New Year’s Eve In New York City

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In 1904, the city of New York was on the verge of some major changes, and many of those changes were taking place in Times Square. Times Square underwent to major transformations in 1904, thanks to the opening of NYC’s very first subway line and the first ever New Years Eve New York celebration in the area.

Fast forward to today, New Year’s Eve in Times Square is one of the most popular events in the world. Hundreds of thousands of people make their way to Times Square and they wait there for hours and hours because they want to watch the famous Ball-lowering ceremony. Satellite technology allows people from all around the world to watch the ceremony, and it is estimated that more than one billion people watch it.

Usually it can be very cold in NYC on New Year’s Eve, but you may want to check the weather before going because sometimes it may be comfortable. Also, you can expect around 1 million packed in, just waiting for the ball to drop.

It’s no secret why people from all around the world flock to Times Square, as well as tune in to watch the ball drop. There are live bands that play there, celebrities hanging out and TV specials hosts by famous people such as Ryan Seacrest. Fireworks explode and the streets are eventually covered in about 2,000 pounds of confetti.

If you decide to head to Times Square to be part of the biggest New Year’s Eve part in the world, then here are some things to keep in mind that will help you create an experience that will be memorable and pleasant.

First, The Basics

The Waterford Crystal ball drops from a flagpole from 1 Times Square. This ball can display more than 15 million colors. You should try to get a spot somewhere around West 43rd and West 50th street on Seventh Avenue up to West 59th Street. Regardless of where you are planning to go, make sure to arrive very early because as the streets fill up, police officers close them down. Here is a tip, those who get the best spots usually arrive before 3PM. The ball makes it way to the top of the flagpole at 6PM, and by 10:30PM you will probably not be able to find a spot that will allow you to see the ball. Those with disabilities will also want to get to Times Square as early as possible, because there are designated viewing areas. However, they tend to fill up very quickly too.

Last year, some of the entertainment provided to those waiting included midnight-kiss practice, live music and hourly countdowns to name just a few. You can expect the same this year.

The Train Is The Best Mode Transport To Take

The best way to reach the celebration is by taking the train. You should take the train to any stop except Times Square/42nd Street, and then just walk to the destination. That train stop gets extremely busy on New Year’s Eve.

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Wear Good Shoes

You should wear good shoes, and by that we mean comfortable shoes. You may want to look nice, but nobody on New Year’s Eve will be looking down at your feet. If you arrive early, which is recommended, then you will be standing for hours at end. This is why it is a good idea to wear comfortable shoes.

Don’t Bring A Bag

Don’t bring your bag because if you do, then the cops will not allow you to go past the barricades. There are no exceptions to this rule, and you really don’t want too many accessories and items weighing you down.

Dress Warm

The chances are it will be very cold in NYC on New Year’s Eve, and this is why you should wear as many layers as possible. It’s also a good idea to check the weather before going to NYC.

Eat Plenty Of Food Before Going

When you claim your spot, you will not want to leave it because it will be snatched up within seconds. Try to grab a big bite to eat before you go and claim your spot. There are plenty of restaurants located in Times Square and the surrounding area, so you won’t have to go too far to find a place to eat.

 Go To The Bathroom In Advance

You should really go to the bathroom in advance because there are no restrooms in the viewing area.

Bring Some Cool Friends

Don’t bring boring friends who don’t like to talk because you will be standing around for hours. Bring some cool friends who enjoy talking about the same thing you enjoy talking about. If you do this, then you will surely have a fun night.

Times Square may not interest you and if that is the case, then don’t worry because there are plenty of other things to do in NYC. There are no shortage of nightclubs in NYC, and all of them will be busy on New Year’s Eve. You can even take a cruise or go and catch a concert. If none of those things interest you, then maybe eating a nice restaurant or going to a comedy show is more your cup of tea. Whatever you decide to do on the big night, have fun and ring in the new year in style.

Remembering The Y2K Paranoid Fest

y2k the end is near

As we approached the end of the last century, there were a lot of concerns over the serious issues that surrounded the looming Y2K problems. Nobody knew exactly what to expect on January 1st in 2000. General opinion held to the notion that Y2K related problems were going to cause the failure of many basic services, like phone, water, and utilities. In contrast to popular opinion, I believed that those problems would show in a much more positive light. I thought the whole situation would cause society to take a more analytical look at how we did business, including our data and technology that we used on a daily basis. Additionally, this new millennium, I believed, would usher in an era of huge opportunities for new technological advances. I believed that the preparations put in place at that time for averting the Y2K crisis, would give us an advantage that would lead to a minimizing of future technological breakdowns, and usher in some new technology that would ensure a veritably smooth transition to this new millennium.

My main focus and concerns over the Y2K crisis, was the fact that we knew exactly when it was scheduled to start. It was said that our appointment with destiny could not be avoided or postponed. During the last 18 months leading up to Y2K, we were bombarded with loads of information from the media, stating wild predictions about the impact Y2K would have on our society. The entire problem begins about 40 years prior to Y2K, when programmers in the then ‘new computer industry’ managed to make a fateful decision. They decided to save space and memory by recording the dates of the year with only 2 digits. Sadly, nobody anticipated that those early mainframes and computer programs would have been using those systems still when we got to 1999. The result was an expectation that this technological glitch was going to cause all computer software using just 2 digits to identify its year, to actually misinterpret that “00” and define it as being ‘1900’ instead of ‘2000’. I remember it well.

Overall, there were significant improvements made during the 18 months that led up to the Y2K experience. That proved to stem some of the impact of the problems that were being predicted. In the light of all the potential disruption that the year 2000 was supposed to experience, our government was providing encouraging information regarding the status of its agencies, that assured the public that almost all of the financial institutions and the utility companies were Y2K compliant. Then the Energy Secretary went on the Oprah Winfrey show, on November 29th, and stated that very sentiment again. Even though he stated that utilities were 99% Y2K ready, the possibility remained that around 26 utilities out of the 3,000 were not Y2K compliant. That meant there was a chance that some communities would experience power failures. In addition to that, 99.9% of all the financial institutions were ready, but about 5 banks out of 10,000 total were not ready. We were also told that banks were not going to run out of money because there was a surplus of over 50 million dollars being printed in anticipation of an increased cash demand just before New Years Eve. The banks themselves recommended that if people were expecting to make large withdrawals, they should do it before December 31st to avoid adding to the excessive transaction numbers on that day, and keep from  overloading our banking system.

NYC Power Outage

On the other hand, most large businesses and corporations had spent millions on updating their computer systems for addressing Y2K problems and averting system crashes. There were a lot of resources being allocated to continuously monitor situation and detect any errors and miscalculations. It was mostly the small businesses that didn’t have the financial resources to correct their computer systems who were really concerned. They believed they might face disruptions that could throw them into bankruptcy.

Another disruption that was throwing out a scare, was the daily routine activities, like elevators shutting down from their systems not being able to interpret the date change. What was scary about the Y2K crisis was how the business world was totally vulnerable because of all the other systems that might experience crashes. For example, a lot of PBX (Private Beach Exchange) phone systems were equipped with non-compliant embedded microchips. These microchips could have caused those systems to fail.

There were also literally billions of embedded chips hidden within machinery and equipment that were normally used to make life more comfortable, efficient, and safe. However, many of the microchips driving them were not Y2K compliant. That was yet another cause for concern, as the possibility existed for disruptions that could last for weeks before they could be fixed. One good piece of news was that our major telecommunications companies were all Y2K compliant, so our phone service was expected to operate fine.

In spite of the Y2K crisis, our economy continued to stay strong, and showed no signs of any full-scale economic depression. So all the predictions were just a bunch of paranoid hype. The risk was there, but nothing major happened, and all was well with the world.

I preferred to stay optimistic throughout the entire event, believing that all the major system failures that were expected to take place would be averted. I had faith in the extensive preparations that were made to avoid that disaster. It was estimated that there was over 600 billion dollars spend worldwide just on that problem alone. There were maybe a handful of communities who lost some power or some other kind of utilities, but overall, the doomsday scenario never happened.

The world didn’t end like they thought it would, and the panic that led up to this event dissipated along with the hype. I will never celebrate nye without thinking back on those days and how it all went down. I’ll just look at the New Years Eve lights and think about ‘the disaster that wasn’t’.

New Year’s Eve In Japan

Tokyo Japan New Year's Eve

Do you have special New Year’s Eve traditions? Is there something special your family does to bring in the New Year? Perhaps you go to a party at a friend’s house or a bar in the area or maybe you use this time to spend with your family. The way New Year’s Eve is spent in Japan is very different from the way Americans usher in the New Year.

In the morning, Japanese people will clean their entire house. In Japan, this process is referred to as Ousouji. Of course, this doesn’t mean that people in Japan only clean their homes once a year. The Ousouji has a very special meaning. The purpose for this special cleaning is to welcome in the New Year while also wishing a better year than the year that is coming to a close. Cleaning the house is an important aspect to starting the New Year.

When Ousouji is finished, women start with the cooking of Osechi. This traditional Japanese dish is served after a few days. The dish features beans, fish and egg. The Japanese eat Osechi because tradition has it that a cooking knife shouldn’t be used within 3 days of the New Year. The tradition also gives the mother a break from her daily task of cooking.

While women cook the Osechi, the men hang Shimenawa, a type of decoration that is made from the stems of rice. This Shimenawa is hung on their home’s front door. This Japanese custom has its roots in the wish of farmer’s for a good harvest in the coming year. Today, Japanese people wish for a good year and good fortune.

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On NYE, after all the preparations for the New Year are complete, we typically spend some time watching Singing Battle Between the Red and the White Team, which is a TV program. This show has been airing for approximately 50 years and each year gets more than 50% of the ratings from the audience. We think about this television program as a part of our closing of the past year.

Either while watching Singing Battle or after it’s finished, we have Toshikoshi Soba to eat, which, in English, has the meaning “New Year’s Eve Noodle.” This is a long noodle, so by eating the Toshikosi Soba, it indicates that we wish for a longer life, including a body that is healthy.

Finally, on New Year’s Eve, the last thing we do is listen to the customary Juya No Kane, meaning, in English, “the watch-night bell.” This bell is similar to the countdown that takes place in America, but it is rung 108 times. The tradition for this bell ringing comes from a Buddhist thought. This tradition signifies the hitting away of poorness, selfishness, unhappiness, selfishness and other undesirable traits.

In conclusion, New Year’s Eve in Japan starts with the cleaning of the house, cooking Osechi, hanging Shimenawa, watching the television show Singing Battle, eating Toshikoshi Soba noodles and ends with listening to Juya No Kane. When these things aren’t done, we don’t feel like we can celebrate the arrival of the New Year. NYE is extremely important to the people of Japan, not only because of the preparations for the coming New Year, but as a way to reflect upon our life in the past year as well.