2011 In the Rearview Mirror

In conclusion, 2011 wasn’t my favorite year. OK, now that that’s out of the way, I can pause and take a brief look back on the year that was…not because it’s necessarily a good idea, but because it’s the last day of the year and I’ve got some time to kill.

Twenty-eleven will be etched in my memory as the year I had to replace the house’s furnace and AC. Well, I didn’t replace it, I paid others to replace it for me. Suffice it to say, replacement was had. For the better part of a week the family muddled through the mid-summer New Mexico heat with only improvised relief. Worse…any chocolate not previously stored in a refrigerator or freezer was lost. Some of it was really good chocolate, too. My heart is still heavy…as my wallet is now light.

This was also a year when I spent a lot of time dealing with my mom’s broken wrist. She fell and broke it in spring. Persisting in the belief that it was just a sprain, it took months to get her to see a doctor. After the break finished healing out of place, she had to have surgery to repair it. My mom had never been significantly injured for an extended period like this before…and she let everyone experience some of her pain. Fortunately, now, at the end of the year, things are slowly getting back to what passes for normal.

It didn’t seem like a lot else really happened here of much noteworthiness. I finally published Que Será Serees and started releasing some of my back catalog. It’s been a little scattershot since I also need to update my website design to make accessing my writing ephemera easier…but that’ll get done in 2012. Maybe. 2025 at the latest.

Looking back on the news stories being listed by various organizations and publications…I’m actually sort of aghast at what people think of as being particularly newsworthy. My list is mercifully short. The Occupy movement, and global protest movements in general, are the defining story for 2011. After all, someone has to, “help the helpless, befriend the friendless and to defeat…the defeatless!”*

After that, the well-documented devastation in Japan from disasters both natural and human-aided, underscored the fact that the world, in and of itself, is a dangerous place. We take that for granted at our peril.

The picture of the year I’ll keep in my head is the USA’s amazing comeback over Brazil in the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Wambach’s goal at the end of extra time; Solo’s block in penalty kicks. Wow. Sports drama at its best.

For me, the two other big stories come from more nerdy realms. The first was the retirement of the shuttle program. I’m not too broken up about retiring the shuttles per se. They were risky vehicles, the oldest survivor having been in service for 27 years. What’s crushing is that there isn’t a certain replacement for the fleet. While this isn’t the first time there has been a gap in U.S. manned spaceflight capability, it is galling that we squandered so much lead time.

The other story was the prospect of a neutrino experiment that seems to allow for these particles to exceed the speed of light. I’m really amazed at how amazed people are with this. Einstein never said you couldn’t go faster than light, he just said that you couldn’t change your acceleration so that you could traverse the light barrier—from either direction. Shoot, I’ve known this since I was a young teen in the mid-70s. It’s nothing new. It could just be that FTL neutrinos are nothing more than the hypothetical tachyons so common in science fiction. Personally, I’m hoping we’re stepping into a pile of new physics exploration. It could be fun.

That was really about it for 2011 that stands out. I’d like to say that I had high hopes for 2012, but with the election cycle (now with SCOTUS giving corporations an effective blank check to affect the proceedings) having to be endured, a good 2012 wasn’t likely. Worse, the year will start with me on jury duty (augh…don’t get me started). This is an ill-omen.

Still, I can dream that 2012 is better than 2011. I dearly hope it isn’t worse.

* Zorro, the Gay Blade

Photos: ?, NASA/Jim Grossmann

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