Saturday, August 18, 2018

Health Care at a Discount

Our car needed an oil-change so I headed to the place in Montville off Route 32 where I have it changed every three thousand miles. Yeah, I've read all the car-care columns on the new and longer oil-change increments and that's well and good but many years ago my friend and neighbor, Eric, who knows more about cars sound asleep than you and I will ever know wide awake told me to get the oil changed every three thousand miles and that's what I do. And it works like a charm.

There were four or five people getting routine maintenance accomplished and I joined them while the oil was changed. One of the fellows who changes the oil came into the waiting area with the filthiest air filter I have ever seen, from a Chrysler Pacifica (he said) and spoke with the guy who drives the vehicle (who looked to be about my age, but with pointed (and muddy) cowboy boots and a trucker type ball cap) to confer.

The vehicle, said the guy, needed a new air filter and, opening his left hand, he showed the owner the oil drain plug that had been in his vehicle and that was pretty much worn down. The employee suggested the driver buy a new plug for four dollars since the old one was cross-threaded. A new air filter was nineteen dollars and some change, plus tax.I could see from where I was sitting, the owner had zero desire to do this and sure enough, he looked at the employee and told him "that's okay, I'll take care of it all later." 

All of us, to include the kid holding the air filter containing the sands of the Sahara, knew this guy was full of carp (I hate typing 'crap') and he went back in to change the car's oil while I returned to reading one of the newspapers lying about, with a story on an inside page about the "new, affordable" health care plans that masquerade as saving Americans money but will in reality (and by design) damage/destroy and weaken choices available with the Affordable Care Act


I've never really understood why we think the right to die from an illness or injury we cannot afford to treat or cure is in the Constitution or why insisting everyone have universal health care is some kind of socialism that leads to communism. I lived in my wife's country, Germany, which has universal healthcare and from what I've experienced, her countrymen are in considerably better shape physically than mine because the system works. 

There are, I'm sure, probably a lot of reasons for that, but being able to afford and finance preventive care (like getting a new air filter for your car) is, I suspect, no small part of the equation. And more significantly, to me, might be projecting what NOT having preventive care costs us as a society.

I took another look at the Pacifica, still on the rack as I drove away, realizing the next time I see it, it'll probably be by the side of the road with the hood up and the emergency flashers on. I'm sure the repair bill total on that day will be considerably higher than what it might have been yesterday, but the owner did get to exercise free choice as a God-loving and socialist-fearing American, and that, I'm sure, will be very comforting when the wheels stop turning, assuming they don't just fall off.
-bill kenny

Friday, August 17, 2018

Mouths to the Soda

Was watching the other day as someone in sweats walked across the Norwichtown Commons parking lot towards the Planet Fitness smoking a cigarette, which she finished and flipped the butt to the pavement pretty close to the front entrance. 

I smoked about three packs of cigarettes a day for twenty-two (plus) years and have my own definitions of insanity and dependence, as does each of us with a vice, but for Kafkaesque humor, you'd have to go some to top that. I'm thinking perhaps of trying to wolf down a Haagen-Dazs giant ice cream cone before crossing the threshold into the fitness center, assuming the H-D guys are still in business and make such an item.

We like the routine, the assurance of the rote drill (I think) and maybe that's where we believe the benefit accrues. It's like small children learning the Pledge of Allegiance long before they have any idea what allegiance means (for some of us that's still true, Pantload45). A whole generation now hits the fitness centers in the same way previous ones frequented the bars and clubs on Saturday nights or the churches on the Sunday mornings that followed.

But for what purpose, and to what end? Behaviorists refer to an Obesity epidemic in the United States and it surfaces for its fifteen minutes on the electronic vapor and vapid box in the corner of the living room and then we have another double cholestro-and-bacon burger from the neighborhood drive in and don't forget to supersize the fries and, what?-oh yeah, the drink? Gimme a diet cola, no ice.

Instead of studying and attempting to learn the lessons behind research like this, we watch Oprah live her best life (or something close to it) and dream of the day we can be in the studio audience and under our theater seat is a ......pair of Nike Running shoes(?) I think not. There may not be a free lunch, as the teachers in school told us, but Oprah can give us healthy eating tips and the napkins are recyclable.

I'm wondering if we're not better off just eliminating the middleman and cutting out the white space. Put a cigar bar in the fitness center--or set up one of those luxurious dessert places in the lobby; call it "Cool Whip and Curls", no one will snicker. Those who wish to indulge can, and the rest of us can pretend to not see any of it as it'll all be out of sight. 

Look at how often we've used that trick to handle world events that should and could have numbed us. Besides, it keeps us from walking around with our eyes closed-people can get hurt going through life like that.
-bill kenny

Thursday, August 16, 2018

Captain Hook Would Appove

My mom, tired of the snow and the cold of the Northeast, called Florida home for many, many years. 

I keep telling myself she probably never had the pleasure of knowing, or knowing about, anyone resembling Shawn Kilums

I wish I could say the same, don't you?

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Will and Wallet

Whether you've lived in Norwich for twenty-seven days or twenty-seven years in all likelihood you've looked more than once at a situation or a circumstance where you live and said 'somebody really should do something about that.' 

And yet, as true as that statement is, we never seem to have quite enough 'somebodys' (or maybe we just have too many 'thats') for us to really do much of anything at any time. And that's sad because everywhere I wander across Norwich I encounter people who want to work to make where we all live better. 

As you probably know, I'm not a life-long resident (though I long ago wore out my welcome with many who are) but chose the promise of what Norwich could be for my family. I remain to this day an enthusiastic believer in that promise and the premise for improvement despite experiences to the contrary. 

You may have heard/read, "If not us, then who? If not now, then when?" I'd be one of the first to insist that though both questions can never be fully or finally answered, we should never cease to ask them. And as I've learned, talking about change and actually changing are two very different things.  

And it was in that spirit I supported the bonds for downtown Norwich we approved back in 2010. The progress across Chelsea, to both our quality of life and enhancement of the grand list, since that investment has been gradual and understated where most of us would have preferred swift and dramatic, but it has also been consistent and constant. My mom used to say patience is an under-rated virtue and I think she was right. 

We started a journey of reinvention that can continue and also have an opportunity to shape both the pace and the path of that journey as part of this Monday night's City Council meeting when our alderpersons consider a ten-year and 8.47 million dollar bond proposal first outlined to them in a late July workshop by Bob Mills of the Norwich Comunity Development Corporation.

We all agree this is a lot of years and a lot of dollars and each (and all) of our voices, insights, suggestions, and ideas need to be heard by our City Council before they decide what to do next. I'm not someone who confuses having hope with having a plan and neither are you. 

Especially because of the amount of money and the proposed scale and scope of the proposal we each need to measure (at least) twice before cutting once. From news accounts, I've read the members of the Council are doing their due diligence and seeking answers to questions they have and to those many and additional questions, no doubt, that some of those answers have precipitated. 

I'm confident armed with answers, they, and we all, will be better able to decide on how and how much to continue to invest in ourselves. I look forward to seeing you in Council Chambers Monday night.
-bill kenny 
     

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Primary Colors

Today for registered voters of both the Democratic and Republican parties in The Land of Steady Habits and Big Slot Machine Pay-Offs, my adopted state of Connecticut, it's freedom of choice to the point where maybe freedom from choice may have seemed more attractive. 

We Nutmeggers go to the polls today to pick our party's nominees for every electable office under the sun and a few (at least for me) pretty far beyond that large ball of gas. Voting begins at six this morning and ends at eight tonight and you really owe it to yourself to vote (or stop being unhappy at the way things are decided in this state).

This may not the catchiest slogan for this election season but it's certainly an evergreen that will be true today and forever more: Show up or shut up.  

-bill kenny

Monday, August 13, 2018

The Broken Hearted Smile

There are days when too much is far more than that. 

I've squirreled away a little something when that happens to me and you're welcome to help yourself to some or all of it if/when that happens to you.

And people say Mondays aren't such good days. 
-bill kenny

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Don't NOT Won't

The saying goes "Time heals all wounds." Maybe it does but maybe sometimes it doesn't even come close. And if you don't mind a suggestion, I wouldn't offer that pious platitude to Heather Heyer's mom.


One year ago, cowardly clusters of angry, disappointed white men marched through the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, pretending to protest the removal of a statue of a prominent Confederate States general. You remember the  Confederacy; they fought the Union and lost. Strange how so many folks never got over that, especially since they weren't there in the first place. How's that "time flies" mentality working for you now?

Tiki Nazi Boys
What the march really was an air horn call, not a dog-whistle, for all those white people who decided since they couldn't change what they wouldn't accept and they couldn't accept what they knew they could never change this time they'd march around with tiki torches and chant snappy slogans popular almost a century ago and a continent away.         

So much light but still not bright
And when you have the equivocator-in-chief providing air cover for hate, it would be impossible for there to NOT be a repeat performance. So please don't be surprised when our national news today is dominated by events from Lafayette Square in Washington DC

Difference between cymbal and symbol
If you don't mind (or even if you do), I'll be angry that this is happening yet again. Actually, I'll be way more than angry and you can probably guess which orange-hued orangutan with a too-long tie I'm blaming for it. And the beards have all grown longer overnight.
-bill kenny