Many thanks to my kind reader from South Thomaston for her suggestions for how I can dispose of the hundreds of old magazines in my basement. It hadn’t occurred to me that many of the people in assisted living or long-term care homes around the area would be familiar with many of the things covered in old Down Easts. I’ve gotten the magazines as far as the foot of the basement stairs — and that’s a real achievement, believe me — and hope to have them on the road to rebirth soon.

I don’t know which of two news items last week made me crazier. First there was the guy, a former speechwriter for George Bush and a so-called practicing Roman Catholic, who said that waterboarding suspected terrorists was not only “useful and desirable, but permitted by the teachings of the Catholic Church.” The basis for his conclusion is that waterboarding is not torture. Far be it from me to quibble with his logic, but here is one of his arguments: “Torture is not torture if you’re willing to try it …. Thousands of American soldiers have been willing to undergo waterboarding as part of their resistance training; therefore, it stands to reason that it is not torture.” Where do I start? Maybe with voluntary and involuntary and degree; take it from there. His second argument is so convoluted that I still do not understand it, but it does imply that waterboarding is indeed torture. So there. He’s got his cake and eaten it too.

Then there are the Georgia Right to Lifers who have come up with a very imaginative campaign to recruit black members by convincing them that pro-choicers are really bent on exterminating the entire black race. That left me sort of breathless too.

Despite my many happy years as a journalist, I blame the media for some of this almost unbelievable madness. I know the news beast has to fill tons of newsprint and miles of airspace with something 24/7, but aren’t there some nicer things to explore? How about the Olympics?

Well, maybe the Olympics isn’t a good choice. Never mind that the Olympics officials insist that the Georgian luger who died before the games had even begun killed himself with his carelessness; or that some of the U.S. Alpine skiers appeared to have been let out of the loony bin for the competition; or that the bronze medal skateboarder is considered an “amateur” even as he shoots skeet at the three-bedroom house with an indoor swimming pool that he bought with the fruits of his amateur labor.

I am also really glad to know that Carly Simon wrote the song “You’re So Vain” about David Geffen and not Warren Beatty. Warren’s been getting a bad rap on that for years, and I blame Carly for not setting the record straight earlier.

Have the weatherpeople ever been so wrong for so many days in a row? I’m still waiting for the snow — or for more than a few dozen flakes or the itty-bitty hail that fell for about 10 seconds on Saturday morning. The green tips of my daffodils are poking out of the earth already, and I’m starting to look forward to mowing the lawn with my new knee. Not actually with my new knee — I’ll use a lawnmower — but putting it to work.

I wish I’d paid a little more attention to this year’s plans for a bridge across the falls in Camden Harbor. I know the topic has been raised before, though I can’t remember exactly what the purpose is: to diminish the distance between downtown and Atlantic Avenue? By a couple of hundred feet? We belong to the fattest country in the world and we’re discouraging a little extra exercise?

And a bridge across the falls seems a little perilous too. Seeing the falls from my office window has given me a deep respect for their power. Looking at that water thundering out of the river and into the bay, particularly in the cold depths of winter, I sometimes wonder how long someone would last if he were to dive in. Not long, I think.

Thanks to my friends Ed and Matt, I have rediscovered the New York Times crossword puzzles. When I lived in Manhattan I was an addict, and that’s when they came in the paper and not online. So I do one or two every now and then (Monday’s are the easiest, and Sunday’s the hardest, though the degree of difficulty is due more to the inanity of some of the clues than to their cleverness), and I am starting to remember why I gave them up so gladly years ago. Here’s just one example: In Saturday’s puzzle, the answer to the clue “Big-time kudos” was “Mad props.” Once I had started to believe my eyes, I Googled it. According to the Urban Dictionary, it can be used instead of Thank you. (In fact, Googling it is an experience in itself. I recommend it.) The “big-time” was extraneous. I do wonder if props is plural or, like kudos, though hardly ever honored, singular.

Then there was “Oh snap,” which I also Googled and which turns out to have some kind of meaning after all. But I chucked it in when I got to “agast,” which has always done just fine with an “h” before the second “a,” as in “aghast.” And when I Googled that in case it was something else that had slipped by my radar (like mad props and oh snap), I was glad to find that it can’t be. Aghast it is, and aghast I will remain.