Monday, November 20, 2017

Hooray for Holidays!

As we head for The Holidays (mental, if not actual, capital letters always expected), we (or at least, I) start to lose sight of the reason for the season and regard this time of year as just another obstacle to be cleared, another steeple-chase to be run, another 'thing' to be gotten through. 

I'm not alone. I saw lots of grumpy and frumpy folks out in the stores over the weekend wondering 'what are all these people doing out here shopping today while I'm out here shopping today?' I was, and remain, another obliviot alone on my exercise wheel alongside the other human hamsters, chasing the pellets I want for Thanksgiving dinner and a head start on the Christmas gift lists.

It's a cliche, I know, but that doesn't make it less true: we are blessed as a society. We really do throw away more of everything than most other people on earth have ever had, or will ever have. And yet, given the chance, we cry for the moon and the stars and cry even louder when we all we receive is the sun. 

Is it possible our greed grows exponentially as our needs grow arithmetically? How much is enough and how much more is too much? Did The Lord give us two hands so we could take as much as we could grab and two pockets to put it all in? And how are we supposed to offer a prayer of thanks when our mouths are full?
-bill kenny

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Not Dark Yet

It's just one more recent moment in a seemingly unending series of moments in the horror show that has become Life in these United States. Another shooting, more fatalities and we don't even look up anymore. 

Order up some more thoughts and prayers because there's not much else we are willing to do to try to change anything that's been happening. It's stupefying, it really is. If a creature emerged from the ocean and devoured people with the same regularity and frequency with which we use all manner of guns to kill one another, we would have long since banded together and figured out a solution.  

And yet, here we are cause and effect about as close to one another as they can possibly get and we remain steadfast in our insistence that we can see no way to end this cycle of violence. We could start by repealing the Dickey Amendment but that's the third rail for the gutless wonders we send to Washington addicted as they are to the big bucks of the NRA whose new motto seems to be "Make Americans Grieve Again." And we shall

-bill kenny

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Is There Life After Breakfast

As we head towards Thanksgiving and the Christmas holidays, the year seems to feel like it's accelerating. Perhaps because the daylight has shifted, the days are all shorter and more jammed with activities. Personal calendars that were already pretty full are now loaded with holiday parties, travel, shopping outings and all kinds of other activities. 

So here I am on a Saturday morning lobbying you to not only put another event into the mix but one that happens today. Trust me on this one, you'll thank me later. Today, starting at ten and running through the middle of the afternoon, is the annual holiday festival with many local area artisans offering some pretty amazing items suitable for gifting to others (and, truth be told, also keeping for yourself).

The Otis Library on Main Street in Norwich is, for me, the last man standing who is now being rewarded for steadfastness. A decade ago, there was very nearly nothing in downtown, aside from potential. And now, after a lot of work from a lot of different folks, there are actual businesses lining the streets around the library with even more on the way. 

As I've said a million, billion times because it's completely true, Otis like so many other libraries across our country is not close to the same place we went to as kids, wherever that library was. Here in Norwich and elsewhere I'm sure, city downtown districts look to the library the way the fingers on the hand look to the thumb.

We have an ongoing discussion going on here about needing a 'community center' and, for me, we already sort of have one in the Otis Library, bustling with more activities and uses than either of us have fingers and toes (leave your shoes on; I believe we're on the honor system around here). 

So find the time today to head downtown and enjoy yourself and the company of so many others you probably haven't seen since this time last year. And if the latter is indeed the case, remember (and I am proof of this) women tend to age like wine, men, like milk.
-bill kenny

Friday, November 17, 2017

Love Is the Answer.....

...assuming the question is 'what can you fall into that doesn't stick to your face?' 

As part of the generation that insisted 'All You Need is Love' might I be permitted a do-over on that concept as I make my way through my Autumnal Years?  I have an excuse, and no it’s not the one I offered my Mom who always wanted a doctor. And now I have one and/or more, though not quite in the way she'd originally hoped, proving again sometimes the only thing more dangerous than unanswered prayers are answered ones.

My actual point (hard to see because I’m wearing a hat) is I’m not sure anymore that the world (or the one in which we find ourselves at this moment) can be seen in absolutes like 'love' and 'hate' or black and white. Moreover, I'm not sure that was ever the case, despite a generation's fervent conviction to the contrary. Perhaps that's why Tolstoy entitled his tome, "War and Peace". 

I think 65 plus years of running around on the ant hill, forty of it as a spouse and thirty-five of that as a Dad has taught me that what I don't know may be of far more importance than what I thought I had learned.

While my generation sang a Beatles' anthem, we were actually living the Rolling Stones' "Sympathy for the Devil" ('just as every cop is a criminal and all the criminals are saints....').

I’ve worn glasses for the last two (plus) decades in an effort (often forlorn) to see other people’s point of view, but I have the sinking suspicion that was both foolish and pointless. Sometimes the difference between essential and existential is both nonexistent and utter nonsense.
-bill kenny

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Tendency or Casualty

Buckminster Fuller once said 'truth is a tendency," while Philip Snowden, who may have been channeling Aeschylus, popularized 'truth is the first casualty in war.' For just about the last decade, the topography and landscape of corporate communications have undergone extensive if not radical reshaping, rendering truth nearly a moot point. 

There was a time, before the last ice age, sorry the current administration doesn't believe in global warming (or, by extension, global cooling) when everyone worked to have a website. Just get a website were the watchwords used by all and sundry. But that's all so 1994ish now as we've migrated to social media platforms and beyond. I'm still trying to understand why for so many folks CNN doesn't have the cache or credibility that their Facebook page does. 

And don't get me started on the importance of having a twitter feed, or two (or more). I have an account but use it like twice a day because I cannot figure out how to follow conversations happening in the twitsophere, despite the popularity that the small-minded and small-handed Chief Executive has brought to the platform. 

In this new age of I say it and you can decide to believe it or not, and truth doesn't seem to enter into it in any way, we are running faster and faster as we, in my opinion, circle the drain. 

Not sure when the truth became a fashion accessory, I guess, because it's no longer an absolute, starting at the very top of our national food chain. When you have a manipulative, mendacious media creation as President, you have to wonder about our decision-making ability as a country. 

I found myself choosing to believe the alleged lunatic running the Philippines in the wake of the US president's recent Asian trip when the former's office assured us that the latter never raised human rights issues while the pair were in bilateral conversations. I rationalized, in light of everything Trump has lied about since stepping into the Republican Presidential primaries, why would he tell the truth now.

It took me a moment to realize I'm thinking about the President of the United States, whose office's reputation for honesty and veracity should be beyond reproach and above question except for the broken-down real estate grifter currently occupying it. Think I'm being harsh? Think again. Here's a bean count on his balderdash, broken promises, and bullshit last tabulated during the late summer. It hasn't gotten better and it won't.

When honesty becomes a relative term and a fungible commodity you can't tell truth from lies which, in our culture, means we are losing our moral compass and slowly sinking into a morass of tribal suspicions where we place Infowars and the New York Times on the same scale and think we're being even-handed. One of my local newspapers asked its readers on Tuesday "who do you believe most about whether the Russian government meddled in the 2016 presidential election?" and over 50% of those answering said they believed the Prevaricator in Chief.     

Buddha once said, "Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth." I'm thinking the current occupants of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue had better be praying for permanently overcast skies. For my part, I don't mind rain or snow in the forecast as long as it leads to the truth.
-bill kenny                 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Giving Thanks

We're heading towards the 'traditional' holiday season and today's words are, sort of, part of that as I've offered them in years past as the calendar rounds the clubhouse turn. 

I'm writing in short sentences since you probably have a lot to do today and not a whole lot of time to do it all in, what with Thanksgiving knocking on the door and all.

For those of us not planning to pick up or drop off someone at an airport who's flown in/flying out to be part of the Thanksgiving holiday, there's the organization of the shopping list as we ready for the annual trek to the grocer for the 'things we forgot to get for the feast' shopping expedition. Taking care of the little things counts in life and most especially in holiday dinners.

My First World Problem is always about cranberries, jellied or berries? Yeah, I lead a hard life. Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees. While I'm standing struggling with what is truly a trivial concern, I'm somehow not seeing those around me who would trade my troubles for theirs in less time than it takes to read this sentence.

This is the time of year we celebrate our good fortune, in a vaguely historical homage to the Pilgrim's Progress that we can't quite explain. That's probably because we get it wrong. The First Thanksgiving was really an act of generosity by those from here who had with those who were recent arrivals and who did not.

We think of The Pilgrims when we think about Thanksgiving but it's the Native Americans who sustained them and helped those ill-equipped settlers adapt and overcome whom we should be honoring and emulating. 

We've all passed by at least a half-dozen collection points every day where donations for those whom we call 'the less fortunate' are being assembled. Except, people who need our help are not less fortunate-they are our neighbors and in some instances, our family and friends.

I don't care what the news says about the Dow Jones Industrial Average. No one I know can eat the NASDAQ, whatever that is, so don't get fooled. Your times may be better but that's not the case for a lot of other people. If you thought the last ten or so years have been hard with recession and depression, try being a family that didn't have much to start with when things went sideways.

This time of year, and more so now than last year and way more than the year before that, agencies and organizations that work with the invisible indigent we have chosen not to see are nearly overwhelmed by the requests for help.

Ask the St. Vincent de Paul Place about how many (more) hot meals they're preparing for the holidays and how many new food pantry customers they have. And if you buy a few more canned goods and goodies than you'll use next Thursday, swing by the Norwich Family Dental Associates on Lafayette Street this Saturday and donate to their food drive. 

And if recent years are any indicator, this is when the Connecticut Food Bank receives the largest number of donations, to include yours, which is all well and good assuming hunger is a holiday thing, except it's not.

This Thanksgiving when you're with friends and family enjoying the food and festivities after the feasting please go online and find an agency someplace doing good and donate so they can do better.

How much should you give? Until it helps.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Heal or Heel

I am NOT a doctor, nor I do play one on television (or anywhere else; I'm looking at you Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, Louis CK, and Roy Moore) so I'm perpetually puzzled at all the prescription advertising heading my way usually during national broadcast news programs. 

I've lost track of all the ailments that can be managed by the products being hawked and I never tire of the admonishment to "tell your doctor" about some aspect of your life that might, just might, cause you to drop dead from whatever it is BigPharmaInc are selling during this commercial break. I'd like to think my doctor is aware of my allergies and problems otherwise perhaps before worrying about new meds I need to shop for a new doc.

Early in the morning on the treadmill at Planet Fitness as the minute hand slowly crawls towards half-past five, there are ads for diabetes supplies (yesterday was a repeat ad for a "CGM," a constant glucose monitor I suspect, though NO ONE ever said that) as well as for a Teeter board or something that I strap myself into and then stand on my head and it helps my back. And the guy who makes it pitches it on camera and jumps up in the air shouting, "I'm 72 years old and I feel great!" He looks NOTHING like Tony the Tiger. Just sayin'.

There's a device I strap to my outer leg and the pulses make all of my pain disappear. Sign me up except why do I only see the advertising for this miracle device at oh bright/but still dark early on weekdays. And surely the folks who design these pitches realize I don't assume everyone wearing a white lab coat is a doctor, right? I mean they could be barbers (what a great name for a band!)

I have no illusions that I will live forever, though at least a while longer would be nice (depending on what's for lunch) but I suspect all of us can live without and live better all of those video-promoted medications and wonder cures that we all know in our hearts are really neither
-bill kenny