Whew! It was a rough one.

We're talking about the year 2009, and the entire first decade of the 21st century for that matter.

We've endured (survived?) the worst economic times since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

We're a world in conflict, as American fighting men and women are at war in two countries.

Terrorism is an everyday fear. We can't climb aboard an airplane without thinking about it.

We're a country at odds over a national health care plan that appears will benefit only a small percentage of Americans while hurting millions more.

We're a country being overrun by illegal aliens who have infiltrated our country.

We have more than 10 percent of our adult population on the unemployed list, and despite government stimulus packages aimed at shrinking that percentage, it hasn't happened.

Food pantries have been overburdened by people with no other alternatives but to seek help in sustaining their everyday lives.

And to top everything off, we have H1N1 (swine flu) to worry about.

Will 2010 be better? We can only hope.

But there's one good sign. This New Year is one that comes along only once every blue moon. Literally.

Those who stay up tonight to help send off the old year and usher in the new year will witness a blue moon.

Well, it won't actually be blue. But it will be full, and, because of a rare occurance of two full moons in one month, it is called a blue moon for various reasons.

For the first time in almost 20 years, a bright "blue moon" will grace New Year's Eve celebrations worldwide, according to National Geographic.

If the skies are clear, revelers looking up at midnight will get an eyeful of the second full moon of the month – commonly called a blue moon. The last time a blue moon appeared on New Year's Eve was in 1990, and it won't happen again until 2028.

A blue moon isn't actually blue – as commonly defined, the name reflects the relative rarity of two full moons in a month and is linked to the saying "once in a blue moon," according to National Geographic.

With this New Year's Eve blue moon, "there is nothing scientific about it, and it has no astronomical significance," said Mark Hammergren, a staff astronomer at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, Illinois.

"But I believe it does give us some insight into history and makes us think of how our calendar system has derived from motions of objects in the sky."

Whether or not you believe in lucky omens, let's all hope a new year beginning with a blue moon is a prelude to better things ahead.

Our leaders in Washington must strive to right the ship that has been listing all too long.

End our wars. Fix our economy. Get people working again. Give us a health plan that really works, and don't take away the care that many already have.

Fix Social Security so those who come after us will have some optimism about their futures. Shrink the national debt instead of continuing to send it skyrocketing beyond any of our comprehension.

Make us feel safe again. Stop the influx of illegals into our country. Better our education system.

Is it too much to ask for? Not in America, it isn't. Hopefully our leaders won't wait for the next blue moon for us to see some improvements made.

By Bob Urban

rurban@tnonline.com [1]