Sunday, April 30, 2017

Fine Line Between No Exit

For 'unspecified reasons' the telephone in my place of work went goofy the other day. It rang, and you could hear (way in the background) someone speaking or, technically, trying to shout over what sounded like a forest fire in the phone. In my earpiece, it was like the Rice Krispies guys Meet Shock and Awe in a cage match of some sort and I have to assume that's how it sounded on the other side as well.

When the machinery becomes part of the scenery and then absents itself, weirdness abounds (at least for me) when you're not Mr. Wizard. I'm more of the Ward type, not even a Wally and when 'suddenly' happens, it gives me the willies (considering my first name, maybe that should, too). When a light bulb burns out at your house, do you try the light switch a few more times, y'know, just to make sure? Me, too. I can control (or think I do) that part of the process, so I'm playing it for all it's worth. 

It's like when the car doesn't start, the first thing I do is check the oil. Yeah, I know there's no connection, but I know how to check the oil. I have no idea how to get a car that doesn't start, to start. I, perhaps like you, am a One-Trick Pony (PS: our hairlines look like they went to different high schools together, by the way) and I'm going to break out the playbook when I think an emergency has arrived and run the drill.

From one day to the next, the phone became uncooperative. I brought in another phone from home because I figured after ten plus years, the one on the desk had spit the bit (that ties back into the reference to pony, doesn't it? Afraid so). But it wasn't the phone and it wasn't the cord I'd strung from the phone jack (nickname for phone john? I have no idea) on the other side of the room to where my desk is--and I took the 'old phone' to another phone outlet and plugged it in and it worked fine. So........

The people at my work have a process to get this kind of stuff fixed-which impresses me because until my phone stopped working it never crossed my mind that it could, or would. The first thing the repair form asks for is your phone number which sounds a little counter-intuitive to me and also vaguely like a put-on. Luckily, I was able to borrow a cup of clear dial tone from the long-suffering neighbor in the adjoining office and use her phone number. She is really good with people in charge of things. Within three hours, two people were in my office working like crazy to fix the phone. 

In the meantime, of course, the phone would ring and I'd shout over the static and noise that the phone was not working (when they make Grasp of the Obvious an Olympic Event, you'll find me at the medals podium). I'd tell the caller to ring me on my cell phone, whose number, as it turns out, I couldn't always fully remember and when I did, it was incorrect. If you called, I'm sorry and if you didn't, aren't you lucky? 

The actual problem with the phone had NOTHING to do with me, the repair folks explained (I was so relieved to learn this; it was the most important part of the explanation, quite frankly) and the causes made my head feel stuffy. Almost every wonder I own in this Brave New World is beyond my understanding when it works, and more so, when it stops working. The pumps don't work cos the vandals took the handles but while I got the rag handy, pop the hood and I'll check the oil for you.
-bill kenny

Saturday, April 29, 2017

"I Had Prayed to God this Thing Was Fiction"

Chelsea Parade, Norwich Connecticut, this afternoon at 1 PM.

(Image from April 25, 2015 Remembrance Ceremony)
"Come you masters of war / You that build all the guns / You that build the death planes /
You that build all the bombs / You that hide behind walls / You that hide behind desks /
I just want you to know / I can see through your masks."
-bill kenny

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Light Would Have Been Visible from Space

I got congratulated a lot Wednesday on my 65th birthday-when it's really my mom who deserves all the credit. I was, literally, along for the ride. As I always do, I called her to say thank you and she responded by asking "Bill Who?" and it was a wonderful forty-seven seconds or so on the phone. I'm kidding (of course); it was closer to a minute.

I spend part of at least one day in every month, as befits a man who pretends his best is yet to come, in the office of one of the half dozen physicians I see on a regular basis. I even had a robocall from one of them on my birthday reminding me to schedule my "medicare physical." Hi.lar.i.ous. 

I fear I've stayed too long at the fair when I am happy my A1C is close to 6.0 and I have a feeling sort of like how I felt when I scored 3rd row tickets for Springsteen on his first German tour. (We're talking grin across my entire face.)

How pathetic is that actually? It's right up there with taking a nap on the couch in the afternoon/early evening if I want to stay up past eight o'clock (on a school night), because that has become my bedtime. All that's missing are the pajamas with feet.

I'm overdue for a prostate exam my primary care physician will want to talk about when next we meet which could be one of the reasons I avoid scheduling an appointment (I love when people say prostrate exam; I find that funny at so many levels it's scary). I know why and how important and all the rest of it; I'm just not a big fan of being reminded of my own mortality.

I have slowed down in recent years and have become the old guy I spent such a large part of my life trying to avoid. Who says God has no sense of humor? As much as my heart will always beat a little faster for My Generation, until it stops beating entirely, I share another Bill's belief. I too, have passed the age of consciousness and righteous rage, I've found that just surviving is a noble fight. I once believed in causes, too, I had my pointless point of view, but life goes on no matter who was wrong or right.

After six and half decades trying to outrun the sound of my own steps in flight and fright, I've learned the irony of not having to worry about a legacy when so little was accomplished.
-bill kenny 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Help Me is Most of the Song

Sometimes, Thursdays are the toughest day of the week for me. I mean I can almost see the weekend, as opposed to The Weeknd, but still there's so much to get through. Maybe a slightly off-kilter story, a news nugget scraped from the newsroom floor you might have otherwise overlooked will help turn that frown upside down. It certainly does for me.

Or not.

Disclaimer: it's sort of a Stupid Human Tricks meets just about any of that "real-life" programming  Bravo Network offers on a non-stop basis. Except this one comes with dessert but read for yourself.

Somewhere they're waxing down those surfboards by the ocean's roar even as Brian Wilson weeps.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Kryrie Eleison

I think we in Norwich have had an annual Vietnam Veterans Day since the start of the 21st Century, thanks in no small part to the Norwich Area Veterans Council and a very dedicated band of brothers and sisters, whose shared service in defense of our nation compels them to help the rest of us remember people and events that have gone before.

This year's observance is this Saturday afternoon, at one, at Chelsea Parade. The day itself, if not our remembrances of it here, is linked to the Fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975.

I grew up in era where history was reduced to the memorization of dates and events to be parroted back on test days, but even in today's world of alt-facts and fake news, I'm confident forty-two years down memory lane that we, as a country, have never really made our peace with that war, the way we fought it and the way it ended and most especially with how we treated those lucky enough to come home from it.

And again this year to me proof again that the present is often a future we ignored from our past, we have large numbers of young and not-so-young men and women, deployed across the globe, many in southwest Asia, serving our national strategic interests and furthering our foreign policy objectives while I sit in front of my big screen and bitch about the two hundred channels of cable I get.

Some have suggested Vietnam demonstrated the danger of trying to conduct a guns AND butter war, that is, we send people off to fight while back on the home front, very little changes. If that's the theory, then I guess it's true, since while we had sappers trying to clear mines from rice paddies in monsoon season we also had half a million gather in the mud of Yasgur's Farm. And when all the toking and joking was over, the ages of everybody were practically identical, though I think the guys humping it through weeds were younger, but also older.

But the Vietnam War as all wars are was less geopolitics and more personal loss and grief across a generation. I was still finding buildings and classrooms as a wide-eyed freshman at Rutgers when I lost forever a Manhattan prep school classmate, Roy O., in Vietnam.

I was grateful so many years later as part of the events surrounding the Norwich Sesquicentennial when the American VeteransTraveling Tribute to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial stopped at Howard T. Brown Park, giving me a moment to say thank you and farewell to my friend.

From what I know from long-time residents of Norwich, the city lost twelve young men in the Vietnamese War. When I read accounts of that war and its aftermath, I'm angry, bitter and maybe a little guilty at how so many of those who survived were treated, Those fortunate enough to come home returned to us often wounded in places that will never, ever heal and were left to their own devices while the rest of us raced to forget what we never knew enough about in the first place.

In years previous on Saturdays passed, we've had skies so deep and blue you could get got lost looking into them with just enough of a breeze that the large flag at the war memorial on Chelsea Parade was fully unfurled (you could hear a light snapping of the cloth). I hope the weather will cooperate because a nice day attracts more participants, but the weather will not matter to those who will be there, rain or shine, so you should dress accordingly. And on behalf of those Norwich sons, and the other fifty-eight thousand plus casualties, thank you.

I will hope for sunshine because a sunny day provides me the perfect reason to wear my big, very dark sunglasses since, by the time the ceremonies conclude, like many I'm struggling to keep from crying. I have spent too much of my life being too cool to care and cry because I fear if I do, I may never stop.

Praise we great men and women I know but the sacrifices made by those with whom we live and love make me wonder if we praise and remember the right people. Welcome Home.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

I'm Even Faster in Kilometers

I turn sixty-five years old better tomorrow, which upon review and consultation is even faster (and better) in kilometers. But that's not my point (I'm wearing a hat as I type this so it's harder to see) though it helps, I suppose.

I always call my Mom on my birthday to say 'thank you' since without her and her husband, my Dad, none of this would be happening, and they raised all of us to have a modicum of manners. All of this is my way of suggesting to you if you were going to call or email or message or text me to offer congratulations (for being another successful example of biology and the power of gravity during childbirth), how about you consider something else that will make you feel good because you'll be helping do actual good.

I found this a while back on Facebook (no, not fake news or alt-facts), but it's a way to fund raise for any number of causes using an occasion like your birthday as the platform and I would be very grateful if you would consider doing so.

We have athletes in my family, with sisters and a brother who run marathons in support of deserving causes for those in need of help, and it occurred to me as someone who is regarded as a champion skater (that's a Marine joke) by many, I could attempt to help as well, so I shall try. And you can ask almost anyone about how trying I am, so thanks for your help.

It's not like I've given up wanting a pony ride for my birthday because I'll want one or more even if I always have Paris (not Hilton, the other one), but this idea means I can skip having to rent a saddle and chaps.

And pants. I forgot to rent them last year and a lot of folks, to include me (but most especially the horse), were really sore.
-bill kenny          

Monday, April 24, 2017

Nice Weather on a Day We Could Use It

Saturday around these parts was a washout; actually more like a drizzle out, but yesterday! Just look!

Gorgeous, innit? Those views are NOT actually from my house, but rather some of the views my brother Adam enjoyed while running at his house.  Here's my view of his view.

Not shown in this photo are the very spiffy swimming trunks I'm wearing just in case.

Actually on my walk yesterday, I enjoyed a neighbor's initiative in planting daffodils in the berm between the curb of the street and where the sidewalk starts. I think they look lovely, and they made me smile.

On my way back from the grocery, I met the youngest and smallest squirrel I have ever encountered. I suspect I was the oldest and/or ugliest bi-ped it has ever met (so far).

I could hear you musing at how much the me in that photo at the computer resembles that squirrel. Sticks and stones, my precious. And speeding cars, if you're a small squirrel.

This was another part, and just about the capper to my walk yesterday.

Another view of which I never tire.
-bill kenny

Sunday, April 23, 2017

It's in the Cards

I have a routine when I get up in the morning, still before the chickens though not before my brother, Adam, that sometimes causes me to rush into the early morning hours more wide-eyed and wild-eyed than wary and wily (the twin coyotes from different mothers).

It happened again last Thursday. The first thing I check when I go online is my bank statement, even though it's really NOT a bank but, rather, a credit union statement. Anyway, listed as 'pending' last Thursday morning was a purchase on my debit card from "Amazon Luxembourg" for sixteen dollars and change. It didn't ring a bell with me.

I checked the 'on order' account with Amazon, hoping that I was trying to surprise myself for my upcoming birthday with a frilly, pretty something or other, but nope, I wasn't. I'm so thoughtless that way.

That was followed by a phone call to a very nice and bright person with a relentlessly cheerful voice at wherever the help center is located, who canceled my card and the purchase (we have a yellow sun so conventional limits on super powers do not generally apply) and arranged for me to walk (because it's that close) to the nearest branch and get a new debit card.

I then got to spend a not inconsiderable amount of time amending all those different on-line activities where I've stored the number on the now old card to pay for goods and services. FWP, I know, and yet here I am still getting weepy-eyed remembering the travail of it all.

I'm very appreciative of the superior customer service though I remain a little disquieted that I've now go through this same drill twice in the last six months. It competes for time and space in my front lobe with the sense of puzzlement that comes from trying and failing to understand why someone, somewhere would expend all the energy and time to nick my account to steal something worth under twenty dollars. Talk about possessed by your possessions; time for an upgrade.
-bill kenny


Saturday, April 22, 2017

It's Just Eh?

Happy Earth Day 2017! I would have gotten you a card but I always worry about where it might end up, recycling bin or land fill and saw no need to take that risk, especially with a corporate captive like current Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency standing the watch. And with the current Secretary of Education, how long before reading becomes a lost art?

Anyway. In terms of talking about being reassured on protecting Spaceship Earth, about all we can do is talk about it because if we're looking to the Fed to set the tone it'll be a little like trying to keep the deck chairs from going over the side of the Titanic (but with the even less actual success, I fear).

This is all the planet there is, as far as I am concerned. I was almost eighteen when I and a contingent of classmates from the Carteret Academy in West Orange, New Jersey, marched down NYC's Fifth Avenue in the first Earth Day celebration in 1970. Okay, we'd gotten lost while in The City for the day ( a senior trip of sorts, class not citizens). Not quite sure who it was, but someone figured the parade would be a great chance to meet girls. Who cares why we were there! Still.

I thought then and think now if we work to make the place on the planet upon which we stand and live the very best we can, each of us can rescue all of us. So not just today, but every day, when you see something, environmental or otherwise that causes you to say 'somebody should do something!' please remember you are that somebody.

Me, I just bear up my bewildered best and some folks even see the bear in me.
-bill kenny  

Friday, April 21, 2017

Requiem for a Blowhard

When Larry and Alex regard the Fox News Channel as "Main Stream Media," Houston (and Cleveland, and Scranton, and Dayton, and Fresno, and all points in between) we have a problem. All three of those websites cause my browser to shiver and their perspectives on world events, both large and small, never fail to perplex me.

It's been a rough thirty-six hours (and more) for all of them, what with their Culture Warrior, Bill O'Reilly, having taken one in the 'nads (I prefer the more traditional spelling with the apostrophe) at the hands of a large contingent of SJWs and will in all likelihood hurt himself trying to carry to the bank the tens of millions of dollars in settlement money he'll receive from his now former employer.

It's wrong to gloat though I have been known to enjoy a certain amount of schadenfreude so I admit to chuckling at this farewell to the Bloviator. None of that helps reduce the humiliation and feelings of inadequacy and injury to self-worth that many, many women employed at, by, and with Fox News Channel endured at the hands (small and otherwise) of O'Reilly and the other sexual predators in Ailes' Guy Club. I can't offer anything more than that which he refuses to do, which is an apology though I know it is entirely inadequate (in much the same way as he is).

To formally mark the end of an error, please let me share a truly magical interview moment from long ago when No Spin Bill met No Shit Dave and was absolutely o.w.n.e.d.

Farewell, you "self-righteous landfill of angry garbage."
-bill kenny

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Making Awesome Happen (Voodoo Chile, Slight Return)

I'd forgotten how much I enjoyed writing this until I rediscovered it. Hope you feel the same about reading it again.

If you must steal, and since the last time I had an original idea it died of loneliness I have to steal, make sure you steal quality. So I do and I did. Came across today's title as a status description by SF on Facebook Sunday (though NOT SF Sorrow) and a light came on (so thank you for letting me appropriate it even though you may not know I did. I will know).

Admittedly, the light was NOT the million candlepower type on a search and rescue helicopter but rather more like the bulb in the fridge at one in the morning when you seek sandwich fixings only to find some desiccated lettuce leaves you thought you'd already pitched in the bin.

Meanwhile, why not decide your new job, in addition to being a brother or sister, son or daughter, father or mother, employer or employee, laggard or laggee (okay, you can take this too far) sekt oder selters-whatever-- is, in however you have within your means, to indeed make awesome happen. Would this be a cool planet or not? Let's face it, you can't muck it up any more than it already is (I hope). Seriously.

Our toxic culture of victimhood is so prevalent and the mindset 'there's nothing I can do' is now such an auto default, just getting out of bed for some of us is a triumph of the will (though NOT that one). So live out loud. And if you don't change the world today, there's tomorrow and tomorrow whether the sun comes out or not (and get these mutts away from me, Annie).

Don't be daunted that you're alone that's how we enter this world and how we'll leave. It's what we do, or choose to NOT do, with the space between that marks our passage on this planet and if you're living for the approval in the eyes of others, you've already got one foot in the grave. 'I am only one, but still, I am one. I cannot do everything, but still, I can do something; And because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.' 

We might want to stagger the schedule for the whole making awesome happen thing so everyone can actually savor the sensation and appreciate the majestic magnificence of what it is we are doing and what is becoming of the world we inherited. That's part of our problem sometimes as a species, I fear, the moderation switch has been broken clean off and our appetites for destruction are so seldom sated.

And in a world of Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, Push-to-Talk, IM, texting and I don't know how much else, where I discovered with a shock that I 'know' more people online than I do in real life (by a factor of ten to twelve times over), it's easy to lose sight that "God is on the cell phone. God is on the net. God is in the warning. God is in the threat."

And if that's not enough to get you excited about being here, call in the next twenty minutes and we'll double your order, ship it to you for free and also make the first two credit card payments for you. Just part of the service.
-bill kenny

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

If You Can Read this Headline

You are already pre-qualified to read the rest of this article! 

I stole that trick from one of those old 'draw this dog' matchbook cover challenges for whoever was selling correspondence course lessons in art from back in the day. Not intrigued? How about this alt-fact from a few years ago? According to a survey, I may have just made up, children who are raised with books in their homes have 75% fewer misspellings on their visible tattoos. See? Now you're impressed. 

We are, I have been told, in danger of becoming an aliterate (not illiterate) society; that is, we know how to read but we choose not to. In our world today it's not just television, video games, computers or various hand-held devices which are changing our relationship to the written word, it's our tendency to regard books as a rationed resource or a luxury we feel we cannot afford. 

I'm not saying literacy is a lost art, but in the not too distant future when Carmen San Diego finally finds Waldo, he'll probably be reading a book about striped shirts but holding it upside down (oh! the humanity!).

But this weekend, we can take and make a stand (and fill a home bookshelf or three) while saving some of the change we'd like to make in the world. Starting Friday morning at 9 with an Early Bird preview hour (ten dollars gets you first crack at delectables and collectibles), the Friends of Otis Library unlock the basement doors all weekend through Sunday for their Annual Spring Book Sale.

Aside from the Early Bird, the entire three days is free and whatever your heart, mind, and eyes desire can be found. All winter long, the Friends have been sorting and organizing for this three days. Sports, history, biography, gardening (Spring looks to have finally arrived), mystery, classics of traditional and modern literature and everything in between and yet different, are sorted, shelved and priced to move.

Don't let the name fool you. There are also CD's, DVD's, posters, and cassettes at prices so low you'll buy twice as much as you first planned for pennies on the dollar with the Otis Library benefiting from every purchase you make. In an era of shrinking governmental support being a friend of Otis (or in my case, just an acquaintance) is a way each of us can help all of us. 

No matter which of the days you stop in (and free admission is from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on both Friday and Saturday and from noon to 3 on Sunday), despite what you may have been told, there is all kinds of free parking in downtown, just a few steps from wherever you wanted to go. 

Perhaps after you've checked out the book sale, you'll want to visit one of the many restaurants that seem to surround the Otis Library (who knew reading could lead to ravenous hunger?). If you haven't been in downtown since the Fall book sale, shame on you, but that's for another time because there are even more great places open now.

If you're coming early on Saturday, before hitting Otis, be a little earlier and swing through Greeneville and stop at Quercia's on North Main Street at the intersection of 8th Street for the formal dedication at ten of the Greeneville Mural, a community project spearheaded by Faith Satterfield that brought together, as great art should, all kinds of people from everywhere. 

It is beautiful both for what it is and what it shows we can do together.
-bill kenny

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Imagine All the People

Maybe it's because it's spring, maybe it's because I believe winter is finally in the rear-view mirror, or maybe it's because it's just the right moment to look forward to new beginnings with friends we haven't yet met. Sometimes the urge for going is so much greater than any reasons for staying. And sometimes one completes the other rather than competes.

At the risk of being perceived as (this time, unfairly) politically partisan, things in just about any corner of our world you choose to look at aren't getting any more pleasant and brighter. With the past as prologue all we have to do is look at our history to see what happens when we choose to focus on our differences rather than celebrate our similarities.

Still, despite that (or because of it), the farther out in space you go, the more alike we look. And when you pay attention, you might not hear the grass grow but you can watch all of us become even more.
-bill kenny

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Telling Never Changes the Tale

I wrote this years ago because there was nothing else to write that day but the words of the next paragraphs. We are another year on, no sense still makes no sense and people still have holes in their hearts where loved ones used to be. 

Today is Patriots' Day in Massachusetts and also the traditional running of the Boston Marathon. That order of precedence, if you will, was altered and changed for forever because of circumstances officially recalled in this news account on the one year anniversary of a day now four years previously that we all recall.

In 2013 at the Boston Marathon, Dzokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev those evil, ungrateful bastards whom we took in and who repaid that kindness with killing innocents, broke hearts, destroyed lives and shattered our national illusion of insularity and insulation from the other horrors of the rest of the world and altered forever anyone's memories and imaginings of the Boston Marathon.

Both brothers will be long faded from memory before what they did is forgotten, but better remembered, and hopefully always remembered, is what they failed to do. Just ask Jeff Baumann, who gets stronger every day and whom I fervently hope gets angry and powerful enough some day to kick the ass of Dzorkhar all the way to Boston Harbor and then hold him under until the bubbles stop.

I understand being an angry old man will get me nothing but an even more premature grave and I should take my cue from those who not only survived but triumphed over the tragedy of that day. Perhaps I shall, starting tomorrow.

Martin Richard
I have the good fortune to have a Facebook friend, a Fenway denizen and Grammy-nominee, who spent a lot of years on the Jersey Shore and has now followed the advice of Horace Greeley and gone west, Linda Chorney, who repurposed and molded her sorrow to create a beautiful celebration of a life taken terribly, suddenly and far too soon into a song perfectly suited for today and all those enjoying it.
-bill kenny

Sunday, April 16, 2017

On the Corner We See Him Coming

These started out as some of my thoughts (or what passes for such) some years back. Some things like wine improve with age; others, like sweat socks, not so much. I'll leave it for you to decide because you always do.

I used to be a Roman Catholic--actually, that's far less than accurate or truthful. It's like saying I used to be an alcoholic. Those two statements have no past tense, or pretense (my attempt at a literary joke); they just are and in this case, I am both.

The jaded, faded imitation of a person I am looks at his faith as a child and finds it easy to mock the boy on his way to manhood, but also envies him the beliefs he had. When I threw the faith of my fathers into the ocean of doubt, I had nothing to hold onto in its place as I never had the courage of my own convictions and could not develop any trust in those of any other.

Today is Easter Sunday the most important feast in the Christian liturgical calendar and (pardon my pseudo-theological seminary sermon) precipitant of the article of faith that makes us Christian if that's indeed what we are. Christmas gets the lion's share of press, carols, cards, shouted best wishes at one another, and window dressing. Christmas gets marketing help from every wholesaler and retailer imaginable and why not? Christmas is a lovely story, wonderfully symbolic and simply beautiful if you don't want to think too much about it.

Take a look at today in the New Testament of your choice and foreboding's afoot in every verse of every version of the events leading to Easter (those, by the way, are the versions and verses of my choice). And in one of the most ironic choices of terms associated with any aspect of Jesus Christ, is Good Friday, which marks His Crucifixion and Death (I went back and made the "h" a capital, not because there's hope for me but out of fear that there is no hope). And as you read the accounts, let's face it, the events of that day are absolutely horrible.

The crowd, the occupying forces, everyone, it seems has abandoned the Son of God who is sentenced to die (I'd say 'murdered' but some might argue the state does not murder) in an extraordinarily horrible manner. And yet.

It is both that death by Crucifixion but more importantly the belief in the Resurrection which followed that so many commemorate today that's the defining event for every Christian, even the ones who seem more like Simon Peter than even they should ever admit in this life.  I want you to remember this. Come on, try to remember.
-bill kenny

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Lord, Won't You Tell Us

I have never been to the Vatican, nor have I stayed at a well-known motel chain, but I know my way around the Stations of the Cross and the Lives of the Saints. I'm always amazed at the number of people who think Christmas is the origin of Christianity-others consider the beginnings to be Easter Sunday.

If the former is The Promise and the latter The Promise Fulfilled then today, Holy Saturday is the act of faith and hope that defines you as a Christian. The belief in the Resurrection which the New Testament portrays as the promised reward for the faithful servant is never so near and yet oh so far as it is today.

The earliest disciples had nothing to go on, unlike we of the Brave New World Order. They had witnessed a crucifixion-one of the most egregiously horrific forms of a death sentence at its time. Cowering in an upstairs room, huddled together while fearing any sound and every footfall was possibly a signal someone was coming for them, they had no way to see the glory of Easter Sunday. All they could do was believe.

For them to believe as devoutly as they did between the worst day in the history of the world and its greatest day remains for me as a loyal son of Holy Mother Church, but a FARC  for more years than I care to recall, the day which created the Christian religion, today the test and proof of faith.

From childhood on, I struggled against the suffocation that surrender to the traditions and the rites seemed to signify. I took no solace in unquestioning and unswerving belief, preferring what I understood the path of Thomas to be and finding no one who could answer my questions, absenting myself from the body of believers. How odd that this declaration of freedom has never created a sense of being free.

Not that I don't envy those of faith and think about the comfort that comes from that, especially as I did last night revisiting a news archive to read again about the costs of war and who pays them with the death of Captain Nicholas Rozanski half a decade ago. He came from Dublin, Ohio, to be lost in the fog of war on the streets of Maimanah, an unremarkable spot on a map of a nation we have carried with us for nearly two decades, unable or unwilling (I don't know which) to lay that burden down.

Captain Rozanski's death and those of all the fallen and forgotten should be another reminder to those of us who are alive to redouble our efforts to be the best people we know how to be in The Now because The Next, as the New Testament illustrates, can be so lonely and uncertain without a reason to believe. And either you have a reason, or you become one for someone else. When you do, every day is Easter.
-bill kenny

Friday, April 14, 2017

Distant Ships Sailing into the Mist

There is, preached Kohelet in the Book of Ecclesiastes, a season for every purpose. And around the world today within the Christian faith we are within the Paschal TriduumMonsignor Harding, wherever he is in all of the eternity, would be wide-eyed with wonder that, of all, I have been given or taught, and of all that I have lost or had taken from me, that would be a term I would hold onto.

I know a lot of Christians who see the birth of Christ, Christmas, as the defining moment of their faith, and I guess if you work retail that's an attractive argument. As a child growing up in Holy Mother Church in the late Fifties and Sixties, I knew (and had plenty of nuns, Sister of Charity type, if I were to forget) for Catholics it was the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus.

I can still remember Sister Thomas Anne faintly smiling as she ticked off the three events on the fingers of her right hand: pinkie, ring finger and middle finger (how ironic is that? (I'm lying, third graders had no concept of the significance of the middle finger, not even Bobby D'Alonzo who was a pretty fast crowd all by himself)). 

She would pause as she noted the similarity to the Holy Trinity, three persons in the One God. When I watched her do this same explanation, with the pregnant pause in the same place, complete with the slow smile of accidental recognition of her triad point for the next five years, there was still a sign, but the wonder was gone.

And yet, I suspect she, too, is smiling today. It is Good Friday, a day of such momentous import to so many disparate elements of our historical, philosophic and cultural identity where, no matter your belief, or disbelief, you can take solace from the perfect sacrifice of the Son of God who became the Son of Man and laid down His life. Even if you have wounds that can never heal, you can, if only for today, have hope, knowing there is a tomorrow.
-bill kenny

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Babylon Is Everywhere

This is Holocaust Remembrance Week. Considering the unthinkable brutality we have visited upon one another (and every species) since the dawn of time and learned to walk upright, you can be forgiven for wondering why commemorating the Shoah is only a week.

On 11 April 1945 (Western) Allied troops, technically the US Army with (about) a Canadian brigade, liberated Buchenwald, the last of the Nazi death factories. As a child growing up, I'd heard whispers by the Post World War II grown-ups, many who'd served in the wartime military about the camps, never grasping the enormity of the horror behind the gates.

While living in (West) Germany I went to Bergen-Belsen (there was a huge NATO tank competition range near there at Fallingbostel) where, decades after the horror, the early summer sky never seemed as blue overhead as it did on the landstrasse leading to Celle and where I never saw an insect of any kind or heard the song of any bird.

Science dictates they had to be there, in this place where Anne Frank and her sister, Margot, died of typhus, two of the over one hundred thousand people who perished in captivity for the crime of being different. I felt foolish offering you a link on Anne Frank as you know who she is, unless you don't, which then beggars all logic for the establishment of a Holocaust Remembrance Week in the first place.

Intolerance and hatred of the other have a long history in the human race. Some have said the first tool fashioned by the earliest man was a weapon to kill his neighbor. I'd suggest the Shoah marked the successful combining of primitive, superstitious and mindless hatred with the unfeeling, uncaring and antiseptic precision of the Industrial Revolution.

In a perverse, and reverse, triumph we had, ourselves, out machined the machines in dispatching those unlike us with a uniformity and consistency never before seen in our history on this planet. That it continues to happen, across our actually very small planet on a daily basis, in a variety of ways often so numerous and sometimes both subtle and less so, we often don't actually feel the hate, brings me to the brink of tears which is the wrong emotional response.

To have come as far as we have we, the self-anointed Crown of Creation, and still be able to stoop so low. To be so willing to harness the ingenuity and intelligence of millions of years of evolution and education in the service of the most venal and loathsome of all of our emotions is to stand naked before the world whose judgment we have chosen to disregard.

"There on the poplars, we hung our harps; for there, our captors asked us for songs.
Our tormentors demanded songs of joy. They said, 'Sing us one of the songs of Zion!'
O Daughter of Babylon, doomed to destruction, happy is he who repays you for what you have done to us. He who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks."

No corner of the world is immune to the infection of hatred as we see in every headline on any day of the week. It never stops but merely pauses only begin the cycle again, in all likelihood never to end. 
- bill kenny

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Time to Make Your Own Demands

I admired the measured enthusiasm of the Bulletin’s lead editorial last Wednesday in assessing City Manager Salomone’s budget presentation last Monday night, “Optimistic City Budget on shaky footing.

We have had these discussions on city budgets for just about all the years I’ve lived here (I am not suggesting cause and effect) and it’s good to have a reminder that in life (and budgets) things change. And often change again.

To tell you the truth I wouldn’t have been too surprised if the presentation had been printed in Jell-O because of all the unknowns and variables.

As I offered in this space years ago, the City Manager’s proposal is a process to which each of us is not only invited but encouraged to join and a discussion we, the residents and citizens of Norwich, will have with one another, with our municipal department heads and our elected officials.

Together we’ll craft a document by which we define our expectations for the quality and quantity of our municipal services, from public education and public safety to trash removal and road resurfacing and everything in between, as well as what we are willing to pay for these goods and services.

Last Monday night wasn't a preview or a rehearsal, but a combination of both with elements of neither.

Everything starts somewhere and last Monday’s presentation by Mr. Salomone was intended to be that start. We need everyone’s help so be ready. And if you haven’t yet, you should go to the city’s websitebecause that’s where you can grab a map so to speak of where we’re heading. 

The City Manager’s proposed budget is there and it reflects an enormous amount of effort, planning, and thought. You really should find the time to read it to appreciate what its creation requires in terms of time and talent.

Some department budget hearings have already happened, to include the Board of Education, whose presentation, and that of Norwich Public Utilities are also on the website.

There are more department hearings tomorrow night, starting at six followed at 7:30 by the first public hearing by the City Council. Reading ahead is always a great way to become informed and engaged so I’m grateful so much and many of the budget components are online but while they tell us what things cost, only we can decide what they are worth.

So if you’re intending to comment on the record and want our neighbors who are the City Council to listen and consider your words, please come prepared to speak but also be willing to listen to others when they speak because that's how reasonable people develop solutions, not through anger but agreement and not  naming scapegoats but offering solutions.  It’s our turn to weigh and measure.

Our city budget is a compact we make with one another, and for one another, that began with those who founded Norwich and now stretches to our children and their children. 
-bill kenny

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Putting the G in OMG

Perhaps because it's Easter Week or, as of sundown tonight, Passover, I've noticed a lot of Facebook Postings either to or about God. Admittedly there are still far fewer pictures of Jesus than of Grumpy Cat, and I certainly don't wish to suggest they are interchangeable images or that anyone is keeping count (but they are, I'm sure). 

Anyway, back to the Lord. An important part of many people's faith or the practice of it, better said  I think, is the public testimony and in that sense, all the social media platforms offer an opportunity to do that (except maybe myspace; a decade-too-late snarky remark at their expense, sorry).

Expressions of faith always discomfit me. I think that's due to a number of personal factors like being a Roman Catholic. No matter how good the Good News is, we were programmed as kids in parochial school to wait for the other shoe to drop. And eventually, it did. I think maybe Catholics in general have a less intimate relationship with the Deity than other religions. 

For my part, I was raised in the faith of my fathers and I didn't leave it so much as it left me so there's that sin of pride thing going on, adding to my problems on the Last Day and the Big Pop Quiz or however the final selections are made. (Add to that now the whole 'you compared Jesus to the Grumpy Cat!?!' I'll never explain that away). With my luck, they'll be a sing-off and won't that be just ducky?

I suppose if you believe in an All-Seeing and All-Knowing God, S/He would monitor Facebook. Kind of wonder if S/He would have an account. I know S/He has a fan page though a quick run through raises more questions than anything else since the whole "God Updates" name confuses me. Why not Twitter? It's more like a burning bush and that was good enough for Moses. In light of how we've followed them perhaps the Ten Commandments were actually snap chatted. It certainly covers that 'moves in mysterious ways' thing that's always a topic.  

I'm thinking for some of The Flock, the Lord may be a kind of McAfee or Norton virus protection and every once in awhile we like to wander off the beaten path just to watch the pop-up window signal us, and Will Robinson, of impending danger. I wonder how many 'likes' all of the loosely affiliated with Divine Providence pages manage to generate on Facebook in a day or a week and how that number compares to how many people are online and playing Farmville? There are Farmville Dollars you know; if you were looking for motivation and salvation in the next life wasn't doing it for you. Just saying. 

I mean, how many times can anyone thumbs up the Mckayla Maroney meme? Jesus is easy.
-bill kenny