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January 2, 2013

2013: The User’s Manual

Welcome to 2013. We think you’ll agree this bold New Year sets the standard for convenience, comfort and happiness you will find in no other year at any price.

Among 2013’s many outstanding features, you’ll find a refreshing lack of presidential or congressional elections or superstitious predictions of existential calamity based on Mesoamerican calendars. In addition, James Franco will not be releasing a book of poetry until 2014.

Of course, even with its friendly, intuitive interface, 2013 will not be without its challenges. In this document you’ll find a few tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your 2013. Important: Please read this user’s manual in its entirety before beginning to use 2013.

In order to avoid conflicts in 2013, please try to keep an open mind regarding other people’s religions. Sometimes it might seem like other people’s religions are “crazy” or “kooky” or “exactly like mine but nevertheless irritating.” For best possible performance, please overlook any religious defects you see in others. As a model for tolerance, consider the Cao Dai faith of Vietnam. Cao Dai is an amalgam of Buddhism, Confucianism, Christianity, Islam and Taoism, and its millions of adherents worship Julius Caesar, Joan of Arc and Victor Hugo. If that doesn’t work for you, try wine, beer or quietly contemplative atheism.

Like most years, 2013 will be a mixed bag when it comes to sports. There will be triumphs and losses, injuries and championships, good calls and home cooking. Despite their best efforts, some of your favorite players will drop the ball, step out of bounds or be found to have taken illegal performance-enhancing drugs at the worst possible moment. Some may embarrass themselves and their fans by brawling in nightclubs or by having hired biology majors to take their SATs when they were in high school. For optimal physical and mental health in 2013, please try to separate your self-esteem from the actions of large man-children.

Here is an important rule to keep in mind in 2013: Please don’t shoot any people unless they are currently shooting people. The exception to the latter rule is when the shooters are attempting to shoot people who are themselves shooting people.

To get the most out of 2013, you might find it helpful to quiet your mind using a guided meditation. Here’s a suggestion: Although its name sounds like a 1980s garage band, Eleven Jones Cave is an actual cave located in Louisville near the intersection of Eastern Parkway and Poplar Level Road. According to “The Encyclopedia of Louisville,” the cave’s naming has many legends: that it was named for two settlers named Levin and Jones; that it was named for a gang of 11 bank-robbing brothers named Jones; and that it was named for the cave’s 11 crawl spaces in which marauders stashed their loot. Your mission in 2013 is to meditate on the possibility that you might want to shave off that hipster mustache, because a great story could be hiding right under your nose.

Even though the world may seem like a dangerous and scary place, there are many actions you can take that will help bring peace and harmony to those around you. To explore this potential, please observe an extended moment of silence each day in 2013 — not in observance of any particular cause but just because your friends and family have complained that you talk too much.

Although we typically frown on any specific warnings about upcoming years, we would be remiss in our duties as sincere and compassionate user-manual writers if we did not alert you about an impending injury. On July 19, at 2:03 p.m. (or another similar date and time), while attempting to drive a nail (or some similar task), you will smash your thumb with a hammer (or sprain an ankle or suffer a fall or, like a few unfortunate clumsy among you, smash your thumb, whereupon you will stumble in pain, sprain an ankle and fall), causing great, albeit temporary, pain.

When that unfortunate event occurs, take solace in the philosophy of George Berkeley, an 18th century Irish philosopher (and the man Berkeley, Calif., is named for) who anticipated quantum mechanics by espousing a theory of immaterialism. In modern terms, Berkeley was saying that we are all just data and everything we see and do is created in the mind. May all of your 2013 injuries be merely data and may you have a happy and healthy New Year.