Monday, March 26, 2007

warmer than ever

The past few days have been summer-like here in Wisconsin. The temperatures have been in the mid seventies with lots of sunshine to convince us that winter is officially over. On the one hand that is great; on the other hand it's kind of scary.

With all the talk about global warming, I can't help thinking that there is definitely something different about our climate. Here it is the last week of March and it feels like the first week of June. I have no definitive proof that the earth is getting warmer each year, only anecdotal evidence that here in my little spot of the earth things are not the same as they were before.

Starting back in 1985, we would take off for a Florida vacation each Easter week, which was generally the first week of April, give or take a few days. We would load up the van in the cold and often snowy conditions, dteaming all the while about the warmth and sunshine that was just a 24 hour drive away. It was always a thrill to see the trees budding as we traveled southward into the earlier springtime of the southern states. When we would start out from home, none of the new daffodils or tulips would be pushing up, tentatively testing the atmosphere for congeniality. The grass we could see where the snow had melted would be brown and tired looking from the long struggle against the cold. The dirty gray curbside snow mounds would just be melting enough to make the roads wet and sloppy, leaving our van streaked and dirty with salt spray from the roads. We would leave home bundled in our winter jackets and sweatshirts, eager to shed them at the first sign of the promised warmth. That first hint of pleasant temps would usually be found as we drove through Kentucky and on into Tennessee.

But now it seems silly to go to the trouble of loading up the van for an excursion to find warmth and definite Spring. The daffodils and tulips are already half grown. The grass has greened up nicely and will need cutting soon. I've already fertilized the lawn with its first feeding, when in the past that would not occur until mid-April. Spring arrived well ahead of its meteorologically scheduled time. Something has caused all these changes and it isn't a freakish anomoly anymore.

Not only is Spring arriving early, but Fall is extending its stay well past the old alloted time. In the past few years it has not been unusual to see golfers on the course into December. This past Christmas the weather was mild enough for some of the golf courses to open for play. The mild weather that has replaced the old blustery cold has also meant that the lakes remain lkquid and not frozen far longer. Some people around here can't seem to grasp the idea that the lakes would not be frozen in mid-December and then drive their snowmobiles and even cars onto the thin ice causing all kinds of tragic mayhem.
Winter sports enthusiasts have had a difficult time satisfying their love of the winter outdoors, since snow has often been in short supply. And even when we get a heavy snowfall, as happened in the first week of last December, the mild temperatures that followed melted all that snow within a week. In the past we would spend Thanksgiving at our lake cottage in central Wisconsin and most often be able to ice skate on the lake. This year at Christmas time when we went there, there was no snow and the lake had only a light skim of ice on it. January this year was one of the warmest on record. February was finally like the winter we were primed to expect-very cold, lots of snow-but even that was fairly short lived and over before we really got a chance to complain.

According to an article I read in yesterday's newspaper, our average annual temperature has risen almost a full degree over the past twenty years. That may not sound like much of an increase, but what it means in real terms is unmistakable. Migrating birds are arriving back here weeks earlier han they used to, some previously unknown insects in this area have incroached farther north than ever before, wildlife habitats are being threatened by the changes in temperatures causing new species to compete with old for the same territories, lake levels are falling due to the increased evaporation caused by shorter freeze cycles, some native vegetation is dying off, leaving the landscape open to new and intrusive forms of plants, and severe storms like hurrricanes are becoming stonger due to the warmer oceans. All these things are unmistakably documented and qualitative changes due to the warming of the atmosphere. My springtime travel experiences may be anecdotal and unsubstantiated scientifically, but there is no arguing with the facts that stand before us.

If you haven't yet seen AL Gore's film treatise on global warming, "An Inconvenient Truth," see it soon. If you have any doubts about the truth of global warming and its effects on our lives, his presentation will open your eyes to the facts and quite possibly scare the hell out of you. Anyone who still doubts the veracity of the ongoing crisis, is living in abject denial and will most likely drown when the oceans rise to where they have their heads stuck in the sand.

In the meantime, I have lost count of the Robins already in residence in my backyard, I've gotten my lawnmower ready to cut a month earlier than I expected, the tulips are nearly ready to bloom before Easter, and the golf courses are greening up nicely and awaiting me before I've had a chance to work on my swing. In my little corner of the world, global warming is an undeniable fact. I'm living with it right in my own backyard.

Friday, March 23, 2007

big ones, small ones......

How do they do it? Women, I mean. They have to haul around those humongous appendages and still manage to stay upright. Some of them carry so much weight that you have to wonder how their backs don’t collapse from the strain. Sure some of them carry smaller versions of the usual, but even they have to contend with the unbalanced posture that often results. And it’s not like they have no choice--going smaller is an option available to any of them if they would only give up the notion that bigger is better. And it’s not like they really need all that extra load they carry. How many of them actually use all they’re carrying around. Common sense would seem to indicate that they should downsize to smaller versions and take some of the debilitating load off their backs. How many of you guys have wanted to rush to the aid of one those women, grab a couple hands full, and lift up to help her out. Only cultural propriety prevents us from doing so. And the possiblity of arrest through the misunderstanding of our chivalrous intentions.

Perhaps a change in popular culture and fashion is the only way that women will be saved from themselves. Convincing them that getting smaller won’t turn the guys away may be the solution. Guys really, honestly, don’t care how big or small they are, just that they are usuable when needed. And they don’t have to be covered with anything fancy; unadorned utility will suffice just fine. The smaller versions might even eliminate the need for special clasps and closures that make access to the treasures held inside sometimes difficult to get to. Come on guys,admit it, you don’t really pay much attention to them anyway unless she’s got something special that catches your eye that you just have to touch and caress. If she’ll let you. Women are so touchy about sharing something so personal.

But having raised all those points, I have to admit being grateful that Mary carries an ample example of the aforementioned. Many times when I least expect it she will offer up a handful of what I need. She is always prepared to share her largesse with me. Sometimes I have to ask, but even then she will bring forth the desired result. I am certainly one of the lucky ones to benefit from her generosity and willingness to share. She, like most females, insists that large is better than small. After all, the larger her PURSE, the more likely she will have everything she, or any man, could ever want or need.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


About 13 years ago, while glancing outside through the patio doors, I spotted a little bundle of fur creeping along the deck in the corner where the railing meets the wall. And then there was another little ball of fur coming around the corner. And another. And another. And finally the fifth kitten sibling stuck her nose out from under the deck.

Five little kittens, three of them all gray, one all black, and one tortoise shell colored, were searching the area around the deck for...what? Their mother obviously. They couldn’t have been more than a few weeks old, so their mewing and searching had a desperate quality. The mother cat must have made her home under the deck, feeling safe and secure enough to have her kittens there.

Seeing those five rather forlorn creatures suddenly made me think about the bloody smashed carcass out in the street in front of the house. The kittens’ mother was certainly not going to be bringing her brood any supper that day. Or any other day. We were now faced with five orphans in need of a home.

Capturing those skittish kittens was no easy task. We couldn’t get close enough to them before they would scamper back under the deck away from our grasp. But realizing they were probably hungry enough to discard some of their caution, we placed a bowl of milk inside a wire dog kennel with the door ajar far enough for them to get in, but not to escape too readily when we aproached. Four of the kittens were seduced into the cage and held captive. The fifth one, the tortoise shell, was far more wary and standoffish. I spent the better part of an hour sitting quietly near the cage, trying to coax her close enough so I could grab her. Finally the smell of that milk and the proximity of her siblings to the food was enough to overcome her fear of capture.

As a family we were never “cat” people, preferring dogs as pets. But faced with those five little cute kittens, and a daughter who insisted we keep one of them, we somewhat reluctantly became the new home of the tortoise shell cat. We found a home for one of the others, but had to take the remaining three to the local shelter. So there we were, the nurturers of a kitten who needed a name. In honor of her mother who lay in the street, we named our new kitten Smoosh.

Most cat fanciers will tell you that a tortoise shell cat is generally aloof and shy, maybe even unfriendly. Smoosh proved to be all of that. Never one to seek out a lap to nap on, she prowled the house and tolerated our presence. She and the dog got along well enough, but Smoosh most often preferred her own company to that of her housemates. And yet, despite her loner personality, we came to accept her and she us. She made her wishes known with an occasional sortee into our presence where she would mew her instructions for us until we did her bidding. Once her authority was again established, she would retire to her favorite perch atop the loveseat in our bedroom, where she could monitor the world through the window.

As cats go, Smoosh was a contented traveler, hunkering down under the car seat to wait out the journey to wherever we were taking her. And we took her everywhere with us. She put on a lot of miles under that car seat, going with us on vacations and of course to the lake. It didn’t matter where we took her, once we arrived she would establish her rule and seek out the best hiding place, only coming out of hiding to nibble some cat food, take a dainty drink of water, and perform her daily toilet.

She was never an outdoor cat, living her entire life inside, the queen in her castle. Her haughty demeanor seemed to suggest that the outdoors was for the riffraff, the commoners, who were beneath her notice. And it’s true, we waited on her, providing everything she needed, so hunting or providing for herself was never a consideration.

Our bedroom became her domain where she could luxuriate atop the bed, rolling in hedonistice contentment on the plush comforter. She reluctantly allowed us to use the bed at night, but not before always strolling between us, tail and head high, to exact her tribute of ear scratches and back strokes. If I had a book in my hand she would use the corner of it to scratch her own ears and neck, never even offering a thankyou for my holding the book for her. When the lights went out she would claim her spot at the foot of the bed, daring us to try to displace her with our feet.

As the years went by, she became more and more reluctant to go down the steps to use her litter box, sometimes showing her displeasure by leaving us lumpy, untidy messages in the upstairs hallway. So of course to accommodate her wishes, we moved the box and her food upstairs. With that, she was rarely seen venturing further than the top of the stairs where she could look down on us mere mortals.

Age and infirmary come to all creatures eventually, and those afflictions arrived too soon for Smoosh. Thirteen is not that old for a cat--about advanced middle age--but when any kind of physical difficulty occurs, treatment at that age can be problematic. Around a month ago, Smoosh stopped eating. She continued to drink, but wouldn’t even nibble at her food. A trip to the vet for tests and a course of treatment proved ineffectual. She still refused food and soon was unable to even hold down the water she continued to drink. Another vet visit again showed no cause for Smoosh’s condition. Not eating for so long--we tried to entice her with different foods and special treats--caused her to lose fully 1/3 of her weight. Lethargy set in. She no longer cared to get her ears scratched or her back stroked. She didn’t seem to care when we took over the bedroom each night. Smoosh was wasting away before our eyes. Yesterday after she tried to drink again, she gagged the water back up convulsively and then struggled to get back into her favorite spot on the loveseat. Unable to jump up onto her usual perch, she slumped with resignation on the floor beneath the desk. It was time.

No matter how much you discuss the possibility, no matter how much rationalization comes into play, no matter how convinced you become that the inevitable must happen, it just is not an easy decision to make or carry out. But watching our pet suffer and waste away was every bit as hard to do as making the decision to ease her suffering. When Mary arrived home from work, we called the vet and told him that the time had come and that we were prepared to take that final step. Mary held Smoosh in her arms on the way there, crying softly and nuzzling kisses on Smoosh’s head. When we arrived at the vet’s office, Mary went inside to pay the necessary fees while I held Smoosh close one last time. Then I took her inside while Mary waited in the car. The vet was so sensitive and solicitous and reassuring. I held Smoosh the whole time until her heart stopped. I gave her one last kiss between those ears she so loved to be scratched and left the office fighting back the inevitable tears. We sat for a few moments in the car gathering strength from each other, had our cry, wiped our tears, and said one last goodbye to our Smoosh.

As cat lives go, Smoosh could have done a lot worse. Going from orphanhood, hiding under the deck, to mewing contentedly on the plush comforter on our bed, all her needs met by us, her servants, was a fortuitous leap. She benefited greatly from our willingness to give her a home. We benefited far greater by having her with us for so long.

So now she is in cat heaven where she won’t have to share the bed with anyone, where catnip and treats are doled out at her whim, where the warm sunlight coming in the window never dims. RIP Smoosh.

Monday, March 19, 2007

basketball jones

For the four days past, I have been immersed in all things college basketball. This month each year is a feast that basketball junkies crave and then savor for all its excess. First and second round games of the NCAA tournament feed the beast that is a fan and leave him wanting more and more. Thats me all the way. I kept track of three games at a time with the wonder that is PIP (picture in picture) on my new digital HDTV, and I make no excuses for my bleary eyed condition.

It's difficult to pinpoint the appeal, the excitement, the need that college basketball holds for us diehards. We crave the juice of a close game. We need the opiate of an overtime or two. We revel in the pathos of an upset. Our nerve endings tingle and spark whenever we catch the opening moments of a long awaited game between top teams.

Any game will fuel the frenzy, but a game that involves our favorite team takes on the tenor of a religious tent revival meeting, Fervent prayers are said invoking the deity's help. Yelling and screaming in tongues unintelligable is common. Pleading for redemption and promising to do good deeds if the outcome is in our favor is not at all unusual. When our team wins, it is a righteous outcome. When our team loses, it is reason to repudiate all that is holy and cross over to the dark side.

Great expectations accompany our teams as they begin the tournament. Dreams of glory fill our heads. In our mind's eye our team will cruise through the opposition with nary a stumble and without even breathing hard. That the actuality is different doesn't diminish the wishful thinking. On paper the best teams always win. On the court heroes are made by tearing up that paper with performances so unexpected that they seem surreal. Parity has arrived in college basketball, so any team can legitimately dream the ultimate dream. There are no real upsets anymore, only surprises.

Having your favorite team in the tournament, and seeded highly, is at once ego inflating and anxiety provoking. The higher your team is seeded the greater the expectations are for glory. And the greater the dissapointment when the team fails to reach those lofty expectations. My beloved UW Badgers took me on a rollercaster ride that I would have preferred be a straight and smooth unimpeded stroll through the tournament. Their second seed meant that they should advance at least into the third or even the fourth round. But kharma showed its bad side and poor shooting and rebounding proved to be their downfall. My blood pressure rose and fell as I paced the room in front of the the TV, spewing invective at the refs and other side's players, pleading for my guys to D-up and deny the shot, jump the passing lanes, don't foul, block that shot, double team and deny the pass, steal the ball, on one end of the court and drive the lane, feed the post, kick it out, pick and roll, crash the boards, nail the three on the other end. All my cheering and encouragement was unrequited as they failed to win their second game. So now my UW Badgers are headed back to Madison, empty handed, no trophy in their grasp. And I am feeling a sense of relief along with the disappointment. Disappointment in their failing to advance farther into the tournament, but relief that I will probably not suffer that heart attack that was likely to hit me if they continued on.

Is there any game that can bring you up and take you down faster than a college basketball game that has your favorite team
in it? We invest so much in the performance of 18-21 year old athletes who can do wondrous magic with a bouncing ball, who can fly through the air as though gravity was a mere theory, who can fling a ball at a tiny hoop and hit nothing but net from 25 feet away. Vicarious though the thrills may be, I won't give them up any time soon. I just wish the whole March Madness thing could extend itself and become April and even May madness. Gotta feed that basketball jones.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

backyard visitors

Every Spring when the snow finally all melts, the backyard temporarily becomes a pond. And every Spring that pond attracts a pair of ducks who just can't resist stopping by to take advantage of the congenial surroundings.

Though we and all our neighborss have dogs who raise a ruckus whenever they see those two ducks, the ducks must know that they aren't in any danger. They pay no attention to the yapping dogs, but simply continue plopping around in the cold water. At its deepest the water is barely deep enough to float a duck, but that doesn't seem to bother them. They will hang around for a few days until the water seeps away into the ground, and then we won't see Mr. and Mrs. Mallard until next year at this time.

The arrival of the ducks is a sure harbinger of Spring around here. That and the newly ermerging green shoots of the Daffodils and Daylillies mean that soon I'll be shedding my coat and getting ready to cut some grass. The golf course is calling my name. I can hardly wait.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

drip no more

For a long time I just tried to ignore the dripping faucet. I have a deep-seated dislike for all things plumbing. Wait, let me clarify that. I absolutely love plumbing. Indoor plumbing is one of the greatest achievements of modern man. Think about it--without indoor plumbing we would be dragging our sorry butts out into the backyard two seater in the middle of winter. Not a pleasant thought. So, yes, I love plumbing. What I hate about plumbing is having to fix it.

For a long time I just tried to ignore the dripping faucet. Even though fixing a faucet is one of the simpler tasks when it comes to plumbing fixes (if you showed him more than twice, a monkey could do it), it still involves water and a potential mess. I try to avoid making messes whenever possible so that I don’t have to clean up any messes. Simple logic. Ignore the plumbing problem and thereby avoid the mess that is sure to result from trying to fix it.

For a lng time I just tried to ignore the dripping faucet. Then we got our water bill and She Who Pays The Bills nearly erupted with a geyser of her own. “Fix it! Now.” She begged. She pleaded. She coaxed. She made promises she couldn’t possibly keep. Then she brought down the hammer. She threatened to call a plumber to fix the dripping faucet. You know what those guys charge? To fix a faucet? No way am I letting some buttcrack-showing plumber put his kids through college on my dime.

I couldn’t ignore the dripping faucet any longer. So I spent the $20 to buy two new cartridges to replace the old ones, spent about 20 minutes actually working on it, and now have no more drips to ignore. And there was no mess to clean up either since I had the foresight to turn off the water first. I love plumbing.

Monday, March 12, 2007

brain trolls

Off somewhere in the far corners of my brain lies the crazy notion that I can do all those things I used to do. Though intellectually I know that is not true, the area of my brain that houses stubborn unacceptance refuses to acknowledge that truth. It’s as though the bridge between brain and thought on one side and nerve and action on the other is being blocked by the trolls of Parkinsons Disease. And the trolls that guard the bridges between thought and action are requiring increasingly higher tolls to allow the bridge crossings to take place.

Dopamine is the lucre of choice for those trolls. Given enough of the drug, they will allow the synapse between brain and nerve ending to make the crossing on the bridge between them. The tribute having been paid, my body will respond almost as I want it to in most instances. But the payment has interest to be paid as well, a requirement which is buried somewhere in the fine print that nobody tells you about. The interest is in the form of energy, ambition, and stamina paid on a daily basis.

Though my skill levels are still intact, my ability to use those skills has diminished with each day that Parkinsons Disease exists within the confines of my brain. I’ve paid the trolls faithfully the dopamine they want to unblock those brain bridges, but it seems their greed is never-ending. And despite paying the going rate for those bridge crossings, the trolls are dragging their feet and complaining of overwork as they move aside the barricades that must be pushed away before my brain’s messages can be delivered to the nerves waiting on the other side. The sluggishness that results robs me of precious time and makes my body move too slowly to suit my intentions.

Tasks that in the past would have taken mere hours, now stretch into days. Simple, routine duties and everyday actions more and more require careful planning. The actions I used to take for granted now are often tortuous and demanding. Realizing and accepting my new limitations is a constant battle. There is always so much I want to do and intend to do that never seems to get done now, because I continually forget that there are now limits on my energy and a speed governor on my movements.

Though the trolls will still demand their payment, I will gladly line their pockets if it means brain bridges are crossed and any movement is allowed. And though it may sound as if I’m complaining, slowly trudging along now has some distinct advantages. The rat race has become a stroll, good books are savored with time to think about them, waiting for the dough to rise is reason for a leisurely nap, deadlines have become as undemanding as” maybe next week,” and there seem to be a lot more roses to sniff along the way.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

seduced again

Once more I have been seduced by technlogy. Insane promises about what marvels await me suckered me into HD-DVR cable service. Now I'll be able to do all manner of wonderful things to all the television shows I never watch anyway. And all in HD.

The cable guy showed up today (and at the assigned time no less) toting the latest magic box that he attached with such elan and alacrity that it made me nearly weep at my own inadeqaucy. He was totally undaunted by the spaghetti tangle of cables and wires that inhabit the back of the cabinet. And he did it all by feel, eschewing my offer to hold the flashlight so he could see what he was doing.

The appropriate connections completed, he then blathered his way through quick tutorial on the functions of the remote that most ten-year-olds would have had no problem understanding, but which left me reeling, smoke spewing from all my available orifices. Unable to formulate an intelligent question about how this all really works, I just nodded and mumbled something that made him believe I knew what he was talking about. He finally finished and packed up his bag of magic tricks and voodoo dolls. I was crumpled on the floor in a fetal position, drooling and whimpering before his truck made it out of the driveway.

Now I await the arrival of my 25 year old son who will hopefully gently guide me through this techno labyrinth. My hope is that he will leave me somewhat competant by the time he finishes explaining all those fancy buttons.

I have to remember that all those blinking lights and cute buttons are just part of a machine and that I am better than a machine. I am smart. I am competant. I am capable. I am better than a machine. I can do this. I am better............

Monday, March 05, 2007

I could, and so I did

Did you ever do something simply because you could? I had a chance to, and so I did.

A little while ago, while I was finishing carving the flowers and leaves for the recent Wood Vase series (pictures of which I posted here last week), I took a break from that work and started tidying up the shop. I found a piece of 1/2" Maple that I had stashed in a corner and as I picked it up and felt its smoothness, I felt I had to do something with it. I thought, "I think I'll make a box." And so I did.

I had no particular need for a box. I had nothing that needed to be contained in a box. I had no plans for what to do with the box once I made it. But that piece of Maple just cried out, "Make me into a box." And so I did.

While cutting that piece of Maple into the pieces I had determined I needed for the the new box, I spied a small remnant of Teak that had been languishing on the workbench for longer than it should have been left there unused and forlorn, wanting a reason for being. I thought, "I can use this Teak to highlight the Maple box with inlays of darker wood." And so I did.

The resulting little box was a happy combination of species, 8" long by 3" wide by 3" deep, with no greater purpose than to be. I had no illusions of it being more than a pleasing sillouette sitting atop my desk. That it might hold treasures more valuable than pens and paperclips was far from my imagining. So when I brought it up out of the shop and into the light, I thought, "I will just set it here atop my desk and see what it's fate might be." And so I did.

As fate would have it, Mary was sitting at the desk when the little box arrived and she immediately adopted it as her own. She thanked me for it and asked if I would allow her to take it away to serve her in a higher capacity. And so I did.

That modest little box is now the repository for jewels of untold richness. Chains and baubles of gold and silver rest comfortably secure under its cover of Maple and Teak.

That smooth and shiny little box of great and noble purpose came into being simply because I could. And so I did.

Friday, March 02, 2007

good old days?

I met my friend, Rich, yesterday for lunch. It was his 59th birthday and we had to celebrate that achievement. My 59th was in January, so I am the senior member of the Almost Three Score Old Farts Club. We get together frequently to solve the world’s problems and lament the passing of the good old days.

But really when were those so-called good old days. Certainly not the 60’s when we came of age and lost our societal innocence with the deaths of JFK, RFK, and Martin Luther King Jr., and were haunted for more than half the decade by the specter of Vietnam. The 70’s can’t possibly qualify as good--Nixon, disco, plaid bellbottoms, and polyester leisure suits serve to erase the “good” from those old days. In the 80’s we were too wrapped up in raising our kids and making a living to even think about anything else that might have been going on. The 90’s are still too close in the rear view mirror to be considered “old.” So that only leaves the 50’s as the decade to qaulify as the “good old days.”

So in looking back to that time, I’ve been trying to get a handle on what the feeling was back then. Our cultural ideals were Ward and June Cleaver and Ozzie and Harriet personifying the epitome of family values. Of course, women were still second class citizens and only meant to be housewives. Working women inspired behind the back whispers about their misplaced priorities. “Keep ‘em barefoot and pregnant” was the prevailing attitude to keep them in line. Which makes me wonder--what ever happened to the housedress and apron that was her accepted costume of the day?

“I like Ike” was the predominant political mantra when we weren’t bogged down with McCarthyism and peering behind every bush and under every rock, looking for signs of those despicable commies. Your neighbor’s basement bomb shelter reinforced the dread of nuclear destruction. The bomb drills we had in grade school, when we were taught to assume a fetal position under our desks (yeah, that’ll work), certainly inspired confidence in our survivabilty.

Of course, the birth of Rock ‘n Roll was thought to be the certain downfall of our nation’s youth. Elvis was the Anti-Christ leading us into hell one hip swivel at a time.

Hair styles for men were either crewcut, flattop, or a brylcreemed pompadour with that cute ducktail twitching at the collar; none a particularly flattering look.

Scruffy, poem spewing beatniks laid the foundation for the next decade’s hippies.

And those cars--sheet metal behemoths that sported enormous fins and back seats spacious enough to get even the best girl in trouible. Gas was cheap, though, so driving that girl to the favored make-out spot didn’t put much of a dent in the old allowance.

So ok, were they really the good old days? Or do we always seem to look back through the rose colored prism of age? We like to think that everything was better back then, whenever back then is for us, and that today the world is going to hell in a handbasket carried by the messenger of dissipation and doom. Realistically, though, today is no worse than yesterday, nor a whole lot better. It just is what it is and we have to live with what we have at hand. Those among us who are in the prime of their lives will undoubtedly someday look back on 2007 as being the best of all worlds. For them it will seem so if they use that same rose colored prism.

But looking back is a futile exercize just as looking forward is wishful one. Today is the day you have. Today is the day to cherish. Live each day without the regretful note of nostalgia or the presumption of a future, and every day will become one of those good old days. Then, when you get to being a member of the Almost Three Score Old Farts Club, maybe you’ll have fewer of the world’s problems to solve.