Sunday, November 30, 2014

Wotta Waste of a Weekday

Not sure how your day after Thanksgiving went. In these parts we had enough folks do the Black Friday Mamba that I'd be amazed to learn there was anything left on the shelves to sell for the rest of the season.

Except as we both know, there is and there will be. This is the first year I saw references to Grey Wednesday, that is, the day before Thanksgiving which has now been rolled up into the orgy of commerce we have instead of afters and coffee following the turkey.

What better way to burn off those calories, I guess, than to wrestle other folks in lines snaking around buildings waiting for them to open up so we can save yet another 10% on a self-actualizing toaster or a left-handers only electric toothbrush. Seems like quite the good idea but we skipped it.

Here's what we did, again, in Norwich Connecticut. For the 23rd annual time (though I have a memory of it being rescheduled one year because of the ludicrously cold weather, but that might just be the root beer talking). Neighbors entertaining neighbors, mostly to pass the time and tell each other it's not as chills as it feels until we light City Hall.

And then, at least I believe it's true, we spend most of the remainder of the holiday season holding one another's gaze a little longer, smiling a moment sooner as we pass by one another and being a skosh more sincere as we wish one another the best of the holiday. Long after the warranty on that bargain blender has lapsed we'll have the shadow of a smile.
-bill kenny

Saturday, November 29, 2014

So Who Will Play Jane's Role

Back when my hairline wasn't closer to the top of my head than it is far away, I became a short-lived Michael Sarrazin movie fan. That's actually almost a complete and perfect lie except that it's incomplete and flawed.

I only remember two movies he was in that I saw, The Reincarnation of Peter Proud, which was simply creepy, and a film he made with Jane Fonda, They Shoot Horses Don't They?

I was thinking of the latter movie the other day when my brother Adam shared this news item.  He offered this observation on what might be perceived as a 'revolting development.' He's not too far off the mark. In much the same way as scientists believe that cockroaches will survive a nuclear holocaust, I've always believed they'll be showering in Bud because I cannot imagine what else you'd want to do with it.

I've never really held posers in high regard even when I struggled to be one, but there's some sort of cosmic justice in play here when a beer that stole its name from one from across the ocean and then outhustled and outmuscled it on these shores in terms of promotion, distribution and sales gets tripped up by boutique brews.

I'm thinking my chances of a pony ride for my birthday just improved quite dramatically because the pool of available equestrian transportation just expanded exponentially.

I'm puzzled as to the New in the new Bud (same as the old Bud?) especially its bouquet since I always thought the Clydesdales had as much to do with the taste as they did with the delivery.
-bill kenny

Friday, November 28, 2014

Need vs. Greed

We did not clear the table yesterday after our Thanksgiving meal and rush out to the mall. If you did I will strive to NOT sound judgmental and will probably fail (part of the inheritance as TOC (The Oldest Child) is a tendency to both hector and lecture where simple conversation should suffice).

I was very grateful yesterday to have the people I most love in my life at our table. Sigrid, Michelle, Patrick (and Jenna)-a whole lot more than I had when this little Carney show started sixty-two plus years ago. My Mom moved to Florida years ago because of her allergies to Jersey snow and all my brothers and sisters and their loved ones had, I hope, fine holidays even if some have challenges ahead that may make some previously rough times seem halcyon by comparison.
And I hope your Thanksgiving was wonderful as well. Which is why I'm biting my tongue if you succumbed to the siren sales song last night and hit those Big Box Stores and saved an additional 45.6% on Size 44 Triple-E jump boots. After all, you cannot have too many of them (where did you think we would get those boots on the ground we're not putting down in Syria and Iraq?)

My sense of irony goes into overload when we had a day to celebrate that for which we were most grateful and we capped it off by rushing out to gather more material possessions. Soon we'll need to get bigger houses, as George Carlin observed decades ago, to keep all this new stuff in.

The construction trades should appreciate the boost in demand, if no one else. And all those new chimneys will mean Santa is even busier and will need to hire more elves to make more stuff we rush out to buy even earlier on Thanksgiving Eve.

And round and round goes the gossip. Maybe somebody can create a Pita pocket filled with turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce that we can take with us as we hit the road for the Big Sale. Push comes to shove, we can keep it in the cup holder and knosh on it as we hope to score a balsa wood catamaran the kids are all so crazy about in the Big Mall Giveaway. Good luck!
-bill kenny

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Grateful for Each Hand We Hold

In honor of the warmed-up and recycled succulents we'll enjoy at odd moments for the next couple of days after the dining table is finally cleared today, here's some Thanksgiving notes I offered a few years back. And for the record, that's real stuffing not Stovetop. Just sayin'.

Maybe where you live the preparations are already underway. We're borrowing chairs from neighbors who were planning on borrowing them from us. A search party to locate card tables has been formed, place has been cleared for the kids' tables and the aromas already emanating from the kitchen are causing mouths to water.

Thanksgiving may be the only holiday in America where many of us become, if just for the day, math majors as we try to compute how many hours how large a turkey needs to be in the oven at how many degrees so that it can feed a houseful of family and friends we've invited to join us for dinner. And let's not forget how many side dishes and who's bringing what--all important elements on our national Day of Thankfulness.

No matter how rough times have been leading up to this week, and for a lot of us they sure have been tough, we still make that extra effort as we put a smile on a care-worn face and enjoy the warmth of home and hearth.

Let's face it, the smiles have been in short supply in recent years as times turned bad and then stayed that way. Many of us have seen local businesses fade and then close and neighbors move on and away in search of something more than we have right here, right now. And in those households still here, a lot of us are doing a little more with a little less than we did last year.

Despite what you may think, we're the fortunate ones. When you talk to those who help out at food pantries and kitchens such as Saint Vincent de Paul Place, they'll tell you how the need is again greater this year than it was last year and we all remember how last year too many were in need of too much.

We already knew that. The army is stretched thin-in this case, I mean the Salvation Army, which has been deployed with its red kettle and ringing bell for more than a few days and who'll use anything you can spare and share. So thanks in advance for your generosity.

And while the big headlines on newspaper front pages in recent weeks scream about the legislative Armageddon to come in Washington DC in January, closer to home, many of us whisper and worry about the cost of heating oil and a winter that has yet to arrive.

On a brighter note, Saturday at one is the Winterfest Parade followed by Light Up City Hall. The parade kicks off at Chelsea Parade, and concludes in what, for decades, was the heart of downtown Norwich, Franklin Square. From there, it's a short walk for all the activities planned around an afternoon near City Hall capped at six (ish)when Santa himself illuminates the building.

Ready or not, the holidays are here and as we gather family and friends closer to celebrate, and hopefully in the rush and crush of events we can remember strangers are friends we haven't yet met and light up a life the way we'll light up City Hall as we give one another hope when we celebrate Thanksgiving.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Giving Thanks and Just Giving

I'll write in short sentences since you probably have a lot to do today and not a whole lot of time to do it all in.  It's a lot of First World Problems to solve for the most part.

For those of us not picking up or dropping someone at the airport who's flown in/flying out to be part of the Thanksgiving holiday, there's the annual trek to the grocer for the 'things we forgot to get for the feast' shopping expedition. Taking care of the little things counts in life and in holiday dinners.

I've been told it's how the Donner Party met their untimely end, near the sweet potatoes in the produce section. For me, the 'how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?' question always comes down to: cranberries, jellied or berries?
I never get it right.

Talk about not seeing the forest for the trees. While I'm standing struggling with what is truly a trivial concern, I'm somehow not seeing those around me who would trade my troubles for theirs in less time than it takes to read this sentence.

This is the time of year we celebrate our good fortune, in a vaguely historical homage to the Pilgrim's Progress that we can't quite explain. That's probably because we get it wrong. The First Thanksgiving was really an act of generosity by those who had with those who did not.

We think of The Pilgrims when we think about Thanksgiving but it's the Native Americans who sustained them and helped those ill-equipped settlers adapt and overcome whom we should be honoring and emulating.

I pass by at least a half-dozen collection points every day where donations for those whom we call 'the less fortunate' are being assembled. People who need our help are not less fortunate-they are our neighbors and in some instances family and friends.

These are hard times in the land of plenty and if you thought the last half a decade was rough as America struggled with recession/depression, try being a family that didn't have very much to start with when the fecal material hit the ventilator.

This time of year, and more so now than last year and way more than the year before that, agencies and organizations that work with the invisible poor we chose not to see are nearly overwhelmed by the requests for help.

Ask the St. Vincent de Paul Place about how many (more) hot meals they're preparing for the holidays and how many new food pantry customers they have. We can all name a church or a school organizing a winter coat drive and this is the time of the year I suspect the Connecticut Food Bank receives the largest number of donations, which is all well and good assuming hunger is a holiday thing, except it's not.

Tomorrow when you're with friends and family enjoying the food and festivities at home, after the feasting please go on line and find an agency someplace doing good and donate so they can do better.

How much should you give? Until it helps.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Remember what the Dormouse Said

The other day I stumbled across something and immediately shared it on Facebook that made me smile, and wince, in equal parts and simultaneously, “skinny jeans are easier to obtain than skinny genes.”

I long ago abandoned drainpipe trousers for relaxed fit jeans (so named because Big Butt didn’t test well with the marketing folks, I guess) and recognize that I’m right in the middle of the “surrender the things of youth” portion of the maturation process. I actually cheated to a certain extent, growing old without ever growing up.

Then I fell across this article buried in a Google news summary and am weighing whether or not to renew my gym membership. Kidding of course as this item, I’m surmising, may be quite a while yet in development before it’s generally available (by prescription I’m guessing), though none of that stopped any of the commentators who posted beneath the story from not only knowing everything but knowing everything better.

It was Evelyn Beatrice Hall, and not Voltaire, who offered “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Had she lived to see the trolls, worms and gnomes of the Internet she might have added, “but never mind.” 

I enjoy watching how one comment sets another different anonymous stranger off on a tangent until within five or six postings the comments and observations have NOTHING to do with the news item whose appearance originally precipitated the discussion and EVERYTHING to do with the intelligence (and lack thereof) of the previous poster.

Between knock-knock jokes and cat memes, we’re chewing up bandwidth like it’s going out of style and don’t seem to have managed to make anyone of us a whole lot smarter which, considering we have the keys to the universe in our hands, is more than a little embarrassing. 

But at the end of the day, we’ll still be much more successful at piling on the pounds than getting and keeping them off. We are, after all, only human.

-bill kenny    

Monday, November 24, 2014

Ruth Is Stranger than Richard

I think sometimes on weekends, we hang a  "gone fishin'" sign on the apartment door and check out mentally and emotionally which results in news stories that we are unable to explain.

My original theory on this one was The Onion had somehow infiltrated my news feed but it turns out it really is really and truly real and true.

I should acknowledge I very much enjoy The Onion and subscribe to it as a sort of mental palette cleanser when a dispatch from Murdoch's Morons (or do you prefer Ailes' A$$holes?) finds its way to my in-box.

In fairness and because I'm more than a little slow, I have to point out I spent months thinking the screed about the Benghazi Conspiracy was also The Onion's attempt at satire, though I don't know how they made a replica of Lindsay Graham.

I think the takeaway from the Logan Looner, especially this close to the busiest air travel day of the year is Don't. Not necessarily so much don't fly as don't go to the bathroom. Why do you think Mom asked before we got in the car?
-bill kenny

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Approach of Winter's Chill

This time of year, I'm grateful Norwich isn't Buffalo but also saddened it's not someplace in the Carolinas. Having only driven through them I have this idea that North and South Carolina are delightfully temperate-weather zones where seldom is heard a discouraging word and the skies are not cloudy all day.

We on the other hand, this time of year can see the Just Awful overheard in the winter grey skies days before it actually arrives. We had temperatures earlier in the week to start the day south of thirty and when I was out walking yesterday to my pharmacy, it was probably above freezing but my Galvanic Skin Response would have begged to differ.

The day was bright but the sky portends less cheerful days ahead. The sun's rays grow shorter even as the daylight minutes continue to shrink. Everyone's favorite coffee table book is the Farmer's Almanac, and the winter weather forecast.

I won't spoil your Sunday by telling you how it comes out, but I will give you a hint: don't worry about the paving job to a warm place; we're not headed there by any means.
-bill kenny

Saturday, November 22, 2014

What the Heart Remembers

I wrote this some years ago for an event that happened in another, more hopeful America that I think may have vanished forever on this day fifty-one years ago. That was the day John F. Kennedy was murdered in Dallas, Texas.

As I type that sentence I'm stunned to realize how much has passed since that day. For you, this is like reading about the first walk on the moon's surface or the Fall of Saigon. For me and my generation, this is a part of who we are because we remember all of these events, because and/or despite what followed them.

JFK wasn't a better person than those whom we have chosen since to occupy the White House nor was he worse-if events and circumstances make a person who will master them, then he was a man of a different time and all of us can't pretend to be able to compare and contrast then to now. We were and now we are. And those we lost along the way have only us to bear their witness. That some of then looks a lot like some of now is as much a function of perspective as it is of situations.

All my memories of the days of coverage in the aftermath of his assassination are black and white. They are not the misty water-colored memories, the song would have me believe, of the way we were but rather, grainy high contrast black and white moments stapled to special editions of newspapers and hurled at us by television stations engaged and engaging in their first national seance. 

We gathered in our living rooms or those without a TV stood on sidewalks in front of appliance stores to watch over and over again the film clips as the Secret Service agent clambered up the back of the moving limo, Jackie struggled to cradle the dying man's head, and Walter Cronkite removed his glasses and gathered himself before reading the teletype news telling us the youngest man ever elected President was now dead.

Video on demand? I guess. 
What we had was when Dad turned the set on, you heard the vacuum tubes humming and warming up. Slowly the picture grew larger and clearer. When it didn't, he would smack the set on the top or the side, one short, sharp blow-that was your on demand back in the day.A lot of people, perhaps one whole generation and portions of two others, did a decades worth of  growing up "in winter 1963 when it felt like the world would freeze."
-bill kenny

Friday, November 21, 2014

November Holidays

Me and mine are heading to our local library tomorrow morning for some holiday shopping and gift-giving ideas at a crafts fair they’ve sponsored for the last half decade (and more). I like the smaller, homier stuff as a warm-up for the approaching A-Shopalypse Now that will launch in less than a week’s time.

But before we get to that place where the mall and the sky collide, and we shall (trust me on that even though, for the record, no one ever wants to (actually no one wants to say they want to; sometimes we lie to ourselves by not telling the whole truth)), I wanted to yammer once more about the absence of coincidence that we observe Veterans Day and Thanksgiving in the same month.

You may not think the two are connected or that they have even less in common than they don’t. You would be wrong on both counts.

Next Thursday we’ll pause (hopefully) at least long enough to not only count our blessings but to be thankful for what we have and then, even before the plates are cleared from dining room tables, rush off to various commercial enterprises’ efforts to steal a march on Black Friday and gather up (even) more stuff we didn’t need two hours earlier to go with our cranberries and sweet potatoes.

Two things we can do. One is easy and it’s a Scout’s Honor thing. Spare a thought for the uniformed Salt of the Earth citizens whose service and sacrifice through the centuries make Thanksgiving, and every holiday (and every day that’s not a holiday, come to think of it) possible.

And find six minutes, I timed it (once with my lips moving and the other time not so much) to read LTG H. R. McMaster’s Veterans Day speech at Georgetown University. See if you don’t agree with him as originally proposed by Aristotle that it is only worth discussing that which is in our power. (Otherwise we're just running our mouths.)

Then resolve to add your power of belief, of persuasion, of whatever you feel your power to be, to that of others like and unlike you to not only make a difference but to be the difference.

-bill kenny

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Having No Shoes Is Still Better

When I got up yesterday morning it was 22 degrees Fahrenheit and pitch black (okay, it was 2:30 in the morning and it had better be dark). Before I even went outside, I was unhappy about the cold and dark day surrounding me. I guess until I clean my glasses, I’m not able to see that in my neighborhood we have pine trees not palm trees.

I had a sad heart and a red behind from feeling sorry for myself for having to slog through the cold and the dark all the way over to the Planet Fitness gym (James? We hardly know each other) where I got to see the news footage of the Lake Effect snow pummeling Buffalo and the area. I thought I was watching The Jack London Story, told in real-time.

My family and I had been in upstate New York, Niagara Falls (go ahead and click it, I’ll wait), near the end of September. The highways we had sped north on just seven weeks ago are impossibly impassable, even if you have a dog sled (tucked in the back of your all-wheel drive vehicle). 

By the time I had done my hour on the treadmill (some days offering diction lessons for Tourette’s patients is preferable) I had an old Johnny Horton song stuck in my head, and my whiny mealy-mouthed complaints about our weather stuck in my throat. It seemed to taste a lot like crow.

-bill kenny

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

O Tis a Far, Far Better Thing

As you’ve been watching TV and reading newspapers, it can’t have escaped your notice based on the volume of advertising, that we’ve already entered the city limits of The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (Please Observe Local Speed Limits).

I’ll admit I wasn’t feeling the Spirit of the Season when the marketing barrage got started in the run-up to Halloween but maybe that almost-snow last week, coupled with a sprinkling of holiday lights cheerily blinking in the dark as I head to work have helped me feel more festive.

For those who currently live or who have lived in my house, this is a BGO, blinding glimpse of the obvious: I am not a fan of shopping at any time of the year but especially now. If speed gift-buying is ever made an Olympic event, you will find me on the medals platform. Meanwhile those to whom I give presents will be opening horribly wrapped gift boxes with equal measures of fear and trepidation.

Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy the holiday season but, possibly like you, I’m overwhelmed by the whole Schlep to the Mall and the hunting and gathering of presents that finds me instead of hoping for peace on earth and goodwill for all, wishing every person between me and the cashier would end up in a place so warm there’s no need for scarves or sweaters (especially that one).

I’m a shopper in need of the gift of patience and since I’ve yet to see it on the shelves or at Amazon, I’ve adopted a coping strategy that I hope you’ll consider my gift to you and a boon to downtown Norwich.

This Saturday from ten to three, it’s the sixth annual “O’tis A Festival At Otis Library.” If you haven’t been in the library since the renovations were completed earlier in the fall, you now have the perfect reason to go check them out.

And if you’re a competitive shopper who relishes the hunt for the just-right something for a Someone Special, Otis will be packed to the rafters with crafters offering a variety of handmade items, including jewelry, woodworking, and pottery along with events for children and those who are young at heart.

Downtown Norwich looks to Otis Library the way the fingers of the hand look to the thumb. Located practically in the geographic center, Otis is the heart of Down City and events like Saturday’s are an important part of its lifeblood.

Downtown Norwich is very compact with many of the shops, restaurants and scenic harbor locales all within easy walking distance of one other as well as to the free municipal parking that gets you step-for-step closer to it all than if you opted for The Mall. I’d recommend inviting someone who believes there’s nothing going on in Norwich and smile as they learn otherwise.

The O’tis Festival is a gift to ourselves. We talk about ‘shopping local.’
Here’s our chance to not only talk the talk but walk it. 
- bill kenny

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Compassion Fatigue

Sometimes I wonder if we're living more but enjoying it less. Actually, I know I am so I guess my question is am I the only one? And thanks to Lee, I think I know the answer (and yeah, it's starting to look like you don't have a real speaking part in today's rant, or even much of a walk-on so you might want to hit the amazon dot com and get a head-start on your Christmas shopping. Sorry.).

And yeah, I deliberately didn't say 'holiday' shopping because I was a grown man, or pretty close to it, when I met someone who wasn't a Roman Catholic and it took me forever to accept that he could be a pretty great guy and also still be going to the same heaven I understand the nuns to tell me in school that only Catholics got to be in.

Instead of life in these United States getting easier as thanks to the Modern Age, it seems it's just getting harder. More and more less of and less of the systems and processes we grew up taking for granted seem to work at all.

And it's not just governmental operations and areas of oversight and interaction that's broken, though more than enough of that is a mess-we're seeing private sector goods and services simply evaporate and leave no trace they were ever there in the first place.

When we our kids were in grade school, Sigrid and I were those parents who volunteered for everything (we gave the only resource we could afford, which was our time) and tended to see the same handful of parents at the library book sale as we did at the spaghetti dinner who were also the same folks who had a child in music lessons and on the traveling soccer team.

Lee offered an article on an aspect of the whole 'Ich habe die nase voll' life of quiet desperation that I found fascinating, and Sara whom I've also known for as long as Lee (and nearly forty years) suggested, quite rightly I think, that such fatigue isn't limited to those who attend a church, but rather, to those whose involvement in "The Big World" wears them out.

Leading me to wonder if we need to create rosters, where all the community chores are scheduled and get divided up across the entire adult population so we stop abusing the same two dozen people, or if we should just shrink the size of the world we are responsible for and lighten the load that way. Sort of like removing six inches from the front of the blanket, and then sewing it onto the back, making the blanket a foot longer.
-bill kenny

Monday, November 17, 2014

Too Busy Being

I'm sixty-two years old. When I was five, I would have typed "I am sixty-two and a half years old" because halves were very important then; sometimes they were how you distinguished yourselves from the babies. And never mind that at five I had no idea how to spell much less type-another point lost along the way.

I'm married to a person for the last thirty-seven years I cannot imagine ever knowing in any other circumstance than in the one in which we met and as I may have shared once or more in this space already, I have a very active imagination.

I still see myself as one of  the Young Turks, despite the lines and scars on the face my bathroom mirror offers me every morning. You are probably correct to suspect my grip on reality is some days more tenuous than others.

My wife and I have two adult children-I confess the Young Turk in me is always surprised to realize that as he wasn't a big fan of children when he, himself, was one but after being my wife's husband, being my children's father is the most important job I will ever have. I just wish I were better at both.

We live in a small city in southeastern Connecticut that, prior to my arrival in this part of New England about this time of year twenty-three years ago (actually my wife and children arrived here exactly twenty-three years ago Friday last. She remembered; I failed to do so. Again.), I had  never heard of.

I didn't plan on staying here which probably makes some of the people with whom I share the city sad (that I didn't follow through) and I'd be lying if I didn't confess to still hoping to go elsewhere even if I don't know where or when. I've learned the "Why?" question is often the least important.

This isn't a lesson from Lennon, though it could be and if I were capable of deep thoughts, perhaps it would/should be. Thank goodness being deep in thought in my case comes barely to your ankles. Except, I don't think I'm alone. Yes, it's quite possible perhaps in the ship of my life that's more than true, but it's a big ocean and we're all charting our own courses.

Sometimes you can't feel the change in yourself, you can only see the change when you look at others. Enjoy the view.
-bill kenny

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Someone Stole My Thesaurus

I have no idea how many words I've expended through the years while writing this epistle in my plot of frozen space. That I just heard you think too many doesn't mean I have psychic abilities, it means you need to work on your 'inside voice.'

That's why I'm offering pictures today instead. I took all of these yesterday as I walked from our house to get some of my 10,000 steps everyday accomplished.

This is at our Harbor. Just barely in the shot on the left is the Shetucket River and to the right of the closest pole is the Yantic River. The Harbor area that their confluence forms is the headwaters of the Thames River (pronounced NOT like the one in London, United Kingdom) that flows into the Long Island Sound.

This is our City Hall-externally restored about fifteen years ago if I'm close to recollecting correctly. Some of the public rooms inside, most especially on the third floor, have cathedral ceilings from the latter part of the Industrial Age where the object of the architecture was to make the individual feel small and insignificant within the context of the factory environment. I'd say "Mission Accomplished" but the term has fallen into disrepute.

Autumn is my least favorite time of year not for a single thing it has ever done to me but because of what its arrival portends (and I'm too afraid of winter to dislike it with quite the same passion) and yet even I must concede the contrast of the oft-windswept skies with earthbound surroundings to create images and impressions of stunning beauty.

Far more lovely and eloquently expressed than I could ever hope to do with a dozen keyboards.
-bill kenny

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Reflections in a Bloodshot Eye

I’m surprised by surprise, I guess. A hot ticket earlier this week on cable was the Fox News conversation with former Special Operations Senior Chief Petty Officer Robert O’Neill who has come forward as the Navy SEAL who shot and killed Osama bin Laden. I have always assumed it wasn’t a Christmas or Easter seal, so I appreciate the Senior Chief clearing the air on that.

What’s intriguing I think is the murmurings within and without the military on a Code of Silence that may or may not have been violated/breached/ignored by the sharing of operational mission details and notes by both Matt Bissonnette and O’Neill.

And yet. We have a social network for predominantly pictures of the food we eat. Then we also place photos of ourselves, eating the food in the pictures, on another social network and still a third one to exchange comments, caustic and otherwise, over both the food and our behavior in posting the pictures in the first place. I'm as guilty of the same egregious narcissistic stupid stuff. More than once I’ve Facebooked pictures of my Barkley fries from Phillys. Why? Because.

That's the scale and scope so now let me frame the question (to which we both already know the answer): Is there anyone who seriously thinks I’d keep silent about my role, assuming I had one, in something as big (‘epic’ as the kids say these days; I don’t know what they call Homer’s poems, Iliad and Odyssey, unless it’s ‘boring’) as Osamapalozza?  

We have become exhibitionists harnessing the convergence and connectivity of technologies and ideology to send one another grumpy cat pictures and every kind of selfie imaginable. I do not and cannot pretend to be angered or outraged by the electronic detritus that we all have a role in creating.

I dive into the stream and muddy the waters with the same unheeding, single-minded need for self-aggrandizement as anyone and everyone else. Hell, you’re ankle deep in the “dig me” pool of self-admiration right now or did you think this was being made possible by a grant from somebody as a public service? 

Five years ago, people like The Kardashians were an aberration. Now they’re the norm and we have become them. A broadcast network ended up cancelling the most self-referential TV show perhaps so far in broadcast history because we didn’t need to watch it, we’re living it. No one even tweeted about it, or showed a picture of cast receiving the Heimlich maneuver when told of the cancellation. How sad, no visual.

With so much information available, ignorance today is a deliberate choice. And our arrogance in celebrating that ignorance is just another signpost on the road of perdition. No need to dress warmly.

-bill kenny

Friday, November 14, 2014

Not an Andy Kim Theme Song Day

It’s okay if you didn’t send flowers or a card; just as long as you also skipped the chocolates. Today is World Diabetes Day, so reach for your sweetened-with-corn-syrup soft drink and offer a toast to those whose research will, hopefully, sooner rather than later, result in a cure. “Act today to change tomorrow” as it says on their website-a good perspective for any number of concerns and issues, health and otherwise.

I have dim memories as a kid of Gramma Kenny and her “sugars” so I’m thinking that’s a contributing factor to how I came by my Type 2 diabetes (coupled with some of the most thoughtless decisions on self-care any one has ever made) and now wonder/worry not only about my siblings and what their futures hold (being first-born isn’t always the perk it’s advertised to be) but also about our two children. I’d have preferred they inherited my sincere smile (and my dancing bear) but genetics being what they are, the deck is loaded and not necessarily in their favor. 

I’m grateful to not be Bret Michaels who has had an hellacious time in recent weeks as a result of his Type 1 diabetes, not only because I look lousy with a headband (and I (still) have  a reasonable amount of hair which I’m thinking only one of us can say) but because the impact of Type 1 on your life sets you up for so many other problems far more critically and profoundly than Type 2 where there’s already a crowd of trouble gathered.

My doctors make frowny faces when we (mostly them, I just show up) prepare for surgery, these days  usually for out of warranty work, because any type of diabetes compounds and confounds the healing process and adds a degree of difficulty to the level of effort required to get and stay well.

In addition to kidney problems, and other organs like the liver and most especially the pancreas (where insulin is produced, or isn’t, hence the diabetes) along with near-crippling nerve pain in your extremities and failing vision, diabetes breaks down your muscle mass and leaves you more susceptible to a family of auto-immune diseases whose names (believe me) you do not want to ever need to learn.

Does it take more than a day to reform and reverse behavior? Speaking from experience, yeah it does but if change you must then change you can especially if the alternative is a premature demise. There’s a reason death and diabetes both begin with the fourth letter of our alphabet.

I’m not good for much else (okay, scaring birds off the front lawn) so I’ll be your cautionary tale until you look around and discover just how many diabetics, or those who are becoming one, you already know. Before I step off the soap box (I appreciate the rope but doubt that light fixture will hold my weight), I want to allow Dr. Eric Berg to have the last word. Just make sure it’s not yours.
-bill kenny  

Thursday, November 13, 2014

At least it wasn't that waitress I was seeing

I'm fascinated by off-beat and unusual news stories because they show us how we are when we think no one is watching (and thanks to social media someone is always watching).

I'm grateful the other life forms on the planet don't know how to read because we would have long ago lost our ranking among the species. As it is, we deserve probably to be third or sixth but that's our little secret, and good so.

Let's face it, we do some scary stuff given half a chance (sometimes much less than half) to the point that I often read a news item in a paper or on line and then have to go back and read it all over again because my brain got stuck on the first pass as my eyes raced to the end of the note.

This is just such a news story (and I'll tell you now it ends as badly as possible for the story's subject). My brain boggles a little bit reading this not just because of the sad ending but because I have no way of this making any sense, ever. All the big stuff in this very short report is part of an imponderable: how did Brian McClellen get on the roof of the train, when where and why? What motivated him to do what he did? Now we'll never know.

Smaller stuff as well: What were nearly two dozen people doing on a Metro North train heading into Grand Central Station at five o'clock on a November Sunday morning? Just how frickin' early do you have to stake a claim for a good spot to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade?

Talk about The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. Even now someone is working on a production development deal I'm sure with one of the channels on the cable box up above the police calls to make all of this into a movie of the week that we'll all tune in to breathlessly watch.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

I Like Watchin' the Puddles Gather Rain

My neighborhood pharmacy, Utley and Jones, in addition to minding my medications and paying more attention to my prescriptions than I do always offers me to a receipt when I pay as well as a small printed slip with an aphorism, words of wisdom for along the way, whenever I pick up my order.

This past Saturday's was appropriate for both our weather this time of year and for the beginnings of our seasonal and emotional reflections as the old year draws down and a new one races to be born.

I smiled as I read "life is not about waiting for the storm to's about learning to dance in the rain." And people laughed when I had the cobbler put those taps on my galoshes. Whimsical or prescient? Sometimes there's no way to tell. 

Which is also very true of our lives here on the ant farm sometimes. Our shops if not halls are decked with boughs of something suspiciously resembling holly that  battles other fragrances and sights for place of pride as we hurry and scurry searching for that special something for the holiday table, hoping again this season our blessings will outnumber our problems. As a casual reading of the headlines and glance at the TV news reports will tell us, things are still tight and times are still tough.

Walking up Washington Street from the Harbor on Sunday afternoon enjoying the crisp fall day (while wondering how many more there will be before November turns dreary) I saw at least three more "For Sale" signs on houses than I remember from a fortnight ago. It’s only human to wonder when the tide will turn.

We've just finished choosing state and local political leaders for the next two years-I'd like to believe we made choices based on hopes and hopefulness and that we'll use part of the upcoming holiday season to let those whom we've chosen sit and speak together and define those areas where they can agree and move forward as well as those areas where they have different perspectives and perhaps different ideas on how we need to continue along.

Perhaps a gift we can give to all those whom we've chosen is our sincere belief they will do their best every day for each of us and for all of us.(Call it 'the benefit of the doubt' if you're world-weary and wary) And that another gift we can offer is that of our patience and so instead of insisting on immediate miracles, we allow them an opportunity to know what they don't yet know and to learn to work together.

The holiday season will be here before we reach the end of this paragraph and there's so much to be done we can be paralyzed by indecision and never start, and so we can never finish. We can hope the clouds of adversity will pass over us, our families and our city and fear that they never shall or we can learn to dance in the rain.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Scenes While Following the Flag

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly.
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead.
Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow.
Loved and were loved,
and now we lie In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders Fields.

- LTCol John McCrae, MD (1872-1918)

Let me take you down,
'cause I'm going to Strawberry Fields.
Nothing is real and nothing to get hung about.
Strawberry Fields forever.

Living is easy with eyes closed,
misunderstanding all you see.
It's getting hard to be someone but it all works out.
It doesn't matter much to me.

No one, I think, is in my tree,
I mean it must be high or low.
That is you can't, you know, tune in but it's all right.
That is I think it's not too bad.

Always know sometimes think it's me,
but you know I know when it's a dream.
I think, er No, I mean, er Yes but it's all wrong.
That is I think I disagree.

Let me take you down,
'cause I'm going to Strawberry Fields.
Nothing is real and nothing to get hung about.
Strawberry Fields forever.
Strawberry Fields forever.
Strawberry Fields forever.

- John Lennon and Paul McCartney
Jack P, Michael S, Bruce S, Dennis B, Bill C, Bob C, Nat C, Rik D, Sally F, Drew G, Chris H, Lee H, Sara J, Gerald M, Rich R, Keith R, Jhi S, Mike S,  Bill S, Bob S, Mark VT, Floyd V, Lowell W, Roger W, and Walt Z.

Spanning four decades (and more) of service in uniform to ideals bigger than self. You made us a better place by being who you are, where you are, and made me a better person just by knowing you.

Thank you to every man and woman whose service and sacrifice made, and makes, this day, and all the days that remain, possible.
-bill kenny

Monday, November 10, 2014

Which Is the End that Wags?

Quick slice of life to start the day and in an indirect way a shout-out for all those who believe in pooper-scooper laws for dogs. Actually based on some of the behavior I've seen there's no reason to restrict its enforcement to just canines.

I've been in Springfield, Massachusetts. I've never seen Homer, or Bart or any of The Simpsons but I'm told I'm not in the right Springfield. After reading this, I'm glad none of us know Michael Valentin, even the imaginary cartoon characters among us.

I always feel bad for all the dogs and owners who are good neighbors and the reality is that it's only the humans who are thoughtless and uncaring when it comes to cleaning up after their pets (and I still don't understand why there are NO cat licensing requirements but I'm not comfortable mentioning that concern in front of Michael).

So if you're a dog owner and monitor your animal's input and output, thanks. And that bit, right there, is my proof that dope is bad for you because at the height of their popularity in the early Seventies, a whole generation of us thought those two guys were the height of hilarity (pun intended). But in fairness, those were strange days indeed.
-bill kenny

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Walls (and Bridges)

Today, a quarter of a century ago, the Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart erected by the Democratic People’s Republic of Germany (DDR) dividing the traditional capital of Germany, Berlin, in two as it continued it journey for 1,393 kilometers from the Baltic Sea to Czechoslovakia, became past tense. 

The government of the DDR (we called them East Germans) who had held their own citizens hostage for a generation announced all could now freely visit the West. No one, to my knowledge needed to be told twice.  

As someone who was in the Federal Republic of Germany when it happened, I can only say it was an amazing moment to be alive. When all was said and done, tanks and bombs and barbed wire were beaten by bananas, blue jeans and rock and roll. We had the latter three in abundance and Ivan & Co. had no chance and even less choice.

The eastern zone, under the boot of the Red Army since the collapse of the Third Reich, had the highest standard of living within the Warsaw Pact and was still pathetically poor. Watching tiny cars like the Trabant and the (only) slightly larger Wartburg, with their small national identifying oval “DDR” on the trunk lids, struggle to keep up with the traffic in the slowest lane of the autobahn zwischen Koln and Munchen, I felt sorry for people whom we had feared for decades.

Meeting East Germans in small groups in those days, always together for safety perhaps from a world that had passed them by, I felt I was speaking with the German equivalent of Rip Van Winkle (he would, of course, have been Von), awakened from the nightmare of a Worker’s Paradise to find themselves in a Kapitalist Nirvana waiting to take their butts for every ost-mark they had.

I’d see them in the Kaufhof or irgendein lebensmittel markt and watch as they shyly picked up the different tubes of toothpaste, wordlessly marveling over a universe of choices for a mundane household item we took for granted but about which they could have only dreamed. For some, fresh fruit was nectar at an oasis.

I sent a video crew to Berlin just as the trickle became a flood because I ‘knew’ the moment had arrived. I was lucky; the people I worked for trusted me and I was beyond grateful when Mark C, the principal videographer, came back not only with remarkable footage and interviews but with a piece of the wall that was spontaneously being deconstructed, weighing some twenty pounds or so (unlike these).

He gave it to me with a smile saying he knew of no one who would appreciate it more. He was right. I still have it. Flat, in a box swathed in bubble wrap, having survived not only Mark’s trip from Berlin to The West but ours from Offenbach am Main to Norwich, Connecticut. The places where you can find pieces of the wall scattered around the world are thought-provoking and awe-inspiring. And, not so coincidentally, the stuff of governmental reports.

It’s not been very often since that I’ve felt again that unfettered optimism, that belief that the solution to most, if not all, of our world problems was actually within our grasp as I did during those heady days after the brick wall had been torn into a million pieces but before the one in our heads had been rebuilt, even higher than before.   

-bill kenny

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Through the Past, Darkly (and otherwise)

For us, on this side of the Atlantic Ocean, it's a weekend after a non-holiday holiday (Halloween) and before an actual holiday (Veterans Day) that many of confuse with a different one (Memorial Day). Good luck wrestling with all of that.

A trans-oceanic flight east away, on the continent where both of this earth's two world wars began, Europe, this weekend (technically speaking tomorrow) for Germany, sitting in the middle of Europe, the ghosts of its past have never been nearer or more real, Kristallnacht and the Fall of the Inner German Border.

What lessons its citizens and, by extension, the rest of us as well, learned (and continue to learn) from these two very different lessons, tells each of us and all of us, perhaps more than any of us are comfortable knowing. Speaking only for me, I very much like to learn but will also concede I don't always enjoy being taught.

If the above mention is your first encounter with Kristallnacht, by all means, use the link provided and start on your journey. And understand you are staring into Konrad's Heart of Darkness. It will look and sound familiar as it should because its twin beats in each of our own chests and no matter how far and fast we run we will never outdistance our own past.

I'm going to go on to some lengths tomorrow about the first steps in the Deutsche Weidervereinigung so you may want to make a note now to skip it if you're so inclined. What follows are some thoughts I had a year ago on Kristallnacht, an event, having stood (a lifetime ago) in many of the spots where atrocities happened, I still cannot grasp or comprehend. I hope, should you read on, you will agree 'never again' is the only conclusion that can ever be drawn and resolve to remember that.

If the Shoah, The Holocaust, was an unfinished symphony of genocidal annihilation for Europe's Jews (and it was only unfinished because the rest of the world finally wrested the controls of the killing factories from the True Believers before they achieved their Endlosung), then November 9, 1938, the first notes of the overture to that murderous symphony, Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass), were played.

When you look at the pictures of death and destruction, and listen to the softly told tales of survival, often by the purest of coincidences, if you have a heart, it is sickening and if you have a conscience it is outraged. But to keep the next exercise of extreme intolerance from ever reaching this point, we all need to retain the memories of the events as well as the circumstances that allowed the events to happen.

The Nazis did NOT leap out of bed seventy six years ago cause the German nation, the land of Luther, Schiller, Liszt and Beethoven, to lose its collective mind and forfeit forever its own soul.

For decades leading up to this day in 1938, and not just in Germany, but all across Europe, East and West, the systemic and systematic marginalization of Jews, apartheid before that word was in fashion, was in practice and a part of everyday life. The N├╝rnberger Gesetze of 1935 helped dull all Germans to the slaughter to come.

The ability to use language in reducing those who are the object of your animus to something somehow less human than yourself so that the acrimony and injury inflected upon them has no more consequence than stepping on a bug is a critical tool in the creation and construction of the crematoria and concentration camps and no less vital to that than the jackboots and the armbands.

You have a lot on your plate today-it's the weekend and the holidays are coming. Finding the time to go online or to your local library and invest an hour into researching the decay and depravity that began with Kristallnacht is asking a lot, I know. So how about a deal?

What if you and I promise one another to take an additional breath before using a racial epithet to characterize someone on the other side of the political spectrum with whom we disagree? Or to refrain from suggesting (at the top of our lungs) what a person with whom we are arguing may attempt to so with her/his logic and conclusion, as anatomically difficult as it might prove to be.

Instead of counting to ten, we try to count to eleven, and then twelve and just keep counting until the gorge in our veins recedes just a bit and our blood has gone off its boiling point. And, most importantly, when we see someone else in mid-screed, we mitigate and mediate to help assure a more rapid return to civil and civic discourse in our interactions with one another.

Germany was not a nation of Nazis on Kristallnacht-they were, believe many, in the minority even when in power. It isn't so much just the sins committed on this day that should live in infamy forever, but, rather, the sins that could have been prevented had two or more people joined and raised their voices in opposition. We must never forget the lesson of what happened next.
-bill kenny 

Friday, November 7, 2014

(Too) Many Different Kinds of Poverty

I'm pretty sure The Lord created us with pockets in our trousers so we could take as much as we want whenever we want and to have someplace to put it all rather than share it with anyone else. Just because (so far) no religious scholar has endorsed the notion that any Deity currently in play was a haberdasher at any time through eternity does nothing to alter the strength of my belief in the purpose and history of pockets.

And, since this is America after all, if you disagree with me you're a 'looser' (someone sent me an email Wednesday after the election results telling me that's who I was. I assume they feel themselves to be more of a 'tightener' while I'm thinking of something far less kind) or perhaps a 'libtard' or my new favorite, a booger-eater (I like its non-partisan appeal and utility; after all, our opinions are like noses, we all have one and they smell).

With the change in management in Dodge City, I expect to hear a whole heckuva lot more about how we're a nation founded on "Judeo-Christian principles" (that (very) few of the Republic's Founders actually professed to possess and that is a fine idea except quite often the things we do speak so much more loudly, I cannot hear what we are saying.

Leave it to Florida (Fort Lauderdale in this instance), who added 'hanging chad' to our vocabulary a decade ago almost forcing Jeremy Clyde to continue as a solo act, to take our half century-long War on Poverty to a whole 'nother level in a take-no-prisoners approach that does not portend well for anyone in our society who's weak or disenfranchised in any way.  

Please don't tell there's another side to this story. You're missing the flick if you do. Here's all you need to read in any of the accounts of this arrest, "Any human has the right to help his fellow man." Except in Fort Lauderdale, it seems.

Somehow we've gone from a War on Poverty to declaring war on poor people. I'm not sure where we'll be building the camps to house all the prisoners of this new war, but I suspect those with deep pockets and darkened limo windows already have options on that real estate as the lights continue to slowly go out across the self-proclaimed Greatest Nation on Earth.
-bill Kenny

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Comity if Not Heaven Itself?

We didn't have very many lawn signs on my street this past election cycle, much to the chagrin I'm sure of whoever makes the metal feet that go in the lawn and the frame that goes into the sign on the lawn. We sort of like it that way in a we've never actually gotten together to talk about it style though I'm sure if we did, we would.

The one thing we did have this election, and so, too, did you I fear, were For Sale signs on neighbor's houses (singular was deliberate and I'm happy about that) and those worry me a lot more than almost anything anybody seeking office gets printed and posted (okay, eye-catching slogans such as "Smoot Drinks His Own Bathwater" will put me right off your candidate, and cause me to alter my driving pattern but we rarely go to that extreme).

I have to say, sitting here in The Land of Steady Habits, not much was changed to include our Constitution making it easier to vote (an oversimplification, but consider the source) which was rejected at the polls Tuesday. But in terms of who runs the State Government and who rules the roost in the State House, pretty much same-old, same-old.

Not that this will stop those of us who are perpetually unhappy in our own skin from pouting and posturing for the next two years as the government we returned to office still doesn't do what it didn't do before we voted for it again, despite the last time. Huh? Trust me, it's just easier to nod.

At our nation's capital, we're changing the direction of the circles. If anything more than that happens, and trust me when I say I hope something does, it will be to our nearly-complete-and-absolute surprise and very likely by unintentional accident meaning we'll never do it again.

Somewhere Dr. Jerry Harvey is sitting on a hay bale smiling, or perhaps he's grimacing (from a distance the two facial expressions look very much alike), and meanwhile the dogs bark as the caravan moves on. The squirrels in my backyard get nervous whenever anyone mentions peanuts, so no talking during the video, not that we were, or are, are in danger of having anybody thinking who could not hear themselves.  

What's that child's verse, I love? Oh yeah, "I eat my peas with honey, I've done it all my life. It makes the peas taste funny, but it keeps them on my knife."  Soon enough, we'll learn to enjoy the taste of legislative dissonance as we did previously, and previously to that as well. We're gathering the wool to pull over our own eyes; try this cap on it matches your sweater.
-bill kenny       

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Just Another Job Well Done

Perhaps I'm the only one who gets annoyed this time of year when big box retail operators invent new ways to cram the various holidays dotting the calendar into one lavishly extravagant celebration of selfish consumerism. But I doubt it.

Less than a week ago, jack o'lanterns and skeleton costumes were rubbing elbows with pilgrim hats and turkey window decals which, in turn, were on store shelves with tree ornaments and artificial door wreaths. HallowThanksXmas in all its glory.

Before we rush headlong into the 2014 Going Out of the Holiday Business Sale season, even as we gather lawn signs from election contests that ended yesterday, might I suggest we pause next Tuesday, November 11, to say a brief thank-you to all who have served in our Armed Forces, from the days of the Revolutionary War through Two World Wars and the Cold War to Operation Active Endeavor and opposing ISIL in the Middle East.

Not sure what our the nation's department stores have planned for their annual holiday promotional tie-ins but I'm sure it will great (for their bottom line). I'm thinking perhaps a BOGO on Size 44 Triple-E jump boots or maybe a lunch deal on Meals Ready to Eat in their employee cafeterias?

Around here we do things a little more quietly and with more reverence and respect. There are numerous observances across the region but there's one I always visit and hope you will as well.

At eleven Tuesday morning, because that's the hour and the day in 1918 in which the armistice was signed ending World War I (the war to end all wars and the precipitant for the holiday we now call Veterans Day) at Taftville's Memorial Park (at the intersection of South B Street and Norwich Avenue) will be the Taftville Veterans Day Ceremony.

As a U. S. Air Force veteran, I'm appreciative of the attendance and participation by not only many other veterans of all the services, active duty and reserve, but also for the support by the Norwich Area Veterans Council in organizing it and the Three Rivers Young Marines and local members of the Military Order of the Purple Heart who honor all of us with their presence.

It can be hard sometimes to find the time in the hectic pace of 21st Century America to say thanks to the literally millions of men and women who felt the need to shout "send me!" when their nation asked for their help.

There's a lot more to being a veteran than a linen sale held in your name. It means being part of the foundation of your community wherever it is and giving your time, talents and treasure to help set your country right and to keep your country strong.

If you are a veteran thank you for your service, not just Veterans Day but everyday.
-bill kenny   

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

To the Heirs of that First Revolution

Today is Election Day. If you haven't yet voted, STOP reading this and do that. There is absolutely nothing more important today than voting-save this dithering for dessert or later. I'll learn to live with the disappointment, trust me. 

If you like the way things are going or believe that those who are doing the heavy lifting can't do any better or go any faster, then you should vote to make sure that those processes continue to happen with the people who are doing them.

And if you're angry, afraid or upset about how things are going, then you should vote to throw the rascals (not my first choice of words, but with age comes some circumspection) out of office. This is what revolution looks like in our nation and anyone who thinks there's a better way for power to change hands is a mutton-headed moron or a sociopath, or both.

Whatever you do, don't sit on your hands in a corner somewhere and sulk. After all the moments of negative nattering for every conceivable elected office, today is the day we tell the professional office-seekers and inform the ocean of eager volunteers how we feel about them and their offer of service. 

So don't you dare pout. This time in a week, we're observing Veterans Day, and not much burns my butt more than thinking about the eight years I spent in uniform in a variety of places defending (at least in theory) people who dreamed of having the right to vote that so many of us, too many of us, see as a burden and a bother. You owe me, and all who have served.

Put the w(h)ine glass down and don't just make a difference, be the difference.
-bill kenny

Monday, November 3, 2014

Call It Ransom

An oft-told story I've just remembered that can stand being repeated.

A college professor placed a large glass jar on a work bench and, as his entire class watched, filled the jar with  rocks,all the way to the top. He asked them if the jar was full and the class agreed it was.

He opened a bag of pebbles and poured them down over the rocks in the jar and watched as they worked their way into all the spaces between the rocks and then asked his class again if the jar was full.
Again, they said 'yes'.

He reached under his table and pulled out a large chest, filled with sand and poured the sand atop the pebbles and the large rocks at a steady rate of speed. Slowly the sand covered all the pebbles and rocks, finding and filling the smallest openings all the way to the top of the jar. He asked his students if they believed the jar was really full this time and after some hesitation they decided that it was.

He turned his back to them long enough to reach into his knapsack and pull out two cans of beer and opening both, he poured them over the sand that covered the pebbles and the rocks that filled the jar and waited until the foam had settled. Looking up he asked the students what it all meant, and the room was silent.

You may know the answer already. They didn't

He explained the glass jar was a person's life.

The large rocks were the most important things in your life such as your family, your friends, your loved ones. They were the 'quality' in your quality of life without which there would be no point in living. He conceded the pebbles were important, but NOT the most important, things in your life, such as your car, your home, your job or where you shopped. And the sand was the useless but pretty filler so many of us confuse with the truly important things we most need.

The trick, said the professor was not to fill up your jar but to know with what to fill it, advising the jar could be completely filled with sand, leaving no room for anything else, and certainly none of what was really important. The same, he noted, could be said about filling your life with nice to have pebbles instead of need to have rocks.

After you've filled the jar with pebbles you'll never have enough room for all the rocks you treasure. Always, he said, fill your life with that which is most important to you, enjoying as much of it as you have  never regretting  the absence of what you do not.

What about the beer asked one of the student. What is its purpose? That, smiled the professor, is to illustrate that no matter how large or small your life is, there's always room for beer. 

And with that, the class bell rang and the students were dismissed.
-bill kenny