Politicians usually bury an important story amidst assorted chaff in late-in-the-week press conferences. Well it’s now late-in-the-year for most of us, but I don’t have anything of particular importance to bury. So there aren’t any long stories or random philosophizing this week – just a few memories from the past year’s circuit around the sun. Hope the year you’re wrapping up gave you more good stories than bad.

Living across from a hospital, I’m used to seeing hospital entryways populated by patients with their flimsy open-backed gowns flapping in the breeze while they puff away with one hand on their cigarette butt and the other keeping their IV pole from rolling down the street. A third hand might be able to cover that other butt, but it’s not a priority to them. The other night I saw one better – I guy walked into a pub across from the hospital, still dressed in his flappy gown and fuzzy slippers. He ordered a pint, sat down and watched the soccer match. A few nights later I mentioned the incident to a nurse from a different hospital, who told me that being in a hospital is stressful enough without adding the stress of quitting tobacco to the mix. She changed the topic without addressing the man’s escape to the pub.

I stopped into a local phone store to get a new phone. After I’d purchased it, the sales rep opened up my old phone and I held out my cupped hands while he gave me its sim and memory cards.

It looks like you’re receiving communion,” he said.

Well,” I replied, “with these wafers I’ll be able to hear voices from the heavens.

We went on like this while he was installing the old cards in my new phone. Until a little old lady standing next to me at the counter told us in no uncertain terms where we’d spend eternity unless we shut up, confessed, repented and changed our ways. While our voices apologized to her, our eyeballs laughed to each other. Thank god her sales rep arrived and moved her down the counter away from us.

On a VERY bumpy flight out of Amsterdam – we hit a bump in the middle of cabin service. The drink a flight attendant had just poured went straight up, out of the glass, and returned to the glass, without spilling a drop on any of us. Then a small child in an adjoining row started laughing and saying, “Do it again. Do it again.

On most of my overseas travelling this year I noticed people rolling/wheeling/lugging suitcases big enough to hold double every bit of clothing I own. These cases could easily carry a couple of small children, as well. How can you pay attention to all of the new that’s surrounding you when you’re so burdened by the old you’re dragging with you? [I guess that’s my way of wishing you a wonderful new year in a few weeks.]