Is there news access on the other side? Are the Los Angeles Times and thousands of other newspapers somehow tossed up to the heavens, keeping our loved ones who've passed on well informed? Does the Internet--which to an unscientific person like me seems magical and unlimited--stream into the heavens, free and unfettered? If so, Dad's probably already seen Seth Wenig's Associated Press photo and is ready to blow a gasket. "Oh for crying out loud. God Almighty, look at this." And for once, God will.

Mr. Wenig shot the photo in New York City's Times Square. In the picture, red and blue smoke billows, fireworks light up the midnight sky. The clock, frozen in the picture on the stroke of 12, stands strong, as if to say You people go ahead and get wasted. Party like it's 1999. I'll still be here in the morning.

At the top of the clock are the numerals 2011. Right below them, in bright red electronic letters: TOSHIBA. Then the clock, white numbers nicely aglow. Below that, larger than before, again in bright red letters: TOSHIBA. Below that: HAPPY NEW YEAR! Below that: TDK. Is it just me, or did anyone else think, at first glance, the photo was taken in Tokyo? I definitely saw TOSHIBA before the English language HAPPY NEW YEAR! registered in my consciousness. And TDK--like the iconic Toshiba--is a Japanese company. Tokyo Denki Kagaku. Kind of rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? Say it again, this time with feeling: Tokyo Denki Kagaku. Go, Tokyo!

Sorry. I sound xenophobic. I don't mean to. I love Japan. I love its products. Japan likely, along with China, dominates every nook and cranny of my house. It definitely dominates my family's driveway. We own a Honda and a Toyota. Go Japan!

So it's not that I'm xenophobic, just cranky. Yesterday, my husband Don and I--doing our part to help the American economy recover--headed over to our local Home Depot and Fry's Electronics. Our college daughter, Michelle, needed a bunch o' stuff for her new ('70s-era) apartment: Space heater, printer, ceiling light, light bulbs, wireless router, microwave oven. Turning over each item as we threw it in the cart, we could see the trend. Everything was made in China, except the light bulbs, which were made in Mexico. At the last minute, we tossed in one item for our house. It's call an Earthquake Survival Tool: Main Gas Valve Shut-Off Tool. I know, kind of long and repetitive for a 10" steel wrench. The company's marketing people may want to do something about that. According to the package, this nifty wrench "could save your life!" More importantly, it could save American jobs. It's actually--drum roll--made in the USA by ReadyAmerica. Based in Escondido, California, ReadyAmerica specializes in survival equipment. Our nation may be swallowed up whole by China and Japan, but when they spit us out, we'll have our 10" steel wrenches. We'll survive.

I guess this headachy / crankiness means that, like Americans everywhere on New Year's Day, I have a hangover. But mine's different. I consumed too much Chinese and now I'm paying for it. Or will pay for it as soon as Don and I get our Visa bill. Almost forgot to mention the blinking orange light on my Dell laptop (see"About"). It mocked and winked and menaced me all day yesterday, until I had to cave in and order a new one, making my final day of 2010 a total Made in China love fest. It's probably raining today because my Dad's sobbing.

In the meantime, Don's loading up the car so we can get Michelle back to school. The Rose Parade and Al Roker will just have to carry on without us. As I finish this post (tapping away while The Perfect Spouse schleps Made in China boxes from the house to the car), I just had to Google Seth Wenig's photo on the AP's website to get a better look. Turns out my local paper cropped out the bottom of the picture. In humongous bright orange and pink flashing letters at the base of the giant clock tower: DUNKIN DONUTS. Hope Dad sees that. I know it made me feel a bit more hopeful. Kind of took the edge off my headache. I'm suddenly craving a chocolate old-fashioned, and maybe a glazed or two. We'll see what we can find on the way to Michelle's apartment.