It is with heavy heart that I, the reigning "Great and Powerful Furnace Master," must inform you that this year's annual "Neighborhood Furnace Contest" has come to an end - and I have lost.

Congratulations Rick and Donna (made up names to protect the innocent).  You were a worthy and deserving opponent.

To refresh your memory, this is the contest we have each year with our neighbors where whoever can hold out the longest without turning on their furnace wins.

Well, because of circumstances beyond my control, I was forced to turn mine on this weekend.  Jesse called me late Saturday and said that a bunch of her high school buddies were back in town from college and they were looking for a place to hang out and could they come over.  Of course I said, "Yes."

Then came the decision - freeze out her friends, or make their stay as comfortable as possible.  So, I reluctantly walked over to the thermostat...and pushed the button over to "on."  I have to admit, it hurt...it hurt a lot; more than I thought it would.  You see, this is the first time I've lost the furnace challenge.  (Rick and Donna may beg to differ - but I'm right and they're wrong.)

And then came Sunday morning, when I had to call our friends to tell them what I had done.  It just seemed like the right thing to doEven though I caught a rash of "you know what" from my wife, Suzette, when she got home Sunday and found out what I had done, I think I did the honorable thing...fess up.

I must point out, however, that I not only "folded" for my daughter, but I also "caved" for Donna.  I found out Rick is headed to Phoenix where it's nice and warm, leaving Donna to fend for herself.  It just didn't seem right that Donna should have to suffer in the cold while her husband was basking in sunshine.

You know, now that I think about it - and given the circumstances - I should probably keep the title of "Great and Powerful Furnace Champion."  Yes, yes I should!  By throwing myself on the sword, I may have lost the battle - but I guess I actually won the war!

Signed,

The Still Reigning Great and Powerful Furnace Master