Taipei New Year’s Eve

Really counting down now… 1 hour and 50 mins and counting down.  B- and I are at her friend’s 8th floor apt which over looks 101.  We can hear the festivities outside and watch from the TV.  Invited a few friends, Malaysians, Singaporeans, Taiwanese and myself.  Good simple celebration …. pizza, TGIF chicken wings, lots of wine and the obligatory mahjong table 🙂

I’m of course… on-line !

Hoping you guys have a great New Year’s Eve and a safe one…

Eve of New Year’s Eve

The thing I never quite liked about Year In Review (particularly those that come out, say, before Christmas) is that they may wind up missing what happens the last six days of the year (like this year, when Pakistan’s serious business in the news, or say the year of the Indonesian tsunami).

My personal Year In Review? Notable stuff –

January 2007 – got on the Alternate List for Strange New Worlds 10 – so close to getting published for one of my stories!

The California vacation in September 2007.

My National Novel Writing Month novel, in November 2007, “Bread and Circuses” – done!

Joined Facebook. (yeah, it’s notable, since it’s kind of one of those 21st Century habits now).

Stretched myself somewhat with my reading – actually trying to read more poetry; plus visiting more museums.

There are probably lots of other stuff that happened this year that I’m not thinking about, but it’s somewhere around triscribe.

Well, okay – one item of thought about 2007 – campaigns came out way too early. I felt bad that the Iowans must have had Christmas a little messed up with the non-stop campaign commercials and the fact that the states went nuts with going for Super Duper Duper Tuesday for 2008. Real Clear Politics blog on, in its post on “Why Not Biden?” asked a question that kind of made a point to me:

One name conspicuously missing from the discussion is Joe Biden, who probably has more real experience in the foreign policy workings of the United States government than all the other Democrats running for president combined.

Indeed, Clinton’s “closing argument” in Iowa – we live in serious times that demand a person with enough experience to step into the White House and lead from day one – is in many ways an effective argument in favor of Joe Biden. [….]

Yet, Biden’s not going to be taken seriously, as the post notes. Bill Richardson – much experience, too. In the end, are the voters really thinking about “experience” or about who has the strength, power, and money to pull off the election? Well, who knows? 2008 may be interesting; I just wish it’d be more peaceful than 2007.

NY Times profiling a NYC electrician who heads the team that takes care of the lighting on the Brooklyn Bridge; wow. Jake Mooney writes:

BECAUSE Ben Cipriano is a wisecracking kind of guy, maybe it’s best to begin his story in the form of a joke: How many electricians does it take to screw in all the light bulbs on the Brooklyn Bridge? The answer is six. Not much of a punch line, but it has the advantage of being factually correct. [….]

We check in with Mr. Cipriano just now because of the mayor’s announcement this month that a host of city landmarks, including the Brooklyn Bridge, will soon be outfitted with new, energy-efficient bulbs. The bulbs — light-emitting diodes, actually — should last much longer than the existing bulbs, which themselves last for years. One wonders what this means for the future of bridge-top bulb-changing.

Do not worry, though, about Ben Cipriano. There is plenty of other work up there, and no one is sure how the new lights will respond to the extreme weather conditions. He will be watching closely, as he already does, whenever he drives past when the lights are on, or sees one of his bridges while watching television with his family.

“Maybe I should get a hobby,” he said. But getting the lights right is important to him, and the problem with the current lights, 100-watt mercury vapor bulbs, is that they turn green as they start to burn out. “Even if you have a couple of them out — 160 bulbs are up there — people are going to notice,” Mr. Cipriano said. “They don’t look so hot if you have some bright ones and some green ones and so on and so forth.” [….]

Up on top of the bridge, Mr. Cipriano still marvels at it all, this time from a place with an unobstructed 360-degree view. “People would pay to go up there,” he said, “and we’re getting paid to go up there.”

He has never been scared of heights, climbing up to work with two wires tethering him to the bridge cables. He wears brown shoes with rubber soles that squeak on the floor but are good for traction on the bridges — “no high heels, no fancy shoes with leather bottoms” — and he ties his screwdriver to his belt.

He also has, in his pocket, a little camera: 35-

millimeter before, digital now. He has spent enough time looking at New York to know what he likes. “No clouds is no good,” he said. “Overcast is no good, obviously. But if you have clouds in the background with the buildings, it’s just a great picture.”

NY Times on the New Year’s Eve falling ball of 1907 (i.e., New Year’s Day, 1908) – 100 years ago; Jim Rasenberger writes:

IF we could ride a great glimmering ball back to Times Square a century ago, we might see ourselves in the men and women who gathered there on New Year’s Eve of 1907.

Notwithstanding how they dressed or wore their hair, their lives were superficially similar to ours. They took the subway to work and lived in homes lighted by electricity. They talked on telephones, went to the movies and listened to music on their new Victrolas. They worried about their weight and wondered whether Christmas was becoming commercialized.

And on Dec. 31, 1907, for the first time, they did something that hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers will do on Monday night: They celebrated the passing of ’07 into ’08 by watching an illuminated sphere falling from the sky.

Of course, not everything is quite the same. The ball that will descend in Times Square in the final seconds of 2007 is a far more sophisticated vessel than the one that made its debut at the end of 1907. This year’s incarnation, which is brand-new, will weigh 1,200 pounds and sparkle with 9,576 light-emitting diodes gleaming through Waterford crystal; a hundred years ago, the ball weighed 700 pounds and was illuminated by 216 incandescent bulbs.

But that first “electric ball,” as The New York Times referred to it, was dazzling enough to the people who poured into Times Square to see it. After 10 p.m., when the theaters let out, men in silk hats and women in furs swelled the crowd further. “An acrobat could hardly have managed to fall down for a wager, so tightly did the people hold each other up,” The New York Evening Sun reported the next day. [….]

Have a Happy New Year! See you in 2008!

Other Stuff

Inter-disciplinary approach on environmentalism – now, more than ever, can different academicians work together?

Literature for Soldiers” – interesting article in Newsweek on how the cadets at West Point read literature and the professor who teaches them lit. I’m not that surprised by the depth of their reading – these are bright young people; their education includes some humanities (not just military stuff); and sometimes, literature makes the military stuff no less raw anyway.

From this Christmas, interesting Daily News profile on June Mei, Mayor Bloomberg’s interpreter on his recent trip to China, by Kirsten Danis:

On Mayor Bloomberg’s recent China trip, one woman rarely strayed from his side: a Brooklyn-born interpreter with a knack for languages and a taste for Fox’s U-bet chocolate syrup.

June Mei grew up in Prospect Heights and spoke barely a word of her family’s native Cantonese until she was 8.

“I’m such a New Yorker that I never learned to drive,” she said in her Tribeca apartment after returning from Asia.

Yet she effortlessly spun Bloomberg’s English into Mandarin over the three-day trip – and she owes her skill to childhood asthma.

Mei, the daughter of an ethnic Chinese doctor and his wife who emigrated from Singapore, was gripped by such bad attacks that her mother moved her to a Florida apartment to wait out winters.

She didn’t attend classes in the South, and her mom worried she’d never get through Public School 9 at home.

So at age 8, Mei was sent to live with relatives in Hong Kong and suddenly had to learn Cantonese.

“The Chinese literature class was like I had dropped into a foreign planet,” said Mei, 60.

Mei graduated from high school in Hong Kong and returned home to study history in college and graduate school.

Along the way, she picked up Mandarin – while playing cards with Taiwanese grad students. [….]

And, an item on NJ – with Gov. Corzine away (holiday vacation, it seems; he does remind me a bit of Mayor Bloomberg…), St. Senator Richard Codey is (again) acting governor. Considering how often he has filled the role, as this NY Times article notes, he “really acts like like a governor.” The article amused me, since the very same thought occurred to me too, when Codey signed the bill requiring HIV testing of pregnant women in NJ. Nothing against Corzine (then again, I don’t live in Jersey, even if I’m admitted to their bar), but kind of weird to think that Codey does so much. Eventually, NJ is going to have to have a lieutenant governor, like other states, and not have to make things so… weird.

The concept of Good Riddance Day, wherein people gathered at Times Square to shred crap for the sake of good karma, seems lovely; but on the news, it looked a little… weird.

As the year ends, I may very do a year in review type of thing. We’ll see!