Friday, December 31, 2010

That's a wrap!

Is it just me, or has it been a strange year? Of course it has. Most years are strange when you look back on them, because we live in a weird world. Maybe I'm just getting more attuned to the oddity of it all.

For us, the big news for the year was the BP oil spill, which now seems to have faded from the collective consciousness. Not quite as big of a bust as the last visit of Halley's comet, but I got the distinct impression that newspeople and environmentalists* were really hoping for more oil-covered birds and blackened beaches. Given our national addiction to oil, they will have to content themselves with unknown long-term environmental damage, and the chance for a repeat as we continue to push aggressively into deeper water. Maybe we will eventually awaken Godzilla.

Only slightly less believable than the twists and turns of the BP story was the New Orleans Saints winning Super Bowl XXIV. Five years after Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans is still a shadow of its former self, and the character of the (non French Quarter) city has probably changed forever, but that silly football game was probably more significant for the residents than any sporting event since the Miracle on Ice in 1980,

Politics seemed to get even stranger, if that's possible. The nation's ability to believe things for which there is considerable counter-evidence continues to increase, as evidenced by the fact that our most influential politician is a belligerently ignorant housewife/governor/reality star who two-thirds of the population believes to be either dangerously unqualified or some sort of sinister media mastermind. Delaware came very close to electing a witch to congress. Okay, not a witch (I saw the commercial), but I'm sure Christine O'Donnell was one of those crazy drama majors in the dorm who burned incense all the time, held seances, and probably wore a cape.

I'm currently reading a biography of Theodore Roosevelt, and it has taught me two things. First, the issues in politics haven't changed at all in a hundred years. In 1910, the big issues of the day were Arab nationalists blowing things up, and giant corporations taking over the government. But if the issues haven't changed, the people in politics certainly have.  Roosevelt wrote around eighteen books (most in several volumes), not just about himself. He was an avid naturalist, historian, and pursuer of "the strenuous life." He led a cavalry charge and earned a brown belt in judo after he detached a retina and had to give up boxing. He was shot in the chest in an assassination attempt and still gave the speech he was scheduled to deliver. He had beliefs, and didn't care who knew them. He would never get elected today.

But I digress. Biscuit and I had a pretty good year overall. We managed to stay hurricane-free, and actually made up some ground on our home improvement project backlog. I am very close to finishing the never-ending bathroom remodel. The cats stayed healthy, I finally finished Moby Dick, we saw Buddy Guy in concert, and we got to see a shuttle launch.

We did lose an old and dear family friend a week before Christmas, but that seems to be part of my life now. My parents' generation is on the far side of the current expected lifespan, and very few months go by without another one passing on to what my grandfather termed "whatever is next."

Oh, I totally spaced on Movie Sunday last week. My excuse is that I was driving all day, traveling from the wine-fueled chaos that is my family Christmas to a more sedate late holiday celebration at the in-laws. I'll be back at it this week, but in the meantime you can enjoy Amy's review of True Grit. It's better than anything I could have written, anyway.

Anyway, it's been a good year, is the point. And I hope you have at least as good a year in 2011 as I had in 2010.

Happy New Year, everybody!

* I'm a huge advocate of preserving nature, the importance of biodiversity, etc., and probably maintain more extreme views of the importance of environment vs. economic development than many Sierra Club members. But I am wary of organized movements. It seems the successful ones always end up with money as their primary goal, and the rest usually fall under the control of a small group of zealots.


  1. Happy New Year! And please write about your BR remodel - we are contemplating a pretty extensive, sweat-equity involved one of our own and I'm feeling intimidated!

  2. Have I ever told you about my internal love affair with TR? I'm sure I have - I tell everyone. I love Teddy Roosevelt. He's by far my favorite American politician, past and present. I tell people all the time: They just don't make men like TR anymore, which is very disappointing for me, as a single woman. A little secret: When I saw that you quoted TR on your facebook profile, I knew we were going to be friends. :-p

    Anyway, are you reading one of the Edmund Morris books about him? If so, which one? I've been checking them out for a really long time, but I haven't picked one up yet, because I don't want to be That Weird Twenty-Four Year Old Who's Reading A Book About An Old Dead Guy. Also, because I don't have much time, what with grad school and everything. But I would love your take on it. (I've read most of David McCullough's book, Mornings on Horseback, which is a biography of TR's early life, and mostly about the Roosevelts as a family. But also very good, if you haven't read it.)

    Man, I freaking love Teddy Roosevelt.

  3. Well said, my friend! I'm glad I got to spend some time with you in 2010!

  4. I love the David McCullough book on TR -- he's a fantastic writer...I love biography so let me know which one it is...glad that you summed up the year as mostly personally good...thanks for the nod...