Friday, January 31, 2014

Tea in the Sonora with You

This may shock you but today I'm going to offer my unsolicited opinion on a part of the country that is suffering a snow shortage that doesn't extend to the willful obstinance of one of its political parties that has been captured by teahadist terrorists, Arizona, and its censure of Senator John McCain his party's nominee in 2008 for the office of the President of these United States for being 'too liberal.'

If you think it's none of my business, you're completely correct; it really isn't my concern though my love of excruciating irony draws me to this type of story like a moth to a flame. The same state whose last native son to seek a 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington, D.C., address, gave America a dramatically different slant on off-the-wallness, "Extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice," Please put your hands together for Senator Barry Goldwater.

I won't burden you with a regurgitation of my less than kindly view of the Tealiban running the party of Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt into the ground. I decided quite some time ago that unless/until the National Republican Party shows this sect the door, I will never vote for anyone running on their ticket in any election, ever again.

It made my heart sad this past November when we had local elections and good people all on the ballot for both major parties but I, as pig-headed and blinkered as the people I excoriate, passed over some who were very deserving, perhaps more so than others of my support, because of their Republican party affiliation.

As bizarre (no other word will do) as I found the treatment of Senator McCain by his own party to be, how must he feel, nearly alone, learning his former running mate on the 2008 national ticket and the person whose presence completely eviscerated his own argument about his opponent's lack of experience in foreign affairs, Sarah Palin, vociferously rushed to his defense.

How egregious must the behavior of Arizona's rank and file Republicans be that the former governor of Alaska, whose most recent original thought died of loneliness, would be on the side of the angels in the heat of the desert?

I already see a sad ending, especially since the only way to enjoy tea in all that heat is with ice, 'as their eyes searched the land, with their cups full of sand.'
-bill kenny

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Make Sure You're Exactly the Person You Hoped To Be

Some months ago I stumbled across a novel so amazing, Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt that, at first, I refused to believe it was the author's first work, but it was.

I couldn't tell you how I came to have it or what motivated me to acquire it, at the time, or why, once I did open it and became nearly overwhelmed by its scale and scope and breathtaking beauty and sweet sadness I would persist in reading it to its end.

It is a remarkable book and a terrifically told tale but it wasn't until the early morning hours of this past Tuesday that I figured out why it was I was supposed to read it in the first place.

The news of the passing of Pete Seeger at 94 years of age generated volumes of brilliant obituaries, eulogies, retrospectives and insightful analysis that went far beyond the man, his music and his (and our) moment.

Any, and/or all, them will do but I picked this one to share not merely because this is my space and these are my things but also because it's from National Public Radio which I dearly love and its gracefulness and deft touch so complements Seeger's life.

But I haven't told you yet what joins him to Brunt's first novel. It's her words from a passage that stopped me in my tracks when I first encountered it while reading at which point I said to myself, I would like to be just such a person though I've accepted I never shall.

"... If you always make sure you're exactly the person you hoped to be, if you always make sure you know only the very best people, then you won't care if you die tomorrow.”  Sweet Dreams.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Rhymes with Witching

I had a moment of (self) revelation not unlike that of Saul on the road to Damascus on a late afternoon errand to the Norwichtown Commons in the days shortly before this past Thanksgiving holiday.

What it told me about myself, and how comfortable I am with that truth, has come to color how I look at 'progress' and 'risk-taking' when the talk in Norwich turns to economic development as it so often does. I use it as a measurement though of how far we've come or how far we've yet to go, I'm unsure. Perhaps we're sojourning together.

I came over the bridge on the Town Street side leading into the parking area about an hour after sundown and was nearly halted in my tracks. From as far as my eyes could see, ranging from the far left of the Stop and Shop through all the way to the right, what at the time was still the unfinished but under construction space (that is now Planet Fitness), there were cars and trucks parked everywhere and folks with shopping carts hurrying and scurrying in and out of all the shops and storefronts.

And what was my reaction to this display of unshirted hustle and bustle? After all, perhaps like you, I had watched a two decades-long decline of the former Norwichtown Mall until it was barely on life support. It had become one of the saddest places I could ever imagine

I had fretted and wrung my hands at a commercial footprint that shrank until all that was left was the grocery, the Dress Barn and, if memory serves me correctly, a Dollar Tree Store still inside the 'mall.' Everything else was gone, having followed the shoppers who used to frequent them to other points of interest, most beyond the city limits.

When first whispers and then, later, published accounts of the property's sale surfaced followed by an informational meeting with the new owners and developer to a full-but-not-full-to-overflowing audience was held at city hall, I hoped the hard luck dogging the site was history. What I should have remembered and now will never forget is that the only thing that overcomes hard luck is hard work.

And here I was confronted by the results of all that hard work. Believe it or not, I wasn't happy, nope, not at all. Seriously, where was I supposed to find a parking space and how far would I now have to walk? If only we had stores where I could take the car in with me. Yes, I am that special someone who would complain if you hanged me with a new rope.

And if you're unhappy, as I've heard some are, with the businesses currently in the Norwichtown Commons, maybe we can get a discount on that rope by buying it in bulk. Then again, I'm not sure we have enough trees but looking at the bright side, we'd have something else to complain about. And on the way to Damascus or just to tomorrow, often that's the biggest concern.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

No Single Drop of Rain

Yesterday, and though it was mentioned by many news accounts in various media, it wasn't prominently enough placed in them to my taste, was the anniversary for sixty-nine years of the liberation of Auschwitz. which serves as the cornerstone of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Perhaps had Justin Bieber.....

As a child when my mother's mother told stories of "The War" her generation had fought, she rarely mentioned the death camps-perhaps because we were of Irish ancestry and Roman Catholic religion, perhaps for reasons she never had the time or the opportunity to explain.

I'm her age now and the cautionary tale that the Ha-Shoah should have been does not seem to be a lesson we on the planet have fully learned. There is mindless murder every day in every corner of the globe because of the color of skin, the choice of a God, the shape of an eyelid, always the fear of The Other.

We are NOT much better here in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave as we impersonalize and dehumanize those with whom we are in disagreement philosophically and politically, rendering them abstractions and making them easier to hate and then hating them deeply and completely.

Instead of Slouching towards Bethlehem we have continued our journey on the road to perdition and that, I fear, means we will persist in writing off one another and the damages we do to ourselves as part of the overhead of being on the planet. As if a lifetime is worth no more than an arched eyebrow or a shrugged shoulder.

I haven't yet purchased or read this book but I shall because it's important, at least to me, that someone bear witness to who we were and how easily the danger and horror of all of that did happen can happen again. Growing faint in the face of evil is to do nothing and doing nothing cannot be allowed especially when each of us, world wide, knows that silence is consent and the first chapter in the horror story.

About a minute and a half into this trailer, Keri Lynn (spelling?) explains why she became involved in the Paper Clips Project. I imagine she's close to graduating high school by now and her place has been taken by other bright and shiny young people who, if we're lucky, will not need to build rafts to save us from the flood of our own hatred but, instead, bridges to allow connections despite our differences.
-bill kenny

Monday, January 27, 2014

Frivolity Full Speed Ahead

I noticed yesterday morning on the handles of the elevated treadmill I was on at my fitness center some of that boilerplate disclaimer stuff we see so often that, after a while, it's invisible.

In large, bold print it noted noted "serious injury may occur..." and in smaller print went through a whole litany of circumstances in which this could happen to the point that suggested just standing and reading the disclaimer was really asking for it as well.

It all looked like common sense stuff to me but then again I'm the guy who grew up listening to Petula Clark sing 'don't sleep in the subway darlin', don't stand in the pouring rain' and wondered where did she find all these losers in the first place?

Did you ever read all the words on the back of a dry cleaning ticket. The least of your problems is losing it, believe me. You're worrying about the number on the front and you should sweat the small print on the back. Very spooky. And let's not look at airplane tickets, and yes, Patrick, I'm talking to you. If the planes were as ironclad as the indemnifications on the back, we could eliminate the FAA.

There's one TV supplement or something that you can order where the disclaimer on the screen basically says that you agree by calling the toll-free number to order you cannot take part in the class action lawsuit currently filed against the product provider. Yeah, sign me up for some of that. I have always wanted to be a lab experiment and I'm too ugly to be a Plaster of Paris volcano (and get your mind out of the gutter, okay?)

I think ever since Liebeck vs McDonald's we've been fighting a rear-guard action against stupid, and stupid is winning. It's like that sticker on the very top of the folding ladder telling you "this is not a step." Really? Is it a pony ride for my birthday, because I've always wanted one of those and if this isn't that then I think I have a hole in my heart that only a whole lot of (your) money can fill.
-bill kenny

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Warmth of the Sun

It came to me yesterday morning as I padded around our house in the middle to early morning hours. I characterize them that way because during the week I get up at slightly before three in the morning (to the despair of my assassins everywhere) and on weekends and most days off I'll sleep in until seven/eightish o'clock. Yesterday was one of those days.

And again yesterday, and not just in the morning but at last twice else during the day, I had to go back to the bathroom and remove the tank lid from the toilet and adjust the plastic/rubber doo-whacker that closes the water flow hole so the tank refills. I can cause this malfunction at any time and anywhere to include in office buildings and banquet centers.

I have now accepted, perhaps because of the yellow sun in this galaxy, that this is my superpower. Yes, I'd have preferred super strength or speed (or brains, says my wife; I must also already have super hearing, my love), but I guess somebody has to keep the small plumbing repairs department at Home Depot and Lowe's in business, so you're welcome I guess.

I'm glad it's not the kind of thing wherever I wear a stretchy uniform with initials on my chest. I'm the guy who has trouble remembering the cape goes in the back until I'm running and the wind blows it up over my head and I crash into something, usually another superhero such as Mr. I Clear My Throat Four Times A Minute Every Waking Hour. I don't want to even imagine what his chest logo looks like.

Not everyone can have a superhero power, though our world is better because of infinite acts of heroism every day from people who would never see themselves as fitting textbook definitions of the word 'hero.'

To include this guy, John James McGinty, III. Nobody's channel interrupted any programming when he passed away but I suspect he wouldn't have wanted it any other way. Celebrities make headlines-heroes make a difference.
-bill kenny

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Bread Is at Least a Day Old

Somewhere, Edward Gibbons is smiling, or grimacing. It's hard to tell with all that dirt but I'm betting it's one or the other. If you thought I was referencing Team Edward, find a corner to sit in and stay there. But bring your own dunce hat as I have the sinking feeling we're gonna need a lot more, and a heckuva lot more corners.

Gibbons authored The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (just saved you at least $1.99 on Amazon (plus the cost of a Kindle to read it on; you're welcome)) and while many of us may not have read it, all of us could well be living it.

How else to explain how this happened and all most of us can muster as a response is a shrug. We are so concerned about the fresh and fierce winds that blow against the Empire we are oblivious to the number of internal disconnects causing us to lose faith with one another but more especially in ourselves. Instead of measuring and managing entropy, we have become its poster-child.

If you've wondered about the din of collapse and chaos, this Just In: sounds something like birthday party, cheesecake, jelly bean. Boom.
-bill kenny

Friday, January 24, 2014

Like Orange is the New ....

Nature abhors a vacuum and based on the amount of technology I own, I abhor nature so we're even despite the preponderance of people who are firmly convinced that I am odd.

We are currently in the doldrums between the football games which produced the two teams that are going to the Super Bowl and the game itself. Idle hands and minds are the devils' playthings, and they play their home games not too far from the Super Bowl.

When I get enthused or engaged about something, for purposes of illustration let's say pony rides for birthdays and move on, I am often considered by those who do not share my passion as boisterous bordering on the extremely loud.

At no time do I think anyone who regards me that way considers those characterizations to be code for 'aging white guy.' I recall the Humpty Dumpty's words to Alice on the power and majesty of definitions, "a word means what I say it means, no more and no less."

Which brings us to The Perfect Storm for this point of the televised sports calendar (all of which is important because if you don't think TV is integral to the success of the National Football League and vice versa, you have no idea what is going on my friend) as the days crawl to next Sunday's blessed relief and release.

I don't follow American football stopping shortly after Namath, Sauer, Maynard, Boozer and Snell shut down Tom Matte and the Baltimore Colts way back in III which was XLV years ago. I'm glad we've gone to Arabic numbers since I find them easier to read and sexier. LXIX,  I rest my case.

The news item that continues to bubble up is Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks who was critically important to his team getting to the game before the super Bowl and then winning it. He had a sideline outburst in the nanoseconds after the game's conclusion, I'm sure you've seen it, that has led observers of sport and other things to call him a "thug."

I think Al Capone was a thug, based on what I've read and I suspect that's not what people mean when they call Sherman that. Instead, I fear we're repackaging an old insult as a new insight and fancying ourselves mature adults. As kids we chanted "sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me." To whom were we speaking and when will we start listening?
-bill kenny

Thursday, January 23, 2014

All the Brown Passports

As the weather models started unfolding Tuesday morning and it was obvious large portions of the Northeast were going to have a very adventurous afternoon/evening commute home to complement the chaos of Wednesday's trip into work, I asked the people for whom I work if I could telecommute and avoid the dog sled jam on I-395.

I've had a telecommuting agreement for close to half a decade and made extensive use of it when I had my left knee replaced about half a decade ago as preparation for the audition for So You Think You Can Dance (Jungle Rules).

Sadly, because I faint at the sight of blood, especially my own, I wasn't medically cleared to be able to compete in the show. But I do have a shiny titanium knee that sets off metal alarms better than if I had a plate in my head.

Working from home is a nice vacation from the office for me and respite for the people who try to get their own jobs done on the floor of the building I work on. I'm always disappointed at the small number who want to participate in any of the singalongs I try to organize.

No matter how often I shout "you know the words!" it turns out, no they don't, and I'm starting to think Desolation Row isn't the best song for a roundelay or I just know a lot mumbly people.

Anyway, when I stay home, they get smiles on their faces. I know this because they've told me so as if that were some clever trick or something. They laugh at me because they think I'm different while I laugh at them because I know they are all the same. It's amazing that we get anything done for all of our chuckling.

They actually get a twofer since I've medical appointments today and will be gone all day. I visit first with my ophthalmologist early this morning (though not as early as I thought) to chart the progression of the treatment for my Sjögren's and not for my inability to see the world as it really is.

I have a carotid scan this afternoon as part of that Limited Mortality Special they were having at St. Vincent's Hospital when I was born. I'm catching on to the idea that getting old really sucks, though it has taken me a while.

Working from my house, I can get up and walk to the porch, though with the temps the way they are, I'm not out there for very long, and then come back and sit down and do some more truly heroic stuff. In my dreams, of course.

In real life, I tread carefully lest I inadvertently awaken one of those who didn't realize he had gone to sleep. Not career-enhancing I'm told to be That Guy and I'm all about the career and living for approval in someone else's eyes.

Instead of lunch yesterday I took a quick walk around the block of my house-everything looks very different and to me, more magical, when it's snow-covered. Perhaps the ophthalmologist has some drops for that he can share.

While I was out, I realized I was the first person to walk on the snow anywhere on the Chelsea Parade, which is bounded by Broadway and Washington Street and separate my house (and those around it) from the Norwich Free Academy. Strangers do not like other strangers shouting "first!" at them; trust me on that.

I grabbed this picture because I go crazy telling people who've lived here all their lives how beautiful this place is. No matter how loudly I say it, they don't hear it. Perhaps if I appeal to their eyes instead of their ears.

I figure having an example at the ready might help me be more successful than in organizing those work-place singalongs. And I save a fortune in sheet music.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Weather or Not

The least pleasant aspect of the January thaw we enjoyed for much of last week, at least across this part of the Northeast, was the foreboding we shared that it would end and winter would have us in its icy grasp again.

I cheer up by thinking that pitchers and catchers report for spring training in less than a month and then I cheer down when I remember my team, the Yankees, doesn't believe in starting pitcher.

For everyone else if it helps, we hit the mid-way mark of winter last week, meaning it's all downhill until we start suffering from Spring Fever and pollen allergies.

Realist that I am I'll confess now that I'm NOT volunteering to wander out into the teeth of that inevitable next winter storm, whenever it gets here, clutching a calendar page and trying to make a point about the separation of the seasons over a howling wind.

We've had a respite and we should be grateful while preparing for what's next. Our new normal may not rock but for someone, someday this will be a part of their Good Old Days.

I'm thinking about a definition that used to make me laugh until I realized it's really more of a warning than a witticism: a pessimist is someone who feels bad when he feels good out of fear that he'll feel worse when he feels better.

I, too, often succumb to the appeal of those of the pessimistic persuasion because it would seem that pessimists can only be surprised, but never disappointed. Of course, that also means they pay for huge amounts of confetti and I can't even imagine their clean-up costs.

But returning to the outside atmosphere rather than the mental state with which we greet it, if you think I'm unhappy when we have a foot of snow, you should hear me in July when it's hot. The word you're looking for in the dictionary is 'whiner' and that is my picture alongside of it. Look at that, easier than Waldo, right? 

I'm not a big fan of rain either, come to think of it, especially on my day off. Where you might see cumulus I definitely see conspiracy. Perhaps if I were a farmer or a duck, I'd feel differently but I'm thinking not so much. 

It's almost universal that the first thing we want to know when we awaken and the last thing before we go to sleep is 'how's the weather going to be?' If you think I'm kidding, think back to last night's television news. Probably the only story you can remember is about the forecast. 

And weather is great TV. We can't get enough radar or sonar or jelly jar. But, let's face it, all of the graphics, and the live cameras and the reports from the snowplows, all of it, it's noise and not news. And that's the way we like it, not because of how it is, but because of how we are. 

No other species obsesses like we do about something over which we have so little control. We of the opposable thumb and the amazing brain, master (and mistress) of the universe, the liquid acrobat as regards the air, the crown of creation and what do we worry about? 

And not funny ones, like 'a man walks into an Isobar with a parrot on his head' but the humorless kind that we are so frightened of that from November through the end of March, any time the sky fills with clouds, we all head to the grocery store to buy bread, milk and eggs. What is there about snow that we respond with French Toast? Notice how I'm not as puzzled about toilet paper purchases.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Long Road

I first found Google when it was listed in an online article I was reading about Yahoo back when they did TV commercials that sounded like they were yodeling. The article suggested that the folks who ran it were fans of something called Google for their own searches.

Seems so long ago, but I don't think it was. Just me or did we not make Yahoo a gerund the way we did and do for Google. And don't get me started on Bing because there's another word, admittedly a compound word, that also starts with B that I use in exasperation to describe Bing.

And now Google is not just a massive chunk of approximately but approaching artificial intelligence, but this, bordering on a new world order. Glad there's only so many tomorrows I'll be around for since your number to be served is drawing closer and closer. You and Winston are going to get along famously.
-bill kenny

Monday, January 20, 2014

A Dream of Sweet Illusion

Today we honor the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., whose birthday was last Wednesday. The impact of his words and deeds and his life itself is still being measured by a legion of sociologists, political figures and by men and women such as us, everywhere.

I tend to believe he was so intent and intense in living that he might be amused by those trying to calculate his import. Analyzing the doing is always so much less risky than the doing itself.

As a Child of the Sixties who lived through so much of the tumultuous times that shaped his positions and which he, in turn, shaped, I find it reinvigorating to be able to use the official holiday to reflect on who I was and who I have become in terms of the larger world Dr. King helped define.

Because it is a Federal holiday I can participate in, as perhaps you can where you live, local observances celebrating his work. In my case, it's at Norwich City Hall at a quarter of two this afternoon for some always uplifting words from guest speakers and a lot of singing (by unspoken mutual agreement, I only listen during this part of the program) followed by a short march to a local church for some prayerful reflection. Think of it as the other pause that refreshes.

One man, one goal, one mission. Today and everyday.
-bill kenny

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Nowhere Is Now Here

I had some time to myself yesterday as my wife and daughter were out Thelma and Louising so I had an opportunity to look at news headlines that have been stacking up in my electronic in-basket like so many fallen leaves the winds have failed to move.

In the electronic era in which we live, I read almost everything of 'news' value on line though we still get papers delivered to the house. I love the feel and smell of newsprint in the morning and when I pick up the papers from the front porch or the sidewalk or bushes alongside the porch because the cretin of a carrier couldn't be bothered to hit the porch, I smile at memories of helping Robert  and Rickey, two friends of different eras, with their newspaper routes long ago.

Back then kids delivered the newspapers mostly the ones in the afternoon and there were plenty of afternoon papers to deliver. Now, not so much and adults handle the early morning routes. Not for pocket money but to supplement incomes that have been battered by lay-offs and cut-backs and benefits erosion so much that two or three jobs are often need to keep their families from drowning in debt.

If you've seen the papers in recent weeks, you know that 2014 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the War on Poverty as declared by President Lyndon Johnson, a cornerstone of his Great Society. Unfortunately, also a part of it was a slowly growing sucking wound, Vietnam, that eventually consumed his presidency and whose conduct and outcome cast a shadow we can feel to this day on our body politic and in the spirit of our country.

From other headlines I read, I've concluded we went from a national policy of a War on Poverty to waging war on poor people. The Gospel of Greed is Good, recognized by no religious congregation is still making converts in every city and town across this land as those who have now have more, and those who have none have no choice in how their lives will be.

Wall Street is living the life and on Main Street the light is going out. For those with the means to support the ends, life is good and is getting better all the time As for the rest with empty pockets and broken dreams, we can't make it here anymore.
-bill kenny

Saturday, January 18, 2014

What Interesting Neighbors We Have on this Planet

There are days when I create the material that shows up here by pulling some of the more distressed and diseased ideas out of my head (you were thinking lower, weren't you?) and nailing them through a keyboard to this piece of ether.

Sometimes that's way more of a process than it needs to be. Other days, it's a walk in the park. This is one of those days though that's probably not how it's said in the hallways of the newspaper where this item first appeared. And unless that nation has better enforced pooper-scooper laws, I'd skip that Noel Coward casualness towards wearing foot ware.

One of the casualties of the Internet age was the disappearance from supermarket checkouts of a black and white photo-filled tabloid called Weekly World News or something like that. You know the one I mean.

At least four times a year there was a picture of a flying saucer landing on the flight deck of a US Navy aircraft carrier and more often than any of us might like there'd be an update on the goings-on of a character usually referred to in the headline as "Bat Boy" because that's what he looked like, as opposed to a certain roly-poly bat-faced girl who, to my knowledge, never appeared on its pages.

I loved it because I knew every word in it was utterly bogus, designed to entice and repel me simultaneously. I may suspect a percentage of what I read in my local 'real' newspaper is, kindly put, less than accurate as is the case but with these guys, Iran's FARS News Agency, when you buy the ticket you get the WHOLE ride.

Maybe Weekly World News just changed its name? For me, that FARS news story provokes a "I'll take whack jobs for $600, Alex" reaction though if I recall my Weekly World News news team correctly, their lead reporter, Ed Anger, may have best captured my true emotions when claiming (ten times a week at least) something or someone "makes me pig-biting mad."

I prefer my pig cured and surrounded by eggs, if you know what I mean. Nudge, nudge. Wink, wink.
-bill kenny

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Coconuts He Had

I'm a relentless hunter with the television remote-especially now that we have a new set, I'm on the prowl for something to watch all the time. I think when I was a child I was willing to watch the same show, even when there was a commercial or it was boring because otherwise I had to get up and change the channel.

A show I watched religiously, though it wasn't on Sunday, even though I never saw the very first or the very last episode, was Gilligan's Island. One of the things I most enjoy about the cable landscape of programming these days is that so much of that era's programming is still around (sometimes even with the actual spots from the time period).

I must live in a box. I didn't realize until I was looking for the show's theme that there had been a full length movie made long after the TV show had ended. One of the comments under the clip about Ginger (Tina Louise) not being as sexy as the tuber remembered made me smile as people often change but memories of people stay the same.

One of "the rest" from the theme song, Roy Hinkley, played by Russell Johnson, died yesterday at 89. He was The Professor on the show and was the complete personification of resourceful (MacGyver took a few chapters from his book I believe) though I never did understand since he could make just about anything out of the things the castaways found on the island, why he didn't just make a boat so they could leave?

Instead he became Jack before there was Jack. He should locate Harry; if not today, then call him in the morning.
-bill kenny

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Everyday Awesomeness

I spend an inordinate amount of time wading through electronic correspondence most of which, in some form or other, I requested (not all of it, despite what some of the telemarketers want me to believe when challenged but a not inconsiderable amount of it is self-inflicted) but no longer read.

I've concluded I (and you, too) am actually responsible for the National Security Agency, NSA, bringing me the Second Coming of the Red Scare because I never, ever, read any of the those End User License Agreements, EULA, that come with every computer program and smartphone applications and to which the developer insists I agree before allowing its use.

C'mon, 'fess up; neither do you. I just scroll down and click the 'agree' box and go about my business. The EULA may well demand one or more of my children as indentured servants, or that I surrender my Klondike Bar as a condition to which I blithely agree.

I have no way of knowing as I NEVER read the small print and that, my friend, might have been just the opening through which the NSA came storm (troopering) as it trampled on my rights in order to protect them. It may take a village to raise a child, Hillary, but sometimes we have to destroy the village to save it. Sign here.

Meanwhile I dig out an e-mail in-box which employs powerful and effective spam filters so all the hinky and many of the kinky solicitations have already been weeded out. Okay, every once in awhile, one of them, usually involving a palomino pygmy pony, rubber sheets and cooking oil shows up but after a couple of days, depends on the number of photos, too, I manage to delete that as well.

The other day, I just had enough of skimming stuff I'd asked to be sent for reasons that only God and I once knew and now only one of the two of us (perhaps) still does and decided to stop the e-madness. There's no personal animus involved in this, as it's all automated. The sent email will have a line at the bottom on 'how to unsubscribe' which is good for the sender and even better for me.

I don't remember which one of the legion of senders whose unsubscribe link I clicked but I smiled as I read this confirmation of the termination of our (non) relationship: "You have been removed from the Daily Digest mailing list. You will receive one last email, and maybe a creepy voicemail because we know we can work this out."

Gotta tell ya, I was tempted to rejoin just for the unsubscribe part of the drill all over again, proving sometimes in the "It's not you, it's me" dance of a thousand denials, no matter what I say, it is you. Really, you.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

More Light and Horn Stuff

My family and I have lived in Norwich a long time, we think, but I encounter people or situations on a nearly daily basis that remind me a blink of an eye can be an eternity and vice versa. It is surprising and sometimes not pleasant but always educational.

We talk a lot about history in New England and more especially here in Norwich with our three and half centuries and important moments from every historical epoch from the Forgotten Founders and the Revolutionary War through Abraham Lincoln's stay at the Wauregan Hotel to Bill Clinton's visit to the Greeneville Pharmacy, but the real story behind our history is our story, the life and times of those of us who live and work here.

Early this past Sunday morning, I wandered, not aimlessly but on a gravity driven glide slope from Chelsea Parade through Down City along both Water and Main Street. I smiled as I strode through Franklin Square on my circuit to include the old YMCA building and still-but-who-knows-for-how-much-longer Post Office.

My family and I were probably years if not decades and thousands of miles from living here when the F. W. Woolworth in Franklin Square transitioned from a downtown fixture to a part of its past. Where I grew up in New Jersey we had one, complete with a lunch counter and Cherry Cokes from a soda fountain and as newly-weds Sigrid and I often shopped at one in her hometown in West Germany.

I've heard tell of Franklin Square as a hub of regional retail commerce for many years with stories of seemingly endless waves of shoppers, from within and without Norwich, on throng-packed sidewalks every Thursday evening from the Sears and Roebuck through Reid and Hughes and to the small businesses of every shape and size beyond.

It seemed to me as a late(r)-comer here, that the upper half of New London County looked to The Rose of New England as the fingers of the hand look to the thumb. And now, here we are, as 2014 starts to accelerate in earnest still using what once was to explain what no longer is instead of why we allow it to keep us from whatever we believed tomorrow could look like.

We are a city of discouraged experts who watch silently and sometimes sullenly as enthusiastic beginners, who don't know what they don't know, try their hand at making Norwich a chapter in their story. We admire them for their effort to be a light but are more comfortable being a horn.

We recall every misstep and failure, no matter how long ago, as if it were yesterday but choose to not remember the origin and birthplace of the thermos bottle and the Polaroid camera.  Excuse and excellence both start and end with the same letters. It's what happens after the start that changes everything.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Fabergé Stress Balls

I cannot remember ever writing back to back entries on the same topic, much less the same person in extremis (deserved but unpleasant anyway) and yet welcome to Alex Rodriguez, Part Deux, not that I have anything more or original to say about the man.

The last time I had an original idea it died of loneliness so the best we could both hope for this time around would be a less snarky variation of yesterday's theme. I wouldn't blame you, as a reader, if you were holding out (albeit forlornly) for temporary blindness until the next mouse click.

But the crazies over at USA Today's For The Win have an idea that should get them at least a Nobel Prize, an Oscar, a Grammy, an Emmy and, based on what I saw the other night, a Golden Globe (two Golden Globes, actually).

Please join me, after reading this, in telling Alex Rodriguez, Duck you! And as a bonus, in addition to a unique solution to a problem NOT named Maria, they've have expanded my stockpile of sparkling (and otherwise) figures of speech, Fabergé stress balls. Exquisite.

I'm picturing Chief Inspector Clouseau even as I type Fabergé while humming the theme from The Pink Panther, luxuriating in the knowledge that should former Chief Inspector Dreyfus be injured in any way at any time in his interaction with Clouseau, an entirely different kind of duck, one without PEDS, Performance Enhancing Drugs, or PEZ, only the greatest candy known to mankind, will be there in a flash with the cash.
-bill kenny

Monday, January 13, 2014

Not Waiting for 2017

We have about seven weeks and change before pitchers and catchers report to spring training for the Citrus League or the Cactus League. As a kid I had my dad's tastes in baseball teams and rooted for the San Francisco Giants because I was only five when Horace Stoneham, and his running buddy, Walter J. O'Malley, honor grads of Carpetbagger University, picked up their National League baseball franchises and dropped them four time zones west.

I never knew how that broke my dad's heart or Mom's which bled Dodger Blue for her Brooklyn bums. Business is business and professional sports is business. At times we, the fans, lose track of that but the owners and the players never do.

When the NY Mets started my father made the trips to the Polo Grounds while Shea Stadium was being built. I loved the trains, the subways, and the hot dogs and soda in the paper cups in the stands, but I never warmed to the Mets the way I could have and probably the way they deserved.

I think I'm more a General Motors than Tesla kind of guy so my team has always been the New York Yankees even with Joe Pepitone and Tommy Tresh-and truth to tell they had a period, pre-Joe Torre as manager, that nobody likes to talk about or remember.

By now, you've digested the weekend's biggest sports story about a sport not being played, the suspension of Alex Rodriguez. All I did when it saw it on line as a headline Friday was react with some surprise to the shortening of his suspension, down from 211 games to just one whole season.

There's a line Heller's Catch-22 I love that goes, "it makes no difference to a dead man who won the war." And that's this story in a nutshell for me. He has never been my guy and that's my fault not his. The Yankees used no dollars of mine to sign him, or to extend his contract so I should watch my mouth and if I had a mirror, maybe I would.

Alex Rodriguez started out with the Seattle Mariners as a great shortstop in a league with surfeit of talent at that position. Just in the American League East alone, the Red Sox had Nomar Garciaparra, and the Yankees had Derek Jeter so when the Rangers, (Texas not New York though it does sounds like a signing Jim Dolan would make but only if Isiah Thomas were part of it) needed to jettison lots of payroll a few years after signing Rodriquez from the Mariners, those two teams were logical choices.

Boston signed Rodriguez then were NOT allowed to keep him (never really followed that) but the Yankees could and did, confident he could become a talented third baseman (which he has) so they spent the GNP equivalent of the Asian Rim to land him.

And he, in turn, landed them in a remake of Sparky Lyle's Bronx Zoo, but minus the rings and the talent-laden rosters. A gifted athlete, a troubled person and a flawed talent, in many respect he's an Everyman with feet of clay or blood with PEDs as the case may be. And that, sadly, doesn't make him exceptional in any way at all.

It was hard for me to teach my kids cheaters never prosper when so many obvious cheaters in baseball were rolling in the cash and the adulation. And that's what irks me most-a rising tide lifts all boats and no one complains. But when the tide recedes, we suddenly all have misgivings about the course we have charted.

I wish Rodriguez well, but more than that--I wish him gone. When he plays, he's high maintenance and when he doesn't he's something worse. I'm tired of his defense team, his press conferences, his legal maneuverings, the unrelenting joylessness of his pursuit by the billionaires who own Major League Baseball masquerading as The Office of the Commissioner of Major League Baseball because all of them remind me how far from my original love of this game as a child through to my life as an aging adult we have gone.

As the bartender at Olde Queene's Tavern in New Brunswick, New Jersey, used to bellow at closing time to what we all pretended were legal drinkers, "you don't have to go home but you do have to go." First step, Alex, is to leave. Take it.
-bill kenny

Sunday, January 12, 2014

The Effective Range of an Excuse Is Less than a Meter

I should tell you, as is the case for tens of millions of Americans, I have health insurance whose costs are shared by me and my employer. Starting work on income taxes yesterday, I was stunned by the amounts both of us paid in calendar year 2013. I'm of the opinion and suspect I'm not alone that the time for a dialogue on how much health care costs, not what it is worth, is not only approaching but should already be here.

That, however, is not why I sat down at the keyboard in the here and now. What got me here was more sanctimonious concern and synthetic sincerity for those of us still packing lunches by the Millionaire Boys' Club, a/k/a United States Congress, as reported in this story, and taking a very brief geography refresher.

As an aside, I have to tell you, Speaker Boehner (funny how some people just look like their names) your talking points on discussing unemployment with not one word about the off-budget billion dollar a day wars you and your party gave us a decade ago, is audaciously breath-taking. If I had your nerve in my tooth, I would fear no trip to the dentist, ever.

So, from the guys and gals who attempt seemingly every other week to repeal the Affordable Care Act but who have yet to offer an alternative, a substitute or, easiest of all because it is so flimsy, an improvement, I'm now supposed to believe it's the security of personal information that drives your new concern and renewed opposition.

Puts me in the mind of joke: my neighbor asked me last winter if he could borrow my snow blower but I said 'no' since I needed it to dig a well in the backyard. He demanded to know how I could possibly use a snow blower to dig a well. I had to admit I couldn't; but since I never intended to loan it to him, I figured one excuse was as good as another.

So in that spirit, John, blow yourself; snow what I mean?
-bill kenny

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Elmer Gantry in the Pantry

There's a really excellent explanation for today's title and topic though I'll concede right now that of the two of us, I may be the only one who feels that way when we get to the end of this, unless you cheat and go there now. Terrific, though not surprising; I'm used to being alone on the island with a lifetime of experience in raft-building.

I am afraid this is sounding more like an 'old guy loses it' story when point in fact I never had it to start with. To appreciate how we got here (assuming you might entertain the idea of ever doing that) I have to tell you it began with my chancing upon a photo the other day of Ray Davies of The Kinks performing perhaps on the Jools Holland TV Show which is on a channel somewhere above the police calls.

We have more televisions in my house than eyes to watch them. I place cardboard boxes in front of the sets to catch all the extra channels, other photons and protons as well as the occasional moron, when the sets are not actually in use. Ray was singing Skin and Bone, from Muswell Hillbillies which is one of my favorite albums, though I've never been a big fan of the shows in support of it.

I like to sing though I have been pointedly told on numerous occasions I have a voice better suited for mime. I will confess to having zero interest in remembering much more than the title of most songs, never mind the actual lyrics as created by the original author.

I should also note I believe singing at the absolute loudest volume can and does compensate for any and all technical shortcomings in my performance. Getting a second for that notion has been problematic.

 Thus it is we find ourselves with me emphatically singing (because bellowing is such a harsh term) "I didn't like your little momma or how her hair didn't have a comb as she danced in her pajama and disappeared into the phone. When we found old Elmer Gantry hiding in the pantry foam I got so nervous and unquiet and thought about the Astrodome." This is where I could pause for applause but we both know that's a fool's errand.

You should hear what I do to Fancy. Maybe not. Imagine lemurs in a blender, now add yogurt and some small, smooth stones. There you go. Kidding aside, I'm thinking perhaps Ray Davies owes me some money for improving his song. Of course I may have to wait until Hell freezes over to ask him about that. I'll also need to get my ice skates sharpened.
 -bill kenny

Friday, January 10, 2014

Belafonte Has an Alibi

It's a rare day when inspiration strikes me in a manner akin to that which happened to Saul on the way to Damascus (and no pony rides for birthday jokes, please; I have a saddle with a horn and I always use the direction indicators as well).

Unlike Saul, I was able and am delighted I am able to keep my name-it took so long to learn to spell it. Welcome to rare day, population ME.

What do I say when presented with a story such as Man Crashes Connecticut gas station, steals banana?
Thank you and Day O.
 -bill kenny

Thursday, January 9, 2014

I'd Skip Liverwurst-Scented After Shave

I would imagine a Rodman Family Reunion would be a pretty interesting place to be whenever and wherever the next one of those is held. If you have some folding chairs, you could probably make a few bucks selling tickets (especially if you had drink service and a cigar bar).

What's left to say about Dennis the Menace Rodman and his Special Friend, Kim Jong-un, the Not-Exactly-a-Dog-Whisperer that hasn't been pinned, tweeted or instagramed?

I'm assuming you saw this dispatch or one of the thousands like it that have been floating around everywhere, okay NOT in North Korea but everywhere else on the planet, mainly because I saw it and I see everything last. This is a story I have to remind myself I'm not reading in the National Lampoon or The Onion but (in this case) The Christian Science Monitor.

Show of hands. Was I really the only one looking at the news conference footage trying to see if Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen had made the flight and were on The Worm's Team?

Seriously, just me? I assumed at first they just hadn't been asked but now I'm thinking probably not so much. You, of course, didn't expect it to happen at all, did you, because you pay more attention than do I. I consider myself chastened.

But, between us, I have to believe if Jong-un ever sees Space Jam, Rodman will have some 'splainin' to do. He'll have to be loud to be heard over the barking.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Think of Cheese Steaks as Stunt Doubles for Loaves and Fishes

Among the quips and quotes I've collected in six plus decades (so far) on The Big Blue Marble here's the one I always think about when I pass my neighbor, Philly's, at the intersection of Sherman and Lafayette Streets: "the difference between a try and a triumph is often the amount of 'umph.'"

I've been a Philly's Phan of Chef Shem Adams since first catching a waft of the aroma from one of his cheese steak creations when he opened in June of 2011.

I was, and am, impressed by his community-mindedness, organizing fundraisers for toddlers in need of life-saving surgery, for his enthusiastic support of the next generation of Norwicheans, the young people attending the Norwich Free Academy and at least a dozen other outreaches to include a hospitality apprenticeship program that offered career opportunities and not merely part-time jobs.

Philly's is more than just the Cheez-Whiz embassy of the City of Brotherly Love, it's a fixture on local and regional television news programs as well as the defending champion of the Travel Channel's Best Sandwich title and, for purposes of my story-telling, a home grown success that's also a lesson in how to succeed.

Every person, or every other person who lives here knows a story about how 'business-unfriendly' Norwich is. Some of them are very sad and all you can do is sigh. I've heard hundreds of failed tales of trials and tribulations but when you listen carefully, you realize none of the stories you're hearing are first-person. All of them are, at least, twice-told tales or worse, stories heard from someone about someone else.

The Philly's Pholks, who are not from here, didn't 'know' they couldn't just start a successful business here or, as they did last week, open a brand new dining room expansion that has been delighting phriends and phans since Shem turned on the lights and unlocked the doors. Tables, chairs, big-screen televisions-all the little touches that are just too hard for so many discouraged experts to ever even try to get so they give up before they start and avoid the rush.

The expansion is the result of local businesses, plumbing and heating, electrical contracting, small construction and many more all working hand in glove with City of Norwich departments and agencies to include the Planning Department, Building Inspector, Norwich Community Development Corporation and the Zoning Board of Appeals for permits and inspections as well as advice and expertise on who to see and with whom to consult to get various aspects of the project done in a timely manner.

It was a lot more work than just standing around waiting for it to all happen. And a lot more successful, too. I know-how bizarre. Local government with talented, engaged and energized people who are part of the solution not the problem. Who'd have ever thunk it? And it works, and follow the crowds to Philly's if you don't agree and one order of  buffalo chicken nachos should convince you (good luck thinking about something else now).

So here's the thing: why can't this be the year we not only promise one another to not know everything, but to also not know everything better? Because, as Vince Lombardi observed, the only place success ever comes before hard work is in the dictionary. Go to the library, look it up for yourself.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Then Your Plate I Will Fill

It's hard to believe today marks the END of the first of the fifty-two weeks that comprise this shiny and shining New Year we welcomed perhaps raucously (and perhaps too raucously) last Tuesday evening.

The premise of the promise behind all the excitement at the time was that we would be and do that which we had not yet or ever done before, or be better at it, or more true to ourselves because of it. And yet here we are, surprised that a week's race has already been run and we're still lacing up our shoes.

I've been assured that life is a marathon and that it's also a sprint. Not sure which is true if not both but am reasonably certain life is not a sitting still and allowing the events to wash over us like endless waves on a distant shore. I think there is something to be said for taking up arms against a sea of troubles and by thus opposing, end them.

How will anyone else know we were ever here if we behave as if we should apologize for our very existence throughout every day of it. Life is not something to be muddled through. It's a shout, a cry sometimes of anguish and sometimes of exultation, but always loud and always true.

Life is NOT a search for a reason to be here. It is the reason. Start acting like it.
-bill kenny

Monday, January 6, 2014

Edward Montagu Would Be Outraged

Let's gently ease into the first full work week of the new year, not that I'm joining you in that endeavor. I am waiting until Wednesday and that's only because I'm not allowed to wait until Thursday. My wife who has had the pleasure of my company on a non-stop basis since December 12th is looking forward to our house again being her Fortress of Solitude.

But I digress, unless you have an appetite for adventure; as opposed to the appetite that Jerome Davis possesses or, according to this news report, possessed along with a pair of folding knives because crusts can often be difficult to remove from the bread.

I was thinking about my evil twin, Skippy, and of Jif, who is Evert's evil twin (he penned the well-known toe-tapper, There's No Place like Nome for the Holidays) while reading about The Miscreant Who Is Jerome (it looks more sinister when capitalized, doesn't it?). And working on quite a hunger, if I were to be honest with you.

I'm inordinately fond of grilled cheese and peanut butter sandwiches so much so that while I were eating one, I'd be grateful if you'd be preparing another one for 'while I'm underway' and then not get too annoyed when I unwrapped it and ate it in front of you.

American Cheese is fine and while toasted rye would be practically a slice (or two) of heaven, whatever you have in the bread basket is fine-especially the heel. And remember perfection is the enemy of good enough. It's lunch, not church so you needn't make a sandwich for the ages, just to get us to dinner.
-bill kenny

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Seen in the Rear View Mirror

I walk around with my eyes wide shut-or else, my eyes are open but my mind is closed or some combination of both. Luckily I have people, admittedly from some of my other lives, who watch out for things and keep from getting too much of whatever it is I've fallen into from getting all over my shoes and trousers. For that, they would have my wife's undying gratitude but that would mean I'd have to tell her of my pratfalls and heartaches. Moving right along.....

Yesterday despite my ignorance, or perhaps because of it (I wouldn't know the difference, truth to tell), it was National Trivia Day. Sara J made sure I knew because otherwise I'd have never found out and there's some really amazing stuff to know. Not the gee let's scribble that down on a bar napkin in case we want to refer to it later kind of stuff-actual history and mystery and what a pity there's no third word to rhyme that with.

Yesterday's passing of Phil Everly of The Everly Brothers, reminded me of my favorite unfamous song from the duo from nearly forty years ago when their label was struggling to resurrect them as "hip to today" without ever realizing they were already timeless.

The single was supposed to kick start their comeback with an album released later, Stories We Could Tell, that didn't have the single on it. Brilliant marketing.
I remember an A&R guy visiting the station in Philly where i worked, very hip with blue sideburns down to his elbows, who had no idea who he was talking about but undeterred by his own ignorance, chattering away. The album went plywood in Indiana and sales weren't much better anywhere else.

Speaking of trivia, as I was in a previous paragraph, the guitarist in the Everly's band was Waddy Wachtel brought on board by the band leader, Warren Zevon. Yeah, I think that's enough trivia and pursuit thereof for one day. Let's look for Waldo, maybe he knows where Johnny is.
-bill kenny

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Not Channeling Vivaldi

I have a memory as a small child (emphasis on the small) living in Belford, New Jersey, and perhaps it's the vagaries of my memory or of global warming and its consequences, but I always remember the winters of my youth as ferocious with huge amounts of snow.

The winter in Belford I'm struggling to remember has a distinct recollection of my digging paths in our backyard with the snow piled high around me, literally over my head. Does that mean we had a lot of snow or was I the runt of the litter before my parents had a litter?

Believe me when I tell you my animus towards snow is not a passing fad. I gave up downhill skiing in my teens and never took to cross-country. I had terrible ankles before I had broken ones so ice skating has never been attractive and I'm far too brittle to be any good at sledding or snowboarding.

A year spent North of the Arctic Circle keeping an eye on Ivan the Russian Bear at the Top of the World, in Sondrestrom, Greenland, did not improve my affection for winter at all.

It was already below zero when we stepped off the C-130 in September 1975, and totally dark which it remained until some point in February of '76 (very bicentennial of the weather I thought) but not before it went to -75 degrees Fahrenheit on Christmas Eve and stayed there for three weeks with winds off the ice cap at greater than 50 miles an hour. Felt like one of Santa's elves.

I've always lived where we have four seasons, even if I think Vivaldi laid it on a little thick, at least for my taste, and while I kvetch about it and rub liniment on to sore muscles I didn't realize before snow shoveling that I even had, I do get the chance, as I did yesterday in the late afternoon when any hope of warmth from the sun was as cold as the winds blowing around me, to look around at where I live and smile at my own good fortune.

Hope you can smile throughout this first weekend of 2014.
-bill kenny 

Friday, January 3, 2014

Think of Me as the Voice of Joyce Kilmer

The last mail of 2013 brought me a large envelope containing, it said, the "2014 Connecticut Tree Survey." I don't know a lot about surveys and even less about trees than most dogs but I'm thinking a printed survey of legal paper tells me someone is not heeding their own message on the importance of the preservation of trees.

The headquarters of the folks conducting the survey, the Arbor Day Foundation, is in Nebraska City, Nebraska (my brother Adam has a marvelous joke about what the "N" on their university's football tram helmets is for), which is (perhaps) their homage to New York City, New York, but I wouldn't bet a chainsaw and a hockey mask on that if I were you, Jason.

The survey's statement of intent is endearing: "We'd like to ask you about trees. Whether you climbed them as a child, cultivate them now, or if you've lost interest, we want to know." I'm going out on a limb (pun intended) and think 'if you've lost interest', you've already chucked the survey, hopefully in the recycling container as opposed to the trash bin.

And that's too bad because as an incentive to fill out the survey, they offer you ten (yep, 10) 'flowering trees' which  I assume vary from locale to locale. Here in the Norwich, Connecticut area, I'd get three, each, Redbuds and Dogwoods (I thought at first it said Red Bulls) as well as two  apiece of Flowering Crabapples and Washington Hawthorns. I type that sentence like I know what any of them are.

And by being among the first of 50 respondents, I can win twelve, ten-ounce bags of "delicious, shade-grown, rain-forest saving Arbor Day Specialty Coffee." I think I know where I'd like to enjoy a cup, and the view, at the same time. That the tree house is constructed of wood I feel should be worth double points, but we're not playing scrabble.

After perusing the survey twice, I am starting to get a yen for a season's pass to Walden Pond, a box of Walt Whitman chocolates or at the very least asking one of the plaster casters how they're coming on that retooling of Pinnochio. Madam Defarge is already working on the sweater.
-bill kenny

Thursday, January 2, 2014

An Oft-Heard Definition of Happiness

I love news-from-the-newsroom-floor type of stories. They're not front page, they never are nor should they be. They're those items that tend to end up on the first column of a left hand inside page, and are items like "Snake eats sleeping guard" or "Jujubes linked to infertility in parakeets" (there are no hyperlinks since I'm hoping I made those two up, especially the latter one).

Take this one, which, however, is a really and truly story, it seems. There's a great deal of schadenfreude involved of course (rejoicing at the misfortune of others is a universal constant) but, underneath that, let's face it, it's funny stuff. Admittedly not for the 'unidentified man' to whom it happened but for a lot of the rest of us.

Talk about clean-up in aisle four, this is a winner alright. I imagine the ambulance ride was one guffaw after the other and I think the capper would have been had the EMT's dropped the 'unidentified man' while he was on the stretcher because they were laughing so hard at the circumstances.

Just me or more often than not concerns about gun control AND birth control produce the exact opposite of the desired results. We've seen that trend continue in our war on drugs so I'm wondering if it's too late to make 2014 the year we champion public misbehavior, declaring people like Lindsay Lohan secular saints and then sitting back to see what happens.

Of course, we may have to limit ammo sales at some hardware stores to just the worms and the gnomes. Maybe open an express lane for speed loaders.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Writing 2014 Will Take Some Getting Used To.....

If you partied to close out the old year, here we are and welcome to the end of your first hangover of the new one. One of the nice things about not drinking alcohol anymore is that the looking out the window today at the first day of the next year isn't as dog-awful as it's been in decades past.

It wasn't that I drank that was the problem. It had a lot more to do with the fact that I swallowed. Even now, the sunshine bores the daylights out of me but I'm also deathly afraid of the dark, hence my dilemma.

So clear-eyed and empty-headed, I look out on the first day of our new year and can already see the gap between the promise and the performance at every level-personal, professional and political. I think I even got them in the correct order, for me at least. Your mileage may vary but not your result.

Did you make resolutions? And have you already broken one or more of them? I don't think the Guinness Records people keep track so you can safely claim whatever you wish and however you will. Of course, escaping your own judgment will be harder to do since you know best your own tricks and traps.

I have hopes not resolutions for 2014. I hope this year to be a better person to the people I have in my life and to whom I have sometimes been less than kind. I will try to be slower to anger and quicker to forgive. I should get plenty of practice and, I fear, in turn will provide it for others as well. I'll also add that I'm not going to allow the past to color the future and I accept I cannot be forgiven for sins I've not yet committed.

This is Day One. We can go anywhere and do anything. We just have to decide and then agree on what anything will look like.

A New Year is a little bit like a first snowfall. We're all very concerned about the first marks we make and then we just go about our business. Too bad we can't bottle that sense of unlimited optimism we feel on this, the first day of the year, and break it out when things get serious and the going becomes harder, like tomorrow and all the days that will follow it.

Be of good cheer (unless you were too much of that last night, in which case perhaps still be it, but quietly). So much happened in 2013-at times it felt that too much happened. But because and despite it all, it's 2014. The paths to today are many, the destination is shared. Some of us arrived in more comfort, health or wealth than others, here we are.

With all due respect to the more stridently jingoistic among us, the farther out in space you go, the more alike we look. Perhaps that might remind us that here on the big Blue Marble we should leave a little more for somebody else-perhaps take a slightly smaller piece of the pie as the plates get passed around and remember that lesson on the importance of sharing we learned back in kindergarten.

Enjoy today's still-has-that-New Year-smell-it's as close to heaven on earth as we will get, and for some of us it as close as we'll ever get. Es gibt viel zu tun, packen wir an!
-bill kenny