No, I am not going to prognosticate. I have been reading the usual flurry of articles about next year and the best ones tell you the truth, we have no idea. Trump has the same numbers he did when he was elected, which are terrible, but he was elected. Republicans are fighting among themselves and have passed one piece of legislation that is hated by about everyone, but their House when they were not in power (President) did the same thing and they got re-elected. The markets are doing nicely when they were predicted to downturn and the answer for 2018 is really no one knows. It is all about investor/buyer psychology. So really, who knows?

The things that cause change are big upheavals and we have not seen one yet. Trump could be seen as a big upheaval except he keeps getting normalized as though this is just another way of governing. People who supported Trump then, support him now. The impacts of what he is and what he has done have not really seeped down yet. I used to think there was a level at which people got it, and without showing the usual signs of outrage, surprised the conventional wisdom at the polls. I don’t think that anymore with the election of Donald Trump and the almost election of Roy Moore. President DFF issued a Tweet about it being cold therefore global warming is a liberal plot and hardly anyone flinched.

The media (CNN/MSNBC) reports the obvious about collusion with the Russians, we are doing nothing about it, the lying of the President, his family, and staff (stories changing daily) and still Republicans are unphased and are in the process of attacking the messenger. So predictions? I will give you one. Mueller will either get fired after indicting Donald Jr or Kushner or he will implicate the President and Republicans will do nothing. Yes it is obvious and they don’t care. That is the one constant we can see going forward. Will voters care? I haven’t a clue.

So let’s look elsewhere for interesting tidbits. Paul Krugman wrote a really interesting piece about small cities and their future. The funny thing is that this analysis had nothing to do with globalization. According to Paul, small cities grew to serve what was in our early times an agricultural economy. Those that thrived moved to certain new markets/technologies. But as is normal to an economy, markets come and markets go. If small cities had lucked out to have a market that bred other markets in a changing world, they survived. Note big cities are much more diversified and do not have this problem. But the reality is that small cities of the future, unless they are around university or colleges, will probably stagnant. It is just the luck of the draw on whether your current market economy will spawn something new or hit a dead end. Small cities mostly doomed?

One last topic as we go into 2018, the pursuit of happiness. We go into 2018, many of us, making resolutions about being better persons, losing weight, eat less meat, go on a safari, whatever, and the question is, will that make you happy? So define happiness. There’s the rub. Will being rich make you happy? Does the accumulation of things make you happy? Is the love of your life your path to happiness? Anecdotally, I know those that have all of those, and they are not happy. I saw a definition of happiness the other day in an op-ed and it was a dimple word, aliveness. So what is aliveness?

Putting that into words is hard, but I think we all know how it feels. It’s that moment in the middle of something when we say or think, yeah! I know of few of mine. Slipping the surly bonds in an RF-4C at Mach 1.0 gave me one of those yeah moments. Running a 6 mile course and finishing with energy was a yeah moment. Catching a wave or snorkeling still gives me a yeah moment. Being with my son and wife in Hawaii listening to the ocean gave me a yeah moment. Doing a good job at something gives me a yeah moment. And sometimes being by myself watching the sun set over my vineyard and just feeling part of this amazing world all around me, gives me a yeah moment.

Everyone is different, but a good New Year’s resolution is to seek out more aliveness, especially since my aliveness is now on the clock. But I will leave you with this little wisdom I picked up from my first example above, flying combat in an RF-4C. That mission required us many times to hug the ground, flying low and fast, pop up over the mountains and then dive back into the valleys to dodge ground fire. So in that business you think in analogies of what we know. One of my fellow crew member once said to me, “You know, if it weren’t for the valleys, there wouldn’t be any peaks.” And in that analogy of topography is the wisdom of life, the valleys, our low points, give us our high points. They are an integral part of life. I will keep that in mind in 2018. See you next year.

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