Down, but not out... too bad. 

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The first week of January, barely one per cent of the way into the new year and already one of my fondest hopes has been dashed, shattered, prematurely evacuated.

Having, as described last week, become a counter-resolutionary, I use the dawning of a new year as a time of hope and renewal. As opposed to setting myself up for the inevitable failure of abandoned resolutions, I make mental lists of things I hope I won't have to deal with in the coming year. Admittedly both exercises end in disappointment more often than triumph, but at least this way it isn't my personal shortcomings responsible for the inevitable failure.

Over the years I've learned to lower the bar for success in this endeavour. I no longer hope for world peace, having come to the conclusion (a) it'll never happen and, (b) as long as I'm willing to accept that grim reality I might as well buy stock in the military industrial complex. At least that way I can contribute to charities attempting to rebuild lives ravaged by war with the dividends and gains or, failing that, buy enough good scotch to forget the "civilized" world puts up with despicable assholes like Bashar al-Assad.

While lowering the bar sometimes works, perseverance can eventually pay off too. Throughout most of the last decade I used to hope every year — OK, every day — that George Bush would vanish from public view and newspaper and television reporting. Finally he did, albeit with the occasional mention, as in, "the Bush tax cuts, the pointless Bush wars," things like that. As gratifying as Bush's disappearance has been, I have to point out it hasn't worked yet with Stephen Harper and, admittedly, I don't expect to live long enough to see how the messes both men created are ever cleaned up.

And just to sweeten the pot and ensure a modest measure of success in the coming year, I generally hope for a few things more or less completely lacking the element of chance. I hope every year, for example, no one tricks me into eating tofu. Someone once did but at least it was devilishly camouflaged by being deep fried to a delicious looking golden brown. I've also yet to be disappointed by a worldwide shortage of wasabi, a winter without snow or a local liquor store not stocked with enough good scotch to help me forget my dashed hopes regarding men like Assad, Bush and Harper.

So — and I'm sure you're dying to know — what was it that crept into the new year that I hoped I'd never have to think, hear or read about ever again? Glad you asked. Lance Armstrong.

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