Saturday, October 25, 2014

Soupy, Mookie and the Miracles

Today is shaping up to be one exciting and exhausting day.  Early this A.M. the Missus and I shall board a big old jet airliner and journey West to spend an extended weekend with the Colorado branch of the family business.  We shall spend most of the time that we are in Colorado in Fort Collins, the beautiful city that Rob and Jess (and Tillie) call home. 

On this day, however, we shall spend our time in Boulder, the beautiful city that I called home for the four years that I matriculated my way towards my B.A. in Political Science.  The weather folks are calling for temperatures in the high 70's 'neath skies drenched in Colorado sunshine.  

We shall all be in Folsom Field this afternoon for CU's game against UCLA.  As if often the case with this generation of Buffs, today the team is a two-touchdown underdog.  As an Alumni and a fan, I shall root like hell for my beloved Alma mater.  As an atheist, I know better than to expect a miracle.

Then again, I have been in the very same building where shall be this afternoon and witnessed a miracle with my own two eyes and I have done so on this very date - October 25.  It was twenty-eight years ago today that Coach Mac I's Buffs upset the #3 ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers 20-10 and, in doing so, defeated Nebraska in Boulder for the first time since Dwight Eisenhower called 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue home.

If you are a numerologist of the baseball persuasion, then you might well believe in the mysticism of this date too.  At least if you are a fan of a certain ball club that in 1986 proved themselves not merely the Kings of Queens but the World Champions, which would not have happened but for what occurred on this very date twenty-eight years ago.

May lightning strike twice in the same place?  I have no idea.  But I know I shall have one hell of a good seat just in case it does.

Shoulder to Shoulder, It's Game Day in Boulder! 


Friday, October 24, 2014

Sticks and Tones

Serendipity is often times defined or explained as "a happy accident".  It is not necessarily an easy term to use in one's day-to-day.  However, given that 24 October is a date on the calendar marked by two events that appear to be wholly dissimilar from one another, today is a day on which I can in fact find a use for it.  

For those keeping score at home, today is United Nations Day.  It was on this very day sixty-nine years ago that the United Nations formally came into existence.  Parking in Manhattan has never been the same.  

It was also on this very day not quite sixty-nine years ago that the third child/second son of WPK, Sr. and Joanie K. was born.  By my best guess, today my brother Kelly celebrates the "Heinz" of birthdays, which conclusion I have reached through nothing more inane that calculating the difference between our respective high school graduation years and then adding that number to the age I shall be on my next birthday.  Any questions?  

The Kenny Men are - unlike the people who willed the UN into existence - not known for our diplomatic prowess.  When I was a boy, Dad used to tell me, "Life is not a popularity contest.  And if it is, we are not winning it."  It was advice that not only did I take to heart but - based upon my knowledge of them - both of my older brothers did as well.  

Norman Rockwell would not have painted a portrait of the Kenny Family.  Orwellian?  Perhaps. Rockwellian?  Not at all.  We the people who share the DNA do not always see eye-to-eye.  It is what it is.  

My brother Kelly is not - as I am - a man of words.  He is, instead, a man of actions.  A lifetime ago, before my hair went gray and before he and Linda had added the prefix "Grand" to their title "Parents", I worked for Kelly.  To say we did things at a fast pace would be an understatement.  He simply never stopped moving from the beginning of the day until the end.  And other than the occasional Sunday (and Christmas) off, he worked on every day of the week that ended in "y".  

Since he does not talk a great deal, those who know him know to pay attention to what he says.  Last Saturday Margaret and I spent a considerable portion of our evening in the company of several of my old friends.  The conversation turned from one topic to another until at one point I was telling a story about my father and about the morning that he died.  One of my most vivid memories of that horrible day - thirty three and one-half years later - was Kelly's brief yet forceful telephone conversation with Dad's brother, Jim.  No one - including Dad - liked him and it was for that reason (along with the fact he was some sort of broken down Parish priest) that we consciously referred to him as "Father Jim".  No one in our family ever confused him for a second with the universally adored "Uncle Jim", who was Mom's brother. 

Father Jim was not only an unpleasant douche bag to be around but he was also the kind of being that once you allowed him to enter your home you could not rid yourself of with anything short of an exorcism.  The thing about a leech is that once it sucks onto a host organism, it rides it to the bell - and beyond.  Father Jim was no different.   Within a few hours of Dad's death, word of his dying somehow reached his ne'er-do-well brother in suburban Illinois.  

The Prodigal Padre's worst sin was that he was perpetually rude to Mom.  He disrespected her every time he was under her roof.  So, when the phone rang in the kitchen of the home where Dad had died only hours earlier and Father Jim began barking orders to whoever had answered it regarding what airline he was going to be arriving on, what time he was coming in and what was needed for him in terms of accommodations, Kelly took control of the phone.  In a conversation that lasted - by my recollection - less than one minute and consisted of fewer than fifty spoken words, Kelly informed Father Jim that he was not welcome in our home on that day or any day and that if he dared show up at Mom's doorstep, the opportunity to get some face time with his boss and maker was going to present itself.  

Conversation concluded, Kelly hung up the phone.  Father Jim did not come that day.  He never came in fact.  He never again bothered his sister-in-law.  Mom never again had to deal with that preening asshole.  

While I remain convinced that there is no real connection whatsoever between Kelly's birthday and United Nations Day, there is in fact a template for the type of "Irish diplomacy" practiced by my brother.  It is found however not in the era of Roosevelt, Franklin but, instead, in the era of Roosevelt, Theodore... 

...and so far, he has.  Here's to celebrating the miles covered to date and those that shall unroll before him in the year ahead.  


Thursday, October 23, 2014

Idiots of the World Unite!

I am excited - almost exhilarated in fact - to learn that we have officially run out of real problems with which we have to deal.  What permits me to make such a declaration?  This new item.   

Are you phucking kidding me?  We have successfully licked the plate so clean of honest-to-goodness things that adversely impact our day-to-day that we rally behind inane ideas such as the one promulgated by this "I have too much time and too little to do" do-gooder in Florida?  Either more than 9,000 sheep did or she figured out a way to sign, herself, her own absurd petition 9,000 times.  

Newsflash for asshats such as the one referenced in the preceding paragraph (and if you scroll through her rather enthusiastic comments that pockmark the entry on the web site you will quickly realize why her self-created flame of fame shall not be fanned here.  Note to her:  The exclamation point speaks for itself as punctuation.  You need not stack them in multiples of four six):  If you do not want to permit your child to have access to a particular toy or type of toy, tell him or her "No". Powerful little word it is, "No".   You might want to give it a try.   

Setting aside for just a moment that in order for your five-to-seven year-old child to really appreciate the significance of the "Breaking Bad" action figures, he or she would have to know something the show - thus suggesting that the stiffy you sport for Toys R Us does not extend (pun intended) to AMC - how about we refocus our energy on the task at hand, which is your responsibility as a parent to actually act like a parent.   Contrary to what Geoffrey the Giraffe might have made him or her (or you apparently) believe, your child does not have a Constitutional right to roam the aisles of Toys R Us unabated.

In the immortal words of Colonel Nathan Jessup, "This is frigging ridiculous."   

Note to Joanie K. and to Michelle J.:  Get out of Florida before the new NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Petitions) sets it sights on something of real importance to you and your neighbors in the Sunshine State, such as regulating the promulgation of electric fans during televised political events.


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Stranger Passing Through...

I had a "Day After Monday" this week that was far superior in every imaginable way to its immediate predecessor.  Much of its success had to do with the fact that, literally and figuratively, I got it off on the right foot. 

My work day begins at or about 3:00 a.m., which is the time for which my alarm clock is usually set (although in the interest of full disclosure there are days on which I set it for 3:15 a.m.)  Yesterday, for reasons not entirely clear to me, I was wide awake by 2:30 or so.  For a few minutes I wrestled with the idea of remaining in the prone, non-upright position until my alarm clock officially announced the day's arrival.  But then, I decided against it. 

Instead, I got up, threw on some running clothes, went downstairs into the basement and ran a quick (for me) four miles on the treadmill.  I loathe running on a treadmill, which is why it is where I force myself to run during the week.  I view time spent on it as a necessity.  It is something akin to getting up and heading off to work in the morning.    The only time I permit myself to run in the great outdoors is on weekends.  Treadmill runs are sometimes tedious but I always get something out of them, even if I do not enjoy every moment of the experience.  

On the contrary, outdoor runs are glorious.  A feast for the senses as well as great exercise for my heart, my lungs and my legs.  They are, for me, a reward.  A reward for having survived another week earning my daily bread in the soul-sucking profession that is the practice of law.   And a pretty damn fine one if I do say so myself. 

So let the games start, you better run you little wild heart
You can run through the nights and all of the days
But just across the county line, 
A Stranger passing through put up a sign 
That counts the men fallen away to the price you pay,
and Girl before the end of the day,


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Of Bunting and Buffaloes

Tonight is Game One of the 2014 World Series.  Being that this is a year ending in an even number, it would appear that the National League Champions, the San Francisco Giants, are the team favored to win it all.  The Giants have - after all - won the World Series in each of the last two even-ending years (2010 and 2012).  Their opponents, the American League pennant-winners, the Kansas City Royals, have not won Diddley (Bo or otherwise) for almost thirty years.  It should be an interesting series.  As a baseball fan, I hope that it is anyway.  As a baseball fan, I am beyond happy that whether the Series goes the minimum of four games or the maximum of seven games, all of its games shall be played in October.  

The Missus and I shall be sporting our traveling shoes at week's end.  Saturday morning we are off to the great state of Colorado to visit the Front Range branch office of the family business.  On our way north to Fort Collins from Denver we are going to initially veer west towards the People's Republic of Boulder so that I can lay my feet upon some of my favorite real estate anywhere at CU and to watch the Buffaloes play UCLA.  I presume there is symbolism attached to the CU/UCLA football game starting at high noon.  I presume furthermore that if there is, none of it is symbolism that shall be helpful to the home team.   

It is what it is.  There are few places better to spend what is supposed to be a sun-drenched October Saturday afternoon than at Folsom with Margaret, Rob and Jess - even if I do anticipate that the latter shall make much of the fact that her Alma mater is 6-1 whereas mine is 2-5.  She would be a much better sport if her father-in-law ever proved himself to be.   Sadly, he is not.  The dude is, in fact, sort of an assh#le.  Trust me, I know him.  


Monday, October 20, 2014

Good for the Sole

Quite a nice weekend in these parts.  After babying my legs for five days following the LBI 18 Mile Run, I enjoyed two very nice back-to-back 5.5 mile efforts on days that encapsulated what Autumn is all about here in the Northeastern corner of the United States.  I ran both days without music in my ears or sunglasses covering my eyes.  I love the sights and - even more so - the smells of Autumn.  

In another couple of weeks, October shall have ceded the stage to November.  Trees that are presently adorned with leaves of many colors will be barren.  Winter will be so close that we shall be able to taste it.  Until Old Man Winter arrives, I shall embrace every opportunity I have to enjoy the outdoors.

In between my daily constitutionals, the Missus and I spent some quality time at Wardlaw-Hartridge. I enjoyed very much getting to catch up with a number of long-time friends, many of whom I had not seen since this time last year.  As much as I enjoyed that, I enjoyed even more getting to meet people and to hear some truly amazing stories about their lives and not only how they got to where they are today but how they got to Wardlaw or Hartridge or Wardlaw-Hartridge in the first place.  

Among the individuals who was honored on Saturday night was Arthur Blake, who was a member of Wardlaw's Class of '74.  Arthur was presented for enshrinement in the Athletic Hall of fame by his younger brother Jonathan, Wardlaw's Class of '76, and himself a member of the AHOF Class of '04.  Each of them spoke from the heart about not only their relationship with one another but what it meant close to fifty years ago to have been among the first African-American students to enroll at all-male Wardlaw.  Arthur shared a conversation that he and his father had in their car after Arthur had met with Wardlaw's Headmaster Prentice C. Horne one summer day to discuss Arthur's commencement of his studies at Wardlaw that September.  As the Blakes sat in their car in Wardlaw's parking lot, son asked father, "Dad, what's a trailblazer?"  All these years later, Arthur Blake laughed as he told that story, adding that he soon found out the meaning of the word.  

A wonderful, educational time was had on Saturday evening, courtesy of the Brothers Blake and the evening's other speakers and honorees.   Again, it turns out that the great American philosopher Lawrence Peter Berra was right... if there ever was any doubt.


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Math for Dummies

I very well may be the most math-challenged person I know.  Whether it was trigonometry, pre-calculus or calculus, I never comprehended the purpose of the seemingly ceaseless search for "X".  It was right where it has always been, which is bridging the gap between "W" and "Y".  Furthermore, if "X" was willing to invest all that energy and all that effort in remaining anonymous, then what right did the rest of us have to invade his privacy (or her privacy for that matter) and make "X's" identity known.  Move along already people, there is nothing to see here.  

But even Yours Truly, the 21st Century's Alley Oop of mathematics, understands the significance of addition and subtraction.  I have invested the time necessary to not only grasp but actually master the concepts.  

Thus, I can state with the utmost confidence that the world is a better place because of Bob and Linda Carey.  Moreover, it would be an even better place if we had more people like them.  Well, not exactly like them perhaps...that might be too tall an order for anyone to fill.  Although, based upon the videos and the photographs I have seen of Bob Carey wearing his pink tutu, it appears as if one really can catch a lot of air while wearing such attire.  The Careys are a remarkable story.  Impossibly easy people for whom to root...and not just when Bob sticks a particularly tricky landing.  

Conversely, and with an equal degree of confidence, I can state how much better a place the world would be if its soulless cowards all simultaneously tripped the mortal coil.  

The Brooklyn Wall of Remembrance is the first 09/11 Memorial that was erected in New York City. Its name describes it beautifully.  It contains a laser-engraved portrait of each of the City's First Responders who died on September 11, 2001 while saving the lives of others.   Among the twenty-three members of the NYPD who died that day was Police Officer Moira Smith from the 13th Precinct.  She was the only female member of the NYPD who died on September 11, 2001.  On Friday night, at Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York, someone vandalized the Wall of Remembrance - and specifically Officer Smith's laser-engraved portrait.  Authorities seem confident that they shall be able to apprehend the asswipe who committed such treachery - given the presence of security cameras at the site that captured the Caucasian woman estimated to be in her 40's or her 50's, using her hands to smudge white paint on the Wall and, in particular, on Officer Smith's portrait.  

Addition and subtraction.  Addition by subtraction.  Either way, it is an easy idea to wrap one's head around...

...even for a math dummy like me.