The last float of the 123rd Tournament of Roses Parade has exited Colorado Boulevard.

2012 has arrived!

What doth the new year bring?

A few years back, I looked at 2012 with trepidation. Staring a root canal in the face was infinitely more appealing to me than thinking about this year's prospects. But now I'm feeling decidedly more sanguine.

Three years ago, news media outlets blasted us daily with reports on an event of cataclysmic proportions predicted for Dec. 21, 2012, — now just 11½ months hence.

The slightly hysterical coverage dealt with the end-date of the 5,125-year-long cycle of the Mayan Long Count calendar. Reports proliferated that at the end of the cycle humanity would be summarily cast into some corporal and/or metaphysical limbo, preventing the further advancement of the species. Mayan calendar doomsday prophets referred to it as the "end of days."

We amateur observers simply called it the end of the world!

Media pundits prattled ad nauseam that Mayan eschatology left no hope for humankind. Beyond Dec. 21, oblivion.

Major bummer!

Might as well rip the last few pages from your 2012 date book, they'll not be needed. After the 21st you won't be requiring a pedicure, a teeth-whitening appointment or a meeting with your taxman. Nothing, nada, bubkes!

The media has breathlessly reported a host of Mayan calendar postulates, including one in which the Earth will collide Dec. 21 with a black hole (I didn't know black holes collided … don't they inhale objects, much like a Hoover?), a passing asteroid or a "wayward" planet named Nibiru. Or, less artfully, it might work out to be a geomagnetic reversal or a supernova.

Pick your poison.

By the way, don't bother looking Nibiru up –- it doesn't exist. Not as far as I can determine. For those refusing to take my word for it, you'll find Nibiru up the Yellow Brick Road a few off-ramps north of Oz, next to the planet Krypton.

As Dec. 21 draws nigh, many scholars in recent days have pretty much debunked the whole idea of cataclysmic fireworks for 2012. One NASA scientist went so far as to label Nibiru an "Internet hoax."

Whew!

Some scientists say Dec. 21 may end up being nothing more malevolent than the busiest shopping day of 2012. As I review the collected wisdom of the scientific and media communities, I see a couple of options: 1) Dec. 21 will develop into a grotesque fire-breathing dragon that burns humanity to a crisp or 2) It'll be a cuddly puppy that licks our faces.

There is, however, an event of near equal apocryphal significance on the horizon that offers bet-the-farm, slam-dunk odds. It'll happen Friday, April 6.

On that date, Gold Glove first baseman Albert Pujols will take his first official American League swing for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. That swing will occur during a game with the Kansas City Royals in Angel Stadium, and the resulting collision could be as charged as an Earth-asteroid tête-à-tête.

Frankly, I can't wait to see Pujols in Angels red (as opposed to St. Louis Cardinals red).

By the way, his 10-year, $254-million contract seems to indicate that Angels owner, Arte Moreno, is less than convinced this Dec. 21 stuff will materialize. The Mayan calendar holds no sway in his luxury box. He's in for the long haul.

Even if he's wrong — and the Mayan termination notice comes due — we can still catch the Angels in the World Series one last time before we're reduced to carbon-14 shavings. Next October could be the final dance of the Rally Monkey.

Even if things at year's end head south in a hurry, Nibiru won't be so hard to stomach if we're wearing cool 2012 Angels World Series hoodies!

But I choose to believe we'll get through 2012 just fine, and that Pujols will lead the Angels to a three-peat, in 2013 and '14.

Don't trust me, though! I'm just a cockeyed optimist.

JIM CARNETT lives in Costa Mesa. His column runs Tuesdays.