January dead ahead.

A few years ago, novelist and NN.C internet-friend Laura Lippman started a New Year’s tradition: The one-word resolution. No long lists of overly optimistic goals, sure to be abandoned by January 23, but just one word. A verb, obviously, since a resolution implies change, and you can’t change without taking action.

I can’t remember what all of hers were; one-word resolutions are personal enough that if they aren’t yours, they’re not exactly memorable. I took her up on it, and remember a few of mine. Focus, for one. Finish, for another. Breathe was the year I got more serious about my fitness regimen; most of the breathing was deep or fast and accompanied by a quicker heartbeat. Last year’s – Twerk – was a total failure; I just don’t have the lumbar suppleness anymore. But if you take it metaphorically, I guess I did some twerking. Kinda.

This year’s isn’t entirely gelled yet, and may change, but I’m leaning toward Tune. It’s a transitive verb, so it’s not quite right. Tune what? A radio? Your engine? In my case, I want to tune in and tune out, which may blow up the one-word rule entirely. But here’s how I’d explain it:

I want to tune in to things that seem to pay real dividends, in either personal happiness or professional accomplishment. I want to read fewer words online and more of them between covers, and have a good stack of novels already in hand. I want to take more time, productive time, to work on writing and editing I’ve been putting off too long. Pay attention to good things, or interesting things, in other words.

And I want to tune out the daily outrage machine that has made 2017 so, so trying. Sorry, but I just don’t have it in me to read one more well-crafted takedown of the president, or Congress, or whoever is cranking the dials on any given day. Nor one more tweetstorm. Nor a hot take from a surprising source, or whatever. I’m not going to stop paying attention; no one can afford to do that. But the accumulated static, the constant clanging gong of OMG I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS IS HAPPENING? That has to go, or at least be put in its place. These are important and transformational times we’re living through, and I understand that. But we can’t properly focus on our work if we are standing in this firehose of hot takes, laughing, jeering and, of course, the screaming inside our own heads. Arm’s length on this stuff in 2018.

I guess both of these boil down to Focus, again. But isn’t that what all of us are trying to do?

Maybe so.

And this will wrap 2018 for NN.c. I’ll be back…New Year’s Day, most likely, maybe later. In the meantime, I’ll be cleaning, organizing, throwing stuff away and throwing a fancy dinner party. Or rather, a casual dinner party with fancy food. (Prime rib.) Stop by.

One bit of bloggage:

Many of you may know that Michigan State University is going through some hard times of late. A doctor to the U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastics team, employed by the university, sexually assaulted female patients, including many of those gymnasts, for years, while parties in a position to sound the alarm averted their gaze and made excuses and let things go on and on and on. The same story we’ve seen more than once in recent years. So far the administration appears to be resisting the sort of accountability that translates to people losing their jobs. It’s causing front-page editorials in newspapers and a great deal of anguish for the school’s vast and loyal alumni community.

Well, all involved parties might want to take a look at this story about the Penn State scandal, six years down the road. These wounds don’t heal quickly or cleanly.

So, everybody? Before I go, thanks again for your readership, your participation in our lively comment sections, and just showing up from time to time to read what you find here. It’s all I can ask for, and I’m grateful for it. Especially grateful to J.C., who keeps the machine running. Happy New Year to all of us.


Posted at 7:31 pm in Same ol' same ol' |

57 responses to “January dead ahead.”

  1. Deborah said on December 28, 2017 at 7:49 pm

    Thank YOU Nancy, for making it happen day after day. I keep thanking my lucky stars that I stumbled upon this place a few years ago and it just keeps on making me stick around. I’ve learned a lot over the years, and I know I will continue to learn more and more. I hope you get something out of this because I sure do.

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  2. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 28, 2017 at 8:00 pm


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  3. Indiana Jack said on December 28, 2017 at 9:24 pm

    Ten suggestions at one word apiece:

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  4. brian stouder said on December 28, 2017 at 9:39 pm

    Don’t know; torn between ‘Observe’ and ‘breathe’.

    Aside from that, our fine young senior (IPFW) just in the past week landed a (paid) internship at…Bendix, so – it’s all good.

    Life continues to change – and this is a good thing.

    I’d be happy if Pam and I can score tickets to Fort Wayne’s “The Voice” runner-up’s concert at the Embassy, Addison Agen…and now that they added a show, we might!


    Happy New Year, y’all; and thanks again to Our Proprietress, for this lovely, wonderful, and ever-changing electronic oasis

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  5. Diane said on December 28, 2017 at 9:50 pm

    I have done Laura Lippman’s one word resolution for several years (it was through her old blog that I discovered nn.c). Last year my word was canter. I meant it literally and figuratively. I did okay but not great at the figurative part. I had started horse back riding lessons and was aiming to pick up the pace to a canter. I’m still a pretty crappy rider but I love it and have kept at it and consider my weekly lesson to be my therapy. I’m not cantering around that much but am calling it good anyway. I actually did better with the figurative part by which I meant just pick up the pace of my life. Just do more, pay attention to how I was spending my time, etc. And well, this year work has been incredibly demanding and I’m keeping up so I’m counting that as a success.
    For this year, I haven’t settled on a word but I want it to convey working for change-either protest, campaign, but basically figure out how I can best contribute to putting sane, caring, smart people in government.

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  6. Sherri said on December 28, 2017 at 9:51 pm


    My goal is to compete in a powerlifting competition in 2018. Iron therapy. It’s keeping me sane(ish).

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  7. brian stouder said on December 28, 2017 at 9:51 pm

    If my mom was alive, this story would make her exclaim “Awwwww…”


    But, as it is, she’s probably gabbing with her right now, somewhere in the ether

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  8. LAMary said on December 28, 2017 at 10:08 pm

    I already chose “listen” as my word at a work exercise. Unlike a lot of those exercises not everyone said something that was sucky uppy.
    I find when I talk less and really listen I do better. Whether it’s at work or at home or walking my dogs.

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  9. Deborah said on December 28, 2017 at 11:40 pm

    This one is a cliche by now but still, “resist” seems appropriate, so I’m sticking with it.

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  10. Dexter said on December 29, 2017 at 2:34 am

    I know that as soon as Trump went over the mark and was bound for 1600 Penna Ave., part-time anyway, I was already shutting down my fire, my bitching, my howling at the moon, my long blog posts about government misdirection, scandals, most all of that because it did me no good and I was falling back into the mind-set like I was when Nixon was in, and my health was getting affected…one doctor visit had me being fitted for a Holter monitor when Reagan was in office and my hatred turned to his asinine policies like Star Wars and his nutty statements about being a war hero when that episode was a goddam movie part…when I quit booze ten years after that I learned to tone it down, and I was overjoyed when Obama won, and then this Trump bullshit was dragging me back, so I really did tune out or down the cable news marathons, just stuff like nance wrote here. I also noticed I just about stopped reading from printed pages. When I was getting all those newspapers I was called a tree killer, but I missed those days. All I could get here in print is the worthless local, the Defiance, hell…I am not sure I can get the Toledo Blade anymore…the Detroits have been gone from here for 15 years, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, 25 years gone. I think I will search out , online, the Minister of Culture, Michael Heaton, who I always enjoyed reading at Cleveland.com and in the paper long ago. As I recall, nance knows him. So there…that is my 2018 resolution. READ (caveat: printed material)

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  11. Alan Stamm said on December 29, 2017 at 7:18 am

    I also rise in thanks for this consistently wise, enlightening and entertaining touchstone. It’s usually the first click on my bookmark bar most mornings.

    As for focusing and tuning out the constant clanging gong, Frank Bruni is with you this week:

    “When Trump’s opponents react to so much of what he says and does with such unfettered outrage, that howl becomes background noise. . . . When we constantly conjure the direst scenarios, we risk looking like ignorable hysterics. . . .

    “When we answer melodrama with melodrama, we’re playing his game, by his rules, and he wins. Better to patrol our language and pick our issues, so that crucial areas of focus . . . aren’t lost in the welter and the whirl.”

    (Bold added, obvs.) He quotes another smartie on picking our spots:
    “I can’t be the car alarm that always goes off. If I am, I’m not effective.” — John McCain

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  12. David C. said on December 29, 2017 at 8:44 am

    So what do we ignore? Dismantling the State Department, wanting purges at the FBI, CIA, and Justice Department, Russian collusion, Puerto Rico, pussy grabbing, the abomination of a tax bill, rolling back regulation to make nursing homes accountable, and on, and on, and on. Bruni’s framing it as answering melodrama with melodrama is just horse shit. tRump is tearing down the country and pointing that out at every instance is supposed to be melodramatic? It’s like buying a house with a crumbling foundation, dry rot, termites, a leaky roof, and a bad internet connection and fixing the internet connection. Oh, and John McCain is the car alarm that never went off unless one of his beloved wars wasn’t going to his liking.

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  13. alex said on December 29, 2017 at 8:54 am

    And the thread win (thus far) goes to David C.

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  14. Mark P said on December 29, 2017 at 8:55 am


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  15. susan said on December 29, 2017 at 9:13 am

    Ibid (DavidC)

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  16. Dave said on December 29, 2017 at 9:23 am


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  17. Suzanne said on December 29, 2017 at 9:42 am

    One word resolution? I’m leaning toward “forgive” but that is awfully hard, so I’m not sure. Unless I think of forgiving myself for not exactly living up to my own expectations.

    I do read, a lot, so that isn’t a good resolution. I am currently reading Charlie Sykes’ How the Right Went Wrong. While I completely disagree with his assertions that people like Paul Ryan and his ilk are true conservatives, it is a very compelling history of how the right wing media and the GOP went from being conservative voices to being lunatics and spewing propaganda. He admits he was part of it and regrets that. One chapter focuses on the rise of the white supremacists on the right and the complete toss of any conservative values by the religious in their quest for power. It’s really an interesting read if you can put aside Sykes’ belief that there are or ever were any true “Conservatives” and that they actually do mean well.

    Actually, right now, with the temp well below freezing, I’d say my one word resolution would be “warming.”

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  18. adrianne said on December 29, 2017 at 10:18 am

    Thx. For all you do to keep our spirits up. One word: persist.

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  19. Jenine said on December 29, 2017 at 10:19 am

    @ Sherri: Lift is a poem in one word. Best wishes for your literal and figurative lifting.
    @ Diane: isn’t the canter a lovely sensation after the jolting trot?

    Maybe I’ll choose ‘amend’. I like the idea of starting where I’m at and making things better.

    A filter is necessary in our current world in order to be effective. Death to the hot take! Here’s to observing a pattern and making decisions with compassion and the best evidence.

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  20. Heather said on December 29, 2017 at 10:23 am

    David C., I don’t think it’s that we ignore those things, just that we have to save our energy and focus it as opposed to spending it on getting furious every day. We have to accept that each of us has a limited amount of energy and resources, and we can’t stop every little leak right now on our own. Instead, I’m trying to focus on ousting the developer who sold us this shitty house by working to get liberals and progressives into the House and Senate, as well as other state and local posts. I want to foment a cultural change that means toadies and soulless demons like Ryan and McConnell become social pariahs and of course sends Trump et al. to prison.

    I have some ideas about what word to choose, but I’ll have to think on it more.

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  21. David C. said on December 29, 2017 at 11:18 am

    Who do we sacrifice for our focus? Nearly everything he does hurts or kills real living and breathing people. My main objection to what Bruni wrote is his use of the word melodrama. Melodrama is trivial and overblown fluff. This is anything but. It’s like an abusive husband telling his wife to not be so melodramatic and here’s $20 go buy yourself a nice hat. When the shit really hits the fan, his pampered ass is going to be on the first flight to Paris (first class, of course). Where I’m sure he’ll write stirring columns urging us all on to fight.

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  22. Sherri said on December 29, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    Jenine, you just made my day. Thank you.

    I haven’t read Bruni’s column, and I’m not likely to. I do think anger is an appropriate reaction to the world we’re in now, and the question becomes, and then? Spending too much time consuming media fueling ever more cycles of outrage just eats me alive, without accomplishing anything.

    I’m an angry person by nature. Once I used to fight that, but all that did was cause the anger to turn inward and spill out inappropriately. I learned anger can be destructive, but it is also fuel, and I try to use anger now, rather than having it consume me. A therapist told me that anger is just an alarm going off telling you there is a problem, and that’s how I try to treat it.

    It’s hard, though, because it’s such a familiar place to go, and can give me such a high for a brief time. It takes discipline for me not to do it.

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  23. Andrea said on December 29, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    I think there is no clear answer to the dilemma posed by trump’s outrageous behavior. I agree the Bruno characterizing our response as melodrama is condescending and trivializing. Having been involved in this fight since 2015 at the state level (I live in Illinois and have been fighting our Governor, who is a proto-trump) it is very difficult to maintain the energy to keep going. Burn out is real. Apathy is the real danger, I think. It is very discouraging when people tune out and yet I know for myself I have to find ways to rejuvenate or I won’t be able to persist. In this way, perhaps the word is calibrate.

    The old metaphor about a chorus being able to maintain a note while individual singers drop out to breathe comes to mind. So long as we don’t all drop out at the same time, I guess.

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  24. alex said on December 29, 2017 at 3:47 pm

    I haven’t settled on a resolution and don’t know that I’ll make one. It’ll be one less thing to fail at and feel disappointed about as I enter the autumn of life. So my word for the new year is punt.

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  25. basset said on December 29, 2017 at 3:50 pm

    If you punt, though, you’re still in the game.

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  26. Deborah said on December 29, 2017 at 6:42 pm

    Such articulate, thoughtful comments here, you guys are the best!

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  27. Jolene said on December 29, 2017 at 7:32 pm

    Deborah, before noticing that this thread existed, I posted some ideas about what to do with pears at the end of the previous thread.

    Easier to figure out than how to live with more purpose and effectiveness in 2018.

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  28. Deborah said on December 29, 2017 at 7:44 pm

    Thanks Jolene. Unfortunately I woke up at 3am with hives all over my face including eyelids. This happened to me a couple of years ago at the end of the holiday season and I quit the booze for a while. I usually do the fast from alcohol in January, but I’m starting a couple of days earlier. It’s histamine intolerance, it’s cumulative and after I lay off I can drink moderately again. I never had this when I was younger. Getting old sucks. I’m also taking Benadryl now.

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  29. Diane said on December 29, 2017 at 8:17 pm

    Jenine@19 You are absolute right about the canter.

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  30. Julie Robinson said on December 29, 2017 at 8:23 pm

    Focus, persist, and finish are all part of what I’ve chosen: implement. I mentioned that I need to get my sister’s estate wrapped up, and railroad my mom, self, and hubby into estate planning. It’s such a mess when you die without a will or any planning, and I don’t want to repeat the experience.

    We saw The Greatest Showman this afternoon, and I expect to be booed down but I loved it. It’s super theatrical, so if you don’t like musicals, don’t go. Maybe in real life PT Barnum was a humbug who exploited those who are considered freaks, but the theme here was to let your freak flag fly and celebrate exactly who you are, and to make a family with those who are like you.

    Kinda like our little family here.

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  31. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 29, 2017 at 10:47 pm

    Barnum had a decent childhood, four daughters, and no Carlyle to speak of, but I thought “The Greatest Showman” gave us a nice sense of his outsider spirit. He was a temperance crusader in later life, but he did largely retire to enjoy public service and his household, if not when his girls were young — and I don’t believe there was ever a hint of him and Jenny Lind batting eyes at each other.

    But it was an hour and forty-five minutes of Hugh Jackman doing hat business like no one else in show biz today, and the Zac Efron/Zendaya routine was the exception, in that the trailer often is the best you’ll get of a key number, and in this case, you gotta see the whole sequence and the entire movie to appreciate it. The physics are just a tad off, like the history, but it was simply exhilarating and I just let it go. (Of the physics of “dropping bombs” in space early in “The Last Jedi” I’m still trying to let it go…)

    I do wish the Bearded Lady got a full blown solo number of her own. She had about half a one, comparatively, and she could have carried an entire bit on her own. In sum, if that was cheese, it was best quality Wensleydale in my book!

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  32. Julie Robinson said on December 29, 2017 at 11:17 pm

    Keala Settle, aka bearded lady has been lighting up Broadway for the past few years since she played Madame Thenardier in the most recent Les Miz revival. She’s a wonderful example of making a stellar career while possessing an non-conventional look.

    The whole movie was Broadway heavy. Jackman of course, a small role for Will Swenson as Barnum’s dad (wondering if they left a song from him on the cutting room floor), music by Pasek & Paul, who wrote this year’s Tony-winning musical Dear Evan Hansen, and overall music producer Alex Lacamoire, who was involved with a little thing called Hamilton.

    Weakest performance for me was Michelle Williams, who always comes across as the mehest of mehs, and at 37 already seemingly can’t move her face from her botox and fillers and whatever else she’s had done.

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  33. alex said on December 29, 2017 at 11:55 pm

    Funny coincidence but today I learned about cantering — twice! — and I’d never heard of it before.

    The second mention came with a holiday greeting card from a dear college friend now living in Wadsworth, Illinois, who mentioned taking polo lessons this summer from some Argentine professionals. She said she could hit the ball at a trot but not at a canter or gallop yet. She adds that at age 57 she’s not sure she’ll ever be good enough to play in a match, but knowing her as I do, she’ll probably make it happen before this time next year. I mean, she only took up equestrian sports a few years ago and has applied herself with the same rigor that she brings to tennis, gymnastics and skating, all of which she’s quite good at. I wish I had her energy.

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  34. brian stouder said on December 30, 2017 at 12:02 am

    Greatest Showman has a bit of the old Wizard of Oz magic in it; Pam and the extended crew and I caught it after Christmas, and enjoyed it immensely

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  35. Dexter said on December 30, 2017 at 3:01 am

    When I began smoking, cigarettes were a quarter a pack, $2 a carton. Now depending where you are, they’re $7 to $17.50 per pack.
    When I’d take my wives , over the years, to a play in Chicago, tickets were around $12, matinees less. My wife’s evening nurse in the rehab unit is a theater buff and sees plays frequently in Chicago. Recently she saw “Hamilton” at the CIBC Theater in The Loop. Orchestra center right…$540 per ticket. She told Carla Lee she has rich friends who buy the tickets.
    And when I got my first job in a factory, 50 years ago, I made $1.71 per hour. My daughter the NP called; she got a different job in Las Vegas. She is paid by the hour and makes 72 times what I made per hour 50 years ago. Sammy Davis , Jr. sang it: “Stop he World I Wanna Get Off”. Or, my NYResolution might be to hit this ridiculous lottery pot tonight.

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  36. Suzanne said on December 30, 2017 at 8:10 am

    I worked in a store when I was in high school, mid-1970s. I think cigarettes were $.35 per pack. I was a cashier so rang up quite a few (and don’t remember carding anyone). I think I made $2.00 per hour which was good money then. I put that into an inflation calculator a while back and it equaled something like $14.00 per hour in today’s money. We had regular hours, too, (two nights a week, and then either Friday night and Sunday afternoon or 8 hours on Sat), none of these metrics on scheduling workers for only the busy times. No wonder I could pay for college myself!

    Also, my kids tell me the Star Wars movie is good but we haven’t seen the Force Awakens, so they tell us this once won’t make sense.

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  37. Julie Robinson said on December 30, 2017 at 8:51 am

    You don’t have to spend that amount to see Hamilton. We had great seats in the loge for $200, and it was my birthday, Christmas and Mother’s Day gifts. I don’t need more stuff cluttering the house anyway. But you can listen to the cast album free.

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  38. basset said on December 30, 2017 at 10:08 am

    Eight below and two days of new snow when we left Cadillac, Mich. the morning after Christmas, and even in that cold the local TV (where I started out 40 years ago almost to the day, TV 9/10 for those who know the area) was still running a hunting & fishing forecast. They are hardcore up there.

    Big update this week… bought a new iMac for the first time since 2008. Now to get it working and all my stuff moved over from the old iMac and even older G5. Cover me, I’m goin’ in.

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  39. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 30, 2017 at 5:45 pm

    May the Force ™ be with you, basset!

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  40. Icarus said on December 31, 2017 at 10:04 am

    Happy New Year everyone! My resolution is always the same: to be in a better place, be it physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, economical or otherwise.

    I guess if we need a one-word resolution, it’s PURGE. I’ve been doing a lot of that lately. I have an old box of snail mail that was sent to me during college and post college years and re-reading those letters is like invoking a Pensieve from Harry Potter.

    I was going to re-read and then toss most of them, just keeping a few special but that didn’t work. So at the advice of my FB friends I decided to scan them, return the ones to people I’m still in touch with if they want them and then toss the rest (keeping just a few special hard copies as well).

    But PURGE also applies in other ways, such as getting rid of some of the junk that clutters my mind and holds me back. We’ll see how it goes…it’s easy to talk tough this time of year but the real test is where one is at the midway point of the year.

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  41. Minnie said on December 31, 2017 at 11:09 am

    Deborah, I’m with you on keeping last year’s word: resist.

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  42. basset said on December 31, 2017 at 12:27 pm

    Declutter. That death prep book looks interesting.

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  43. Deborah said on December 31, 2017 at 12:56 pm

    Happy New Year! I’m saying it now because I don’t have much juice in my phone and won’t have many opportunities to recharge because I’m at the cabin still.

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  44. basset said on December 31, 2017 at 1:52 pm

    74 hours to transfer data from one old Mac to my new one? That can’t be right…

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  45. susan said on December 31, 2017 at 2:54 pm

    bassett, that can’t be right. Did you use “Migration Assistant” (a data transfer app found in Applications > Utility folder)? I had to use it earlier this year to transfer my dead laptop data from its back-up drive to a new laptop. That worked so slickly. I was surprised at how quickly the transfer took, which amount of time, of course, I can’t remember. Maybe an hour or less? And this was almost a terabyte. So, 74 hours???

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  46. basset said on December 31, 2017 at 2:59 pm

    I am indeed using Migration Assistant… I think the 74-hour reading came from the new machine thinking it had a WiFi connection and the old one thinking it was wired. Never could get them to agree despite several changes, resets, and restarts so I am migrating from a backup drive right now. We’re about an hour in and two to go at a transfer rate of 35 mb/s, which is pretty slow actually but I suppose it’s OK considering that the connection is old-style USB.

    And I have one hell of a lot of photos to sort through when this is done, just shoved all the desktop folders into one to be sorted out later and some of that stuff went back to 2015.

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  47. basset said on December 31, 2017 at 4:57 pm

    55 years ago tonight the Beatles played their last night at the Star Club. Given the time difference between here & Hamburg, they were probably on stage right about now.

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  48. Deborah said on December 31, 2017 at 5:41 pm

    We went on an afternoon drive to recharge our phones. On the drive we stopped at the local store and I bought a chocolate bar, only to find out after I ate it that chocolate is high in histamine and now my face is all itchy again, I took 2 Benadryl. I can’t drink alcohol, can’t eat bread, tomatoes, citrus fruits, berries and now chocolate, for a while at least. Bummer.

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  49. Joe Kobela said on December 31, 2017 at 10:10 pm

    Happy New Years all from warm and sunny L.A. currently overnighting in Van Nuys, I hear its chilly back east, I can understand why L.A. Mary lives here although its a bit crowded for me, Started this tour in Montreal, then Dayton, Dallas, Telluride, Sacramento, off to Portland Monday and finish in Long Beach, This is one big country when you see it like I do, we have our differences for sure but I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else or not have great people like you all to discuss things with.
    Hope your next year is bigger and better then the last.
    Pilot Joe

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  50. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 31, 2017 at 11:58 pm

    2017 – https://veryverybusymom.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/img_3734.jpg

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  51. Deborah said on January 1, 2018 at 9:24 am

    It’s 13 degrees this fine New Year’s morning in Abiquiu.

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  52. basset said on January 1, 2018 at 11:18 am

    Thirteen degrees in Nashville right now, twenty in Anchorage. Mac transfer is still cooking… did it off a backup drive yesterday but not all of it worked, after two hours in chat with four different people at Apple I tried a direct transfer over Ethernet and let it run overnight, just about done now.

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  53. susan said on January 1, 2018 at 11:27 am

    bassett, did you try turning off the computer and starting it up again?

    (Ha ha ha! Just kidding.)

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  54. basset said on January 1, 2018 at 12:26 pm

    This process has included many restarts.

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  55. Diane said on January 1, 2018 at 12:56 pm

    Upon further reflection, I decided that my word for this year is tend. Tend to myself by finding time for self care things and by attending to what I eat, etc. Tend to my relationships by finding time to nurture friendships and family. And tend to the world by working locally to elect Democrats to office.

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  56. elaine said on January 1, 2018 at 4:46 pm

    My one-word resolution word for 2018? Reduce.

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