I have received a notice that indicates that those of you trying to follow my blog on Google Friends Connect will have to open or already have a Google account to go that route. I have no idea why they are playing this game and I apologize if it creates an inconvenience for any of you, especially my many overseas followers.
I would suggest that if that is a problem, please connect directly to my blog via glennkcurrie.blogspot.com and add it to your home screen.
thanks again for your support and I apologize for this inconvenience.
Apparently this change will go into effect on 1/11/16.
Glenn K. Currie
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
I’m including a poem today that I wrote a few months ago. It is a reflection of the times in which we live: a period when the world is changing so fast that our children and grandchildren cannot even relate to the ways of society just a few decades past.
Just as there is a chasm between generations in technology and philosophy, there has been a figurative implosion of the Earth that has left us lost in clouds where no one can find sanctuary.
The tall grass can neither hide us nor protect us from the revolution that has swept us along for 115 years. Instead it helps to fuel the journey into the future, taking us to a place where even the ghosts are swallowed by their history.
“Ghosts” (copyright 2015, Glenn K. Currie) was just published in Touchstone’s summer issue, although an editorial error has listed the wrong author. Fortunately the check was issued to the correct person and I have been promised that the error will be corrected in the next issue.
My best regards to all of you for a wonderful 2016.
Glenn K. Currie
Tall grass muffled their departure
So that I hardly knew they were gone.
Sometimes I think I see them
Running along the edge of ancient forests.
Their hooves pound the hollowed earth
That falls away even as I watch.
The ground shifts, the planet spins,
And they are swallowed whole.
Their graves are the caverns left
By the needs of their successors.
Their replacements rage across the land,
Arriving in spectacle, burning the air,
Eating the tall grass of their ancestors.
Sunday, December 20, 2015
I wrote “A Christmas Prayer” a few years ago and included it in my poetry collection In the Cat’s Eye (Snap Screen Press, 2009). Unfortunately, it has seemed to apply every year since. We can only pray that, one day, a Star in the East will shine down on all of us, and make this prayer come true.
In the meantime, may God bless all of you, everywhere, and teach us how to truly bring “goodwill” to the world.
Glenn K. Currie.
A Christmas Prayer
We exist in a dark age.
A time where horrible things
Are done unto each other
In the name of religion.
Help us to find passage
To religions’ true teachings.
To end the hatred,
The explosions of hearts and minds.
Let quiet words create a gentle breeze
That blows away
The acrid scent of burning anger,
The smoke that blinds the soul.
And in this season
Where presents are exchanged so freely,
Help us to begin to find
That gift born within each of us.
Give us the vision to see the light
That shines in the body electric.
That glow emitted by the human spirit
That can reach the farthest stars.
Give us the wisdom
To use that internal flame
To find our way onto a new path,
And into a new world.
To that promised land
Where lions lie down with lambs,
And there is Peace on Earth
Goodwill to Men.
Saturday, December 19, 2015
I think that sometimes we forget that real people are involved in the news stories that are so breathlessly related to us by some form of media. We read the headlines, and the throwaway quotes, and go back to the football or video game or current reality show that is so important in our lives. But there are real people involved in each of these. When we talk about refugees, many are people like ourselves who made the best decision possible for their families by fleeing a war torn area where a six-sided gunfight with major weaponry was being held. Most rational folks with children and homes being blown apart would probably make the decision to leave the general area.
Yet our leaders and many of our citizens simply look at the survivors as statistics. We don’t really want to be bothered with finding solutions and go with the most negative approach possible.
The following is a piece I wrote for the Concord Monitor and which was published this morning, that comments on this issue.
Concord Monitor, December 19, 2015
Apparently, common sense has become a very scarce commodity among the leadership in this country.
In a global society more integrated than ever, we are resorting to solutions like the Willows Palisades and the Berlin Wall to deal with the flood of refugees that have been swept like loose flotsam into camps too small to sustain them.
Our country has been feckless in dealing with the cancer called ISIS that has been growing in the Middle East and now, as the side effects spread across the world, we appear to be equally clueless in dealing with those members of our world community who have been cast adrift.
It is part of being a humane society to offer help to those in extremis. Some of our politicians, however, are busy posturing, and shouting out the first reactionary thoughts that come to mind from an unsuccessful playbook that was written centuries ago. Here’s a useful update for the isolationists and wall-builders. The planet is now like a big open room with no exits. We are not going to be successful if we spend our time trying to build walls out of chairs and blankets like kindergartners looking for a hiding place.
The global society is long past where we can just close our doors as a nation or a community and think the misfortunes of life will pass us by. People come into this country every day illegally. They have no screening, and yes, some wish to do harm. Building high walls won’t change that. As the world shrinks, we need to find better solutions. Our nation has retreated from the world scene in recent years. And the primary leading candidates of both parties are not providing much hope for positive change. But we need to get our act together quickly.
Glenn K. Currie
Sunday, December 6, 2015
As the generations that grew up in the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s pass from the active scene, I worry that the community structure in our nation is undergoing a seismic change.
The local organizations that provided both financial and cultural support to help knit our communities together are fading away and being replaced with nothing but the complex bureaucratic structures of the Federal government.
The aging generations and a strong local financial structure were the backbone of support in cities and towns all across the country. They are slowly dying.
1) Fraternal organizations such as Masons, Shriners, Odd Fellows, Knights of Columbus, etc. have been fading away for years.
2) Social organizations such as Rotary, Kiwannis, the Lion’s Club and the Grange have funded a huge amount of the social requirements of communities. But their memberships are dwindling.
3) Military organizations such as the VFW and American Legion have become shadows of their former selves.
4) Children’s groups like the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, 4H and Camp Fire which provided structure for so many kids have been overshadowed by the appeals of video games and drugs.
5) Churches in most areas of the country have had dramatic losses in membership and can no longer bring the resources they once had to the social structure.
6) The feeling of neighborhood and shared association has disappeared in many areas.
7) Local banks, which provided so much aid to community efforts are disappearing, replaced by regional or national organizations that have lost touch with local needs.
8) Public libraries, historical associations, and musical organizations like community concert groups, city orchestras and choral groups are finding it tougher and tougher to survive.
There are not many new organizations, fueled by the younger generations, that are focusing on replacing or reinvigorating what we are losing. Instead we are passing local responsibilities to the federal government where local needs are neither understood nor capable of being supported. Our sense of community is disappearing with them. We have already seen the impact it has had on quality of education and healthcare. The bureaucrats in Washington just don’t have the same level of interest or involvement in the quality of life in local communities. They are looking at bigger pictures.
We will lose a lot if this continues. The appreciation of the arts and the human spirit, the security of neighborhoods where people care about each other, the sense of actually feeling involved in our government will all disappear. Perhaps it already has in many places. We all may soon be tucked into our internal worlds where electronics are our lifelines to the outside, and we are just a population living in the same area. We may become a nation of lost souls adrift in tiny spaces that never feel like “home”.
I am including a piece from Granite Grumblings (Snap Screen Press, 2011) called Phil and Larry's, which may provide you with a little sense of what we already are missing.
Glenn K. Currie
Phil and Larry’s
When Phil and Larry’s store closed, it marked the passing of an institution which had been a landmark for the community. It was a destination for countless high school students who appreciated its convenience to their classrooms, but even more so, it was the sustaining energy for a neighborhood.
During the lifetime of this business, the world changed. Small downtowns were assaulted by the encroachment of mammoth malls. Service stations became convenience stores with self-service gas pumps. Five and dime stores gave way to Walmart and Target, and the corner grocer traded his apron for the unreadable nametag of the supermarket.
Somewhere along the way, the sense of ourselves as individuals also started to disappear, burning out in the white-hot intensity of modern life. People rushed head down from door to car to door, consumed by the demands of making a living, and content to satisfy their needs for conversation and human contact through the sanitized filter of the TV screen and the internet. Along the way, friends became acquaintances, neighbors were hardly known, and parents and children sometimes became distant relatives.
There were few lifelines to reach for as the waves of change swept us along. The banker who used to work on a handshake, suddenly was replaced by someone reporting to Boston or Ireland, and needed a file to know your name. And the family doctor was often replaced by organizations that ran on acronyms and numbers.
Maybe that’s why the passing of Phil Denoncourt’s little store had such a profound affect on the community it served. Phil is a personable man who seemed to reflect the best of old New Hampshire. He looked you in the eye, had that dry sense of humor that seems to be nursed to perfection in this state, and he knew everyone’s names. He treated his customers with respect and had the time to listen when you wanted to talk. He and his family provided an environment that made people want to linger and chat after they made their purchases.
Often you would see Phil and customers playing cribbage or checkers or cards when times were slow. He was always willing to give you an opinion on the movies in his video library, or discuss the virtues of the local sports teams, many of which he saw up close in his capacity as a baseball and softball umpire.
The store itself had a special charm. It was filled with all sorts of novelty candies, sports cards, and inexpensive toys that made it a joy for children of all ages. You could buy night crawlers, hunting and fishing licenses, hardware items, lottery tickets or get your skates sharpened. We were often amazed at the variety of items in the store, although I must admit that some of them had been there a while. But more than once when we had searched every store in town in vain for a desperately needed item, we would finally find it on a back shelf at Phil's.
When the world finally left the little store behind, it was because people no longer had time for it. Life had moved to the turnpikes and the country roads had become curiosities.
There was a farewell party at the store, and a final auction attended by friends. Typically, Phil felt he had recouped his inventory costs during the “going out of business” sale that preceded it, so he donated the auction proceeds to charity. People came from all over Concord to laugh and cry and pay their respects. And Phil and his mother and the rest of the family that had seen it through two generations, watched it finally end. A place that had once been called the “city hall annex” because so many of the city’s leaders congregated there, finally became an empty shell.
I don’t worry about Phil. He had a new job within two days of starting his search. And he is the kind of individual who brings to an employer much more in value than a paycheck can ever return.
I do worry about the community, however. I feel sorry for the high school students who will grow up never experiencing the difference between a Phil and Larry’s, and a self-service convenience store. And I grieve for the local residents, present and future, who have lost the chance to meet their neighbors there, talk sports and politics, and feel the pulse of a real neighborhood.
For all of us, these kinds of places were an important part of what shaped the character of New Hampshire, and they are now rapidly disappearing from the scene.
Friday, December 4, 2015
I'm really not anxious to get into the whole gun control argument because I don't know what the right answer is, But I do find it curious that in a war with ISIS and with bad guys seemingly running around all over the place, the first response by many is that the law abiding public should disarm. Is this what all the smart people were saying after Pearl Harbor? Is this really going to defeat the whack jobs and terrorists? Maybe some other steps might be justified. Sorry, but it is hard to sustain my Christmas spirit when the news keeps punching me in the mouth.
Sunday, November 29, 2015
Wow! A recent headline in the Concord Monitor said that “U. S. shoppers are losing their holiday spirit”. I wonder why.
1) Is it because greed seems to have replaced the generosity, good humor, love and hope that used to be the emotional drivers behind the season?
2) Are we becoming so stressed during this season that instead of the “Christmas” spirit, many are being infused with the beginnings of a nervous breakdown?
3) Perhaps it is having to deal with the “scolds” who are everywhere telling us: a) Christmas foods should be replaced with kale, b) The sweet smell of a real tree should be buried under the smooth plastic of an artificial tree from Macy’s, c) the sounds of Christmas carols are offensive and should be taken off public airwaves, d) make sure you get a permit before you roast any chestnuts on an open fire, and e) stop offending people by wishing them a Merry Christmas.
4) Maybe it is that many churches don’t seem like such a welcoming place anymore and you can’t come out of a service filled with the joy that used to accompany those visits. Instead you too often get a dose of political propaganda that leaves you more upset than when you entered.
5) Or possibly you are discouraged by the constant assault from the courts telling you to stop referring to Christmas, the baby Jesus or anything else that has to do with the religious part of this religious holiday if you are on public property or in a public place where non-believers could be offended. (And yes there is always someone out there who is offended by everything.)
6) Finally if it is strictly the shopping that has gotten you down, perhaps it isn’t fun anymore. The following may be some of the reasons for that: There isn’t much joy in using the internet, although it is fast and it keeps you from having to interact with real people. The stores and communities don’t spend as much time on Christmas (sorry) holiday decorations. Mostly now it seems like fake snow and candy canes. So that isn’t something to take the kids to see. And the Santa thing has been done to death. Too many bad Santas and bad TV that leaves the kids with no sense of wonder. And finding the good humor and courtesy that was once a part of the season now is such a rarity that finding “an honest man” may be an easier search.
Let’s face it, the “holiday spirit” has gradually been sucked out of the atmosphere. It has gone the way of the nuclear family, apple pie, knowing your neighbors, and good manners. And the season is now just an extended period for businesses to sell stuff…sort of President’s Day on steroids.
For a few of us, however, as we hide in our basements among our Christmas ornaments and manger scenes, there is still a little of the old Christmas spirit in our souls. For you who hide there with me, I share “Christmas Day” (Riding in Boxcars, 2006) and wish you that much criticized greeting, Merry Christmas! For those of you whom I have offended, I should warn you that later in this month I will be featuring another Christmas poem, so be warned.
Glenn K. Currie
We gather together,
For lost childhoods
And home work undone.
Eating from platters
Shared for decades
With those now framed
In old photographs.
We gather together,
In cultural blenders
Prepared for young and old.
Like baseball cards.
Bringing new treasures.
We gather together,
Tied by red ribbons,
Strung on family trees.
Children receiving the gifts,
Or given in a smile.
We gather together,
Singing ancient carols
Of spiritual renewal.
Ends and beginnings,
In the promise,
This day born.
Tuesday, November 24, 2015
We spend our lives on the surface, the very top layer of a world that, at once, frightens us and fills us with awe. Sometimes it rumbles beneath us, like an animal disturbed by our presence, but it also takes us on a joyous ride, spinning through the universe and revealing a panorama of incredible beauty.
Our individual presence is a tiny thing. Yet as we develop as part of a global society, we become a collective creature of enormous power. It seems that we get swept along in a rush hour of events that overwhelm our individuality.
In the midst of this it is easy to forget that we still have some control over our own destinies. We may choose to ride the tiger or to take a walk in the woods. We, as individuals, each make an impact on the world by our choices. Just as the wings of a butterfly can theoretically impact world events, we also add certain colors to the world.
It is easy to be stunned by the storms that seem to swirl around us, and perhaps, in shock, to get lost in anger or fear, but we dictate our own limitations.
We are entering a period of thanksgiving and hope in this season. I wrote a poem for our Christmas card this year called “Paintings”. It deals with our responsibilities and blessings as we fulfill our individual roles as painters of this beautiful, scary world in which we live.
For any of you who are not on our Christmas card list, if you would like one that also includes a beautiful photograph of a special earthbound rainbow, write me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you an email copy of the card.
And may you all have a blessed Thanksgiving.
Glenn K. Currie
We each bear different colors,
Gifts of our ancestors,
We take that palette
And add the shades
Of our individual journeys.
We are the artists,
Born to paint the world.
We may tattoo the earth
With images that scream.
Work with silent brush strokes
In quiet corners,
Or, perhaps, produce things
Of astonishing beauty.
The choices are ours alone.
Our canvas is a planet
Born of miracles.
The pictures we paint
Are our gifts,
And our burdens.
Saturday, November 7, 2015
Shortly after my company took over the operation of most of the airports in Saudi Arabia, I was visiting the old Jeddah facility. The manager and I hopped in a golf cart for a quick tour. He said “there is something I want you to see” and he drove out to the end of the longest runway. We looked out across the arid, flat, desert scrub and saw bags as far as the eye could see. There were travel bags, boxes tied with twine, designer trunks, metal containers, a seemingly endless variety of items that at some point were precious to travelers. This was the place where luggage came to die. And a long and lingering death it was. In the mid-1970’s in Saudi Arabia, there was nothing more telling about the need to modernize at least some aspects of everyday life.
These bags wound up there because the structure that was supposed to supervise their safe travel was completely broken. And the solution was to drop them off in the desert and pretend they never happened.
I fear that in the modern world, the same thing is happening to many of the poorest citizens who have been caught in nations that no longer function. In these places no one seems able or willing to fix the problems from within and no one wants to step in and take on the problems. Instead, the general consensus is that it is someone else’s issue and we hope they will disappear into the desert where we can pretend they never existed.
All over the world, the ground is shaking beneath our feet, and we keep hoping the earthquakes will happen somewhere else. Population shifts are happening as we hide within our daily lives. Migrants are flowing like water from one place to another and the levees aren’t high enough.
We are running this world the way the Saudis were running their airports in the mid-1970’s. It won’t work.
What is happening in the Middle East is indicative of what is happening all over the world, although, perhaps, in less media-attracted ways.
I wrote “Entering the Gulf” many years ago and included it in my first book Daydreams (Snap Screen Press, 2004).
“Gulf” has several meanings including “chasm” and “abyss”. Perhaps we should look at this as a place where we may all soon live.
Glenn K. Currie
(I also want to remind my readers that all of my books are still available in my website at www.snapscreenpress.com and at Gibson's bookstore in Concord, NH. Please visit my site to see descriptions on all of these publications)
Entering the Gulf
The ocean’s surface boiled,
Alive with red sea snakes,
Wildly striking out at
The churning of our wake.
The foam grew thick with blood,
Welling up from below,
Hell’s gates broken open,
Releasing venom’s flow.
These serpents seemed to guard
The entrance to this sea,
Warning those who pass here,
“This blood will flow from thee”.
Suddenly they were gone,
The Persian Gulf lay dead,
Silence like a gunshot,
So quick the vision shed.
The quiet like a veil,
Drawn o’er the Earth and sky,
An eerie, empty mask,
Concealing angry eyes.
The land then came in view,
It’s rage burning the air,
Desert sands spewing flames,
Black blood flowing everywhere.
Monday, November 2, 2015
The following piece by me was published in the Concord Monitor over the weekend. It is similar to many of the pieces in my book Granite Grumblings. I apologize for not putting any postings up for a while but my wife has been ill and I have been otherwise occupied. I hope you enjoy this little discussion of reality TV shows and the pharmaceutical industry.
Glenn K. Currie
I used to wonder who sponsors a lot of the really dumb reality shows that seem to assault our senses every night. They seem to prove that there is a bottomless pit of gullibility and inanity in this country. And then I realized that these are on the air, at least partially, as another negative side effect of a healthcare system run amok. People will believe anything if it is said enough, and the pharmaceutical industry has figured out that the watchers of reality shows are the perfect targets for their products.
This is possible of course as a result of the huge amount of money now sloshing around in our healthcare system and the total confusion surrounding its administration. Anytime you put the IRS in charge of a system you can pretty much guarantee that no one is really going to understand how it works. These are the same people who gave us a tax system that has grown like a giant amoeba and went past rational comprehension about forty years ago. And then we let the bureaucrats loose to write regulations for a 2000 page bill that nobody understood or even read when it was passed. Some of the results have been huge increases in costs for some, loss of caregivers for others, and numerous cases of double billing, double dipping and fraud by patients, healthcare professionals and insurance companies. Of special note here are the pharmaceutical companies who are making a fortune off this stuff based on all the ads they run for totally obscure drugs.
In the space of a few hours last night I tracked all the drug ads that were on prime time (mostly reality) TV.. Here are a few examples: Movantek, Xaralto, Trulicity, Prevnair 13, Prevagen D, Invokana, Stolana, and Xifaxin. There are more but you get my point. I defy anyone to tell me what all of these do. If you can, you watch too much TV. The only thing these drugs have in common are a stream of side effects that scare the hell out of people. Yet somehow consumers, who don’t have to pay for them, run to their doctors demanding they get them and their doctors, who don’t have to pay for them, prescribe them. Oh yeah, and the rest of us do pay for them in higher health costs, the profits from which support reality TV and lots of other slightly less inane offerings.
As a result of “The Affordable Care Act”, we are throwing an expected 20,000,000(?) more patients onto the roles, but we are cutting the pay of our primary caregivers and demanding that they see more patients per hour. We are also demanding huge new levels of record keeping (presumably so we can keep track of how much money is being stolen from the system). This in turn requires huge new investments in hardware and software by hospitals, caregivers, insurance companies, etc. Not surprisingly, out of all this comes lots of frustration from the primary caregivers who are the glue that holds the system together. We are seeing many retire rather than deal with a lower standard of care, longer hours, a diminishing relationship with patients and lots of time on computers doing data entry. God bless the survivors but I am sure some are feeling that this isn’t what they signed up for. But take heart, we are also getting to see the huge employment boom and advantages of more bureaucrats in Washington. These genii are doing their level best to add to the confusion with an onslaught of new regulations.
An example of the absolute absurdity in the level and detail of the new regs is the expansion of new codes which will be demanded in the forthcoming ICD 10 Code Book.
The number of codes is increasing from 13,000 to an anticipated 68,000. And here are some of the examples that will now be tracked (source is an April 2015 report from the Frugal Nurse website):
1) R46.1 Bizarre personal appearance
2) W61.62XA Struck by a duck
3) Z63.1 Problems in relationships with in-laws
4) W22.2XD Walked into lamppost again
5) W55.41XA Bitten by a pig
6) V97.33XD Sucked into a jet engine
7) Y92.250 Injured in an opera house
8) Y93.D1 Injured when knitting or crocheting
9) V95.42XA Forced landing of a spacecraft injuring an occupant
10) T71.231D Asphyxiation due to being trapped in a discarded refrigerator, accidental
I am sure there is also one for when this last item is “on purpose” and there is probably an individual bureaucrat assigned to each of these codes.
All of this puts an additional reporting load on the providers and insurers in the system and ultimately costs the insurance payer more money. As with everything else the government seems to do, we are taking things to absurd levels. Perhaps we will soon have a reality TV show on Washington bureaucrats as they sit in their cubicles and toss around ideas for new regulations. I can only hope that there will soon be a new code for “bureaucrat falling out of chair while laughing at idiots that pay him or her to do this stuff”.
But not to worry, all of this money going into the pockets of pharmaceutical companies and others pretty much guarantees that we will see lots more advertising support for the kinds of brainless programs that will bring them an audience. The survival of “Divorced Housewives of LA” or some similar programs should be pretty much assured as long as all of us pay the bill. And the bureaucrats will trail along right behind to make sure we continue to build a system that defies understanding.
Thursday, October 15, 2015
I just returned from a trip to Orlando. Most of my time was spent at a convention, but Susanne and I did take one day to go to Sea World. Susanne wanted to see the penguins and I was curious about what might have changed since my last visit about forty years ago.
One of the differences which became obvious fairly quickly was that we were a lot older than most of the visitors. Not many folks in their sixties or seventies. What’s with that?
Since I still felt about twelve inside, however, it didn’t slow me down…much. However, as I stood in line to do the roller coaster water slide, I started to understand. The entire time I waited in line I was besieged by the warnings trying to scare away old people. We were informed that people with heart problems, high blood pressure, fainting issues, headaches, diabetic coma problems and about seventeen other potential health problems should not do the ride. It was worse than hearing the side effects for all the prescription drugs they try to sell us on TV. It turned out to be a mild type of roller coaster and I seemed to survive okay. I think that all the warnings were the scariest part.
They were right about getting wet, however. I realized I was probably in trouble when even the kids were suddenly pulling out ponchos once we got into the cars. As I emerged soaking wet in a tee shirt, Susanne pointed out that the Antarctica exhibit was right next door. Still in my twelve year old mind set, I said let’s go. I realized my mistake when we got inside and the guides were wearing ski parkas. I lasted about ninety seconds in the sub-freezing penquin exhibit, and then waited in the sunshine outside while Susanne spent another ten minutes developing a close friendship with the guide and the little stars of the show.
The rest of the park was about as expected and didn’t seem too different from my last trip there. There were dolphin and seal shows, and sharks and small whales, and lots and lots and lots of walking. I was starting to figure out why the grandparents were all sitting by the pool at the hotel. We made it for about five hours and then collapsed for the rest of the day and night.
In reality I had a few worn parts by the end of the day and also, after spending part of the day in a very cold, wet tee shirt, I had to concede that my twelve year old mind was preventing me from reaching that “age of wisdom” that is supposed to be one of the benefits of getting older.
The following poem Spare Parts (Daydreams, Snap Screen Press, 2004) pretty much says it all.
Glenn K. Currie
Part of me,
Is getting old.
Which once were bold.
My body’s strength,
Starting to soften,
Repair bills coming,
Much too often.
Part of me,
Is still a child.
A playful mind,
But youthful players,
Now pass me by,
An aging façade,
Draws empty eyes.
Part of me,
Is out of sight,
Lost in the night.
All the things,
That might have been,
By what I am.
Part of me,
Is still a fool,
A circling pilot,
Trying to be,
What I’m not,
Wasting the parts,
That I’ve still got.
And part of me,
Has learned a lot,
Things still to do,
An age of wisdom,
Would be something new.
Friday, October 2, 2015
The western world seems like an old man who has lost his balance. The collective nations have “fallen and they can’t get up”.
These countries are being overwhelmed with violence. Their children are dying in mass shootings in schools and colleges, buildings are being blown up, riots in the street are becoming more common and there seems to be a general loss of faith in our “law and order” societies.
Through all of this, our leadership is hiding behind the curtains, frozen in indecision while the Earth keeps spinning.
The Middle East, teeming with oil and homeless emigrants, is such a confused and hopeless place that we now have countless different factions in Syria, Iraq, Iran, Lebanon, and Yemen fighting three and four-sided wars. Further complicating things is that Russia, the western nations and Turkey are sometimes supporting or undercutting two or three of these sides at the same time, which leaves everyone dancing around each other, blowing people up but trying not to blow anyone up among the major nations that have joined the fray. It is total chaos.
We skate along the fringe of some major catastrophe as we wallow in indecision on the thin ice of world confrontation. It’s like watching a bunch of firemen argue about who has jurisdiction over a fire while the city burns. In the meantime, we are running out of cities. The only things we are not running out of are the aforementioned oil and the supply of emigrants who are desperate to get anywhere that isn’t there.
We need to find some leaders somewhere in this world who can put all these quarreling children in a “time out”. So far all we seem to have are incompetent, immature teenagers who want to flex their muscles or science nerds who have decided to hide in the band room.
The world is a frigging mess and our leaders are pretending that everything is wonderful.
Our sub-conscious selves know this isn’t true. If you look at our literature, films, television and video games, you will see that the common subject matter is the “walking dead”, the end of the world, mass murderers, horror stories and superheroes who save us all with special powers within three seconds of a nuclear explosion.
We have become a world of pretenders with neither the will nor the leadership to accomplish more. We have become the stupid people in the ad who hide behind the chain saws to avoid the crazed killer.
The truth is we are standing on the “ocean’s edge, staring out across the sea. Hoping to find a pilot wise, and a ship to carry me”.
I wrote The Journey (In the Cat’s Eye, Snap Screen Press, 2009) a few years ago to talk about the individual journey we each travel through life. But it also applies to the trip we share as our world travels its own “journey”. Unfortunately, “the winds of chance” aren’t blowing too favorably for any of us right now.
Glenn K. Currie
When first the waves washed over me,
I knew not what they’d bring,
I floated free in quiet rest,
‘Til the world came rushing in.
I awoke to drum beats calling me,
The same that ruled my heart,
And the youthful soul that marched therein,
Followed an unmarked chart.
Each step required another choice,
Offering different ways,
Decision trees flowed endlessly,
A spider’s web of grays.
Soon I came to the ocean’s edge,
Staring out across the sea,
Hoping to find a pilot wise,
And a ship to carry me.
But no one knew what lay across,
There was no where or when,
Even the stars could only say,
Where I had already been.
The truth I found, was I alone
Must bridge the start and end,
Writing my life on grains of sand,
The winds of chance my pen.
Thursday, September 24, 2015
One of the problems with de-emphasizing history in our schools is that children grow to adulthood with no perspective on life.
Too often we see people with no understanding of what life was like in any other period but the present. They make judgements that are totally out of the context of the issues and pressures of the time.
The result is that everything becomes simplified into today’s view of the world. The sacrifices are ignored and the mistakes highlighted. We forget how many parents watched their young children perish to disease that is today only a minor inconvenience. We forget the poor communications and harsh realities of survival. We are critical of past leaders of our nation because they didn’t rectify all the problems of society in their one (usually short) lifespan. We focus on the negatives in their lives and turn them into cartoon characters. George Washington becomes a slave owner with wooden teeth who chopped down a cherry tree. How could we have possibly named a city and a state after him? Abraham Lincoln sought to compromise on the subject of slavery in a failed effort to avoid the coming horror of a civil war. Why would we give him a monument and put his picture on our currency? Benjamin Franklin was a party person who probably took drugs. Banish him from the role of hero of the Revolution.
Our efforts to redefine history in terms of the present day focus on “politically correct” actions is eliminating our sense of honor and integrity as a nation and gradually tearing apart all of those who helped create and sustain our democracy. And surprise…we have found no one to replace them.
This has left our nation lost. We have been plunged into the chaos of a world where our children eschew the old emphasis on strength of character and morality, and have instead been taught through the new media to emulate the gangbangers, Hollywood celebrities and billionaires who offer material wealth as the new sign of leading a successful life.
We are taught to laugh at or ridicule a speaker who refers to things like “ideals”, “morals”, “honor”, “integrity”’ and “sacrifice”. He or she is referred to as naïve, or that worst of putdowns “a Boy Scout”. Instead, we flood our TV’s and internet with shows that highlight “egotism”, “greed”’ “violence” and “ignorance”. Our political candidates surge ahead by being the ones who say the most outrageous and divisive things.
We have become an angry, sad and frightened nation whose residents have lost all sense of what made us a great nation, and, instead, cringe behind the locked doors of our homes hoping the developing conflagration will pass us by.
I fear for our future. We have lost our perspective about our past and what we created that was so unique in the world. We crush the dreamers, ridicule those who see the best in us, and applaud those who have no soul. .
We do all this at our own peril, for we open ourselves to the siren songs of the “true believers” who would plunge the world into hatred and vengeance.
I am closing with a poem True Believers ( In the Cat’s Eye, Snap Screen Press, 2009). The world has been down this road before. I pray we are smart enough not to choose it again.
Glenn K. Currie
They wear their causes
Made from the cloth
Of cultural epiphanies
Or sacred decrees.
They march to words
Beaten into placards.
Written too large
The small surface
Of their hearts.
Their torches burn
At my windows,
To a society
They want to create
A new world,
Believes the same.
Where everyone knows
All the answers.
Friday, September 18, 2015
Where are we going? Who knows? That’s what makes the journey so exciting.
I don’t understand people who give it up because they fail once or twice. Every successful person has failed. And as long as you are still living on this earth, you still have the opportunity to make your journey a better, more satisfying experience.
I have changed careers five times in my life. I achieved a modicum of success in each, but I also failed at times in each. If you are fortunate enough to have good health, you have new opportunities at every stage of life. You may have to replace energy with experience, but there is a place where you can be a positive influence on the world around you.
I am turning 72 in a few days. I am at another one of those stages in life where I need to renew my purpose. I don’t know how long this stage will last, but I know if I do nothing, I will wither away. Once you have cancer, even if it seems under control, you never again have the same feeling of being in control of your life. But it also sends a message about how precious is your time on this planet. It is a time to make those days as valuable and useful as possible.
For those at younger crossroads in their lives, the options are much greater. The choice is yours as to where you go and what you do. Suck it up and find something in life that makes you happy and takes full advantage of the opportunity to live on this beautiful planet.
Everyone finds their path in a different way. We may search in different places, walk in different shoes. The important thing is that even if you get lost along the way, a path is still there, and you can find it again if you are willing to work at it.
A Gospel Song (Daydreams, Snap Screen Press, 2004) is just one way to find a road that will help make life’s journey a rewarding trip.
Good luck to all of you in your travels on this Earth.
Glenn K. Currie
A Gospel Song
I chose a path, then lost my way,
Each turn another wasted day,
The woods were dark and cold and deep,
My spirit numb, my mind asleep.
The forest filled with empty souls,
Its young too quickly growing old,
Decaying life defined the scene,
A jungle, home to broken dreams.
I searched to find another road,
Through dark despair and storms I strode,
But all the signs were pointing down,
The only exits under ground.
Then suddenly a light broke through,
What source it was, I never knew,
And far away, across the pines,
I heard a church bells distant chimes.
A path emerged, that cleansed my soul,
It led me home and made me whole,
The road so hidden in the night,
Was wide and gleaming in the light.
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
Just a quick note on modern life. Here is a slightly updated view of our electronic world. This was first published in Granite Grumblings, Life in the Live Free or Die State,( Snap Screen Press, 2011). I hope you have some fun with it.
Glenn K. Currie
Multi-tasking may have saved civilization as we now know it. Given all the wonderful new electronic toys that have been developed over the last thirty years, it doesn’t seem like it would be possible to fit their full usage into a twenty-four hour day without our citizens’ remarkable ability to become skilled at multi-tasking.
Think of how difficult it would be to devote proper attention to all our computers, IPhones, televisions, video games, and IPads, if our inventiveness hadn’t made many of these electronic wonders capable of performing many tasks simultaneously and at the press of a button.
Our modern society has essentially ended the need for stereos, VCR’s, CD players, DVD’s, pagers, paper notebooks, calculators, calendars, cameras, typewriters, fax machines, copiers, compasses, telephones (landlines), encyclopedias, books, newspapers and games requiring other people in the same room. All of these can now be easily replaced by a portable computer, an up-to-date smartphone, and/or an IPad. And each of them is gradually doing more of the work of the others. You can talk for hours, practically free, on computers, stream shows on smartphones and IPads, and do your word processing by just talking to Siri.
People have learned to use these simultaneously. Now they can check email, stay current on the latest soaps and reality TV, commute on the turnpike, dictate reports to the office while receiving a fax from overseas, scream at the guy cutting them off at the exit and write, text, tweet a friend,(although, please, not when the car is moving). In previous eras, it would have taken hours to get all that done.
Things actually began to change with the proliferation of fast food places and the invention of the microwave. Once the need to cook dinner on a real stove was eliminated, it opened up all sorts of additional time for families. Everyone could get home later, eat faster, and waste less time actually communicating with each other. Then we got remote controls on the TV’s so guys could watch three different sporting events at once. This in turn forced wives and kids to get their own TV’s, which further cut down on face time.
The arrivals of all the new electronic toys were initially a challenge, but with the reduced need to communicate with real people, we began to see evolution take hold. Our fingers became more dexterous as we learned to use them for video games, channel flipping and text messaging.
Our Blackberries became smartphones which then became cameras and pagers, our automobiles became portable offices and movie theaters, our computers and smartphones became capable of video conference calls, “Skyping”, and “face time”, and they all talked to each other. Pretty soon we didn’t even need to get involved in some of the conversations.
For many, there was almost no reason for real life to intrude on these virtual worlds. Messy issues such as meeting people face-to-face, having real conversations with our children and meeting our neighbors needed to never occur. Even the survival of the species was assured without the need for face-to-face meetings.
But if you are still of the old school that favors some contact in this last critical objective, our inventive geniuses have developed easy ways to multi-task this as well. This was clearly pointed out in a television commercial a while ago. Modern man was busy playing with his remote control and waiting for a big game when his wife signaled that it might be time for a little face to face contact. What to do! Then he remembered the opportunities provided by multi-tasking. He could record the big game, take a Viagra and spend some quality time with his wife without missing anything important, or getting too emotionally involved. Heck, a lot of the ads now emphasize people taking Viagra or some similar pill and having sex in separate but adjoining bathtubs. (I’m still not sure how that works, but I’m old). Lots of folks also seem to turn their IPhones on and tape the actual act to share with a whole bunch of other people whom they don’t know.
Some of you out there may think this is the beginning of the end of our civilization. But most of us in New Hampshire don’t get too caught up in this stuff. We may use many of these new marvels, but we still find plenty of time to spend with our families, watch a sunset, count the stars and get to know our neighbors, right?
And if not, it’s not really that big a deal. I know some web sites that have great pictures of the galaxies and sunsets, and there are several that will send greetings to friends and relatives free of charge. As for the neighbors, most of them are too busy to want to meet you anyway. And that gives you more time to pour a cool drink, go out to the screened –in porch and update your Facebook page. I now have over 150 friends and I honestly don’t know who half of them are. Once you start going down the friends-of-friends route it gets pretty confusing. I can’t wait for a new app to come out that will automatically update my Facebook page so I don’t have to deal with any of these people. I need more time to figure out how to play Madden Football.
Sunday, September 13, 2015
The need for politicians to understand the issues that affect their citizens has been forgotten in many cases in our national elections.
We see candidates run for office who have either lost touch with the general public or never established it in the first place. Money gives people easy access to fame through TV ads and the general efforts of a good public relations team, but it doesn’t ensure that they have a clue about the real concerns.
We have a lot of candidates for high office who have simply spent too much time in Washington. We also have some from outside Washington who have never experienced the real world of life as an ordinary citizen.
Most of us can sense when a candidate had lost touch. They haven’t had to sit in a traffic jam for years, caught the middle seat in coach on a flight, or waited in line while some bureaucracy screwed up an application for something. They may have never sweated a paycheck, or ridden a commercial bus from town to town.
I am tired of having people in office who don’t know how to do stuff. They have never managed a company, hired or fired workers, or met a payroll. They have no idea how to manage. Yet we send them off to manage the most complex system in the world and are surprised when they are clueless. That is our fault as voters, but we don’t demand better. We also put people in office who don’t understand what really ticks off the ordinary citizen. They don’t have to deal with all the bureaucratic requirements our government puts on our shoulders: the inane health system and 100,000 pages of tax law, or the countless other things that irritate the hell out of us.
And a term or two in Congress does not qualify them in any of these areas. They have “people” down there who do everything for them. Heck, we’ve been told straight out by the leadership that they don’t even bother to read the bills they pass.
I wrote a piece a while ago about the need to demand more from our candidates. Leaders of the Free World (Granite Grumblings, Snap Screen Press, 2011) was a frustrated attempt to require more from our candidates than having a lot of campaign financing and a big mouth with a silver tongue. It remains even more true today. We are running out of time and need to pick leaders who can actually understand and lead this country. Playing the typical game of yelling back and forth, calling each other names and playing to a media that has lost touch with the country is not going to get us where we need to go.
I humbly herewith resubmit my suggestions for some of the things that might finally get us some leadership from people who actually understand America.
Glenn K. Currie
Leaders of the Free World
Did you ever wonder how we got to be the “leader” of the free world? It is hard to believe that it is the result of the quality of our politicians.
Most of our leaders seem to be in Washington because their other careers went dead, or maybe they never had another career. And a lot of them aren’t able to apply themselves well at this job either, based on the amount of time they actually spend representing us at the various legislative meetings.
But once elected, they don’t appear to have much to worry about, because our voters don’t seem to care. Apparently our voters are so dumb they can’t even figure out a butterfly ballot, let alone determine if their representative is earning his paycheck.
No wonder the rest of the world is a little worried about us. Our election standards are even lower than our education standards.
Right now, any idiot who is a natural-born citizen and is at least thirty-five years of age, can run for President. And a lot of them have taken advantage of that opportunity. The election process isn’t doing a very good job of culling the herd. We, as voters, keep putting people into office and then complaining that they are in office. Then we nominate an even bigger idiot to try to replace him or her.
I think, as keepers of the first real primary, we have some responsibility to ourselves and the world, to establish a few minimum requirements to be eligible to be a leader of the free world. And maybe we should also impose a few demands on our voters as well.
For our would-be presidential candidates, I suggest the following eligibility standards:
1) Live in an apartment without a doorman for at least a year.
2) Serve at least one year in any combination of the following non-supervisory jobs:
Food service, manufacturing, sales, health care, transportation, construction, or education.
3) Complete two years of service in the military, the Peace Corps or an equivalent (without a valet or PR person to assist).
4) Ride a public bus across country, stay at least one night in a flop house, and spend at least two weeks in a place without indoor plumbing.
5) Demonstrate the ability to successfully run an organization that is not inherited or funded by family trusts.
6) Personally fill out and file a federal tax return.
7) Demonstrate a sense of humor and the common sense to recognize BS when it is up to the ankles.
8) Read at least one trashy novel and watch a week of daytime television.
9) Demonstrate a working knowledge of baseball and football.
10) Spend a month as a teacher’s aide in an inner city public school.
As for the voters, my expectations must be much more limited. But even with that realization, it seems that there should be a few basic requirements, none of which are currently being enforced.
Voter standards should be as follows:
1) Prove they are United States citizens.
2) Only be allowed to vote once in each election.
3) Be required to identify themselves at the polls. (If they don’t know who they are, they probably shouldn’t be voting.)
4) Be declared ineligible if they are convicts or persons legally rendered incompetent.
5) Be a human being. (No more dogs or parrots getting the vote).
6) Have a pulse.
7) Be able to state the last name of the person for whom Washington, D.C. was named.
None of the above requirements are particularly demanding for either the voters or the future leader of the free world. They might, however, go a long way towards ensuring the humanity and executive abilities of those involved in the election process.