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Happy New Year!

Welcome to 2014!

As surreal as it is to write, it’s equally as unbelievable to comprehend that it is now the year 2014. Despite the fact that we are not driving flying cars or living like The Jetsons quite yet, there are many things to celebrate and look forward to in this brand new year. For instance, there will be plenty of personal resolutions that we will each be working hard at to achieve in the next 365 days. Some will be easy and some will be hard. It’s possible that there will even be a couple that will have staying power beyond January. For me, there are several in which I intend to use every single available day to make happen.

With so much joy and happiness spread around the world today, January 1, 2014, it’s important to remember what hard work and perseverance can bring. In certain circumstances, an entire year may be required to pull off an achievement or spectacle so grand that it goes down in history as the best ever.

In the case of the shining Middle Eastern metropolis known as Dubai, their hope and extraordinary effort just may be rewarded with the title of “greatest ever.” Last night, the city attempted to pull off the world’s largest fireworks display. NPR online had a good description of what was being attempted in the night sky of the United Arab Emirates.

Starting precisely 20 seconds before midnight local time, over 500,000 fireworks are set to be used during the display which is set to last around six minutes, with Guinness World Records adjudicators on hand to officiate the attempt.

Covering a distance of over 94km (61.6 miles) of the city’s seafront, the display will incorporate some of Dubai’s top landmarks, including Palm Jumeirah, World Islands, the Burj Khalifa and Burj Al Arab. 

Having been in Dubai for New Years several years ago, it’s an incredible sight to see the glistening city light up in all directions. To give you a taste of what it’s like to experience it first-hand, below are two videos showcasing last night’s fireworks display.

Enjoy!

Here’s to Our Own Record-Setting Year!

The Voice That Always Gets Our Attention

Wrapping paper of all colors, with red bows and green and silver ribbons, covered our living room floor like it was New Year’s in Times Square. The scene was chaotic, but in a happy and joyful way. There were smiles everywhere we looked as we simultaneously celebrated the birth of Christ and the presents Santa Claus placed under our Christmas tree. The food was delicious and the gifts ranged from exciting new books to a portable gaming system to a visionary Blu-Ray adventure to sharp looking clothes to a princess or two. There may have even been a personal steamer for suits and shirts…

People were obviously good this year, which explains why everyone will end 2013 and start the new year in 2014 in good shape.

Except one. With the exception of one particular nephew.

The prize gift for my nephew was a Nintendo 3D DS. Once he unwrapped this from Santa, it was game over.

Actually, it was just the beginning, but you get the point.

We all tried to get him to stop for a while, but to no avail. It was his game and he wasn’t going to stop.

There was nothing we could do or say.

The rest of the day was a blur of action fighting, magical powers and mazes upon mazes upon mazes in adventurous lands. Hours passed and his fingers were slightly indented with the shapes of the DS buttons. Then, sadly, the battery life was spent. Time to charge it up! Feeling uncomfortable without the red gaming system in his hands, he fittingly sat uncomfortably next to the wall outlet and continued his journey inside the world of Pokémon.

Nothing would tear him away. He was in his own little world. He was in an impenetrable bubble floating just out of reach.

Then came the trip back home at the end of the evening. As we squeezed inside my sister’s car, my nephew continued to play without missing a beat. However, about twenty minutes into the drive, he just closed the game and squinted and cringed awkwardly.

Asking if he was okay, he said, “no…”

Some time went by. The following question and answer exchange revealed the last things we wanted to hear.

“Do you feel sick? Do you feel like you’re going to throw up?”

“Yeah, kind of…”

At this point, my sister and I instantly looked at each other with the realization that 35 MPH down a neighborhood street may not be fast enough for our current predicament.

Uh oh.

Moving as quickly (and smoothly) as possible, we made it to my parent’s house on the way. After getting inside, I filled a cup with cold water. We then watched him like a hawk.

Nothing.

Yet, he was still feeling ill. So, of course, the appropriate next step is giving him a trusty Tums (Tum-Tum-TumTum-Tums!). He sat on the kitchen floor, feeling a little better, but not wonderful. Then, he said something both confusing and surprising. We all listened intently as he basically explained how he (admittedly) had played the DS for too long and that looking at the screen, plus playing it in the car, had made him feel sick.

He still loved the gift, no question, but he realized that there may be a limit to gazing at a screen. What’s truly impressive is who ultimately got my nephew to stop playing his new game non-stop that day…my nephew.

For some situations like this, it takes self-realization. Whether this involves putting down an addicting game or learning to go to sleep or trying new foods, there are moments when one has to figure it out on his or her own.

In the case of my nephew, he won’t just get better and be in good shape…he’ll be in great shape.

That’s always a fine way to start any new year.

Hopefully everybody had a very Merry Christmas!