Thursday, January 29, 2015

Games of skill, games of chance

This past weekend I was reminded of the title, at least, of this old post because I was in fact at a bounce house birthday party on Saturday evening and it was, indeed, the second one of the year already, and January not even over yet. I’m not saying this in any kind of grudging way. The invention (and, in our neck of the woods, astonishing proliferation) of bounce house venues is a godsend for kids (and their parents) who have the misfortune of birthdays falling at a point in the year when the weather is too nasty for romping and roughhousing outside. And as the years go by, it’s getting easier and easier to attend said parties in a supervisory capacity, because the little guy and little girl can more or less take care of themselves. They were both invited to last Saturday’s party, which was held in honor of the boy who lives a couple doors down and is between my son and daughter in age and ostensibly friends with both of them. The bino, still fighting his way through lingering malignancies of his own, sat out the party and stayed home with mom, so I was able to show up, turn my older two loose, and stand by to generally make sure they didn’t flaunt the rules and/or social expectations.

In addition to the requisite inflatable play areas and separate pizza-and-cake room, this venue has a small video arcade which contains the following games:

- 1 air hockey table
- 1 skee-ball machine
- 1 two-player seated racing game
- 1 whack-a-mole
- 1 cabinet with 80’s classics like Ms. Pac-Man and Galaga
- 2 different prize claw machines

And when a child has a birthday party at the venue, every attendee gets a token for the game room. So between my two kids, they had the ability to play two different games. The little guy kind of domineered his way into choosing what both tokens would be spent on. First he asked the little girl if she wanted to play air hockey, and she agreed, but her reflexes aren’t quite ready for that action yet, so after her brother whipped a few quick shots past her and into the goal, she announced she was done. (I took over for her, evened up the score, and then let the little guy win 7-6.)

Then the little guy asked if he could play one of the claw games. One of them was what you’d probably think of as a standard model, while the other was a little more interesting. The claw was a bright red skeleton of a T-Rex, with opening and closing jaws for grabbing a prize. The prizes, which were fairly small little plastic geegaws, were all on a rotating plate and the controls allowed you to lower the T-Rex head, open and close the jaws, lift the head, rotate it to the side, and open the jaws again to drop the prize (if any) down the chute. If that sounds a bit complicated, that’s what I was thinking too. But the little guy immediately had his heart set on trying it, and I ultimately rationalized to myself that it would make for a good object lesson about how some games in an arcade are legitimately fun games, and some are sucker bet rip-offs. The cost of admission was just the free token for attending a birthday party, after all, which balanced pretty well in my mind.

Still, I wasn’t going to hang the little guy out to dry completely. I stood with him and put my hand on his as he attempted to operate the controls after the token had been duly inserted. Of course, as is his wont, he went immediately for throttling the controls as hard as he could, while I tried to guide things in a slightly more controlled fashion. It all happened pretty fast, but somehow, not only did we succeed in nipping something in the teeth of the dinosaur skull, we succeeded in snagging two somethings: a figurine of a unicorn and a bendy alien toy. Thus my efforts to demonstrate to my children not to be too gullible about rigged games ended pretty much opposite from how I envisioned them. But on the upside, the little guy very graciously gave the unicorn to his sister, which delighted her, and he was pretty pleased with the alien he kept for himself. There are worse outcomes, all in all.

(P.S. The old post I linked to above ends with a meditation on whether or not my daughter, a toddler at the time, would grow up to love pizza as much as her old man. I am happy to report that she certainly seems to be headed that way, long after the novelty of the stuff has worn off. She gets super-psyched whenever we tell her we are ordering pizza for dinner. The little guy continues to be kind of shruggingly take-it-or-leave-it when it comes to a decent slice, but ah well.)

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Things take longer than expected

So, remember this, almost exactly a year ago? When I said I was going to spend the year leading up to my 40th birthday going back through the previous four decades of pop culture and sampling things I had never sampled before? My 40th birthday came and went, four months ago this coming Sunday. Whence the Life in a Year?

It proved tricky, is whence. To sum up: it stumbled right out of the gate, picked up a little without quite gelling, continued in fits and starts interrupted and crowded out by other things, and all in all proved a much more difficult quest to complete in the time allotted than I anticipated.

To elaborate a bit: at the time it should have properly kicked off, late January of 2014, I will remind everyone that our youngest, the beloved bino, was all of about ten months old. He is now 22 months old and we are counting down to his big birthday. But at ten months old he was still unweaned, and thus not sleeping through the night, but plenty active during the day, which made free time and free mental space such rare commodities they took on nigh-mythical proportions. What I wanted, in my idealized pop culture consuming plan, was to kick off my lifetime retrospective of stuff I’d been meaning to get around to with one of the biggest, most glaring omissions in my personal catalog: The Godfather Part II.

I know, I know. It’s just one of those things. Specifically, it’s one of those movies that I never watched as a kid and never even tried to catch up with until my wife and I were dating. We actually watched Part I together, and put in and started playing the disc for Part II, but that was during the phase of our courtship where she was often on call as an ambulatory horse vet and our viewing was interrupted by a late night emergency farm visit and we never managed to get back to it after that; the incomplete go at it made us gunshy, I suppose, and we were determined to not even try until we knew that we could make it all the way through in one sitting.

Of course, it’s a three and a half hour epic, so absolute confidence in having that much time to devote to it was in short supply. Like, never. A couple years later we were married and both working a lot, and a couple years after that we were parents, and we have basically been responsible for the care, feeding and rearing of at least one small baby or toddler at any given time ever since. Around New Year’s I was somehow flush with the contact high of people making resolutions to undertake vast projects and achieve personal goals, and I thought, well how hard could it be to set aside an evening to watch Part II with my wife? We’ll do it on a weekend.

Or not. It became apparent that our household schedule was incompatible with evening viewings of massive movies, however canonically important. And really, I would hate for this to sound like I’m lamenting my crushed cinephile dreams all because my wife wouldn’t agree to an in-home date night. It’s hardly her fault that she has spent most of the last six-plus (maybe seven, going back to the first pregnancy) years literally so exhausted that getting through any single day is a small victory. I’ve tried to do what I can to support and help her, but the demands of motherhood take their toll. And I know that movies are an absolutely inessential hobby of mine, one I get really wrapped up in and het up about sometimes, but Not All That Important. Still, it is important to me to see The Godfather: part II someday, and it is equally important that I watch it with my wife, so I will just continue to leave it be until such time as it becomes feasible, however long that takes.

I moved along through my list, though, and started watching some other movies from 1975 and 1976, and reading some books from 1977 and 1978 and 1979. And I started outlining some blog posts about those books and movies, too, not quite straight reviews but something more reflective of how they fit into their particular moment in history, and where I was in my life at that moment, and how I had missed them the first time around, and why it mattered to me that I go back and check them out however belatedly. Of course, this approach had a couple of glaring weaknesses at the outset, in that the first half-dozen or so were going to be very similar. For how the works fit into their time, I wouldn’t really be able to give a first-hand account, because at age 1 or 2 or 3 I was barely cognizant. Which also proved a pretty boilerplate reason for the early entries’ absence from my experience at the time. Why didn’t I see this classic movie when it came out? Because I wasn’t even old enough for Sesame Street at the time, basically.

So I pretty quickly abandoned the retrospective-themed review posts, but I kept working my way down the list I had compiled of movies and books and comics and such. Another disappointment I ran into was that despite soliciting input from a bunch of friends about hidden gems I might have missed, I got very little response back. I was hoping the project could be at least somewhat collaborative, but outside influence proved minimal, which made the whole thing seem a little sad and solipsistic. That’s not necessarily a fatal flaw for a blog, of course (or rather, for the reader it might be, but not for the blogger), but it was a bummer all the same.

I soldiered on, but I didn’t move directly from one year’s representative work to the next’s to the next. I kept up, in my usual intermittent way, with the 1001 Movies Blog Club (which, fyi, has been on a bit of hiatus of its own since early December, but hopefully will be back soon) and I indulged in Summer Movies on a Train, as always, not to mention my first ever Halloween Countdown, which did not serendipitously overlap with the retrospective in any helpful way. Plus by mid-year I had published a story that got me thinking about writing more and publishing more, and sometimes that writing (or at least revising with paper and red pen) spilled over onto my train commute, taking a bite out of reading and movie watching time. Napping on the train accounted for more. And I had allotted myself about a week for each of the 40 works I was going to consume, but sometimes a good sized book takes longer than 10 commutes to plow through. Sometimes the mail cycle for Netflix rentals takes longer, too. The schedule just slipped and slipped, well past my birthday, and at some point I realized I was barely going to finish the doorstop novel from 1999, which I started in early November, by Christmas.

So in the end, I covered about 25 or 26 years of pop culture last year, from 1975 to 2000. (You’ve noticed by now, no doubt, that I’m being coy about what all those books and movies were, and that’s because I suppose I’ll run through them all with some quick reaction thoughts at some point, but that’s fodder for another post some other day.) I now have 15 years to go, and I do in fact plan on going through those works as well, though I’ve been on a bit of a break since the holidays. So perhaps this will ultimately be remembered as Life in Two Years? The years on either side of turning 40, leading up and following after.

Maybe? Clearly I haven’t been as diligent about blogging regularly this year as I have been in year’s past, so I don’t want to over-promise and under-deliver. At this point let’s just call it a strong possibility, and we shall see what comes of it.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


(NOTE: I wrote this post yesterday morning, with the intention of posting it that afternoon. Then the internet connectivity in the office went kerblooie. Hence it now goes up a day late, along with this added request that all real-time readers mentally amend the references to specific days/dates accordingly.)

Last week, on Thursday evening, I picked all three kids up from daycare after work, which is a very standard-issue Thursday evening kind of thing to do. What made this particular Thursday evening noteworthy, to me, was a combination of astronomical and meteorological phenomena I observed as we were all preparing to depart. Specifically, as I was leaning through one of the back doors and helping to get the little girl situated and secured in her car seat, having already done as much for the bino in his rear-facing mid-bench humprider, while the little guy got himself buckled in on the other side, I realized that the 5:30 p.m. sky was not completely dark. Night was encroaching, but not yet fully fallen. Also, it was chilly, but not bitterly cold, not the kind of merciless lifeforce-draining cold that makes me excessively snappish with the kids to hurry up and get settled so I can stop hanging my backside out of the car door and get the engine started and the heat blowing for crying out loud. It was probably only about 37 degrees out, but it’s remarkable what five or so degrees above freezing as opposed to below will do for you.

And so, as tends to happen in moments like that, I had a moment of mindfulness acknowledging that while winter had barely begun, the days were already getting longer again, and at the very least we were not trapped in the grip of another howling polar vortex. Things were looking up, and perhaps I had reason to be optimistic. The very next day I was going to be off from work, so that I could get the little guy off to school and stay home with the little girl, while my wife took the bino off to his ear tube surgery. And that too was reason for optimism, that the seeming endless cycle of ear infections and antibiotics would be broken and a certain amount of peace and well-being might characterize all of our lives.

This of course is how a fool thinks when he presumes to think about the future.

The ear tube insertions were a by-the-book success, the bino was in and out with no complications and he did in fact sleep through the night like a champ that very night. The next day was Saturday, and the bino developed a bit of a fever, but considering all the possible side effects of anesthesia, and that he had only just rolled off the fourth consecutive course of antibiotics a few days earlier, and take your pick of other ever-present complicating factors, we didn’t think much of it. But he did not sleep well Saturday night. Nor did he rally on Sunday, as the fever spiked, so that evening my wife took him to the local urgent care facility where … the bino was diagnosed with influenza. Yes, of course, we had all three kids and ourselves vaccinated for the flu at the beginning of the season, but you may also have heard that the effectiveness rate for this year’s batch against this years active strains is so low that better-than-nothing is about the best that can be said about it. The bino’s case seems to be mild, and luckily we were able to get a prescription for Tamiflu filled that very evening and administer his first dose.

He got the requisite two doses yesterday, when I was home for the holiday. As is often the case with most kids (at least among the sample population of three in my household) the bino was more or less fine, if a tad less energetic than usual, throughout the day. But getting horizontal at bedtime merely aggravated his congestion (did I mention he has bronchitis along with/on top of the flu?) to the point where he could cough himself awake yet could not simply roll over and go back to sleep. Basically Monday night was a redux of Sunday night, except that on Sunday we tried to sleep three to a bed, bino in between my wife and myself, with mixed results of limited restfulness, and last night I decamped to the couch in the den with the bino to let my wife sleep in peace, again with non-optimal outcomes.

So this is where we find ourselves, as we often have over the past six or seven years: in pure, hindbrain survival mode, just trying to get through one day at a time. I no longer really care what color the sky is going to be as I make my way home tonight, nor can I particularly summon up a crap to give about whose Super Bowl party invitation we accept (if any) or when we might get around to visiting some of my family in the late winter/early spring or even what we’re going to have for dinner tomorrow night. I have one overriding desire, which is to go to bed and close my eyes tonight some time before 11, and not have to open my eyes again until my alarm goes off in the morning at 5. I likely will not get my wish.

My wife and I bandy about the old saw about seeing light at the end of the tunnel quite a bit. But lately I’ve come to realize that said metaphor is not really entirely apt. It implies the existence of a completed tunnel, and that at any point in time as one traverses said tunnel one can plot one’s distance from the entrance at one’s back as well as from the exit ahead. Seeing the light indicates that the exit is close, and will only continue drawing nearer as long as one keeps moving forward. That’s all well and good, and it’s a useful metaphor in a variety of situations; I just no longer think parenting is one them.

I think the tunnels of parenting are more like the ones made by a mole or an earthworm. There’s still the place where you came in, somewhere behind you. Theoretically there is, at any rate, although it’s more or less impossible to simply retrace your steps and backtrack out of the tunnel. Perhaps it’s more true to say there was an entrance, but the tunnel that far back has already collapsed in on itself. The only way through and out is to keep digging, chipping away at whatever’s in front of you at the moment. There’s no light to gauge progress against, and really no way of knowing how far away the next breakthrough really is, because a tunnel that doesn’t yet exist, by its very definition, can’t already be mapped. Every kid is different, every go-round is different, and a lightly passing phase for one sibling can be a backbreaking trail of tears for the next. You just have to keep biting those rocks right in front of your face, on and on, day after day. And when your head pops up into open air, it’s a pleasant (albeit potentially disorienting) surprise.

I don’t mean to sound like pure distilled despair, weeping and wailing about how it’s all too hard and too unfair. It is what it is. I wouldn’t give up my family for anything in the world. In some ways it’s kind of liberating to think that every day is just x amount of dirt I have to swallow, or claw my way past, or something. And the flip side is that sometimes you get through the tunnel faster than you expected. I’d been wondering idly how long it was going to be before we were really and truly down to just one kid in diapers (which would signal that the really important countdown to zero kids in diapers could maybe begin) because for a long time now we’ve been living with a toddler who, age-appropriately enough, wears diapers round the clock, and the little girl who is long-since potty-trained but needed overnight diapers. This past Saturday was movie night as usual, and I told the little girl she could get into her pajamas after bath and not worry about the diaper until right before she went to bed. But then she started drifting off during the movie and I got her to bed in a hurry (trying not to wake up the bino who’d gone down in their room earlier) and didn’t realize until morning that we’d forgotten her diaper. But she woke up dry! And after that there was no going back, by which I mean the little girl refused a diaper the following night. We worried it might have been a fluke followed by tantrum-inducing overnight accidents, but as of today it’s three nights in the clear and counting (though of course I have jinxed it by blogging about it). So yes, sometimes things just get better seemingly out of nowhere. Sometimes they don’t get better quite fast enough to suit me. But things do change, that’s the constant we can count on, and the best we can do is try to dig in the right direction, guiding the tunnel around the obstacles and towards the pockets of good stuff. And I'm trying.

(UPDATE: As predicted, I did not get my aforementioned wish last night. The bino went down early, clearly very tired, but was half-awake and screaming for attention right around the time my wife and I were trying to go to sleep. I managed to get him settled in his crib the first time, but he was at it again not much later, and transferred into our bed, where he proceeded to thrash and moan disruptively for a few hours. Then he passed out soundly enough to be transferred back to his crib, around 2:30 a.m. All of which sounds terrible but actually might have represented progress? The bino was still asleep in his own room when I left for work this morning, and that's not nothing. Tunneling blind sometimes involves zigzagging and/or going in circles. We'll give another go tonight, as we must.)

Thursday, January 8, 2015

More cheap thrills

Everybody knows the old saw, and most people have their own apocryphal story or personal anecdote backing it up as truth, about how little boys have an inherent attraction to violence, aggression and danger. Maybe it’s a tiny dude biting a peanut butter sandwich into the shape of a gun, or every stray stick turning into a sword as soon as it’s picked up, or the blink of an eye between chubby little male fingers first laying hold of a miniature car and subsequent efforts to crash said car into something. I trust that I can assume this premise as a given and proceed.

Setting aside the weaponization of foodstuffs and lawn debris, I’m going to focus on the irrepressible daredevil aspect lurking inside most boys in theory, and my boys for sure. I mean, and my little girl, too, who is just as likely to instigate and provoke wolfcub wrestling matches or climb higher on non-approved scaling surfaces than is probably wise as either of her siblings. But I was specifically comparing the bino and the little guy in my mind the other night, for reasons as much to do with their age difference as anything. (So if I seem to be short-changing the little girl in these musings, it can be blamed as much on her being the middle child as her being the only sister to two brothers. She gets a raw deal many ways.)

I went to change the bino’s diaper one evening and there was a little toy cow standing among the wipes and ointments at the end of the changing table. The bino grabbed the cow and soon had it racing around the rails of the table like a stunt car, complete with improbable jumps that would reach an apex and then fall back down again, accompanied by the bino’s oddly delighted cries of “oh nooooooooo!” Which, in and of itself, is fairly cute and hilarious, from the concept of a semi-out-of-control nitro-powered funny cow to the realization that this is what naturally occurs to our 21 month old to do with a farm animal of any kind.

At any rate, I’m probably reading way too much into it but I found myself wondering if maybe, just maybe, the bino is a bit more of a kindred spirit to me than his older siblings. I’m trying to remember what the little guy and little girl were like at that particular developmental stage, but it’s hard when I’m living in the now and cherishing every moment as I am constantly exhorted to do. And in the now, the little guy is sensitive and easily freaked out, the little girl is cautious and distrustful and freaked out at what I deem normal and appropriate levels, and the bino seems essentially un-freak-out-able. I know, I know, at less than two years old there’s a lot of incidental overlap between fearlessness and sheer cluelessness, but still.

Because we live a life of stability and security undreamt of by 99% of humans who ever lived, the scariest things my kids have to deal with on any given day will be the second-act complications of a movie playing on the television. And that is usually where the levels of freaking out I delineated above come to the fore. The little guy sometimes gets so overwhelmed that he has to physically leave the room, calm down, and then come back. The little girl will get a little shaky when the story gets intense, but a parental embrace and a few words of reassurance are usually enough to keep her from totally losing it. The bino has yet to join us for family movie night (technically he is too young for any kind of tv-watching at all, but come on, this is our third time raising a toddler and he’s less than three months away from turning two and his big bro and sis, aka his idols, are allowed to watch tv sometimes so of course he has sat in front of the odd episode of Dora or Doc now and again) but I nevertheless have a strong suspicion that he will be the one who, right off the bat, actually enjoys it when the climax of a narrative makes his heart race, as opposed to merely enduring it, or not, as the case may be.

I think most/all boys like to be daredevils because they don’t really think through the potential undesirable consequences of jumping off high spots. But given the degree of separation in watching a fictional character in similar (or much greater) peril, and the space created to think things through, some boys will find the inherent tension less pleasant than others. My eldest needs constant reminders not to engage in breakneck activities, but can’t stand not knowing specifically how the conflicts of a movie’s storyline are going to resolve. My youngest is also more or less constantly trying out inventive ways to kill or maim himself (or trying out the beginnings, at least, before being interrupted by my wife or myself) but I see a glimmer in him of being amused by the tropes that place a hero’s fate in doubt. And if there’s a screaming, plummeting bovine involved somehow, he’s almost certainly all in for it.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Devils we know

The four-day weekend was just barely enough time to recover. Not from New Year’s Eve per se, of course, since my wife and I have given up on going out or even staying up until midnight (maybe next year!), but rather from a fairly rough December throughout which the bino has been dealing with nigh-perpetual illness.

It’s the same old song and dance that we went through with his big brother and sister. For the third time, something about the way my DNA combined with my wife’s and produced a blueprint for constructing inner ears yielded up an environment of unparalleled hospitability for bacteria to settle in and get cozy. So the entire past month has just been one long unabated otitis episode, with three overlapping ten-day antibiotic prescriptions, none of which were able to banish the bugs for good. We did at least get to make some good high-level nerd jokes about the most recent course, which was Cefdinir, and how that sounds a lot like Odin’s mighty steed.

Though those jokes quickly went in the direction of differentiating the two mounts: Sleipnir is of course a regal silver gray, whereas Cefdinir would be a brown horse. Because antibiotics give toddlers diarrhea. This is how we get through the crushing sleepless stretches, people: unapologetic poop jokes.

(Actually we all got off very lightly in terms of wild effluvia this time, and don’t think we weren’t thankful. Our pediatrician recommended probiotic yogurt to offset the worst side-effects, and it seems to have worked pretty well. Or maybe the bino just has bowels of steel.)

My wife took the bino to an ENT today and despite the fact that this is day 9 or the third antibiotics course, apparently the ear infection is still active. So on to round four, super-mega-extra-strength Augmentin! And if that doesn’t do it then we will book yet another trip on the myringotomy express in a couple weeks. At this point we could probably recite the ENT’s spiel about the procedure word-for-word. Can’t argue with the results, though, so please don’t mistake that familiarity for contempt.

So meanwhile, we managed to transition out of holiday time and back to the real world. There are pros and cons to the staggered work schedule that my wife and I have established since the beginning of our child-rearing years, but I was particularly grateful for it today. We got a rolling start on the week, because I had to get to work, and the little guy had to get to school, but making it to the bus stop on time, and then to the ENT later in the morning, was all that my wife needed to worry about. She gets back to work on Wednesday, and the little ones will return to daycare that day as well, and by then the little guy and I should be more or less back in the groove.

Beyond that, though, who knows what this year will bring? I mean, hopefully not very many surprises along the lines of daycare or first grade, as such. But my wife remains open to the idea of changing places of employment, and has been paying attention to local job listings and applying to seemingly well-suited positions. Her schedule, this, is subject to change in the near term. And I’ve got a building pass that expires in about 82 days, and I still haven’t heard a peep about where things stand on our potential new contract here, so your guess is as good as mine as to which way that’s going to resolve. Maybe my schedule is also subject to change. I will post the updates to that effect as they become available.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Welcome to the future

A decade and a half into the 21st century, I keep waiting for the novelty to wear off, and the years to stop sounding so futuristic. But it hasn't happened yet. Part of it is surely due to the fact that plenty of science-fiction from my 80's and 90's childhood was set about a generation ahead; some of it even name-checked 2015 specifically, most famously the future timeline of the Back to the Future sequels (although I have a soft spot for the Marvel Entertainment syndicated cartoon Defenders of the Earth, where Flash Gordon and the Phantom and Mandrake the Magician and their teenage kids fight aliens in the year 2015).

Of course any comparison of the present as we find it now to the future-scape as we envisioned it long ago tends to bring out the snarky disappointment in all of us. Where are the flying cars, the personal jetpacks, the lunar colonies? We wonder why the wonders we were promised have failed to materialize on deadline.

If you'll indulge me, I'll share a quick anecdote. A few weeks ago I was talking to the little guy about what he wants to do for a living when he grows up. This changes all the time, of course, depending on his mood and whatever passing interest currently has a grip on his attention. At different times he has wanted to be a Lego designer, a marine biologist, an astronaut, or a race car driver. But on this particular afternoon he was envisioning himself as an inventor, and he had one specific goal in mind as to what he would create: jetpacks. Needless to say, I told him I thought this was a highly desirable commodity and he should follow that dream doggedly.

I'm as guilty of this as anyone, but it does seem a bit of a shame that at some point we come to expect advancements in technology (or society in general, any aspect, take your pick) to come from external sources. Sure, we'll donate money toward finding a cure for cancer, or pre-order some hot item to reassure the manufacturer that we exist, ready and willing to be marketed to. It's all fairly passive, though. Somebody has to be out there thinking fresh thoughts, dreaming, experimenting, trying and failing and trying again to bring forth form from the void, something new where there was nothing before. I guess that's fundamentally a childlike attitude, to resist defaulting to "I hope someone invents jetpacks for me" and instead have the brass to insist "Someday I'm going to invent jetpacks." But it's a childlike attitude that's worth preserving to any and every extent possible, I reckon.

Be the change you want to see in the world, the wise men say. Invent the jetpacks you want to fly with. If I have a single overarching resolution for the new year, it's got to be to complain less and DO more. I shouldn't expect anyone to just hand me a jetpack, metaphorically or otherwise. We each make our own tomorrow, based on the way we manage today.