JANUARY is three weeks along. It's time to get serious about a New Year's resolution.
I don't usually make any, but this year was an exception.
For the past two years, I have received digital gadgets for Christmas.
I resolve to learn to use them.
I got a reminder this week when I learned that Starbucks customers soon will be able to wave their smart phones and walk away with 31-ounce cups of coffee. One of my new toys is a phone smarter than my 2-year-old smart phone.
So now when I'm at the mall and want coffee, I won't have to bother reaching into my wallet, which may be empty because of the monthly bill I'm paying for a data plan and unlimited text messaging.
My co-workers will get to experience their editor pumped up on a triple dose of caffeine. The story ideas will flow. The commas will fly into place.
Actually, even before New Year's I could perform basic functions on my new phone and my spiffy little netbook computer. However, they have much more potential to tap.
I made my resolution when I caught myself hankering for yet another gadget - an e-reader such as a Kindle or Nook. They're catching on in my circle of family and friends.
Then I thought of my old pal, the late Jody Jividen.
Jody, a longtime Daily Mail writer and editor who died of cancer several years ago, loved music. He had a large collection of albums and was always on top of new releases. Ever frugal, he realized he needed a check on his spending.
So he imposed a rule on himself. He would not let himself buy a new album until he was familiar enough with his most recent purchase that as one song ended, he could predict the next.
I was struck by the simple beauty of that principle and often have thought of ways it might apply to other consumption challenges.
Could I force myself to prepare and eat the food in my kitchen cabinets and refrigerator before buying more?
Could I read the books and magazines already in my house? Could I wear the clothes already in my closets or at least get rid of some before shopping for more?
Technology is a special challenge because it is proliferating so quickly and expensively. The upfront cost of a new device often is just the down payment. If you get a Wii, for example, you're going to want the costly games.
The e-reader was tugging at me as I read an article, on actual paper, about a new Mark Twain autobiography. The article cited several other books on Twain that sounded even better.
It occurred to me that if I had the e-reader, I might have been tempted to order some of those books at only $10 apiece. But would I have made the time to read multiple books on Mark Twain? Doubtful.