Saturday, February 22, 2020

Old Guy Musings

I was born the same year Dwight David Eisenhower was elected President, though I had no knowledge nor any memory of my life with him as the Chief Executive. I remember being in the third grade at Pine Grove Manor School when Nixon and Kennedy ran for the White House. 

Politically astute even then, I can recall a very wise fourth-grader telling me if Nixon was elected, kids would have to go to school on Saturday. That's when I decided it was time to back Jack. There you have it; for all those who believe I am a Democratic left-leaning pinko liberal loser, that may have been the moment the road to perdition was paved.

Nearly sixty years later, I'm not sure I understand what has happened to the country I grew up in, returned to, and have grown old in. We had so much go so well for so long. We don't seem to have any stomach for hard work or truth anymore. Our institutions which have always buttressed our way of life, from finances through interpersonal relationships, are pretty much bankrupt and we don't seem to have the will or wallet to repair or replace them.

We've spent most of the last decade in a free-fall-and when I say "we" I mean what was once considered the middle class and all that's happened since the elections of 2016 has been to see that descent accelerate. In recent decades we've traded blue skies for BMWs, washed our cigar boats with bottled water and elevated day-trading to some sort of an Olympic event. Meanwhile, for tens of millions of other Americans, the promise of prosperity of the Clinton Years never happened, so while we lament what has happened since then, our neighbors never had it that good in the first place and now look at us as if we've lost our minds and maybe we have.

Be it micro or macro, it's almost always the same movie, just with a different cast. We seem to be having trouble, not with leaning forward and looking ahead, with my apologies to Alvin Toffler's Future Shock, but with accepting where we are and why we will be here for the rest of our days if we don't change. It's what I call Present Shock.

At both the national and local levels there are two ways, it seems, to manage Present Shock. One is to do nothing but say no and insist that those in power are to blame for whatever we now see as a failure. The same folks with those 'how's that change thing going?' bumper stickers when Obama was in the White House years ago had ones that described his predecessor as 'somewhere in Texas a village is missing an idiot.' There's no point in a bumper sticker denigrating the current occupant who is both arrogant and ignorant as his MAGA minions can neither read nor reason. 

The other response is to just keep pressing the same button even though the pellets stopped dropping a long time ago. I live in a state where we invented 'securitization. Don
't try to look it up, we've given it a whole different meaning than anyone in finance would recognize. We project revenues from the future and list them as receipts in the NOW as if they were real in order to balance the books. Does this remind anyone else of Wimpy's I Will Gladly Pay You Tuesday for a Hamburger Today? The line between surreal and cereal grows finer by the moment.

We're working very hard here to break the cycle and seize the day and the momentum, but there's still a longing for what was. If it could only be yesterday tomorrow, then today would be wonderful. We've failed to realize that (too) often the only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth (of the habit) and that sound of footsteps we hear belongs to ourselves as we calculate the distance we'd need to outrun our own shadow. 

But after a while, you realize time flies. And the best thing that you can do is take whatever comes to you. 'Cuz time flies.
-bill kenny

Friday, February 21, 2020

(Nearly) The Most Wonderful Time of the Year


The Major League Baseball World Series Championships of 2017 and 2018 should be vacated. The banners taken down, trophies returned and rings smashed to bits. My mom used to say cheaters never prosper so I'm sort of glad she never got to see what happened as the second decade of the twenty-first century rounded third and headed for home. 

And sorry Dusty Baker and your whiny little plea to the same MLB Commissioner who didn't punish any Astros players for their cheating but whom you now wish to protect those same cheaters from retribution by opposing pitchers. I hope your players get drilled once or more during every at-bat not just all season but for every game of their entire careers. 
Bitter, yeah. Just a skosh.

All that said. Spring training baseball gets absolutely real today as both the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues commence play. Finally!  

Anyone who tells you baseball in Arizona and Florida in February does not count has never, ever lived in the Northeastern part of the United States. Those of us who (now) call New England home can face unconfirmed rumors of a nasty-a$$ winter storm return later this month with grace and composure, assuming we have MLB Network because our lives between possible snowflakes will be filled with images of grown, supposedly adult, men accomplishing sandlot heroics at Wall Street Raider salaries. And we eat it all up with a spoon and damn sure we ask for seconds, please.

For folks like me, surrounded by choices like SNY for the Mets, NESN for the Red Sox and YES for the Yankees, I'm almost tempted to say let it snow for a month (almost tempted). It'll be melted by the All-Star Game, at least it usually is. Old Man Winter, do your worst and we'll do our best. 

Baseball, the ageless pastime that makes old men young again has returned. and if the green of the grass looks just a little different maybe it's because of the dye we're using to make the field 'pop' because of the TV cameras with the artificial turf, but no worries, the crack of the bat isn't lip-synced. 

Break out the Windex, Rog. We're ready, okay, maybe only speaking for me, we are completely past ready and fully there.
-bill kenny 

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Give Peas a Chance?

Many years ago, when I was a wee slip of a lad, our President at the time, George Herbert Walker Bush, he of  'Read My Lips. No New Taxes,' declared war on a vegetable that I presume had been minding its own business, broccoli. So much for lips that taste broccoli will never be taxed, I guess.

I, on the other hand, enjoy most vegetables, the current occupant of the White House excluded, though I'm not an enthusiastic supporter of Brussel Sprouts (and stop telling me 'you just haven't had sprouts prepared properly; there is no proper way) but the first President Bush couldn't spare even one point of light when it came to broccoli.  

Turns out, Great Britain didn't spare very much more than that either. And somewhere Russ Giguere weeps.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Reflecting on the First Forty-Five

Abraham Lincoln's birthday is listed on my calendar blotter from last Tuesday, the 12th, with George Washington’s birthday this coming Saturday.

When I was a kid, we had both days off from school but those individual dates have had less significance (and far fewer school closings) for many decades since Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act and we rolled both of those birthdays into a larger celebration to honor all those who have had the privilege to serve as President. 

Now it’s simply called Presidents Day which we just had this past Monday (which explains all those mattresses, adjustable bases, and box springs on my porch I guess since Presidents Day is now when we do bedding sales, for reasons I’ve never understood), but I don’t think we really appreciated it.

That George Washington spent more than half of his farewell address warning his countrymen about the dangers of political partisanship, I find, in light of where we are today, astounding. Honest Abe used his Second Inaugural Address to offer "(w)ith malice toward none, with charity for all..." at a moment in our nation’s history where we most fervently hated one another (with a ferocity that would cost him his very life a little more than thirteen months later).

And now I wonder why we and all the loudmouths and blowhards on all sides of the political divide, refuse to work together to get this handbasket we're all in out of the hell we've maneuvered ourselves into.

When George and Abe were presidents, people disagreed with one another so vehemently they were fighting wars. You’ve seen the weapons in use back in their days, nothing neat and clean about them; it took a lot of work to shoot and kill somebody but a lot of people were more than willing to do that.

And now we have all this pouting and posturing on Sunday morning talk shows, in the Halls of Congress and on cable news channels 24/7 that makes my teeth hurt and should we ever we sort out who's to blame for all the wrongs and shortcomings, real and/or imagined, I’d hope we’d devote a scintilla of that energy to fixing things (but I won’t hold my breath). Instead, we keep playing ‘red or blue?’ games.

George Washington, James Monroe, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Abraham Lincoln, and so many from every walk of life who were never close to being President like Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, and Stephen Douglas were so engaged in nurturing this nation and defending it from attacks both from within and without they didn't have the luxury of ideology. So how did we get here, where less than sixty percent of all registered voters could be bothered to vote in the 2016 Presidential election? 

Monday’s holiday didn’t cap a three-day shopping weekend, despite advertising to the contrary. It should have marked a moment to examine the lives and legacies of the forty-five men (so far) who have been President of the United States and to reflect upon their efforts and examples.

But more importantly, it should have strengthened the effort to better understand both our differences as well as our similarities in order to form a more perfect union and to jump-start the decision-making process we’ll each use to vote come November. 
-bill kenny

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

The Price of Ignorance

I'm trying to follow along with the math but am getting depressed at the results.

It's alarming what we can afford but more distressing about what we choose not to.
-bill kenny

Monday, February 17, 2020

97.7% Is Still a Pretty Good Percentage

Happy Presidents Day. Not so fast, #Pantload45.

Yeah, looking forward to the morning of November 4th. 

-bill kenny

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Brevity Is the Soul of Communication

I have never been accused of being concise. Even those who are inclined to be friendly would admit I talk so much that were I to go overboard in the Norwich Harbor it would take me forever to drown as I would keep popping back up every time I disappeared beneath the waters to shout yet something else I'd just thought of while sinking. As a matter of fact, I'd still be bobbing around out there unless and until someone waded out and held me under until the bubbles stop despite the irony that "Bubbles" is my gang name. 

Despite my predilection for loquaciousness, it doesn't mean I don't admire people and/or documents that offer cogent and concise insights and observations, and I'm good at finding them and keeping them so I can break them out, dust them off, and use them to recharge my own enthusiasms when needed. 

For instance, I've saved the 2002 City of Norwich Plan of Conservation and Development (here's the one from 2013) not because I enjoy it as light reading but for this in its foreword which is as true for where you live as it is for where I live: 'Good cities don't just happen, they are made' and a line I hope we don't forget, 'the future of Norwich depends(s)on the ability of City leadership to bring together disparate opinions around a common vision.

Sounds an awful lot like a mission statement and a calling card we can all rally around, or should.
-bill kenny