Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2009, as I barely recall it!

As I noted a few weeks ago – we’ve reached not only the end of another year, but the conclusion of the entire first decade of the new millennium. (Wow, time flies when you’re living vicariously via a series of online websites!)

This week, nearly every newspaper columnist in America is writing a column along essentially the same themes: either the year in review, or the decade in review. I chose the year in review because it would require too much mental energy for me to go back and try to recall the entire decade. I’m too old for that level of remembering.

Frankly, I’m actually too old to remember a whole year, so I’m just including the highlights that I DO happen to recall at this exact moment, which is almost certainly a different set of highlights than the ones I will recall a couple hours from now.

Here are the highlights, as I hazily recall them:

Global Warming
-- There was a major meeting of all the world’s leaders in Copenhagen, to determine how to handle this looming crisis. US leaders committed $100 billion of our money, although they admitted having no idea where it would come from, or what it would be used for. Then, they returned to the nation’s capital to face the coldest, snowiest winter blizzard in history.

Swine Flu was given a new name: H1N1
– The Surgeon General told us to cough into our sleeves to prevent the spread of the virus, resulting in millions of neck injuries when old people like me expelled ferocious sneezes while our necks were craned sideways trying to reach our shoulder sleeves. The Surgeon General also advised us to forego traditional handshakes in favor of the germ-free “fist bump”. The fist bump, it turns out, only looks cool when young, urban street toughs do it. When the rest of us try it, we look sorta dorky.

The Recession -- The nation has been mired in a deep recession for the entire year. As for me, I started the year with basically no money, and ended with basically no money. When you didn’t really have any money to start with, you hardly notice a recession.

Tiger Woods
-- Somebody asked me a few weeks ago if I had been keeping up with Tiger Woods. I told him, no, at my age, it wasn’t really possible… but if I was his age and had his money, I’m pretty sure I could have kept up with him.

South Carolina On The Map
-- Wow! Mark Sanford’s “Appalachian Trail” and Joe Wilson’s “You lie” have brought us to the Big Time. Those who believe we have merely been subjected to ridicule by their actions are unaware of the modern axiom of marketing: “Celebrity is the coin of the realm”! Trust me: Mark Sanford and Joe Wilson are both marketable commodities: They are ‘brands” in the current-terms of media-speak.

Nobel Peace Prize
-- Get one free with every oil change!

Health Care Debate -- The Health Care Debate obviously consumed much of the attention of the nation for the entire year. Only thing is, it wasn’t really a health care debate: It was a government debate, dealing primarily with how much individual freedom and liberty the American people are willing to surrender in exchange for more government control and intervention. And it was a money debate, like many other government debates, trying to control how the money-pie gets sliced up. If it had actually been a health care debate, we would have heard discussions of words like “electrocardiogram”, “macular degeneration”, “paracentric chromosome inversion”, and “deoxyhemoglobin”… or at least words like “biopsy”, “osteoporosis” and “white blood count”. But instead, the words and phrases we heard during the health care debate, according a glossary from Reuters News Service, were “public option”, “Cadillac health plans”, “exchanges”, “single payer”, “trigger”, “opt-out”, “opt-in”, “bending the cost curve”, and “age rating.”

My Weight
-- For the umpteenth year in a row, I’m ending the year on a high note: I’m a Big, Fat, Giant, Hippo-Pig-Whale!!! My weight has finally exceeded even my massive ego!!! But, here’s good news: It’s time for out annual Kick-Off-The-New-Year-With-A-Weight-Loss-Contest competition. (If you’d like to join our pound-shedding adventure, email me at RodShealy@aol.com. By the way, in recognition of The Recession, I’m pretty sure our buy in will be $25 per person, instead of our traditional $100.)

Baby Boomers -- This was the year that baby boomers started reaching retirement age en masse, a trend which will continue for over a decade. Retirement will never be the same.

What I Got for Christmas
– For me, December 25th, 2009, marked exactly the 500th day since I underwent brain surgery back on Aug. 11, 2008. At that time, I was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor, and initially given a dire prognosis. The tumor was a recurrence of the same cancer – melanoma – from 25 years earlier. My odds of still being here for Christmas, 2009, were slim. (Being here was a great Christmas Gift! Knowing that I’ve made it 500 days is a Blessing Beyond Belief!!!)

As I reported at Thanksgiving, I was fortunate to be accepted into an innovative cancer research program at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida, for a long-term trial in which I am currently participating. It’s a field of cancer research -- finding better ways to boost the body’s natural abilities to fight cancer -- which appears very promising for the future.

From time to time, as I promised back in August, 2008, I have updated readers on my progress. (See http://doingthefirst.blogspot.com/2009/11/much-to-be-thankful-for.html)
Within the next few weeks, I should have new scans, and a new update for you.

In the meantime, I continue to be thankful for my family and friends whose strong support has kept me positive and optimistic; and for the many, many people who said a prayer for me… and caused the miracle that allowed me to be here for Christmas, 2009.

Happy New Year! I’ll see you in 2010… and a whole new decade!

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