First off let me get the one wish out of the way that I know is completely impossible. I wish the weather would quit changing so fast that my plans are always out of date by the time I get ready to follow them.
This morning the sky was a beautiful clear blue, but by the time we had breakfast, got showers, and settled on the idea that driving up the mountain to Floyd might be fun, a cloud bank rolled in and completely obscured the sun.
Then when I decided to sit down and write for a few minutes. The clouds disappeared. Now I am sitting at the computer looking at blue skies once again.
Likely the weather will never slow down to my pace so I will have to continue to gamble with my activities. However, I doubt that I will get to the point of gambling that the skies will be blue after an hour's car ride. I would rather be on the beach than in a car.
I could wish that our politicians would try to get along, but I think that would be a wasted wish just as wishing that I could disappear until the presidential election is over. At least the Republicans debates have slowed down a little.
What I would really like to see is some new faith in what we the people can do to make 2012 better than 2011.
I am obviously not talking about occupying anything especially not the parking lot for the Emerald Isle town office. I am looking for something much more productive than harassing one of the nicest mayors around.
For 2012 to be different from 2011, we have to start doing things differently.
We all have a stake in the area where we live. The only people who can make where we live fundamentally better is us. While governments can and do help make things better or sometimes worse, to fundamentally change the attitude of an area for the better is a people's project.
Making things better can start really small. If we could just make it socially unacceptable to litter our roads and waterways, then we would have a first step in the right direction.
I'm lucky that I get to have one foot in the mountains of Southwest Virginia and the other in the salt water of North Carolina's Southern Outer Banks. Both places have scenic beauty so wonderful that your heart can skip a beat.
Not only do we have to preserve that scenic beauty, but we also have to work at making it better. That can be as simple as stopping to pick up some trash that has blown out of the back of your pickup truck or someone else's.
Once we get beyond the surface beauty we need to work on things like water quality. The one thing that will improve water the most is for people to clean up after their outdoor pets. I watch neighbors on a daily basis taking their pets to a vacant lot. I have yet to see them bend over to clean up anything. The message has to get out that is unacceptable.
Just as important as protecting our waters is the stewardship of what swims in those waters. I suspect that there is more netting of fish going on along the coast than is sustainable. However, I see far too many pictures of recreational boats bringing home a ridiculous number of fish. Most guides know better but want to give their paying clients something for their money. Pictures of the big ones that you threw back are more sustainable than a giant cooler of fish.
I've actually had a good year of fishing, but I only brought home what we could eat in a meal each time. I don't ever want to have to throw away a fish that has been frozen too long. If everyone would be a little more responsible with our precious marine resources, we might all get to enjoy them a little more.
Which brings me to my next point, most lakes, rivers, and beaches have lots of space. Crowding around people who might be catching fish is just plain rude. Go find your own spot. The effort expended in finding fish on your own just might make you appreciate what the guys catching fish have already done.
Next I would like to see people more willing to take a chance on new ideas. There is absolutely no doubt that we live in an information economy. Information travels incredibly quick in many places. Yet we have a lot of businesses and people who think things haven't changed since the sixties.
The World-wide Web is pretty pervasive among more and more people. Yet I see businesses believing that a hand-lettered sheet at an intersection is the best form of advertising to supplement their Internet presence which happens to be Facebook. That's actually a really bad combination from a lot of perspectives.
If the areas where we live are going to join this information economy that is becoming pervasive even faster in other parts of the world, we have to try things besides hand-lettered sheets at the intersection and Facebook.
I enjoy Facebook, but I don't consider it a business tool. It is a great place to connect with friends and people of similar interests, but making Facebook posts your Internet strategy is going to get you just about as much money as you have invested in it.
Next as we move into 2012 we have to realize that the infrastructure of this decade is not roads and buildings but connectivity. The areas where high speed Internet is difficult to get will never capture the businesses and workers of tomorrow.
It is not just a road block, it is a kill any potential opportunity kind of problem. If our area is one where 4G LTE is unavailable within the next twelve to eighteen months, it is not just a disadvantage for new businesses, most likely many younger visitors will start finding vacation areas where their fast phones will actually work.
My next wish is that cable companies and phone companies would get off their rears and figure out how to offer better, more reliable, faster home and business Internet connectivity. The US is falling well behind most countries in delivering high quality broadband to their population.
My almost last wish is that people would understand that free is not necessarily good for them or the country. If you take advantage of someone and use their knowledge or expertise without compensating them, the only person you are helping is yourself. An example would be going into your local Best Buy and spending twenty minutes getting advice from the salesperson, and then going and buying the product from Amazon.
If Best Buy can't stay in business, we won't have a convenient place to go get what we need today instead of tomorrow.
I get asked all the time by people who want to put up a website. I don't do websites for a living, but I know a lot about them. I don't mind sharing some general advice, but at a certain point questions become mooching off my knowledge. There is plenty of information on the web. Go do a Google search and teach yourself like I have done.
My greatest wish is that we figure out how to start valuing knowledge and the ability to utilize it just one tenth as much as we value college sports.
If at every level of society, knowledge becomes important and valued, then convincing children to do well in school become something we don't have to do. Better educated graduates translate into a more educated workforce which means we will eventually have a more educated set of consumers and voters.
That just might fix a few of our serious problems. However, I don't think it will help with the shower of rain that showed up this afternoon just when I decided to go find a Sunday newspaper.