Wednesday, June 30, 2010

It Depends on the Question

Driving home yesterday afternoon from the supermarket after assembling today's lunch salad (rabbits should be half as organized as I am on this stuff), I was behind a car with a bumper sticker reading, "War Is Not the Answer."

Sorry, but what if the question is "what band was Eric Burdon in after he left The Animals?" (and is that a purse EB is dragging around? Good Lord!). See? It could be the answer....or how about "what does raw backwards spell?" (Who wants to tell Randy Orton, Eric's purse brings out the blood in his eyes?). It's not as simple as a bumper sticker, though when you watch most of our elections for the last lifetime or so, you can be forgiven for thinking otherwise.

Truth to tell, the bumper sticker and our current political malaise help me understand why the speed of light is faster than the speed of sound: many people look intelligent until you hear them speak. It's up there with "Live simply so that others may simply live." Oh yeah, the car bumper I saw that one on was attached to an MB Gelandewagen (btw, I find the use of the Outcast song harder to grasp than the complexity of the expression, Good Human. And who decided smugness was a positive character attribute?).

Years ago a NYC radio station heavily promoted the slogan "Love is the Answer" until a cross-town rival offered the missing question, "What can you fall into that doesn't stick to your face?" Such are the wages of sin for a PBS mind in a Fox News World. Yeah, and did you see the moon last night, hung like a Chinese ball?
-bill kenny

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Blood Sugar Trampolines and other Exercise Devices

WYSIWYG ain't nothing but a place to start these days, at least in my house, or more precisely in my head. I understood our daughter Michelle the other day in conversation with her mom to use the turn of phrase that I appropriated for today's title.

What about a late night cable TV show, perhaps hosted by the irrepressible Suzanne Somers, telling us about the impact on the glycemic index of a workout with the Blood Sugar Trampoline and, look, how it folds up for easy storage just about anyplace in only seconds! Call now and we'll make the first payment for you, operators standing by (though for a trampoline, I'm not sure that's a good idea). I loved the way it sounded, not only because I'm a diabetic, but also because I play one on television. Sorry, wrong disclaimer.

It turns out, not only is that NOT what she said, she has no recollection of what exactly it was she did say (I know, so how can she be so sure she didn't say it? I've long since learned to not raise that point in a discussion; she is, after all, her mother's daughter) so both of us are left to twist slowly until evenly browned.

Out walking yesterday someone passed me in a vehicle with a sticker on his back window (unless I can see the driver is a woman, I always assume it's a guy. I don't know if women have men as their default assumption) that read "New England Institute of Art." I knew it would be in Boston before I even looked it up. I think seventy percent of the buildings in Chestnut Hill are colleges. It must be magic owning a house there especially when your property tax bill arrives.

For a moment, but only just, I saw with my mind's eye a large oil painting of a lobster, covered in maple syrup wearing a Boston Red Sox ball cap and snow skis. It would make the perfect logo for the school, unless it didn't. And in light of the animation the school's students put together, maybe the duck can persuade the lobster to get into shape by working out on one of those blood sugar trampolines. woot! (Michelle did explain that one to me)
-bill kenny

Monday, June 28, 2010

All Together Now

You may not have yet started to notice but the days are getting shorter--yes, I know, hot summer nights and all that but since we've had the solstice, we're already on the down side of the slide to the longest dark day of the year in December. And you thought I'd say something chirpy and perky to start your week? Silly rabbit!

In this case, it's a quiet week of meetings starting this afternoon at five with the Redevelopment Agency in Room 210 of City Hall. I'm thinking, in light of the discussions on Community Development Block Grants before the City Council, the update on the Reid and Hughes building, perhaps (or perhaps NOT) yet under contract to be sold, could be interesting if not illuminating.

Tomorrow afternoon at four in the world headquarters of the Norwich Public Schools (makes it sound a lot cooler, doncha think?) across from the Norwichtown Green is a special meeting of the Board of Education on a variety of subjects that have gotten short shrift in recent months as "the budget" consumed practically all the attention of the public and seemingly all the oxygen in the conference room.

I'm following a development in The Whaling City (New London) where there is talk of charter reform and revision and the placing of all the finances for ALL departments under the city (leaving the Board of Education to concentrate on education and not accounting). Except that money is power (a dirty little secret of politics), I think this is GREAT idea and hope it might become worth exploring here, too, in Norwich if the City Council establishes a charter revision commission (having served on the last one, I don't understand why there isn't a standing committee to collect ideas and explore possibilities. For those keeping track at home, the Constitution has 26 Amendments so far be it from us to make change so difficult).

Wednesday afternoon at 4:30 in their office at 10 Westwood Park, there's a special meeting of the Housing Authority and here's the agenda. Cynic that I am, I think I just felt the earth move under my feet, though I look NOTHING like Carole King. (She's talented and lucky.)

At seven Wednesday evening in their clubhouse at the course on the New London Turnpike is a special meeting of the Norwich Golf Authority because its regular meeting was cancelled last week.

Thursday afternoon at 5:30 at the Miss Saigon Restaurant in Chelsea is a regular meeting of the Downtown Neighborhood Revitalization Thing (there should be ONE MORE WORD in their title, be it board, association, committee, doohickey) and while I appreciate the face lift on the city's website about their meetings-it's a case of 'close but no cigar' in terms of being informative.

Finally, at seven, in the basement conference room in the Planning Department, at 23 Union Street, is a regular meeting of the Inlands Wetlands, Water Courses and Conservation Commission. As their June meeting minutes show, the commission, like so many other helping hands across the community, has to deal with a variety of issues beyond its core mission while remaining true to its purpose and function and that it does so with little fanfare and no expectation of reward.

It's a challenge for New Englanders, I think, especially, who see themselves as rugged individualists (now that I have my new glasses, me too!) to sometimes step back, rather than step off, and try to create a greater good for our family and friends across a neighborhood or a city and a region. We don't always get it right or even close, but we never give in and we never give up. We accept to a large extent, like it or not, it's all together now.
-bill kenny

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Going, Going, Ghan-A

A little after five yesterday afternoon, here on the East Coast, closer to the midnight hour in South Africa, the World Cup 2010 adventure ended for Team USA a little short of the desired destination, but maybe more deserved than we should think.

In comparison to a lot of the nations in this year's tournament (and a lot more nations NOT in the tournament, and yes, France, I'm talking about Ireland (and maybe there is a God since your ticket was punched and your luggage was packed as quickly as all the other luckless, lunchless, first-round losers)) Team USA may have been more lucky than good but no one gets style points for how they get to the round of sixteen, just for winning once you get there.

Team USA played another first half as if they were still on the bus (but hoping to get to the match site soon) and this time the opponent scored in the first five minutes. I had barely settled my haunches down on the living room couch with my sparkling beverage and it was Ghana, one and USA, none. A lot of controversy in this tournament has been about the ball being used, the Jabulani world ball, but for TEAM USA, the major difficulty with it has been how often Tim Howard, the US keeper, was fishing it out of the back of his own net. Turned out, it was once too often.

But if experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted, my experience might include that Team USA has more talented players than just Jozy Altidore, Maurice Edu, Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan-the players the media talked about almost non-stop for the last year. I might wonder why Feilhaber, in light of the liestung he showed in the Algeria match, didn't start against Ghana-especially as he sparked the surge that led to the equalizer yesterday, but in the end, my applause and congratulations are for Ghana for a great tournament, so far, and with disclaimers that I will develop AFTER the conclusion of the Germany-England match this morning, I wish you all the best for the rest of The Greatest Sports Event Americans Have Hardly Ever Heard Of. Wave Your Flag!!!
-bill kenny

Saturday, June 26, 2010

I Shudder to Think Had They Chosen Wagner

I think my friend, Rik D, der Alte Ami, whom I regard as 'our man in Berlin' is holding out on me at least in this instance for not bringing this item to my attention, at least not soon enough. Dateline: Treuenbrietzen (etwa eine stunde sudlich von Berlin): German Sewage Plant Plays Mozart to speed up Biomass Breakdown. Immediate reaction (of course) 'no $hit!' Actually, that's their point.

None of the articles I've come across have explained to my satisfaction how Mozart became the King of Poop, with my apologies to the late, great MJ (but not to the closet industry of necromantic celebration that has kicked into another gear this weekend, the first anniversary of his death). Old fart that I am, I suspect L'il Wayne and that crunk junk don't incite or excite the microbes to be doing enough of that ingesting and digesting, ya dig?

In fairness, none of the reports suggest Rubber Soul period Beatles does the trick either though the protagonist in Norwegian Wood did crawl out to sleep in the bath, which gets us closer to the heart of the matter, so to speak. And speaking of Beatles, Ringo Starr turns seventy the day before my son turns twenty-eight--but that's NOT possible because it wasn't that long ago we were all in the backseat of my Dad's '63 Chrysler Newport (white with red interior) listening to I Want to Hold Your Hand on WABC-AM. Although, come to think of it.......

So here we are, wishing in one hand and s*itting in the other to see which one fills up faster, and then which one goes away altogether quicker, left to ponder the wit and wisdom of the eternal observation, "Exactly where the money went-well, everybody knew. He was a man who loved the women and they loved him too." Rock me Amadeus.
-bill kenny

Friday, June 25, 2010

Call Me Al

Turns out all those whispers about how stiff Al Gore always seems to be may be right on the mark, if a story that originated in the Portland Oregonian (that's up there with the New York New Yorker as a finalist in the DOH! name competition) and showed up in the online issue of People magazine has any credence. It was Marshall McLuhan who said the Medium is the Massage. What? Oh. Message. I prefer mine well done.

We cannot get enough of this stuff. This story has a double dollop of schadenfreude, that delightful deutsche turn of phrase that means 'rejoicing at the misfortune of others.' It's not that former Senator, former Vice President and (for some people perhaps) former President Al "Earth in the Balance" Gore hasn't worked hard and done his very best for so many for so long. It's just that large numbers of us, deep down, really envy him all of that success while not seeing the work he did to earn it.

As funny as a slip on a banana peel is, when it's Margaret Thatcher who does it, or should the Pope get a cream pie in the face, the hilarity trebles. And this one promises to be a doozy-how's this for fair and balanced (=saucy and salacious). It would have to be a slow news YEAR in a world of broadcast journalism for this to be getting the play it has already-but I have a feeling that what has been will seem quaint in light of what is yet to come. Had he known where we'd be after the first decade of the new century, Edward R. Murrow might have fired a flare gun from a London rooftop to help a Junkers bomber auger in or arranged to drop a pallet of cigarettes on himself in '55 just to get it over with.

And, cynics that we both are, neither of us are really surprised to read in the People account, "(T)he woman, who did not respond to several attempted follow-up interviews with police, revealed in the complaint that she grappled with her decision to come forward – even consulting with attorneys – but ultimately decided to do so to protect other women who may have experienced the same trauma. She told detectives she only wanted 'justice' and that her complaint was not an attempt to receive money." Yeah, that's exactly how I'd do it, too.

Perhaps there's an orphanage named for Werenfridus ('against stiffness of joints' was as close as I could get; you look) that's about to come into a windfall. It'll really be something-close your eyes and you can see it, too. The last laugh may be on all the Haters who said Al was too wooden. NO MORE CALLS, PLEASE! We Have a Winner!
-bill kenny

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Two Ends Against the Middle

The office I work in is in a building that is part of a business campus, I guess you'd call it. There are six buildings, nearly but neatly grouped in a pattern facing inward, with a courtyard for a car park and lots of lawns all around. All the lawns have low chains not to keep the grass from escaping but to discourage us who work here from walking on it. It's only here to be looked at-I never got the memo, but suspect there is one. I occasionally imagine, for my own amusement, spreading large amounts of glass shards on the parking lot to keep the white lines neat and clean and free from tire tread marks.

Yesterday's weather didn't start off too well-it wasn't rainy but it was overcast and very humid, a condition I've heard forecasters refer to as 'threatening.' But, much like the mailmen of old, whom 'neither rain nor snow nor sleet nor hail nor gloom of night can keep from their appointed rounds' until privatization (of course), a little unsettled weather doesn't stop the landscaping guys. By the time most of the folks in all of the buildings were wandering into work, the lawn guys were getting their swerve on.

I don't know what lawnmower men do in Connecticut in January-perhaps shovel snow. They may be snowbirds and migrate to points south and get closer to the tar balls in the Gulf of Mexico. But come spring, they swarm ashore across the state on rider tractors and zoom around on these weird looking stand-up-with-one-foot-on-each-side-of-the-engine-and-rotating-blade-self-propelled-machines that scare the bejabbers out of me.

Yesterday there were two sets of guys--one were the Rough Riders, Weed Whackers and Clippings Blowers and they were machete-manicuring every blade of grass that dared stick its head out of the earth. Meanwhile, on the other side of the lawns we never walk on, there were guys with a large, industrial length six-inch wide hosing, snaking from a tanker truck labeled "hydro-seed." I love this stuff-it's like the Hairclub for Men for lawns. I think they should call it Topsoil Toupee and don't understand why someone hasn't copyrighted that name.

It's not just me, right? The stuff looks like lime gelatin mixed with tapioca--not sure it has to, but fear it may want to. All kinds of fixings going on in there, sort of like Mickey D's special sauce on the Big Mac, except the green goop has ground up newspapers, fertilizer, seed and miracle ingredient z-247 (and it's Yossarian who says it and Heller who wrote it. One of them isn't real and the other isn't alive. That's how I tell 'em apart. How can a biography of a writer omit the sequel to his most famous novel? No idea, and yet it does.).

By all accounts the stuff grows like wildfire, or maybe spreads like wildfire, or like drunken cheerleaders after a homecoming football game. I'm not clear on the descriptors but there's always a lot of grass in a big hurry after the hydro seeding fairy has paid a visit. And that means the Briggs and Stratton small engine jockeys have happy hearts and bulging wallets. If they keep at it long enough, they can stick around all year long and stack peat, neatly mowed mind you, on top of one another as fuel for the blast furnaces as our very own Nutmeg State reinvents itself as an industrial dynamo, which will happen right after the next incarnation of Eli Whitney stops drinking that cotton gin.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sweeney Todd Died for Someone's Sins

Either I need to get a haircut or I need to get a bigger head. Seriously. After returning from one of my still-not-yet-world-famous-power-walks (where I hike across the wilds and milds of Norwich, Connecticut at a very brisk pace), I'm dismayed with how it's just this messy mop atop my skull with no style or grace. The joke, proving that God has a sense of humor and I'm the designated driver, is I also have, at the top of my head, a bald spot growing like the BP oil spill, with nearly as great a chance of containment (sorry shrimp fisherman).

Since leaving the Air Force in September of 1983, I've had ninety-two haircuts. I know this because I count them. And I count them because I've never had a use for any of them, to include the ones I had while in uniform. That was my (least) favorite joke at the time, and the DI (drill instructor) never tired of it, "How many times in his first enlistment does a good Airman need to be told he needs a haircut?" INSERT YOUR GUESS HERE. "Wrong! A good Airman NEVER needs to be told he needs a haircut." Talk about a laugh riot! Our sides ached from the hilarity. Zoomie stand-up. Please remember to tip your jet mechanic.

Anyway. Back in the day, it wasn't gray turning white which is what it is, for the most part, now it was sort of brown as I remember it (which I really don't). So you add that to the unkempt (what a wonderful word!) nature of the hair and I have a disheveled appearance that gives people pause. And on weekends, I don't shave (an activity that rivals, for me, the usefulness of getting haircuts) and I could stand on a corner with a paper cup and have a decent part-time job, except all the corners in my neighborhood already have squeegee guys and I cannot get the hang of that technology at all.

Eventually, when she gets sick of looking at me (after all, I'm inside of all of this) my wife will simply announce she is cutting my my hair (another of the many activities at which she excels) as she did for most of the time I was in the Air Force. She cuts it as short as when I was in the Air Force which doesn't always thrill me but it means that much bigger a gap until I next need a trim. She has a barber kit and everything that goes with it-she is a true Renaissance Woman.

Truth to tell, it's not the haircuts that bug me so much. My problem has always been with barbers, I think, even as a kid. Haircuts are rather intimate interpersonal activities (look at the way women and their hairdressers are and then ask yourself if you'd go shoe-shopping with the stylist from Supercuts. Yeah, me neither) I suppose, and the person you allow to cut your hair presumes to assume a level of intensity that elevates it to a relationship.

I'm not that guy. I don't walk to talk about the weather we're having, how the politics of the guys in charge are leading us to ruin, the big (or little) game, something that was on TV last night or anything else. Especially with someone holding scissors or a straight razor; because I don't want to wind up leaving in a rush with a piece of my ear, or my lower lip, wrapped in tissue paper, speeding towards the emergency room.

I want to sit in the chair and take a mental vacation for ten minutes while you trim the shrubs and tame the wild. You can talk if you want to but leave me out of it. There are, I'm told, only three species in the whole world who get get haircuts, so the next time you see me, don't ask me about mine, Airman!
-bill kenny

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Simple Solutions

A week and a day after the men and women of the Norwich City Council, working with the City Manager, the Superintendent of Schools and the city’s comptroller, devised their best good-faith budget for the 2010-2011 fiscal year, there are still murmurings and mutterings. Not everyone gets everything--it's true in government as it is in any other relationship, so perhaps we might spend a moment and define what our relationship with our city government is, and/or should be.

We form governments, local, state and national, to do for us collectively what we, as individuals are unable or unwilling to do for ourselves alone. Some of the tasks are easy--provide for the national defense. Some are harder to define and execute-provide a quality education for our children to enable them to be productive members of our society as they become adults.

The challenge, as is so often the case in our daily interpersonal relationships is in the details. Compound all of that by putting a price on each action, and every step of each action, until the municipal budget exceeds one hundred million dollars. That's a lot of money and a lot of responsibility. I imagine there were nights the alderpersons didn't feel quite as happy sitting on the City Council as the night they were elected to it.

I voted for neighbors, known and unknown to me, who volunteered to do their best as they saw it on my behalf no matter how I felt, personally, on any given issue from closing off a street throughMohegan Park to developing the city budget. What we saw through the Spring as the budget process rolled on was people facing the critical question: do you do something right, or do something right now?

I didn't intend that as a philosophic question-we all know the economic straits we are in and the temptation is to search for the guilty, which will make us feel better but do little or nothing for the bottom line. Politics is often called 'the art of the possible', but we, the people (at all levels of government) can make that art impossible by elevating our expectations and the volume of our voices when speaking about our expectations.

Not helping matters is our representational form of government where, from the speaker's podium at a city council meeting (or a once week rant in a daily paper) to and through the curtain at the voting booth, we can drown out one another if we work at it. This budget season, more so, I think, than in recent memory, we spoke more often to, rather than at, one another.

No one wants to have fewer policemen, or more children in a school classroom or a library that can't be open to serve a general public in need of its services, and negotiating a budget that had elements of all those sacrifices, and many others, while also keeping the lights on and the roads paved was no small feat.

A lot of us remain very unhappy at the state of affairs in The Rose City and the rate and pace of change and improvement still needed. But we have started to learn to do something that many of us feared was lost along the way and that's to work together. To discover and then celebrate the commonality of our shared vision of what we want Norwich Next to be and decide how important our differences are in pursuit of a common goal.

So, back to my original question: do you do something right, or do something right now?

-bill kenny

Monday, June 21, 2010

Hot Sun in the Fummertime

I came across an interesting interactive website that gave me pause when I thought about the efforts so many of us are making to improve our cities and towns as the 21st Century marches on. We talk a lot about smart growth, economic development, leveraging of demographic trends and sometimes it all comes down to being lucky, or so it seems.

Check this out for yourself and make a list of how many of any ten places you pick have MORE people moving into your area/neighborhood rather than being a part of the exodus for elsewhere. Sobering is a word that comes to mind, and daunting is another.

On to more cheerful topics: At five o'clock this afternoon in Room 209 of City Hall is a special meeting of the Volunteer Fireman's Relief Fund Committee. The City Council meets later, at 7:30, in Council chambers with what looks to be a 'light' agenda- which, after the struggle of refining the city budget at recent meetings, is more than likely a welcome relief for all of those involved.

Tuesday afternoon at five in the City Manager's office in City Hall, also known as Room 219, is a regular meeting of the Harbor Advisory Committee, who must think it's July 1st already as the minutes of their 25 May meeting have yet to make it to the city's website. Still ten days to go before the statute mandating their posting within seven days is relaxed to mean 'as quickly as possible'-I can't wait to see how many shades of meaning that phrase ends up with.

I was at Howard Brown Park Saturday around the time of the Juneteenth celebrations and discovered I'm not the only one still unhappy the Heritage Trail remains closed under the Sweeney Bridge. I'm sure the committee is just as impatient as the rest of us are to get the current construction completed so we can use the trail in its entirety. Again.

Wednesday is full day of various meetings to include an 8 AM meeting of the South East Connecticut Enterprise Region (Executive Committee) in their building at 190 Governor Winthrop Boulevard. It's sort of a delayed twofer as at one in the afternoon, it's a regular meeting of the Thames Maritime Committee as well.

At 4:30, and by now I know better than to look for either copies of minutes or anything approximating an agenda, it's a special meeting (because their 9 June regular meeting was postponed) of the Housing Authority at 10 Westwood Park. Speaking of a casual relationship with meeting minutes' postings, at 5:30 in the basement conference room of the Planing Department, it's a regular meeting of the Board of Review of Dangerous Buildings which, seemingly hasn't met since January.

If you're heading to that meeting, stick around because at 6:30 in that very same conference room it's a twi-night doubleheader, of sorts, with the 21st West Thames Street Advisory Committee meeting at 6:15 followed at 6:30 (plus minus whenever) by a meeting of the 751 North Main Street Advisory Committee. As I'm sure you've realized, the latter two are action teams comprised of the same volunteers who are on the Board of Review of Dangerous Buildings.

At 7 PM, there's a (regular?) meeting of the Eastern Connecticut Emergency Medical Service Council, though I'm unclear as to where this is going on. It seems to me in light of the scattered populations across the region and the varying levels of state and federal reimbursement for medical services, especially emergency services, the council is fulfilling a critical need for many of us and while I confess to not being familiar (yet) with their efforts and actions, I'll try to make myself smarter as to their mission and purpose.

Also at seven in their facilities on New London Turnpike, it's a regular meeting of the Norwich Golf Course Authority who, it appears haven't met since April-to judge by the posting of their meeting minutes.

Finally at seven thirty Thursday morning in their conference room at 77 Main Street, it's a regular meeting of the Board of Directors of the Norwich Community Development Corporation-whose minutes are available by dropping a note to Shelley C at

Summer begins today, says the calendar and hopefully the weatherman will agree. But because we are in the hazy, lazy days of it doesn't mean those helping out across our city can't use our interest and support as they work towards the betterment of our city. So find your passion and lend a hand. You'll end up with more than a tan and we'll all be the better for your efforts.
-bill kenny

Sunday, June 20, 2010

All Men Must Make Their Way

I've think I've told you this Father's Day story before and I'm sorry if, in my dotage, I repeat myself. It's an old story-as if I might have any that aren't and it goes back to when I lived in Germany, and 'my family' was just Sigrid and me. She and I had been to the United States the summer after we were married-my parents lived in a pretty close to brand new house in the middle of Sticksville, someplace in Central Jersey. The house itself wasn't at the End of the Earth, at least according to the zip code, though you could see the End of the Earth from the garage as I recall.

It was the first, and only, time Sigrid was to meet my dad. I was/am the oldest of his children and had discovered absence did, indeed, make the heart grow fonder. He and I got along better in the two plus years since I'd enlisted in the Air Force, and had been stationed in Greenland and Germany (with only the Galapagos Islands and Greece left to complete my "G" collection), than we had in the previous two dozen years, which, in retrospect wasn't saying much considering the state of that relationship.

We still didn't have much to say to each other but we were more civil about it than we had been in years. When we told my parents we were getting married I braced for something, anything, but aside from Mom being mom, there wasn't any reaction. The joke between Sigrid and me had long been that I got along better with her father than I did with my own, but our visit to the stateside homestead went very well.

As she does with everyone, Sigrid charmed my father though I'm not sure she cared, which was probably one of the reasons she was so successful. For the first time in many years, I actually felt relaxed enough in his presence to exhale and suspect he felt the same. After we returned to Germany and our lives, the cards for Christmas, birthdays and anniversaries seemed, at least in my memory, to now actually be signed by both of my parents and not just Mom for both.

I had shopped for a Father's Day card at the PX in Frankfurt, next door to the "World Famous Topper Club" which was across the street from the AFN Headquarters where I worked. I don't remember the card, but I remember shopping for it for quite a while until I found what I thought was the right one. This was weeks before Father's Day--I put the card, in the little PX bag, in my leather shoulder bag my wife had given me for our first anniversary that was big enough to pack a lunch for a small army and that I crammed with stuff every day riding the DB back and forth to work.

When I got home, I shared it with Sigrid who agreed it was a wonderful card and, knowing she was married to a birdbrain, organized a 'let's get it signed, addressed and stamped so all you have to do tomorrow is throw it in the mailbox' maneuver. I had the easy part-such is my life with this wonderful woman. It was a few weeks after Father's Day that Sigrid, cleaning out the bag because if she didn't I would eventually be unable to carry it because of the weight, came across the small PX bag that contained, and still did contain, my Dad's card.

I have long been nearly immune to that withering look she's elevated to an art form, but I understood her message and her unhappiness and she was right-the best counter that I could offer was that I could always mail the card the following year. The realist in me could see the pessimist in her as I knew my behavior could only surprise, but never disappoint, her. I thought about that card as I wrote this because, man proposes but God disposes, and before the next Father's Day came so I could (maybe) mail my card, my dad died in his sleep and with him passed a lifetime's worth of missed opportunities.

And if I'm lucky later today to see our two grown children, I'll marvel at the adults they've become-comfortable in their own skin and who've overcome a lifetime of mistakes from a well-meaning clueless clown who has tried to be their father. Perhaps at that moment, I'll recall the words in that long-ago card and realize now I know the things you wanted that you could not say. I swear I never meant to take those things away.
-bill kenny

Saturday, June 19, 2010

You Can Back Out of Every Deal Except One

The greatest thing about the man-made deity we have created from the various technologies of the last decade is that anyone can be a nubile nineteen year old wearing nothing more than a smile, even if the reality is they are a forty-five year old sitting at the keyboard wearing nothing but socks.

Not that either of us know anyone who could be that person, right? When this bubbled up the other day, it took me forever to get the gist of the Gemini, and then, even after I got it, I didn't (I hope).

I'm so past it, I thought there was a third Hilton sister, aside from what's-her-name and the other one (and I'm still NOT sure there isn't). I am gob-smacked you can make a living, and it seems a mighty good one, shoveling this stuff all over the web, and never get any on you.

I wouldn't know Miley Cyrus from Cyrus Vance though I suspect had the latter gone commando, we would be talking a lot more about putting the bottom back into Foggy Bottom than has been the case in a number of years (I told him to at least lick his lips for the photo, but no....)

Reality check (please): I went to Google and typed in Miley Cyrus and no underpants. Yipes! Look at the results and the nanoseconds involved in that. Is this one of those laboring greatly and bringing forth a mouse situations? All I can wonder, again, is, just because we can, we should??

We're using so much wildlife to soak up oil throughout the Gulf of Mexico, some of us are wondering if the Dove dish soap people worked a cross promotional deal with BP. And if they did, do we seriously think they'd come clean about it? (OUCH! No puns aloud? Sorry.)

And what's got the Netizens buzzing as the wheels fall off the applecart? Underage unmentionables and the purported absence thereof. Can you imagine how much faster the Roman Empire would have fallen had the Visigoths invented Wi-Fi instead of a credit card?
Edward 'Pinwheel' Gibbon is spinning in his grave (explains today's title).
-bill kenny

Friday, June 18, 2010

It's Long Enough....and Good!!

It's not often I come across an item in The Christian Science Monitor that, while news, is also one of those things that make you go hmm. I also wonder what kind of medical insurance benefits their newsroom has (I assume you don't have to be a Christian Scientist to work there just as animals other than owls work at Hooters), but that's perhaps a conversation for another time when neither of us are here...

I know I could never find Monroe, Ohio, on a map (even of just Ohio), but thanks to the story I now know it's north of Cincinnati (Hello Loni!). How perfect would this have been had it happened the weekend of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game? I can recall Dennis Miller the year he was the third guy in the ABC MNF booth observing during that game, which ABC covered, it was very hard to find 'good Chinese food' in Canton, with Al Michaels dissolving into muffled laughter as the game went on. I knew then Miller was one and done. I just didn't know how right I was.

The video, looked like someone was taping the TV report with their cellphone, is kinda spooky, don't you think? I was especially taken with the firefighters' characterisation of the blaze as an 'act of God' nearly as much as I was with the various still images showing the blaze itself. That must have been something to see as you crested the hill on I-75. And how about that spiffy message board for the church itself? It pays to advertise, and I guess as the (End) Times change, so do His mysterious ways, His wonders to perform. Perhaps if it happened today we might have seen Long John Silvers offer to feed the multitude at Dalmanutha, live on the Food Channel.
-bill kenny

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Is that a Remote in Your Pocket or Are You Just Happy to See Me?

I have a friend, okay, an acquaintance, who collects tech headlines about emerging technologies and the search for killer applications-the use of a particular tool for a given task that causes our collective forehead slapping as we discover we can't do without whatever the latest flavor of swell is this week (day/afternoon). I haven't shared this story with him because he'd poke me with a sharp stick and accuse me of having planted it.

Years ago when people still had videotape; you remember videotape right? Cellophane tape with rust particles on one side? Came in a case so you never actually touched the tape itself? Super. When home videotape started, there were two formats, Betamax and VHS (video home system), developed by two rival manufacturers who set about signing up companies in the entertainment business, also known as 'content providers', to use their product to entice buyers to their hardware.

The former had excellent (and far superior) color resolution and video quality but the latter could actually hold an entire program-be it a TV show, or a full length movie. It was the content folks who tipped the scales to VHS and it was the porn industry, previously confined to beaten-up movie theaters with sticky floors and guys in raincoats and sunglasses slouched down in seats, who clinched it. VHS opened the home market to pornographers (not intended as a pejorative, but as a descriptive) and Betamax went the way of the Elcaset. (Same guys, too, come to think of it. How weird is that?)

Hit pause on the VTR and VCR and reach for the laptop and desktop, brothers (and some sisters, I guess). Welcome to the World Wide Web, where anything goes and everything shows. Put your hands up if you already know where this is heading (both hands, Zeke! 'Waitaminit'? Warum? Oh, yeah, ewww). You think there's money in sites like e-bay and Craig's List? You don't have a clue. The triple x gang's major compettion may be all the 'free' content elsewhere on-line but none of those site operators are crying poverty. Their biggest problem is finding enough wheelbarrows to carry all the money they're making to the bank.

I'd imagine, because it's how we are as a culture now, in the next thirty-six or so months, we'll refer to these folks as 'adult content providers.' And one or more will run for elected office and probably win, even though most of the guys voting for him will be looking for the bill slot when they get into the booth and close the curtain. That will be only a little awkward.

So now, welcome to the Next Frontier, 3DTV with whipped cream, scented oils and rubber sheets. There's a quote in the Japan Times' story from a potential buyer, "I need something dramatic to justify replacing my TV. This could be the motivation.” You betcha! You didn't really think The BEEB's Planet Earth series was gonna seal the deal, didja? Are you new here? Go ahead, crunch the numbers yourself (and remember to figure in the cost of the glasses too). I know, you'll buy it to watch the World Cup in 3D-you and a billion other people.

Mostly the same guys who bought the Pam Anderson magazine centerfold issue for the interview (and were very unhappy about where the staple holding the pages together got placed, I bet) and who can't wait to see Brian Lamb do Book Talk, I'm sure, just like he was in the living room with you. Here's a news flash, Starshine: if he were, guess what he'd be watching? And we'll spend the night together watching television. Ka-ching!
-bill kenny