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By Staff | Dec 27, 2013

As we drag yet another year out to the curb, it might behoove us to paw through the jetsam one last time and review the jumble that was 2013.

Among the biggest stories of the year was the colossal kerfuffle regarding Edward Snowden and the NSA (non-spies anonymous).

As you may recall, Snowden, a former NSA contractor, sent seismic shockwaves through the intelligence community when he revealed that the government has been secretly collecting detailed data on ordinary citizens, including such highly embarrassing information as the number of times you sang along to the Barry Manilow song “Mandy.”

Snowden eventually sought and got asylum in Russia, a nation known for its openness and freedom. There are many who would like to punish Snowden to the fullest extent, but I think that being forced to overwinter in Moscow is sufficient.

Speaking of computers, a huge headline for 2013 was the rollout of Obamacare – or, more specifically, its sputtering start. The Obamacare website simply sat fizzling like a soggy bottle rocket in an empty Dad’s Root Beer jug.

“We did our best,” said an Obamacare official who asked not to be identified. “We hired a bunch of high school juniors to cobble some code together with duct tape and staples and tossed it out into cyberspace. It should have worked.”

The problem is painfully obvious: their computer programmers were too old. Everyone knows that computer skills begin to emerge at age 4 and peak by the eighth grade. These abilities then go steadily downhill, which explains why the older you are the more incomprehensible computers become.

By the way, am I the only one who finds it bizarre that the same government that is so ruthlessly efficient at collecting data from the public is also so hopelessly inept at gathering data from the public?

Speaking of healthcare, my wife and I were deeply saddened earlier this year at the passing of Walter White. Walt was a middle-aged, middleclass everyman who started a small business to help pay for his cancer treatments. Another victim of Obamacare bungling.

We had become addicted to Walt’s quirky brand of entrepreneurship, which involved the production and distribution of crystal methamphetamine. A downside to watching Walt’s TV show, “Breaking Bad,” is that my wife and I now look at all car washes with deep suspicion.

Speaking of departures and arrivals, the entire planet was transfixed when a baby boy was born to the couple comprised of His Royal Highness Prince William Filbert Ichabod Pimplewort, Duke of Cambridge and Kate “Kate” Middleton.

The tiniest details of Kate’s pregnancy, labor and delivery were talked about and obsessed over by a breathless public. So I guess the NSA can be useful after all.

On the home front, our septic system up and died late last summer. Thankfully, I know a guy who is especially adept at repairing such things. Within a matter of hours, our backyard was torn up and decades’ worth of lawn care destroyed. The problem proved to be an NSA agent who had become lodged in the pipes.

Disaster of epic proportions struck a few weeks later when my personal computer expired. Luckily, I was able to get it totally rebuilt by simply throwing several hundred dollars at my local computer repair guy.

Unfortunately, my computer repair guy was unable to find several years’ worth of emails. I got them back by opening a secret panel in our closet and politely asking the NSA agent who had been assigned to me if he knew where the missing documents might be. He did, and all my emails have been restored.

On the weather front, 2013 dawned with numerous meteorologists predicting that the drought of 2012 would intensify. Widespread crop failures were forecast; this dry spell, it was warned, would make the Dirty Thirties seem like a vacation at Niagara Falls.

Parts of this region experienced a spring season that was so wet, some began to seriously consider building arks. Other areas were shorted on rainfall. In the end, it all averaged out, resulting in a Goldilocks growing season.

Crop yields were excellent; grain piles at country elevators grew to the size of mountain ranges.

Meteorologists were understandably chagrined.

“There was a problem with our modeling,” said one. “The outlook is good for us to do better this year. Our Magic 8 Ball is seldom wrong.”

Finally, at the close of the year came the troubles experienced by the giant retailer Target, known at our house as Tar-zhay. Millions of Target customers’ credit card accounts were compromised in a massive computer hacking scheme. Chechen mobsters are high on the list of suspects.

At least that’s what my NSA agent is saying.

Nelson is a freelance writer from Volga, S.D. Reach him by e-mail at jjpcnels@itctel.com.

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