Friday, August 31, 2012

Once in a Blue Moon

I'm hoping tonight the heavens over my head are as clear and cloudless as they have been for most of the week and if you have any interest in stargazing or in observing celestial bodies of any kind, then I hope the same for wherever you are.

On this, the last evening of August, we shall have the second full month of the month, more tradtionally known as a (once in a ) Blue Moon. That article is pretty good stuff-I didn't know we go about two and half years between two full moons a month, did you? Not sure I fully grasp the connection and meaning of the phrase, 'blue moon' but I'm sure the brewery appreciates all the implied endorsements it can get.

Living near/in the sticks part of Connecticut (lots of small towns and more trees than street lights) we don't have a lot of ground illumination to distract and detract from heavenward gazing. Maybe that's the tourism angle we've been searching for? "Come for the Stars, and Stay for the Bars!" Quick, get the Chamber of Commerce on the horn, pronto! Or not as we don't want to be victims of our own success; not that there's a danger of that.

I stumbled across the whole Blue Moon reference while reading about Neil Armstrong, who passed away last week and who was the first person in the history of our species to ever walk on the surface of the moon (let that percolate for a moment in your front lobe) which makes him beyond amazing for all time.

And, yes, I did spare a thought for Mr. Armstrong's famous non-existent neighbor, Mr. Gorsky, and laughed out loud not only marveling at both the elaborate construct of the story but because of the detail and complexity of the deceit in building the myth that surrounds all of that. I would love to know what Durante's Mrs. Calabash would have made of the story and the back-story.

This is the weekend that marks unofficially (yet effectively) the end of the summer of 2012 so all those things you were waiting until summer to do best be done, or gone, my friend. Though fret no more about any of that as tonight we enjoy the light of our harsh mistress, the moon.
-bill kenny

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Well, That Was Awkward

I've mentioned Michael Moorcock and Behold the Man before in this space. If you don't remember it's probably because you were looking out the window, thinking about baseball and dinosaurs or whatever else you whipper-snappers daydream about these days. That's another reason why I prefer life in a bunker-fewer distractions. But no matter. You can enjoy the story at your leisure and then better appreciate the irony of today's lesson.

The CNN headline was blunt and unadorned: Bigfoot Hoax Ends in Death. Elegant and direct-something Randy Lee Tenley might have appreciated, though when you run across U. S. Route 93 in Flathead County, Montana, dressed in something called a Ghillie Suit, it's hard to imagine how appreciation enters into it.

Contrary to Albert E's belief, and it is a fine one, assuming there is a Deity, S/He is very probably more inclined to be playing dice with us instead of the universe at large. I have this snapshot of God in a '57 two-tone Chevy Bel air with fuzzy dice hanging from the mirror listening to The Mello Kings on the AM radio. Why yes, there is one window in my bunker Why are you asking? Oh. Yeah. Sorry.

Instead of reading all about it the following morning over breakfast at the Rising Sun Bistro and laughing with some friends over coffee and waffles, he was, himself, the story though he was to never read it. I might have learned about it sooner if I hadn't been distracted by something other than a window on the website that linked me to CNN.Between my own interest in all things medical and research on the life and mathematical influence of Jerry Nelson, you can probably guess the story that caused me to unduly dally.

Speaking of numbers and addition by subtraction, Route 93 is what we used to call in the era of road trips a Blue Highway. If you're looking for high speed transcontinental action there's only one thing to be done, take it down to Highway 61.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Carpe Diem

"I've never let school get in the way of my education."-Mark Twain.

Back in June, today seemed to be so far away, no one gave it any serious thought. The weeks of summer rushed by and those ads for back to school clothing and supplies started showing up more often in the papers and on TV and were increasingly harder to ignore.

The march of the calendar is inevitable and unstoppable. All of that led to all of this-today school opens in earnest for children in Norwich. It began a few days earlier in some parts of the state and perhaps a few days later in other places but for us and now, it's here.

Thousands of children from every neighborhood across the city, and in some instances from beyond the city limits, are heading for classrooms, language labs, music lessons and all of the other pieces and parts of what we think of when we say "education."

You'll see them today waiting for school buses, partners to walk home with or pals to hang out with afterwards--the enthusiastic beginners heading to kindergarten (do you remember the last time you felt about anything  the way those five-year-olds do today?), through those starting their final year at Norwich Free Academy and for whom the whole world waits.

When all is weighed and measured our success as adults, as parents, neighbors and residents isn't measured so much by the size of the Grand List (though a larger one is infinitely preferable to a smaller one), the number of businesses opening in Chelsea or expanding elsewhere or the number of bricks piled one upon the other we can concentrate in one area of the city, but rather, it  is how well we can make where we live someplace our children and their children want to come home to and call their own.

With all due respect to the public works and public safety professionals, not just here but across our nation, we spend the bulk of our taxes on education-it's the largest investment we make as citizens and we should expect the greatest of returns. Our neighbors who serve on the Board of Education have a huge, nearly overwhelming responsibility to both we, the people who chose them as our representatives, and to the children whose education they must help oversee.

In recent years, times have not been easy around here-tightening budgets helped drive cost efficiencies that closed two long-time neighborhood schools and systemic failures to effectively manage change have shifted the placement and purpose of the Thames River Academy and Stanton School. About those two, let there be NO mistake. The children did not fail, we failed them.

We, the adults who could and should have known better but chose to look away or decided we could wait another day or who created rationalizations for why we didn't help have to admit now, we have no greater obligation to ourselves than to help every child succeed.

"The purpose of an education, said Dr. Edward "Fast Eddie" Bloustein, President of Rutgers College to the Class of '74 when we were freshmen "is to learn the rules of the game better than anyone else. And then change the rules."  Today is the day to start to put that into practice. Ready, set, learn!
-bill kenny  

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Angular Banjos Sound Good to Me

I get up at three in the morning, every morning, not because I want but am compelled to. Having spent most of my life attempting to deny part of my inheritance while also relying on it everyday to make my living, I've learned to shrug off the stunning contradiction of it all and to instead marvel at the illumination that comes when you burn the candle at both ends.

The only day of the week any of this comes back to bite me on the ass is Monday, Monday (can't trust that day; c'mon, you were thinking it too! I'm the bad guy for typing it? You're the enabler, my friend). Rise and shine can be severe and surprising so I cheat on something that I just assume everyone else in the hemisphere has been talking about, HBO's The Newsroom.

I very much enjoyed Deadwood and haven't really been that fond of anything else on HBO, to include The Sopranos, since then but I truly adore The Newsroom. It is Aaron Sorkin at his best since the debut of The West Wing a decade ago, and in many respects carries the conceits of that show farther and more fully along.

The program is filled with people I care about in situations reflective of circumstances I can relate to. Dear CW Network you really should watch this and steal it and amaze the four prepubescent teenies you call your audience now.

I can't sit up to watch it Sunday nights when it airs because I have school in the morning, so to speak, so I tape it even though of course, I don't actually tape it, but DVR it and all that technology absolutely amazes me especially the pause live TV part.

The highlight of my Monday  is coming home so I can watch the Sunday night showing of The Newsroom with the added bonus that I now have the entire (so far) only season in the silver box under the TV in the living room, though I suppose it can also be in one of the other two boxes we have (did I mention that I have little comprehension of how all this marvelosity (marvelousness?) works? You guessed that, did you?).

Anyway if you watched it while it ran, you know what I'm talking about. If you don't get HBO, now you have a reason to subscribe so you can get it. And here's where you can catch up on all the episodes. I'm not telling you this because I'm fueling that petition drive to be Saint Bill of Norwich but rather because I don't want you coming to the house asking to share a comfy chair while we do one other's nails and watch it.
-bill kenny  

Monday, August 27, 2012

Initial Success

On my way into work yesterday morning, as I headed up the stairs I saw a sign on the only working elevator in the building that read "OOC." When I came back from the gym later in the morning, it was still there and more than one person seemed to be a tad exorcised about all this ooc business.

I must have been raised by hermit crabs or something since most of the stuff everyone else seems to know automatically I not only never knew but upon learning react very badly in responding to. This elevator thing was both the former and the latter. I learned OOC, notice the caps, is "short for 'out of commission.'" Really? Actually, as I pointed out, broken is short for out of commission; I'm not sure what OOC actually is except stupid because of the second O.

What, I was asked, is my problem with the second O? Since when does 'of'' get its own letter, I wondered. After all we are Living in the USA, not the USOA, which is what we should be if the elevator is OOC. Perhaps it's a 'good for the goose, good for the gander' rule as SL could mean almost anything but we all know about SOL. And why isn't it SOOL since the o's are for 'out of'?

Do you remember FYI, for your information? Now it's been moved upscale and uptown to FYSA, for your situational awareness. Huge improvement, don't you think? I am not making that up-I got a note just a while back that began with a paragraph explaining FYSA with this doozie: BLUF, Bottom Line Up Front.

If the purpose of the acronym is to speed communications, but in so using, you must halt the conversational flow to explain your intellectual shorthand, what have you saved and for whom? And is that always, or even more than sporadically, a good idea? It's not like we can buy anything with all this additional time and I don't know where you can trade it in for vowels and consonants to make even more words to explain that cunning stunt (say that three times fast) you invented. But, I'm willing to give it a go if you are, OIBiY. Oh I Believe in Yesterday. Saved you a whole 2:01 right there. You're welcome.
-bill kenny  

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Child Is Father to the Man

An almost funny but very true story on fatherhood, twice, for me. When each of our children was born, I was present in the delivery room if for no other reason than to give Sigrid some place to focus her anger at the (at times) very severe pain of childbirth.

Based on my threshold of pain, tolerance of suffering and the massive amounts of both that seem to be involved in the delivery of children, I'd offer that if men could get pregnant, epidurals would be on the house (we can save the discussion about yet another sacrament for another time, Representative Akin).

While I was counting fingers and toes and eyes and ears in the moments after birth, the midwife and her staff were doing what they could to assure themselves and the new parents that all the interior contents were as they should be. Not speaking only for me, that's one of those really scary moments in being a parent and there are few instances where you can do so little to protect your child.

In my family it seems like only yesterday we brought each of our two home from the hospital (they kept that new baby smell for a really long time, much to my delight) but in reality with Patrick, it's been over thirty years and with Michelle, not that many (or they'd be twins) but still a bunch.

Point in fact, this afternoon as one of our Daughter/Father outings we're catching a Connecticut Suns basketball game. I haven't been to an NBA game in decades, if ever at all, so maybe they do causes as well at their home games (and then I look at Kobe, Blake and Lebron and shake my head and say "nah, I don't think so") but this afternoon the Sun want their fans to make a special effort to wear blue to highlight awareness of autism.

I didn't spend enough time in Dad School to get really good at loving my two extraordinary children and I'm grateful for how they've turned out despite my contribution to the gene pool and role in establishing their home environment. I have a colleague at work with an autistic child and you have to have almost as much love as there is in the world with a child with special needs like that.

I came across an eye-opening (for me) article earlier in the week on a new path of exploration for those looking into causality of autism and as someone who waited a long time to father children it came home and hurt as I worked my way through it. I'll be wearing blue this afternoon for all those whose worlds don't have quite as many cheery and cheering colors for them to enjoy.
-bill kenny

Saturday, August 25, 2012

If You're Named for a Glove

When I write for three consecutive days on national politics something is going on. Either I have become incredibly insightful, erudite and educated on electoral dynamics and the psychology of the crowd; I'll pause until the laughter subsides- in space they can't hear you scream but in cyber space I can hear you mock me- or we went from knee deep in the stupid to hip deep over night. I'm thinking it's the latter. And you're hoping that's the worst of it but fearing it isn't.

I am of course talking about the Mitt wit who would be President and his 'birther joke' yesterday. Newton's third law demands every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Here ya go. This is the big rush to the ramparts trigger? Meet me at the barricades as we battle over whose ball less bozo is more, or less, clueless? Is this one of these who's the skinniest resident at fat kid camp jokes? We wish.

To review: we are slowly going broke, with the slowly part accelerating on a daily basis. We are so deeply in debt within a generation all hope of finding our way out will be extinguished forever and we will be a nation trapped in involuntary servitude to whomever holds our treasury notes (even if they're in a language the holder cannot read).

We have lost the war on drugs. We long ago lost the war on poverty and from what I've seen the war on literacy, while going splendidly, means soon we'll have no one who can report on its success which is just as well as we no longer have anyone to read about it.

And speaking of war, though we don't talk about on it television anymore, we have been at war in Afghanistan for a decade.  The Americans of all ages and both sexes in our armed forces over there who aren't getting killed in combat or murdered by the very people they were told we are there to help are coming back so beaten and broken by what they've seen and done they cannot ever be made whole, which is just as well because we can't afford to fix them so we're happy we have lots of street corners they can stand on with squeegees and rags.

And since I mentioned helping and healing, let's not forget universal affordable health care which many third world nations, to include the one ninety miles off the Florida coast already have, but we sure don't and aren't you proud to be an American where you can die waving the flag (!) because you lack the money for a doctor or medicine to make you better.
And perhaps it's better that we die now since we've criminally underfunded and fleeced private sector pension plans, and anyone depending on Social Security will soon feel like George Armstrong Custer waitin' for the guys from the fort to get here.

And what are we up to in pursuit of the most powerful elected office in the world? Bad Borscht Belt humor from one of the goofiest looking white guys of all time in a long time. And being myself a goofy white guy, I hereby call shotgun in the clown car of analysis that will now consume our media until sometime tomorrow afternoon as those representing the birther and earther perspectives clash on every channel.

It's almost funny-almost except it's the saddest part of Catch-22 where Yossarian tries to help his mortally wounded comrade and ends up dressing the wrong wound as Snowden  freezes to death while bleeding out in the skies over Pianosa. We won't even have the luxury of a silk, or golden, parachute if we don't stop allowing ourselves to be distracted by chatter that doesn't matter. We've 73 days and a wake-up to Election Day and I'm tired of standing this fire watch by myself while the pyros take turns trying to put a match to everything we worked to build. And argue all you want, we did build this.
-bill kenny

Friday, August 24, 2012

Just South of Saginaw

I had a note from my best man, Chris, now in Austin, Texas yesterday about dark happenings in his part of the Hundred Acre Wood that I might not normally find out about for quite some time (or in my case, if ever). Later the same day, Roger passed along a related story on the same situation. My old chums' instincts are very good. There's a mean-spirited goofiness most curious and furious afoot, my little one, from both the left and the right leaving those of us out here in the middle with very little but McMurtry and bus fare home.

As my brother Adam shared yesterday in his space you cannot be too righteously indignant and intellectually offensive in pursuit of points of view that are meaningless and actually hateful and hurtful to just about everyone else on earth but yourself and then wonder why the general populace lines up around the block to spit on you.

But Chris offered me the counter-balance, the yin to the yan, the tippe to the canoe, the arsenic to the old lace and it looks like Judge Tom Head takes the cake and what ever other pastries are being offered. In the How Hazy Is Crazy Contest, no more calls PLEASE! We have a winner.

The visual of Obama leading UN tanks through the streets of Lubbock, Texas, should keep me up waaaay past my bedtime for the next few weeks. Seriously. Poor Carol Morgan is already an insomniac it seems (of course she's a lot closer) and after the Judge achieves gleichshaltung, she'll probably be one of the first in the reeducation camps.

We used to be the country everyone else on earth aspired to be. Read our history. We welcomed everyone from everywhere-we had  boundless horizons and needed all the help the world could offer to carve out individual dreams. And now look at us and try hard to NOT look away.

Somehow, we've become your wacky Uncle Wally, that guy on Dad's side of the family but he claims it's your mom's uncle, who drives cross country every five years or so to say "hi" to the whole gang and who can't leave fast to suit the grown-ups because he just creeps every one out and for God's sake do NOT make eye contact with him or we'll be here all day.

Don't get me wrong, we've always had whack jobs on both ends of the political spectrum but now, they're no longer the exception, but the norm. When insanity becomes some form of an alternative to sane and sober, what does that leave for the rest of to do, hide? Make no mistake: that chestnut about 'it will have to get worse before it gets better' is all about us here in the Land of the Round Doorknobs, except for the getting better part.

Maybe it's just me-after all you can share the planet with just so many Judge Heads and folks who get cross and crazy about crosses only so long before it all rubs off, but don't start me talking, I could talk all night. My mind goes sleepwalking while I'm putting the world to right. Or left, as the case may be. And the violence and vitriol are already stacked to the gunwales and it's not even yet Labor Day in a Presidential Election Year. And I would rather be anywhere else, but here today.
-bill kenny

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Puttin' an Achin' on Akin

No! Wait! It's not what you think. Today's epistle is NOT a sophomoric attempt to make some cheap laugh hay off the growing mound of political problems of Representative Todd "Mighty Mouth" Akin (Republican-at-least-right-now-Missouri).

These are complex and complicated times in which we live wherein the quality of mercy is not str--WHAT?!? You're right. This is VERY MUCH a sophomoric attempt to mock an imbecile who wants to trade in his status as best kept secret in the 2nd district of Missouri for a promotion to "they elected a living brain donor to be a senator?!" A six-year long punch line, just what we and the people of Missouri needed, though it looks like those good people will get to decide that question for themselves.

Found this on line yesterday and it reads goofy enough to me to be just as likely a spoof as troof (didn't quite pull that off in the manner I'd hoped, sorry. And my two front teeth so I can wish you a number of things that time and space do not permit here). I suspect if you're attempting to practice your newly-acquired "look before you leap and trip over your own lips' skill, this is just the type of story you wait out by hunkering down in your bunker, keeping the lights off and hoping your rapid, shallow breathing doesn't attract any more attention than you can stand.

I'd suggest he think about pursuing federal funding for further study of spontaneous generation but that act might lead to spontaneous applause in the wake of his spontaneous combustion. That's when the blackness would hit me and the void would be calling.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

George and the Rabbits

If you've lived in or near Norwich for more than an hour you're familiar with the over a decade and a half argument/struggle/effort to build a regional Intermodal Transportation Center (ITC).

Every thing that could be argued about with its construction, its location, its necessity was argued about incessantly. It was practically a varsity sport around here.

A not inconsiderable number of our current elected (or otherwise) leadership in the city were in high school when their elders came up with a proposal that started at 4 million dollars and by the time Governor Malloy and Mayor Nystrom stopped speeching at its dedication in early June, its price tag was in the neighborhood of 22 million. We're not talking Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood at that price.

I smiled ruefully Saturday morning as across the front page of my newspaper was a photo of the upper parking deck looking totally uncontaminated by human presence. All I could think of looking at the photo and the promises surrounding the ITC was Monty Python's Cheese Shop.    

I've been at this Norwich Noodling every Wednesday for a bit more than two and a half years and have never understood the reaction of so many who think I'm some kind of a zen stand-up comedian for their amusement. Talk about 180 degrees out, sport. So I'm clear: I do this for my own amusement and if you get the jokes, so much the better. But in reading the paper on Saturday I went from bemused through bewildered to now belligerent at what is, for me, a classic example of 'we may be lost, but we're making great time.'

I'll bet some won't be smiling at how winsome and winning I am by the end of today's screed. Be of good cheer, sunshine, I'm just warming up. We're gonna have a lot of fun around here from now on and not just on Wednesdays and if that means we don't go shoe shopping together anymore, there's a lot to be said for barefootin'. You'll get used to it.

Various quotes in the article were, I'm sure intended to be reassuring and are, but only sort of  One of them  characterizes the center as 'the future' claiming it as 'our revolutionary vision.' That's as may be but I was on the upper deck in the rain Saturday morning and perhaps the cloud cover obscured visibility but I didn't see anything resembling the future, just more of the same build it and someone will come (we hope). Amen.

Elsewhere, conceding the future was, a 'puzzle' albeit one where 'the pieces are lining up' the ITC was then referred to in the future perfect tense '(the center) will be a success' (with its faithful companion, the caveat) 'provided we put in the resources.'

Someone else somewhere else in the story, taking a page 'from tiny acorns mighty oaks do grow' biology text, offered "(T)his building is a long-term strategy for mass transit in the city." From his lips to the bus dispatcher's ear. But right now the easiest thing you can do is drive to the center and park there but that, at least as I always understood it, was the very activity the center was least designed for, so now I'm worried we've repealed gravity and changed the order of the days of the week.

Make no mistake, this is a powerful building we have constructed on Hollyhock Island, nearly as powerful as the island on Lost. I was most impressed by this statement, driven, I'm sure, by profound conviction, "(T)hat facility probably played a hand in the new ownership of the marina." I love a word like 'probably'. It comes in handy when you don't have factual proof, at least none was offered in the story. Probably because there isn't any-see what I mean by handy?

There's a reference to a Rail America event in October that "may ultimately bring a stop to the ITC." And by may, we're not talking about the month before April. It's intended to offer hope and when you have no plan, hope is the best we ever to seem to ask for. We have such low expectations of and for ourselves. We deserve better than what we have right now, and make no mistake we have to help ourselves because no one else will. From a distance, it may look like I'm smiling. It's really a grimace and it's going to get a lot worse for a lot of other folks around here before it gets better. Assuming it ever gets better.
-bill kenny  

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Not in Ten Thousand Years

Mark David Chapman, the man who murdered John Lennon almost thirty-two years, has his seventh bite at the apple of parole today. I realize people can change. Time and tide wait for no one but I hope Chapman stays in prison for the rest of his life and for a century or more after he dies. None of it has to do with justice and all of it has to do with vengeance.

I don't have anything profound or profane to say about John Lennon or the person who killed him that you cannot find elsewhere in the ether better and more intelligently articulated so I'll spare you the awkwardness of my embarrassment as I fail to adequately capture the passion and anger I still feel about this parole application. As soon as Lennon comes back from the dead, we can talk about a deal for Mark.  Enlightened? No. Deserved? Hell yeah.

Suffice it to say, I and tens of millions (I trust) around the world will join in a sigh of relief with and for  Lennon's widow and his two sons when this application meets the same fate as the previous half-dozen. Not only for what was done, but for what was left undone by someone whose flame burned brightly until Chapman thought of the unthinkable.

"On a cold December evening, I was walking through the Christmas tide. When a stranger came up and asked me if I'd heard John Lennon had died. And the two of us went to this bar and we stayed to close the place. And every song we played was for The Late Great Johnny Ace, yeah, yeah, yeah."   
-bill kenny

Monday, August 20, 2012

There's a Hole in Daddy's Arm

Fell into a conversation yesterday afternoon while out walking with a mid-to-late Twenties something guy who came back from Afghanistan 14 months ago and regularly has his meals catered at the Saint Vincent de Paul Soup Kitchen (and Food Pantry). Though the latter part not that much as he's homeless as well as addicted eight ways to Sunday, which was convenient because that's what day of the week it was. Jesus, You might want to work more on Your timing and less on Your delivery.

He was gathering up cans and bottles to redeem for the deposit and I didn't want to have to ask what he was going to do with the money because had he told me I might then have had to do something. As it is, I can pretend I don't know what he needed the money for and that I've never seen track marks in my life. I am so good at lying, especially to myself after sixty years, I very nearly believe me and then I almost throw up in my own mouth in shame at who I have become.

I didn't ask his name and he didn't offer it. He lives under the viaduct bridge down near the Shetucket beyond where the parking lot for the YMCA used to end. The Y, itself, beat the parking lot to the punch and ended about four years ago and nothing has been done with the sad little building except to add it to the inventory of things we're going to recycle and repurpose as soon as we figure out what the hell we're doing.
You might want to have a seat since this could take a while.  

I don't think he has that kind of time and from what I've been reading, the Veterans Administration, everybody's favorite punching bag, but now it's an Election Year so we use the lightweight gloves normally used on the speed bag, would be overwhelmed if the men and women we've dropped into the meat grinder of American foreign policy for the last eleven years came home with conventional wounds but it's so much worse than can be imagined and so little is being done for the invisible injuries and hurts that cannot heal.

We've got folks on TV at every news channel telling me how it's the other party's fault (no longer matters what the issue is, the other guy did it) and one of the few things both major parties have gotten good at is pretending that none of these broken people whose lives we shattered for the most stupid and nebulous of national security reasons even exist.

There's this picture that's usually accompanied by an exclamation at how this is how a "Real President" acts with an exhortation to 'share' the photo on every social network. It took me a while to find a naked one, so to speak, because that kind of bully pulpit patriotism is one of the reasons I have trouble with USA 2012.

No one knows the name of that kid in that photo-just another BDU prop in a passion play that's all played out. Could be the same guy I ran into yesterday-I dare you to prove otherwise. Little pitchers have big ears. Don't stop to count the years. Sweet songs never last too long on broken radios.  
-bill kenny

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sons and Daughters (in this case, the latter)

When our children were small, like every Dad on the planet, I was a Master of the Universe. I was the long presence that appeared in their lives after the dunkel night time had arrived and who provided their mother someone else to boss around aside from them. The difference among us was that I needed the bossing way more than they did.

The father-son relationship is complex and mine is as good as it is because our son, Patrick, works very hard at it. In terms of his father, he doesn't have much to work with, so it succeeds as well as it does despite me.

The dad and daughter relationship in our case, me and Michelle, is saved because, as she's fond of saying she 'has her father's wit and her mother's charm.' (I originally had grace, but Michelle noted, below, I'd spazzed that out.) Actually she has all of her character attributes from her mother and my contribution to her genetic inheritance is whatever minimum heredity permits and that environment overcomes.

Every summer we catch one or more Connecticut Sun WNBA ballgames. They're our local team and they're right around the corner from our house, as the crow flies, and we have a lot of fun. Sometimes we even watch the games, now that they sometimes win them. The first three or so years we'd go and they'd get bombed but they have two Olympians on the squad and my favorite non-UConn player, Kara Lawson, and are more than pretty decent in regular season play.

They don't do well in the playoffs but we don't go to the play-offs. We hang out at a random game or two during the season and have a few laughs and talk basketball smack like either of us know what we're talking about.

Last night the Sun held on and held off the Liberty, 85-74. When she was small I used to help get play things off the top shelf in the living room, I was awesome. Now, she helps me take pictures at events with the camera in my phone because my Dotage R Us kit didn't include a manual. She is an adult and I am lucky she still allows me to be her father.

-bill kenny     

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Putting Youngstown on the Map

With all due respect to Joe "Put y'all in Chains" Biden and Paul "Rage Against the Machine" Ryan, Melanie Payne should be on somebody's national ticket. Now.

From the way it's not getting mentioned, you could be forgiven for thinking Operation Enduring Freedom, the official name of the military action in Afghanistan, were already over and you'd missed the parade through the Canyon of Heroes and what did they do with all those tons of ticker tape anyway?

From back to front, they don't use it anymore because Wall Street is one of the most heavily computerized places on earth-Mammon and Mac both begin with "M" don't they?-the parade never was and never will be and the way  things are going, Operation Constant Heartbreak may never end.

But Melanie Payne is 1000% on the money (and therein in the dirty secret so follow the money). We, spellbound by the warrior child and his crony cabinet, rushed into this one when patriotism overwhelmed logic and they used it as the pretext to wage war on our American dreams. And guess what? They're winning.

The only thing happening faster than our children being shipped off, and often not for a first tour, to fight half way around the world for reasons not even the cut throat bastards who created the scenario can successfully explain (and some of these kids have adult children of their own) but too many are coming home in body bags.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 13,275.20 points yesterday; I have absolutely no idea what that means when more Americans than at any time since the Great Depression don't have jobs and have no hope of ever finding one. I cannot place the closing bell figures in a meaningful context when home foreclosures are still climbing months after we were told the worst is behind us.

But the scariest part of all is how only Melanie Payne can see a relationship and causality between men and women of duty, honor, and courage being betrayed on the battlefield and the home front by greedheads with Golden Parachutes who would cash out their own mothers except they already have. And none of those who would presume to lead us can have the decency to even mention those same sacrificial lambs or help bind their wounds. And it's barely half past August! Imagine how caked in crap and how deep in it all we'll be by Election Day. Who will pray for us as we pray for mothers like Melanie, and why should they?  
-bill kenny          

Friday, August 17, 2012

Chuck Norris Meets Charles Darwin

I was going to write about the vegetables our daughter's garden has been producing and that I have been eating every day in my salad without knowing it but I'll save that bon mot for another time (I was going to essay a canning and preserving joke here but thought better of it so you can relax).

Rather, as I came home yesterday and drove down the right of way and into my driveway, then stopped so I could get out and open the garage to park the car, a cicada landed, hard, on the hood of the car and wound up more on his back than on any other side. I heard him hit the hood over the stereo, Martin Briley's Salt in My Tears (Briley was in Ian Hunter's band for a spell which is how I first heard of him and a sublimely funny studio guest when I hosted him for a radio sleepover). That was one pretty loud bug.

I gave some thought as I was getting out of the car to walk to the front and open the garage about turning the little guy (or gal) over on his (or her) feet and then remembered how much noise these things make in the dark heat and heart of the night and, petty, biped that I am with no exoskeleton (it certainly helped this one out, didn't it) I walked forward and opened the garage door and then walked back to the car.

In the meantime, because the car is running and the hood is vibrating enough that if you're a bug it's an avalanche, a rock slide and an earthquake all rolled into one, the cicada has been slowly jitterbugging on its back down the hood of the car. I hoped I could park the car in the garage the way I like it before what I feared would happen proved to be what did happen.

The trouble with hope is that when you hope in one hand and spit (let's use "p" instead) in the other and see which one fills up faster, well, you can do the math as well as I can. Eleventeen. That's me doing math, see? You did win.

Down went Sid Cicada, I may be forgiven a minor amount of personification as I suffered an emotional  shock, as in all the way down to the ground. Right off the front of the car-I'm sure it was graceful. Heard a plunk as s/he hit the concrete and then CRUNCH as the front wheels rolled over him/her. Sort of the sound an M & M with a lot of legs would make if you stepped on it, not that I make it a point to step on M & M's or on bugs. That's why I have a car; for the bugs. Were you not paying attention?

I was very impressed to hear the noise as its exoskeleton gave way somewhat violently and realized even Darwin would have learned something along the way from my garage bug experiment. Of course it would have taken him eleven years to write about it and no one would care. What? Hey, at least I was a lot faster at it.
-bill kenny

Thursday, August 16, 2012

SYC or MOTW? Your Call!

Somedays it taxes my poor brain to its simple limits to come up with words with the right letters in the right places and punctuation in the right spaces to fill this patch of ether and wires at all much less with anything reasonable or reasonably appropriate. "Close Enough! is the Next Spot-On" say all of us toiling away here on the Good Ship Tilting At....(put your backs into it!)

No such trouble today-thanks to the most local of my newspapers, the one that ends up on, or near, my front porch far more mornings than it doesn't (you'd have to chack with my wife for an exact count and I suspect she can give you one so quickly and precisely you'll thnk she'd made it up; which is actually my job.).

In its pages is a homegrown story of sorts, actually set in Hartford which, for a country mouse such as I, is The Big City where the sidewalks never sleep and the street lights never blink even on Sunday mornings. I should tell you Hartford isn't the biggest city in Connecticut which doesn't have a large number of cities of any especial size anyway, but it is the capital and for years has called itself The Rising Star of New England, waiting for that to catch on (without success so far).

But I guess, after this one, we'll have to start calling it The Naked City mindful that there are always a million stories there. I don't mean to make light of domestic discord much less, as outlined in the report, of the type and tenor that can result in not only a permanent loss of affection but of the ability to breathe as well. And yet, it's written in just such a manner that I have to wonder about the nerve endings and or christmas ornaments of the apprehendee. 

Of course, because we are a nation of laws, when we so choose, and the presumption and assumption of innocence must always be foremost in our minds, when we're not looking at merchandising and promotional rights, I should have added an "A" for Alleged in today's title as in Alleged Stake Your Claim or Alleged Moron of the Week.

If nothing else, it would keep keep us from confusing "Taken Out" Tiffany with Mr. Norman Voles of Gravesend who, while somewhat older than Ms. Stevens, has an accomplishment vastly different from that of a seven year old daughter. And don't forget about that day trip to Beachy Head-the water is terrific, but brisk, this time of the year.
-bill kenny     

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Albert's Rose City Adventure

Try as hard as you can, and you'll never outrun your own shadow or your own past. In a sense, everything we are or will ever be is really the sum of what we were when were were a younger version of ourselves. I mention this because between now and the November elections, reaching from the strastopheric heights of the Office of the President to the speck of dust level that is decisions about local bonding initiatives, we will struggle with choosing between different versions of different visions of who we would like to be as a city.

I promise here and now to not lecture or hector you about your choices or advocate for mine in regards to any of the elected offices especially since opinions are like noses; everyone has one and they all smell (you were thinking lower?).

I will however have no qualms about discussing water and glasses and when the latter is half full of the former or when we decide it's half-empty, particularly when we're examining the bonding proposal for construction of the new police station within the overall downtown Norwich Economic Revitalization effort.

For the two decades I and my family have lived here, Chelsea has looked basically the same as it looks now, perhaps a little less plywood where shop windows once were, otherwise steady as she goes.

For those who've lived here longer, perhaps a lot longer, looking at downtown today may pain you greatly and your idea of downtown revitalization and mine could well be very dissimilar (and probably are). Where you seek a return of destination stores with names from your childhood, I'll settle for small shops with local owners offering various artisan goods and someplace to enjoy a meal and a night out with old friends I've just met on a Friday night. It's a tense situation. You and I see two cities where there can only be one, past perfect and future perfect.

If we are both only willing to support only our vision of "The City" we're fated for continuous conflict and disappointment because in a zero-sum game, there are only winners and losers, while in a collaborative effort, everyone wins even if not all the time or as much as they want.

The same city can hold different meaning and value for different people-no one is right and no one is wrong-the versions are pieces of the same puzzle, ideally complementing one another on their way to being something of value in itself and to those who use it. Where we start out and how has a great deal to do with where we end up and why.

To my knowldge there is the only observation made by Albert Einstein about Norwich (and any small town whose past seems grander than its future) but you have to be careful because he cleverly uses 'fish' instead of our name, I guess for a more universal appeal:

"Everyone is a genius," he once said, "but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, the fish will live its whole life believing it is stupid." Too bad this isn't Friday, right? There's a place downtown with terrific seafood. Pass the tartar sauce.            
-bill kenny

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Welcome to the Fun House

Between now and November 6, there will be days when I rant about national politics. I don't know anything about national politics which will make the rants more amusing and more infuriating, sometimes at the same time. I understand national elections, their origins and their purposes but I struggle sometimes with the concept of nation behind those elections.

I've lived in enough different places and spaces to very much appreciate an observation from George Bernard Shaw on the concept of countries and national pride. And it's fitting and nearly deliberate that I would mention it right after the Olympics and before we get up to our necks in a Presidential campaign where one party fears outsiders and other wants to keep them as pets. As if that were our biggest problem.

But today, in many places and all across the Land of Steady Habits, we are grassroots democracy as neighbors ask for your votes in primaries for every kind of office no matter what kind of orifice they are. I know that was a little sharper than it should have been. Sorry. If it helps, it's never eaten as hot as it's served.

Around these parts we have vacancies for five congresspersons,  a Senator and one upper and lower chamber of  the statehouse with more folks offering to serve than we have places. I've repeatedly suggested musical chairs but there are no takers. Some years ago I posited bidding for elected offices and people mocked me because 'you can't buy a Senate seat.' Sure you can.

This is where, when you live here, you insert your Linda McMahon joke because she spent 50 million American dollars, two years ago and got thrashed by Dick Blumenthal (I agree: 'he looks like his name' and I've never even seen a Blumenthal). No matter.

Ms McMahon had never held office but her party picked her to run because she was extremely qualified-her checks never bounced and she never got writer's cramp in her check-writing hand. Two years on, she still has no experience but does have even more money and, says the Supreme Court, she's eloquent because money is speech. Say good night Chris Shays.

The party across the aisle is wrestling as well trying to pick a candidate and then both sides will get down to it and in less than one hundred days it'll all be over. It will feel at times, I fear, like a Crack the Whip ride  operated by a meth freak during a snow storm, but that's part of the miracle of democracy.

And if we are to keep democracy from being two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner, make it a point between now and the first Tuesday in November to decide what issues are important to you and who speaks for you on them. Voting for the lesser of two evils, even today on primary day, is still voting for evil. Start deciding like your life depends on it, because it does.
-bill kenny       

Monday, August 13, 2012

A Big Cat Will Scratch You

I'm pretty sure the only thing Russia and Rock and Roll have in common is they start with "R." Except, very close to fifty years ago now(!) unveiled one New Year's Day in Times Square as an ad for The Rolling Stones but really a universal (and timeless) truth was the revelation (insert band name here) is the music your parents love to hate.

In Mother Russia right now the band the government loves to hate is Pussy Riot. I almost can't blame them-I cannot understand what they are singing but have reason to suspect it's not Vladimir Putin is a Sweetie as the former KGB chief, turned head of state through an election that left a lot of people shaking their heads (and Republicans in this country jealous they didn't think of some of these voter suppression ideas first). I don't get them but I can understand the emotion and it's white hot anger.

Make no mistake, Putin's a bastard and right now, maybe the only people who are not going quietly into the backs of the Black Marias seem to be the members of Pussy Riot who have plenty to be angry about in a country that invented vodka as a tranquilizer when common people were treated like furniture by Tsarists (the only asshats in history who were so awful they created conditions where communists could flourish).

It's easy to support freedom of speech when you like the people who are saying things you want to hear-sort of like being a member of PETA when they want to save the otter but aren't quite as enthused when the blobfish is on the poster. I can't prove this but Solzhenitsyn would be at the barricades for this band even if he had to hold his ears and his nose.

The trick is protecting people's freedom of speech and of thinking (and thinking differently) when you don't like them or what they are saying and thinking. Pussy Riot are not going to win Miss Conviviality crowns at any Potato Pancake (a/k/a Lattkes for Looners) Festivals any time soon. They're not going to be invited to many either. And they don't care who likes or doesn't like them.

Like the rest of us, or like the rest of us should, they want to be allowed to yell theater in a crowded fire and not care about the logic of that desire or the language in which it is expressed. That members of the Russian Orthodox Church are a party to this charade is another reason why, I fear, when God (if He exists) finds out what we're up to, will commence to smiting like it's 1999.
-bill kenny      

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Red or White?

Remember the Occupy Wall Street people? A little. Yeah, something to do with need versus greed, or was it inside and outside, us versus them and We are the 99%. Actually it was all those and a lot more and I was fascinated by the hate notes my scribblings about OWS produced whenever I mentioned the movement at all. I traveled to Zuccotti (nee Liberty) Park when the dead serious camp-out was going on and provoked a lot of howling when I wrote about that day-trip for a local daily here in little old New England.

I continue to hear from a steady stream of well never mind the epithets who go apoplectic when they look hard at the ballerina on the bull image (not sure what you thought it was but it's been there awhile) and yet don't have anything to say as the robber barons, sorry, the job creators, pull their pants down around their ankles, burn the mortgages to their homes and pillage this country.

And now one of the two major political parties has gotten themselves Gordon Gecko's Dream Team as their Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates. Fine line between dream and scream, and that's  all I have to say about that.

I have more than a little first-hand experience with a lot of fiduciary obfuscation and all that jazz and now that I have skin in the game I'm not so sure I don't have a moral dilemma with a company CEO making fifty times what his employees make, especially if he's engineered an off-shore deal to someplace where four dollars a day is a king's ransom (the best economic argument for democracy to come down the 'pike in quite a while, btw).

And then there's this at the tail end of last week reminding me of that remark oft-attributed to Richard Pryor about "you go downtown looking for justice and that's what you find, just us." In recent years, it's always trumped by Jay and Zelda, "the rich are not like you and me." And if we pull certain levers and blacken just the right ovals on the first Tuesday in November, all of our troubles will be over. Forever and beyond. You might want to grab an extra napkin depending on who's on the menu.  
-bill kenny

Saturday, August 11, 2012

No Turn-Down Service and No Wake-Up Call

This is embarrassing. I fell asleep at the start of writing this. I know what you're thinking "every one's a critic!" and you make an excellent point. I must live in a tough room. I actually slept in an hour longer yesterday morning than I had intended and then paid for it, heavily, spending most of the morning with that running under water effect (as I call it) where everything I usually do without thinking becomes extremely hard to do no matter how much I concentrate.

It took me all day to get done what's usually history by mid-morning and I just kept losing pieces of time-I'd sit down to reply to an email and look up from the screen to realize I didn't know how long I'd been sitting in my chair, whether I had dozed off or had replied .

I brought that malaise home with me through a rain squall on the interstate which that was so bad I feared all of us would have to stop racing like autobot lemmings and pull over. Luckily it never got to that. Phew! As quickly and violently as it stormed, it stopped, and by the time I got home, it was dry. I sat on the couch in our living room for just a minute to take a break and catch my breath and sat up forty-five minutes later to realize I'd stretched out and gone to sleep.

I've been getting by on a weekday regimen that has me turn in at ten (or 2200 as they say everywhere else on earth except in the nation of my birth) and awaken at 0300 (self-explanatory). On weekends, I've been sleeping in until about seven, unless there's a blood draw and I've made an early appointment. Now that I've given up the biweekly Self-Licking Ice Cream Cone Admiration Aggregation Association Convocations, I have Saturday mornings free with pretty much the same routine on the Lord's Day.

I've done a reasonable amount of reading that suggests as you age you need less sleep. I remember watching our children when they were newborns and all they did (all we do at that age) was sleep so I guess it makes sense, especially if you think about The Second Act, the one with no curtain call.
-bill kenny      

Friday, August 10, 2012

Oz in the Rearview

While I was humming and drumming here on the Old Coast this past Tuesday evening, the good people of Missouri, though I guess technically I mean the good Republican people of Missouri apparently were able to decide exactly which one was the skinniest kid at fat camp, in selecting Todd Akin as their party's candidate for the Senate seat currently held by Claire McCaskill.

I'm so old, I fear the ghost of Barry M. Goldwater, wherever he is, must be smiling. We are a nation of contrasts. East Coast is old money, antiquated infrastructure and large cities hugging the coastline. Out west? Well, they didn't call it "The Wild West" because they liked oregano with their mountain oysters, Pilgrim.

And those who are pieces of bread in the deli sandwich we call the USA often don't seem to know what to make of the Central/Midwest/Middle American part of the country where the food comes from and where almost, since the continent was settled beyond the Appalachians, truly frightening politics, usually from left of center has been relentless.

I make no bones about my beliefs and I won't insult your intelligence or your choices by attempting to inflict my opinion of the Tea Party on you. It's not worth it. My heart beats on the left side of my body and my thinking more often than not reflects that perspective. Subject to your questions, that concludes my briefing.

But I have questions of my own and all of them have to do with The Heartland that has become a very tough place to be in the governance game if you don't have a double digit membership card number in the Flat Earth Birthers Conspiracy Abortion Is Murder Bring Back the Cross of Gold Global Warming Club.

And, by the way, it doesn't hurt if you also agree the moon landing was staged in my cousin's garage in Sandusky and the Lindbergh baby is probably in his basement. I am, of course, hyperventilating rhetorically (= kidding). He doesn't have a basement.

Over the weekend, sitting on my son's bookshelf was a book of his I haven't read, since a lot of his used to be mine and the title pleaded with me to take it home and read it, "What's the Matter with Kansas?" It's probably available for your Kindle or your Nook (so close to dirty and yet so far), I have no idea. If people go to all the trouble to clear cut down forests and pollute rivers by bleaching and emulsifying the wood it seems to me the least I can do is read the gosh darn book. But you can read it here.   

Thomas Frank, the author, is crazy but he's also really good at looking at situations and going "huh?" until you do, too. His One Market Under God was brilliant and here's the thing about this book, subtitled "How Conservatives Won the Heart of America," it was written close to a decade ago and reads like it was just revised this morning.

Maybe we should start a Book at Bedtime Club though I'm usually knackered by that point in the evening and would be a poorer conversationalist only when I slip into unconsciousness. Getting zero dollars from the book or its publisher, you need to read this book before the Passion Play known as Election 2012  gets too much farther along. Keep the dog in the basket, my pretty, we're in for nasty weather. Hold on to the kids.  

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Dupont Would be Thrilled

It's interesting how there's a generational changing of the guard when it comes to drugs in America. When I was a wee slip of a lad, not that I or anyone I knew ever partook of The Herb, in the late Sixties and early Seventies "drugs" was marijuana and if you were flush, hashish. Stop asking about those Uriah Heep and Lothar and the Hand People albums in my collection, okay?

It was all very social and sociable, both communal and community at the same time. You rarely heard anyone say 'I have weed, I'll see you later' but more often, 'We have weed, man am I hungry.' I've been told marijuana may have been responsible for the spread of fast-food places to all sorts of off-campus locations across the country. Don't know if it's true but will point out that I lost more than one friend who went for a shake and an order of fries and never returned.

The Eighties saw the spread of chutes and ladders and pharmaceuticals like Quaaludes, perhaps the dumbest drug ever created. We cranked up the crazy in the Nineties with just enough malice and mayhem to require a separate category for 'hard drugs' like morphine, heroin, methamphetamine and the ever ubiquitous crack.

And as the drugs got harder, so, too, did the people who dealt them because it became a multi-billion dollar business. The head shop with the dime baggies under the counter between the patchouli oil and the electric bongs gave way to the cigar boats we first saw on Miami Vice which, in turn, were co opted by narcotics submarines and human mules. Whether we like or not, children of the Sixties, we and the scum of Columbia and elsewhere are all part of the world we created.

This guy (presumption of innocence guaranteed by our jurisprudence system but human nature being what it is, well, never mind) lives one street over from my house and just down the block from someone who used to live next door to me and with whom I worked on a local election campaign not all that long ago. There are lots of kids in our neighborhood, and an operation like this is cancerous if you've got kids-especially and it's not in the story (I don't know why) since the house is condemned and is supposed to be uninhabited.

The story going around in the neighborhood is that the owner walked away from the property and 'the bank' now owns it. What I find more interesting is how, at age 60, my perception of what is happening is very different than it was when I was 20. Admittedly the world has changed a lot too, and not just in its choice of at-home businesses.

It was we who helped create the appetite for self destruction that has created a business which creates cascades of cash, and the violence needed to protect that cash and all the trappings and trimmings that go with it, while at the same time funding a "war on drugs" that siphons off nearly as much money as the disease it purports to be battling. Is there a way to keep things cool as this brave new world picks up speed in the new century? I don't know but I did just buy a fan-all I have to do is clean it. Again.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Definitely Indefinite

I came across a thought from Dr. Robert Anthony who enjoys a reputation as a relentless optimist, prompting an acquaintance to offer wryly, 'he's never been to Norwich.' That would be funny if it were not also true.

I've adopted the good Doctor's idea as my own mainly in the dog days of summer I can use all the help I can get and because the last time I had an original idea, it died of  loneliness. "Most people would rather be certain they're miserable than risk being happy."

Seriously. Who does that sound like-anyone we know? Having arrived here almost twenty-one years ago with my family (that was all the kicking and screaming you heard coming from Lincoln Avenue; eventually they all went lame and hoarse. You thought that might have been a pony ride joke? Not even a whisper of one), I believe I've been here long enough to consider myself  from Norwich but I'm still not used to the cheery cheerfulness with which we expect things to fail.

The poets say "it's always darkest before dawn" and too often it seems to me our clocks are stuck at a minute before daybreak. To make matters worse, assuming that's possible, not only are too many of us unhappy we seem to begrudge others any happiness as well. As if the state of happiness were something so finite and so rationed that every time I smiled or laughed, you lost an opportunity to do the same.

What we have is a system that dictates for me to look good, you need to look bad (at whatever you do or whomever you are). Everything that is perceived as successful is because of my efforts and failures are despite my attempts. Each of us is quick to claim the credit but even faster to parcel out blame. But the problems of any city are bigger than any one person or one group of persons.

Instead of concentrating on creating a definition of our city's economic and political challenges and opportunities (the indefinite article is deliberate in that phrase) we have little tribes, some larger than others but all working in an intellectual and cooperative vacuum, who each claim to have devised the solution that must be accepted and implemented immediately.

That's when the waiting game begins-the waiting to see an idea fail; not 'if' it will fail, but 'when.' We can then search for the guilty, reward those who were not involved in the attempted and now discredited solution and become enthused for the next Flavor of the Month proposal that comes along. We may secretly believe it, too, will fail completely, but no one wants to say that aloud and not be a team player.

We value false comity over genuine collaboration. What's needed is a team vision and a process to produce results for the benefit of everyone rather than at the expense of some. Government that's done for the populace and not something done to them. Then we'll start to see happiness.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Shake Off the Demon

I think I'm tired and why when I am tired that I am so attracted to tales of extraordinary deeds being accomplished by ordinary men and women, sons and daughters, from the simplest of objects with ripples from their actions that are incalculable in terms of impact and import.

See yourself as just one-but also remember you are one. And while you cannot do everything, you can do something and because you can do something, you must do it now. In this case, I made this fellow's acquaintance, albeit at a moment when he had close to ZERO hits on You Tube, the ultimate arbiter of all that is cool and good, and I have been telling everybody ever since. And now you, too.

This was so simple and so easy-my first thought was 'I could do this!' Then my evil twin, Skippy, cognizant of my limited intellectual abilities and mechanical skills, pointed out 'actually no, you can't.' And he's right, but you can or do something like it or something like it but better. And with every step, as halting and as unsure as it may be, long or short stride, we take in a positive direction, just that much better do we make this world.

If you choose to share your talents with the rest of us and believe in so doing you secure a place for yourself at that bountiful table up yonder, good on ya (and ask for a doggie bag). I'll settle as a reward that the rest of us had the chance because you used your gift. You don't have to believe in anyone resembling the devil to know there's a lot of different forms of evil in this world and it's going to take us many years to make this place the Garden of Eden for everyone the story says it once was. So shake off the demon and try.
-bill kenny

Monday, August 6, 2012

Good Works

I spent yesterday getting singed ever so slightly from the sun over McCoy Field in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, home field of the Pawsox, the International league affiliate of the Boston Red Sox.

No, member of the Yankee Universe that I am, I haven't defected to Red Sox Nation though I did get the opportunity to watch Dice K, the multi-million RSN dollar acquisition accomplish a brief rehab pitching assignment against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. It was stunningly brief-exactly nine outs.

He left in the top of the fourth with two on and nobody out, trailing four nothing. The Iron Pigs whacked him like a pinata on Cinco De Mayo. That change-up which has mystified American League hitters since his arrival was absolutely no mystery at all for the Lehigh Valley players. I think Josh Beckett should hop on the bus and stop in. Yessirre, buddy, I'd come back to see that.

But that's not why I was there yesterday. I was there at the invitation of our son, Patrick Michael, to enjoy  the game after a pre-game ceremony by the people for whom he now works, Barnum Financial Group, and a gift of one hundred brand new bicycles to youngsters in Pawtucket and surrounding communities who don't have so much as a crummy old bicycle.

When I was his age, I  ran my mouth about saving the planet when we'd have all been better off if I'd saved my breath. Here he is so busy doing he doesn't have the time to mouth empty words.
-bill kenny

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Hellos and Goodbyes

There are some people you always remember the first time you met them. In my case, my wife and, of course, my two children. I knew the first time I saw her, I'd marry my wife. And I tease our children that thanks to technology, I knew who they were long before they knew me (I sometimes wonder if they could have, would we have still met but I see no reason to start down a path whose twists and turns, and ending, I cannot foresee). We had names for them months before they arrived and I took enormous comfort knowing I wasn't bringing a stranger into my home from the hospital.

Now, in an era where so much social media and technology have supplanted person to person, it's different in terms of 'the first I read your tweet' or the first 'like' someone placed on an image you'd posted. I sat alongside of someone at an event yesterday who very politely made it clear as we spoke that facebook,  linkedin and google plus were all fine but he still preferred the knock on the door and the 'hello, may I please introduce myself to you?' routine.

As Dylan observed in another life, those who are not busy being born are busy dying and today will be another busy day here on the ant farm. All mouths, no ears. Some blame the pagers and cell phones. I think it's the batteries. Without them, we'd have none of the devices unless we could accommodate the tether. But perhaps we could, since not even the birds are free they are chained to the sky.
-bill kenny  

Saturday, August 4, 2012

All in All

Our two children were raised on Duplo and Lego. It was PPC, pre-personal computer, of course and the other competitive and complementary activities were books, board games and the tube. Their minds grew and imaginations flew as they manipulated the brightly colored bricks and blocks-somewhere we have boxes full of the bricks and the pirate ship and the space shuttle, but those two I can remember. Truly magical toys that are something new every time out of the box.

I don't think you or your children had to have ever played with any of that to be impressed by all of this. It's the weekend, after all. Just sit back, enjoy and near the end is a menu of all the others that exist so you can go from one to the other. It takes about forty minutes and you already know you don't need to ask me how I'd know that, right? Absolute rubbish, laddie.
-bill kenny

Friday, August 3, 2012

Master of Disaster

I spent some time last night working on emergency (but with a lower case "e") repairs to the brace I've been wearing on my right ankle since fracturing it in mid-May. I should have been  long since out of it, but fecal material has hit the ventilator and plans have been made and changed. I went in to the hospital last week for an MRI which is Latin for Pretium erit pro hac vestra. Large fun awaits.

As I understood my physician's explanation, we didn't have a lot of choice.The fracture has healed as well as it's going to, but it didn't heal totally and there's a piece of bone almost at a point where it's supposed to go into the foot where it doesn't. She figures she'll go in from the side and in essence snip it off. She assures me I'll be out for that as just typing the first part of the sentence made me wince.

What's making her wince are indicators on the MRI pictures (?) that I've damaged multiple tendons at the junction that's under where the bone that's not healing (fibula/tibula/nebula/spatula) isn't and she has to be prepared to repair them though to what extent is still unclear (to me; she knows exactly what she's doing).

It's the keeping the foot up and weight off it for a couple of weeks part of the post operative that's giving me pause-not SO much pause that I will ignore the recommendation of surgery. Every time I have to pivot and turn on the right foot, I get a reminder of just how useless in a three legged race I would be right now.

It looks like September (ish) for the surgery if I can get a clearance to so do from my cardiologist who is still watching deep vein scans of the arteries in my legs ('Get cable for crying out loud!' I shriek. Does he? Nope, he prefers the classics.) and needs to confirm the twinge above my right calf but behind my knee is my imagination and not an evil twin reflection of the other leg.

I'm not unhappy about not needing that surgery again since I've developed a phobia about south of the border barbering that there's no reason to discuss here. Of course, this means yet another season of Dancing with the Stars will have started without me. I know what you're thinking, "so far, so good."
-bill kenny

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Chicken or the Egg?

Yesterday was Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day. If you need a moron like me to tell you the background behind it, let's cut to the chase, shall we? You are too stupid to own a computer so please turn it off, unplug it from the wall and ship it back to whomever you bought it from. Do the same thing with the TV and the newspaper(s).

Wait, who am I kidding?  People who think this is an actual major news story are already too stupid to read and think or vice versa. As you were .

I have no idea how successful the day was.Wait until the perfectly-coiffed ladies and impeccably attired gentlemen of the day shift at Fox News show up and they'll be covering this bad boy wall to wall so we'll all know (way more than we ever wanted to, but here in the Land of the Mostly Free and the Occasionally Brave When No One Is Looking, excess = success). Meanwhile my heart will just carry on.

Tomorrow is Kiss Mor Chiks Day, or a counter demonstration to yesterday's retail action if you accept the principle that Congress is the opposite of progress, I guess. It seems this is a good week to own one of these joints and I live in a part of the country where all we ever see or hear of them is the advertising for the Super Bowl. Fair enough. I concede it would hard to fire one of those cows out of a cannon.

The only ones grinning are the people who own the restaurants. They're rolling in the dough. If I didn't know better, and I don't, I'd believe the marketers created this kerfuffle to make the sales graph jump. The rest of us are really cranked about I'm not actually sure of what but we make up in passion what we lack in knowledge  and our arguments have gotten very loud because we don't seem to have any facts, on either side.

Here's what scares me in all of this: when I'm the sanest guy in the room, we need to get a bigger room, a much bigger room and pronto, Tonto. It's bad enough we have turned our lives into some kind of a food fight over politics, religion, foreign affairs, money, social mores and whatever way the wind blows, but now we're having a food fight over food? WTF (Why the food; what did you think?)
-bill kenny  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

New Rope

People  people prefer problems that are familiar to solutions that are not. Go back to the latter part of last week and that story about the Downtown Pop-Up Cafes. The only thing more amazing than the idea were the comments it provoked. You can be trying to help a sick patient, or you can be standing on the oxygen hose-in both cases, you're in the room but it's what you do while you're there that makes the difference.

As the gossip that masquerades as gospel would have it, nothing ever goes on in Norwich. And if you doubt that, just ask around because that's what everyone will tell you, so it must be true. We've built all kinds of buildings all over downtown and we may not be done with that approach yet, but in between all the destruction and the construction, it's that silly old private sector and those arts and entertainment people who  just keep on keeping on.

Today and tomorrow (actually through the weekend), are the perfect times to watch the crowds and follow them to see where they lead. Starting today, weather permitting as has been the case all summer. There's a Farmers' Market in Howard T. Brown Park and while there's a nutritional advantage to fresh fruits and vegetables, they taste better. And weather permitting, from ten through two this afternoon you can get fresh from the farm produce at good prices that supports local family farms.

And if you're not sold on 'glow from within' as its own reward, then bring or buy your lunch from one of the restaurants two hops and a skip from the waterfront and enjoy the view of the Harbor while polishing off a sandwich and an espresso.

If you can manage the extra time away from your job or your family make sure you have enough lunch to last you until six o'clock when, as happens every Wednesday that doesn't have bad weather, it's Rock the Docks with terrific live local music acts, like the Jay Dempsey Band tonight. You'll be in good company with great food, sparkling beverages and good friends who haven't heard there's nothing going on in Norwich because hundreds of people show up and dance like nobody's watching while having themselves a fine time.  

And speaking of music and parks, this time at Senator Thomas Dodd Stadium in the Norwich Business Park, tomorrow night at six when The Roys kick off  the Podunk Bluegrass Music Festival, celebrating its 17th anniversary and its first one in Norwich.

Calling themselves "the music of the mountains in the heart of the city', Podunk offers local, regional and nationally known artists in concert and more than just live performances with "Early Bird Workshops,"  "Songwriting Master Seminars," "Kids Academy," and for those whose boot heels like to wander, on-site camping. If like me, your idea of roughing it is a hotel with low thread count sheets, there will plenty of out of state guests doing that as well.

Gates open tomorrow afternoon at five with performers like Kathy Mattea and The Spinney Brothers and a dozen other acts through Sunday evening. Of course, you can save yourself the time and trouble of having a good time by remembering that nothing is ever going on in Norwich which I think is a terrific idea because that just means more fun for the rest of us.          
-bill kenny