Thursday, July 20, 2017

This Makes Me Smile

Sometimes, real-life, real-time events have happy endings. I think this is one of those times.

Another time we can argue about the politics and perspective on world events that seemed to add a degree of difficulty in this journey from over half way around the world because it's important, but right now, I'm smiling at the success of all those from the other side of a particular piece of the sky.

We're not going to fix everything that's wrong in the world today, or tomorrow if I'm being honest both with you and myself, but every day we edge a little closer to making things better for everyone. We'd get there faster if we all worked together but it's okay because now I have even more proof that sisters are doing it for themselves. So step back or off and let them work.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Food for Thought

Through the miracle of technology, I received my first ‘it’s almost time for the kids to go back to school’ spam email yesterday. Decades too late to help any merchant’s bottom line but thanks for the thought. Except we have lots of summer still to enjoy so cool your jets, merchants everywhere; besides, I want to be serious and I’m out of practice.

George Gershwin wrote it and Ella Fitzgerald made it famous, “Summertime and the living is easy,” a song that captures pretty well that state of mind we flirt with as the mercury rises around here. And summertime living should be easy especially here in Connecticut with the highest per capita income of all fifty united states as recently as the 2010 US Census.

But we all have neighbors who are facing hard times in the land of plenty and who struggle every day to make ends meet and provide just the bare necessities for their families and themselves. 

We all know why food comes first when we’re listing basic needs like ‘food, shelter, and clothing’ and we try to help out the Connecticut Food Bank or our local food pantry with cash and other donations more often around the holiday season, for which everyone is grateful but (and it’s okay to be surprised by this), the highest demand for food is right now during the summer.

It’s been about a month since summer vacation started. Families with children need to provide about 100 extra meals during summer vacation for each child. That’s a lot of meals, and a lot more that are needed.

Here in Norwich, we have, through the Norwich Public Schools again this summer, a school meals program with a broad distribution network and reach (site lists are on the NPS website) for lunch just about every weekday. The meals are free to any child age 18 or younger and the children don’t have to be Norwich residents to benefit from the program.

NPS has the program well in hand but what I want to talk about is reloading and refilling the larder (the community food banks) for all the children and families who are in need now and will still be in need after ‘back to school’ really happens.

At this moment, the Gemma E. Moran United Way/Labor Food Center is looking for helping hands, preferably with fistfuls of dollars or canned and dry goods to fight against hunger and encourages all of us who can to hold our own a 12-hour food-a-thon. They even have a how-to on their website to walk us through it.

There’s a hit list of most needed items to include Ensure, macaroni and cheese, any and all pasta products, canned tuna, and soup. They also have a target date of next Thursday, July 27, to bring those donations (from seven in the morning to seven at night) to the Center at 374 Broad Street in New London. Hunger hurts. We should help. We can help. We must help.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

The Merriam and Daniel Webster

You can find the definition of schadenfreude in any even-below average English language dictionary but it's actually a German word that means rejoicing at the misfortune of others. It's a wonderfully useful word, in my opinion, and the first one that popped into my head when I came across hundreds of variations on this story yesterday, "Ann Coulter Had to Switch Seats on a Delta Flight. Then Came the Tirade." 

All I will say, in a horribly mean-spirited way (that I am frighteningly adept at) in my humble attempt and near-homage to the Queen of Mean in a vein she, herself offered not that long ago when she was sitting in judgment (as I am) on a situation about which she had no first- hand information, "I'm sad that you didn't report that they also dragged you. As far as I'm concerned, it could and should have been face-down over gravel because except for the improvement no one would have noticed the difference."

Best argument for illiteracy in a long time
"I guess being a spite-fueled conservative columnist in the Time of Troubles, Trials, and Trumpulations (see what I did there, blondie?) doesn't generate anything approximating common courtesy. I am sorry your broom was in the shop."

WOW! I can see why people hurl invective at each other! I Feel Great! Thanks, B****!"
-bill kenny   

Monday, July 17, 2017

Because We Can, We Should?

I discovered yesterday morning, too late to do me any good, I guess, that The Wimbledon Channel had been streaming the men's' finals and I suspect every match of the tournament on Twitter, a social media (SM) platform to which I belong and visit on a daily basis, though the more I visit the less I get out of the experience.

I remembered, when I saw the tennis stuff, that perhaps last season, Twitter streamed NFL games, maybe it was the Thursday Night games which (I am told) are the red-headed step children of American pro football but since they all wear helmets I'm not sure how you can tell the hair color. Such is the nature of much of the SM ephemera, the link above may now go nowhere, symbolic of so much of what we as a species are to this planet.

I don't quite grasp how watching a tennis match or a football game or porn for that matter on a cell phone screen is a quantum leap of any kind in any direction at any time. There are cell phone things, and there are desktop computer things and there are television things. 

Admittedly I use my cell phone to take pictures and to listen to music, mostly and have almost never made or received a phone call on it (or any of the cell phones I've owned) nor know how to come to think of it. I have no idea what the ringtone sounds like because I turned it off the minute I got outside of the cell phone store. I have the phone for my convenience and no one else's.

Returning to watching Wimbledon on a cell phone, I find the idea both less than attractive and less than practical. If I'm holding the cell phone in one hand how am I supposed to eat my strawberries and cream while watching the itty-bitty screen? I go from iPhone to I can't in a matter of a moment. Game, set, and match.  
-bill kenny

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Pain in Plain Sight

Suspect this is NOT what the Reader's Digest folks were driving at all those years ago with their notes about 'more picturesque speech', but it's a whole lot easier to remember and more fun to read. 

I've read the news account twice and the summary of the actual study, I'm surprised it's not louder right now in the conference rooms at our nation's Capitol as Mitch and the Munchkins try to twist one another's arms in a race to come up with the most awful, horrible, no-good healthcare plan for all Americans (except themselves) that's ever been.

I'm not suggesting we taxpayers should sponsor contests to see if nationally we can peel the paint from the walls in selected federal or state buildings in terms of the coarseness of the language, though that idea is tempting and oddly comforting.  

Of course, true confession time, when I watch the news reports (I stopped watching C-Span because I hate to see how sausage is made) I do think of some (perhaps) technicolor participles and anatomically difficult aerobic exercises, but I strive to NOT speak them aloud while processing those thoughts-at least not too loudly. 

Like many of us, I have had instances in the past where my evil twin, Skippy, (what my Imp of the Perverse answers to) has too often confused inside and outside voice and my ears have heard my mouth say things that I had truly hoped would remain secret. 

Now, if I can just work hypoalgesia into a sentence, ideally a limerick, it'll be a banner day. 
-bill kenny

Saturday, July 15, 2017

When Blackness Was a Virtue

Graham Parker, decades ago, ranted "don't get me to fill up your empty lives" as the star-making machinery enclosed him in a Cocoon of Cool where real life was notional and, for all intents and purposes, fictional.

Ray Davies of The Kinks wished for "(A) fantasy world of celluloid villains and heroes." And who among us doesn't remember a Golden Child from our youth, some perfect specimen of the species, whose life was so wonderful it hurt our eyes to just look at them? And should we encounter them today and they have something other than that Happy Ending they thought was their birthright, tell me you don't smile just a little (Schadenfreude ist auch ein Freude). 

So what should we make of the examples of what we usually call media feeding frenzy that is so much a part of our lives we think it's normal? With all the bread and circuses and the 'Look at me, I'm Sandra Dee' aspect of our news structures, the day must be coming when reasonable human beings should ask, WTFO? Or, perhaps more elegantly phrased, how did we end up in this hand basket, why is it so warm and where, exactly, are we going?

Not only do we rely on too many dubious sources of information and distraction, we rely on them in order to live our lives through their reports. How many more synthetic celebrities from sports, music and/or reality TV  do we have to have before we can finally look away? What happened to last month's Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan or (you pick one)? If they're not on the cover of AADDd (Adult Attention Deficit Disorder Digest) does that mean they no longer exist?

Show of hands: do any of us shoe shop with any of the people we read about in the lifestyle sections of our local newspapers? That's what I thought. But more of us know about the escapades of someone from RHOBH than can name the Speaker of the House of Representatives. 

Is this stuff news? Is any of it news, and for whom? Who's to bless and who's to blame? We are--that's the short answer, which is good because surveys say we don't have the span of attention required to have a discussion, much less develop a strategy, for better separating the wheat from the chaff. No wonder our world is so screwed up-look at how we gather the information to attempt to make decisions. And if you're hoping all the tumult and head noise will get better with time, let me talk to you about buying a bridge in Brooklyn.

Three question exam, but you have to get all three right. Ready? Probably not.
Who is the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff?
Who is the executive producer of TV's Survivor
Why did so many more know the answer to the second question but not the first?
-bill kenny

Friday, July 14, 2017

Leave Room for Dessert

It's been a long week, hasn't it? Just in general and without even getting into specifics on topics like US politics and Russian interference (or not, though, between us, I think the 'or not' ship has sailed with DJT, Jr.'s tweets and squawks). But I digress. Heat and humidity not just where I live but seemingly across the globe all compounding what a hard time we've been giving one another as a species.  

I have no idea why I didn't see this news item at the time it happened three plus years ago. I usually have a pretty good whimsy-meter and this should have caused the arrow on it deflect wildly if not just circle the dial three or more times and then fly off. Glad I can make up for it now.

I choose to regard this as yet another example of how absolutely nothing is lost forever anymore on the interwebz. Every stupid thing that' been done in the last (I'll guess) twenty of so years is someplace posted in a dark corner where electrons fear to tread, waiting to spring out on an unsuspecting web browser and tickle or terrify. I'm glad so much of my dumb stuff happened when dinosaurs, not terabytes, roamed the earth.

On the other hand isn't it also comforting to take solace in what may also be seen as proof that no matter how rich a repast is offered at life's banquet, there's always room for just one more bite. Or that there had better be.
-bill kenny   

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Don't Touch that Dial

We have a Farmer's Almanac for no particular reason (we are many things in my house, farming is not one of them) and we buy a new one every year pretty much out of habit and custom. It's not the Whole Earth Catalog (but then again what could be?) but it can come in pretty handy on sometimes offering insight into other events beyond its pages.

For instance, the July Full Moon was Sunday. I'm not sure if that occurrence is critical or coincidental to bear in mind as you read this dispatch. Maybe just me and my love of language but I'm tickled at the phrasing in the middle of the third paragraph, "dropping sharp-edged weapons out of the car window." (Roll-up or power isn't noted; the New York Times, the Universe's Newspaper of Record would have noted that in their story had they chosen to cover this.)

I was holding off on posting about this, hoping the police would release the music devotee's identity, but that hope has so far been in vain, so this one is for you, Anonymous Juggalo (wait! that's a great name for a band, innit?), because I'd like to believe you were sending out an S-O-S.
-bill kenny   

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

True Then, Truer Now

Almost exactly two years ago I offered observations about Downtown Wednesdays, the delightful combination of farm-fresh fruits and vegetables for much of the day, followed by some tuneful and toe-tapping music as the evening begins that caused more than one person to chide me about my “Rose (City)-Colored Glasses.”

Yeah, because so many really great things happen when pessimism abounds, be it the start of a new business or the ongoing resurrection of a small New England town that’s seen better days. This time last week, Stephanie Menders offered a report you should have read about all of it.

Thanks to a lot of different people, if you wandered through Chelsea in recent weeks and months, assuming you both look and see the activities going on, you’d agree we are, despite bleatings to the contrary, on our way to being a destination and someplace worth coming home to.

Here’s what I said and still make no apology for: Today, assuming the weather proves to be all that the forecasts promise, is the next installment of the (It's) Great (to be) Outdoors Season at Howard T. Brown Park at the Norwich Harbor (I like to think the "T" stands for terrific, or should).

You know how one of your resolutions for 2017 was to eat healthier? Yeah, me too. How's that working out? Thought so. Here's the bad news first: the year is now more than half over and the healthy still ain't happening.

Come Early and Stay Late
But, the good news if you hadn’t heard is there’s the Downtown Norwich Farmers' Market this morning at ten, running until two, with fruits and all manner of vegetables fresh from the farm to your table, so bring a basket and your appetite. You can stop by every Wednesday into very deep into the fall and enjoy the flavors of the season and get your 'good for you' on.

Eating good in your own neighborhood
You can keep tabs on what's going on in the market by checking out their Facebook page or just going to the park today and staying there until Halloween. If you're worried about parking, don't be. The Main Street Municipal Garage is a block from the Harbor and parking is free (and there's always spaces). You'll have enough time to get your purchases back to the car and to your house before you return because tonight’s Rock The Docks concerts with the 60’s Explosion Band starts at six.

Enjoy the enjoyment
It’s the perfect time to visit with neighbors you haven't seen since we were all dressed up like Eskimos clearing snow. The music's always great and free and there’s more again on Fridays at six with Rockin’ the Greens (at the Norwichtown Green) this Friday with Carrie Ashton.

Wednesdays definitely mark the mid-point of the week, especially at the Howard T. Brown Park. You can come join the fun or stay home and complain about how there's never anything to do. Of course, you'll have to talk loud because the rest of us will be at the park. Having fun.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Eighteen Legs and Catches Flies

(I am reprising a previous paean to MLB's All-Star Game to honor it. Sort of.) 

Today's title is the set-up to one of my favorite baseball jokes of all time-'What has eighteen legs and catches flies? A baseball team.' A knee slapper of the first order. 

The All-Star Game is on Fox TV tonight starting at eight and as both they and MLB have been saying in recent years, 'this time, it counts' because whichever league wins the game assures home field advantage for their team should they reach the World Series.

As a child, I remember watching TWO All-Star games every season and those guys played for blood. One year, on a grainy black and white TV, while watching with my dad in his chair the afternoon game, somebody threw at Willie Mays and it really got crowded on that little tiny TV screen (baseball players fight like girls, or like girls of my age fought-not those UFC women). I cannot imagine that happening tonight.

I wish I could say the same for Fox TV coverage of it as well. I don't dislike them when they televise NFL games mainly because I don't watch them. But I adore the ebb and flow, the game within the game, the nuance and the romance of everything to do with baseball and Fox grabs some hip-hop with auto tune music to slide underneath all the pictures, dawg, and thinks it's just off the hook. Nope, ain't dope and I can't cope. No soap.

Even though I know Fox is NOT responsible for it, I blame them (anyway) for the Home Run Derby and something that was streamed (rather than steamed) apparently last night, the MLB Celebrity Softball Game (how did we live without this all these decades?). 

I have nothing kind to say about the latter. As for the former, I know, "who doesn't like Home Run Derby?" No one, to include me but if we continue to allow it to be part of the All-Star Experience then we should have a game of H-O-R-S-E to decide the NBA finals or perhaps moments prior to the coin flip to start Super Bowl Whatever RomanNumeralItWasThisTime, there should have been a punt, pass and kick contest with the winner getting a touchdown and point after to begin the game or a field goal and the ball to start each half. Winner's choice.

Do NOT roll your eyes at me!

Of course, both of my examples are utterly ludicrous but so, too, is the attraction the Lords of Baseball have manufactured. I really can't expect any better from a management model that created the Designated Hitter, another excruciatingly stupid idea created by people who secretly hate baseball and want to kill it.

Coverage of the All-Star Game starts at eight, Daylight Savings, tonight on Fox and goes until somebody wins unless the two teams run out of pitchers. Should that happen I'm hoping we insist that the designated hitters have a Ninja Pants Off Dance-off
-bill kenny 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Grow Old Along with Me

Sigrid and I had the house to ourselves this past weekend and some wonderful summer temperatures and weather as well. At times, it was a lot like BTK, Before The Kids. It was a lot of fun and certainly, as Hudson & Landry might say, a "real memory flogger.

We discovered, despite the accumulation of decades, we are very much the people we were when we met and married. I never had any doubts, and I'm not sure if Sigrid had any smiles at arriving at that conclusion, But, almost forty years on, she's still a very good sport and remains the most beautiful woman I have ever known.

Beautiful women age like fine wine; men age like spilled milk
The photo is from Saturday night's WNBA contest between the Connecticut Sun and the Washington Mystics, won by the Sun after staging a ferocious comeback, 96-92. Date night was a success I think and a preview, I hope, of our lives after retirement. I wouldn't want it any other way
-bill kenny

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Douche Donut Daddy-O

I spend a lot of time worrying about being a good father. Cynics have suggested if I spent more time working to be a better dad I could spend less time worrying about it but I have decided when people go low like that, I go lower

Anyway, I can rest assured somewhat I'll get a Father's Day card next year, especially if either of our children run across this news item from the Great State of Maine. When I read it in our local newspaper yesterday morning, there was no photo and I imagined what Christopher Peare looked like. 

You cannot imagine my joy, actual full-throated delight, at finding a photo of Chris that confirmed my small-minded snap judgment of him. There's righteous and then there's self-righteous and I say Bring Out the Hellman's and Bring Out the Best. You could see my glow of sanctimonious self-satisfaction from space.

I loved the part in the AP account where it's not clear if Mr. Peare has an attorney because representation is as an integral a part of American jurisprudence as the presumption of innocence. What? 

Same charge five years ago in a different Maine city (and with a different child)? Chris, I think you should put the gamer console down, and pass the dutchie from the left-hand side as I suspect your musical youth is just about over. 
-bill kenny

Saturday, July 8, 2017


I offered this, for the most part, nine years ago. I meant it then; I mean it now even more.

Today is my son's birthday. When I type 'my son' or 'my daughter' or 'my wife' I smile, not because of a pride of possession mentality but because I am truly the most fortunate person on the planet.

If we've not met, count your blessings-I am NOT likable. Actually, on a very good day, with the wind at my back, I am not close to likable. Take my word for this because I could send you a list of folks who would attest to this, and that list would vaguely resemble the census in size and scope. 

Pat hopes I've lost this photo; better luck next year, I guess.
Being not likable makes it a stretch to be lovable, and yet, my wife, an otherwise sane and logical person, could not possibly be married to me for nearly forty years, but has. Our two children are the result of her ability to make someone into something they feared they never could be. She not only raised two children, she transformed a self-absorbed obliviot into an Approximate Dad. Considering what she had to work with, she done good.

I was afraid to have children--the actual, 'here's a small human to take care of and worry about for the rest of your life' portion of the program seemed more daunting to me than I could ever handle. I didn't have a lot of happy experiences being on the receiving end of Dad and Lad interactions. As a matter of fact, one of the better days of our lives together was when my father got up early to say farewell the day I traveled to the
MEPS station to join the Air Force. We were able to pretend for that moment that we had a bond, surety or otherwise.

Sigrid went into labor in the middle of the morning and we drove across town to the Offenbach Stadtkrankenhaus. German physicians in the early Eighties were pretty much an unknown species to me. As Sigrid's labor continued and the contractions shortened and the delivery preparation's tempo quickened, I was asked where I would be during her stay in the geburtsaal. I explained that I had placed the order and had every intention of taking delivery. It was like playing to an oil painting, no smile, no nothing, gar nichts.

This is my favorite one of us because I'm still taller
When Patrick was born, after what's considered a spontangeburt, Sigrid looked she had just run a marathon and was utterly exhausted. I watched while the midwife cleaned up my son and, as she swabbed off the blood, he peed on her. Crying, basically blind, totally helpless in an alien world, that was my son and I laughed out loud maybe in amazement but more likely in joy and thankfulness for what I had just witnessed. 

The midwife placed Patrick Michael on Sigrid's chest, for mother and child bonding and my disappointment knew almost no words. At that moment, I was so jealous of the woman I loved. I asked as politely as I could if after she had 'had enough of holding him' if I could.

I was stunned when she picked him up and fixing me with a stare that bordered on a glare (leading me to suspect that the geburt wasn't quite as spontan as the wizard in the white coat had thought-and just because it was spontan hadn't meant it was schmerzfrei) she handed Patrick to me, saying 'I've carried him for nine months, it's your turn now.'

Patrick Michael was, and is, my deal with God. From the moment I held him, I no longer cared what happened to me and egotist that I am, that's saying something.

Patrick on a day he took me out to the ballgame.
I know, your children are beautiful, and smart and talented and handsome and I'm sorry but they're not my children. I've given this a LOT of thought and my son and my daughter are the absolute best not only in the world but in the history of the world (there's a barn behind a hotel in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (I think), that might want to argue that point but no chance, sorry). Where was I?

I walked him around that delivery room for the next two hours or so, singing I've Been Working on the Railroad (the drum and piano would have cluttered the delivery room) and really booming those Fie-Fi-Fiddly-I-Os, making up in volume and enthusiasm what I lacked in pitch (and civility, I guess). 

I don't know why I sang that song--I'm shaking my head in bemused bewilderment as I type this line. It seemed like a really good idea at the time. Actually, it was a perfect idea.

And point in fact, I've gone on for way too long--Patrick was born faster than I'm telling you about it. In many ways, his first thirty-five seem to have sped by at that same clip. He and his sister, have overcome the handicap of being my children, mostly because they've had the good fortune to have the love and devotion of my wife as their Mom. And, yeah, he's made me crazy, angry, frightened, delighted and every emotion in between--because that's what children do.

Nothing ever gets lost on the internet, no matter how hard you wish!
And as long as you remember to make sure they always know that sometimes they will do things you will not like, but that you will always love them, they will be able to do anything, even leave you when they grow up to be adults of their own.

Other times, there will be phone conversations that start out about one subject and become all that and that infamous bag of chips. And your eyes will fill with tears as you watch them end the chapter called childhood and begin to write their own novel as the life you always wanted for them finally begins.

Trust me, it hurts, and maybe the keyboard blurs as I type this because the temperature's really, really warm and my eyes are perspiring-yeah, that what it is I'm sure. Be glad you're on vacation today with the love of your life otherwise the folks you work with would razz you today for having a dotty dad, but you knew that long ago.

Pat & Jenna

Happy Birthday, Patrick!
Love, Dad.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Now How Much Would You Pay?

I don't keep regular hours or at least regular hours that many would recognize as such. I set my alarm for half past four in the morning and more often than not turn it off because I'm already up. I have some health stuff I do: as in take some meds, get some glucose levels, measure blood pressure (for those who always fear I could have a stroke, the good news, my doctor says, is that I'm a carrier), catch up on some interweb stuff and change to go to the gym.

It's not actually a gym, it's Planet Fitness which is a lot of machines I sort of know how to use and a lot of clanky weight lifting and toning machines about which I know nothing except to stay away, far away, from them and try not to let any of whatever it is they do get on me.

This is a week I do the treadmill. There is something horribly symbolic I'm sure about my being on a treadmill in a small town near the Connecticut coast at a little after four on a weekday morning, a life lesson begging to be learned but I am not going to take the bait on that. There a lot of people around the world who dream of a roof to live under, or a bowl of food to eat and potable water to drink so I run on the treadmill and listen to and watch CNN and CBS News in the headphones and on the overhead big screen televisions.

Down the line, there's Fox News and Lifetime television, a station of what seems to always be non-stop infomercials, local over the air TV stations and ESPN. Something for everyone, though I don't know who defined the something or quantified the everyone.

There's a lot of advertising for people to fix their back taxes at oh bright early and on more than one occasion in the last week, two different ads have run back to back for two different services. One, I forget which, reduced a couple's taxes from over $48,000 to under two hundred. I'm wondering how much mire than my share of that stealth bomber I paid for if that's what happens on a regular basis at the IRS.

George Foreman is on at the top of just about any hour on every station of TV I've ever seen while on the treadmill, but he's not peddling the grill but help for fellow-inventors, I guess because I'm supposed to pretend he invented the grill that bears his name. Or electricity. Or maybe it's the meat the electricity of the grill cooks. When I treadmill, I'm in the zone and details get lost in the churn.

Quite frankly the variety of stuff, sorry a better word doesn't occur to me at the moment, you can purchase by calling right now or going on line is only topped by the amount of that very same stuff you can get a second one of right now absolutely free, 'just pay a separate fee.'

I've trodden hundreds if not thousands of miles and heard that pitch a billion times and I still cannot figure it out. Something is either 'absolutely free' OR I have to buy it. Telling me it's the former, right after I do the latter, I'm pretty sure means I didn't get it for absolutely free, no matter how many times you tell me otherwise.

It goes for copper cookware, a battle lantern with LEDs that the person in the commercial puts through hell, but it still works every time, the diabetes hotline, knee braces, something better than a Neti pot and Mike Lindell's pillows you can 'warsh' he says (like Goofy says gawrsh to Mickey).

All of these items are far better than mere TwoFers because they're absolutely free right after I pay a separate fee. And I keep wondering how did 24-hour-a-day TV exist before all night gyms with clients feeling single and buying double of everything, after "just paying a separate fee."
-bill kenny       

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Collect the Whole Set

I am the dishwasher in my house. My wife isn't always thrilled at that especially when it comes time to find the dishes and pots and pans, etc., that I have put away since I have almost no idea where any of the plates and silverware we have had, in some shape or form, for most of the nearly four decades we are married, are supposed to go.

Washing dishes allows me to attempt to think Great Thoughts (as opposed to mundane) since the actual activity itself requires very little frontal lobe involvement and interaction. Sometimes, I admit, it means I don't always get all the mashed potatoes off the blades of the watchamallit that makes them mashed in the first place but you can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs (which reminds me, I'm not really good with whisks either).

I can ponder what caused dinosaurs to die out, why the Yankees since close to Memorial Day have been awful, and why other animals don't make a big deal out of their opposable thumbs while washing, rinsing, draining, drying and putting away plates and silverware without any of the activities getting in one another's way. It's like a staycation without staying (I should have thought about that explanation when I was washing dishes; bet it would have come out better).

I get tripped up by my own sense of the universe in terms of numbers and implements. One of the reasons why I suspect I like washing dishes is that there aren't very many. I can recall no memories of joy associated with washing dishes when I was one of six kids growing up and we had actual machines that washed dishes. So this is one of those 'sacrifices' I make because there isn't one.

But, as I mentioned, I linger at the silverware tray wondering what's the number of forks and stuff and where are the ones that are missing, if they really are missing (see my remark earlier, above, about not being good at putting things away). We have six soup spoons, though I can recall no instances in my married life where people came to the house to share soup with me. It's good to know they could, I suppose, but better (for me) that they don't. And why six, and not eight?

Same things for plates and cups and saucers. Who comes up with these numbers? And, because I'm the one washing them, what do you do with the dish or cup, or plate with the chip in it? I cannot pretend that anyone else is responsible for the divot (no other word will suffice) in one of the soup bowls we bought at IKEA. I did that. And that bowl always stays at the bottom of the rotation.

If you just mouthed the words, "what rotation?" you do not have a place in my kitchen (which is probably already true based on how poorly I put things back) since plates, bowls, and saucers are used from the top down and placed back in the cabinet from the bottom up so that their use gets evened out.

DO NOT roll your eyes at me. I may, or may not, write my doctoral dissertation on the washing of dishes and the dissolution and disappearance of civility in our civic discourse if I ever have enough dirty dishes to wash in order to think it all the way through. Right now, it's a saucerful of secrets, no more and no less.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Best Laid Plans

I had every intention of bending your eyes today by writing about how you should lend your ears tonight about how the Jay Dempsey Band kicks off the Rock the Docks concert series starting at six, weather permitting, at Howard T. Brown Park.

Not to worry. The Wednesday concerts will continue and be enjoyed into August, whether I write about them today or not (I'm not a rooster who thinks because he crows the sun comes up), but a news item that first showed up last Friday while we were all distracted getting ready for the Fourth of July holiday has made me miserable and you know what they say about misery and company. That would be you.

I'm sure you, too, saw Ryan Blessing's story, "State to Norwich Children: No More Summer School" last Friday and probably did a better job in reading it than I did, at least the first time around. I skimmed it and had moved on when my brain sort of asked my eyes, 'what did you read?' and went back to take a longer look, perhaps, I guess (in my defense) because the prospect of the Norwich Public Schools not having the money for The Summer Learning Academy just seemed so absurd. Except I've been mulling it over, and quite frankly stewing about it and now it's Wednesday, and it's not just absurd anymore, it's just asinine.   

We just marked the signing of the Declaration of Independence with Thomas Jefferson's words about "...certain unalienable Rights... Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. (and) That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted." I tend to agree we form governments, regardless of the manner of actual governance, to do for us collectively what we lack the ability to do for ourselves as individuals.

And maybe I'm missing something, or maybe we all are when we elect/select those who represent us and our interests at all levels of government but the education of our children seems to me to be one of those basic services for which we created government. Except, again, in these parts. Instead, we seem to have created government that most closely resembles a self-licking ice cream that requires increased infusions of tax money to explain why less is accomplished. Let's stop this now.

Our two children are grown and gone, so my experience's 'best used by date' might be a problem for you, but the point won't be. Their first language was other than English when they started school here. They succeeded in both school and in life because of their own talents and efforts (not to mention an incredible genetic inheritance that includes a double-dollop of modesty) and in no small part from a remarkable public school system of programs and teachers who created an ecosystem that allowed them to grow into who they are today.

But in the decades since our children attended, programs have withered, been eliminated, improved out of existence (pick one) and funding is often more of a rumor, until last Friday when for The Summer Learning Academy it disappeared.

And rather than look at the causes of the financial instability and insolvency that forces decisions like this, and be inspired and incited to demand long term solutions which create real systemic change and reform, we idly and angrily wonder 'gee, what happens to our tax dollars' and continue doing what we've always done, growing angry when the result never varies or improves.

What is permitted is what will continue. If you want a better wherever it is you live, you need to make it yourself and join together with the rest of us right now.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Close Enough to Call It a Decade

I first offered this nine years ago. But, as someone from Hibbing, Minnesota, said nearly a lifetime ago, I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now (your mileage, on the other hand, may vary). 

You already know it's the Fourth of July--the calendar told you that. And we Americans (how arrogant are we that we share this American continent with people from Canada and Mexico-not even mentioning the other American continent, but we are Americans and everyone else is, well, everyone else) can, I hope, find the time today to reflect on who we are and how we got here (the good parts. We beat one another up waaay too often the rest of the year on who has warts and where they are. Let's have a truce, okay?).

I consider myself a Jersey Guy--I wasn't born there, but we moved there when I was very small and I moved away (not realizing it was forever) back in 1975. Now, when I visit relatives--actually that's code for when I visit my brother, Adam (he went from being my 'baby' brother to 'youngest' brother until I finally realized birth order is now difference without distinction) and his wife. I'm aware 'this is not my Here' (because I've felt that everywhere I've been my whole life.). 

Adam's much more a Renaissance Man than I in terms of interests and knowledge whereas I know what I like (in your wardrobe) and that's about it. Quite some time ago he came up with striking figure of speech, snowglobe, to describe his piece of earth and by definition, all of our claims here (Frodo Lives! Just not around here). 

I think it's amazing and amusing, with the space of years and distance combined with the differences in growing up, how each of us came to be who we are, where we are and how similar the snowglobes we've made actually are. And, because if you've read me more than once, you know while you can take the boy out of Jersey, you can't take the Jersey out of the boy, you had to know I'd close quoting Joyce Kilmer. 

Or not. 
'Sandy, that waitress I was seeing has lost her desire for me. 
I spoke with her last night, she said she won't set herself on fire for me anymore.' 
And, altogether now, whether you're from Jersey or not:
'Sandy, the fireworks are hailin' over Little Eden tonight,
Forcin' a light into all those stoned-out faces left stranded on this Fourth of July.'
-bill kenny

Monday, July 3, 2017

Praise We a Brat and His Furr-Ball Buddy

I don't say this lightly, I'm not well-known for my humor, but Bill Watterson's birthday which is this Wednesday, 5 July, should be a(nother) national holiday. Watterson, the genius responsible for the world's most wonderful comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes, never failed to amuse and amaze on a daily basis for the ten years and six weeks he shared his creation with the world.

One of the nice things about being somewhat advanced in years, and slightly mentally encumbered, is not remembering if I cried when the comic strip came to an end, but I suspect I did. I had and still have, a large number of the C & H books, which were compilations of the daily strips.

At various times one and/or the other of our children, for reasons entirely their own, have borrowed and enjoyed them as much as I still do and (at least in theory) have returned them to where they found them. Just as their father, a role model in everything even vaguely connected to doing as I say and not as I do, has always returned (nearly) everything he has borrowed to its proper place.

That's actually an inside joke. When I wash the dishes, my wife gets to play 'Where in the World Is Carmen San Diego?' with a surprising assortment of implements and kitchen objects, ranging from the mayonnaise knife through the plastic microwave splatter guard to the small chopping block, because her husband of nearly forty years just moved into the house they share and has no idea where she keeps any of these items.

Yeah, to some extent, I do resemble Calvin's Dad (mostly at the hairline), who, like Calvin's Mom never had a name in the comic strip. Calvin's classmate and occasional nemesis, sometime victim, and often object of unwanted attentions, Susie Derkins, went Calvin, himself, one better in that she not only had a first name, she had a last name as well.

You didn't need to know that Watterson had named his two characters for John Calvin and Thomas Hobbes, two more disparate souls you would be hard-pressed to find anywhere, with or without Carmen's assistance. The comic strip is marvelous without ever even understanding the irony of their namesakes and their respective attempts to petition the Lord with prayer.

Me, I tread lightly on the subject because my own relationship with a Supreme Being has been, shall we say, somewhat uneven for a number of decades, but I'm fascinated when, while channel surfing, I come across any of the televangelists toiling in the video vineyards in His Name.

I didn't even know there was a GodTube but I'm not surprised. After all, why not and does it stream to a smartphone? If so, I guess my first prayer is for patience (and an aisle seat in the back). Praise the Lord and pass the extra couch cushions. After all, a progress boink is, in its own way, a revelation. Can I get an Amen?
-bill kenny

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Roller Skates and Baseball Bats Are Summertime Things, Right?

This is one of these 'torn from the headlines' items that, as the pretend adult I am, I'm supposed to counsel 'don't try this at home, kids!' happened at home and it was kids, albeit from a long time ago (but I saved it because I loved it). Aside from that, no resemblance to reality, implied or expressed is intended.

This is sort of the fault of my late friend, Bob H because he sent me the original item in the middle of a busy workday (of which I have many, as opposed to a productive work day of which I have very few) but I was so busy, I really didn't read it and it didn't sink in until more than a couple of days later. That guilt might be a reason why I hang on to it still, and the headline still makes me shudder: Teenagers mistakenly assault woman's sex partner after they mistook her screams of passion for cries(I added the red for dramatic effect.) After reading the story you too will wonder why people despair for the next generation! 

I will very probably never meet Torrington Police Lt. Bruce Whiteley, but if anyone has Joe Friday down better, I'd sure like to meet them. In describing what had happened, this is his ENTIRE summation, "Swanson and Arnold had not been fighting." Yeah, once you've read the article, that conclusion just jumps out at you. 

I think the young Mr. Roger Swanson should be very grateful he hadn't planned on a day-night doubleheader. And whoever said 'safe at home' has certainly never been a gentleman caller of Ms. Melanie Arnold's.
-bill kenny

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Huguenots, Hottentots and Forget Me Nots (Redux)

I think the days where you can crib a line from a Bruce Springsteen tune are beyond us, now. About five or so decades of releases, vinyl and come what may, and I think we've kind of got the catalog. Admittedly, my theft is more oblique than overt, but stolen is stolen unless it's Christmas in Germany

Before the Brave New World Order, my wife's mom used to send a care package from Offenbach near the end of November, the fourth Thursday in Germany being celebrated with a little less gusto there than how we do it around these parts that always seemed to include kinder schokolade (actually the big eggs with the amazing toys always requiring some assembly within), esel salami and Christmas stollen. 

Now with the world a 24/7 mall, we just go online and nine out of ten times the products we're buying with the familiar names are now made in China. It's how we like it, cheap. When it wears out or breaks, we buy another and forget in the old days that didn't happen so often or so fast. We work very hard to forget how to remember how things were and pretend they were always just as they are now. We've always been at war with Oceania or was it Eurasia? Sometimes I get confused but the next Two Minutes Hate will make it all clear. 

When you watch animals of the same species meet one another for the first time, they are usually tentative, sniffing and pawing and sniffing some more. We're not very much like that-whether it's someone new moving in (been on the movee side of that equation) to our neighborhood or just a wave of new people showing up where we hadn't thought they might be or even imagined they could be.

We're coming up on Independence Day which should be the standard against which we hold ourselves, as citizens of this country and as citizens of the world, everyday and not an excuse to buy 20% off at the Mall, buy a keg and have a barbecue with a grill that's crying like a fire in the sun. A hundred and fifty plus years ago we were still struggling with the aftermath of a fratricidal war that ended slavery in the USA, and have tried, fitfully, at times to move on with ourselves and our lives. 

In many ways who we are now is what we were then-as that war propelled us fully into the Industrial Age, whose Revolution had begun twenty years earlier, and helped move us towards a more open and larger engagement with the rest of the world until we had achieved Pax Americana, that started some eighty years after Appomattox.

Many have sacrificed much so that we can be who we are--and many are away from home today, far from home, in places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Colombia, the Horn of Africa and South Korea because those who wish us ill don't take holidays and as a famous Chicagoan (no, not Ernie Banks) so eloquently explained decades ago, you get more with kind words and a gun than you do with kind words alone. 

Men and women in uniform, no matter their personal politics and feelings, would agree that growing faint when confronted by the evil in the world will not deter or distract it. It must be confronted or it will consume everyone and everything, including those who think fretting about our democracy is more noble than struggling to protect it. 

As you shop for this holiday weekend please spare a moment for all those, past, present and future, who make it possible. And I'll meet you further on up the road
-bill kenny