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We Planned Your New Year's Day 

Creatures of habit, we human beings be. As evolved as we like to think we are, able to own and snuff out aspects of our personality when we think we need to, we usually need some sort of painful push for change to initiate. An unflattering picture of your stomach hanging out of your shirt tagged on Facebook. Your second starring role in the weekly Times-Standard DUI Hall of Shame. Your hamster died this time. There's plenty o' ways to hit rock bottom.

But there is one (and only one) way to forgo public embarrassment and still tackle personal growth: The Arbitrary Date Method.

For some reason, human beings think that numbers and dates carry way more weight than they actually do (see 666, or Harold Camping's end-of-the-world predictions from earlier this year, or the Mayan version scheduled to hit soon). Yeah, we're kinda dumb. But some people have found a way to use this irrationality to their advantage (The ADM) by making statements like, "By golly, as of (insert significant date) I'm never eating another Chalupa again!" Studies show sometimes it works.

Let's try it. Do your yourself a favor and take advantage of the most universal arbitrary-yet-significant date we got -- New Year's Day -- and become a better person, dammit! Here are the resolutions the Journal has decided you're making and the ways you're going to make them:

Be Community: Start your New Year's Day bright and early at 8 a.m. with a hearty breakfast and the embrace of your fellow man at the special New Year's Breakfast at the Freshwater Grange. Enjoy pancakes, ham, sausage -- you know, the works -- while you gab about our spiffy new fiber optic line and other local gossip! Joy!

Exercise More: Wolf down that grub quick, 'cuz you've got to hustle down to Fortuna so that you can burn it off during the annual From Day One Walk, which raises funds to eradicate polio -- Hey! Two good things! The strutting begins at 9 a.m. and leaves from Rohner Park. Wear comfortable shoes; you're gonna use them later, too!

Expand Your Vocabulary: After some good cardio, head back up the 101 for the favorite recurring calendar event of the NCJ editorial staff. New Year's Day is the first meeting of the Redwood Coast Scrabble Club at the Arcata Community Center from 1-5 p.m. -- as is the case just about every week if you're ever jonesing for face-to-face competitive word gaming (Word with Friends is sooo 2011). Don't try to sneak in any blank tiles. They check pockets at the door.

Go Outside More: After you've racked up all the triple word scores rackable, head to the other side of Samoa Boulevard and put your walkin' shoes back on -- told you -- for the weekly Friends of the Arcata Marsh Tour. Jenny Hanson will be your guide for a special two-hour edition. See, your New Year is looking pretty healthy and active. Kudos.

Get Stuff Done Early: Okay, we're stretchin' now. But we noticed this cool New Year's Eve event (note: the day before) that starts at four in the gosh-dang morning and said, yeah, that's cool. The World Healing Day at the First Congregational Church in Eureka starts really early in the morning so as to coincide with similar events around the globe for maximum good vibes. Representatives from the Jewish, Christian, Ba'Hai, uh, (let's just say all of 'em) communities will be on hand to pray a prayer of peace. And peace is good.

Be More Giving: Now we're jumping ahead, but you'll forgive us. On Wednesday, Jan. 4, Mad River Brewery is hosting its first Pints for Nonprofits event of 2012. Every month the MRB picks a group of area do-gooders and throws them a little party with $1 from every pint going to the chosen charity. This month it's Tri-County Independent Living with music for the evening provided by the Pilot Rock Ramblers. You probably were going to have a beer anyway. Make it matter.

We know: One of your other resolutions for the year was going to be to drink less, but look above at the list of all the good things you just did! You earned this Steelhead. Happy New Year.

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Andrew Goff

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