Jewish World Review Jan. 4, 2002 / 20 Teves, 5762

Lori Borgman

Lori Borgman
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The slightly sunny side of 2001

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com -- I'VE been asking people what they'll remember about 2001. All but one immediately answered the terrorist attack. My friend Mary was the exception. "I'll remember my son Ian's birthday," she said.

"Why is that?" I asked.

"It was September 11th."

Other columnists can analyze the long shadow that the war on terrorism cast over the year. Frankly, I don't have anything to add that hasn't already been said. In my parting shot at 2001, I'd like to salute a host of folks who have given us reason to smile, cause to cheer, or occasion to scratch our heads and say, "You gotta be kiddin'!"

Let's start with a round of applause for Julia Roberts who acted out every woman's dream. After the Oscars, when she saw the line for the women's room snaking down a hall, she bolted for the men's room. Oh, admit it, you've thought about it, too.

The You Gotta See It To Believe It award goes to a man who robbed First Bank in Florissant, Mo. while wearing a baseball cap bearing the phrase "Super Dad." My question: What was under the cap? It surely wasn't a brain.

An electronics firm debuted a prototype for a talking robot that can counsel families. Fifteen inches high and weighing 11 pounds, PePeRo comes with a head, two eyes, two digital cameras, four microphones, five sensors and a motor that lets it move and respond to people in the room. It boasts a repertoire of 3,000 phrases and can recognize 650 expressions.

Sounds interesting. Now, who would like to volunteer to have their family spats recorded on audio and video? I thought so.

The Growing Up Is Hard award goes to a Toronto teen who crashed into six cars and injured a pedestrian when she demonstrated her ability (or lack thereof) to park. The teen panicked while trying to park and hit the gas pedal instead of the brake. The young driver and the woman she hit were hospitalized for minor injuries. The driving instructor was treated for shock. You have to wonder how much a job like that pays.

In Winston-Salem, N.C., Sunday school students convinced Toys R Us to remove posters of rapper Eminem, who sings about murdering his wife and violating his mother. Posters were pulled from all 708 locations. Hearty congrats, kids. Ah, the power of little platoons.

Speaking of small groups who bring about big changes, kudos to every mom and dad who worked hard at maintaining a family this year. For those of you who took responsibilities to heart, outlined expectations, enforced bedtimes, censored television, monitored computer use and upheld curfews, may your tribe increase.

Next, a dozen dry-erase markers for every teacher who remained dedicated to high standards, rich academics and a liberal smattering of fun along the way. When tag is banned at an elementary school as a potential form of sexual harassment, it is increasingly hard to remain sane in a world gone mad.

Finally, congratulations to every community volunteer who did something for nothing. Your good deeds and small kindnesses may not have made the pages of Time or Newsweek this year, but trust me, people noticed. Important people. Your friends, your colleagues, your spouse, your kids.

High five and Happy New Year.


JWR contributor Lori Borgman is the author of I Was a Better Mother Before I Had Kids. To comment, please click here.

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10/05/01: "Taking Care of You"
09/28/01: Time indivisible
09/24/01: Refueling capitalism
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09/07/01: Lack of modesty stirs the troops
08/31/01: Scholarship search an education
08/24/01: The test for parents
08/17/01: Immodest proposals
08/10/01: Trying to R-r-r-re-re-relax
08/03/01: It may be shabby and chic, but it ain't cheap
07/20/01: Bride showered with sage advice
07/13/01: Baby Bear Finds Driving "Just Right"
07/06/01: Pale at the Thought of Bronze
06/29/01: A Dog's Best Friend
06/22/01: Rethinking fatherhood
06/14/01 Don't forget to lock the door
06/07/01 How grandma punishes her kids
06/01/01 Hearing voices
05/25/01 Cyborgs for Better or Worse
05/18/01 The death of Common Sense

© 2001, Lori Borgman