Back to previous post: Another question

Go to Making Light's front page.

Forward to next post: The Thousand Injuries of Fortunato

Subscribe (via RSS) to this post's comment thread. (What does this mean? Here's a quick introduction.)

January 1, 2006

Posted by Teresa at 12:14 AM * 102 comments

The ball dropped in Times Square.

On 31st Street in Brooklyn, an unidentified figure dashed out to the sidewalk and set up a fair-sized cardboard cylinder with a fuse sticking out of its top.

“What are you doing?” said Patrick, unnecessarily.

“Lighting it.”

Down the street, some of the neighbor kids were out on their stoop, yelling “Happy New Year!” and generally whooping it up in a kidlike way. Random artillery barrages were audible from other streets nearby. If you’re going to do something illegal, do it at the very moment that a bunch of other people are doing the same thing.

“Happy New Year!” I yelled back at kids up the street. By then I was on my third match.

“Happy New Year, whoever you are!” they replied. Right about then, the fuse finally caught. I expect they were hoping something like that would happen on our block.

There were fountains of sparks, and a couple of stages where bright bits flew out very fast and made swoopy whistling noises, and a spate of giant white sparks that crackled and popped; and all the while some old lady who looked like a schoolteacher was dancing around on the sidewalk yelling “Yahoo!” and “Yee-haw!” and other festively immoderate things.

It was very satisfactory.

“You’re barefoot,” Patrick observed from the top of our stoop.

“Uh-huh,” I said, as I scooped slush off the garbage can lids and packed it into the smoldering remains of the cardboard cylinder. I was also hatless, coatless, ungloved, and Not Acting My Age.

That last may not be true. I believe I’m still younger than Granny was when she took up model rocketry. But what matter age, or bare feet, when you have something to blow up?

Happy New Year!

Comments on 2006:
#1 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 12:58 AM:

Do keep on Not Acting Your Age. I love you.

#2 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 01:03 AM:

Four hours to go out here. Neighbors jumping the gun on the 9:00pm start time. Dog sedated.

Hauoli Makahiki Hou.

#3 ::: Harriet ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 01:10 AM:

Happy New Year to all, and to all a good night!

#4 ::: dan ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 01:11 AM:

Never act your age (whenever you can get away with it)!

The dog, Steve? How about you?

Happy New Year to our hosts!

#5 ::: Darice Moore ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 01:11 AM:

Happy New Year! Someone in our neighborhood has the (extremely illegal) good stuff -- it was quite the show.

#6 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 01:36 AM:

Woo hoo!!! Happy New Year!!!

You'll forgive me if I picture a slightly tattered, delightfully tattered violet ballgown as your attire during this wonderful interlude?

#7 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 01:37 AM:

... and a mightily tattered brain, to have managed to use the same descriptive in such close context.

#8 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 01:40 AM:

Ah, if only we could have you guys here, blowing up things in our backyard! The Resident Pyromaniac would be so pleased.

Happy New Year! And remember that acting your age is highly overrated; you'll stay young years longer if you just continue fleeing into the streets and making things explode despite the chill and the dark.

#9 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 01:44 AM:

Dan, I gave up booze about six years ago. ;)

#10 ::: will shetterly ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 01:50 AM:

Hurrah, the year!

#11 ::: claire ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 01:55 AM:

"Hatless, coatless, ungloved, and Not Acting My Age"

Oh goody, another tee-shirt! I want one for my birthday.

You go, girl.

Happy, happy, merry, merry

--claire (who is toddling off to bed while two young teenage boys videogame into the night)

#12 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 01:57 AM:

Reading some of the advertising for fireworks, particularly rockets, I sometimes feel that anything short of a V2 would be an substantial non-performance of contract.

Though perhaps a tank-load of ethanol could be better used.

The fireworks in London seemed pretty spectacular, centred on the London Eye. I think they've dealt with the Nestene Consciousness for another year.

#13 ::: jhlipton ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 04:00 AM:

Happy New Year to y'all.

I have a question for all and sundry: When TPTB were fashioning the calendar, how did they happen to pick this point in the Earth's orbit for New Year's? That which we call "January 1" could fall on any day, and an equinox or solstice has always made more sense to me than the seemingly arbitrary point we now use?

Anyone in this odd and awesome pool of knowledge got a clue?

#14 ::: Eileen Gunn ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 05:12 AM:

Teresa, I can see now, in my mind's eye, an event I observed nearly 25 years ago, from the second-storey balcony of a house in Seattle, of people on the lawn below, at dusk, setting off ground-bloom flowers, and you dancing wildly, estatically, barefoot, among them as the glowing wires spun all over the grass. Even when you were a young woman, you didn't act your age. I don't know why anyone would expect you to start now.

#15 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 05:42 AM:

When Julius Caesar reformed the calendar, he put New Years on January 1.

#16 ::: jhlipton ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 07:13 AM:

Thanks, James, but that's the "when", not the "why". Was January 1st already 8 days (approx) after the solstice, or was Julius Caesar creating the calendar from scratch (I suspect the latter)?

Was there something going on (the last days of Saturnalia?) that made JC (or whomever) say, "Hmmmm, that looks like the right day to start?"?

#17 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 07:42 AM:

New Years was on 1 March before Caesar started.

My guess is he was aiming for the solstice and missed. Remember that the calendar has been corrected a couple of times since.

#18 ::: Cass Marshall ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 07:47 AM:

Well Done.
Well Done Indeed.

As to "acting your age"?
I have never understood what ones age had to do with how one behaved. I have met reserved and dignified 2 year olds and I know (all to well) rude and tiresome 50 year olds.
Finding joy in the world is hard enough as it is with out putting age barriers on it. You seem to be a person who can make Joy.
So I say again,
Well Done
and a Happy New Year.

#19 ::: Captain Slack ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 08:00 AM:

Due to my current bout with the lurgy, the main things that kept me up 'til midnight were (a) knowing my Albaphile parents wanted a tall, dark-haired first-footer for Hogmanay, and (b) playing City of Heroes, which I got for Christmas.

#20 ::: G. Jules ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 08:23 AM:

You'd love it up here in Quincy (MA). The booms started at 6 pm, and went on at least until I fell asleep -- thanks to the snowstorm, I couldn't see any of it, but it was a background rumble for most of the night.

My neighborhood has very enlightened opinions about a citizen's right to celebrate in his own way. Fourth of July here is epic.

#21 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 09:20 AM:

I tend toward a descriptive, rather than presecriptive, model of Acting One's Age. You're merely providing additional input for the new rules of acting your age, which I will thank you for when I get there.

I was playing Ratchet: Gladiator and drinking the Hub's whisky (the Macallan Elegancia, a 12yo single malt) when he wasn't looking. These two activities are not long-term compatible.

Happy new year!

#22 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 09:31 AM:

I live with a bunch of thunder-and-fireworks-phobic dachshunds and find the sound of firecrackers ominous rather than festive (why does anyone want their neighborhood to sound like Baghdad?), but I respect your not-acting-your-ageness and wish all and sundry a happy New Year.

#23 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 09:44 AM:

The Julian calendar had New Years on March 25 (apparently an attempt to approximate the Vernal Equinox). The Gregorian Calendar has January 1, which is a little easier to deal with, but I'm not sure why January should be selected.

Perhaps (he speculated) it's because it's the first month-beginning after Christmas, which is symbolically the beginning of a new world. So Anno Domini 1 begins right after the birth of the Christ Child. I don't actually know anything about this, though...this is pure Male Answer Syndrome.

Tomorrow is the Feast of the Circumcision. This unappetizing name is because it's eight days after Christmas, and Jesus would have had his bris then - had he actually been born December 25 instead of (probably) August.

I'm so tired of acting my age! Teresa, you inspire me!

#24 ::: Mark D. ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 10:17 AM:

And Making Light starts 2006 the way it ended 2005 (and 4, and 3): with a vision of a better way of life, and the company of those who share it. Thank you, Teresa and Patrick, and Happy New Year to all!

#25 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 10:44 AM:

I celebrated New Year's Day twice. First, listening to Big Ben on BBC Radio 3, then watching as the Big Ball and the Big Peach came down. Happy New Year to all. And my thanks to PNH and TNH for having this site, one of the sanest places on the Net.

#26 ::: Bruce Baugh ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 11:39 AM:

Happy New Year, hosts and everyone!

#27 ::: RosemarieK ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 11:42 AM:

Happy New Year to all!

With wine glass in hand, I watched fireworks from my terrace (17th floor). I have a south/south-west exposure and Manhattan and Brooklyn views. I could see fireworks in Queens, Brooklyn and what probably was lower Central Park. (I heard other fireworks I couldn't see because of the fog, probably Hudson side of Manhattan or New Jersey.) Really great explosions of red, gold and white. There was one really large green orb. (I like fireworks.)

#28 ::: Dave Kuzminski ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 11:49 AM:

And now for something different. As has been the tradition for eight previous years, the annual P&E Readers Poll is now open. Anything published in 2005 is eligible for your vote or nomination. (we have a fill in the box if it's not there already). It's at URL . Good luck to everyone.

Interestingly enough, Atlanta Nights and Travis Tea are each leading in their respective categories.

#29 ::: Lucy Huntzinger ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 12:29 PM:

Bonne Année, Feliz Año Nuevo, Happy New Year!

#30 ::: Graydon ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 12:29 PM:

Many having already wished Happy New Year, I am torn between "may these events..." and "may no ill thing arise".

Peace, and health, and good frith to each and all.

#31 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 12:50 PM:

I celebrated the New Year in my own traditional way -- a glass of wine, and an early bedtime. I woke at midnight to hear the ratta-ratta-ratta of fireworks up and down the street, and watch the bloom of light through my window blinds. Very satisfactory. Today I intend to also celebrate in my traditional way -- a walk with my dog, a visit to my mum, and then a PARTY, with good friends.

My principal New Year's resolution for 2006 is: Pay Attention.

Thank you, TNH and PNH, for making Making Light. Thank you, fellow posters/lurkers/visitors for making this such a stand out place to hang out. May you be blessed this year. May something you dearly wish for (resignations, indictments, impeachments? :-)) come to you.

"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever."

#32 ::: Michael ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 01:18 PM:

Felicidades to all! Down here in Ponce, PR, the fireworks were great. Last year we had a rooftop apartment and a great view, but this year we're only on the second floor, so we drove to a nearby overpass where we could get a panorama of the whole city. It was great -- fireworks right up into the mountains, and right on the nose at 12 (or, I suppose, 12:00:01, given our leap second this year) all the fire engine sirens were turned on. It was fantastic. I love this town!

And no bullets fell on us, so we, um, dodged that bullet, so to speak.

#33 ::: Harry Connolly ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 01:31 PM:

Happy New Year to everyone.

#34 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 01:53 PM:

We spent it with friends watching four disks of the Ghost In The Shell: Stand-Alone Complex series and eating far too much lasagna and garlic bread. We are rather boom-a-phobic around here, especially since around here things going boom too often lead to things going up in an acre-wide blaze. But we saw plenty of beautifully, gorgeously animated things going boom, so that's OK.

Happy new year, everybody! May it continue as satisfactorily as it has begun.

#35 ::: elizabeth bear ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 02:09 PM:

It seems to me that more people should act their age the way you do.


#36 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 02:15 PM:

We've tended towards more quiet New Year Eves as we've gotten older.

(Yes, I really do tend to act my age. Or older. Always have. Being silly or exuberant is a difficult and unnatural state for me. A lot of this probably comes from my family's unwritten rule of "Do NOT Call Attention To Yourself." But I digress....)

We watched several episodes of the WONDERFALLS DVD set I got recently. A quirky and amusing series, quickly cancelled; nine of the thirteen episodes were never broadcast. (Alert to FIREFLY fans: Jewel Staite appears in several of the later episodes, as Eric's less-than-faithful wife.)

Lasagna and snacks for the evening. (Sweet potato tortilla chips? Pretty good, actually.)

#37 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 02:27 PM:

Happy New Year, all! Alas, my New Year's was transgression free, and my fireworks were of the organized sort at the Space Needle (still TerrorFree™ thanks to illegal domestic surveillance). Glad to hear that TNH did her thing for limited anarchy! Only fuddy-duddies act their age (applicable to the 30 and over crowd only...)

Unfortunately, I was too zoned to appreciate much last night. I had been up since 5 AM Eastern flying home from Hilton Head, so by the time Midnight Pacific rolled around I was about as energetic as a hibernating sloth, despite a very nice party/concert at the Experience Music Project. Hopefully not an omen for 2006.

#38 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 02:28 PM:

Oh, I should add that I have my spells of fuddy-duddyism, but I fight it, I truly do.

#39 ::: Laina ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 02:48 PM:

My New Year's Eves tend to be on the quiet side, since I don't manage to stay awake until midnight very often (but I had the same problem when I was in my twenties, so I really can't blame it on age).

This was my second New Year in Germany. The Germans shoot off LOTS of fireworks at midnight. This year I was so soundly asleep that it took about 20 minutes of sound and light to wake me up for the rest of the show.

Happy New Year, everyone!

#40 ::: Cassie ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 02:49 PM:

No, no, someone had to act *my* age, and I'd rather it be you than me. I had one friend over, drank champagne with my parents starting around nine, opened the blackberry stuff I made from here (is it supposed to taste like cough syrup?), baked brownies, and played Scrabble. When the midnight fireworks began to freak out our dog, we took matters into our own hands with a conch horn, which sends him through the roof.
I wonder whose age I was acting?

#41 ::: Michael ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 02:51 PM:

The morning of January 1 is, in fact, the only time I have ever seen any disorder in a Southern German street.... There was a *lot* of paper and burnt-out fireworks lying around waiting to be swept up. (This was in Filderstadt.)

#42 ::: JKRichard ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 03:22 PM:

J.M. Barrie: It seems to me that Peter's trying to grow up too fast. I imagine he thinks that grown-ups don't hurt as deeply as children do when they... when they lose someone. I lost my older brother David when I was just Peter's age, and it nearly destroyed my mother.
Sylvia Llewelyn Davies: James, I'm so sorry. Your poor mother. I can't imagine losing a child.
J.M. Barrie: She didn't get out of bed for months, she wouldn't eat. I tried everything to make her happy but she only wanted David. So one day I dressed myself in David's clothing and I went to her.
Sylvia Llewelyn Davies: You must have frightened her to death.
J.M. Barrie: I think it was the first time she ever actually looked at me, and that was the end of the boy James. I used to say to myself he'd gone to Neverland.
Sylvia Llewelyn Davies: Where?
J.M. Barrie: Neverland. It's a wonderful place...I've not spoken about this before to anyone- ever.
Sylvia Llewelyn Davies: What's it like, Neverland?
J.M. Barrie: One day I'll take you there.
-Finding Neverland (2004)


#43 ::: Clifton Royston ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 03:31 PM:

That mysterious incident would have gone nearly unnoticed here, Teresa.

On top of all the legal Roman candles and firecrackers, Kalihi valley had enough unauthorized and strictly illegal aerial fireworks last night to make up complete 4th of July displays for several small cities. I'm not talking bottle rockets, Roman candles and showers here, I'm talking the major aerials - comets, golden star showers, red and blue and green star bursts, big whistlers...

I could see (and hear!) two groups a mile or so down the other side of the valley (on the valley wall below Kam Schools) who seemed to be competing with each other. Then there were one or two more down our side of the valley, one maybe around Kalihi Elementary, also sending up some pretty big aerials. The neighbors down the block saved theirs for midnight, but at that point we got some spectacular stuff right overhead. Thankfully, nobody's roof caught fire in our neighborhood.

It was a fairly good new year for fires, according to the paper - there were a lot of brush and rubbish fires, but only a few buildings burned down, and only one inhabited house burned and nobody in it was hurt. That makes it a good year, compared to some past ones.

This was way beyond the usual I've seen from here; the local economy is booming, and I guess this is what some folks are spending it on.

#44 ::: Melissa Mead ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 03:33 PM:

Happy New Year!

#45 ::: Beth Meacham ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 03:40 PM:

Happy New Year to you all. Nice to visualize T. blowing things up to bring in 2006.

#46 ::: TomB ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 03:44 PM:

They could have been put both Christmas and New Years on the solstice, and made that January 1, so it would all be neat and tidy, intellectually. But instead we got two holidays to celebrate instead of one. If that was a mistake, it's a good one.

Best wishes to all for a happier new year!

#47 ::: James D. Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 03:50 PM:

Happy Birthday

On this day, in 1898, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, Manhattan, and Staten Island were combined to form New York City.

#48 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 04:51 PM:

Hello all, Happy New Year to everybody.

I haven't been commenting here for very long, and I've been kind of off-and-on about it, at that. I knew TNH back in the 70's when she was TN. I've left a couple of comments indicating as much, trying to decide whether I'm welcome here or not. I haven't gotten any response, but I haven't been banned and my comments haven't been deleted, so, well, here I am.

TN and I didn't cross paths very often, aside from one summer when we both cleared tables at Wendy's in Phoenix. I remember us getting on well together, anyway. Funny story: I left Phoenix to attend grad school in California, and in doing so I left behind a guy whom I'd been seeing/living with for about a year and a half. After I'd been gone for a while I came back to visit and he picked me up at the airport. Instead of taking me to his place, he took me to the apt of Liz, a good friend. Liz told me he'd been in something of a quandary because he'd started dating Teresa! Hah--the coward didn't have the nerve to tell me. I had no problem with it, though. He didn't seem like her type, but then he hadn't been my type either, come to think of it.

I contributed to AZAPA for a while and TN's zine "Getting to Know Your Rabbit" was always the first I turned to when each new issue came. My own zine was titled "Happy Birthday Karl Friedrich Gauss", and I enjoyed writing it. I don't remember why I quit; I can only imagine it had something to do with my starting to date my future husband. He turned my life somewhat on its head. Good lord, I hope I didn't quit while owing money, or something awful like that.

Anyway, sorry to go on so. I really just wanted to say that the comment threads are so delightful here that this is the only blog on which I still read comments. (Have you tried reading a comment thread on Eschaton lately? (Frist!))

So until I get banned, I'll hang out here with y'all, if y'all don't mind.

#49 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 05:28 PM:

I had to stay up and comfort the cats when the fireworks/guns went off. Fortunately, the SciFi channel is having a Twilight Zone marathon this weekend.

#50 ::: Bruce Arthurs ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 05:54 PM:

Mary, if Patrick & Teresa allow me to participate here, after being on (close to) non-speaking terms for over twenty years, I cannot imagine why you would worry about being banned.

(And, while I'd have to dig out the boxes of old AZAPAs to make absolutely sure, if you're the Mary I think I'm remembering, I may owe you an apology for something I said to you at the end of a long car drive together, way back when.)

#51 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 06:19 PM:

Jim and I spent New Year's Eve in our traditional way, too, playing mah jongg with good friends until boom-time, and getting tireder and tireder and sillier and sillier. Kathi took first place with high score. I took the other first place with the "golf" score, and absolutely no calls of "mah jongg" all night. The people down the street, who always put on a really good show on July 4th, set off at least one set of boom-bangs about 15 minutes early and with heart-stopping results. It sounded to me like someone had set the entire box on fire at once.

Happy New Year, one and all.
Thank you, Theresa and Patrick, for giving us a place to meet.

#52 ::: Lin Daniel ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 06:20 PM:

Oh, and "acting your age" depends on what age you need to be at the time. Mine varies, as required.


#53 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 06:51 PM:


I have absolutely no memory of you ever saying anything offensive to me. In fact I have no memory of us ever taking a long car ride together! You've drawn a blank.

I, on the other hand, should issue a blanket apology to all with whom I interacted during that most difficult time of my life, following the breakup of a very short and very horrendous first marriage. The Phoenix fan folk pulled me up by my bootstraps from a profound depression. I'll never forget the acceptance of all weirdness and social ineptitude.

#54 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 06:53 PM:

Clifton, we had some aerials at the far end of the cul-de-sac, but most of the fireworks were the whistling and exploding variety. Fortunately there's no structural damage in this neighborhood that I've seen.

I do think the economy's strength has contributed, but wait till those property tax bills come due; everyone who spent $500 on fireworks will wish they had it back. (Average assessment this coming year is up 26%; there's panic in the suburbs.)

#55 ::: Lisajulie ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 09:40 PM:

I tend to think that I always act my age, just not necessarily my current age.

Or, in other words, my inner child has escaped and is out and playing in traffic. Infrequently, my inner adult peeks out and says something like "umm, do you _really_ want to do/say that?"

Happy New Year!

#56 ::: Emma ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 09:58 PM:

I also live in an intensely explosive neighborhood. Who needs city-sponsored fireworks? Last Fourth of July there was so much smoke drifting over us that my mother was convinced the roof had caught on fire and made my father hose it down "just in case". Last night didn't disappoint either! But, on the bad side of things, the boomers scare the pot-bellied pig and he complains a great deal about the whole unseemly situation--complaints being verbalized as loud rythmic grunts. Sometimes I think he's actually trying to harmonize!

#57 ::: JonathanMoeller ::: (view all by) ::: January 01, 2006, 11:05 PM:

Around here (rural Wisconsin), New Year's is usually celebrated via enormous quantities of booze, rather than explosives.

But come the Fourth of July, EVERYONE in a hundred-mile radius whips out fireworks that could serve as low-level artillery. Driving through the countryside, you encounter fog-bank sized clouds of smoke, entire counties made opaque beneath blankets of smog.

Then everyone drinks enormous quantities of booze. And not necessarily in that order.

#58 ::: Teresa Nielsen Haydent ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2006, 12:04 AM:

Mary, whyever would I want to ban you? We were all young once, and staggeringly unsocialized.

#59 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2006, 12:12 AM:

We dolled ourselves up. I wore a new silk frock, heels (which I switched for split-soles after a couple of hours), and a cute little hat. We danced: We jived, we boogied. we toddled. we charlestoned. Sometime around two in the morning, after the band had stopped, and the DJs started spinning, we waltzed to Tchaikovsky, and polka'd to...something that might have been funk.

We acted our age, I guess. I don't know: we didn't act all that differently from the swing kiddies ten years our juniors. We danced the dances our grandparents danced, and found in them the same joy that they did, while wearing costumes that they would have found scandalous (no way would my grandmom have worn her hair in two braids for an evening out dancing!). We danced until midnight, poured out the champagne, hugged and kissed, while those of us with loved ones elsewhere raced out to the cloakroom to phone Boston, New York, Thornhill...and maybe cry a little bit, on the steps to the ballroom, before heading back into the dance, to find another someone to dance with, another someone to hold, for just a moment at the end of the song, another someone to kiss.

The band played swinging jazz, jumped-up boogie-woogie, and sultry blues, until well past the year's turning.

At three in the morning, I unlaced my dance shoes, and stared in dismay at my boots. "Could I make it to the car without shoes?" I asked. Someone pointed out the snow. Someone pointed out that the car was several blocks away. Someone pointed out that the pavement would probably ruin my stockings, which had, unaccountably, survived the evening's dancing. This last argument swayed me, and I put on my boots, and hobbled out to the car with my houseguests. Four in the morning saw us tumbling, exhausted and giddy, into bed.

Happy New Year to all. May the new year bring health, good tidings, pleasure in the kindness of strangers and joy in the company of loved ones, and excellent good dance partners who never step on your toes.

#60 ::: Teresa Nielsen Haydent ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2006, 12:19 AM:

And since it's now 02 January, Happy Birthday to Patrick! And also to my sister Erica, yay Bunny! Poor things -- both of 'em were born on Go Back To Work Day.

#61 ::: Meredith ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2006, 12:41 AM:

Happy New Year to all!!

I'm reminded of the New Year's, must've been 14 or so years ago now, when my dad had a small arsenal at the parental units' house in Florida thanks to a recent drive through SC. A few minutes before midnight, he and I sneaked into the next door neighbor's yard (while they were having a party right there on their porch) and ringed the yard with roman candles and bottle rockets, all attached by one very long fuse leading back to our yard.

As the final countdown began, we lit off the big fuse and then got ready to touch off the brick of Chinese firecrackers we planned to toss onto their front driveway at the stroke of midnight.

Everything went off without a hitch. Fortunately, none of the next-door partygoers expired from shock-induced coronary, though their reactions were precisely what one would expect, and we were all invited to join them for the rest of the night. It was one of the funniest things EVER. :)

#62 ::: Kate ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2006, 03:52 AM:

Happy New Year to all. Ernie and I stayed in, partially because I wasn't feeling great, and it was snowing. We started watching episodes of Firefly since he gave me the box set for the holidays. Happy birthday to PNH also. It doesn't really surprise me that you were outside setting off pyrotechnics in your bare feet with no coat or anything. It makes me smile.

#63 ::: bryan ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2006, 04:12 AM:

I tried to fix some ongoing computer problems, I considered staying up all night, working out and cleaning up. but then I went to sleep instead. I wrote a bit in a short story about a Giant who demands a tribute of the finest female posteriors in Denmark (delivered still attached and covered in chocolate) and the hero, a shrewd but rather strange astrophysicist, who defeats him. Halfway done.

#64 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2006, 04:17 AM:

Here in this part of England we had snow last week, which is unusual at this time of year. It's not that common anyway, and rearely bad enough or lasting enough to be more than a rush-hour's worth of traffic snarl-ups.

But, as usual, the news media went overboard; it was worse down in the South-East, but they still seemed to be going and hunting down the bad places.

And the end result was that we had to deal with a near-hypothermic cat. It's been an unusually warm Autumn, and Tabitha hasn't really got her winter coat. And she's not a 100% indoor cat.

And now we've had our first family Chistmas away from Church Farm since the 1950s. It's a much smaller house, but we coped. Despite the electric oven failing.

And David Tennant was pretty good in Doctor Who. Complete with his very own Star Wars moment. I gather that the BBC has decided that they will release the Christopher Ecclestone season on DVD in the USA.

#65 ::: Stephan Brun ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2006, 05:28 AM:

New Year moved about a bit on the Roman calendar, apparently it settled on Jan 1 in 136 BCE (Wikipedia). It coincided with the first day of the consular term.

Since the early Roman calendar was a lunar one, I do not find it unreasonable to assume that Caesar was aiming for the first new moon after the solstice, but further investigation is needed to check that.

New Year's Day was moved again while the Christians handled the calendar, for reasons unknown to me. The gregorian fix was intended to only correct the drift from the year of the council of Nicaea, so Jan 1, 44 BCE Julian is not Jan 1, 44 BCE Gregorian. We are in fact slightly out of sync with the Roman year.

Oh, and Happy New Year, everyone!

#66 ::: mary ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2006, 10:08 AM:

Mary, whyever would I want to ban you? We were all young once, and staggeringly unsocialized.

:) In that case, Happy Birthday PNH. Today is my father's birthday as well.

#67 ::: Randall P. ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2006, 10:12 AM:

You realize with statements like:

But what matter age, or bare feet, when you have something to blow up?

you've just tagged us to be tracked by the NSA. Nevertheless, I will continue reading as an act of defiance against Big Brother.

#68 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2006, 10:58 AM:

I drove to the happening burg of White River Junction, Vermont to see my college friend Matt, who was singing Nathan Detroit in Guys and Dolls. Since there was no show that night we drove to New Hampshire for dinner, missed a turn, ended up back in Vermont, and eventually found ourselves back in New Hampshire at some little chain restaurant where we alternated between arguing Shakespeare interpretations, making fun of the pornographic drink menu (erotically charged close-up photos of foamy margaritas splashing out of their glasses against strangely-colored backgrounds), and improvising a comedy routine with the boundary-free young waiter.

"How are those nachos?"
"Great, thanks."
"I got married in June."
"My wife's over there. You're my last table for the night. Are you sure you don't want something to drink?"
"No, really."
"We have a seven-month-old son. Do you want to see a picture?"
[Susan begins counting on her fingers while Matt, being a father, goes into baby-comparing mode.]
"What's his name?"
Susan (having decided the bride was probably postpartum at the wedding) "You named your son Tie-in?"
"It's like Ryan with a T. It's Australian."

Well, that explains everything.

Then we went back to the quaint and historic Hotel Coolidge, which was full of gorgeous actors running up and down the hallways with bottles of beer and partying hard to 80's music. We did most of the first Times crossword of 2006. We argued amiably over the jokes in Twelfth Night ("Drinking joke!" "Dancing joke!" "Both!"); I was handicapped since Matt can recite most of the play from memory. We shifted to arguing over the portrayals of the Duke in this year's Globe and Stratford productions of Measure for Measure. Matt read me Runyon stories. I told him all the in-jokes they left out of the new Producers movie. Eventually it was 2006 and time to go to sleep so Matt could be alert for the matinee.

Jennie writes:
Happy New Year to all. May the new year bring health, good tidings, pleasure in the kindness of strangers and joy in the company of loved ones, and excellent good dance partners who never step on your toes.

Waltz-gallop with me in February, supertwin?

#69 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2006, 11:33 AM:

Waltz-gallop with me in February, supertwin?

Whee! There's an offer I won't refuse! You never step on my toes.

#70 ::: Erik V. Olson ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2006, 11:52 AM:

By then I was on my third match.

When you're being irresponsible, it pays to be responsible. Fuses have three states. Unlit, lit, and "is it lit?"

That last one is the true danger. The trick is to minimize that state. Next time, use this.

(This is a specific case of Olson's First Observation: The difference between smart people and stupid people is smart people get to do really stupid things multiple times.)

#71 ::: jennie ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2006, 12:01 PM:

And where are my manners?

Happy birthday, Patrick! Many happy reruns.

#72 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2006, 12:26 PM:

Yes, Happy Feast of the, Happy Birthday, Patrick!

#73 ::: Neil ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2006, 12:48 PM:

Yes, Happy Birthday, Patrick,
and Happy Future to One and All,
and for Shakespeare, you can't beat Partridge's Shakespeare's Bawdy,


These entries are timestamped.
Do you really mean to tell me that at midnight on New Year's Eve you people are BLOGGING?!?!

I feel that I have reasonably relaxed standards of decency (i.e., don't scare the horses or the hotel management), but this really is a bit much.

#74 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2006, 01:01 PM:

Neil: it depends. What timezone are you in? :)

#75 ::: Lizzy L ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2006, 01:03 PM:

Happy Birthday to all, and to all a good night!

Whoops. I think I'm confused. But also very happy. Went to a very fine New Year's Day party yesterday. Had planned to stay 2-3 hours and stayed nearly five. Finally went home when I realized my dog had been alone for all that time. I was sure I would arrive home to find Something chewed, but no. Excellent dog. Excellent party. It bodes very well for my own personal 2006 that I spent its first day talking politics, ethics, books with a group of dear friends (also some not so dear friends, acquaintances, total strangers, and one irritating but harmless dork...) Oh and I got to meet the beauteous Alice Rebecca, who is very new in the world, and remarkably calm about it.

Today is a semi-work day: up at 6:30 am, at Staples at 7:45 am to buy a printer cable so that I can set up my new printer. That's done. The rest of the day I will fill the cardboard storage boxes I alsoo bought at Staples with bunches and bunches of old files, all destined for first my garage, and then the commercial shredding company which lives down the road apiece.

I'm still happy. Joy to the world, folks.

#76 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2006, 01:41 PM:

Neil - it truly is a function of time zone. I was surprised by the timestamp on TNH's post (this blog runs on US Eastern time/GMT-5 during standard time) but was also delighted as to its content and that she took a moment from her revelries to share with us.

My new years was at 3 AM ML standard time (GMT-8). I got back from a large public party and checked here and Flickr. It's an addiction, I know.

But, by the time of your post, it was pretty much 2006 everywhere, no?

Oh, and happy birthday PNH. (Mine was New Year's Eve - as a kid I thought the parties were all for me. If only I had retained that ego into adulthood.)

#77 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2006, 01:59 PM:

Larry, you have the same birthday as Julie Stein, who wrote the music for Gypsy and a whole bunch of other stuff.

I learned that from the guy who does the Sunday afternoon music show on WNYC. OTOH, he also thought that 2005-1895=100, so take it with a grain of salt.

#78 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2006, 02:01 PM:

And I'm still trying to figure out who the old lady who looked like a school teacher was. Sounds like she'd be a good person to make friends with, Tere---


You are NOT an old lady. And you do NOT look like a school teacher.

I guess maybe from the POV of the kids up the street...who have no idea how dangerous you really are!

#79 ::: Bill Higgins-- Beam Jockey ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2006, 03:19 PM:

At 11:38 I realized I still had no switch on my power supply. I raced upstairs and began heating the soldering iron. I stripped the leads. The Italian Toymaker helped me find a suitable toggle switch. Together we soldered the switch into place.

Then he helped me wind the string of color-changing LED Christmas lights around my arms and torso. The Italian Toymaker insisted on adding a superfluous, but traditional, piece of ductape to attach the wiring to my T-shirt. We tested. The lights worked. I put on my white Irish sweater and headed downstairs to collect my boots and coat. 11:54.

I raced downtown, knowing that everybody else was assembled at the city's music stage and fireworks show in the park a few blocks away. Along the lonely sidewalks, I realized that, were the police to spot a middle-aged man with mysterious lumps under his sweater and a toggle switch dangling from him on a wire, Questions Might Be Asked. I could only hope that they wouldn's spot me, or that the ukulele I was carrying might divert suspicion.

Fortunately I was able to make my way to the park unmolested. I missed midnight, and rockets and bangs were already in the sky.

I climbed a small hill and looked around for my friends, the science fiction fans. I spotted them. They waved. I waved back.
I took off my coat.

I switched on.

The bulbs krelled. redRedREDRedreddarkblueBlueBLUEbluedarkgreen...

I walked over. I started hugging.

After the fireworks, I played "Benson, Arizona." As tradition demands.

#80 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2006, 03:32 PM:

Happy birthday to NYC, to Erica, to Patrick, and all the other birthday folks, and a glorious Happy New Year to all! Teresa, the image I have of you delighting in fireworks is exactly the right thing to start this year on. Also, I must get you to tell me more of Mr. Ford's pyrotechnic past the next time we're in the same berg, yah?

#81 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2006, 03:50 PM:

I realized that, were the police to spot a middle-aged man with mysterious lumps under his sweater and a toggle switch dangling from him on a wire, Questions Might Be Asked.

Try that in NYC and Bullets Might Be Fired.

I'm glad it wasn't NYC, though, because it sounds wonderful! (Are we geeks or what?)

#82 ::: Harriet ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2006, 03:51 PM:

And another Happy Birthday Patrick! (from another first week of January baby - Go Capricorns!!

#83 ::: Paula Kate ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2006, 05:05 PM:

Hippo birdie, Patrick!

#84 ::: JennR ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2006, 06:05 PM:

Bill - pictures! or a demo. I would think that a ukelele would only attract attention; but that might be a good way of diverting suspicion.

My NYE was excessively quiet. The boys were asleep, the teenager was reading Garth Nix, and I was watching TV and knitting. (and beginning to succumb to the flexeril.)

Hippo Birdie, Patrick

#85 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2006, 07:54 PM:

Larry, you have the same birthday as Julie Stein, who wrote the music for Gypsy and a whole bunch of other stuff.

That's Jule Styne, in case anyone wants to Google him (although apparently it *is* pronounced 'Julie'). There's a story, I think originating with Sondheim, about how Styne was so prolific in coming up with melodies that if his collaborators didn't like any aspect of one he'd just come up with, he would throw it out and come right up with a new one.

The original story is probably in Broadway Babies Say Goodnight by Mark Steyn, who is a highly objectionable political commentator but on musicals really knows his stuff.

Oh, and happy birthday PNH. (Mine was New Year's Eve - as a kid I thought the parties were all for me. If only I had retained that ego into adulthood.)

My dad's birthday is Christmas day, so you can imagine how much fuss he thought was being made of *him*.

#86 ::: Lauren ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2006, 08:46 PM:

Happy birthday, Candle. My father has the same birthday as you.

Regarding the calendar: January is Ianuarius in Latin, named for the god Ianus. He had two faces, and he was the god of doorways and beginnings (ianua is Latin for "door.") Apparently January was named for him because it was the beginning of the year, although I could be mistaken.

#87 ::: Xopher (Christopher Hatton) ::: (view all by) ::: January 02, 2006, 10:51 PM:

Spring. The year changes from winter to Spring.

#88 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2006, 12:44 AM:

Erik -- the problem with that beast is making sure that \all/ you ignite is the fuse. The late great Monty Wells once lit an overcandled birthday cake with something similar, but candles don't go off if you don't confine the ignition source to the wick.

Yes, I know the flame can usually be focused tightly -- but how wide is the heat pattern?

I suppose the really cautious would use Blu-Tack to make the fuse stand away from the firework....

We showed up at a friend's house in the middle of the pre-setup tea party; the one thing we agreed on was that Aslan was too bloody urbane. The on-site count got over 60 (total somewhat higher) without being too crowded -- Edwardian houses have their advantages. Left before the moment, got home after, heard what we thought was thunder but was probably the first salvos of mortars from nearby; IMO that was not smart in a network of close-set frame houses, but they didn't go on long and nothing brought the fire department.

#89 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2006, 12:48 AM:

Happy Birthday, Patrick!

#90 ::: Stefan Jones ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2006, 12:53 AM:

I bought a big "showstopper" display toob firework last July, for use on New Year's Eve in case I was in town.

As it happened, I was in Greenlawn, LI, watching the ball drop on a fuzzy TV with my sister. Busy week, and I wasn't feeling well.

OTOH, I just learned that the eye candy I bought for friends in the Bay Area were put to good use. Poppers and sparklers for the kids, noisy fountains to mark the new year. And with all the rain, no fire hazard!

#91 ::: jhlipton ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2006, 09:46 AM:

Thanks for the comments on the calendar. I think that aiming for the first full moon after the solstice makes the most sense.

Happy New Year to all, and Happy Birthday, Patrick!

#92 ::: Neil ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2006, 02:40 PM:

Charlie Stross replied:
Neil: it depends. What timezone are you in? :)

Chicago/[US]Central, as it happens. But Teresa's post says: 12:14 AM, which I took to be local for Teresa (one zone east of me).
So my initial "wha?" stands. (Or whatever the appropriate verb is for what a semi-word does.)

#93 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2006, 03:50 PM:

A belated Happy New Year and ditto Birthday to all!

I spent mine quite nicely, beginning with taking in an opera performance in (almost) full formal evening dress (I don't have the correct shirt with the starched front, alas) with a set of similarly-attired friends, where we got the comment "it's nice to see that SOME people know how to dress up when they come here" from the ticket man; thence on home, for a lovely four-course dinner and stepping out on the balcony to watch the fireworks (which had begun in earnest at 22 and peaked between 23:30 and 0:30, when they fired constantly, only petering out at around 2:00). The fireworks were quite impressive, too. The people in this neighborhood sure know how to shoot 'em.

#94 ::: Sandy ::: (view all by) ::: January 03, 2006, 05:18 PM:

Happy New Year! [it's still new, isn't it?]
Had friends over- last minute. As usual, either nobody comes or everybody comes. This was the latter. Which is "about ten" in this case, but it's not that big a house and most of our friends are internet-distance away.

Much food, much drink, much enjoyment. I got to catch up with Jesse The Martial Arts Guy[1], always interesting.

I decided to avoid my old problem with French 75's [2] by drinking cognac till the champagne came out, then drinking champagne with cognac.

As my grandmother used to toast: Here's to us, none like us!

[1] I'd lost track of him a few years back. We do a few of the same things, but in entirely different ways, and as a result I always learn a lot from talking to him.

[2] Everyone else means something else; I mean champagne and cognac. It's good!

#95 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2006, 12:13 AM:

Happy birthday, Candle. My father has the same birthday as you.

Thanks, Lauren, but it wasn't actually my birthday but my fathers. But hey, it sounds as though our fathers have the same birthday. As I recall, Capricorn is actually the sign of the father, and Cancer is the sign of the mother. Seeing as my mother's sign is Cancer, astrologically I must be extremely well-adjusted.

But we Aquarians are the best, obviously: who wants to be anything other than the sign of eccentric humanitarian genius? It means I get to share my birthday with such geniuses as James Joyce, Havelock Ellis, Tom Disch and, er, Ayn Rand. Not to mention both date and year with this eccentric humanitarian genius.

I don't really believe any of this, of course.

#96 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2006, 11:41 AM:

Sandy:"As my grandmother used to toast: Here's to us, none like us!"

That sounds like a kinder version of the Highland Division toast my grandfather used to quote. It's a call-and-response (or go round four people, if you've got four people who know it):

"Here's tae us -"
"Wha's like us?"
"Dam' few..."
"And they're a' deid."

#97 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 04, 2006, 11:59 AM:

The late Herb Caen, columnist at the San Francisco Chronicle, once wrote that "...growing old is mandatory, growing up is optional..."

#98 ::: Bill Blum ::: (view all by) ::: January 06, 2006, 12:51 AM:

I'm always out of the loop w/r/t all the juicy gossip at work-- much to the amusement of coworkers...

Imagine their surprise that I apparently didn't notice all the gossip that was allegedly taking place after a coworker got booked for attempted murder last month. Everyone just assumed I *knew*... heaven forbid I spend my time at work being a lab technician, instead of a chatty cathy doll....

#99 ::: Stephan Brun ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2006, 05:48 AM:

OK, I was playing with Emacs the other night, and so I relented and decided to do a little investigation.

Turns out 1 Jan 45 BCE (-44 CE) (Julian) has the Julian day number 1704987.5 (midnight). The winter solstice of 46 (-45) is 9 days before that, on 1704978.

The first new moon (not full) after that appears to be on 1704987.56319, which is roughly 01.31 on Kalendae (1) Jan -44 CE. Hmm, suggestive.

I wonder if they did the traditional 'calls' on that day, possibly for the last time?

Can anyone confirm these (possibly using some other tool than Emacs)?

(The functions I used were:


#100 ::: Stephan Brun ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2006, 07:07 AM:

It seems NASA disagrees with me on when the new moon was in -44.

However, both figures were arrived at using algorithms. Too early to tell which of us is right. Damn.

#101 ::: Stephan Brun ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2006, 07:27 AM:

Emacs' 'lunar.el' uses 9 decimals in the 'lunar-new-moon-time' function, which 'lunar-new-moon-on-or-after' uses. The NASA page indicates only 6 decimals were used. This suggests that Emacs is the most accurate, but is not conclusive.

#102 ::: Stephan Brun ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2006, 07:32 AM:

Further corroborating evidence: Wikipedia and 'lunar.el' has the same figure for the synodic month.

Welcome to Making Light's comment section. The moderators are Avram Grumer, Teresa & Patrick Nielsen Hayden, and Abi Sutherland. Abi is the moderator most frequently onsite. She's also the kindest. Teresa is the theoretician. Are you feeling lucky?

Comments containing more than seven URLs will be held for approval. If you want to comment on a thread that's been closed, please post to the most recent "Open Thread" discussion.

You can subscribe (via RSS) to this particular comment thread. (If this option is baffling, here's a quick introduction.)

Post a comment.
(Real e-mail addresses and URLs only, please.)

HTML Tags:
<strong>Strong</strong> = Strong
<em>Emphasized</em> = Emphasized
<a href="">Linked text</a> = Linked text

Spelling reference:
Tolkien. Minuscule. Gandhi. Millennium. Delany. Embarrassment. Publishers Weekly. Occurrence. Asimov. Weird. Connoisseur. Accommodate. Hierarchy. Deity. Etiquette. Pharaoh. Teresa. Its. Macdonald. Nielsen Hayden. It's. Fluorosphere. Barack. More here.

(You must preview before posting.)

Dire legal notice
Making Light copyright 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017 by Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden. All rights reserved.