin.

Meanwhile, why not decide your new job, in addition to being a brother or sister, son or daughter, father or mother, employer or employee, laggard or laggee (okay, you can take this too far) sekt oder selters-whatever-- is, in however you have within your means, to indeed make awesome happen. Would this be a cool planet or not? Let's face it, you can't muck it up any more than it already is (I hope). Seriously.

Our toxic culture of victimhood is so prevalent and the mindset 'there's nothing I can do' is now such an auto default, just getting out of bed for some of us is a triumph of the will (though NOT that one). So live out loud. And if you don't change the world today, there's tomorrow and tomorrow whether the sun comes out or not (and get these mutts away from me, Annie).

Don't be daunted that you're alone that's how we enter this world and how we'll leave. It's what we do, or choose to NOT do, with the space between that marks our passage on this planet and if you're living for the approval in the eyes of others, you've already got one foot in the grave. 'I am only one, but still, I am one. I cannot do everything, but still, I can do something; And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.' 

We might want to stagger the schedule for the whole making awesome happen thing so everyone can actually savor the sensation and appreciate the majestic magnificence of what it is we are doing and what is becoming of the world we inherited. That's part of our problem sometimes as a species, I fear, the moderation switch has been broken clean off and our appetites for destruction are so seldom sated.

And in a world of Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Push-to-Talk, IM, texting and I don't know how much else, where I discovered with a shock that I 'know' more people online than I do in real life (by a factor of ten to twelve times over), it's easy to lose sight that "God is on the cell phone. God is on the net. God is in the warning. God is in the threat."

And if that's not enough to get you excited about being here, call in the next twenty minutes and we'll double your order, ship it to you for free and also make the first two credit card payments for you. Just part of the service.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

If You Can Read this Headline

You are already pre-qualified to read the rest of this article! 

I stole that trick from one of those old 'draw this dog' matchbook cover challenges for whoever was selling correspondence course lessons in art from back in the day. Not intrigued? How about this alt-fact from a few years ago? According to a survey, I may have just made up, children who are raised with books in their homes have 75% fewer misspellings on their visible tattoos. See? Now you're impressed. 

We are, I have been told, in danger of becoming an aliterate (not illiterate) society; that is, we know how to read but we choose not to. In our world today it's not just television, video games, computers or various hand-held devices which are changing our relationship to the written word, it's our tendency to regard books as a rationed resource or a luxury we feel we cannot afford. 

I'm not saying literacy is a lost art, but in the not too distant future when Carmen San Diego finally finds Waldo, he'll probably be reading a book about striped shirts but holding it upside down (oh! the humanity!).

But this weekend, we can take and make a stand (and fill a home bookshelf or three) while saving some of the change we'd like to make in the world. Starting Friday morning at 9 with an Early Bird preview hour (ten dollars gets you first crack at delectables and collectibles), the Friends of Otis Library unlock the basement doors all weekend through Sunday for their Annual Spring Book Sale.

Aside from the Early Bird, the entire three days is free and whatever your heart, mind, and eyes desire can be found. All winter long, the Friends have been sorting and organizing for this three days. Sports, history, biography, gardening (Spring looks to have finally arrived), mystery, classics of traditional and modern literature and everything in between and yet different, are sorted, shelved and priced to move.

Don't let the name fool you. There are also CD's, DVD's, posters, and cassettes at prices so low you'll buy twice as much as you first planned for pennies on the dollar with the Otis Library benefiting from every purchase you make. In an era of shrinking governmental support being a friend of Otis (or in my case, just an acquaintance) is a way each of us can help all of us. 

No matter which of the days you stop in (and free admission is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday and from noon to 3 on Sunday), despite what you may have been told, there is all kinds of free parking in downtown, just a few steps from wherever you wanted to go. 

Perhaps after you've checked out the book sale, you'll want to visit one of the many restaurants that seem to surround the Otis Library (who knew reading could lead to ravenous hunger?). If you haven't been in downtown since the Fall book sale, shame on you, but that's for another time because there are even more great places open now.

If you're coming early on Saturday, before hitting Otis, be a little earlier and swing through Greeneville and stop at Quercia's on North Main Street at the intersection of 8th Street for the formal dedication at ten of the Greeneville Mural, a community project spearheaded by Faith Satterfield that brought together, as great art should, all kinds of people from everywhere. 

It is beautiful both for what it is and what it shows we can do together.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Imagine All the People

Maybe it's because it's spring, maybe it's because I believe winter is finally in the rear-view mirror, or maybe it's because it's just the right moment to look forward to new beginnings with friends we haven't yet met. Sometimes the urge for going is so much greater than any reasons for staying. And sometimes one completes the other rather than competes.

At the risk of being perceived as (this time, unfairly) politically partisan, things in just about any corner of our world you choose to look at aren't getting any more pleasant and brighter. With the past as prologue all we have to do is look at our history to see what happens when we choose to focus on our differences rather than celebrate our similarities.

Still, despite that (or because of it), the farther out in space you go, the more alike we look. And when you pay attention, you might not hear the grass grow but you can watch all of us become even more.
-bill kenny

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Telling Never Changes the Tale

I wrote this years ago because there was nothing else to write that day but the words of the next paragraphs. We are another year on, no sense still makes no sense and people still have holes in their hearts where loved ones used to be. 

Today is Patriots' Day in Massachusetts and also the traditional running of the Boston Marathon. That order of precedence, if you will, was altered and changed for forever because of circumstances officially recalled in this news account on the one year anniversary of a day now four years previously that we all recall.

In 2013 at the Boston Marathon, Dzokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev those evil, ungrateful bastards whom we took in and who repaid that kindness with killing innocents, broke hearts, destroyed lives and shattered our national illusion of insularity and insulation from the other horrors of the rest of the world and altered forever anyone's memories and imaginings of the Boston Marathon.

Both brothers will be long faded from memory before what they did is forgotten, but better remembered, and hopefully always remembered, is what they failed to do. Just ask Jeff Baumann, who gets stronger every day and whom I fervently hope gets angry and powerful enough some day to kick the ass of Dzorkhar all the way to Boston Harbor and then hold him under until the bubbles stop.

I understand being an angry old man will get me nothing but an even more premature grave and I should take my cue from those who not only survived but triumphed over the tragedy of that day. Perhaps I shall, starting tomorrow.

Martin Richard
I have the good fortune to have a Facebook friend, a Fenway denizen and Grammy-nominee, who spent a lot of years on the Jersey Shore and has now followed the advice of Horace Greeley and gone west, Linda Chorney, who repurposed and molded her sorrow to create a beautiful celebration of a life taken terribly, suddenly and far too soon into a song perfectly suited for today and all those enjoying it.
-bill kenny

Sunday, April 16, 2017

On the Corner We See Him Coming

These started out as some of my thoughts (or what passes for such) some years back. Some things like wine improve with age; others, like sweat socks, not so much. I'll leave it for you to decide because you always do.

I used to be a Roman Catholic--actually, that's far less than accurate or truthful. It's like saying I used to be an alcoholic. Those two statements have no past tense, or pretense (my attempt at a literary joke); they just are and in this case, I am both.

The jaded, faded imitation of a person I am looks at his faith as a child and finds it easy to mock the boy on his way to manhood, but also envies him the beliefs he had. When I threw the faith of my fathers into the ocean of doubt, I had nothing to hold onto in its place as I never had the courage of my own convictions and could not develop any trust in those of any other.

Today is Easter Sunday the most important feast in the Christian liturgical calendar and (pardon my pseudo-theological seminary sermon) precipitant of the article of faith that makes us Christian if that's indeed what we are. Christmas gets the lion's share of press, carols, cards, shouted best wishes at one another, and window dressing. Christmas gets marketing help from every wholesaler and retailer imaginable and why not? Christmas is a lovely story, wonderfully symbolic and simply beautiful if you don't want to think too much about it.

Take a look at today in the New Testament of your choice and foreboding's afoot in every verse of every version of the events leading to Easter (those, by the way, are the versions and verses of my choice). And in one of the most ironic choices of terms associated with any aspect of Jesus Christ, is Good Friday, which marks His Crucifixion and Death (I went back and made the "h" a capital, not because there's hope for me but out of fear that there is no hope). And as you read the accounts, let's face it, the events of that day are absolutely horrible.

The crowd, the occupying forces, everyone, it seems has abandoned the Son of God who is sentenced to die (I'd say 'murdered' but some might argue the state does not murder) in an extraordinarily horrible manner. And yet.

It is both that death by Crucifixion but more importantly the belief in the Resurrection which followed that so many commemorate today that's the defining event for every Christian, even the ones who seem more like Simon Peter than even they should ever admit in this life.  I want you to remember this. Come on, try to remember.
-bill kenny

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Lord, Won't You Tell Us

I have never been to the Vatican, nor have I stayed at a well-known motel chain, but I know my way around the Stations of the Cross and the Lives of the Saints. I'm always amazed at the number of people who think Christmas is the origin of Christianity-others consider the beginnings to be Easter Sunday.

If the former is The Promise and the latter The Promise Fulfilled then today, Holy Saturday is the act of faith and hope that defines you as a Christian. The belief in the Resurrection which the New Testament portrays as the promised reward for the faithful servant is never so near and yet oh so far as it is today.

The earliest disciples had nothing to go on, unlike we of the Brave New World Order. They had witnessed a crucifixion-one of the most egregiously horrific forms of a death sentence at its time. Cowering in an upstairs room, huddled together while fearing any sound and every footfall was possibly a signal someone was coming for them, they had no way to see the glory of Easter Sunday. All they could do was believe.

For them to believe as devoutly as they did between the worst day in the history of the world and its greatest day remains for me as a loyal son of Holy Mother Church, but a FARC  for more years than I care to recall, the day which created the Christian religion, today the test and proof of faith.

From childhood on, I struggled against the suffocation that surrender to the traditions and the rites seemed to signify. I took no solace in unquestioning and unswerving belief, preferring what I understood the path of Thomas to be and finding no one who could answer my questions, absenting myself from the body of believers. How odd that this declaration of freedom has never created a sense of being free.

Not that I don't envy those of faith and think about the comfort that comes from that, especially as I did last night revisiting a news archive to read again about the costs of war and who pays them with the death of Captain Nicholas Rozanski half a decade ago. He came from Dublin, Ohio, to be lost in the fog of war on the streets of Maimanah, an unremarkable spot on a map of a nation we have carried with us for nearly two decades, unable or unwilling (I don't know which) to lay that burden down.

Captain Rozanski's death and those of all the fallen and forgotten should be another reminder to those of us who are alive to redouble our efforts to be the best people we know how to be in The Now because The Next, as the New Testament illustrates, can be so lonely and uncertain without a reason to believe. And either you have a reason, or you become one for someone else. When you do, every day is Easter.
-bill kenny

Friday, April 14, 2017

Distant Ships Sailing into the Mist

There is, preached Kohelet in the Book of Ecclesiastes, a season for every purpose. And around the world today within the Christian faith we are within the Paschal TriduumMonsignor Harding, wherever he is in all of the eternity, would be wide-eyed with wonder that, of all, I have been given or taught, and of all that I have lost or had taken from me, that would be a term I would hold onto.

I know a lot of Christians who see the birth of Christ, Christmas, as the defining moment of their faith, and I guess if you work retail that's an attractive argument. As a child growing up in Holy Mother Church in the late Fifties and Sixties, I knew (and had plenty of nuns, Sister of Charity type, if I were to forget) for Catholics it was the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus.

I can still remember Sister Thomas Anne faintly smiling as she ticked off the three events on the fingers of her right hand: pinkie, ring finger and middle finger (how ironic is that? (I'm lying, third graders had no concept of the significance of the middle finger, not even Bobby D'Alonzo who was a pretty fast crowd all by himself)). 

She would pause as she noted the similarity to the Holy Trinity, three persons in the One God. When I watched her do this same explanation, with the pregnant pause in the same place, complete with the slow smile of accidental recognition of her triad point for the next five years, there was still a sign, but the wonder was gone.

And yet, I suspect she, too, is smiling today. It is Good Friday, a day of such momentous import to so many disparate elements of our historical, philosophic and cultural identity where, no matter your belief, or disbelief, you can take solace from the perfect sacrifice of the Son of God who became the Son of Man and laid down His life. Even if you have wounds that can never heal, you can, if only for today, have hope, knowing there is a tomorrow.
-bill kenny

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Babylon Is Everywhere

This is Holocaust Remembrance Week. Considering the unthinkable brutality we have visited upon one another (and every species) since the dawn of time and learned to walk upright, you can be forgiven for wondering why commemorating the Shoah is only a week.

On 11 April 1945 (Western) Allied troops, technically the US Army with (about) a Canadian brigade, liberated Buchenwald, the last of the Nazi death factories. As a child growing up, I'd heard whispers by the Post World War II grown-ups, many who'd served in the wartime military about the camps, never grasping the enormity of the horror behind the gates.

While living in (West) Germany I went to Bergen-Belsen (there was a huge NATO tank competition range near there at Fallingbostel) where, decades after the horror, the early summer sky never seemed as blue overhead as it did on the landstrasse leading to Celle and where I never saw an insect of any kind or heard the song of any bird.

Science dictates they had to be there, in this place where Anne Frank and her sister, Margot, died of typhus, two of the over one hundred thousand people who perished in captivity for the crime of being different. I felt foolish offering you a link on Anne Frank as you know who she is, unless you don't, which then beggars all logic for the establishment of a Holocaust Remembrance Week in the first place.

Intolerance and hatred of the other have a long history in the human race. Some have said the first tool fashioned by the earliest man was a weapon to kill his neighbor. I'd suggest the Shoah marked the successful combining of primitive, superstitious and mindless hatred with the unfeeling, uncaring and antiseptic precision of the Industrial Revolution.

In a perverse, and reverse, triumph we had, ourselves, out machined the machines in dispatching those unlike us with a uniformity and consistency never before seen in our history on this planet. That it continues to happen, across our actually very small planet on a daily basis, in a variety of ways often so numerous and sometimes both subtle and less so, we often don't actually feel the hate, brings me to the brink of tears which is the wrong emotional response.

To have come as far as we have we, the self-anointed Crown of Creation, and still be able to stoop so low. To be so willing to harness the ingenuity and intelligence of millions of years of evolution and education in the service of the most venal and loathsome of all of our emotions is to stand naked before the world whose judgment we have chosen to disregard.

"There on the poplars, we hung our harps; for there, our captors asked us for songs.
Our tormentors demanded songs of joy. They said, 'Sing us one of the songs of Zion!'
O Daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us. He who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks."

No corner of the world is immune to the infection of hatred as we see in every headline on any day of the week. It never stops but merely pauses only begin the cycle again, in all likelihood never to end. 
- bill kenny

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Time to Make Your Own Demands

I admired the measured enthusiasm of the Bulletin’s lead editorial last Wednesday in assessing City Manager Salomone’s budget presentation last Monday night, “Optimistic City Budget on shaky footing.

We have had these discussions on city budgets for just about all the years I’ve lived here (I am not suggesting cause and effect) and it’s good to have a reminder that in life (and budgets) things change. And often change again.

To tell you the truth I wouldn’t have been too surprised if the presentation had been printed in Jell-O because of all the unknowns and variables.

As I offered in this space years ago, the City Manager’s proposal is a process to which each of us is not only invited but encouraged to join and a discussion we, the residents and citizens of Norwich, will have with one another, with our municipal department heads and our elected officials.

Together we’ll craft a document by which we define our expectations for the quality and quantity of our municipal services, from public education and public safety to trash removal and road resurfacing and everything in between, as well as what we are willing to pay for these goods and services.

Last Monday night wasn't a preview or a rehearsal, but a combination of both with elements of neither.

Everything starts somewhere and last Monday’s presentation by Mr. Salomone was intended to be that start. We need everyone’s help so be ready. And if you haven’t yet, you should go to the city’s websitebecause that’s where you can grab a map so to speak of where we’re heading. 

The City Manager’s proposed budget is there and it reflects an enormous amount of effort, planning, and thought. You really should find the time to read it to appreciate what its creation requires in terms of time and talent.

Some department budget hearings have already happened, to include the Board of Education, whose presentation, and that of Norwich Public Utilities are also on the website.

There are more department hearings tomorrow night, starting at six followed at 7:30 by the first public hearing by the City Council. Reading ahead is always a great way to become informed and engaged so I’m grateful so much and many of the budget components are online but while they tell us what things cost, only we can decide what they are worth.

So if you’re intending to comment on the record and want our neighbors who are the City Council to listen and consider your words, please come prepared to speak but also be willing to listen to others when they speak because that's how reasonable people develop solutions, not through anger but agreement and not  naming scapegoats but offering solutions.  It’s our turn to weigh and measure.

Our city budget is a compact we make with one another, and for one another, that began with those who founded Norwich and now stretches to our children and their children. 
-bill kenny

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Putting the G in OMG

Perhaps because it's Easter Week or, as of sundown tonight, Passover, I've noticed a lot of Facebook Postings either to or about God. Admittedly there are still far fewer pictures of Jesus than of Grumpy Cat, and I certainly don't wish to suggest they are interchangeable images or that anyone is keeping count (but they are, I'm sure). 

Anyway, back to the Lord. An important part of many people's faith or the practice of it, better said  I think, is the public testimony and in that sense, all the social media platforms offer an opportunity to do that (except maybe myspace; a decade-too-late snarky remark at their expense, sorry).

Expressions of faith always discomfit me. I think that's due to a number of personal factors like being a Roman Catholic. No matter how good the Good News is, we were programmed as kids in parochial school to wait for the other shoe to drop. And eventually, it did. I think maybe Catholics in general have a less intimate relationship with the Deity than other religions. 

For my part, I was raised in the faith of my fathers and I didn't leave it so much as it left me so there's that sin of pride thing going on, adding to my problems on the Last Day and the Big Pop Quiz or however the final selections are made. (Add to that now the whole 'you compared Jesus to the Grumpy Cat!?!' I'll never explain that away). With my luck, they'll be a sing-off and won't that be just ducky?

I suppose if you believe in an All-Seeing and All-Knowing God, S/He would monitor Facebook. Kind of wonder if S/He would have an account. I know S/He has a fan page though a quick run through raises more questions than anything else since the whole "God Updates" name confuses me. Why not Twitter? It's more like a burning bush and that was good enough for Moses. In light of how we've followed them perhaps the Ten Commandments were actually snap chatted. It certainly covers that 'moves in mysterious ways' thing that's always a topic.  

I'm thinking for some of The Flock, the Lord may be a kind of McAfee or Norton virus protection and every once in awhile we like to wander off the beaten path just to watch the pop-up window signal us, and Will Robinson, of impending danger. I wonder how many 'likes' all of the loosely affiliated with Divine Providence pages manage to generate on Facebook in a day or a week and how that number compares to how many people are online and playing Farmville? There are Farmville Dollars you know; if you were looking for motivation and salvation in the next life wasn't doing it for you. Just saying. 

I mean, how many times can anyone thumbs up the Mckayla Maroney meme? Jesus is easy.
-bill kenny

Monday, April 10, 2017

I May Be Totally Wrong but......

I dance exactly like some white guy nearly sixty-five years old dances. That is to say, I don't. I have no sense of rhythm and as those around me on the rare occasion when I have 'danced' can attest, no sense of decency or decorum.

That said, I may try to get a disco ball in place of the dome light in the car so that when I choose to get down with my bad self while motoring I can really get down. This song is just brilliant.

And I have the blisters on my feet to prove it.
-bill kenny

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Going the Distance

It's Palm Sunday, which is a major liturgical event across Christian calendars and, raised as a Catholic, still resonates with me decades after I decided I didn't need the Church but like to know where the nearest one is, 'just in case.' It's Easter, you see, and NOT Christmas, that makes Christians, Christian.

The Son of God's birth and life weren't what allowed 'mankind' (and women, too) to be able to enter the Kingdom of Heaven; it was the sacrifice of His death, our redemption by forfeit of His life, that defines our religion. Faith and good works are one thing--laying down your life for what you believe is entirely another and so trumps any discussion on deeds as faith in action. I know I'm going to wish I had ended this right here. Just as I now know I won't.

In the New Testament, this was a Day of Days, a triumphant entrance, hailed as the long-awaited fulfillment of the Covenant. But, I've always wondered, since Israel was occupied territory and the Romans, beginning as a democracy but now an Empire, were in charge, what did they make of this procession and where were they?

After all, they swept down on the Son of God in a matter of days so they could have stopped him much earlier onwards. Perhaps cited him for overloading a donkey, or passing a religious pilgrim on the right in a school zone, or failing to slow down coming through a viaduct construction area.

I can just see the Roman chariot, the oscillating two blue torches flashing in the early morning daylight of the desert, with the centurion slowly dismounting and walking towards Jesus, lifting his visor as he stares into the eyes of the Son of God.

"Hello, officer," says Jesus. "Is something wrong?"
"Yeah, as if you wouldn't already know that, right?" says the centurion. "I don't suppose you noticed that burning bush back there on the left? You certainly didn't stop, Sir. I'd like to see your license, animal registration and proof of insurance. I see you're with Maccabees' Insurance-good people, have them myself, Sir.
Stay here please while I call this in....."
Or not.

And what would be different about our world, if God had sent his only Son to us now? In an era of instantaneous worldwide communications, wouldn't it have been easier, better, more effective and efficient than in the era He chose? It took the Romans how long to finish the survey of subjects and citizens they had just started when Mary and Joseph had started towards Bethlehem? I've never read how many were in that population, or how many languages were spoken in the Empire.

Today, Jesus could have been in The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer or been added to a special edition of Sean Hannity. He could even have been chatting away with Rachel Maddow.

Or, in honor of all the times a pitcher after strike-out points to the heavens, or a basketball player crosses himself before attempting a foul shot, Jesus could sit in with Chris Berman on Sports Center.

Maybe He should hold off on that until Good Friday when, as He carries His own cross up Golgotha, we can hear Chris exclaim, 'he could go all the way.'
-bill kenny

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Subject to Your Briefing

Count the number of times in the course of your day (in person or on the phone) someone asks 'how are you?' or words to that effect. I think we use turns of phrase like this to fill up the silence between us. No one expects an answer and when you do your count, I think you'll be surprised as to how often throughout the day we reach for this conversational crutch.

Every time I go to a physician's office (and I see enough different doctors that I have my very own Blue Cross/Blue Shield customer rep, 1-888-bill-sick), the receptionist asks me how I am. I am in your office to see your doctor; do the math. I'm certainly NOT here for the six-month-old magazines or that gorgeous view of the tops of the cars in the parking lot. And as lovely as that wall clock from the drug company rep for one of the erectile dysfunction treatments may well be, I already have a watch and didn't stop in to check the time. Besides the size of the sweep second-hand makes me feel very inadequate.

Perhaps, the person behind the desk feels they should do something for the co-payment. After all, when I do get in to see the doctor, I'm not going to get a complimentary tongue depressor and I've yet to be offered a special on a colonoscopy (BOGO 'buy one, get one-half off!').

So how should you respond? "I'm fine" Suppose you do that. Does the desk jockey immediately determine you needn't see the doctor and do you get your co-pay back? Two different questions with very different answers (so far for me the latter has yet to happen).

And then when I do get to the exam room, the doctor invariably starts off by asking 'how are you?' as well. I've often wondered if he checks the answer with the person out front to make sure I haven't wavered since the waiting room. Lost in all of this is that the answer to just that question is why I am in the doctor's office in the first place.

Unless unbeknownst to me, I'm really part of some kind of a carney act, where he guesses my weight or how much change I have in my jacket pocket. Thirty-eight cents, by the way, doc, and none of the five coins is a dime. Hmmm......

Anyway, you ponder that cosmic question and I'll check back in with you later on. You'll know that it's me because I'll ask 'how are you?' but I won't be listening to your answer.
-bill kenny

Friday, April 7, 2017


I was behind a young father with a daughter, perhaps three or so, asleep on his shoulder standing in the express line at the grocery the other day. He looked worn and worse for wear and I realized some of that must come from living on the knife's edge as he separated the few things he's purchasing into a 'cash' and an 'EBT' pile.

I've had days and weeks, and so have you probably, where I was short on money and you have a distraction routine that run on yourself to keep you occupied as you decide just how much food or whatever it is you're buying that you can actually afford. But having said that, I know I have never needed to live day to day for months on end and since my grocery store encounter the other day, I've spent a lot of time looking up and around to see more and more people doing just that.

The danger of hand to mouth living is eventually you start chewing on your fingers and when that happens you're not able to seize an opportunity to lift yourself up and out of the trough you've become surrounded by. As a culture, we've gotten better and better at inoculating ourselves against feeling very much at all when times for those around us get bad.

We have news sources of all shapes and sizes to tell us the weekly and monthly unemployment and underemployment numbers but the root word there is numb. Which is what all this information seems to make us. I watch TV reports about state and federal funding shortfalls that have the potential to leave tens of millions of people in even more worse shape than they are already in and I feel nothing.

No sadness, no regret, no remorse and no revulsion that any of this is going on around me. In the land of unlimited opportunities, we have winners and losers from birth and perhaps even before which is just so much horseshit. We are the most powerful nation on earth, and in the history of our entire existence as a species. And we have citizens who have no place to call home or no way to get well if they get sick, get fed if they are hungry, and so on and so forth. And they were born into it. No place in paradise for the preterite.

And as I stand behind this man at the grocery, I watch his child sleep and know that whatever she's dreaming (if she is indeed dreaming), no matter how awful it may seem to her, it is far better than the nightmare life she will awaken to because of decisions people she will never meet have made impacting lives of those whom they will never know.
-bill kenny  

Thursday, April 6, 2017

How Thoughtlessly We Dissipate Our Energies

I’m inching ever closer to my 65th birthday, or, with a tip of the hat to Jack Benny, the 64th anniversary of my first birthday. And as I do, more and more of who we are and why makes less and less sense to me, Because I do believe that those who cannot learn from history are fated to repeat it, I keep returning to both American and World history because who we are now, to a great extent, is who we were when....and America and the world of 2017, liver spots, MAGA ball caps, and beauty marks, is to a large extent based on what happened during and immediately after World War II.

A war that was fought before (about) 86% of the world's population were born continues to exert an influence over who we are, and in all likelihood who we shall be, in much the way the moon affects the tides of the oceans here on Earth. Some years back instead of using the internet to send someone a cat meme, I used it to prowl around the National Archives who have amazing information online if you have the time and patience to look for it to include the census from1940, which as an amateur historian I consider to be the last quiet year of American history.

The United States was still struggling to find its way back from the brink of the abyss, financially. A wildly speculative Wall Street, an unregulated banking industry, and good old-fashioned greed (odd how it never goes out of style, innit?) had taken us South in 1929 and we stayed there, more or less, despite poking and prodding and sometimes because of it.

And lest any of us with sympathies for what’s often called the alt-right attitude forget, the nanny state and the social safety did not yet exist. There was no Social Security, no Medicare or Medicaid-no food stamps, no heating assistance, no affordable health care. Nada. Zip. Gar Nichts. There was nothing but the kindness of strangers and the outreach of various religious orders and charitable organizations.

How different was the United States of 1940 from the one in which we live today? More than you'd ever dream but far less than you're likely to believe. Dive in and find out for yourself. Save those sepia tinted eyeglasses for reruns of some of those shows on Nick at Night-perhaps they'll be better with age, though I doubt it.

The big lesson I think we learn by glancing back through historical records such as the archives in trying to form a picture of life 'back then' is that we were more worse off then than we are now. It’s true; you can look it up and maybe you should, because/despite it all we survived; actually, we triumphed.

As we always shall and should, no matter who and where you are in our political landscape at this moment. It's sadness or euphoria and we need to be all in
-bill kenny  

Wednesday, April 5, 2017


It wasn't that long ago when I went for days or weeks even, without reading of or thinking about Norwich Public Utilities, NPU. I'm a customer of all their services and use each of them to varying degrees every day but I never gave them a first, much less a second, thought.

I could (and often did) sit in my living room and watch television newscasts filled with reports from around the state about power outages and damages caused by storms (of any and all kinds) and never bat an eye or wonder why those things didn't seem to happen too often here in my neck of the woods.

Meanwhile, the one hundred and fifty or so NPU employees did (and still do) all the jobs, large and small, that have to be done every day to provide the utilities we all rely on. Like Jeff who came out to the house Saturday afternoon to lead the repairs after wind and rain had weakened the insulation on a power line.

These days NPU is the talk of the town (and an item of interest among state lawmakers in Hartford as well) because some of the NPU leadership team including the General Manager and two (of the five) Commissioners, the Chairwoman and Vice-Chairman, were part of a forty-person entourage who spent a luxurious weekend last May at the Kentucky Derby in what we now call Derbygate.

Search online for "Derbygate" as I did with Google and you'll have "about 338,000 results in .48 seconds." Almost as many results as dollars that were reportedly spent for the trip. That's pretty impressive, especially for a situation first reported by Ryan Blessing in The Bulletin less than six months ago.

In re-reading that story, about the only silver lining I saw (and I had to squint really, really hard to see it) were quotes attributed to then NPU Commissioner Larry Goldman, 'I’ve been trying to find out who’s paying and why certain people are going,' he said...'and it shouldn’t be that ... lavish. '"

Follow-up stories revealed Derbygate was neither a solitary nor an isolated event. Each subsequent report was greeted with growing-angrier-by-the-minute public reaction. A lot of damage to the reputation of NPU and, by extension everyone on the NPU team, has been inflicted by a very small number of people who, I believe, should have known better and most definitely could have behaved better.

Mr. Goldman became a former NPU Commissioner March 20 when the City Council, on a motion made by Mr. Nystrom and seconded by Ms. Gould who both expressed disappointment Goldman had not spoken up sooner about NPU trips and spending, voted 6-1 to replace him with Mr. Peil. Only Alderman Braddock voted in opposition.

A week and a day after the City Council replaced the disappointing Mr. Goldman, the NPU Board of Commissioners at their next meeting, re-elected both Ms. Boisclair and Mr. Groner to their leadership positions with Mr. Peil voting with the majority. I guess I'm either surprised I'm not disappointed or I'm disappointed that I'm not surprised.

I have to assume the point of the Council's replacement action was to punish Mr. Goldman rather than to better manage the NPU Board of Commissioners (and its conduct). Again, sometimes the things (some of) our city leaders do speak so loudly I can't hear what they are saying.
-bill kenny