Friday, December 19, 2008

2008 in a nutshell...

You may think that by the title, I was going to add my offerings to the interminable list of year-end reviews of things that were and are to come, but you would be wrong. Despite the tremendous amount of good and bad that happened this year, I'll leave the punditry and speculation to those who either get paid for doing it, or think they are so good at it that they should be paid for doing it. I do not belong to either of those categories.

This year has been a bit of a challenge for me. This time last year, I lost my oldest and last remaining brother, Darwin. With his passing, there are no more close relatives living in my branch of the family tree. Joining Darwin in what I pray will be Heaven, are: my mother; father; both sets of grandparents; my lone sister and my other two brothers. Sprinkle in a few cousins and a niece or nephew or two, and it can be said that it's a mite lonely in my part of the family. Our family's not a tight knit bunch, I haven't seen the rest of the brood since Darwin's Memorial Service on New Year's Day, and to be honest, not seeing them doesn't cause me much grief at all. As a result I have the Little House in the Ghetto all to myself, which is not a bad thing in that I can wander from room to room in my underwear and yell and engage in my occasional acts of insanity without bothering anyone. I can also use the bathroom without closing the door, even though I still do so out of habit. Living alone is no big deal for me. I'm used to being by myself, as I have mentioned repeatedly in this blog.

But maintaining this house on my income alone has presented a significant challenge, one that even though Darwin constantly reminded me more times than I'd rather count, I still was not quite prepared for. I refuse to rent the place out to tenants because living where I live, and having to put up with the charity cases Darwin tended to bring in to provide income for maintenance, I refuse to go that route. My brother, God rest his soul, was always trying to help out his fellow man but admittedly he was a soft touch for any hard luck story, real or contrived, that came along. As a result, we've had any number of strays and cast-offs end up here, and more than a few of them took advantage of Darwin's good heart and Christian charity. I, however, am not that good of a Christian, and instead of having to deal with the flotsam and jetsam of Homewood after they get into the house, I'm just not bothering to open up to them at all.

After not having internet service for the first three months of the year, In March, I finally got Comcast or as I tend to refer to them, Crapcast, to provide me internet access and I have to admit that barring a couple of small outages, the service has been more than I expected. Reasonable in price, faster than DSL in most cases and not requiring me to dial in have made me a happy boy as far as my access to teh intertubes goes.

The Penguins got the whole town in a uproar when they took the Detroit Red Wings to 6 games before succumbing in the Stanley Cup Finals. I'm one of the few black folks who gets hockey, so I was definitely watching every game on the edge of my seat rooting for the Flightless Waterfowl to top off what was a rather improbable season. I usually don't get too geeked up about hockey until the playoffs, so we still have a ways to go yet until the Pens can make another historic run for Lord Stanley's Jug.

As great as the Pen's season was, the Pirates once again found new and exciting ways to lose baseball games, tying the major league record for consecutive losing seasons at 16 dating back to 1993. New on and off field management failed in bringing the Same 'ol Bucs out of the death spiral that is the New Pirate Generation. It's a shame that at least for the foreseeable future, there will be Pittsburgh kids who will have spent the vast majority of their young lives never having seen their hometown baseball team come close to winning more games than they lose. At least they'll have pierogie races, fireworks, bobbleheads and all you can eat snackies in America's Greatest Ballpark to distract them. Hmmm, I wonder how those two pitchers from India are doing?? Maybe when the Buccos are well on their way to making Major League history, they'll bring those two up to put some more fannies in seats.

I'm not going to talk about the election because we all know who won. (In case you've been camped out in the Inner Regions of Outer Mongolia or studying Amazonian tribes in a South American rain forest, I'll give you a clue...He's Black!!!!) There's probably still a few good 'ol boys somewhere in these United States that can't wrap their heads around the fact that an African-American Senator from Chicago, born in Hawaii to a Kenyan father and a Kansan mother was swept into office by a clear overwhelming majority in a presidential election with the largest turnout in US history. I think it's pretty safe to say that all those who fought and died for civil rights in this country are dancing a jig to beat the band up in heaven. I know I never thought I'd see this day. But now that Barack Obama is going to be the one who we will be referring to as " Mr. President" come approximately 12:05 pm EST, January 20th 2009. I hope that those of us who elected him into office will be patient enough to give the man time to effect the change he spoke of on the campaign trail and also understand that some of what he promised, may not happen in the first hundred, two hundred or even three hundred days. That's why a Presidential term goes for 4 years. Turning this country around is like steering a Nimitz class aircraft carrier. You start turning the rudder to change course, it takes a while for the ship to respond. And then once the ship starts to respond, the rudder needs to be adjusted slowly and gradually so that the ship doesn't overshoot it's intended course. A seasoned helmsman knows just how much rudder is needed, how quickly the ship will respond and how much opposite rudder is needed to center the ship on its new course without having the vessel zig-zagging all over the ocean.

That's the way it is with a country this size. Change has to happen slowly, gradually, and with just enough braking and correction administered to turn the nation to a new course. In the case of the USA, turning the country's rudder will cause the direction of the country to turn, not in seconds or minutes as on an aircraft carrier, but in months and years. And Obama and his cabinet will have to know when to apply that opposite rudder to recenter the country, but there are rough seas ahead for Mr. Obama and his crew and it's always harder to stay on course when the seas are high and waves are crashing over the bow. Sorry for the nautical references, but remember, I was in the Navy. Nevertheless, as long as we are patient enough to give the man a chance, accept that he will make mistakes and be willing to work with him and not against him, this country called the United States of America can and will come through the toughest times. We're not as fragile as we think we are. I'd like to think that Americans are made of stern stuff.

In closing, this has been an interesting year for me, and I have a feeling that 2009 will be a make or break year in my life. Happy Holidays from the Little House in the Ghetto and may your 2009 be a damn sight better than your 2008.

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