CATEGORY: COL Columns (Journal)

AUTHOR: MARTY

HED:Marty Russell: Get your armchairs ready: We're nearly there

There was a break in the WNBA game on TV Monday night and as I made my way to the refrigerator I heard the announcer proclaim, "Only 69 days until Sunday night football!"

"Whoa!" I thought to myself. "That can't be right. Must be one of those silly ESPN promos where the announcers dress up like farm animals and report the scores from a pasture somewhere."

Just think, I thought. Sixty-nine days is nothing. That can't be right.

So I plopped myself back down in front of the TV and dismissed it. Those crazy ESPN jocks, they probably need help reading a calendar.

But then I came in to work Tuesday morning and, while flipping my desk calendar over to July to make a note, something absolutely terrifying caught my eye, something worse than being locked in a room with an editor full of story ideas or waking up one morning to find ESPN broadcasting the world championship in tobacco spitting from your kitchen.

But there it was in black and white even though I still find it hard to believe.

As of midnight tonight, 1998 will be half over.

That's right. According to the calendar we've already used up 182 days of this year with 183 to go. Football season really is just a couple of months away. And only 177 shopping days 'til Christmas!

To make matters worse, Tuesday was the day set aside by people who care about such things to calibrate the nation's atomic clock with the astronomical clock by adding or subtracting a "leap second" to keep us in synch with universal goings-on. So we could actually be a second closer to the end of the year today than we normally would be.

At the halfway point of the year, it's a good time to pause and reflect on some of life's eternal questions like, "What the heck happened to March, April and May?"

I can empathize with those folks who claim that alien abductions caused them to experience "missing time." You know the scenario: Some poor sap reports waking up on the side of the road somewhere with no knowledge of the past few days or months wearing a T-shirt that says "Ski Mars" and with a Venusian dollar in his pocket.

I can relate. Except I didn't get a T-shirt or any cash and, as far as I know, I never left the planet.

There was so much I was going to get accomplished this year. I had big plans when the new year rolled around in what I thought was just a few days ago.

I was going to write the Great American Novel this year, sell a million copies and then the movie rights, and then direct Leonardo DiCaprio in the part based on me.

I was going to discover a new planet and name it Bob.

I was going to tackle cleaning out the storage shed even if it meant disappearing in there for days and facing vicious, hungry field mice or an ambush by lawn implements.

I was going to figure out what an atomic clock is and whether India has one. Unfortunately, all I've learned about it so far is that, when the alarm goes off, better not hit the snooze button.

I was going to win the lottery but an anonymous Daily Journal capitol bureau reporter on vacation in New Orleans (we only got one) misunderstood my instructions for buying me a lottery ticket even after I wrote them down for him and left me ticketless.

I was going to kill our capitol bureau reporter.

So many plans and so much time already past. Oh, well. The pessimist would say the glass is half-empty. An optimist would say it's half-full.

This would hold true for the remainder of the year, too, except for one thing. The ESPN guys were wrong. The NFL year begins in 30 days with the July 31 preseason matchup between Seattle and Dallas.

College football starts not long after.

Which means there's really only about four weeks left to get anything done this year.

Marty Russell is senior reporter for the Daily Journal

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