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Happy New Year!

Hello and Happy New Year, all.  I hope the holidays have treated you well.  I don't know too many people who actually feel more relaxed during the holidays than they normally do, but there's no denying a certain sense of relief when they're finally over.  Only at that point, I think, can you look back on the experience fondly.  That being said, in the face of the tragic experiences of those affected by the tsunami, it's hard to think of one's own situation as difficult, relatively speaking.  Start the year off right and dig deep, folks.  Even those who were fortunate enough to have survived the initial disaster will have a long road ahead of them.  My personal picks for donating were the Red Cross (they always seem to be among the first on the ground when trouble strikes) and Oxfam, based on the recommendation of Joel Spolsky over at Fog Creek Software (they make CityDesk, which I use to publish this site).

As far as the New Year itself is concerned, I actually decided to make some resolutions this year, despite the fact that I've never been a big proponent of them myself (this might at least partially explain a certain lack of accomplishment...).  Although they cover a wide spectrum of areas of my life that need attention or improvement, three of them (of the twelve) are cottage-specific resolutions.  Now, I'm sure that some will say that I shouldn't be calling these resolutions, and that they should simply be on my 'to-do' list.  I agree with this to some extent, but I've found that the list just keeps getting longer and longer, and that I didn't actually get all that much done last year (personally, I blame the poor weather conditions this year).  So instead, I've chosen the three most important projects that absolutely need to be addressed this year and declared them "Resolutions", in the hopes that this will provide me with sufficient motivation.

These three resolutions, in order of importance, are as follows:

  1. The Septic System:  I've got the plans (although I'm pretty sure I'll be revising them if I can ever get the attention of the consulting engineers.  My lesson here was: never pay for services until you're sure that they've delivered exactly what you want.  Once they've got your cash you may never hear from them again), now I need the permits and a contractor...oh, and I have to figure out how to pay for it.  
  2. The Deck:  Considering how often we use it, and how much time my friends spend on it, I really should be horse-whipped for not having done anything about this yet.  A number of 4"x4" supporting posts need to be replaced by 6"x6" posts and firmly anchored on some concrete piers, and some cross-bracing wouldn't hurt either.  The entire thing also needs to be stripped, cleaned and repainted; it looks terrible and the wood is unprotected and aging quickly.
  3. The Eaves trough (or gutter, to some):  For some reason, one side of the cottage has an eaves trough, but not the other.  Worse than that, it's the uphill side, so that the water comes straight off of the roof and pools at the base of the structure.  Sure enough, there's some serious water soaking through the concrete block foundation, which is a very bad thing and should probably merit another horse-whipping.  I don't even need anything particularly fancy, just a straight gutter about 26 feet long, a 12 foot downspout and a few extra feet at the bottom to get it away from the foundation.  How hard can it be?  (Cue ominous music now...).

If this New Year's resolution system works out for me this year, I intend to make a habit of it.  But even if you don't choose to call them resolutions, I'm convinced that the best strategy is to write down those things you absolutely want to address in the coming year (not too many, though) and post it somewhere that you'll see it often.  Letting others know your lofty goals (as I'm doing here) can also be a powerful motivator.  Meet me back here in a year and I'll let you know how it went.

Happy New Year,


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