In the new year, I plan to answer all my questions.

In the new year, I plan to answer all my questions.

Not just the easy questions, not just the questions to which I already know the answers, such as, "What happened to all my change?" (It's in the tip jar at the coffee shop).

My first question has to do with cosmetics. Whenever I stop in the lotion aisle at the grocery store I notice a product called "eye cream." Eye cream is extremely expensive -- the last time I saw it, it was $22 for a container that appeared to be the size of a nickel.

And that's the grocery store price. I may be ignorant about eye cream, but I do know that people who'd spend their last dime making sure their eyes were creamy don't buy their eye products in grocery stores. They buy them in cosmetic boutiques from sales associates who attend eye care seminars during which they learn all the ways in which eye skin differs from cheek skin and neck skin and ankle skin.

Then the associates pass on that knowledge to their customers, along with demonstrations of how to pat the cream into one's eye skin ("Upward motions! Upward motions!" I imagine them saying.) and a few coupons for a trial-size bottle of eyelid base.

I suppose, then, I'll have to visit a makeup boutique to get some answers regarding eye cream. I only hope answers are all I come away with, and that I'm not gently persuaded to buy not only eye cream but skin primer and lip serum and wrinkle filler and contour base. I'm a little weak when it comes to saying no to persuasive people, as my 25-year Runner's World magazine subscription demonstrates.

Here's another question: Why is it that no matter what subject you Google, sponsored ads for how to get rid of stomach fat appear on the side of the screen?

As far as I know, I've never searched the Internet for information about stomach fat, rules for losing stomach fat, how other people lost their stomach fat, or Chinese diet secrets. Yet links for all these topics show up whenever I use the Internet.

Say I'm looking for information about Ethan Bortnick, the 7-year-old piano-playing prodigy. What appears on the side? "Eliminate Ugly Stomach Fat." Suppose I search for the lyrics to Dan Fogleberg's "Same Old Lang Syne," and there it is: "How to Lose Belly Fat in 10 Days."

Where does this stuff come from? Aren't we all susceptible enough to doubt, uncertainty and fear of personal failure? Must we put up with this constant assault on our physical selves?

All questions I intend to answer in 2009.

After that, I hope to study the question of domestic dirt.

Yes, dirt. The dog hair and grass and bits of pebbles and other detritus that collect on our floors in the course of daily living. In the days of the pioneers -- and by "pioneers" I mean Laura Ingalls Wilder -- this dirt was swept out the door with homemade brooms.

And what do we do with our domestic dirt today, more than a hundred years later? We save it. We collect it in small electric appliances and keep it in the closet, right next to the coats and the board games. One hundred years from now, what will people say about this custom?

"They saved their domestic dirt, possibly for religious purposes," the learned ones will write in online history books. And what's that we see in the margin of the books? "Lose Unwanted Belly Fat."

Or perhaps I'm just a pessimist.

Margo Bartlett is a ThisWeek staff writer.