Saturday, October 31, 2009

Some Strange Bedfellows Don't Need Politics

This is the last Saturday before local elections on Tuesday and for many, not just those running for office, they can't get here soon enough. I don't know how it is where you live, but around here, we go for months where few, if anyone, seems to give a rat's hindquarters about who is running for what and then BAM! (that was my Emeril impersonation and if you close your eyes, we could be brothers) fevered interest. Okay, that may be a slight embellishment (about the interest, not the resemblance to Emeril), but we are talking about poltics, after all.

I attended the second of the two Norwich mayoral debates sponsored by one of the local newspapers this past Tuesday evening (I've long since made up my mind, as you realized at the time I did because, motormouth that I am, I told you) which attracted, maybe a hundred people. The earlier debate, a couple of weeks back was held on a night when we actually had snow on the ground (not much) and I assumed the weather at the time had served as a disincentive for what looked like about the same number, maybe even the same people.

It wasn't snowing Tuesday and it wasn't doing anything but getting and staying dark Thursday when, for about 45 minutes, first the four Mayoral candidates went at it again, followed by a session with the 867 people (it seems) seeking to be City Council members (we actually have six seats on the Council, for two years at a pop with the Mayor being a four year term) answering questions with the ten people seeking one of the nine seats on our Board of Education being decorative, though that might not be my first best choice of descriptives.

I'm kidding about the number of Council office-seekers (it's actually twelve, from three different parties), but I'm giddy with the luxury of choice because in some previous elections, most (but not all) before charter revision, I could 'take it or leave it' and that was my choice. But there were LESS people in the audience on Thursday than had been there on Tuesday. Waddya think? World Series fans? Maybe not and that concerns me because a lack of familiarity with the candidates and their positions on some critical issues can turn Tuesday's Voter into Wednesday's Child very quickly.

Meanwhile, delivered to my house yesterday because I'm a registered Democrat (with both the AKC and Dollar Tree Stores everywhere) is a super deluxe large size sort-of postcard, with color pictures on both sides. I suspect the purpose was to impress me but that missed (sorry). One side has the mayor of a neighboring town, extolling the virtues of one of the people seeking to become the Mayor of Norwich, assuring me this man "is the best choice for Mayor of Norwich."

Obviously, I disagree-but more to the point, how would the mayor of another city know who is best for Norwich's top job? Is there a pageant of some kind and the neighboring elected officials judge various categories? No swimsuit competition, please. (Judge 1: "He appears to be wearing a full length fur coat under his bathing suit." Judge 2: "He's not wearing a bathing suit.")

In the photograph on the large card, the other town mayor doesn't even have his tie straight and his "best choice for Mayor of Norwich", standing right along side of him, apparently didn't notice-and neither did the photographer. (Oh yeah-right. Now you, too, see it. Please.) How ironic is it if the election ends in a tie? But wait, there's more....

The other side of the card doesn't have a happy, smiling, two-shot, not by a long shot. It doesn't even have a tie, unless you consider a turtleneck a tie, and then I think you're wrong. It has a picture of the First Selectwoman of another neighboring town, telling me she's worked with the candidate "for many years".

I know from newspaper stories she's been knee deep in some pretty spooky situations, but the person she's endorsing after 'many years' of working together has only been on the Norwich City Council for four years, so 'for many years' is a relative term (?) She certainly doesn't look like any of my relatives but I haven't seen most of them 'for many years' (if you know what I mean-that was my Elissa B impersonation. Needs work).

I have two questions in connection with the endorsement postcard: who are the people in the picture frames behind the mayor of not exactly simpleton and what does the itty-bitty oval in the bottom left hand corner say anyway? And it better NOT be 'Support Vision Research.'
-bill kenny

Friday, October 30, 2009

Arrange Yourselves Alphabetically, by Height

Those were the first words that Air Force Staff Sergeant David Griffey uttered after our flight touched down in San Antonio, Texas, on my way to Air Force basic training at Lackland Air Force Base. It was the first indication I had signed up for a more than slightly different ride. It was the Spring of 1975, I had a new college degree, a first class radio-telephone operator's license, big time commercial radio experience on my resume and absolutely no job whatsoever.

The Air Force I was becoming a part of was that first version after the draft had ended in the earlier part of the 1970's (I almost said a 'first draft of the military' but thought better of it). I got tired of the recruiter referring to 'the volunteer force'. To me, the people who coached my son years later in soccer, or my daughter in basketball or who deliver the hot lunches for Meals on Wheels, those people are volunteers.

To the best of my knowledge, we in the USAF were actually getting paid. I asked again about the money part, because I'm a measure-twice, cut-once kind of guy. It was really my only concern. I wasn't joining to become a pilot or a mechanic (TWO really scary notions-me flying the two of us somewhere or you flying in a plane that I've worked on). I was joining to work in radio and television. I'd not yet heard of Adrian Cronauer (most of us had barely heard of Robin Williams as Mork, much less as Cronauer), but I had heard George Carlin had been an Air Force broadcaster, assigned to Lajes Field in the Azores (in the pre-snopes era, no way to confirm not true).

That was all yet to come. The trick tonight, standing in the here and now of the arrivals lounge in the airport was to survive this little uniformed fellow's bizarre directive that were causing people to scurry in all directions long enough to board the bus that would deliver us to the base (if not from evil) so we could all get yelled at, for our own good and esprit de corps before finally getting some sleep after which we could get up in the middle of the night and get our heads shaved.

"Alphabetically by height." I stood stone-like at midnight, not quite suspended in my masquerade. Staff Sergeant Griffey was on me like flies on the usual item that attracts them, demanding to know 'what is your problem, MISTER?' I replied that since about eight o'clock that morning (Daylight Savings Time-I remember making a point of that though the why eludes me now), I was an "Airman", so he repeated his question, louder, and somehow made my rank sound more like a familiar four letter descriptive. Then he studied his clipboard and his eyes narrowed.

He did that cliche schtick we've all seen in every military movie, standing beside me practically yelling directly into my ear, insisting I NOT turn to look at him, but keep my eyes forward, all the while demanding to know, 'are you that college boy?' I hadn't realized we were a rationed commodity, I'd have held out for more money, like that was gonna happen. Staff Sergeant Griffey was a tiny guy. Even with his Smokie the Bear DI (Drill Instructor) hat on, he only came to my temple.

I couldn't resist-and offered 'you sure have a lot of holes in Texas, assuming you're standing in one." I watched from the corner of my eye as he blinked hard, repeatedly, processing that someone was talking back to him and clearly not having any idea what to do next. And then he had his Eureka moment.

"AIRMAN," he said (and all caps doesn't do justice to the way he said it) "why don't you show me some of those college boy smarts, and get these maggots on the bus?" I called out loudly for everyone to fall in behind me. They stopped scurrying and did as they were told. He was dumbfounded and demanded to know how I'd learned to do that. "Spent two years in Army ROTC, Drill Sergeant," I replied, "about all I learned was how to say 'you men' in clipped tones." He laughed out loud all the way back to Lackland and for most of the eight weeks, as I remember it, we spent together on the drill pads of Flight 7126, learning to be blue.
-bill kenny

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Short and Sweet

The other day, getting a coffee while out on an errand, the young person behind the counter (his name tag said he was the manager), handed me the Styrofoam cup while offering 'if I don't see you, have a happy holiday.' Non-plussed I stammered that I was hoping to be back in his shop before Christmas.

Christmas?! HA! He was thinking more Halloween, he explained patiently as if an elderly pinhead in line purchasing coffee today couldn't grasp the concept. Well, boo to you buddy boy, guess which Jacob Marley stunt double will be buying his coffee elsewhere while out running on America (or something). But you go ahead and have a Merry Little Chri---nevermind. Have some candy corn on me.

That's not what I wanted to pass along. I wanted share a reminder about about one meeting, tonight and make sure you are aware of another one so much later this week, it's actually in next week. Tonight going until who knows what time, in the Slater Auditorium at Norwich Free Academy, is a 'free for all' of office seekers. I'm not clear on exactly which ones are 'free' and which are 'for all.' I have discovered more than one candidate who is scruples free, but that sounds more like a personal problem.

Starting tonight at five, with an hour-long meet and greet of everyone from mayoral candidates through those seeking a seat on the City Council to the ten people seeking one of the nine places on our Board of Education, all will be there in a forum moderated by WFSB-TV's Kevin Hogan. Some may wonder how familiar with Norwich politics he is, but if he's willing to spend some time in our midst we may already have an answer.

If you've bemoaned a distnct lack of choice in elections past, you must be feeling pretty good this time around-and if you're unhappy because you don't yet have a feel for whom to support less than a week from Election Day, this is your opportunity. Don't blow it. See you there.

This is your advance notice about Monday's City Council meeting that will start at seven thirty. I know what you're thinking, "Pshaw! The day before Election Day? I'll bet the Council isn't even really meeting!" (Does anyone in this hemisphere still say 'pshaw'? Maybe we could cash in on that retro junk and get it resurrected) As for that bet on the meeting--pay up.

The same City Council that was unrelenting in making sure no one drove through Mohegan Park during the summer, but not nearly so unrelenting on charter revision, zoning reform, noise reduction and at least a dozen other topics, did have some members on it who tried to cancel Monday's meeting at their 19 October meeting. Check the minutes. Shot down in flames, 3-4.

But that's not the only thing you should check. I recommend a gander at the agenda; might I recommend "new business-resolutions, item five." There's been a lot written about the work of the citizen volunteers on the Norwich Site Development Committee for the Former State Hospital.

I've attended all but two of their meetings. Their membership surprised me slightly as there's one person I've never seen at a meeting (except the September 29 Workshop) and another who's missed the last two and three of the last four. But the rest of the volunteers are working very hard, sifting through decades of research and volumes of reports trying to gain a perspective on what kind of a recommendation to offer City Council. I have a one word suggestion for them: fast.

One of the aldermen who (interestingly) voted to NOT meet at all Monday, explained to a local newspaper his reasons for putting the property acquisition decision on Monday's Council agenda. I think he may have spent more time explaining his intentions to the reporter than to three of his fellow aldermen. I guess he wanted to get his money's worth if he did have to meet.

And speaking of money, I don't think there's such a thing anymore as a nickel coke, a phone booth with dime calls and no one is offering a penny for thoughts, so I'm not sure what the real costs (and benefits) are of a property whose price tag is one dollar. And I've stayed long enough at The Fair to worry, after Monday night, we'll be older but no wiser than we are on that very topic now.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

So Many Letters, So Few Varsity Players

Every election, be it for the U.S. or fourth-grade class President, I spend a lot of time reading as much as I can about those who are running for office. Admittedly, it's a lot easier gathering insights about those seeking to become President or running for Governor or Senator and the like, and with every smaller election, information gets harder to come by.

This is a little goofy, I think, since in many respects the Mayor or First Selectman has more direct impact on both my quality and quantity of life than a Congressman or the temporary lodger at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. In theory, for local elections, we should have easy access to the beliefs, accomplishments and plans of those who are, literally, our neighbors, and yet politics can be a strange intoxicant causing some to become someone they themselves don't recognize in order to capture an office.

I listen to my neighbors, attend debates and candidate forums, take copious notes, read all the news articles I can find, and I always seem to get lost while wading through letters to the editor. I think those letters of support to the editor are a marvelous idea and a wonderful institution within our tradition of local governance, but as the years have gone on, I've stopped hoping to learn something informative about those seeking to be a member of the City Council or on the Board of Education.

Take this letter about a candidate seeking to return to the Norwich City Council. I know the person running (Norwich is NOT very big so I can truthfully say I know most of those seeking office) and she is, indeed, an 'energetic and caring person'. I don't necessarily think this characterization is unique to only her (I'm thinking quite frankly it applies to everyone running) but I what I really don't understand is why a resident of another town is writing in the newspaper to tell me how to vote.

Then we have this type of letter. I learned a long time that experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted, so what should I draw as a conclusion about this letter's rhapsodic embrace of a one-term incumbent whom I've watched in Council Chambers try to do his level best, sometimes succeeding and sometimes not so much? My point is he shows up every meeting, ready to go again and open to wherever things lead-and that's all anyone can ask of any elected official.

You've read letters like those, and like this one as well: from a member of the candidate's family. I'm happy the people seeking office have a healthy home life as reflected in this kind of letter and I do hope the office seeker can forgive me if I have a slightly jaundiced view on the writer's impartiality. I should, for the same reasons he should be a Proud Parent, right?

Here's a letter of endorsement for a first-time candidate from a current elected representative, that doesn't simply use 'gee, they're so swell' kind of language. There's this gem, 'to better understand what it will take to move issues forward.' I have NO idea what that specifically means (and neither does its author I suspect. I was advised by the letter's author on the evening of the 2nd of November, that he knows exactly what he meant and for 'those inside the process the view is different than for those outside the process.' His major point, he did know what he meant. Me, still not so much), but that's what makes it so great. It could mean anything. Around here, we've been saying 'Norwich is moving forward' for years, and yet here we stay, so go figure.

And keeping it in the family, here's a letter to the editor on behalf of the same candidate, by someone seeking reelection to the Board of Education. How would I know that? Because a few days later, there's a letter supporting her candidacy from, as I live and breathe, the same person whom she had endorsed for City Council. What are the odds of that happening?!?

Your local newspaper is filled with this same kind of stuff, too. Letters assuring us the people seeking office are good to their Mommas, love Elvis, rescue stranded kittens from trees and, generally are kind and generous people. But, and it's not just me saying this, we already know that. We are all universally fortunate in that we live in cities and towns with carloads of people who want to help and who will work hard to make things better.

Except not all of us who want to help can actually do so. All things being equal, how do I pick the goodest of the good intentioned? Here's a little something for candidates everywhere-too late for this election but there's always a Next Election: It's wonderful your neighbors, co-workers, and your family want to write a letter for a newspaper to tell me how wonderful you are, but take the pen yourself. Tell me your goal, your plan for achieving it and your measurement device to make sure we don't get lost on the way to the Emerald City. You've got one minute to tell me and sell me. Do NOT mention puppies. Gimme the Truth.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Sound of One Hand (NOT) Clapping

Reminder: tonight, seven o'clock in the Slater Auditorium on the campus of the Norwich Free Academy, it's part two of the Norwich Bulletin-sponsored Norwich Mayoral Debate among Mark Bettencourt, Peter Nystrom, Joseph Radecki and Bob Zarnetske. It's your city-so how come you're letting so many other people make all the decisions about who should run it? See you there.

Speaking of the Bulletin, here's an item that could be called "Torn from the Pages of Crimestoppers' Textbook" or "Keep Your Hands Where I Can See Them", I haven't decided which and I'm not in any especial hurry to do so.

I came across this in my hometown paper in the "local" section under "crime", above a story datelined "Norwich" about "Tickets on sale for tribute to Mayor" (who is, to my knowledge and his vast relief, very much alive. I hope for his sake, the tribute doesn't turn into a Viking funeral).

"Driver charged with indecency" is the half-haikuesque headline about Dean Mansfield who 'was charged with public indecency early Sunday after someone complained he was committing a sexual act in his car with the interior dome light on while driving alone down Interstate 95.' It was only three years ago that Connecticut went to a mandatory hands-free cellphone law. They grow up so fast, don't they?

I'm a bit stuck on the mechanics and particulars of the report to the police, who acted with alacrity, according to the story. Just how close was whatever vehicle the 'complainant' was in to Dean's vehicle? It sure must have been a tall vehicle, to see what was going on. And Dean obviously had an automatic transmission. Did the complainant use a hands-free phone to alert the police? And is it a crime if the interior dome light wasn't on? Inquiring minds want to know.

When the police pulled him over, did they tell Mr. Mansfield to keep his hands where they could see them? Ewwww. You know someone asked him what he thought he was doing, right? What do you suppose he answered? And for his appearance in New London Superior Court, is he better off taking a bus, or perhaps wearing gloves? He's probably lost any possibility of scoring that M & M endorsement deal. Roll, baby, roll.
-bill kenny

Monday, October 26, 2009

Bring on the Lions (Norwich Meetings 26-30 October)

Even as local and state election contests heat up or boil over or melt-down (It's amazing how many cooking figures of speech we use in politics, innit?), the work of continuity, or neighbors working with and for neighbors, continues, because after all the shouting on Election Day has given way to everyday, we still need the services and programs that local government can best deliver.

As such, this is a typical week for community and municipal meetings here in The Rose City, with Halloween falling on Saturday and for some seeking public office a week from tomorrow as well.

I'll mention the two candidate forums first, because if you have limited free time and still have questions about those seeking office, those may be of the most interest to you. The second of the two Mayoral candidate presentations will be tomorrow night at seven in the Slater Auditorium on the campus of Norwich Free Academy. I'd hope for the same level of engagement we saw in the audience for the first forum, hosted by the Norwich Bulletin's Ray Hackett, though selfishly, I'd like to a much larger turnout.

Thursday at six, again at Slater will be what sounds like a WWF meets UFC tag-team event, but with fewer skimpy outfits, I suspect (and truly hope). All the mayoral candidates AND all the City Council candidates, in a 'free-for-all' format hosted by WFSB's Kevin Hogan.

Returning to the hear and now, so to speak, this afternoon at five in Room 210 of City Hall is a regular meeting of the Redevelopment Agency. As a quick review of their September draft minutes suggests, these are volunteers working on complex issues that cannot be managed in our sometimes preferred drive-by style of doing business. Here's their agenda for this afternoon, and 26 Shipping Street remains a fixture of the meeting agendae, sort of like Banquo's ghost.

At five thirty, one floor up in City Hall, in Room 319 is a special (because of the publication of the meeting, not because of the subject matter) meeting of the Norwich Hospital Site Development Committee, who are hoping to make a presentation to what will be a lame-duck City Council at a possible 16 November Council meeting.

I attended their 13 October meeting (and was surprised and delighted by the attendance of so many of those seeking a seat on the City Council. NOT.) and others before that. They've worked hard to research a huge amount of material in an effort that was begun, at least a year too late. If you've been watching the kabuki theatre that's been the Norwich Hospital Property Acquisition Discussion for the last decade plus, you should try to get to a meeting and see for yourself what's at stake both in the short (two to five years) and the long run (ten to fifty). And if you're NOT thinking in those types of increments, you need to be.

Tuesday went from four public meetings to one, but in light of the mayoral debate at seven at NFA, that's perhaps for the best. The Harbor Management Commission meets, according to their agenda, at five in the City Manager's office (I think it's actually in room 219). I wandered through downtown and the harbor area on Saturday (I was the one with the ball cap and the headphones over by the Sweeney Bridge. Talk about amok overgrowth! So much for beautification of the Gateway Corridors, eh?) and it looks like the seawall repair is coming along-there will be an update on that at the meeting, I assume.

Both the Board of Public Utilities Commissioners and the Sewer Authority meetings have been cancelled for Tuesday evening, as has a regular meeting of the Building Code of Appeals.

Wednesday afternoon at five is a regular meeting of the Board of Review (of) Dangerous Buildings in the basement conference room of 23 Union Street. Reading through the draft minutes of their last meeting, and maybe I'm a little naive (maybe?), I'm struck by how many properties in need of oversight there are in Norwich. These volunteers, in much the same manner as the Redevelopment Agency, have a quiet but wide-ranging area of responsibilities that touches many agencies across the city.

More or less as special task forces or sub-committees of this board, are two meetings following this one, beginning at 6:15, in the same location, the 21 West Thames Street Advisory Committee, and then the 751 North Main Street Advisory Committee.

And finally at 6:30 in their conference room over on New London Turnpike, it's a regular meeting of the Norwich Golf Course Authority (they met on the 14th for a special meeting, whose minutes, like those of their regular September meeting, are absent from the city's website).

And that's a look ahead at the last full week of municipal goings-on in Norwich before our municipal elections. This year's slogan, much as in previous years:
"Give the people what they want. You gotta give the people what they want.
The more they get, the more they need. And every time they get harder and harder to please."
-bill kenny

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Buyer's Remorse

This is the time of year that I'm always mindful of Sir Winston Churchill. "(I)t has been said," Sir Winston is quoted as noting, "that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried." We've been at it here in these more or less United States, in varying degrees and with varying amounts of success, for far more than the proverbial four score years and ten, doubled plus another fraction, and in many respects we approach elections, from the highest office in the land to the most local election we can imagine (inversely and perversely, the ratio of the office itself to a direct impact on our lives is a cause of some smiles, at least for me) as outlined in the legendary description of the six phases of a project.

The Six Phases of any project are: Enthusiasm, Disillusionment, Panic, Search for the Guilty, Punishment of the Innocent and Praise and Honor for the Non-Participants. If you've been on this orb for more than an hour, congratulations, and, you know that the six phases applies to almost anything from child-rearing, through relationships to political decisions and beyond.

Last November a large number of us waxed rhapsodic with the election of Barack Obama to the Presidency. A year on and some of us, and maybe more than some, are crestfallen about how the economy is still sputtering, how "the war" (I love the use of the definite article in that construct. I can almost hear War Pigs, and so can you) still goes on, the battle for affordable and accessible health care (and the separate debate on whether those are perhaps mutually exclusive terms) rages and how the parting on the left is now parting on the right (If it helps, I've only got the moustache-I got rid of the beard).

I feel very strongly the President may be at least partially responsible for the lack of pony rides for my birthday (though his predecessor, Mr. Bush, also failed in each of the preceding eight years to come through) and I remain convinced that, while Mr. Obama is an American, he most assuredly may have had something to do with Bill Buckner booting that grounder in Game Six of the '86 World Series. And/or the break-up of The Spice Girls. Glenn Beck is looking into all of this.

And as the elections move closer to home, hand on my heart (and you, too), some of the people we embraced eagerly as the 'future' in the last campaign are now the embodiment of 'more of the same' and we can't be rid of them quick enough (Yeah, I'm thinking of two in particular in my neck of the woods which makes me unkind). How did all these bright and eager people, whom we know because they're our neighbors and often our friends, go from heroes to zeroes (and so quickly!) and what will happen to those for whom we next vote?

It's good and right that we take our democracy seriously-we should. There are too many crazies in The Real World who have nothing to live for-and people who have nothing to live for, always find something to die for and then they want you to die for it too.
But as we start to reach those final decisions on which neighbors will help make us the greatest place on earth (and in its history) in which to live, let's make sure we think about saying thank you to everyone who stepped up and stepped forward to be a light and lend a hand.

"There's no good revolution, just power changing hands.
There is no straight solution. Accept and understand." Easy to say, so hard to do.
-bill kenny

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Almost a Backseat Driver

If you believe in evolution and the triumph of survival based on innovation in a species, when you look to your left or right around your workspace on any given workday, or when wandering the aisle in a supermarket or (in my case) just looking in the mirror, you have to be getting sweaty palms when you read a local newspaper or check out the evening TV news.

We're watching the world try to break its dependence on fossil fuel as a source of energy (we could quit anytime, we tell one another as we scout for gas stations with the cheapest price) and perfect alternative technologies such as electric cars or hydrogen fuel vehicles. The turmoil this type of challenge produces is evident in the marketplace where familiar names like Pontiac, Oldsmobile and Plymouth have all already gone the way of the dinosaur with more, perhaps, to follow making room for new products from new manufacturers--intentional or not.

Into all of that, comes this. Lest you wonder about NPR's 'brevity is the soul of communications' approach to reporting, check out the only slightly more verbose account from the finest communications asset in all of Fort Lee, New Jersey, MSNBC. I'm wondering how the defense attorney David Keegan framed his arguments in this case that resulted in a (I think) relatively light sentence, considering his client already had a DUI conviction on his record (while operating a hot tub, I was told; but that court record is sealed).

For granularity and a measure of hilarity, it's hard to top the Duluth News Tribune and its account. I especially enjoyed the paragraph where the chair operator claimed a woman (unidentified and seemingly unapprehended) jumped on the motorized chair while he was rocketing home from the bar after getting ossified). Part of that Motorized Lounge Chairs Don't Kill People, Drunks Who DriveThem Do ad campaign that the home furnishings people have been muttering about for most of the last decade, I suspect.

The only things I can't figure out is the top speed of the chair, how many miles per gallon it gets (regular or super) and what the opening bid at the police auction will be for it. You don't suppose the La-Z Boy folks themselves are hoping to snag it for their museum, assuming they have one (and if not, what an incredible first acqusition). And if so, do you think (hope) they'll drive it back to corporate headquarters, maybe in a motorcade of armored ottomans? Assuming such an event is televised what should we be sitting on to watch it?
-bill kenny

Friday, October 23, 2009

America's (OTHER) Great National Pastime

It's funny how how one topic will be highlighted in a news cycle and before you know it, there are other, similar, stories multiplying like those little brooms under Mickey's axe in the The Sorcerer's Apprentice. I'm never sure if the actual number of incidences (or incidents?) increase or if it's just our sensitivity and awareness about them.

Here's a local (to me and to him, as it so happens) TV station's story on Steve Phillips' precarious predicament because of peccadillos. As a Yankees fan who wonders what the heck happens every season to the NY Mets, I may have part of my answer now. Depends on how literally I should take the turn of phrase 'switch-hitter', perhaps.

Someone once told me ESPN stood for Entertainment and Sports Programming Network-I'm trying to picture that on the breast pocket of a sports shirt. I guess when they started covering the National Spelling Bee, we swapped out the word 'sports'. But by all (news) accounts, there may be more going on in Bristol, CT, and its surrounding area than happens during the course of a 162 game season.

Watching him on Around the Horn, I always thought it was just American League baseball Woody Paige had no clue about. And one of his former colleagues, Harold Reynolds, seems to have been active beyond the trading deadline (as the kids used to call it). Nor is he alone, says these folks. Who does ESPN think they are? David Letterman, perhaps.

When Mrs. Letterman reacted by suggesting Dave-O take a hike, I doubt she meant on The Appalachian Trail. And in light of all the baseball lechers wandering the alleyways and the airways, I'm surprised Governor Sanford didn't insist all he was doing was scouting South American talent, since he obviously was. It's a cinch Harold and Steve would believe him--they're refreshed players.
-bill kenny

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Never Trade Luck for Skill

I came across that suggestion yesterday and, single-minded cretin that I am often (with reason) accused of being, thought of the ten of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of small and quiet decisions that households across this nation make on a daily and weekly basis as the economic tides continue to threaten to pull so many of us under.

A non-economist acquaintance once shared with me 'when you're out of a job, it's a recession; when I'm out of a job, it's a depression' and I suspect there's more to that than meets the eye. At the end of last week and intermittently this week, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has been 'flirting with 10,000 points'. I have absolutely NO idea what any of that preceding sentence means, but I've heard it repeatedly and parrot it like I know what I'm talking about.

All of us do. We all assume, or did until it turned out the whole house of cards decided to reshuffle itself, that someone somewhere knew and understood what it was we were doing for most of the last decade. Like Wimpy, offering to gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today knowing full well we would have no money on Tuesday, we just kept adding days to the calendar and hoped Tuesday wouldn't arrive.

When the economic ship of state started taking on water, I didn't really understand the big picture and, like so many, haven't been as successful as I'd like in appreciating the larger picture and fuller impact. Conversely, with Bernake in the Seventh House and Geithner aligned with Mars (or something like that) am I alone in detecting a tone of barely-controlled euphoria by broadcast and print news reports on economic growth? Except I'm still not "getting" it.

Why isn't it all this just Accidental Excellence (not this one)? When we got it right, we had no idea what we did to produce those positive results so, not surprisingly we couldn't duplicate them, so when things started to go south, we went with them. It's hard to not be superstitious, wash your face and hands, until you get the bill at the end of the month for soap and water. In times of stress we rely more on routines, they offer us the appearance of the familiar, the known and the comfortable and serve, in their way, as a mantra against a world we cannot otherwise manage.
"Thirteen month old baby broke the lookin' glass. Seven years of bad luck, the good things in your past." Sounds about as long as some of us think these hard times will last-while others who've never known other than hard times wonder what all the handwringing is about.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

You Better, You Bet

This is my very favorite day of the year. This is bigger and better than Christmas or Twofer Tuesday at Trolls R Us. It's better than my children's birthdays (combined or separate) or even that of my wife-basically, because none of those would resonate without some, part or all of today, which is our wedding anniversary.

My wife, Sigrid, and I married thirty-two years ago, today-at twenty after ten in the morning (a Friday as I recall) in the Offenbach am Main Rathaus, when we tied the knot and signed on the line (there really is a line on the heiratsurkunde). I grin every time I think about that day and my grin grows so wide I find it a wonder that the entire top of my head doesn't just fall off into my lap. Except for the improvement, I doubt anyone would notice the difference.

I'm sorry to bend your eyes with my meanderings down memory lane, but as much and as often as I lose track of events and people from my past, it's amazing that my memories of this day are crisp and bright. How many of them actually happened is sometimes a point of contention in my house, and that's part of the journey, too. Another part is my annual bad joke, this year where I say 'Sigrid says it feels a lot longer than thirty-two years of marriage, but that's because the German use the metric system.' And then I pause and hope for her roll of the eyes and wan smile.

I would hope you, too, have already, or will soon, meet that someone whose very being is enough to reassure you that you're finally home. The person around whom you don't need to hold your breath. Who, no matter what you do, still loves you for who you are, even if you sometimes don't act like that guy for really LONG periods of time.

I have twenty billion reasons for why I am in love with this Offenbach madel--and no idea how she could possibly love or be in love with an arrogant, ignorant, loud-mouth stumblebunny like me. But she is and I've stopped wondering why and finally accepted that love is something you can only give, but never earn. Sigrid tries so hard to make this marriage of ours, but really hers (mostly), work and all I do is show up for meals (and I often don't do that on time or properly dressed). In the end, if I were honest, I'd admit, "I'm not into your passport picture. I just like your nose."

Had she stopped to wonder about how literally she might have to live the 'for better or for worse; for richer and for poorer' parts of the ritual, she might have asked for a lifeline or to phone a friend. Oder ein pause einlegen. Today is typical of her sacrifice as I do what must be done. I give my time to (nearly total) strangers' on a variety of projects that have various amounts of meaning to me, mostly in terms of where we now live and she will say not a word as to my choice.

Sigrid and I will celebrate our anniversary tomorrow night, at an Indian food restaurant we both know (not in Norwich) that reminds us of a place we used to frequent in Frankfurt am Main in what seems like another life (because it was). It was the first place I ever took her to eat when we started dating and I only knew about it because my buddy (and future best man) Chris H. had shown me how to ride the U3 from Adickesallee to get there two weeks earlier. Best fahrschein I ever bought. She ordered the chicken curry and I had the lamb vindaloo. We both enjoyed the nan and thought the mango chutney was marvelous. It still is. Happy Anniversary, Angel Eyes.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

I Didn't mean Air Conditioning when I Said AC

Even for a nation so infatuated with romancing the stranger, we made Anna Nicole and Ozzy Osbourne TV stars, it was an odd news story. Not that this stopped millions of us from watching it live-heck we felt we had no choice, we were drawn to the screen. I'm speaking about Falcon Henne, projectile vomiter, and Rocketeer (almost), who, we're now told by local law enforcement authorities, was part of an elaborate hoax by parents who majored in self-aggrandizement perhaps to seal a reality TV deal.

Just me? I'm a little disappointed with how angry the same sheriff's department now seems to be especially since they were so mellow the other day in the immediate aftermath of this whole thing going down. I'm trying to remember the name of the college professor the other day who'd told police the runaway balloon could carry up to eighty pounds and see if it's the same name as the college professor who now assures the Associated Press that the balloon couldn't carry the six year old thirty-seven pound boy.

I'm thinking maybe it was Jimmy Webb, but I have the feeling, while that name comes to mind, the context is different. I suspect they may be one and the same professor and I look forward to yet another party hiring him as their technical expert in (what do I know?) a movie adaptation of this adventure (Tom Cruise can play the grown-up Falcon as they're already about the same size).

We never tire of this stuff, do we? Go back fifteen years. Substitute a White Bronco for a silver duct-taped balloon. Like some sort of a seance, we're eyes on the screen 24/7. Are our own lives so empty we need this to fill them up, or to make ourselves feel better? Don't know how things are at your house, but Grandma's dying of cancer now, the cattle all have brucellosis, we'll get through somehow. (okay, not all of us. Warren, for instance will not be joining us for the rest of his life).

Near the end of the work week, and not a hard week but not an easy one either, and here comes a postcard from a parallel universe that resonates as far as Siam causing us to stop whatever we're working on and dropping whomever we're doing, to worry about the well-being of a little boy none of us had ever heard of and wouldn't have known had he fallen from the heavens and landed on our front lawns (not that we would have needed to know his name to call the K-MOO News truck).

No gloves, no Bruno Magli shoes, no golf clubs, no "Kato" Kaelin, no Dream Team defense lawyers, unless Daddy Dearest can cut a deal with Dick Wolf and get some of the attorneys from one or more of the Law and Order TV shows. And the best part, and maybe the most America in the Twenty-First Century Part of All, is within two weeks we'll have forgotten all about these folks as their memory will have been replaced a dozen times over by the next big things.

Pity OJ didn't own an Excursion-more vehicle for more passengers. (Bet the Bronco was the only ride no one ever called 'shotgun'.) The spinoffs could have kept us all busy until the silver balloon landed.
-bill kenny

Monday, October 19, 2009

Norwich Meetings 19-24 October 2009

Two weeks from tomorrow, tens of thousands of governmental overthrows and revolutions could be taking place, almost universally in a peaceful and respectful manner, as local and state elections are held. There's still time, wherever you live, to register to vote if you haven't-and if you haven't, why not? Don't say 'it doesn't make any difference who's in office', because it does.

And more especially, a bigger difference is made by those whom we select to hold those offices. And if you choose NOT to decide, you still have made a choice. You don't get to sit out every dance, twinkle toes, eventually you gotta dance with the one that brung ya, so lace up your dancing shoes and get on the good foot.

As for my (current ) hometown, The Rose of New England, Norwich, we have lots of quiet government in action and neighbors working to make things better all across this week's calendar.

This morning at nine, in the Rose Senior Center, it's a regular meeting of the Senior Affairs Commission, all of whose members' appointments expired last month. Undeterred, or perhaps unwilling to take the hint, they met the latter part of September, and here's the minutes from that meeting which included a discussion about those expired appointments and one of the more generous explanations of a (somewhat ambitious and not without controversy) Recreation Department initiative I've seen in quite some time.

This afternoon at 5:15 in their building in Gales Ferry, at 1649 Route 12 (not all that far from the Go-Kart place; I'll bet they'd get a bigger turn-out if you could ride one after the meeting) is a regular meeting of the Southeastern Connecticut Water Authority (whose two Norwich member appointments to the Representative Advisory Board expired SIX years ago).

You can find the September minutes on their website by going down the left side of the page and double-clicking. Potable water is part of the scenery for all of us and risks being taken for granted, so for quality of life, as an economic development tool and for a hundred other reasons, the efforts of these people are important to each of us, whether we know it or not.

There's a City Council meeting at seven tonight with a full agenda. This will be their last meeting before the elections. Let's promise one another, someday real soon, to look back at these past twenty-four months and smile (or grimace). If you're behind on your taxes to the city, you might find resolution three interesting and wonder if it can, perhaps, be expanded to include your situation-bet we both know the answer to that one. As for Resolution one, all of us should applaud (finally) the Ethics Commission's creation and establishment.

At seven thirty Monday evening in its offices in the Norwich Business Park, the Southeastern CT Council of Governments holds a public hearing on the 2010-2013 State and Regional Transportation Improvement Program, among other topics. As Norwich is about to become the owner of a twenty-plus million dollar Regional Inter Modal Transportation Center, it may be worthwhile to see where that piece goes within the regional and state mass transit mosaic. All of the documents related to the public hearing are here, near the bottom of the page.

Tuesday afternoon at 5:30 in the Latham Science Center on the campus at 305 Broadway, the Board of Trustees of the Norwich Free Academy hold a regular meeting, whose agenda (and the minutes of previous meetings) can be found here. As a high school for a number of communities, NFA is, in its own way, a small example of limited regionalism for those on both sides of the debate on the merits of that idea. You don't have to have children at NFA or children at all to be impacted by decisions taken by the neighbors who serve on this board.

At six in Room 210 of City Hall is a regular meeting of the Personnel and Pension Board, whose role in municipal relations as the steward of the retirement investments for city employees cannot be overstated, especially in challenging economic times. This may be one of the more important and least understood volunteer efforts in Norwich. Reading through their previous meeting's minutes gives you a feel for the variety of challenges and the scope of the financial consequences they have to face.

At seven, there are choices and voices of varying kinds. There's a Downtown Neighborhood Revitalization Zone meeting, perhaps in the Otis Library (reading some of the outdated meeting minutes posted on the city's website (I'm a sucker for anniversaries, ask my wife), but there's not very much information to help you sort out the location or the agenda. But these folks are consistent as this is NOT the first time I've remarked upon their (lack of) compliance with state statutes, nor, I suspect, will it be the last.

The other meeting at seven is a regular meeting of the Commission of the City Plan, in the basement conference room at 23 Union Street (next door to City Hall), who've had their share, and more, of eventful meetings recently. Lost in all the hubbub about Byron Brook is the ongoing discussion about the application to establish (say some neighbors, after the fact) a Homeless Veterans Supportive Facility, that was tabled at the September meeting and will, I imagine, be on the agenda this time around.

Wednesday morning at 8:30 in the Norwich Business Park in their building, there's a full council meeting of the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments. Here's their regular September meeting minutes, and a reminder that the Regional Inter Modal Transportation Center Study mentioned on page four is NOT the structure forecast for Norwich's Hollyhock Island (see the public hearing on Monday for more, or less, depending on how you feel about it).

At nine o'clock is a regular meeting of the Norwich School Readiness Council (Children First) in the Community Meeting Room of the Dime Bank at 290 Salem Turnpike. The February 2007 meeting minutes are now posted (a journey of a thousand miles begins with a first step). I'm sure the explanation for not conforming with Connecticut's public law will be added shortly. You might want to get that glass of warm milk and two cookies now and avoid the rush.

I don't pretend to be an expert on childhood or education or any combination of the two (though it's never too late to have a happy childhood) but it seems to me if you're an agency relying on an informed general public to support your efforts and initiatives, you really need to make some effort to meet us halfway in terms of what you're doing, and what you'd like to do (and why) and how it's working out.

Wednesday evening at seven in the Slater Auditorium of Norwich Free Academy is a debate among the ten people seeking nine seats on the Norwich Board of Education. I'm wondering if it wouldn't be more fair, and vastly more amusing, if instead of an election we used musical chairs (full contact rules). That means instead of Pop Goes the Weasel, more like this.

Thursday morning at eight o'clock, is a meeting of the Norwich Community Development Corporation Board of Directors in their offices at 77 Main Street. Despite being the City Council's development arm, NCDC isn't listed on the City of Norwich's website page detailing boards and commissions. For that, the still-in-progress aspect of their website and a hundred other reasons, some in Norwich regard them as The Illuminati. I've been to Ingolstadt and didn't see Bob M or Shelley C while there, though a note to will, I believe, get you a copy of the meeting minutes and agenda. I know, 'what kind of a cabal is this?'

I've read mentions of a nine AM meeting of the Southeast Connecticut Enterprise Region in their offices at 39 Kings Highway, Gales Ferry (I know exactly where it is; sometimes I amaze myself) and here's an intriguing document to save and read as you get to it, produced last year as an annual report.

At 9:30 up in the Norwich Business Park at 30 Stott Road , down the hill from Dodd Stadium, is a regular meeting of the Connecticut Municipal Electric Cooperative. Their website is very informative, assuming the world ended at the end of July, since that looks like the last time anything was updated. I'd recommend reading this page if you only have time for a brief look as it's an excellent overview of their mission and way ahead.

And at seven at night in Room 335 is a regular meeting of the Democratic Town Committee though I'd imagine this close to the actual municipal elections, this meeting may be less than a front-lobe item for many.

And that's it for the meeting high points. Enough different activities all of whom can benefit from another helping hand, perhaps yours? It's true, "You'll never know until you try." Take my word for it. I'm one of the most trying people I know.
-bill kenny

Sunday, October 18, 2009

There's Always Room

I cooked yesterday. Actually what I did was boil water and pour it into a bowl with Jell-O powder and made flavored gelatin, after re-reading the boxes and realizing that I also had to add cold water to the bowl (since it looked really sketchy with just the powder dissolved in the hot water. Sort of like a wobbly black hole in terms of the amount of light. It looked a lot better with the additional water).

I would like to tell you it was delicious and it was, in its way. It was the most delicious gelatin I made yesterday which is as far as I can go in telling the story without damaging the truth. I worry about keeping my diabetes under control so I buy sugar-free gelatin powder, unless I get distracted by the box or the flavor on the box and then, when I'm putting the boxes away after taking them out of the grocery bag in our kitchen, I'll discover that I bought a mixture of sugar-free and not sugar free (which they do NOT call it on the box) gelatin powder.

That just means I have to pay (more) attention when I'm making it to always mix and match the two kinds which is pretty easy because, aside from the lapse in concentration at the store in buying the two different kinds, and later in the kitchen in getting a little confused about the amount of water to use, I'm practically a professional Jell-O maker.

Here's something you learn when you pick up the wrong kind of gelatin. The sugar-free kind weighs, the box says, point eight five grams-less than a feather (probably). The regular kind weights eighty-five grams, which is TEN times as much. You'd think that just picking up the boxes on the store shelf, it would be a simple matter to purchase the correct kind and since I have no counterpoint to that position, I'll ignore it.

I only made the Jell-O because I bought some yesterday afternoon in the store (this time I even got all sugar-free mixes; sometimes I amaze myself), and when I brought it back to the cart my wife reminded me 'we have Jell-O boxes in the kitchen cabinet'. I told her I knew that, which wasn't as true as it could have been, and that's when I decided to make Jell-O when I got home to prove to her I knew we had some. Showed her, I did.

I go for color more than actual flavors since I'm never especially comfortable with how they get the stuff to taste differently. I never buy orange because the color on the box is too weird and when you make it with other flavors, the colors are goofy. This time I made 'red' with, as I recall, some cherry and strawberry, or perhaps it was raspberry. And orange is the kind they gave me in the hospital when I had the Total Knee Replacmeent but it wasn't real Jell-O, it was another company's idea of what gelatin tasted like, except they obviously had never eaten gelatin, ever.

I've been known to make lime, but usually with strawberry-kiwi and I never buy, much less make, strawberry-banana, even though I really do believe they all taste about the same (just in case I'm wrong). I've never understood why there's no hurry to put it back in the refrigerator after you've made it and placed it in the refrigerator and 'let cool for about four hours' because it doesn't melt when it's on the counter, but when you add hot water to it, it does.

I was thinking you could actually get away with only ever buying one box of Jell-O and just keep adding cups of hot water as you'd eaten it and popping the bowl back into the fridge to regenerate.
I was going to seek a grant from the National Science Foundation or Bill Nye, since I figured we could feed starving people as long as we had drinking water and a fridge and then I remembered buying just one box of Jell-O wasn't the business plan for the people who make Jell-O and they'd go out of business and that would be the end of my idea. I've got a call in to Bill Cosby to see what he thinks. In the meantime, I have a smile--you can go buy the Coke.
-bill kenny

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Why Does Andy Warhol Have a Stop Watch?

A bit of housekeeping to start: the Double-A Eastern League baseball affiliate of the San Francisco Giants, Connecticut Defenders (nee Norwich Navigators), who relocated to Richmond, Virginia, have themselves a new name and it's not, as someone suggested a couple of weeks ago in jest (I hope) 'Richmond Carpetbaggers.' Put your hands together and give a big The Diamond Welcome to your Richmond Flying Squirrels (the story had more comments from readers than the Defenders had fans in the stands at the last home game of the EL championship series, I fear).

I found out yesterday who reads local newspapers. I was one of a handful of residents Thursday night who attended a question and answer session (we always call these 'debates' but none of them are) with eleven of the twelve people seeking one of six seats on the Norwich City Council (the twelfth wasn't allowed to cross the street. KIDDING! I think he had to work). On my way out, I was asked what I thought of the proceedings and since the last time I had an original idea it died of loneliness, I offered it to a reporter. Tick, tick.

I spent half my time in the audience wondering where everyone else was.....yeah it was a lousy night weather-wise, with some winds and snow (or perhaps just raindrops with Halloween costumes that made them appear to be snowflakes) and, of course, the Phillies and Dodgers were on (Norwich is a hot bed of Phillie Phever. Pass it on.) and all of that may have had something to do with the turnout.
Last year, across the USA, we were all doing a happy dance as our voter turnout percentage in a Presidential election year approached 60%--paradoxically, in local elections in Norwich (and across the country) we get to about a quarter of all registered voters actually casting a ballot, though starting the day after the election, 100% of us think unkindly of the people we (s)elected, so I guess fifty people is the new 'huge turnout.'

And we have so many new faces, with a few candidates seeking reelection and one former council person seeking a return. All are nice people who want to help, somehow and perhaps from a Council chair is a good idea. Listening to them the other night and trying to take notes on their respective salient points, the longer I listened, the more difference without distinction I noted until eventually most of what each person said just ran into the next person's Sixty Second Speechlet.

One candidate suggested the city's charter isn't business friendly, and was joined by well over half the others echoing that very sentiment but, varying their remarks just enough that it practically sounded like an original observation and innovative perspective. Thank goodness no one was asked to offer five examples where this is the case--or three, for that matter. Can I hear one example? It must be Buddy Holly because I can hear crickets!

And so it went for about two hours and when it stopped, as opposed to concluded, which suggests a level of intellectual engagement no one approached much less approximated, what had any of us, in the auditorium or on stage, learned? Norwich has no shortage of people who'd like to help right the cart and who, if given some outline or inkling of a plan and offered an opportunity to make a meaningful, defined contribution, would do so and all of us would benefit. Let's work to make events coalesce so this can happen.

That probably sounds like how things are where you live doesn't it? It should because we really are much more alike than we are different. But that also applies in less kind ways as well. Far too often, far too many of us will take the path of least resistance, will wait for the next person to take on that dirty job we know must be done but have been avoiding, and look around for someone to blame as part of the solution.

I heard from someone who, reading the paper, sent me a note 'your coment and atitude (sic) shouldn't surprise me and are exactly what's wrong with Norwich.' I'm a walk-on in this movie with an incidental speaking part. The main actors were on stage and spotlighted but speechless. You shouldn't be surprised when you can settle for disappointed (I do on a regular basis) and Norwich was 350 years old this July. Who do you blame for the first three hundred and thirty-two years? Time's up.
-bill kenny

Friday, October 16, 2009

With Apologies to Jim Morrison

We've had a decidedly November chill to our days this October week here in Southeastern Connecticut (and also had a bit of Christmas snow yesterday afternoon). I have that weather gadget on the computer that has an apoplectic attack every time there's another frost warning or a freeze alert and it's been doing the Rockin' Robin for a couple of days almost nonstop. I'm a bit more blase-unless you're chirping to tell me there's three feet of snow coming up the coast, go peddle your papers. This is New England after all, go parhk yourh carh.

Meanwhile at work, I watch the trees fill up with all the birds who migrate as they get organized for their southern sojourn while the sparrows and blue jays and whatever some of other year-rounders are called (right long the shore, there are sandpipers but that's the limit to my ornithological ability) sit around on the grass searching for food

The half dozen or so squirrels I used to feed during the dog days of July heat have been reduced to one lonely visitor who leaps from the ground to my windowsill, some thirty-eight inches (yes, I measured it) high and leans against the double pane thermal glass trying to peer through it and the screen to see what the peanut-dispensing biped is up to that he isn't throwing legumes out the window.

This, I suspect, is the same squirrel that used to figure out how to get under the open office window when the air conditioning was hinky and scratch with those claws on the screen to get my attention. Then as now, I wait for him (her? it?) to clear the windowsill and jump back down to terra firma before flipping the peanuts outside.

More often than not, he gathers two peanuts together (there's a market for squirrel shopping bags, I imagine, but I don't know how to collect their money) and scampers off, but not too far, to bury the nuts in the large front lawn (one of the nicer things it's been called in recent months) where he remembers where they are though I have no idea how. As the colder months approach, the squirrel seems more single-minded about this routine with every passing day. I'm trying to imagine what the animal uses in October to find the buried peanuts in January. Eco-location?

The squirrel hurries back to under the window because he's in a race with the blue jays who swoop down, grab a peanut and then give themselves a headache, I believe, standing on a tree branch holding it in their beaks while slamming it into the tree until the shell cracks. I can understand why they prefer bugs and slugs.

There was a day not that long ago that a squirrel and a bird had a difference of opinion that I joined, already in progress. The audio cue had been that annoying yell that blue jays never tire of-ever. He just kept at it and kept it. No less incessant, but barely audible was what I at first thought was a bike tire losing air-a soft, low steady hissing. I looked out the window and saw a squirrel facing off with bird over a thrown peanut.

One hopped while the other stepped. One cocked its head to one side and scolded loudly and the other stood on its hind legs as if to bow. I threw out some more peanuts hoping to defuse the situation but it was too late-they were captured by the conflict. It was on and gone. All I could do was close the window after promising to feed whichever one showed up the next day.
-bill kenny

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Because We Can, Should We?

Someone sent me a link that I found fascinating and eventually a little sobering. You try it, now, and tell me if it's not cute, but with an after-taste. Don't get me wrong-first of all I don't think any bubbles were harmed in the making of the routine. And I also don't really care a rat's hindquarters if the magician was smoking a cigarette and boy are cigarettes bad for you! Golly gee and yada, yada... I smoked for twenty-something years, three packs a day. Most of the time I didn't even realize I was doing it.

I quit thirteen years and two weeks ago and miss it everyday. I'm not a former smoker, I'm a recovering smoker. And a hypocrite-I have trouble tolerating the smell of cigarette smoke and hate to see stubbed out butts and discarded cigarettes littering the ground. Now. Don't ask me what I did with mine, but I'm on you like stink on ---- let's just say, pretty rapidly, and leave it at that.

You'd think with a nicotine addiction, I'd be a bit more forgiving of those with unresolved substance abuse situations and problems. And, you'd be wrong because, like the overwhelming majority of Fellow Travelers here on Spaceship Earth (enjoy the Operating Manual for free, here), I'm a hypocrite. I'm bright enough to realize when I'm finger-pointing that three of my fingers on that hand point back at myself so I cheat and wear gloves, as well as a disguise.

But actually, the two links underscore my original point, which I'd nearly forgotten and you never even knew. If there's anything more Narcissistic than youtube, I cannot begin to imagine what it might be, but I shudder at the thought. We could sit in our chairs and electronically wander a collection that would cause the Library of Alexandria to be envious, not to mention the Library of Otis which does have an elevator, I believe, though by what manufacturer, I've no clue, to lose its lunch. But would we?

Have you ever read the Journals of Lewis and Clark? Me neither, but we could. Instead we troll online until we find Weird Donkey videos, shake our heads in mock dismay and pseudo-horror that anyone could possibly make dreck like this and then we go ahead and watch it and then send it to friends.

Go to and enter 'starving children'. Feel free to donate to any cause who needs it--heck, they ALL need it. Now go here. Whoa! Harshed that philanthropic buzz, eh? We have more means to communicate with one another than at anytime in the history of civilization and what do we do with all of this? Spend endless hours relaying knock-knock jokes to one another. I guess I should really learn to be more philosophic about it all, but I prefer to be sophomoric about my philosophy, because I can.
-bill kenny