Being a glass-is-half-empty kind of guy, I often wonder what there is to be thankful for. Going to the beach? A rain storm will probably hit. Wanting to start the week off with a tasty Thai lunch? When I drive there I discover it's closed on Mondays.

Figures.

I'm not sure when it was, but sometime earlier this year there were circumstances that made me re-evaluate my cynicism.

My favorite TV news person is Tim Russert of "Meet The Press" fame. Or rather, he "was." Russert, who could straddle the fine line between toughness and friendliness when interviewing, died of a heart attack while doing what he loved at the age of just 58. Dying in a newsroom may be appropriate for Russert. I'd prefer time my grand exit be while I'm jamming on the guitar or catching a glassy wave at Del Mar. In any event, Russert, who had the respect of his peers and a huge income, is dead. And I'm alive and eating a bag of Ruffles at my desk.

I'm glad for that.

Brad Renfro, the young actor who starred in "The Client," "Tom and Huck" and other movies, died this year of a drug overdose. The 25-year-old was found dead in his apartment on Ogden Drive, the same Los Angeles street that my family lived on when I was an infant. Renfro was talented and handsome, but he's dead.
I'm certainly glad I don't have his problems and that I'm alive to say it.

One of the most recent occurrences that made me count my blessings was when I found out that a relative has cancer. A not-too-distant cousin, he and his wife live in one of the loveliest homes you'll ever see with an incredible ocean view. Every year they go to Europe for a month. They invite my extended family to enjoy their bounty for an incredible weekend of fine food, snorkeling in the nearby cove and gazing at the sunset. It was a shock to hear that his doctors had discovered a cancerous tumor.

I certainly wish my relative a speedy and thorough recovery. And, frankly, I'm glad any health concerns I may have are less worrisome.

For years I felt badly that I didn't own my own home. Then the mortgage crisis hit and I felt kind of lucky that I wasn't encumbered with such a financial burden.

Being a small town journalist, my income isn't as sizeable as many friends I have who live in metropolitan areas, like the bankers I know. But now, if they still have jobs, they're clipping out the grocery coupons just like me.

I've got a teenage daughter who is college-bound. And I have an ex-wife who I get along with infinitely better than most divorced guys I know get along with theirs. This year, for the first time in several years, I'm seeing a special lady. Although she lives two hours away from me, she's considerate, affirming and fun to be with.

Despite tight funds, I was able to see a Broadway show when it came to Los Angeles. And last week I went to the Roxy Theatre in Los Angeles to hear my new favorite musician, Ari Hest.

My dad recently turned 80, but he's doing well. He still goes to the office every day.

My mother, who has always been the glue that's kept the family connected, is the same sweet person she has always been.

I've got a cat that's fat. (That's not a Dr. Suess line, it's true.)

I have a group of old friends that I've known for 40 years and a dear cousin, Bob, who has been one of my best friends all of my life.

I'm not rich. I don't have a full head of hair. I'm kind of short. And I can't read without my glasses. But, hey, life is really pretty good. And I really can't complain.

For a change.