It's the most depressing day of the year, and this year I know why.
According to MSNBC, Dr. Cliff Arnall, a specialist in seasonal disorders at the University of Cardiff in Wales, has developed a formula that
determines when people are at their lowest, most miserable point.
That point is January 24th.
On January 24th, you see, the weather stinks, most people have already trashed their New Year's resolutions, and any memories of holiday
cheer have long been replaced with worry over holiday bills. Dullness and hopelessness are at their peak.
Though Arnall's formula was originally designed for application in Great Britain, it certainly applies elsewhere. I'm feeling winter blues keenly in
America. I'm feeling them for a variety of unpleasant reasons.
Take Republicans. A little more than a decade ago, they won power in Washington by promising to restrain spending and reign in corruption.
They did both for a while, but now look at them. They're spending more dough, and enjoying more lobbyist largesse, than the Democrats ever
Political analyst Lawrence O'Donnell says it has to do with their desire to keep a hold on power. With a modest margin in the House, they fear
the Democrats could take over at any time. So they shamelessly give favors to lobbyists to raise boatloads of campaign dough, then
shamelessly give goodies to constituents in return for votes.
Our federal, state and local governments have gotten creative, too, in handing out the goodies. Some of our terrorist-fighting dough, we
recently learned, was used to purchase garbage trucks in New Jersey and fund a tanning salon in Las Vegas.
I suppose first responders need a good tan in case the terrorists strike an ozone-alert day.
What's even more bizarre is that Democrats, with a straight face, are telling us they have the answers to ethics reform in Congress. They put
forth a lobbying-reform plan that has more holes in it than Howard Dean's head. They say their plan will keep Congress more honest than
Mother Theresa, even though the word "corruption" is the leading synonym for the word "Democrat."
And in the midst of this latest Washington sloppiness, we keep forgetting we are at war. Some people don't think the war on terror is a war at
all, but a political ploy by Republicans. Some folks believe this despite what Bin Laden and the nut jobs in Iran keep telling us.
Bin Laden, it appears, just came out with another warning. He is delighted that most folks in America, except President Bush it appears, are
eager to pull out of Iraq.
He said he might entertain a truce, however, so that Iraq and Afghanistan can be rebuilt.
He also said that he and the boys are gearing up for some spring-time attacks in America.
Aren't words like "truce" and "attack" the kind of words people use during war? Or is it easier to put our heads in the sand and accuse Bush of
being an oil-hungry liar? I guess it will take a couple of mushroom clouds in Washington and New York for Bin Laden and the boys to get their
And so January 24th is going to hit me especially hard this year.
Dr. Arnall originally developed his "misery" formula for the travel industry. He says, in fact, that one of the best things folks can do to cheer
themselves up is plan a trip to some place sunny and warm.
Dr. Kathleen Hall, author of "A Life In Balance," offers other ideas. She says we should try new foods, participate in fun events with friends
and family, and add color to our homes.
We should keep flowers on the kitchen table, she says, or buy a tablecloth with bright, happy colors, such as orange and yellow.
Yeah, a tablecloth ought to do it. But only if it's big enough to throw over Congress, Iran, Al Qaeda and everybody else who has got me down