Friday, October 31, 2014

Mighty Oaks

By the time I was old enough to be beyond total self-absorption and recognize something ‘out there’ the rest of us were calling ‘the world’ the National League’s Giants were in San Francisco, playing in Candlestick Park. I rooted for them as a child for no other reason than my dad did; scarce realizing for him it was closer to a religious experience as he’d not switched allegiances when they switched coasts.

Dad cheered on the New York Giants and often saw them play on their original home turf, The Polo Grounds (actually and more correctly it was Coogans Bluff), and I never really understood how he made his peace with their carpetbaggery (along with those Bums from Brooklyn landing in the City of the Angels) but he was a complicated man and I ascribe all of that as something between him and the Big Umpire in the Sky.

He was probably all smiles yesterday morning as his team, fueled by Hunter Pence, Pablo Sandoval, and Buster Posey (and a cast of thousands as Cecil B. DeMille might say) and led by Madison Bumgarner, “Mad Bum,” rebounded from a 0-10 hammering in Game Six at the hands of the Kansas City Royals to capture Game Seven of the 2014 World Series and their third title in five years.

I’ve always thought the two most beautiful words in any baseball lexicon about the World Series are “Game Seven” because it doesn’t happen often enough and caps and crowns what has usually been a donnybrook (I’m channeling Keith Jackson, so ‘whoa, Nelly!’ you better step back) championship series. This one was no exception.

Sitting halfway across the country as the Electric Fire flickered in the living room and the lurid lights reflected off the walls, I smiled at the hometown connection to the World Series, right here where I live, The Rose of New England (okay, we gave ourselves that name, but still), Norwich, Connecticut.

Unlike the other big-money pro sports, basketball and football, baseball (and hockey as well) relies on an almost ancient idea of apprentices and journeymen toiling in what is called the farm system, who, with enough competitive seasoning and combined with talent and ability, are promoted to The Show.

Show of hands: how many devotees of the NBA Development League do we have in today’s audience? Sir? Oh. Out the door on the right and down the hall. And next time you don’t have to raise your hand or ask first, just go. Good to see you again, Isaiah Thomas. As for a nearly-pro football league? I’m thinking not so much and offer NO apologies to Arena Football unless they go first.

But Bumgarner won nine of ten games he started when he played for the Eastern League’s Connecticut Defenders, right here in Norwich in 2009. In early September of that year, he made the jump from Double A to the Giants and as Kansas City learned, has been pretty much a fixture on the mound ever since.

I don’t do a lot of “I remember when” (damn memory lapses!) but to my eyes he pitched as well Wednesday as he did when I’d buy six dollar seats to catch him at Senator Dodd Stadium. Sure hope I remember to tell some of those who complain about the dearth of recreational activities and attractions here that you can still be amazed by the things you can see on Mulberry Street even if we don’t have a Mulberry Street.

Which reminds me: 139 days until Spring Training 2015. Need to build up the pocket of my glove and make sure I have enough neet’s foot oil to get me through the winter because there's no snowflakes in baseball, among other things.              

-bill kenny

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Stamping Out the 21st Century

I bought stamps yesterday, not loose like cigarettes on an NYC street corner as seen in Law & Order, but in a book for a skosh less than ten bucks. It’s another book of “forever” stamps, these are wild birds so I’ll keep the book in the car because that’s where I tend to most often give others the bird and now I have a back-up supply.

I was buying stamps because I have a First World Problem with the folks from Frontier Communications who (seemingly VERY) suddenly purchased AT & T U-Verse television, telephone and internet services here in The Land of Steady Habits.

As a kid reading about how people would discover a wooly mastodon, hair and all, frozen solid in a glacier perfectly preserved for tens of thousands and more years, I used to wonder how that would ever happen since I assumed the temperature gradually dropped vice instantaneously and the animal would notice but chalked it up to Another of Life’s Mysteries.

I concede The Woolies were not meteorologists, but, flashing forward, you didn’t need a weatherman to know it would be an ill wind for somebody when months ago it was the AT &T operations were changing hands. 

Having spent a decade or more hating Comcast, while it was legally permissible to so do, I was pleased with my own patience in waiting while AT &T eventually built out their own infrastructure to deliver high speed everything and then jumped ship. I was very pleased; notice the tense of the verb.  

It seems to me that none of those in the new company fully grasped the vagaries of the calendar in planning the transition.  The cross fade happened at some point this past weekend. I’m a little fuzzy (yes, that was a mastodon reference, thank you for noticing) on exactly when, what with on-demand TV services “temporarily” not working (consistently through at least last night), and intermittent analog-like drop-outs on the TV signal that’s delivered digitally (I saw the van out front and a guy in brown shorts).

Smooth and suave are two words not used to describe the process anywhere in Connecticut. The anecdotes are universally painful with only the zip codes changing. It’s been an eloquent argument so far for the expansion of sock puppet theatre.

My personal favorite Welcome to the Seventies Moment was attempting  to pay my bill on line (as I have every month for the last two plus years). Yeah, this time not so much. Glad I was wearing pants with pockets so that I had someplace to put all the fun.

The website was being “upgraded” as of yesterday morning (when I last checked) and has been being upgraded for the last four calendar days. I called the toll-free number hoping to pay my bill, as outlined on the website, to learn that online payment is not possible “at this time” (as opposed to some other time, not actually defined in the message?).

The voice recording told me I would need to mail them a payment. Not sure why that couldn’t have been on the website instead of the “upgrade” statement, saving me and others no doubt (though egotist that I am, I only worry about other people in the abstract) four days. 

Which is how I came to be at the post office yesterday, purchasing stamps. Sure hope this effort to bring back the Seventies, the 1870's,  runs its course soon enough. I suspect they'll get it straight just in time for the next billing cycle because we're their customers now and as we learned in the last week, they can do anything they want to us. And will.    
-bill kenny

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Last Wednesday in October

If you haven't registered to vote, then the good news is that you can skip this space today and move on to the yard sales advertisements or the legal notices because I have no words for you.

Democracy is complicated and often messy and this year is no exception. Maybe the most sobering aspect for those who've chosen to absent themselves from the process is the belief  that voting doesn't immediately make our lives better.

That said, I'm not sure why you're content to live with the consequences of other people's choices, but if you're not troubled by your own lack of engagement and an absence of involvement in your own life and that of your community far be it from me to pass judgement on you, unless I just did.

For the rest of us, by this time next Wednesday, Election 2014 will be all over except for the lawn sign pulling up and collecting part of The Day After the End of the World because Our Candidate Didn't Win.

Except as we both know the world will not have ended (I admit to having no inside information confirming this but a conclusion based on statistical analysis of voter outcomes since the Founding of the Republic (and a wild guess)).

I'll admit our lawns probably needed the aeration the metal stakes on those campaign signs provided and they gave the wind this past weekend something else to blow around aside from all those fallen leaves.

If I could just as easily rationalize the sticky residue left behind on our cars and trucks from where we're removing those bumper stickers (unless we're poor sports), my life would be a little smoother.

Come to think of it, why the heck do we call them "bumper stickers" in the first place since most of us don't actually have chrome bumpers to stick anything on and so we end up attaching them to our back window or to the trunk or cargo hatch of whatever we are driving, somehow forgetting that what we are driving serves as a signal flare of our politics.  

I've read where political scientists (I have a sci-fi movie in my head whenever I think of a political scientist as someone in a lab coat mixing beakers containing the essences of an elephant with those of a donkey) are fearing for the future of our democracy because we the people seem to have lost both interest and faith in it, in nearly equal parts.

I don't pretend it's empirical data but I attended a number of forums, debates and conversations sponsored by all manner of civic organizations this election cycle and was never favorably impressed with the attendance.

Maybe there was a contest to see how many other things we could to do rather than attend, in which case it seems to me some of us won but ultimately all of us lost. Our elections may be free but we all pay for the results.

Don't be that person next Tuesday when the polls are closing who meant to vote but didn't find the ten minutes it takes to actually cast your ballot. Elections are about the future so make sure you have your say next Tuesday.

Too many people around the world would give their lives for what we have-far too many in this country have already sacrificed their lives so we can sit out election day because it doesn't make a difference. If you feel that way, you're right, it doesn't.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Made of Silver, Not of Clay

I took a vacation day yesterday-I'm doing this more and more often as I start to count down the days until I stop going to work (cynics would point out I stopped working years ago) not that I have a specific date in mind or a plan as to what I'll do with the rest of my life when I do.

I had a nice day to not have to go to work. It was a classic Autumnal Day in New England meaning that in light of the strong breezes we've had for most of the last week I no longer need to strain my neck looking up at the tree branches to see the colorful leaves, but, rather, can look on the ground where they all are now.

We have no trees on our property but we have plenty of leaves all over everywhere. If life were fair, in the summer we'd have shade from the same trees whose leaves we'll have to pick up eventually, but (as we both know) life isn't fair. Or South of Saginaw, as John Domanski used to say when we knew one another while assigned to Sondrestrom Air Base, Greenland.

I hate leaf blowers-I regard them as a more perfect symbol of America than a bald eagle. They are, to me, everything obnoxious that so many others around the world see when they look at us, and we're clueless as to the damage we're doing.

Leaf blowers make a large amount of noise, spew a huge amount of pollution into a shared environment and do not pick up any leaves at all, but blow them off our property and (usually) out into the street where they become every one's problem making for treacherous walking and driving in the dark and rain that ends so many of our already-shortened days this time of year.

I have two very large composting bins in our backyard and visit the Agway store to get the biologics to help decompose the fallen leaves (which I eventually gather up, though not today) and return them to the soil in the garden patch that our daughter has now taken over and works every year.

Yeah, the great mandela of life and all that jazz. I'll bet if I just stop typing I can hear Steve Perry.
-bill kenny

Monday, October 27, 2014

An Endorsement from a Recovering Knucklehead

I came across it originally on Facebook, Humans of New York.

It was love at first read and I've added the dot com site to my favorites and visit there often too, as well.

Don't get fooled by the title-the former part is more important than the latter though I do believe it could not have happening initially anywhere else in the world.

I also think that Brandon Stanton may have done more to improve the quality of life on this planet by himself than anyone else I can think of (Well, he has least improved my quality of life).

His celebratory affirmations of us as a species triumphant is in hardback, too, and I not only encourage you to buy it, I exhort and implore you.  If you follow his work then I'm telling you something you already know: we need more of him and more like him.

Everyday, starting today.
-bill kenny

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Gutenberg's Revenge

Yesterday afternoon I bought replacement ink cartridges for the printer connected to my computer (I'll pause while you process the idea of a fossil such as i owning a computer and, even more 1978ish, having a printer) because the ones in it were so dried out I thought I had invented a whole new way to create blank paper when running it through the printer.

For a mere $61.62 (my new Powerball number by the way), I bought cartridges with all three primary colors and an extra large black ink cartridge and felt quite pleased with myself. I then remembered that the printer I bought the cartridges for cost me $49.99.

Dear Hewlett-Packard, Lexmark, Epson, Canon and whatever other company makes printers: You need to get out of the printer business and start drilling for ink. If Johann Gutenberg had paid these kinds of prices back in his day, I'm not sure we would have ever had a New Testament and some of the Books of the Old Testament might have been more like pamphlets.

Now please stand, point your tablet cursors to page 104 and join your voices with ours as together we murmur and mumble our way through Onward Christian Shoppers.
-bill kenny

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Friday, October 24, 2014

Never Been to Spain

The days are getting shorter and the nights crisper here in Southern New England (how oxymoronic is that descriptive? I always expect someone to say ‘pahk yer cahr, y’all’ so I just typed it (and you read it out loud, right?)) though we’re still a long way I hope from requiring, as our friends Down Under might (in July), a three dog night.

Like Cory, Chuck and Danny, I, too, have never been to Spain nor have I been to Oklahoma. But I have followed from afar a truly original public life in public service as lived by Dr. Thomas Coburn, who doesn’t make house calls because of his day job, senior Senator from the state of Oklahoma.

As you’ve probably gleaned by reading this screed on almost any given day, I am not considered a Friend of the Republican Party, unless we’re talking the Roman Republic, and yet Senator Coburn, along with (the late) Jim Jeffords, (the once and future) Bernie Sanders and (more recently) Elizabeth Warren are my most favorite members of the United States Senate and notice, please, how two of them at one time called the Party of Lincoln home.

I have not so secret hopes that Sanders and Warren might join forces on the same ticket in pursuit of  the Office of the President of the United States in 2016-perhaps with a no-nonsense slogan like “what’s left to f*ck up?” Senator Coburn is bowing out after a very long career in Dodge City in the service of the people of his home state of Oklahoma and all the rest of us, too.

For quite some time he has been a voice in the desert crying out about what he sees as inappropriate extravagance, or waste. As he closes the chapter of his life that has photo views of the Potomac, he authors one last edition of his Wastebook (and I smile at the cover thinking of my brother Kelly, whose birthday it is today and his dislike of monkeys is beyond epic.)

How can a nation with the talent assembled at the National Science Foundation fear tomorrow when we’re engaged in life changing and affirming research such as teaching monkeys how to play video games and gamble. This, ISIL or ISIS or whatever your name really is, is why we’ll always triumph no matter how many bandannas without eye holes you wrap around your head or how tightly you wind them.

Speaking of whom, on page 45, is this eye-popper/head-shaker: “The State Department’s Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications (CSCC) is responsible for crafting the official online presence of the U.S. government on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter with the mission to counter the sophisticated propaganda machines of terrorist groups around the globe. This year, a portion of the $3 million taxpayers entrusted to CSCC was used to create the Think Again Turn Away Twitter account, which currently counts more than 2,000 tweets and 7,654 followers.”

I concede that’s 7,653 followers MORE than I have. But I’m going for quality, not quantity. So what does it matter?

Thursday, October 23, 2014

No Place like Gnome

Americans are a people possessed with and by wanderlust, said the man who travelled a quarter of the way around the world to find the person who completed him. But, if I may offer something to better explain, that wasn’t what I started out on the journey to do.

You’ve seen/read the news on this: Jeffrey Fowle is back in Ohio after a Gulag Intermezzo (of sorts) in North Korea. Terrific news for his friends and family and perhaps reasons to be cheerful for the loved ones of Matthew Miller and Kenneth Bae, both still guests of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

In much the same way as I don’t understand people who base jump, pet sharks, climb mountains or do all three at the same time while blindfolded, naked and on roller skates during a rain of locusts, I look more than askance at anyone who would journey to such a country.

I don’t pretend to know why any of them chose to travel there or to have understood, so far, what they did to earn themselves an extended stay, but however they’ve been making their travel arrangements, do yourself a favor and stay away from whomever they’re using. 

For me, both the guy who always needs a shave, and that snarky multi-colored gnome give me more than enough cause for pause (and when did it become too hard to say “cutting out the middleman” so much so that we now have a term, disintermediation (that no one on earth understands), to do this). And besides there’s a world full of places I would love to see, and whose People’s Republic didn’t make the list?       

In a world of unlimited possibilities, someone chooses to head towards a place where they make men’s suits out of poured concrete, where Spy vs Spy isn’t a Mad magazine feature but rather a meeting of  the Neighborhood Watch, and an optimist is someone who looks forward to when they can die.

With your fussin’ and a fightin’ won’t you get me to the rhyme?” Preferably without routing me through Chicago while my baggage travels direct to  Dallas.  
-bill kenny

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Not Middle Earth but Home

I would hope you are tiring of my insistence that there's more to Norwich than meets the eye, unless you insist on keeping your eyes closed (and if you do, having your mouth do likewise is okay, too).

As someone who's been around these parts for twenty-three years, but whose rest of his parts are considerably older than that, I can appreciate still being regarded as an enthused beginner with a more childlike than childish sense of enjoyment of the variety of activities within our city limits.

I especially enjoy discovering, as I did this past weekend, kindred spirits in terms of being NFH (Not From Here). Forgive my absence of modesty but I think we might be better off with a few more of us.

This weekend proved my point about a plethora of simultaneous, multiple and diverse interests (guess who got a thesaurus for his birthday? And I so wanted a brontosaurus) being addressed here in The Nine Mile Square (a great coffee table book from the late Bill Stanley that's just a small part of the informational materials at the Norwich Visitors' Center on the Norwichtown Green and if you haven't been there, it's not only for visitors from without Norwich but helpful to those from within).

Saturday I had the perfect excuse to visit The Lowthorpe Meadows, just a few steps behind the concrete constructs housing businesses over on Town Street on your way into the Norwichtown Historic District.

It's a bit bigger than 18 acres and I've heard it called a "cool, hidden place" and if your definition includes tiger swallowtail butterflies, deer and a pod of goldfinches you have most definitely come to the right place.

Saturday was a semi-annual clean-up and because the meadow meanderers are so good at picking up after themselves all year long, a volunteer like me had light work and an opportunity to enjoy steps around this absolute gem.

Before the weather turns even more autumnal, you should carve out an hour  and make it a destination, I promise you'll be delighted with yourself for taking a break from bustle and noise of the 21st Century.

Here are some other steps that pay dividends include the (only) twenty-six steps from Main Street down the stairs to the Otis Library basement. This past weekend was the Friends of Otis Library Book Sale, combining a chance to do good by financially supporting the folks who support Otis Library with a chance to feel good by gobbling up great bargains by the bagful.

One of the volunteers estimated there were at least 10,000 books offered at bargain basement (literally) prices. Sounds about right to me, especially on Sunday with a bag of books going for five bucks. I love doing good deeds, especially when I, too, get the immediate benefit.

These activities go on around here all the time; you just have to learn to look for them and grab your opportunity when you see it. Or you can complain about how there's never anything to do around here and feel good about feeling bad. Your choice.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Ishmael, Call Me Bullwinkle

As the autumn days grow shorter, the critters in our backyard get a little more frantic. We have cardinals, which is certainly more than the World Series can say, as well as Blue Jays, see previous attempt at humor, along with other birds like woodpeckers, titmouses (quite a lot of discussion eh?), sparrows and our favorites, the grey squirrels.

I went out about a month ago and bought a fifty pound bag of what turned out to be shelled peanuts, in pieces, which meant my wife had to rescue me (again) by unearthing two ancient squirrel feeder boxes that we could use for the "I love Pieces that aren't Reese's" contingent except..... it happens, most of the squirrels, and I think we're up to seven or more now (I don't like being accused of profiling but they do all look pretty the same so I'm not sure if I'm counting some more than once or if there are even more than I thought), like the shelled legume more than the already to eat version. Go figure.

There are times you can almost forget they are a wild animal, usually at the exact moment you're having second thoughts about having them take a peanut out of your hand. I've never had mad math skills, so help me out. It's five phalanges per hand, right? No doubt about it, I gotta get me a new hat.

-bill kenny

Monday, October 20, 2014

(Semi) Auto-Erotica

My wife and I have a new (to us) automobile. We have come a long way from Kasernenstrasse 2, in 1982 when we had (what else?) a 1973 Vokswagen Kafer, racing orange (which was in hindsight about the only thing racy about the car). I blew the engine up on a trip from Stuttgart to Munich less than two years later and I've never looked at another VAG product since.

Meanwhile, back in the here and now. We went to look at cars last Monday, on Columbus Day, hoping to discover (a terrible play on words) a replacement for our 2003 Subaru Forester XS that had a skosh over 188,000 miles on the odometer.

We got the Forester in February of 2006 a month or so before I had my left knee surgically replaced (I always type it like that as if there were another way that gets done) and I knew with a long rehab that shifting would be out of the question and the Mitsubishi Mirage people had advised me driving their vehicle in first only, instead of using all five forward gears, would do more than just void the warranty.

The Forester was the second Subaru vehicle we ever had-a Loyale front-wheel drive station wagon had preceded it at some time in the middle nineties and I had enjoyed driving that car immensely. The Forester proved to be as bullet-proof as the Loyale requiring no emergency repairs of any kind at anytime and aside from oil changes and other regularly scheduled maintenance blending into our lives perfectly.

In recent months (and years) small failings had started to add up (I fully expect these very same words to appear in my obit, so I'm treading carefully)-pieces of trim had come undone; some rust over a rear-wheel well had made itself known and the electrical connections from the driver's master console for windows and locks worked more fitfully than regularly.

Al at the car store (he told us they don't see 'dealership') had a very late model Forester in his lot, along with at least three of every other kind of car (except maybe Smart of which I saw one), and it was a nice ride but the car next to it caught my wife's eye and I loved the test drive in it. We made no decisions or promises, saying only we would get back to him.

After some discussions during the week and a stop by a really large Subaru dealership to discover nothing on the property that spoke to us, we headed back to the car store to tell Al yeah, let's do the Impreza to discover he was off but since the consultants don't work on commission, it wasn't like Nick was poaching when he helped us. After one more test drive we were sold and wanted to get the purchase process started figuring it would be a couple of days.

Make that a couple of hours. We drove our new (ish) car home that evening and I slept in the vehicle luxuriating in that new car smell for three days afterwards. I of course am exaggerating-it was a couple of hours at most. And despite being four wheel drive, and the house having really wide doors, Imprezas do not fit in the average kitchen. At least not the one in our house. Happy Motoring.
-bill kenny

Sunday, October 19, 2014

An Oasis without a Desert

Had an opportunity to help some across town neighbors at their semi-annual Lowthorpe Meadows clean-up. Even better, for me, was that since the folks who tend to wander in this 18 acres of open space in the Norwichtown district of Norwich pick up and clean up on a regular basis, there's not a lot the Christmas help like me have to worry about.

I've meandered the property on more than a few occasions, encountering a doe and her fawn (unless I witnessed a kidnapping and didn't realize it) but today it was fun to just enjoy the expanses of rushes, wild roses and other flora and fauna while sharing the company and conversation of Angus, Barb and Tim.

Actually not so much of the latter from Angus not because he's not sociable (he most certainly is) but because he's a dog. He's quite amiable and likes being scratched on the top of his head and under his chin (assuming that's what it's called on a dog). I didn't need my leberwurst aftershave to get along with him so it worked out well for me as well.

It was in all a nice way to spend a Saturday morning and still be home in time for noontime and the remainder of the weekend and another reminder to myself that every time I think I've built a big enough box to fit Norwich into, another aspect and angle, a different light and texture offers itself for inspection and enjoyment and I have to head back to that definition I'm building of where I live and start all over again. With pleasure and delight.

-bill kenny

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Extreme Unction at Dysfunction Junction

Couldn’t resist borrowing a pre-Vatican Council II name for a sacrament just because I liked the way it all rolled off my tongue (yeah, I know ‘this is typed’ but I read it out loud, sometimes swishing the words around in my mouth as if I were at a wine-tasting). Erratically elegant in an inarticulate speech of the heart way.

Funnily enough (though that rarely is true of the sentence that follows) using words to diffuse and obfuscate instead of to inform and enlighten is actually my point today.

I had a letter the other day from someone pretty important to me and my health care options with a nearly illegible signature (A.N. Palmer died for your sins, sir; Kelly, note the second line of the second paragraph) and a very long job title. Within that title, as but one of his responsibilities, is “Chief Transformation Officer.”

As you have undoubtedly concluded if you’ve visited this space before, I love words-their power, their majesty, actually everything about them I find intoxicating. The language of origin is hardly a matter of concern for me anymore because of the number of transliteration services at my fingertips’ keyboard (I didn’t type ‘translation’ because many are not) but I love the job title and have zero clue as to what it means.

I see Transformers when I look at it and my previous experience with the fellow’s organization leads me to wonder if I should think Autobot or Decepticon (I would hope I’m wrong but whoever authored the Wikipedia entry for the latter term will most definitely be living out his days on that pull-out couch in his mom’s basement.). Intending no disrespect I think you can put them both in a sack, hit the sack with a bat and you’d get the right one. But your mileage may vary (or transform for all I know).

Since most of my knowledge about All Things Transformer are animated cartoons on video cassette we had (and still have someplace though we lack a player for them) when Patrick, our son, was much closer to the floor than far away, I’m fuzzy on the distinction between AllSpark and AllAnythingElse (burn).

Of course, from my own childhood and catechism class are echoes of arguments about Transfiguration and Transubstantiation. Neither of which I suspect Mr. Executive Scribble would be especially anxious or interested in defining (or using in sentence unless and until the rate of reimbursement improves very dramatically). “And I translate into many hours of history…and nobody knows my name.” (or title)

-bill kenny 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Naming and Numbering the Beast

We are if nothing else very organized. Our social systems are fitted, one into the other, ever-expanding and ever-enlarging as we build a block, a neighborhood, a city, a state and, ultimately, a nation. We cannot begin until we have announced a beginning and sometimes we get into trouble for having a very poorly thought-out sense of what the ending is/should be/has become.

When I watched The Wall separating the two Germanys come down in what now feels like another life, the slaughter that was to follow in the Balkans was unimagined except by those most consumed with their cowardly hatred of “others.” That same thing was true for Islamic extremism in all the flavors that it comes in to include the current ISIL Sundae of Killing or attempting to, everyone who doesn’t worship as you do in exactly the same manner as you do.

I’ve watched news reports of ‘coalition air strikes’ trying to understand how fixed wing aircraft can ever hope to seize and hold territory since that hasn’t happened in the history of warfare (but today could be the day I suppose) and how those Iraqis betrayed by the cowardice of their own armed forces are being helped as they battle  in Anbar Province even as Kurds and other citizens of Kobane try to slow the murderous onslaught aimed like a dagger at their homes and hearths.

I’ve been calling this Last World War by a series of names that would cause my mom to cry were she to hear them, unless, as I suspect, she has similar ones that she’s spared my ears from learning. I think many of us here in the West have similar stories.

But now, good news as we can begin in earnest the task of attempting to stop these Holy-Moly Rollers, because the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces of the United States (a/k/a The Great Satan and/or The Crusaders; why not just call us The Great Satanic Crusaders and be done with it? Get the marketing guys in here and set up a test group) have decided this struggle is to be called Operation Inherent Resolve.  

Remembering Old Testament (I think) and Jonah in the belly of a whale, I cannot recall if there is somewhere in another Biblical passage anything about the futility of  negotiating with a shark, which is what I think this all comes down to now and for the foreseeable future.

It was Churchill, confronting Nazis across the English Channel, who offered “a fanatic is someone who cannot change his mind and who will not change the subject.” I believe had he met Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, he’d have amended his aphorism to include a recommendation to change the direction of the rotary blades and to replow (and then salt) the area in its entirety. What’s good enough for Hannibal….

Make no mistake; what’s to come will require more than Inherent Resolve. The world may not actually come to an end in The Levant, but I have no doubt you’ll be able to see it from there. 

-bill kenny

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Back in the Pyongyang Groove

I was relieved almost (though not quite) beyond words when The Boy Blunder, Kim Jong Un, was sighted earlier in the week doing whatever North Korean dictator types do (protecting the proletariat, safeguarding the means of production, exposing revisionist defeatists). All this time I thought Un was the loneliest number. Live and learn, not that they do much of either north of the 38th Parallel.

He’s a lot stockier than Waldo, though to compensate for that visual disadvantage I’d point out he dresses exactly like everyone else which can’t make the NSA spymasters happy when they’re doing bed checks. (Why is another matter entirely).

With so many folks on every side of The Great Divide watching him how’s the Pudgy One ever supposed to get some "me time" to kick back, maybe shoot a few hoops before Rodman’s next visit, learn to ballroom dance, or perfect a recipe that puts the ash in goulash or make rock soup that serves sixty.

Whatever effort was made to find him, you needn’t have bothered at all on my account. Where ever he was is just fine with me. And I can’t claim to feel reassured by the look on his face in the imagery I’ve seen. Last time I caught that facial expression somebody in the circus was chasing a headless chicken while spitting feathers. You’d wanna watch out for that dangerous smile.

-bill kenny   

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

The Ticking Grows Louder

I'm lifting weights at my gym this week getting into better shape while counting down the days to this weekend's Friends of Otis Library Book Sale, which begins Friday and goes through Sunday afternoon with a somewhat heavy heart and a not entirely clear conscience. I must confess as an enthused patron of past sales, my eyes have too often been bigger than my bookshelves.

By that I mean, I have bargains and treasures I was delighted to scoop up and pop into a bag and carry home where, all this time on, they have remained, unread. I think it might help me feel better if you stopped by the house and helped me catch up on some of this overdue reading; you'll want to check with my wife on that first, though.

Our house is pretty easy to find; I'm the guy living on the porch surrounded by books. Approach with caution. And remember if you can't take advantage of the Library's sale, don't blame a Literacy Volunteer.

Without meaning to sound like NASA, there's another countdown going on as well. There are only twenty-one shopping days left until Govmas 2014 which is what I am somewhat snarkily calling this year's gubernatorial election. During the initial weeks of the campaign, after the summer's nominating conventions, I admit it was nice to get mail that wasn't just a sales flier promising 20% off those size 44 Triple-E jump boots at Mercs R Us but then the rate and pace of campaign mailings picked up so much that I feared our postman would collapse under the burden.

I don't mean to single out just the candidates at the top of the ticket, there's more at stake this November than who rearranges the dining room furniture in the Governor's Mansion. Both houses of the State Legislature also have contracted moving vans that are circling the block. Just how many crews get to load and unload desks and file cabinets is an open question that you and I get to answer soon though not soon enough in my opinion.

This election cycle I'm seeing a lot more on-line advocacy for those seeking office-not necessarily a lot for more factual information, but a lot more chatter and boosterism.

Considering how rarely (at least in my lifetime) voter turnout is fifty, or forty or even thirty percent of the registered electorate, I welcome that kind of engagement and enthusiasm especially if it results in lines at the polls on Election Day. But slogans are not solutions and if your candidate's programs and proposals fit on a bumper sticker, my mama told me, you better shop around.

Tolkien once wrote, "not all who wander are lost." And despite the noise in this election season, a circle is not a direction (new or otherwise) and if you think I'm talking about your candidate, I probably am.

We have under three weeks to stop posturing and to begin making reasoned and reasonable choices like the Top of the Food Chain species we purport to be. Tomorrow is far too important to allow less than informed voters to decide it for us.
-bil kenny

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Only Just a Moment and the Moment's Gone

Yesterday seven years ago I started pushing this stone up the hill. Not only has the hill gotten steeper, the stone has gotten slicker and I sometimes wonder if it's stubborn or stupid of me to press my efforts. I blog therefore I am, Vescere bracis meis, Descartes (and the ergo sum you rode in on). 

I had some thoughts about this petty pace some time back and since nearly all of my original thoughts seem to die of loneliness, I hope they bear repeating below which as I understand it is not protected by the Second Amendment which is always wildly popular during Election season. 

I've written 2,562 entries (actually one less than that because I didn't write one the day we buried my Uncle Jim in Maryland). It started as a scream to prove my existence but I was also afraid some one would discover I really had nothing to say. So far, so good. So what? I understand enough of the world and the technology that drives it to appreciate I was yelling theater in a crowded fire and might very well happen to catch the eye and ear of those whose native tongue is other than my own. Maybe I read better then, right? (a boy can dream)

I make no apologies for or to you if you have stopped by. I appreciate the notes that crop and pop up either here at the bottom of the page or via an email link that I still don't understand (I am consistent) but a suggestion like 'walk east until your hat floats' isn't especially useful since while I occasionally wear a Kickers ball cap, more often than not, I'm bare-headed (and mostly bald-headed).

My point, though not at precisely this moment, is I write this for me. It is therapeutic, perhaps equal parts Jung and Fromm (more hopefulness in the latter) or maybe not. I'm not sure I'm the one who can tell. I visited with a doctor to help reassemble pieces and parts of my life, who suggested I didn't really like myself. I was thrilled as he and I finally had something in common. (I'll use any excuse to have pudding and pie.)

This space serves as the wall against which I fling handfuls of, well, you can guess what I fling and no matter what you choose, you'd be right. But make sure you're wearing gloves should we meet because I like to shake hands. And if you are, I'll try to lick the side of your face, because that's how I roll (over and fetch).

I've gone back and looked at this stuff from the start through here and now. It must be artistic or autistic because I don't get it. Would that I did and pretty arrogant of me to then hope/assume it would mean something to you. That does sound like me, to be honest. I think 'sound' is the operative word.

Having spent most of a lifetime in people's cars and houses, barracks and dormitory room, as well as the occasional knast (JVA Stadelheim and Marchy and Magnus come to mind) on and in the radio, I'm used to working things out in a semi-private manner, more because I have to than because you want me to. And the beauty of radio over face to face is when you give up and walk away, I don't know it and continue on like that proverbial tree in the forest.

The bigger the world has gotten in scale and scope the more intimate it has become through connectivity that was created for other reasons but upon which I have now hitched my wagon. I started writing this because I had no voice where I lived and even less where I worked. I had, like so many of us, freedom of speech as long as I didn't use it. I was Powderfinger and discovered I wasn't alone in feeling that way, but so few were willing to raise their voices, much less the alarm, when everything that made us us started to get stripped away. Red means run and numbers add up to nothing.

In my part of the enchanted forest, we were being rendered invisible and if I learned nothing from my father, and the jury's still very much out on that, I learned to wield words as weapons that could wound and hurt those who would harm mine. "Let the bastards thrive, for all I care. Since I can do nothing to stop them except embarrass them by running away." Ne ingrediens bastardnis-do NOT let the bastards grind you down. I certainly never do.

It should be sobering, seven years after starting to clean out the stables, there's still as much once processed equine output as there is everywhere. This is where my sister, Evan, says 'don't blame Bentley!' and I'm not. Most, far too much, of it comes from the biped variety. I live in a target-rich environment and so do you. We can complain or we can clean up but we can't do both, at least not at the same time. I've opted for the latter.

I've chosen, macro and micro, to witness who we are and how are with one another when we think no one is watching (actually, especially when we think no one is watching). I'm not better than others because I know I'm fatally flawed (that would make me the tallest dwarf). When I say I do not forget, I don't mean I'm single minded (though I am two-faced).

I'm eidetic and cannot forget. I remember everything that has ever happened to me, who was there, what they wore, what they said and most importantly what they did (and didn't). When I say I don't forgive, that's when I'm vengeful and vindictive. I have over six decades of scores, real and imagined, to settle, as futile as that really is. Leave it to God? Please. He crucified His own Son-He could care less about my injuries.

For the kindness of your company these seven years, I thank you. I wasn't always aware you were here, when you arrived or when you left. Thank you nevertheless. I suspect I was not the best company but you're not all that surprised, since you knew that when you picked me up. 

I started this as a cyber shout to prove how different I was and have, to this juncture, more often celebrated how similar we are. I think that part has been mostly your doing, and thank you for that as well. Maybe after another seven years, we could have an itch or perhaps investigate a group pony ride. Who's in charge of saddles?
-bill kenny

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Rape of Paradise as a Holiday

When we were kids, Columbus Day was a big deal. In New York City the Department of Public (almost dropped the L off that; awkward) Works used to paint the white line on Fifth Avenue purple for the annual parade that was always held on the real date of the holiday, October 12. 

In light of so much I, as a man of sixty-two now, know that as a boy of twelve I didn't about the Rape of Paradise which ensued after Columbus' arrival, it is very possible blood red might have been a better choice of colors. 

When I was a kid, all I ever cared about was the day off, just like kids across the country. We all recited the rhyme because that's how we knew what we did know about Columbus and since there wasn't a snappy couplet about genocide we didn't hear anything about that aspect of discovering the New World (I also don't remember the Arakawa natives part but some of the little gray cells have had some rough days). 

Looking at the world as it is and how all settlement and civilization has developed, I'm not sure it's just Old Chris we should be putting in the defendant's docket and charging. I'm thinking a look in the mirror as well as a glance out a window might increase our catch significantly.

And to compound the cacophony of facts clashing with opinions is the realization that not only did Columbus not discover the New World, he wasn't the first. We've spent hundreds of years observing an historical event that is neither historic nor an actual event. Sort of like being the second skinniest at fat kid summer camp.

And now, as it's the dot on the "i" in Monday holiday, we have another excuse (and sale opportunity) to buy bedding or is that just me in the last couple of days? Sandwiched between the 'My candidate is on the special advisory committee to Gawd while yours eats bugs" commercials have been a steady stream of ads selling mattresses. I'm not sure there's any more of a connection of one to the other than there was to India from Bermuda back in the day. 

Speaking of which, you have to cross an ocean from a basement warehouse at Bertramstrasse 6 in Frankfurt am Main to get to a certain city in Ohio. All I know for sure is such a journey can take decades and cost you more than you ever believed you could pay when you first started. But it's worth every penny, for your thoughts and otherwise.        
-bill kenny

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Even a Stopped Clock Is Right Twice a Day

I hate to brag (actually like many I love to brag but I hate to get caught seeming to enjoy it) but when Malala Yousafzai was named as recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday becoming the youngest person in its history to be so honored, I was not surprised, unless we allow her not having received it last year.

Here's a little something I wrote in July of 2013. I really like being right. 

A Day in the Life

I slept in yesterday like I haven't in well over a decade or longer. Usually I'm up with the chickens (actually most mornings I get them up) but yesterday morning I stayed in bed and slept until after nine.

I blew off the elliptical and all the other early morning machinations I subject myself to and slept in. I was tired and, truth to tell, I got up tired even as I struggled to make myself a cup of coffee (insert bad 'old magician's joke' here).

The better of our two local newspapers had all local news on its front page perhaps in the belief that anyone with a wider view of the world and a matching desire to know what the hell is going on in it has an Internet connection.

That's as may be, said the man whose words you are at this moment reading via just such a connection, but I think the broader the canvas the easier it is for each of us to find and see her/his own context. But I digress.

It was on page A2, "Nation" that I learned of the denouement of that gripping hostage story in Colorado about the bear cubs. Right up there with the skateboarding dog and the water-skiing squirrel stories. And people toiling in mass media outlets wonder why we don't take them seriously. I'm thinking it's because we can't.

While I had slept Friday evening into nearly Saturday afternoon, someone decided a report on Malala Yousafzais' address to the United Nations was only worthy of page four, bottom, above the border advert and with a small, but color, photo.

Don't snicker other newspaper that is allowed in my house, but only because my wife likes you--you had NOT one word about her. Malala Yousafzais is the sixteen year old Pakistani school girl whom the cowards in Allah's S.W.A.T team, the Taliban, attempted to murder by shooting her in the head because she committed the crime of going to school.

She lived. Which should tell the wide-eyed weirdos just how their God feels about all the crimes they commit in His name but the religious holy moly rollers and whackjobs of all persuasions never do the math.

Her words should have been on the front page of every newspaper on earth and in the frontal lobe of every sentient human being. You be the judge.  
Now, I'm awake.
-bill kenny

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Everything in Balance

I was off yesterday and with nothing better to do on an autumn New England day, I invested two and half hours that I shall never get back in having the tires on our Forester XS rotated.

I had it done where I bought the tires, where I've gotten tires on every vehicle I've ever owned (except the Goodyear tires with the channel in the middle nearly twenty years ago for the Loyale station wagon we had at the time) and where I get a really good deal when I purchase tires.

I gotta tell ya, a hundred and fifty minutes for something that takes about fifteen minutes sort of steams me. A lot. I knew going over there it would be a while and despite the realization if would take forever, I was still semi-rip$hit that it did.

I appreciated the guy suggesting I might want to take a walk or get a coffee and check back. He even asked for my cell phone so he could text me when the car was finished (we were wildly optimistic about this stuff yesterday morning across town, let me tell you).

I don't just walk. I walk. And I got a good piece of my daily ten thousand steps in just hiking around the parking lot which bounds the mall that houses a variety of businesses to include the tire place. I should be grateful for the assistance and I guess I am.

On one of the laps around the lot, shortly after passing the fitness center, I spied a portly gentleman who had no business wearing the work-out togs he had on, complete with a knock-off Tough Mudder head band, heading towards me. In each hand was a large, and I do mean large, bag of fast foodstuffs clutched tightly in those chubby little mitts of his.

I'd liked to have his nerve in my tooth. As we crossed and made eye contact he asked me if I could give him a hand opening the door to the gym. I guess he was afraid to break the rhythm of his french fry dead lifts and those Big Mac arm curls.
-bill kenny

Friday, October 10, 2014

Don’t Let the Bad Guys Win

You might need a scientific calculator, or if you prefer a slide-rule, maybe to figure all the angles and dangles on today’s twisted tale. It doesn’t even start here except for the part that does.

Lee, whom I knew a very long time on another continent, lives about halfway across the state from me. The state, if I haven’t mentioned it recently, isn’t Incredulity but, rather, Connecticut, The Land of Steady Habits and nasty gubernatorial campaigns (the two principal candidates battling this fall at times seem to excel in putting the goober into gubernatorial). But that’s not the point, though it is a point. 

Some time back, Lee, who in addition to being a master of all forms of digital media is also a talented guitarist, shared with me some music he had from a sort of local to him recording studio, Dirt Road.

I’m not sure if it’s once a month or once a quarter or Blue Moon, but it’s pretty regularly scheduled and very reasonably priced, you can spend most of a Sunday afternoon enjoying whomever is working on music that they are willing to share in live performance. Lee is a somewhat frequent flier and I keep telling myself I should really try it as well, and maybe someday I shall.

One of the cluster of musicians Dirt Road Studios has been working with is Last of the Barstools, LOTB, on a transatlantic basic from the United Kingdom. I’ve been addicted almost since first listen to their EP, Stories from Somewhere and my course of self-treatment is to wait in hope for a full-length long player or whatever the kids call a real CD these days while continuing to listen to the EP (or whatever that is called these days).

I’m hopeful of progress because there’s new material popping up in a number of places, to include this toe-tapper (it could be) that’s blossoming on YouTube and to which I hope you’ll lend me your ears. I’m not sure if I told Lee about LOTB, if he told me or if each of us just figures the other already knows. You’ve got the calculator so you do the math.

If you play your cards right some day in the not too distant distance perhaps, we’ll all pile into the clown car and motor up to Chester, which has a scenic and pocket-sized downtown that makes me smile even though I have to drive very slowly unless I’d like a resident as a hood ornament. 

Hopefully it’s a Sunday when they’re hosting visitors or this could get awkward and it will be even gooder if we catch the Last of the Barstools. Despite the name we will, however, still have to stand if they play the national anthem.

-bill kenny

Thursday, October 9, 2014

They Say It’s Your Birthday

As celebrations go, it’s not quite in the league of pony rides (in my estimation), but on the other hand it ain’t hay either. Forgive me my puckish sense of humor (a hockey homage dedicated to my brothers who bleed Rangers’ blue) but I suspect today I can dig a pony (saddle sold separately), to Sean Lennon who cannot be surprised at all the brouhaha attached to his Dad’s natal anniversary, but is probably really tired of hearing the song rendered as “Happy Birthday to you, too.”

I’m old now but when I was barely more than a child, The Beatles invented rock and roll; at least for me. I could type forever or until someone pried the keyboard from my cold, dead hands, and still not have run out of words to offer about each of them, all of them and life before and after they arrived on the American Scene and helped make rock and roll the music the whole world listened to.

If the murder of JFK and The Beatles’ landing at the airport honoring the slain US President marked the end of the Age of Post-War II Exuberance and Innocence, Lennon’s murder a little more than a quarter of a century later in the city he called The Capital of the World, shattered the soundtrack of every Baby Boomer who came of age while that whole movie was being made.

The digital releases are a great way to commemorate the music of the man who was John Winston Lennon. Listening to and attempting to live up to the intent of many of his lyrics as well as to those of The Beatles is a tremendous way to celebrate today and every day of the rest of our lives.

-bill kenny     

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Telling the Story of History

Michael Crichton, he of Jurassic Park fame, once offered, "(I)f you don't know history, then you don't know anything. You are a leaf that doesn't know it is part of a tree."

Perhaps it is the advent of Autumn accompanied by the shifting of the seasons or all the events slated across the region this month for Walktober that's helped create the coincidence of timing that resulted in The Norwich Heritage and Visitors' Center in the 1783 Daniel Lathrop Schoolhouse at 69 East Town Street on the Historic Norwichtown Green.

The important word in that sentence is historic because when you're as old as Norwich is, you end up surrounded by so much everyday history it is often too hard to see. I was going to offer a cliche about not seeing the forest the trees but decided to leaf well enough alone.

For at least a decade and a half people in and across the city have talked about historic tourism with fitful progress, at best, made to formulate and implement a plan while also fashioning the tools to develop and deliver the story of us.

With the opening of the Norwich Heritage and Visitors' Center, we may finally be starting on that journey of self-discovery, though cynic that I am, it's not beginnings that get us into trouble around here, it's middles and endings.

The Center opened as an information hub for Walktober happenings last week and will be open all month long, Wednesday through Sunday from nine in the morning until three in the afternoon.

There's a lot more going on inside those brick school house walls than Walktober; it's chockful of brochures, magazines, books, displays, presentations and knowledgeable volunteers on just about everything and anything in Norwich you'd like to know.

And talk about a terrific setting. What I enjoyed when I stopped in last Saturday was yet another opportunity to savor the Norwichtown Green even on a rainy day. The Green, as you probably know, was Norwich's original settlement in 1659 after the land was purchased from the Mohegans.

Many of the houses across the historic district, most especially lining the Green itself, are hundreds of years old and it felt like walking through a page (maybe a chapter is more accurate) of Colonial history, as I stopped in at the Old Burial Grounds up around the corner from the Center.

The Lathrop Schoolhouse, which hosts the Center, itself benefited not that many years ago from the helping hands of neighbors just down the street and around the corner at Nutmeg whose staff donated materials and expertise to help add modern amenities to one of the earliest brick school houses still standing in Connecticut.

As important as The Visitors' Center is, perhaps more importantly is what we intend to do next, both with it and our history and heritage for which it can serve as a gatekeeper. As Winston Churchill once said, "(T)he farther backward you can look, the farther forward you are likely to see."
-bill kenny

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The View from Moot Point

Today's electronic scribble is of value actually only for me. Sorry how that works out for you. And when I say ‘value’ I think I mean therapeutic only.

I’m watching a situation develop that I can neither stop nor steer and to make it more frustrating for me, I’ve been told in no uncertain terms to “be careful what you type” a warning with just an undertone of menace which is not the best way in the world to recruit me for your cause but recruitment is about as far from the goal as imaginable.

I remember the first time I read Joseph Heller’s brilliant first novel Catch-22, while I was an undergraduate at Rutgers University (#CHOPMICHIGAN #WOULDTHATWEHADTHESAMEENTHUSIASMFORANEWCHEMLAB), strange how jocks still rule, and thinking it was the funniest book I’d ever read.

Forty years later (#!!), the humor is a little thin as the wisdom “Catch-22 says we have the power to do to you anything you do nothave the power to stop us from doing” fills up the room, displacing all the oxygen while making the art of breathing impossible.

Except, as it turns out, that’s the point, leaving me to remember Ben Shahn and ‘you have not converted a man because you have silenced him.’
To be continued? absolutely.

-bill kenny 

Monday, October 6, 2014

When a Smell Is Actually a Scream

Yesterday was okay-I'll-cut-the-grass-and-hope-it's-the-last-damm-time-this season-that-I-have-to in my neighborhood. All of us were out doing it mainly because we had run out of weekend to put it off and were already out of rainy, junky weather that prevented us from doing it earlier in the week when we came home from work.

I'll take mowing the lawn to shoveling snow even if I use a snow thrower to handle it. I already know that when I can stop worrying about cutting the grass what season is upon me next. Ugh.

We have a lunar eclipse later this week so I'm assuming, pessimist that I am, that it will be day when we have cloudy skies and rain all day. No real reason why we should except I know we will. In case we do, I found this article and very nice photo from same web site on the other side of the International Date Line which is why they keep talking about tomorrow as if it had already happened.

Never managed to catch an eclipse, either lunar or solar, with Pink Floyd blaring in the background though I'm thinking this one might be worth trying. I always get confused as to which side is dark as that's the one I don't want to cut the grass on as it's too hard to see.
-bill kenny

Sunday, October 5, 2014

All Middle Class and Gray

I took a call at work the other day from someone with whom I had worked about twenty years ago before he moved on to greener pastures (I almost typed acres but then I’d have owed Eddie Albert money). 

Considering his luck had run out he was a surprisingly good sport about having to speak with me and we had a better-than-pleasant conversation which as my family will tell you is about as good as it gets.

It was only after I’d hung up and basked briefly in the warmth of our mutual remembrances that I realized I worked with no one in the building where I have my office or anywhere in any of the other fourteen buildings on what I call a ‘campus’ with whom I could joke about the renewal of old acquaintances as there is no one among the hundreds (and more) of colleagues who has been here as long as I have.   

Egad. Without ever planning it, and most certainly never intending it, I am now that guy. Y’know that old dude who was here way back when. Hey you kids! Get off my lawn! Yep. I remember there was a time when we used to have to wear shoes and pants and learned to swallow or drown while quenching our thirst at the water fountain. Those were the days, Mary Hopkins.

It is possible my memories have been adversely affected (slightly) by repeated experimentation with mushrooms, one of my more youthful indiscretions. Or not. (I meant the adversely part). I took a look in the mirror one workday morning since then and realized the mug in the mirror is now a geezer which means on this side of the looking glass, Alice, we have problems bigger than your hat size.

I decided years ago to trade being functional for decorative only to have more recently discovered that decorative is now a physical impossibility for me. And quite a cross to bear for everyone else. 

Somewhere along the line, the goals and achievements I’d set and desired for myself have been stripped away and I’m left to my own devices in striving to be the only thing utterly beyond my control and nearly the same distance from my comprehension, the last of the steam-powered trains

Thank goodness Mom didn’t name me Thomas.

-bill kenny

Saturday, October 4, 2014

The Best Thing One Can Do when It Rains…

I’ve been so distraught over the continuing leak of naughty photos of high profile actresses that I’d almost forgotten about the bigger world. I mean, let’s face it, that there more topless images of Kim Kardashian, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy is more than a bit surprising considering the subject (clothed candids might be more of a rarity).

And don’t get me started on Hope Solo. Actually, the only surprising thing for me is how people allow themselves to get talked into this type of behavior and situation but never expect it to end unpleasantly.

Meanwhile, half-way around the world, the Arab Spring (of 2013) which was a headline here in the Land of the Round Door Knobs for about forty-five minutes way back when has had an echo in the splash of color in the monotone cloth of conformity that Hong Kong is to the People’s Republic of China as tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of people have taken to the streets demanding the right to have democratic processes we here who do have them have allowed to wither away from neglect and disinterest.

As Cold War Kids we called mainland China Red China even as our parents demanded Washington D. C. ‘unleash Chiang Kai-Shek’ which, with a half-century of hindsight, ranks with Dick Cheney’s assurance the Iraqi people would greet US troops as liberators as bleary-eyed, drunken optimism.

All the elements for a Greek tragedy are moving into place as the irresistible force camps out in the streets of the immovable object. One party in this disagreement already has all the experience anyone could ever need in not only crushing dissent but in power-washing the remnants of peaceful protesters from between tank treads. Happy Silver Anniversary.

If that language upsets you, you probably need to stick to leaked nudies of Kate Upton as a staple in your news feed rather than become angry at what the Chinese government will most definitely do to its own people while we watch, or perhaps because they know all we’ll do is watch.       

I’m thinking of Bob Dylan’s The Times They Are A-Changin’ and the flood waters of inevitable alterations yet to come in a society signaling dissent with an umbrella never realizing no single drop of rain feels itself responsible for the flood which follows.

-bill kenny

Friday, October 3, 2014

Sometimes We Do Win

Today is Friday here in Everybody's Gone Surfin', Surfin' USA but in Germany today, this is a big deal, den Tag der Deutscher Einheit (Day of German Unity).

I lived in West Germany as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics joined innumerable failed nation-states on the dust heap of history and, in stunningly short order after that happened, the Warsaw Pact held a going out of business sale and did.

A good friend from back in those days, Roger, shared a terrific article that I hope you'll find the time to peruse so that you can experience through the eyes of an elected West German leader who grew up in a 'house divided' what feelings and emotions he had at that time, and today, looking at the carnage in the Crimea, and what he fears could happen next on a continent he very much loves.

Roger and I worked together in the same place for quite some time back then and though we had gone in different directions some time earlier, in a way we both wound up returning to the Land of Boundless Opportunities (click the speaker to hear what Germans call our country and remember some of the things we have called ourselves in the years gone by) because of the seismic shifts that happened in Europe as a result of the Fall of the Wall and reunification.

Today is Germany's birthday. Herzlichen Gluckwunsche und alles gut. I have a ton of memories from the run-up to this day and know that for many on both sides of what once was a border, hearts are filled with mixed emotions of what was lost but what has been gained.

I'd hope Vlad the Impaler is able to catch some of the festivities on Eurovision from his Dacha of Domination on the black Sea or wherever the feckless b*stard is while his minions toil and terrorize in the Ukraine.

Whatever gains you have, buddy, be advised they're short-lived because when you win, only you win; but when we win, so does everyone else. Ask Honecker and his bright red harmonica. Gl├╝ck auf! (You'll need it)
- bill kenny