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Smoking mad 

San Simeon

On the good advice of a neighbor, I intended to start the New Year with a benign and endorphin-enhancing sense of being grateful. I practiced this benevolence for about five minutes before being completely derailed by what other people were doing—or not doing. At the clean-slate beginning of 2010, one could not ignore the fact that many county residents were engaged in nefarious acts of thievery—not stealing things, which would have been merely annoying: They were stealing the air. They were sucking the air from the very mouths of babes with their archaic, pointless, polluting fireplaces.

For the brief and dubious ambiance of looking at a burning hole in the wall, they fouled the air for everyone for days. It would be better for all of us if this thieving element would give up wood burning for the New Year.

If smoke is absolutely essential, perhaps they could switch to cigarettes. Cigarette smoke is easier to avoid and not as harmful to the rest of us.

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