The luminarias burned through the night

Liminaria

Most of the luminarias that we put out on Christmas eve burned out, but this one–and a few others–made it to the dawn of Christmas day. There was something about the serenity of it that demanded a picture and a few words here.

It’s a sign of something good, I hope. The end of 2013 is now in view and, like that luminaria on Christmas eve, we can persevere until the new year comes around.

Lovie’s nine-year tenure

LovieSmith

The Chicago Bears missed the playoffs this year, and they reacted the same way that several other NFL franchises did today: they fired their head coach. The bright line between success and failure seems to be making the playoffs, and I suppose that’s fair enough. It’s a binary thing: you either made it to the playoffs and had a successful season, or you didn’t, and now it’s time to hit the bricks and let someone else have a go at it instead.

I’ve said repeatedly that I’m not a Bears fan, but this kind of a move, in a football town like Chicago is, will suck up all the attention, sportswise and even newswise, until further notice. Not that I’m going to partake in any of it, I just wanted to point that out before retiring for the evening.

I hope New year’s eve is happy and safe for anyone and everyone who reads this.

Something we cannot know

Happy 2013!

I read about the death of Spencer Cox with great interest today. It’s not because I knew him, or was even remotely familiar with what he had done with his time here on this earth. It turns out that he did some amazing things, helping to get some of the first effective medicines to fight against AIDS to the market in the mid-1990s.

I remember the hysteria about AIDS in the early and mid-1990s very well, and if he had anything to do with helping to allay that hysteria, then good for him. He clearly had an impact on the lives of thousands, if not millions. I’m honored to devote a few lines of my blog to recognizing the things he accomplished.

But what really got my attention was his age. Spencer Cox was just a few months older than I am when he recently passed away. With New Year’s eve coming up in a few hours, it reminded me that some of us who will celebrate the arrival of 2013 won’t have another new year’s to celebrate after that. Certainly, if someone were to ask Spencer Cox on the last New Year’s day what 2012 would hold for him, his own death probably wouldn’t have been on the list.

I hope, with all that I have and hold dear, that 2013 is a great and full year for me and everyone that I know (and for you too, gentle reader, whoever you might be). I’d like to have another 12-25 new years to celebrate before my time on this earth is up. But I don’t get to decide when my supply of New Years will run out, either. And the truth is none of us can know this, with any degree of certainty.

I’ve said many times in this space that I celebrate life by commemorating death. Why else would I have written about Larry Hagman and Adam Yauch, about Don Cornelius and Champ Summers, and about Whitney Houston and Ronnie Montrose? They were all with us when 2012 began, but they couldn’t know that 2013 would arrive without them. Nobody wants to think about that, really, but let’s remember what Benjamin Franklin said are the only two certainties in life: death and taxes.

So as the ball drops in Times Square this year, and the strains of “Auld Lang Syne” are played for the only time all year, I plan to remember that the New Year might be a great one, and it might be an awful one, and it might even be a partial one (although, again, I certainly hope that it isn’t).

Here’s wishing everyone who reads this a happy and full new year in 2013, or whenever it is that you find this.

Pink elephants, real and imagined

pinkelephant

A couple of days ago, I wrote that the number of countries where my blog has not been viewed is a small number, and that the removal of any nations from that list is a cause for, if not celebration, then at least a sense of wonderment on my part. I’ll never physically travel to most of these nations, but the internet allows something that I’m associated with to go there, and that will have to be enough for me.

Today, that small number of nations dropped by one, when Botswana joined the fold of 159 nations to have seen something on my blog at least once. Botswana is a sparsely-populated nation in sub-Saharan Africa, which is covered in many places by the Kalahari desert.

Botswana had a pink elephant sighting a few years ago, which amused me because I grew up not far from a liquor store with a large pink elephant holding a martini glass in its trunk. Apparently “pink elephants” is a euphemism for seeing things when someone is drunk. Jack London first used the phrase a hundred years ago, in his autobiographical work John Barleycorn.

Here’s hoping that if New Year’s Eve leads to any pink elephants in the U.S.A–and certainly it will–those experiencing them won’t be stupid enough to get behind the wheel of a car and put the lives of others at risk. If actual pink elephants can exist in Africa, anything’s possible, isn’t it?