By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

The bad news regarding your and my plans for the new year is the human capacity for self-sabotage.

The good news is that such failures give us all kinds of opportunity for self-improvement.

Ergo, my wife is setting New Year’s resolutions for me, and I have been instructed to resolve:

- To put my dirty clothes in the laundry hamper every day.

- To use the clothes dryer as an appliance, not a storage facility.

- To hug or kiss my wife at every opportunity, except when she isn’t in the mood for such.

- To learn to read her mood more accurately.

- To remember that the living room and dining room are not extensions of my office.

- To take down the Christmas lights before mowing season begins.

- To order vegetable seeds for things we both actually like to eat, not everything that appears interesting. This would include four or five tomato varieties that taste good and produce well instead of 30 varieties that either whimper their way through summer with little production or produce abundantly but don’t taste good.

- My corresponding resolution for Sue is to quit making every frou-frou dish that she sees on the Cooking Channel – especially sweet salads - without considering whether anyone besides her might like it.

I’ve also reserved the right to set a handful of resolutions for myself:

- To participate in Healthy L-O-U, the communitywide fitness initiative that begins in Oxford on Jan. 3. Several years ago I lost 72 pounds in six months but have gradually regained nearly half. I hope to duplicate that success and then go beyond it. (I’ll let you know in July how it’s going.)

- To set priorities on much of what we own. Some things, like a shirttailful of land that I seldom get to visit and a tractor that doesn’t fit my work, would be better used in someone else’s hands. Their proceeds could go toward better uses, like a more suitable tractor, a beefed-up emergency fund and support of some worthy causes. Some things need to be reorganized, renovated or repaired. Still other things, like my coffee-cup collection, can be jettisoned to cut down the dusting (or just to cut down the dust).

- To look carefully at how best to serve those worthy causes. Canned food drives, for instance, make us feel good, but they are usually far less efficient than straight monetary donations to food banks. And I’ve dropped a couple of formerly favored organizations when they started using telemarketers to raise funds.

Don’t have any resolutions for you: I like you just the way you are!

Contact Daily Journal Oxford reporter Errol Castens at (662) 281-1069 or

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