Sunday, September 30, 2012

I Watched the Mighty Skyline Fall

I have an acquaintance, halfway around the world this morning documenting amazing persons in astonishing places, who is quite probably weary of my extolling the virtues of New York City as the Capital of the World. She doesn't disagree; she might prefer I, and everyone else, just shut up about it. And I would, except it is.

From its founding as Nieuw Amsterdam by the Dutch through the unceasing and centuries-long waves of immigrants for whom it was first landfall in the A World of Unlimited Opportunities, it was and remains always the Portal to Everything Possible and Otherwise.

No more so than this morning as my brother, Adam, and clouds, masses and swarms of others along with him will prove as they run to remember so the rest of us never forget all those touched and scarred by the brutality, cowardice and catastrophe of 9/11 by taking part in the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Run/Walk.

Adam has done this before and will do it again, of that I have no doubt. Because I have both an appreciation and understanding of the mechanics of history, I can intellectually accept the notion of a day when no one on earth will have been alive when the event this race commemorates happened. It is almost, but not quite, inconceivable to me emotionally that this could ever happen but it will as softly and swiftly as the rains fell yesterday as I struggled to find the right words and placement for this sentence. That is why they run.

Adam and all who do (including Russ, husband of our sister, Kara, Adam told me before) as well as those who visit the website, make a donation, read the news accounts and follow the day's exploits via a live feed are part of a collective consciousness that, more than the opposable thumbs, more than the abominable gangnam style, truly separates us from the other kingdoms with whom we share the planet.

The Tunnel to Towers is but the removal of one teaspoon of sorrow from an ocean of misery but it is one and as such it encourages, no, it demands the removal of another, and then another by each of us able to so do until we can do no more. And if our effort accomplishes nothing more than to keep the memory alive, that is mitzvah enough to save the world.
-bill kenny        

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Drive All Night

We had  a lot of rain and wind (and a bit of thunder though no lightning) yesterday in these parts which came in handy as I was trying to recover from an outing on Thursday where I bit off more than I could chew in terms of physical demands. Last night I wound up taking Vicodin which has always (at least until now) made me ill but hasn't in the days subsequent to my most recent surgery.

I don't even say 'last surgery' because I know me and can guarantee this will not have been (the future pluperfect past tense of the verb? He shoots, he scores!) my last surgery in this life because that's how I am.

And as I thought about it yesterday while the rains fell and I stared out the window and watched the street in front of my house fill up with young people hurrying to the cars and their weekends as the uppers at Norwich Free Academy left campus, I was forced to concede that the way I live, and it's the only way I know how, is a trial or often wordless sorrow for the woman I love, my wife, Sigrid.

Yesterday I argued with myself, an attempted rationalization really, that I am not a surprise package which is my way of pointing out that she knew what she was letting herself  in for from the first time she returned my glance. And now, being less than a month until we celebrate 35 years of marriage (I know and have worked with people who have less time on earth than she and I in wedlock), I realize it must feel much longer for her.

And yet, she allows me to be me, more than that actually, she encourages me-for good and sometimes not so much for good. She manages the part of our lives that matters the most, the home and hearth, and allows me to be the "poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage."  To give my time to total strangers, to seek approval from people who care not enough to be bothered to learn my name and remains through all the failed dreams and the bad dreams as the only one in this life I can ever spend my life with.

If you have a  someone such as she, no words are necessary and if you do not, no words can explain.
-bill kenny

Friday, September 28, 2012

I Kept the Window Rolled Up

Yesterday was treats. Because both my wife and our daughter were home and both are observant women who could see my irritation with being on the planet what with all of this I promise to not do anything anytime anywhere rehabilitation, they decided an outing in the car might be a tonic in the afternoon.

I had discovered my cell phone was not only no longer charging when plugged into the wall but also appeared to be losing power earlier in the day so we even had a purpose for the trip. I feared the worst  when the car charger also failed to resuscitate the phone and for just a moment, Kyle in the phone store with his 'when are you eligible for a replacement?' set my heart racing, but then, because of his mastery of phones cellephonic, he determined the battery had spit the bit. Our sojourn, once interrupted, resumed.

It's an odd sensation riding in the back seat of your own vehicle, made even odder when the driver is the younger of your own children. Make no mistake, both of our children are excellent drivers in my opinion but I also think I am the world's finest automotive enthusiast. It's the rest of you motorized maniacs I don't trust.

We were headed towards the Seaside Sanatorium in Waterford a quiet, somewhat somber stretch of solitude overlooking Long Island Sound that has a sad history and feels a little bit lost this time of year. I think we all do. The weather can be quite nice and the temperatures still warm just not as warm as the weeks before Labor Day. Make no mistake, though autumn has hinted of its arrival, we saw enough changing foliage to choke a leaf-blower (and how I wish someone would), summer is still in the area.

But not yesterday afternoon as the cool air above the arm waters of the sound produced a light haze as I sought and failed to reach the beach beyond the main house past the service road beyond the padlocked gate. This being a good guy and using crutches took a rapid and steep toll on me. But not before I remembered being a very small child, about the age of the youngsters originally treated where we were, visiting my mom's parents, Gramma and Grampy at their bungalow in Atlantic Highlands. I'd stand on the beach with Grampy as he told me about the world on the other side of the water, beyond where I could see.

I always waved to the children of Europe whom he assured me were standing on beaches just like ours and peering past the horizon, or trying to and waving back. It wasn't for many years that I realized none of it was true or could ever be true, but it was a wonderful story and just a moment yesterday as I struggled to keep the crutches upright and turned around, facing in the direction of the car so we could make our exit, I was tempted to double pump a quick wave, one for the little boy of long ago on that faraway beach and the other for Jim Kelly, Grampy, standing beside me as the waves kissed the shore goodnight and goodbye.
-bill kenny    

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Threading the Eye of the Needle

I am extremely bored and have no one to blame for this but myself. I am at home parked on a shelf (so to speak) in a backwater of southeastern Connecticut, a quiet, somewhat-frayed at the (blue) collar New England town, a small city if we're being honest (which we are as you'll learn in a moment), that was struggling with hard times before mostly everyone else was struggling, Norwich.

Last Friday I had surgery (it's my hobby in the last five years or so-some people go to Borneo or Spain, I go to hospital), this time on my right ankle. I missed all of it-sound asleep. Same story every time as a kid, too. Missed Santa Claus for the same reason, just nodded off at the good part.

I'm not complaining. All the people involved in this surgery, from the screening at Same Day Surgery (I had never seen a 'you must be this sick to ride this ride' sign in a hospital before) through the nurses and pharmacists and CPA (? maybe. I'm a little fuzzy) through my doctor and the anesthesiologist and team were marvelous.

Leaving me with the hard part. To get better and to be as quiet as I can be for two weeks. To go from walking in excess of 18,000 steps a day to as few steps as possible (Sunday it was 79 which was, as my wife understands the surgeon, still 79 steps too many) and then less. I can definitely be quiet, just not indefinitely.

While I am trying, and failing to be good, I have a huge amount of time on my hands. No, I don't get up on the schedule as if I were going to work, but close. Leaving me large blocks of time to contemplate the mysteries of life as I stare out the window, try and peer through the clouds to the sky above (I hope) and wait for my heel to heal, or vice versa.

I wonder about small things-how a Thermos works. It keeps hot things hot and cold things cold. But how does it know the difference? And I worry about big things-end times and/or the end of my time. When we say this life is a limited engagement, we are not joking and I'm looking for an edge in case, despite my fierce, insistent agnosticism, there is a Heaven. Except that I'll already be dead, I'd die from embarrassment in meeting God.

How does that go anyway? Hello, Bill. Sir. So, whatcha been up to? Oh, a little of this and a little of that, I guess. How's Your boy? He looks great in all the pictures I've seen. His mom must be very proud....
I mean just for that, I'm getting a stick with a marshmallow on it but what if He gives me a (somewhat more than) second chance? What do I have to put me over the top that somebody else doesn't.

WinRar. Don't laugh. You might not even know what it is but I do, sort of. It's a very small file that allows you to uncompress, or maybe decompress is what they said at the cool kids' table in the cafeteria, really large data files. Your computer has it; more than likely you downloaded it. But here's why I'm passing through the eye of the needle and you maybe not so much.

When you click on it to use it, there's an lmost wheedling tiny drop down window that asks you  to "please purchase a WinRar license' because, despite what you think, it "is not freeware. After a 40 day trial (Noah helped develop this?) you must buy a license or remove the program from your machine." Well, did you? That is the question.

One or the other, compadre. Fish or cut bait. The Lady or the Tiger. Waitaminit, what if that's what God asks you standing in the doorway of the Kingdom of Heaven. Did you buy a license? Hint: the correct answer is NOT 'how much is it?' Guess who knows and who did? The surprisingly quiet semi-swamp Yankee. Sometimes you can use an ankle to think.
-bill kenny      

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

More Songs About Buildings and Food

When we were discussing the three bond initiatives on the ballot this time two years ago (it doesn't seem that long ago, does it? Especially when you walk through the downtown that was supposed to be the beneficiary from the bond) I confess to never having wasted a moment's thought on any property on or near Cliff Street or the "old" Sears Building on Main Street.

As a Norwich resident who's only lived here for two decades, I'm not sure I knew the latter had ever been a Sears much as I only saw the ruins farther down on Main Street as hideous and certainly not historical as those proposing rehabilitation of the Reid & Hughes property so believe.

And yet, here we are, quite a distance from the optimism of the near winter of 2010 after two of the three bonding proposals passed, with Norwich Public Utilities having invested our money into promised gas line service expansion, but the bulk of the 3.38 million dollars earmarked for the renaissance of the Chelsea District still idle, awaiting plans and projects.

The current City Council, with four members from the previous council, are, like them, keen to micro-manage minutiae but seem less enthused in seriously involvement in the Big Picture items I, at least, elected them to lead, such as downtown redevelopment and improving our community's quality of life.

Instead of progress reports and updates on downtown economic redevelopment presented as a regular agenda item (perhaps) every quarter during a City Council meeting, we get scattered impulses and initiatives from a variety of sources, all individually interesting and maybe even of value, but without a vision of how they fit together and the political will to make them one strategy. We continue to hold handfuls of dust and dreams. And nothing more, except my favorite word for Norwich "potential."

Meanwhile, we have two (more) projects about buildings and food in downtown. The Saint Vincent de Paul Place, established in 1979 by the Diocese of Norwich, may or may not be relocating permanently to the (former) Saint Joseph School on Cliff Street. Reading the newspaper, neighbors are unhappy particularly with the City Council who will, if the past is any indicator, probably try to close Cliff Street. It's what the Norwich City Council likes to do and knows how to do very well.

The volunteers at Saint Vincent de Paul Place have been trying to empty an ocean of misery with a teaspoon of generosity for decades and very few of us want to address the larger issues such as families living in poverty and what we, as a society should be doing to repair and strengthen the social safety net. We like "the poor" a lot more as an abstraction than as neighbors.

Then there's the proposed new police station in the middle of our downtown, just as municipal leaders did in Middletown, we are told, and look at Middletown's rebirth. That a downtown police station was one of eight separate but closely coordinated initiatives involving both private and public sector leadership in Middletown gets lost in the noise-perhaps because one or the other is missing in The Rose City. Leaving only a pile of bricks in a city that loves to believe the next new building will be its salvation.

To a man with a hammer, the world is a nail-but there are so many other tools we can and should learn to use, starting today.
-bill kenny                    

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

This Is the Way the World Will End

Today at sunset is Yom Kippur, for those of the Jewish faith, the day of atonement. It is a day of repentance and fasting for personal and community/communal sins committed in the course of the last year in the hope of forgiveness-with forgiveness being the critically important aspect.

I was raised a Catholic who was taught to see Jews as (also) people of the Book (the Bible) but who limited themselves to the Old Testament and a God of Vengeance and Punishment. Jesus, as I remember, came we were taught to fulfill the Old Testament and by so doing and living, and dying, create a New Testament. I think my problem with my church became reconciling the New God with the Old Testament one-after all, what kind of a loving Deity would crucify His own Son?

Sixty years on and music such as this (All Vows) to mark the commencement of the Day of Atonement, has convinced me while I may have lost faith in my church, I'm not sure I've abandoned a belief in God, if that's Who inspired such beauty, majesty and ineffable sorrow in one piece of music.

Present day Israel, surrounded on three sides by enemies and on the fourth by the sea could not be in a more precarious position than the Jewish people themselves have been since the start of The Common Era. And yet, countless persecutions later, they stand, as self-anointed as God's Chosen and regardless of your own religious beliefs or depth of your persuasion, you have to admire their devotion to Him and their belief of His providence for them.

Yom Kippur ends tomorrow evening. There's this prayer to marks its end, a version of which I found online as produced and recorded at a synagogue, perhaps the only synagogue to this day (I actually don't know), in Frankfurt am Main. A house of worship I can still see clearly in my memory from the strassenbahn fenster as I passed the Sud-Bahnof on the trip back and forth to work for many of the years I lived in Deutschland. I have to assume it is still there.

I traveled a long way to some nearly-forgotten point in my own past I thought I had passed out of and all it took was an act of faith, though not mine or my own, to return.
-bill kenny      

Monday, September 24, 2012

Bye, Bye Baby!

My Dad's old baseball team clinched a divisional title Saturday night, our time. The San Francisco Giants, formerly of the Polo Grounds, captured their second western division crown in the last three seasons beating the San Diego Padres at home, though Candlestick Park is long gone, and more (most) importantly finished ahead of the hated Dodgers, be they the Lords of Flatbush in Brooklyn or Los Angeles again (emphasis on the final word deliberate and more).

He loved baseball and rooted for the Mets quite passionately when they arrived on the scene despite the most dubious team colors in the history of sports. And because he rooted for them, all of the boys in my house for them as well, though we all knew his abiding passion was the ball club by the bay, on the Other Coast. I never had a hard time rooting for the Yankees as well but I don't recall him ever warming to the Pinstripes.

Instead he remained a fan of Orlando Cepeda, all of the Alou Brothers (I think they could occupy an entire clown car or van, and often did), Willie McCovey, Willie Mays (of course!), Gaylord Perry and Juan Marichal. He was most passionate about them in my memory when Alvin Dark was the manager though I don't recall a great deal of good in terms of results as a result of that passion.

You can look the players' names up yourself-they are important to Giants' fans and to baseball historians but in a game where the places of prominence are held by players from the Red Sox and Yankees, those from the Royals and the SF Giants, among many others, end up as a footnotes.

It was back when there were two All-Star games every year and players got hurt in them because the competition between the leagues was ferocious. When guys played right through to the last day of the season, and never sat out to protect batting crowns and there was nothing even vaguely resembling a designated hitter.

The Giants of today, technically of Saturday, clinched with a pitcher I used to watch throw for their Double A affiliate here where I live in Norwich, the Navigators, themselves a baseball footnote and Marco Scutaro, a cast-off from the hated (by me) Red Sox, helped seal the deal.

On a  weekend where the Yankees and the Orioles were slow dancing in the American League East, I'd like to think that Dad would have had a crappy little transistor radio with the one cord earplug in his right ear, trying to tune to somebody's game not because he was concerned about their results but was hoping for a West Coast update. I can nearly see his smile now.
-bill kenny  

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Do These Scrubs Make My Butt Look Fat?

Almost everything was perfectly planned. Admittedly, the layout and sequence of events in the Same Day Surgery wing were slightly different but the destination we were funneled to, the pre-op area was the same at our hospital stop yesterday.

I'm not sure because I didn't ask but it's quite possible my doctor didn't have a practice patient or two before me as I had sort of hoped-that way the physician gets warmed up and the surgery just sails by. As if by the time we got to the OR I was in a position to remember very much though I do recall seeing the inside of the OR which wasn't true the last time I was in for orthopedic work.

In May while I was at Yale for the arterial stent I was awake through the shaving of a rather intimate and hirsute area of my body so that the surgeons could run the stent from the opposite side. I couldn't tell you what kind of straight razor shaving cream they use not that there's any kind of an endorsement deal in the wings (not that it was my wings they were shaving). I guess I dozed off afterwards from all the excitement.

From what the doctor explained to my wife, who does very much deserve better and, instead, has me, there was more tendon damage, and thus repair, than she had thought (point in fact with the way the fibula was blocking the MRI, she could only guess which is not something anyone likes to do when rummaging around inside another person). And, perhaps because I'm old(er) or just never had much tolerance for my own pain (yours I can stand all day, and all of the night. Thank you, Ray Davies), this time around, especially the morning afterwards, it hurt like little I've ever experienced.

I'm supposed to keep the foot, ankle and leg elevated which means a lot of hopping while walking like an Egyptian or not going anywhere at all. I really tried to do the latter. Seriously. I was prone on the couch in the living  room with both legs up (hey, it could be catching, you never know) for just about two hours Saturday morning, watching USA Network shows I'd DVRed, most notably Fairly Legal ('that's bitch, bitch and jackass, for your information.") though I didn't really notice any creative changes from the first season. I'm good at DVRing (and inventing gerunds) just not good at watching the shows and after two hours, I was restless.

Did I mention my wardrobe is a PJ shirt, with a pocket as all of my shirts need pockets or I won't wear them (I have to have someplace for a pen, to include when I sleep though I never take a pen to bed or it that considered TMI?) and hospital scrub pants torn from the hem to the knee on the right leg because I wore trousers on Friday instead of shorts and almost went home in my underpants. We have tinted windows in the car but not that tinted.

I managed to get sick on the two minute car ride home between the drugs for the surgery and the excitement of sticking my head out of the window. If only someone had thrown a Frisbee as we drove by, I'd have another verse to write in my litany of lament. Considering the number of people in the world who are worse off than I am, I could do myself and you a favor by shutting my yap and cease trying to play the world's smallest violin. It is Sunday. The light blue scrubs help bring out the red in my bloodshot eyes and despite my complaining, life is actually pretty good. I'd offer to hop on that cheering idea but there's no place like prone.
-bill kenny    

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Hot Buttons and Cold, Cold Lies

We are who we are as a nation for a lot of big reasons to include events and epochs such as the War of Independence, Westward Ho, Pearl Harbor and (nearly) countless others. We have had national figures of every race, creed, color and gender speak to and for us in moments of crisis and import.

But we are who we are mostly because of whom each of is. Quiet or boisterous. Hard-working or hardly-working. Class brain or class clown. Lives, admittedly, of sometimes far more than quiet desperation, shared in communities of every size across this nation with friends and families much like and often very different from us.

Near the end of last week, before both houses of Congress went on a two month vacation break (I'll pause while you think about what you could do with 60 consecutive days of paid vacation) our elected representatives decided to NOT take action to support those men and women in our Armed Forces of further assistance and education for the day after they decide to leave our Armed Forces.    

I'd be the first to concede the Republican Party lost its opportunity to capture this disillusioned Obama voters heart and mind by selecting an automaton as a candidate who, in turn, selected an unreconstructed Ayn Rand TEAliban as his running mate but in the weeks since that happened, the Grand Old Party hasn't been scoring any points in my neighborhood.

As it is, if my Mom were running for office as a Republican, I might have to skip Christmas dinner but to return for just a moment to the Potomac Pussyfooting last week....this nation owes its continued existence to the very men and women our elected leaders told to pound sand.

When the dollar signs have supplanted any other signs of life, if we can no longer overcome and rise above partisan (and often petty) political differences for the good of those the ruling class blithely assumes will continue to lay down their lives for this nation, you have to wonder if one revolution was enough.
-bill kenny    

Friday, September 21, 2012

Running for that Morning Light

I'm so tight right now with anxiety, I squeak worse than The Tin Man after Dorothy rescued him. Depending on what time you read this, I may still be tossing and turning and sleeping fitfully for ankle reconstruction surgery slated for eight o'clock this morning.

I could be duded out in one of those gowns with no back sprawled on a gurney in a hallway waiting for my number to be called or perhaps I'm already done and sleeping off whatever it is they give before Dr. A. makes an incision on the outside of the right ankle and peels the skin and muscles back to have a better view at a fibula or tibula or spatula, some bone that refuses to grow back and reattach to my ankle while getting a good look at the torn tendons and ligaments she believes are beneath it in the MRI, blocked by the bone.

As impressed with her as I always am I must also admit she scares the bejabbers out of me because I have been unsuccessful in charming her at all so far. I can usually put people away if I have to or want to and work hard enough. Not this one. Oh, she smiles wanly and sometimes more fully at my attempted humor and comical expression but then goes right back to what she was talking about before I tried to lead in a chorus of Hark the Ark or whatever the song was. She is relentless and thorough which is why it's even more  foolish that I am uneasy.

And yet I am still.

I'm not scared or skeered as the kids say nowadays. But, coming home yesterday I realized I had forgotten my eyeglasses at work and prepared to head back to the salt mines to get them. I was about halfway there when I took a turn slightly faster than normal and all the CDs on the front passenger seat slid towards the center console and there, under that pile, was my eyeglasses case because that's where I'd placed it when I gotten in the car earlier so I'd know where it was. Mission accomplished.

I'm getting a little dotty as I age less than gracefully and let my look linger a moment longer over many more things that even five years I might have simply looked and not seen. That's why I'm sharing this picture of the sky as I saw it last night on my all too brief last walk in probably a couple of weeks unless things go incredibly well or badly in which case my mileage may vary and nothing else may matter.

So much casual beauty brazenly transcendent and yet so easily unnoticed.. "Tracing our steps from the beginning until they vanished into the air. Trying to understand how our lives had led us there." And here and to whatever place in whatever space it happened and will happen again tomorrow, with or without you.
-bill kenny    

Thursday, September 20, 2012

A Major Vowel Movement

Yesterday morning the remnants of the crummy Tuesday weather when we had gusts of wind clocking in at speeds topping 45 mph and tornado sightings (claimed at least) across most of the state were still around when I got up at a quarter to eight.

I was playing hooky in a matter of speaking taking a day of vacation for a family outing that had all four of us together and headed north for a bit more than an hour and our annual pilgrimage to The Eastern States Exposition, better known as The Big "E" (hence the title of today's verbal meanderings).

We enjoy being in one another's company (not something as commonplace as you might suppose) or my spouse and progeny are remarkable actors and actresses and the miles whizzed by practically unnoticed. That tip from my colleague at work about buying a surplus police cruiser and a flashing red light really paid dividends because we made great time.

And by the time we arrived in West Springfield on the Agawam side I think (I'm full of carp-I actually have no idea which side, I never do) the weather had improved at least 300 bajillion percent with gorgeous skies, light breezes and delightful temperatures in the middle seventies. And, as luck would have it, yesterday was Connecticut Day!!!!

I have NO idea what the deal was supposed to be-around my house everyday is Connecticut Day (admittedly without the exclamation marks) so we're sort of used to it, but as someone who was born elsewhere and who is often as happy to be living in The Nutmeg State as its long-time residents are to have me, thanks for the sentiment.

We had a wonderful time, as you can see for yourself here (I hope), but we saved enough so if you wanted to go and have some fun of your own, you could easily do so. There are whole parts of The Big E we didn't go anywhere near, like the circus or all the rides and there are far too many food places to count, much less sample, and every kind of delicacy to enjoy if by delicacy we can agree on deep fried ice cream (I have no idea how that works), fried Oreos (delicious I am assured), and chocolate covered bacon.

And don't forget the cream puffs-whatever you do. This is after all, New England, and if we didn't have cream puffs, how could we ever continue to believe Bill Belichick was a pigskin genius?
-bill kenny  

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fish and Whistle (with Howie)

You can look up "city" in a dictionary and after consulting with a professional urban engineer, designer or planner construct a definition that includes buildings and boulevards, parks and people, schools and shops as well as neighborhoods and those who call them home. What you'd have combined used a little bit of math and demographics, a lot of hard work and careful planning with just a touch of magic and a dash of timing.

Living in Norwich for slightly over two decades I smile when listening to new residents speak of our 'potential' not because it's funny but because that was the very word I used to describe what I was excited about when my family and I first arrived here. And all of us who see it are right, even if we continue to quarrel about where we're going and how to get there.

I was on Main Street Saturday afternoon, one of the Top Ten Days of the Year in terms of weather and it would've been an ideal day to get jostled by shoppers and gawkers swarming the sidewalks from stores along Franklin Square and the eateries and coffee shop near Union Street before heading back to their cars parked for free in the municipal garages that line the waterfront area.        

Maybe it was a trick of the light, but for the most part I saw no one-that is, until I got to Howard T. Brown Park. There were families of swans and ducks waiting for someone, anyone, to disregard the 'Do Not Feed the Wildlife' signs and offer a handout.

The benches were filled with people in absolutely no hurry to go anywhere or do anything. The waterfront all along The Marina was alive with small craft, sail and powerboats, enjoying yet another 'last chance this summer' to take to the water. I'm used to seeing people in the area on Wednesdays for the Downtown Farmers Market and during the summer for Rock the Docks, but this crowd was making its own fun in the sun.

And everywhere, from upriver of the Sweeney Bridge to the shadows of the Laurel Hill Bridge were fishermen and women of every age, size and color. In some places they stood practically shoulder to shoulder, casting and trolling and then recasting, always on the prowl and always looking for the next strike at the line.

Ever since Norwich didn't capture the crown of Ultimate Fishing Town earlier this spring (congratulations, by the way, to Ollcott Beach and Hastings, New York; but remember, there's always next year), there's been a lot more serious talk about fishing and tourism as part of a package of attractions, not the silver bullet, to help grow Norwich.  

The Harbor Management Commission's "Waterfront Vision" was first offered a year ago and some extended discussions with state officials about a way ahead and available funding have taken place so maybe it's only right that a first, concrete step to build the Harbor into an attraction involves fishing. And royalty. Sort of.

This Saturday oh-bright-early, starting at six (in the morning) and lasting until noon is the first annual King of the Docks Fishing Derby-open to anyone and everyone. Jerry Martin, of the Harbor Management Commission and event organizer, says there's no entry fee, but adds only shore bound anglers can compete for prizes to include, I assume, tarter sauce.

The derby goes on regardless of weather but if this Saturday is half as nice as the last one, it will still be a beautiful day so get to Howard T. Brown Park early and fish and whistle, and whistle and fish.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Colder than a Teach's Wit

So this is what it's come down to for The Empire Upon Which the Sun Never Sets. Attempts to get a court order to halt the publishing of photographs of Her Royal Highness, Princess of Cambridge's uncovered bosoms. Seems it's too late already in some countries but never you mind, my plebeian friend, Her Majesty's Solicitor will not rest.

I'll bet Prince Willy and his hairy (or was it Prince Harry and his ....) wishes the House of Windsor had been a bit more aggressive a fortnight or so ago when imagery of him and his member of the House of Lords running as free as a bird in Las Vegas were willy-nilly in every newspaper in the world. But boys will be boys and girls will be gawked at, I suppose.

I'm not sure what we commoners aren't supposed to know about and/or see. That the women of the Crown of Great Britain have breasts? What if some of us either already knew that or had sort of guessed at it. Off with our heads?

I don't think HRH's government is in imminent danger of implosion because of the pictures such as they may be. Of course, I haven't actually seen them and if she's doing handstands and it looks like she's holding ice cream cones, I may revise my opinion. Or if I am confronted by something like this:

At which point, after conceding that which is seen can NOT be unseen, I'll be in search of a sharpened stick. Whose point I'll need to make only twice.
-bill kenny      

Monday, September 17, 2012

You Don't Look a Day Over 5,000

Happy 5773 (cue the noisemakers and the confetti? Probably not). Beginning at sundown yesterday and running through tomorrow morning, it's Rosh Hashanah. I was a bit taken aback by the traditional practice by people of faith of many different religions to not actually spell out or say God's name.

As a fallen away Roman Catholic, I envy those whose faith, especially today in the world we have created, allows them to move forward and carry on-even if I no longer share it (but would like to) because of stiff-necked pride.

The existentialism of despair I suppose provides its own comfort, cold as it is, or at least I hope it does as I have little else and when I'm finally sure of my lines, no one is there. I'm thinking of Stu, Larry, Susan, Ev, Bob, Dr. Bob and teacher because as liberal as I pretend to be, that's about all the members of the Jewish faith I know or know of.

A religion perhaps no larger than the mustard seed about which a Teacher of another time spoke so eloquently-whose existence is, for many, proof of a Divine Providence's steadfast watchfulness in comparison to which, the birds of the sky and the lilies of the field can only dream while, sadly, in so many parts of the world, others who profess to revere a God of their making can only scheme.
-bill kenny  


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Consider Us as Being in the Crisper

Thelma and Louise were motorvating (didja see what I did there?) in my car as the Hyundai is being a bit temperamental and I'd rather not have the two women in my house get stranded somewhere far away but not quite in another galaxy especially since I do have my cell phone with me when I'm out but on vibrate so it never rings since listen to music. I never answer the phone it screws me up from singing along with the songs.

Yesterday was a lousy day weather wise until about tenish or so (I know! Tenish anyone?) and then became one of the Best Days of the year in terms of the sky, the breeze, the clouds and the temperature. I've been pushing my step count every day for the last week or so since this time next week I won't be tripping the light fantastic and I was downtown or what could be downtown if enough things get aligned and go right in a row to make me reconsider leaving the ashram.

If I had a refrigerator, that's where this would have wound up-but we have a brand new one in the kitchen and Sigrid says I'm not allowed to make any marks on it, so this will have to do. Just be grateful we didn't get one of those behemoths with side by side doors. I know I am.

I believe it's better to be lucky than good and I know I'm not good so I smile looking at this photo because I really like it and it doesn't show either of our children or my wife which is my traditional way of measuring a good picture.

I don't have anything profound to say about it, or anything else (come to think of it), though if you've ever been here before you knew the latter was true when the page loaded. So why are you hanging around? Did somebody I was going to do a trick? Move along! You've seen all the neat stuff I have for today, and quite possibly for the rest of my life. Hope you're happy. I suffered for my art. Now it's your turn. Tippecanoe and hold the occupants under.
-bill kenny  

Saturday, September 15, 2012

You Have the Right to Be Stupid

By now, those of us numbered among the sentient (or who live with one as I do) have had ample time to ruminate on that old chestnut, 'everyone's a critic.' Except, perhaps, that 'other guy' who is running for the office of the President of the United States of America, the former Governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Mitt (isn't actually  short for anything) Romney.

What has me scratching my head at the moment is, after having managed to step on genitalia some of his most bitter critics, and many of his previously ardent supporters, do not believe he even has, how the Mitt Wit seems to think he had the last word on all of this. And having it on ABC News was the best way to turn the page.

This isn't political polemics on how many years of tax returns to release, or a riddle involving how many Kenyans or Kansasites it takes to become a citizen. An American ambassador, staff members of his embassy and others have all lost their lives over religion, beliefs and believers. And one of the two guys who wants to be President becomes a snark for political advantage. Or so he hoped.

I have no numbers to prove this statement but believe it to be true: more people have died in religious wars  than from ALL other warfare waged on this planet since we crawled from the slime, or Eve was cleaved from under Adam's rib, or the aliens dropped us off here on their way to a really good party somewhere  else in the galaxy.

Into all of this we have Fox News, as close to an Old Testament abomination as this brave new world is capable of delivering via cable, Internet or satellite along with Glenn Beck and/or The Blaze which is The Beckster in print form proving Gutenberg will have things to answer for on the Last Day. And then you have this new age news note.

Translation: You just say it/write it. No one knows enough to seek corroboration from two independent sources which is the standard for attribution by the much-despised  'lame stream media,' not that any corroboration exists most of the time anyway nor does anyone know how to tell the difference between a strongly worded opinion and the actual facts the opinion is pretending to be.

That's the great thing about so much of the technological  and media convergence. I can troll the dial or the web and find, and sometimes even build, a news service that panders to my prejudices and blindness. I need never see/hear stories that could vex or upset me or which contradict my the world is flat perspective on as complex a subject as international relations. Mother Jones can score what it thinks are critically important communication points, but it's really an air ball.

The observation by Huck Finn's father, of sorts, from the Pre-Smart Phone Age of Earth has ne'er been more true; and in the information age, only the speed of travel has benefited from the infusion of technology more than the fine art of prevarication. Not knowing enough about the relationships between the nations of the world is ignorance. Being proud to not know anything about them is arrogance. I sure as heck don't need any more of either in The District, supplied by anyone.

I was, and remain, a disillusioned supporter of President Barack Obama and have worked hard to maintain an open mind on alternatives and possibilities. Just about any chance to get me to reconsider my ballot for November disappeared this week in the wake of Romney Ruminations faster than Seamus does when Mitt backs the car out of the garage and yells 'Here, boy!"
-bill kenny  

Friday, September 14, 2012

In an Ocean So Vast

Sometimes it's a picture, other times a photograph or something from the phonograph. Art in some form manages to capture in its medium something you struggled to put into words and when you found it/saw it or heard it, all you could do was nod emphatically.

This is from someone who lives and works thousands of miles from here, whom I shall never meet (like 99.99999% of the rest of the world around me), but whose lack of in-person introduction I do, and will, regret more than most because he's so damn clever and completely without artifice.

I was (sort of) introduced to him through a relative of his whom I met very briefly a couple of years back and with whom I stay in contact (and who is extremely talented in her own art form meaning this must be a very tough table come the 'home for the holidays dinner' picture postcard). And if you have a chance to review some of his offerings, it's pretty obvious (at least to me) that I'm sure he's happy people like his efforts and leave him notes to that effect, but he's not in it for the cheers.

I don't possess any of the skills he uses with such aplomb and ambition-but I know how to watch the work and ways of someone who loves what he does not for what it brings him of this world but for what it helps him add to the worlds of everyone else. But look for yourself and draw your own conclusion.
-bill kenny


Thursday, September 13, 2012

A Half Price #38

Am in the homestretch for surgery next Friday. Saw the cardiologist ten days ago or so and he greenlighted (greenlit?) me which was important and the first wicket the orthopedist required. Before I spend time with my primary care physician, who deserves better but is stuck with me, I visited the orthopedic group yesterday.

It's a pretty new building and it's sprawling especially in comparison to the sort of rabbit warren their old office was when it was still in Norwich about a four minute walk (on really lousy knees) from my house. Now they're up in the Business Park which we used to call 'the Industrial Park' until we started counting all the apartment houses, condominiums, assisted living operations, baseball stadiums (stadia?), National Guard headquarters and realized we either needed to change the name or change the subject.

Sometimes different is better but not always the other way around. All ducks are birds but not all birds are ducks, though that's probably not true on Faux Gnus, but I digress. I'm having an ankle reconstruction from a fracture that never healed correctly back in May and the big concern today was my height to fit me with crutches. Such a hoot.

I have crutches, a cane (more than one actually), a walker (with both the tennis balls on the 'feet' and a horn-I had a sore thumb at the time so a bell was out of the question) as well as fourteen or so knee braces in various flavors and shapes. I have more of this synthetic and prosthetic stuff than most medical supply houses.

What I don't have is a lot of courage-or even a little bit. This is baby step surgery-and my brain knows that but again today as the doctor went through the drill, and we've rehearsed so there are no surprises, I started to go numb from the roots of my (rapidly disappearing) hair to the tips of my toes.

I had blood work and an EKG that had to be done at the hospital (where the surgery will take place but I'm not sure that's not more a matter of convenience than a requirement) and I could feel myself getting so tight I squeaked when I walked. The technician had to stick me twice because the needle didn't draw any blood the first time which tells me I am having the most fun with my clothes on I can have.

I always end up feeling about six sitting waiting for the hammer to fall, with lots of 'ma'am' and 'please,' and 'thank you.' All the way home I kept telling myself this is basically the same injury Curt Schilling had and that my surgery will cost the taxpayers of Rhode Island about 75 million dollars less. I think that's enough to get me a large coffee milk and maybe a private concert with John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band. As long as I'm not expected to dance. Or tap my foot. Or stand....          
-bill kenny

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Imagineering Tomorrow

I fell across this terrific quote the other day which I hope only improves when shared, "(s)ome dream of great accomplishments while others remain awake and do them." We are a culture of often difficult and diffident people who wait for someone else to do something-not so much because then we'll join in, but because it then affords us an opportunity to shake our heads and wag our tongues. And yet, we continue to progress despite the disparagement of those around us who not only know everything, but who know everything better.

This weekend we had two events in Norwich, the Grecian Food Festival from Thursday through Sunday as well as Saturday's Taste of Italy. Lots and lots of people from both within and without Norwich came to enjoy the food and fellowship. Both are annual fundraisers for causes much bigger than the communities that started them-and both festivals began before I and my family became residents here two decades ago.

My point? Success has a thousand fathers while failure is an orphan. All the catcalls and criticisms about gatherings like these have long since disappeared into the mists of history as many shared a gyros and a plate of pasta with friends from every neighborhood throughout the city or were, perhaps, joined at a table by families from both Brooklyns, the one up the road and the other, one of the Five Boroughs of New York City.

Funny how the harder some people work the luckier they are. You'd think the rest of us might start doing the math and figuring out it's more worthwhile to grab up all the 'doing right things right' instances we have around these parts and attempt to duplicate them so that we all have more, instead of kicking one another in the shins as if that took some kind of special skill.

About ten days ago there was an article in the pages of a newspaper, "Norwich Development Program Offers 'What Ifs'" that caused some to shake their heads in chagrin instead of shaking the hands of those who were building Norwich Next. If no one had ever imagined space flight or pop tarts or Disneyland or Post-It notes or polio vaccine would we have them today, in the now? Or pony rides. Almost forgot to work that one in.

If you don't have any idea about what tomorrow should or could look like, how will you recognize it when it finally gets here? Jonathan Swift, he of Gulliver's Travels, once offered, "Vision is the art of seeing things invisible." Because I wear glasses doesn't mean you should have to squint. How did we get here in this place and space? By sitting quietly and doing nothing? Why not try to be an exclamation and not an explanation.
-bill kenny          

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Darkest Day of the Decade, Again.

There are days of the year you never lose track of-depending on you and your life they can include the birthdays of family and friends, anniversary dates and, sadly, the dates of a passing of someone/something of value and importance.

Today says my calendar hanging in the kitchen, and at which I peer every morning (it lists this coming Saturday as "Declaration of Independence (M)"), is Patriot Day. I don't know if I'm buying its very noble and ambitious goals-there's still a lot of hurt. I was raised to hate the sin and to always love the sinner but I long ago abandoned the faith of my father(s) and today is a day where I struggle with the wisdom behind knowing whom and what to hate and when.

My brother Adam has penned some wonderful profiles, reports, compilations of anecdotes and incidents in his space in the ether during the recent weeks leading up to today and I've been buoyed in reading them and realizing how remarkable we are as a species. The villainous efforts of those who hated and who still hate us, notwithstanding, there were/are a countless number of brilliant and brave people who, in death, made a positive difference everyday in the lives of the rest of us. We dare not fail one another now because they did not fail in the final moments of their lives in their belief in us.

During a trip to New York City with our son. Patrick Michael this time almost a year ago, the first time I'd been on the island of Manhattan since the original attacks (so huge a coward am I and I love New York City (and Manhattan especially) and regard it as the Capital of the World), I was in tears not merely from what had been done to Lower Manhattan but how its people had responded. And by the scale and scope of that response.

We are still here-bent and some of us badly beaten but we are NOT broken. Not now, not ever. So much triumph over so much tragedy and with that, an affirmation of a core belief that we shall never be defeated by imbeciles and idiots consumed by an ideology of hate because we can bend metal and glass to form and frame prayers in the concrete canyons of the cities in which we live and all those who would harm us in any way are powerless to stop us as we rededicate ourselves to rebuilding the soul of America.
-bill kenny

Monday, September 10, 2012

The Revenge of James and Robert

I embarrassed myself yesterday by getting a tune stuck in my head to which I knew all (or as nearly all as my advancing years would allow) the words and about which I still had no idea on the meaning. I don't think either Bugs or I are in danger of winning this year's The Voice competition. Though, I must also point out, neither is Eminem (or less kindly, especially Eminem).  

I never knew what the song meant-learning it as a child (I hate when people say 'as a small child' thanks for the visual, like I needed it), I found keeping track of all the words hard enough work without attempting to decipher the lyrics and their meaning. And when I found this in answer to my wondering and while wandering the web, I'm hoping maybe it's another five decades or more until I next sing it. Maybe you, too.

It's like being downstairs in Upstairs, Downstairs-better and cooler parts but a tad creepier and definitely more disquieting. And speaking of Britons, both Great and otherwise, while I was spelunking for meaning yesterday I checked out Bob's Your Uncle. Yikes! I'll bet Walter Becker is thrilled we didn't opt for  Robert's Your Father's Brother. Would have turned a reggae into a maranga.  
-bill kenny

Sunday, September 9, 2012

When Attitude Becomes Altitude

I've mentioned before our daughter, Michelle, and the relationship she has with the neighborhood squirrels. It seems at times she has them eating right out of her hand. She's been feeding them, or generations of them I suspect for many years and now she uses kitchen utensils.

Sorry, that was too easy, I know. But it's a home game and I'll take all the cheap calls I can get. Especially since looks can be deceiving. That's chunky peanut butter if you hadn't already guessed it-store brand, by the way. We normally don't eat chunky in my house as it really screws up the white bread when you try to spread it.

My Imp of the Perverse is such that all the time Michelle was feeding her/him from the spoon I wondered what we'd do if the stuff stuck to the roof of her/his mouth. Offer her/him some milk? Do we call animal control on a weekend? 'Yes, 911, it is an emergency now that you bring it up...'

These animals have it made. We  go through probably six to nine pounds of peanuts a week at my house and most of them are for the squirrels. The Blue Jays and Cardinals enjoy them as well (as do the grackels and the sparrows) but they get rather rudely elbowed out of the way a lot and there's not much they can do about it.

Unless as happened yesterday, again, the squirrels screw themselves up. Michelle grew "short" sunflowers this year in her garden to attract beneficial insects to pollinate the various vegetables. I put air quotes around short as the average height was supposed to be five feet and these plants are closer to nine to ten feet.

The additional height doesn't preclude them from producing a delightful flower that is also, apparently, delicious as the squirrels can't keep their paws off them, no matter how many peanuts they've already eaten.

I caught this character enjoying himself and his handiwork (I'm sick of that her and his stuff) rather late in the afternoon while Michelle and her mother were out at the Portuguese Mall (not really). Looks like it was quite tasty-and may create a situation only a genius on the order of  George Washington Carver can resolve. Talvez a memória de amendoim provarão ser amargo como o sabor de girassóis roubados.
-bill kenny    

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Human Boomerang

We've spent much of the last two weeks with each of the major political parties taking prime-time turns telling us about all the great things we are, and have, living in the USA while the Loyal Opposition carps (or you can swap the 2nd and 3rd letters and achieve the same result) about the shortcomings produced by their policies and politics or you can remember this, one of my favorite one liners from life in (west) Germany "a refugee is someone who votes with his feet."

And in the case of Jose Garcia, the polls must already be open. I am aware especially in a presidential election year, immigration reform, from the looner sheriff in Arizona (looner being a euphemism for racist; oh dear. Did I type that so everyone could read it? Awkward.) to The Dream Act, is a slightly more than warm to the touch button issue for many of us. A good discussion with all the facts might be nice but I wouldn't hold me breath waiting on that to happen.

Immigration reform and control are important for me as well, not just because my mom and dad's families arrived here in a Mayflower moving van rather than the ship which landed at Plymouth Rock, but also because I'm married to the mother of my two children who's a citizen of another country and had to wade through huge amounts of paperwork requiring patience and a lot of prayer (that you filled them all out correctly) in order to be allowed to live here (and I'm the prize for all of that? God and Her/His sense of  humor).  

It is a privilege to live here however you came to it, birth or migration. Historically we have been the land of hope and dreams for everyone of every other nation on earth and we, as well as they, have been well served by the influx of new ideas, new energies and new blood.

But Jose, you're pushing it so hard, you're pulling it, buddy. Unless and until there's more to this story than what's surfaced, as much as I admire the ambition and the determination, gotta suggest seriously, you make travel plans for a different destination. After all, how can I miss you when you never go away?
-bill kenny

Friday, September 7, 2012

Diagonal Parking in a Parallel Universe

This week at my work we have been replacing computers. Battalions of techies and sweepers (their names, the ones I have for them make my mom cry) have been scouring our campus, gathering up our old Dell machines and replacing them with shiny new Hewlett Packard boxes.

I remember when Gateway was the flavor of the month-all those off white monitors and processors. They grow up so fast, don't they? And then it was the midnight black of Dell and we transitioned from boat anchor shaped monitors to sleek display panels. I never found them to make the simply awful things in the world that popped up on them to be any better, but they were way cool.

And now, it's Hewlett Packard whom I recall for multi-functional fractal calculators when our kids were in school-or was that Texas Instruments and are they different or the same. Who knows and, unasked is its companion question to which we all already know the answer obviating the entire exchange.

We are getting Windows 7 instead of the XP Pro we now have that no one liked when it first showed up but now we all love and are reluctant and unhappy to abandon, as if we have a choice. He who abandons a sinking ship that doesn't sink needs to be a strong swimmer, especially in this current.

What has happened since last Thursday afternoon is that I don't have a computer at work (because something so awful happened to my new computer no one had the heart to tell me or the person supervising the replacement process). I hate when we play keep away with information, but we like to do so and not just with new shiny toys but with everyday objects, all of which are usually closer than they appear in your passenger mirror.

I'm not a big fan of change and this change has (so far) given me lots of reasons to not be a big fan. But perhaps by the dawn's early light today, it'll all make glorious sense. Or not. The sun also rises. Turn and face the strange and embrace the change.
-bill kenny

Thursday, September 6, 2012

And They're Gonna Sock it to Ya

He's a footnote, at best, for most pop music fans of The Swinging Sixties and now, Joe South, is an obituary, dying yesterday of heart failure in Buford, Georgia. As a socially awkward teen of that era who was to eventually know how to do everything with rock music, except enjoy it, I knew Joe South first as the guy who wrote Billy Joe Royal's massive hit, Down in the Boondocks and not that long afterwards played on Bob Dylan's Blonde on Blonde.

It was an era before we'd perfectly compartmentalized music by genre and where never again, or before (come to think of it), shall the twain meet. All there was AM radio-that little three inch speaker in the dashboard of the car and some of the stuff that poured from it, like Joe South, was absolutely amazing.

He was, and should be, remembered for Games People Play which is what that song is called you're hearing all over those automated soulless Soft Gold radio stations today where the play lists are computer generated and Joe South makes the cut because the upper end of the demo buys American-manufactured cars who advertise heavily on these stations. Tell you who else should, the folks who manufacture drinking straws because these stations suck.

All the Fashion with None of the Passion. All Hits or All something else remarkably similar. Turn the vocalists upside down and they'd sound like sisters. Another piece of the soundtrack of my growing up has gone away forever, leaving me with memories. And smiles.
-bill kenny        

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Depth of the Habit

There's a lot to be said in praise of constancy and consistency. We applaud those who are steadfast in their beliefs, even if we sometimes have doubts about those beliefs. You have to admire those who try even when they fail. Might I suggest we are so blinded and distracted by the admiration of the effort that we lose sight of what became of the outcome.

Connecticut thinks of itself as "The Land of Steady Habits" (having been raised in an East Coast state not too distant from here, I assure you none of us called any of you 'steady' but that's a discussion for perhaps another time) and takes a great deal of pride in the title. But maybe doing things the way we always have is getting in the way of getting things done.

One of the biggest impacts to Who We Are now in the Age of Applied Technology is how well and how rapidly we, as individuals, families, neighborhoods or urban centers (society in general) respond to altered circumstances and considitions. In much the manner that the advent of the telephone altered person to person communication, the convergence of computers, social media and technology have, again, caused us to reinvent ourselves.

The more successfully we respond and react, the higher the rate at which we succeed. As faxes overwhelmed teletyped messages and, in turn, were ovetaken by email which has yielded to text messaging, the agility with which we adapt and adopt new tools to accomplish our tasks and then expand both the scale and scope of those tasks, could be the key to renewal in New England in general and in Connecticut in particular. 

He who hesitates is lunch and he who lags, loses. An innovation only remains an innovation until times change then, if it doesn't, it becomes an historic artifact. If you don't think so, ask the people who ran Eastman Kodak how it feels to have gone from cutting edge to history's dustbin as Kodak's bankruptcy winds down.

It's great to treasure our past and never lose sight of where we came from but not if it keeps us from clearly seeing and traveling to where we need to go next. Because we are comfortable with traditional manufacturing and retailing doens't mean other forms of it, combined with new approaches to previous successes cannot play a significant role in this regions's continuing rebirth.

We have private sector employers heavily dependent on their workforces' intellectual ingenuity to maintain worldwide market share. We have celebrated resorts striving to stay at least fifteen minutes ahead of their time and their competition. We have world-class secondary and post-secondary educational facilities preparing students today for tomorrow and all of these entities and enterprises are always on the prowl for fresh talent and new blood.

We are seeing a growing number of visionaries and futurists who always ask "what if?" questions when looking at industry, education, business and government and the role each plays in our lives. Because we always have doesn' mean we always shall, or should. Sometimes the only difference between a rut and a grave is the depth of the habit.
-bill kenny        

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Better than Winning the Irish Sweepstakes

I think it was more my parents' parents' generational dream-to win the Irish Sweepstakes. As kids, I don't think any of us knew as a practical matter what all was meant by the turn of phrase or how ludicrous and nonsensical the whole endeavor actually was.

Here in the 21st Century we don't have to imagine any of that quaint stuff anymore because we have a bajillion variations of the Nigerian 419 scam, one of the lesser celebrated by-products of all this world wide connectivity. (Why 419? Perhaps because 418 just won't do.)

In a 24/7 news cycle, information washes over us. We don't wade in the water, we drown because we cannot possibly walk on it. Schemers and scammers rely on that. All they need to do to live comfortably ever after with whatever goofy and often outrageous hustle they concoct is get .00001 % of everyone to whom they email their tale of woe to respond. If you have trouble with the values to the right of the decimal point, that's one hundred thousandth of one percent.

You've read me write of Norwich as a city of forty thousand, so in this case, double the city and add half again. and then have one person of all of those bite on the offer. But what kind of offer, you ask. How about this one that showed up yesterday in my email and to which I'm about to respond in such an alacritous  manner as to assure I'll need never work another day in my life, assuming I die later today. It's from someone neither of us didn't know we didn't know. Golly, Wally, we sure get around, eh?

"From: Mrs. Safiya Gadhafi.
Wife of Libya leader.

Dear Friend
This may appear a bit surprising to you but as a matter of fact, I am desperately looking for a foreign partner whom I can trust to handle some investment of fund movement. I MRS SAFIYA FARKASH, A wife of late Libyan leader ... who was recently killed by his political opponent, I her wife is contacting you for help getting  some money which was  deposited by my later husband in Burkina Faso where....But before we continue, we have to build a memorandum of trust that you will not betray me. As soon as you agree, I will quickly furnish you with the contact address of the GROUP BANK where the US$25 Million (Twenty-five Million United State Dollars was deposited. Perhaps am waiting for your prompt and positive response. Reply to my private box at mrs.safiyagadhafi10@*******.com

Best Regard.
Mrs. Safiya Gadhafi."

Someday our children, when they visit us at the home, will listen to us speak fondly of email from Mrs. Qaddafi, Mrs. Arafat (a personal favorite of mine) and Snooki among others. I suspect all their correspondence will always be grammatical car crashes and syntactical tsunamis, even in our memories. And long after we shuffle off our mortal coil, some variant of this money for nothing, or less than nothing, will still be extant. After all who of us doesn't want to believe you can exist exclusively on the kindness of strangers. And the strange is just starting.
-bill kenny

Monday, September 3, 2012

In a Cardboard Box 'Neath an Underpass

When this story surfaced and circulated during a very short news cycle back in late July, I made a note to return to it, even if I didn't know when or how. I just knew in a Presidential election year with already filled with memes and mummery there'd be room for more (and no one heard Clint Eastwood ask for a chair).

Over the weekend, I've been working on this book, because of this blog and my disquiet over where we are as a nation, how we got here and what we may end up doing about it. In the last couple of months, the economics of despair has moved from the abstract to the mundane in my experience and I'm starting to develop an appetite for choosing a horrible end over horrors with out end.

As brave a new beginning as we all want as we make our way into adulthood, it's our comfort level with the less than happy ending that bothers me the most these days. Everywhere I look, it's the same movie, with a different cast and too many shades of grey. "Hot soup on a campfire under the bridge. Shelter line stretchin' 'round the corner. Welcome to the New World Order. Families sleepin' in their cars in the Southwest. No home, no job, no peace, no rest".
-bill kenny

Sunday, September 2, 2012

A Fragile Construct

I may or may not have mentioned I played hooky from work on Friday. Actually, I asked for and took the time off-I knew Monday was a holiday and we were getting new computers with new and alien (to me) operating systems (and coin slots, at least it feels like it) Friday and I am absolutely useless in these situations so I took the day off and got a head start on the long weekend.

Which meant yesterday felt like Sunday but wasn't. We had a mostly nice day, though it clouded up in the late afternoon and I went for a jaunt up the side of a hill to a very large green space in the physical center of where I live though most of us see it as on the outskirts because of where we concentrate most of our attention (considering how that's been working out maybe we should decrease the Ritalin?).

Managed to almost be part of a wedding in the park-Ashley and John, I believe. I tried to get the crowd to go along and chant "Jump! Jump!" with me but they  would have none of it and, thinking back to our nuptials almost 35 years ago in the Offenbach Rathaus, I smiled and silently wished the young couple well. I also didn't get any cake about which I was less than gracious and still am.

I'm sure before the two of them celebrate their 35th anniversary, I'll have forgotten all about it, but if I were them I wouldn't count on it and I'd stay out of the park until the coast is clear. What I really enjoyed was the minister asking all of us attending (technically all of them attending plus me, the interloper) to vow aloud to help them remain together and when he got a murmur of assent instead of a tumultuous shout, he had everyone do it again, twice. It turned out there was no to-go window for cake so I decided discretion was the better part of valor and beat feet out of there. It made for a different way to kick-off Labor Day.

And truth to tell, I'm never sure what we're supposed to do with Labor Day and in recent years, especially in the poisoned political climate of a Presidential election, I'm not sure it's a good idea to do anything on Labor Day since organized labor seems to be the whipping boy right now for at least one formerly great though still surprisingly national political party. And like so much else, we've heard and will hear this election season,
it's never eaten as hot as it's served and read for yourself who helped create whom for the 21st Century.

Suspect that's why I'll always have a soft spot for Dave Cousins and the Strawbs. Till the day I die.
-bill kenny      

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Our Love Was Like the Water

I had someone ask me if I were going to opine about the Republican National Convention which caused me to worry that I have become so known as a crank that I am perceived as that guy who would boo Santa Claus or choose the lions over the Christians (depends on the point spread on the latter, by the way).

But truth to tell, and the RNC schedule I just passed along is more for you as a souvenir than a reference, if they had held their convention on our front porch, and I'm talking about you, too, Democratic Party (in Charleston, North Carolina, starting Tuesday), I'd come in and out of the house through the back door.

I "get" the bread and circuses aspect of these congregations and conflagrations. I appreciate the mental gymnastics of claiming one's opponent believes in galvanizing babies at birth and in employing all manner of abominations and accusations flung like, well, you know what monkeys fling, and which will now only gets worse through Election Day. I did not watch one moment of one minute of the convention offered by the Party of Lincoln (and Teddy Roosevelt, one of my favorite fictional characters who isn't fictional) and will probably treat the party of Jefferson in the coming days in the same manner.

Both parties now have so many ideologues demanding fealty if not commanding fear that I don't think there's any room remaining for the "can we talk about this?" contingent. I will confess to an abiding loathing of the stridency from both flanks except the Democrats, to my ears, sound silly and and trippy (a Woodstock word to describe those, I think, who disregarded the 'avoid the brown acid' warning)  whereas the TEAliban of what was once the Republican Party hate government and everything about it.

They call it THE government because that's easy to demonize but I see it as MY government and that means they and I must agree to disagree, but I don't think it will stay there for very long. Thus, as Mom says, when you have nothing nice to say, don't say anything. This is usually where I interject 'how 'bout them Mets?' but Lee H, probably still in the Adirondacks, hates when I do that (or would if he knew) so I won't.

I don't know how much more life the "two party system" has left in it. I think I'm not alone when I say I'm out of patience with it and those who wield it as a weapon to smite 'others' whomever they might be. I've got no expectations so while I hate to say I am a pessimist, I have to point out as such I can only be surprised and never disappointed. At least until Election Day; and in the interests of saving time, I have already assumed the position.
-bill kenny