Seeing stars

Horoscopes are silly. Our fates are not shaped by the stars. The zodiac was dreamed up by primitive peoples to explain planetary movements and other celestial phenomena. No right-thinking person truly believes in such superstitious claptrap.

So how come I devour three horoscopes a day? I might be too busy to read beyond the headlines when it comes to world events, but I've always got time to see whether it's a good day for us Aquarians to embark on new careers or to invest in Beanie Babies. I confess that I get a little thrill when my horoscope predicts I'll come into money or finally succeed in my endeavors. On an intellectual level, I know it's all nonsense. But on some emotional level, we all hope for magic.

The problem is that newspaper horoscopes are too general. They're aimed at a wide-ranging audience, and the astrologers must try to tap us all on the shoulders to keep us coming back for more. So I read forecasts about new love (I've been happily married for 24 years) or playing the stock market (with whose money?), and I'm disappointed, knowing the stars aren't really aiming those influences at me.

We working parents need horoscopes of our very own. So much in our lives is unpredictable, it would be a comfort if we could get a bead on the future.

Here then, just for you working parents out there, are some astrological predictions for the rest of the year:

ARIES: This year will seem like one long juggling act. You'll have many projects up in the air, and you must concentrate to keep them all aloft. Try to ignore the screaming child clinging to your leg. Expect conflicts at home during any month that includes the letter "R."

TAURUS: A great year for you bullish ones. The stock market will rebound, and you will prosper. So throw everything you have into the market. And (in case we're wrong) make sure your office is on the ground floor.

GEMINI: Family will be your focus this year. Anticipate many joyful family gatherings and reunions, during which you will grind your teeth down to the gums. Expect your no-account brother-in-law to spend several months on your sofa, watching ESPN and eating Chee-tos.

CANCER: Stop dallying and get busy climbing the career ladder! Neglect your family, your household and your hobbies. Work, work, work all the time. Then, by the end of the year, you'll realize you've been on the wrong ladder all along.

LEO: With Venus in your seventh house, this will be your year for love. Many exciting romantic adventures await you, and it'll be even more exciting when your spouse finds out. A good time to invest in life insurance.

VIRGO: With Mercury in your garage, you'll encounter difficulties with technology and machines of all sorts. Car trouble. Computer failures. Exploding cell phones. We recommend that you avoid machines during the whole year. In fact, you might want to stay in bed.

LIBRA: This year will be another balancing act for you Libras. Try to keep your career afloat while also tending to your children and the needs of your spouse. Run yourself ragged, trying to be everything to everyone. Don't worry, next year you'll get a nice, long rest -- in an asylum.

SCORPIO: A year for fashion consciousness. Avoid wearing suspenders; they'll only let you down. Show your individuality by wearing creative ensembles that look as if you dressed in the dark. This will give you an air of mystery.

SAGITTARIUS: Business partnerships come to the fore in the latter half of the year. That tingly feeling along your spine marks the spot where your partner plans to sink his knife. Beware. Take comfort in your children, while you can still afford them.

CAPRICORN: One word -- minivan.

AQUARIUS: Use your creativity and sense of humor to amuse others. There's no money in it, but it can keep you from weeping all the time. Expect an alien abduction in October.

PISCES: Yes, there's definitely something fishy going on around your house. FBI agents poking through your trash. Tabloid photographers in the shrubbery. This might be a good time to consider relocating. Look for a sunny clime with lax extradition laws.

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