So the ball dropped. What did you expect? It would rise this year instead?

No chance of that as 2010 finally sighed and said, "Good night."

Yes, the New Year's rituals have grown a little tired. But clearly we still crave them. It wasn't by accident that a million people turned up in Times Square again as Friday night became Saturday morning. It wasn't by chance that smaller though equally exuberant knots of Long Islanders gathered in local ballrooms, restaurants and bars to ring out the old - and ring out the old some more just to make sure that last year was dead and in the ground.

Five, four, three, two, one - Happy Phew Year!

Thank God that one's finally done.

A frustratingly tough economy.

A persistent disappointment with politicians at all levels, from both parties and of all ideological stripes.

The continuing popularity of "Jersey Shore."

In ways large and small, 2010 disappointed most of us. Unemployment never fell much. The housing market stayed depressed. Consumer confidence wasn't exactly cheery despite December's brief willingness to jack up the credit cards some more.

If things don't improve in the next 12 months, a reassessment is really in order. Maybe instead of counting down from 10 next year, we can try counting up instead.

Eight, nine, 10 - Happy 2012!

It won't make much practical difference. But when nothing else seems to be working, you just start changing things. Sometimes that's the only answer that remains.



UNANSWERED: Twenty-five bucks for a short driveway? Were some prepubescent snow shovelers downright greedy this time around? . . . If they could have, would LIRR bosses have delayed Friday's big fare hike? "Huge interruptions, now please pay more" isn't the ideal slogan, is it? . . . So is this why Jennifer Lopez has taken on a second job? The new "Idol" judge needs to help husband Marc Anthony pay off $3.4 million in tax liens on their Brookville estate? . . . Now that it's illegal to transplant invasive Japanese honeysuckle in Nassau County, can we please outlaw some other green-thumb unpleasantries? Poison ivy? Roses with nasty thorns? . . . Did NIFA just blink? Or is the Nassau Interim Finance Board only catching its breath before inevitably seizing total control of the county's underwater budget?

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