Slightly Off Center

Fruitless But Useful

By Dennis Hinkamp

Seasonal fruitcake and year-beginning resolutions are both mostly fruitless, but we still have to try some each year. Fruitcakes have a prodigious self-life while the resolutions will likely be stale long before the Superbowl kickoff.  

So here you go; feel free to borrow or berate mine as you wish. These eight things are worth a try:   

Turn off the things that keep telling you “You made a mistake.” I never noticed these until they started dog piddling on me the last couple years. Just about every appliance reminds you that its job is finished, or you forgot to close its mouth, or it is too hot or too cold or needs maintenance soon. They are more needy than an eight-week-old puppy, but they never grow up. Next are all the computer add-ons that tell you that you misspelled, mis-punctuated or misused a font someplace. My watch gives me meeting reminders and admonishes me to “get up and move” if I sit too long no matter how far I swam or ran earlier in the day. They are all trying to be helpful in their cute demonic artificial intelligence way, but they make you feel inadequate on days when you are already feeling so. Enough! Take a demeaning-gadget-free day. So what if you miss an appointment? Blame it on the gadget.  

Five words: linger, languish, loiter, nap and snack. These five things represent the ultimate Kama Sutra of unplanned pleasures. These five things also succinctly describe the day planner of dogs. They don’t do them in any particular order, but they do them to completion every day. This is why we love them, feed them and pick up their excrement.  We can only aspire in 2022.  

Sort through that drawer of lost sock things you don’t have time for. Let loose ends stay loose and forget about them. Older people have come to grips with downsizing and decluttering but it sure would be easier if you never cluttered to upsized in the first place. Just a word to the young, though you didn’t ask for it.   

Once this year, when a takeout place asks for your name, make one up. Think of it as a way to try out that name that your parents should have given you. It could be your rock star name or your pseudonym for tell-all biographies. It is the name you deserve; just don’t choose anything pornographic.  

Say “right?” at the end of a sentence at least one time less per day. It sounds easy, I know, right? You can do this. Thank you. 

Make “resign” the word of 2022. I don’t mean in the “take this job and shove it” sense, but more akin to the Alcoholics Anonymous prayer: “… grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” It is taking too much energy to be optimistic about some things.

Say “Hello in there” to someone. Look up the John Prine song (RIP in 2020) and you will know what I mean. 


Dennis Hinkamp would like to remind you that a snack and a nap are the cure for almost all malaise, just don’t do it while you are driving or operating heavy machinery. 

This article was originally published on January 3, 2022.