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A psychologist and professor from Cardiff, Wales, recently wondered if he could pinpoint which day – of the 365 possibilities – was the most depressing day of the year. Doesn’t that sound like something you’d be working on about now if you were spending a winter in Cardiff, Wales?
Anyway, Professor Cliff Amall of the University of Cardiff claims our depression around this time of year is the result of several things. First, Christmas is all over - except for the stacks of unpaid bills - New Year’s resolutions have been made, begun and abandoned. All that remains are the remaining cold, bleak, dark days of winter.
Amall decided to put all these elements in his unique mathematical formula. In the formula “W” stands for weather; “D,” debt, “s,” monthly salary (if any); “T,” time since Christmas, “Q,” time since failed New Year’s resolutions, “M,” motivation and “NA,” need to take action.
The resulting formula is W + (s-D) x TQ / M + NA. No, I’m not kidding.
He says answers may vary but depending on your particular circumstances your lowest day of the year should occur sometime from late January to about now – the last week in February.
I was never that good with math formulas but I’ve often made simple New Year’s resolution over the years. Since I’ve already given up smoking (Thanksgiving Day, 1977) I usually opt for the other usual resolutions – get more exercise, eat more healthy foods, the usual.
In the past I’ve joined a gym and started exercising at least three times a week.
This year I decided to save myself the aggravation and expense and do the things the experts always tell you to do: eat healthy meals, walk more, instead of driving every place and when going to the office take the stairs instead of the elevator. That last one sounded particularly good because I work in a one-story building.
After too many failed diets and thoughts about diets I decided against the diet foolishness. This year I wouldn’t go out and buy all kinds of diet foods; I would be more modest in my goals. Instead of eating “healthy” or ”diety” stuff I would eat all my favorite stuff, those unhealthy food choices loaded with essential saturated fats, processed sugar and lots and lots of salt, but I would try to eat a little less of it. I also decided that I would try and introduce into my diet one or two items that weren’t quite as unhealthy as the rest of my foods.
For example, rather than eat lots of highly processed and sugared cookies – the good stuff – I’d eat more things like Graham crackers.
Are Graham crackers healthy? I have no idea, but don’t they look like they should be a little healthier than gooey cookies, loaded with lots of fat and sugar? I bought a few boxes of graham crackers and went online to do a little research about the famous cracker.
I learned that the graham cracker was invented by Rev. Sylvester Graham, one of America’s first fanatical health nuts. As a young man he worked as a farmhand and teacher. A chronic illness led him to abandon those professions and chose the ministry, which he saw as a less stressful profession. He eventually became a Presbyterian minister and staunch vegetarian, not necessarily in that order.
Graham spent the next several years touring and lecturing on the evils of meat and processed food. But he didn’t stop there. He also preached a Spartan life of hard mattresses, cold showers, loose clothing and vigorous exercise. With a regimen like that I bet he didn’t even need a health care plan.
Some considered him an eccentric genius, others called him the greatest humbug that ever lived. I don't know what to think about the Rev. Graham but after reading about him, I signed off and went to the kitchen cupboard for my box of graham crackers and a jar of peanut butter. I poured myself a stiff drink of skim milk and went nuts.

John McDonald is a humorist and storyteller who performs regularly throughout
New England. Contact John at or 899-1868.
John McDonald is a humorist and storyteller who performs regularly throughout
New England. Contact John at or 899-1868.
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