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Local Column

Olson: Take down decorations, shake off winter

Santa arrived at the Santa Claus house on Dec. 6, but with Christmas long gone, it's time the house was, too, Eric Olson writes.
Santa arrived at the Santa Claus house on Dec. 6, but with Christmas long gone, it's time the house was, too, Eric Olson writes.

Time to snap out of it.

If you haven’t already, get out there and take the Christmas lights off your house.

In between filling potholes and plowing streets, it’s time for the public workers to take down the Christmas decorations still up around DeKalb. Bring down the garland around the light poles, take down the ornaments and pretty bows.

Let’s get Santa’s house away from the courthouse in Sycamore and back wherever it spends the rest of the year. Nobody needs to send Santa a letter any longer.

Those things probably should have been done weeks ago, actually. We do not need to see another twinkling light or ornament or wreath until at least the weekend after Thanksgiving.

Yes, it’s been cold. Yes, it’s snowed a lot. But now it’s time to shake it off. Enough of the winter mindset of hibernating and taking care of things when the weather’s not so bad.

That time is now. It’s time for children to start walking to school again, time for people to start thinking about planting things in the garden, to go outside for a run – or at least a walk around the block.

It was in the 40s Friday and there are more 40-degree days in the forecast.

The first day of spring is March 20, less than two weeks away, and Opening Day for the Cubs and White Sox is March 31 – less than three weeks from now.

It’s not going to be beautiful weather every day. There will be days of cold rain and snow. But compared to January and February, it should feel great.

Yes, it was a tough winter. But if you’re reading this, you survived. Now it’s time for us to get back to living.

And seriously, let’s take the holiday decorations down.

New pilgrims: There is a nonprofit organization, based in the Netherlands, called Mars One ( Its goal is to establish a human settlement on Mars by 2023.

The group said this can be accomplished with today’s technology, starting with missions to set up communication satellites and transport cargo to the planet, and ending with human landings there.

The company is looking for 24 people to become what would presumably be the first humans on Mars. Thousands of people have sought to be one of them, and paid a fee to apply. The company said it plans to recruit a new batch of astronauts every year to sustain and grow the colony.  

Of course there are all manner of challenges to sustaining a human settlement on Mars. An online forum where would-be Martians speculate about all aspects of life in a Martian colony is at They’ve got some issues to work out before 2023.

One of the things that has held back space agencies such as NASA is that it’s about a one-year round trip flight from Earth to Mars, and the challenges of bringing enough supplies for the entire voyage are daunting, even for rocket scientists.

Mars One’s solution is to make it a one-way trip. If the company follows through, its colonists would leave Earth in the next decade and never see our planet again.

That’s a bold choice. But this means of settlement seems akin to what the first European settlers in the New World decided to do.

For those early settlers, it was a two-month boat trip rather than a space flight, but the risk was just as great and the separation from the familiar about as permanent.

Many of those early settlers made their voyage with backing from private companies chartered by kings and queens.

Many of them perished. One of the first, the Roanoke Colony, disappeared entirely. The settlers left behind only a cryptic word “Croatoan” carved into a tree.

It would be amazing to live in an age where people actually live on another planet. Hopefully, the brave pioneers, however and whenever they get to Mars, meet with a better fate than the Roanoke colonists.

The only way most of us will leave Earth forever is when we’ve breathed our last breath, but we’d sure like to see what kind of pictures you send back.

Update on Waldrop: Last week I wrote about Joseph Waldrop, a man on felony probation who is seeking permission to return to his family in Texas.

This week, Waldrop said prosecutors and Judge Robbin Stuckert agreed to let him stay temporarily with one of the co-defendants, so he’s no longer living on the street.

Waldrop told me Friday that he’s trying to figure out a way to work things out with probation authorities. His girlfriend is considering moving up here, he said, but the cost of living is considerably higher in DeKalb than in Sulfur Springs, Texas, and so he’s not sure.

I asked Waldrop to please take care of himself, maybe try to find work. It’s good to hear that he’s no longer living on the street. Hopefully, he can find a way to get back to Texas where he has a family support system.

• Eric Olson is editor of the Daily Chronicle. Reach him at 815-756-4841, ext. 2257, email, or follow him on Twitter @DC_Editor.

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