Anne here, reflecting that it's an amazing world where I can communicate with people all over the world, no matter what the time of day or night, where some are half buried in snow while I'm sweltering in hundred degree heat, and some are preparing for bushfire season and others are battling floods or droughts.
I'm especially aware of this precious network on New Year's Eve when I watch the celebrations around the world, particularly the fireworks. I love fireworks and on New Year's Eve, they start in New Zealand and work their way around the globe.
The fireworks on Sydney Harbour are always spectacular with the Sydney Harbor Bridge as the centre point and everything reflected twice over on the harbour — and by the way, if you want an excellent tutorial on how to photograph fireworks, there's one here, from the person who took the spectacular photo below.
But as the new year countdown travels around the globe, I think of friends and relatives scattered so far, special people in places like Bali, Edinburgh, London and Dubuque -- too many places to list. I'm lifting my glass to my friends and relations around the world. For some reason at Christmas the distance between us seems great, but on New Year's Eve I feel connected. I can imagine I'm in Edinburgh, watching the torchlight procession and Vikings walking the streets.
And then come the new year's resolutions. I'm not usually one for making resolutions, but I was reading this blog and I thought, if I were to make a few resolutions this would be the way to do it. Much wisdom here.
It's so easy to take this global connectivity for granted but reading a friend's blog a few days ago, I was reminded how recent it really was and how much had changed in the last ten years.
Ten years ago it was the beginning of a new century and we were all fretting about whether all the computers in the world would go haywire on New year's Day. It seems ludicrous in retrospect, doesn't it? I was at a New Year's Eve party that year and a guy there who was some techno-whizz was on call. Apparently the whole computer world was watching New Zealand to see what happened there -- NZ is the first developed country to enter the New Year. The plan was if NZ crashed, the computer calendars in his (big multinational) company were all going to be turned back a year until they worked out what to do. It seems a lot more than ten years ago. (The stunning steampunk computer on the left is from this site)
The Last Ten Years
So I've been thinking about my last ten years and how much has changed.
Firstly, I look at the kids around me and it's very hard to believe that ten years ago they were toddlers or gangly teenagers. The little kids are gangly teenagers now, and the teenagers are adults. When did that happen?
Ten years ago both my parents were living independently at home. Now I'm an orphan.
Ten years ago my first book had been published in the UK, but it wasn't scheduled for a US release - that first happened in 2001. Since then I've had books come out in more than sixteen different languages, including manga (comic) versions in Japanese and Thai.
Ten years ago on my tax file I was a teacher, now I'm listed as a writer.
Ten years ago I had email, but it was dial-up and slow. I don't think I had a website then. I'd never heard of blogs, and I hadn't yet made a lot of my current friends, many of whom I met and got to know via email before we ever met face to face.
I didn't own a mobile phone or a laptop; my computer was large and heavy and not easily movable. I remember buying a 20 mg external hard drive and the salesman assuring me it was more then he and I combined would ever be able to use in a lifetime. He also called me 'little lady.' That's changed, too. ;)
Ten years ago most of my non-writing friends didn't even have computers at home.
Then, to call a friend overseas to chat was unthinkable, it was so expensive. Now I routinely phone friends in different hemispheres for no dramatic or special reason.
Ten years ago getting on a plane was a straightforward, speedy process. I used to take embroidery and nail scissors on planes and not be regarded as a potential terrorist. I could have taken water on board if I wanted to as well, but ten years ago bottled water was mostly expensive and French and nobody charged for a glass of plain water. We drank water from glasses then; drinking straight from the bottle was a little uncouth.
Ten years ago when people talked about having a wee they were being a little uncouth as well. Now they wii all the time and brazenly boast about it ;)
So, what were you doing ten years ago, and how has your life changed since?
Where in the world are you? And what will you be doing for New Year's Eve?
May 2010 bring you health and happiness. Cheers! And to those celebrating Hogmanay, Slainte!