Today we embark on what has become our annual “Thanks for Nothing” month. For the past four years (this being the forth), we here at Blue Rock Station (meaning Annie, myself, the two dogs, and way too many cats) turn off the electricity for the month of January and also commit ourselves to spending no money (zero, nada) for the month. We started this project for a number of reasons. It was first motivated by listening to NPR (brought to you by America's Natural Gas Alliance) as they dutifully recited the daily stock market report. It is a pet peeve of mine that nearly every media outlet reports the stock market numbers each and every day (and on days the market is closed, they remind us that it is closed). Yet who gives a flying rip about those numbers. They are completely meaningless to anyone and everyone. You might as well report that the number 16 came up more times than any other number on the roulette tables in Vegas on any particular day. Those numbers don't indicate economic well being. They don't indicate a fundamental change in the way companies do business. They just indicate whether some speculators will pay more or less on a particular day for stock in a very few companies. And anyone wanting to trade stocks will certainly not rely on NPR or the Zanesville Times Recorder for their information about the stock market. That's why Micheal Bloomberg so rich. Once again I repeat. This information is of no value to anyone hearing it! Yet they report it each and every day. Why is this? If I were skeptical about the growing corporate influence within American politics as well as within the media, I might wonder if it is not simply the daily financial “Our Father” - recited dutifully each day to remind us that some hidden and very important force is guiding our lives unseen. The high priests of Wall Street have been busy sacrificing lambs at their alters and all is well with the world. Having attended (and actually graduated – imagine that) from one of the most prestigious journalism schools in the nation, I suspect it is more about laziness (at least if myself and my fellow students are any guide). The numbers are handed out like Halloween candy. No work is involved (except to randomly pick some event to explain why they went up or down... “The Dow fell 36 points today on news that Pluto is no longer considered a planet...” or some such nonsense). Journalists are essentially lazy bystanders, who want to be where the action is without being responsible for the action. Anyway... I rant. The point is, we wondered what would happen if everyone took a break from consumerism. Thirty days each year of not spending, shopping or consuming. How would that change our collective perspectives? We thought, at first, it would be a chore. As it turned out, January has become a month of rest and reflection. Every major religion sets aside a month where you must be conscious of what you consume (Lent, Ramadan, etc). It seems necessary for humans to periodically break their cycles of consumption. This year we are trying a few variations on the theme. I will do my best to keep you informed of the insights, trials, successes and failures as we once again give thanks for nothing.