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

                             Christmas Day

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,
Mixing meals,
In cultural blenders
Prepared for young and old.
Traditions traded
Like baseball cards.
Bringing new treasures.

We gather together,
Tied by red ribbons,
Strung on family trees.
Children receiving the gifts,
Handed down
Through generations.
Brightly wrapped,
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 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,
Our creators.
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 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.