Thursday, January 10, 2008

It's Strange Waking up to 2008

(From the January 10, 2008 Grand Haven Tribune)

During the holidays, I took advantage of the opportunity to catch up on some sleep. But lately, as I get focused on the new year, I’ve been wondering if I’m still dreaming. I’m having a mild case of the Rip VanWinkle effect. Or in this area, it could be DeWink, VanderWinkenBerg, or Winksma. Anyway, it’s as if I slept for decades and am waking to bizarre realities.

First, it’s pushing 60 degrees and it’s January. Driving home from work the other night, there was thunder and lightning that gave me an inkling of spring.

Speaking of warmer weather, it still seems bizarre to me that an Oscar Award was given to that global warming documentary, “An Inconvenient Truth.” It’s actually not even a film documentary. It resembles a slide show. If I had been sleeping 20 years, I would wonder how a mundane PowerPoint presentation could win next to digital animation and special effects.

Speaking of guys who speak in near monotone, it could strike one just waking up as confusing to hear all the recent discussions about Carr and Les Miles. One might think the topic is fuel efficiency. But no, this was actually about football coaches, not the auto industry.

Speaking of unique industries, it seemed as if I slept through a decade or two when I read local news reports about Muskegon recently. For one, there is talk about putting a Casino in the old SPX plant. Gosh, lose a major employer, and replace it with opportunities for the citizens who are left behind to put what little money they have in shiny, humming machines. What a forward-looking idea! At the same time, area leaders envision a fleet of floating windmills 22 miles off shore in Lake Michigan to generate power. That truly is visionary and innovative. Imagine, West Michigan could have control of two precious commodities—fresh water and energy. We could be to the next century what Saudi Arabia has been to the last.

Speaking of unique distinctions for our state, Michigan and Rhode Island lost more population than any other states in the country in the past year, according to recent reports. North Dakota is hanging on to people, and we are not? I must be dreaming. It reminds me of the 1980s recession, when bumper stickers asked the last one to leave the state to turn out the lights.

Speaking of lights, wasn’t that holiday light show amazing? I remember when Harbor Island was a barren wasteland during the winter. This past holiday season there were cars streaming in to witness lights and music more tightly choreographed than Russian pairs Olympic figure skaters. Now we have a winter counterpart to the musical fountain.

Speaking of staged presentations, even those of us who have seen actors and peanut farmers chosen to be our leaders must give pause when considering the current election process. Mention the slate of candidates and it sounds like the set up for a joke. For example, “an African-American, a woman, a southern Baptist minister, and a Mormon businessman walk into a New Hampshire cafĂ©…..”

Speaking of spending lots of money for video, my wife and I were shocked at Blockbuster recently. We hadn’t rented DVDs for a while, and were stunned to be charged $4.39 per DVD—even the old ones. It’s as if the video stores want us to go with video on demand from our cable and Internet providers. This may be the way to go, with HDTV prices coming down and digital broadcasts inevitable.

Speaking of noticing details on the faces of television personalities, it was a surprise to see David Letterman and Conan O’Brien sporting beards when they returned to the airwaves recently. Their having beards made it more obvious to me that you see so few of them on TV. It was as if they were asleep with Rip VanWinkle and woke up to a newly hirsute hilarity. They grew the beards in solidarity with the writers on strike, but will likely shave them soon. Letterman did on the air the other night.

Speaking of routines and schedules, it has been unusual to hear the term “trimester” so much lately. Of course, around here anyway, the term doesn’t refer to expectant mothers as much as it relates to the public school calendar.

Back to calendars. Just into our second week of the year and so many things to think about. It’s exhausting. I need a nap.

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