Sunday, April 22, 2018

A Very Back Back Page

This is from the first two weeks or so of when I started writing this stuff. 

Spent the weekend reading news stories driven by folks whom I would consider 'comfortably well-off' grasping for a few dollars more (don't tell Clint Eastwood I'm appropriating a movie title, okay?) 

Sometimes our reach exceeds our grasp and that's not a bad thing. I think we should live out loud and dream larger than we actually are. Who better to set the bar for us than ourselves? Sometimes we fail, but as long as we learn from that 'failure' we can look forward to eventual triumph. I get sad when, after we fail, we learn to cheat better because we then cheat ourselves and demean everyone in the process.

We have so many public figures, not just politicians, who've had the shame gland removed years ago, so remorse is an emotion they can only read about but never experience. All any of these folks do when they now get caught is reinforce the reasons why fewer and fewer of us care. 

Most of them are my age cohort which is embarrassing. As a generation, we had our moment. I haven't been able to explain to my son and daughter why I was willing to trade clean air and my beliefs for a BMW-but I did. Thankfully, they no longer ask. The only thing left to negotiate, as is demonstrated every day in a hundred ways, is the fee. And listen closely because money talks.

-bill kenny

Saturday, April 21, 2018


I'm workng very hard to be able to retire at the end of June. This came as a surprse to the people for whom I work as, based on their perception of my output, they assumed I had retired about a decade ago. Everyone's a comedian, I guess. 

My wife, Sigrid, and I are married for a skosh over forty years (she often says it feels much longer, but I think that's because Germans use the metric system of measurement. See my above remark about comedians). 

We started out zum zweite or, as Erich Fromm and Helen Reddy might say, 'you and me against the world,' and evolved into an LLC with the birth of our son, Patrick, and then more towards a GmbH with the arrival of our daughter, Michelle. 

Now, Sigrid and I are, for the most part, back to where we began if not in that exact same physical location. Something about no one steps into the same river twice as both they and the river have changed comes to mind but, in my case, only briefly. 

Speaking of water, we journeyed across the ocean to start here again after we thought our lives' paths had been pretty much determined, proving that what you learn after you know it all is often more valuable than anything else you could imagine. 

And now, as we sort through pensions, retirement plans, social security and analyzee charts of expenses and living costs, have concluded we may be moving from the only home we've had in over a quarter of a century. 

Where we live, we all understand, is not the least expensive place in the USA to settle, which sort of proves the difference between a rut and a grave is too often only the depth, but I, like so many others, prefer problems which are familiar to solutions that are not.  

A solution for us in our situation should be to relocate, but possessed by the possessions we have acquired and allowed to accrue over four decades of life (and we have a crammed to overflowing basement to prove it), we've never progressed much beyond the "we may have to move" discussion part of the program until now. 

And as I'm learning with more shock than alacrity in the course of this week, that discussion may be taking on a more urgent tenor and tone as the days on the calendar dwindle down, proving again that time moves slowly but passes all too quickly.         
- bill kenny        


Friday, April 20, 2018

Enough Is Enough!!

I very much enjoy learning though I usually don't appreciate being taught. Today's different. 

This is a good day to look to a younger generation for wisdom we should have had a very long time ago.
- bill kenny

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Schemes and Dreams

I rarely if ever recall my dreams (or hopes for that matter) but I did earlier this week as Sunday night was bleeding into Monday morning and outside we were having a fistfight between Spring and the lovely day we had on Saturday and yet more winter which did some heavy shoving on Sunday. 

I slept through the transition or most of it. When I headed to the gym around four it was raining and misting with a nasty wind, not a breeze but a full sock you in the nose wind, that made everything shine with a glaze as we hovered just above freezing.

I had trouble getting the cobwebs out of my head when I arose. I had been having a dream where I was somewhere on the Jersey Shore (I'm guessing that because places like Point Pleasant Beach and Ocean Grove were involved) with my father who was struggling to file his income taxes. 

It's plural for a reason. There was a time when my dad worked as a teacher in NYC and paid, in addition to federal income taxes, both New York State as well as New York City income taxes. He and tens if not hundreds of thousands of others got plucked by both Albany as well as Gracie Mansion to pay for goods and services they rarely used. In those days, when my father was alive, neither New Jersey where we lived or Connecticut, where I now live, had income taxes. 

My father died almost thirty-seven years ago and I racked my brain all Monday morning trying to recall if I had any memories of him ever working on taxes, drawing a blank entirely. The most disquieting part of the dream that I recall is the conversations he was attempting to have with our son, Patrick, in the dream a full adult, even though Patrick was born thirteen months after my father passed. 

I've done a reasonable amount of reading over the years on what causes us to dream, perhaps better phrased as what causes us to remember our dreams, back from a while ago when I kept dreaming I was being choked by someone from behind whose identity I never knew. 

At some point after months and months of both dreaming and dread,it stopped or I just stopped remembering or (perhaps?) whoever was attacking me in my sleep got  bored and moved on.Even in my sleep I'm boring I guess.

I'm not the only one who has trouble in his dreams, or in my case, with them, I know that but it doesn't do me much good to believe in safety in numbers. I'm thinking of trying eyes wide-open sleeping in the hopes of learning what's farther ahead than I'm able to see now.   
-bill kenny


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Taking the No Out of Norwich

I've mentioned repeatedly (some have suggested incessantly) that I didn't grow up in Norwich, Connecticut, but I'll concede that it is here where I am growing old. Something else getting old, and even faster, is the lamentation that far too many of us think is our role as residents for living here. 

I'm not an engineer but I believe those who are when they assure me that it takes far more energy to be a light than to be a horn. Let me put it another way: complaining about everything we don't have and/or needs replacing and repair isn't anywhere near the same thing as suggesting remedies and resolutions that would benefit all of us.

Yeah, I know the comeback: we're not elected officials and it's not our job. Except we live here and that's why this is our city and because it is it makes everything that goes on here our business. In case you haven't guessed, we are Norwich. 

Schools, streets, police and public safety, all of the physical structures of what we call "the city" aren't what Norwich, or any city, are about. It's we, the people, who define the spaces and places in which we live and for too long, says the guy not from here, we've focused on the first two letters of our city's name.

I was heartened to read accounts earlier this month about the City Manager's proposed budget, not because I was cheered at the prospect of higher taxes (I'm not) but because the proposal was proactive in calling for investments in who we say we are. 

The budget restarts contributions to the Sachem Fund which at one time fueled dozens of citywide initiatives and is an idea that requires optimism and vision in economically lean times like ours but also demands courage and a belief in oneself. 

And don't forget a request by Mayor Nystrom for a budget boost in economic development funds. And why? Because if not us, then who? And if not now, then when?  

We've been here before and answered those questions. We believed in ourselves almost a decade ago when we approved bonding to start reversing decades of decline that had helped create a ghost town where once a downtown had flourished. And if you don't see the improvements that money and talent made and continues to make, then you are being willfully blind. 

This time last week Chelsea Groton Banks' Global City Initiative, offered funds to leverage the diversity we brag about here in Norwich to better enhance the quality of life outreaches that expand the value of our community and pay dividends for all of us. 

You don't have to agree with a word of what I've written but in disagreeing tell me what you would do otherwise, and how you would do it. Don’t worry if your first, second, or even one-hundredth idea isn’t a success. Don't give up or give in. Failure is NOT when we do not succeed; it is when we do not even try.         
-bill kenny


Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Be Thankful I Don't Take It All

This is the nearly-universally dreaded "Tax Day" here in the Land of Unlimited Opportunities Where Seldom Is Heard a Discouraging Word and the Skies Are Not Cloudy All Day. How all of that gets reduced to USA always amazes me but I chalk it up to a triumph of marketing and branding.

Speaking of which, how'd you like to tell folks you work for the Internal Revenue Service? Don't be like that! Somebody has to! And tens of thousands of people do and despite our muttered imprecations and seriously intended aspersions cast without the benefit of a net, they do what they are charged to do and what Oliver Wendall Holmes, Jr. summarized, though probably pre-audit.  

Point in fact, we pay taxes every day. And every year we file a return to see if we are to get back some of our own money. I remember my wife filing her taxes in Germany when we lived there and she rarely saw any money returned to her. I often thought because her husband was such a sonderangebot, her government saw no reason to bless her twice. Strangely I never got around to mentioning that theory to her when we lived in her country.

Like you, in all probability, I've filed my taxes already. Do I grumble? Of course, I do and anyone who tells you s/he doesn't grumble is a liar. And speaking of grumbling, I can only assume Jarod Kintz doesn't know my dulcet-toned friend from Palestine, Texas, David M. when he offers with some acerbity "Taxes and Texas, they have the same letters but only one can go to Hell."
-bill kenny

Monday, April 16, 2018

And Still 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 five 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 friend, in the Facebook sense of the word, 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