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"The sage manages affairs without doing anything, and conveys his instructions without the use of speech." - Lao Tzu

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January 2, 2009

Trim the Sails in '09

It’s that time for reflection again. The tradition on this column has become to answer the question, “Was this year better than the last or the previous few?” For me, this is a ridiculously simple question. If you look at where I was on New Year’s 2008 and compare it to where I am today, the contrast is amazing.

Last Year I wrote, “my isolation is deeper than ever and the solution is not apparent.” But the title was “Set Sail in ‘08” giving a hint of the solution that was in my mind. I wanted to figuratively set sail, which I did last summer, and literally, which I did in December. For those that haven’t heard, Sarah and I got skipper’s licenses and have access to a Hunter 32 on the gulf coast.

The isolation I felt last year is only a memory now as I have friends and family surrounding me more than ever before. Just this New Year’s I got to spend time with my sister, Sarah, and most of the gang. It’s nice having them all just a short drive away. The only problem with this year was that Jasper had to spend the holiday alone on account of a snafu at the vet. None of us were happy about that.

In 2007 my grandfather passed away and in many ways it signaled the collapse of my entire existence. 2008 was better than this, but I still lost my father. Is it too much to hope for a few death-free years?

2008 also brought me new employment and the jury is still out on whether that made any sense at all. If I had to make a judgment call today, I would clearly say I should have stayed with my old company. My carbon impacts have gone up personally and my carbon solutions have come down at work. I’m an environmentalist in name only right now and something has to change in 2009.

So there are two stated goals already, 1. death-free (not much I can do save pray), 2. Get back on track with my environmentally positive goals. In addition to these, I plan to sail more, worry less, practice piano, and in general trim the sails, figuratively and literally.

Happy New Year,

PS: The New Year finds me listening to all kinds of things, having gotten an iPod in 08 and filled it with lots and lots of music. It seems to me that recorded music has made a small comeback in 2008 with lots of micro studio mini bands putting out songs that are better than what the corporate giants have managed to produce. My cream of the crop includes the Ting Tings, Flobots, Vampire Weekend, and The Republic Tigers.

This is from the Flobots and probably a preview of this year’s mixed CD. The last verse of “Handlebars” is their description of the inevitable conclusion from putting essentially limitless power in the hands of a manipulative, egocentric leader. Thankfully, 2008 also brought landmark elections…

“Look at me
Look at me
Driving and I won't stop
And it feels so good to be
ALIVE and on top
My reach is global
My tower secure
My cause is noble
My power is pure
I can hand out a million vaccinations
Or let them all die in exasperation
Have them all healed of their lacerations
Have them all killed by assassination
I can make anybody go to prison
Just because I don't like them
I can do anything without permission
I have it all under my command
I can guide a missile by satellite
By satellite
By satellite
and I can hit a target through a telescope
Through a telescope
Through a telescope
and I can end the planet in a holocaust
in a holocaust
in a holocaust”