Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008: The Year in Pictures



* * *

When I was a little kid, I'd get inordinately upset over the end of each year -- I'd be sad that it was never going to be that year again, or something to that effect. Not this year, certainly. I'm greeting the end of 2008 with a mixture of relief and regret.

There's a sense of stuntedness, I suppose, looking back at the year. Grand plans never got going. There were some great moments, but it was a weird and unsettling year overall, with the health thing hanging over everything.

The heart surgery is three weeks from tomorrow, and hopefully, that will go smoothly and after that the year will trend upwards. I go into the new year with something of a plan, which in itself is a rare thing. We'll see how it goes.

* * *

One last book, under the wire.

#55 -- "Cadillac Desert" by Marc Reisner

A little glimpse into what a joy it is to know me and my declining memory: last summer, when I first started reading this, I e-mailed Vitriola. The message said "Hey, you should really check out 'Cadillac Desert'" or something to that effect.

Her response: "I was the one who told you about that."

Oh. Whoops.

I have something of a layman's interest in water rights and the American West, so this is something of a natural. Something like 2/3 of my life has been spent in Colorado or Arizona, but I never gave much thought to how such a notoriously dry area managed to get water. It's the natural order of things, I figured.

Reisner goes to great lengths to show that it's anything but natural, outlining how greed, shortsightedness, stubbornness and stupidity have thrown the West's ecology way out of whack. It's pretty chilling and fills in a lot of background on phrases that I heard but didn't know much about as a youngster.

I'm no geologist or hydrologist, so a lot of the more technical stuff is largely lost on me. And, I felt like I needed a wall-sized map of the U.S. when reading a lot of this; I know where Colorado is, I'm not so clear on where the Colorado River flows. And, the middle of the book gets into a blow-by-blow account of a bureaucratic fight that went into about twice as much detail as I would have wanted.

Still, it's a fascinating and well-written book, and I'd be curious to look into what's happened in these areas since the book's publication (this is the revised edition, from 1993). It leaves with a sense of impending doom, and I'd like to see what (if anything) has happened in the interim. (Reisner has died since it was published -- so I'm not calling for another updated version.)

Anyway. Onward to 2009.

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