THE PAT NEAL COLUMN: New Year’s resolutions born to fail

BY NOW, I think we’ve all had it up to here with the know-it-all newspaper columnists telling us what our NYRs — New Year’s resolutions — should be.

The top NYRs in America seem to be getting organized, helping others, getting an education, reducing stress, drinking less, making others happy and a whole laundry list of other unrealistic expectations we generally forget as soon after New Year’s Day as possible.

I tried to get organized — 2009 was going to be the year I organized my tackle box.

Momma always said life was like my tackle box:

“We don’t know what’s in there, but get it outside before it stinks up the whole house.”

The first step in organizing my tackle box was to leave it unlatched.

Then as I lifted it up by the handle, I was able to dump the tackle box onto the floor of the boat, where it froze into a solid lump of bilge water by morning.

That was another one of last year’s resolutions.

I was going to clean out my boat.

Having the smell of success is one thing, but it can be real embarrassing to have a flock of buzzards circling you at the boat launch.

So I hosed out the boat, which only made the ice thicker.

Then I hooked up the propane heater to melt the ice.

That was also a NYR last year.

I was going to get the boat heater to light without exploding in a ball of flame.

An explosion can make for spectacular predawn pyrotechnics at a crowded boat launch.

But some folks will turn on you after you burn their eyebrows off.

With luck I was able to light the heater in the boat without an explosion. Then there was a phone call, a moment’s inattention and a fire.

That brought to mind another one of last year’s failed resolutions: 2009 was going to be the year I stopped using my boat as a recycling bin.

I was going to go to the dump.

It must have been the eggnog talking.

As I shoveled the burning garbage out of my boat, I thought how I might help others with their NYRs.

Helping others is another popular New Year’s resolution.

Like getting organized, helping others can also be a complete waste of time. Some of us are beyond help or we won’t help ourselves, so why bother?

Getting an education is another popular NYR. Man has always searched for knowledge.

Knowledge is like a balloon. The larger the balloon grows, the harder it is to hang onto.

Knowledge and learning can be a dead end road to nowhere, since the more you learn, the more there is to know.

Once people think you know something, they will expect more out of you. This can be very stressful.

Take it from me, ignorance really is bliss.

Reducing stress is another popular NYR. This can be yet another humiliating exercise in self-defeat.

As if you didn’t just survive enough stress to burst your aorta over Christmas, now you must come up with a list of resolutions that address your short-comings.

The stress of your resolutions — or lack of them — could drive you to drink, except drinking less is another top NYR.

Maybe we should just forget about a list of NYRs and concentrate on just one, like making people happy.

Except people are either happy or they aren’t. You can’t make them that way.

I thought I’d find a better job.

That’s another top NYR except there ain’t a better job than being a know-it-all newspaper columnist.


Pat Neal is a North Olympic Peninsula fishing guide and humorist whose column appears every Wednesday.

Pat can be reached at 360-683-9867 or

The “Pat Neal WildLife Show” is on radio KSQM 91.5 FM ( at 9 a.m. Saturdays, repeated at 6 p.m. Tuesdays.

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