Thursday, January 01, 2015

January 1 Is Just Another Day

On December 31 many people will be staying up until midnight to welcome in 2015, hoping for a new beginning.  But will it be all a change for the better?  Some problems will be solved in 2015 and new problems will arise.

The only significant change is the close-out of personal books and of some corporate books.  Many corporations will close their books at the end of some other quarter.  We, the People, actually have three and a half months to make a definitive reporting of our books.  And many of those “efficient” corporations won’t give us the data we need until late January.  So January 1 remains just another day.

Well, many will have the day off, but for us to have the day off without staying home, many people will be working, restaurant servers, gas station attendants, and police and fire.  The last two to protect us from some of our New Year’s Eve foolishness.

I was going to explore the various calendars in use around the world, but two things changed my mind.  The number of calendars described by Wikipedia was a bit overwhelming, and I didn’t know if I could summarize them by the Reader Weekly’s holiday deadline.  Also, I woke from a dream last week about New Year’s Resolutions.  Of course, I didn’t write a good summary right away and all I have left is some fuzzy sense of a room with several people discussing something.

On the calendar issue, I was going to explore how we got from a winter solstice celebration to a man-made celebration ten days later in the year.  I’ll have to do that another week, maybe next December?

We have attended many New Year’s celebrations and had fun and comradary.  Sometimes drank a bit too much and sometimes very little.  Close to midnight, the countdown would begin and at midnight the big cheer, “Happy New Year!”  Then we might hang around a bit or a lot.  But what was really new other than we would have to put a different year on our checks?

Now we have made it a tradition of going to bed at our usual time and sleeping through the night.  The world is no better or worse for us having done so.

Many have the custom of making New Year’s Resolutions.  They promise themselves and other that they will make some small or big change in their lives.  Many of the regulars at a fitness center see how unsuccessful many of these resolutions are.  The gym is more crowded in January than in any other month.  By February attendance is down and the wait for weight machines is back to normal.

I keep making resolutions all the time: it’s my to-do list.  The list keeps getting longer and longer.  Those that require attention today get done.  Others move up and down the list as some things get done and others added.  “Clean desk” is one of them.  This past week I actually dusted two-thirds of it!  Another is to send slides out for scanning to DVD.  I have two piles of slides I have to double check that they were scanned and a carousel of slides I have that I think hasn’t been scanned.  Maybe by Wednesday they will either be thrown away or sent on their way to be scanned.  Maybe!

Writing this column is always on my list.  If the idea is hot and I am organized, the words flow.  If I have a hazy idea then it takes more research or more time rattling around in my brain.  With the two different ideas for this column competing, it was easier to put writing off to the last minute.

I used finishing a book as my diversion for this.  And reading books is another one of those items on my list.  I have three bought books that I haven’t even opened yet, and I drop by the library to pick up fiction.  Guess which gets priority.  And this leads to another addition to my to-do list.

I had read some of Sharon Shinn’s “Archangel” series and just picked up “Mystic and Rider”.  It is one of those medieval fantasies where the main characters possess magical powers.  In this one our heroic group is on a quest for the king to determine if a rebellion is fomenting.  Yesterday I decided I was going to finish it rather than work on this column.

One of the problems in the book is that certain people are out to destroy all mystics.  These people claim all mystics are a threat to “normal people“, no matter how little a threat they really are.  I sensed a parallel to the politics of today.  The book was published in 2005.  A phrase that stood out was “Standard fanatical rhetoric!”  This was a comment by two of the “good people” after their different encounters with one of the “really bad people”.

As I got closer to the end, I noticed more and more things appeared that would not be resolved in this book.  I checked the list of the author’s books and sure enough there is a sequel.

So, if I am going to have any New Year’s Resolution that will be completed, reading all of Sharon Shinn’s books will be the one.

Mel would like 48-hour days and 96-hour energy bars to do all he would like to do.

This was also published in the Reader Weekly of Duluth, 2015-01-01 at