First of all, a happy new year to everybody who reads my blog! May 2021 be better than 2020 and bring you health, happiness and success!
If you want to know what I’ve been up to in 2020, here is a handy overview of all the blogposts, articles, reviews and fiction I published in 2020. And if you’re waiting for my take on this week’s episode of Star Trek Discovery – well, that’s probably not coming until tomorrow.
Here in Germany, the new year is a little over a day old now and started with a foggy night and a cold, but largely clear day. I had dinner with my parents at home, because the restaurants were all closed anyway. Furthermore, because there were only three business days between Christmas and New Year and German farmers decided to stage a blockade grocery chain warehouses to protest against low prices for agricultural products (which I theoretically agree with, but this is not the right time), so the grocery store shelves were often empty, which made some ingredients difficult to come by. And so we had a selection of deep-fried vegetables with Manchurian sauce.
After dinner, my parents watched TV, while I did some work on my laptop. At midnight, we drank some champagne and then went outside to watch the fireworks. And yes, there were fireworks.
As I mentioned in last year’s New Year post, welcoming the new year with fireworks has a long tradition in Germany. However, that tradition has come under fire in recent years, because some people really, really hate fireworks and come up with various reasons (dangerous, a waste of money, bad for animals and environment, might trigger people with PTSD) why they should be banned. And this year, the pandemic finally gave the fireworks haters a reason to ban the sale of fireworks, because supposedly people gathering in the streets to light fireworks might spread the virus and people managing to hurt themselves with fireworks would put extra strain on hospitals. Of course, the pandemic is just a pre-text in this case.
Of course, people gathering in the streets in larger groups only happens in those city centre areas where fireworks are banned anyway because of the fire risk. Meanwhile, in suburban and rural area, what happens is that families stand in their own driveways and light fireworks and wish the neighbours a happy new year. The infection risk involved is no worse than when taking the trash out, as long as you don’t hug your neighbours.
As for the accident risk, the overwhelming majority of fireworks accidents happen with unlicensed fireworks imported from Eastern Europe or with homemade fireworks. And if you ban legal fireworks sales, guess what happens? The people who really, really love fireworks will find a way to procure illegal fireworks or try to make their own, which is a lot more dangerous. And so, a 19-year-old in Eckernförde on the Baltic Sea coast managed to blow up himself and his parents’ winter garden, while trying to make fireworks.
But even though sales of fireworks were banned, a lot of my neighbours did manage to get hold of fireworks. There was less firework than last year, but not that much less. The one difference was that there were comparatively few fireworks to be heard early on New Year’s Eve and on the days before – instead the fireworks were concentrated on the hour around midnight. And this is a development I actually welcome, because while I like fireworks, I also think they should be limited to a few hours on New Year’s Eve.
Mostly, the people who didn’t light fireworks this year were the casual fireworkers like me who buy a package of rockets at the supermarket, but don’t stockpile (though I did have some sparklers and half a package of firecrackers from previous years) and don’t look for alternate sources. Meanwhile, the folks who light hundreds of Euros worth of fireworks every year continued to do so this year. And I’m pretty sure that what was blown up last night was not just stockpiles, because I cannot imagine someone stockpiling dozens of rockets and fireworks batteries. No, there likely were ways to get fireworks in spite of the ban. Though thankfully, almost all the fireworks blown up last night were licensed ones. Cause you can usually distinguish the unlicensed illegal fireworks, because they’re louder, smell worse and the leftovers look different. And I noticed very little of that.
Last night’s fireworks display also showed that many people are no longer willing to accept nonsensical anti-covid measures (I hope they will continue to accept those measures that do make sense). Because the ban on sales of fireworks was largely nonsensical. It did little to nothing to combat the pandemic, especially since the vast majority of infections and deaths still happen in nursing homes whose residents are among the least likely to light fireworks. Instead, the pandemic was used as a pretext to push through an agenda that some people have had for a very long time.
But anyway, here are some fireworks photos. They might be a bit blurry, because the night was foggy and I couldn’t use the flash.
On New Year’s Day itself, some of the mist lingered, but otherwise it was a clear but cold day. So I drove down to the river Weser this afternoon.
And that’s it for 2021 so far.
What can you expect on this blog for this year? More fiction, more genre commentary, more TV reviews, more Retro Reviews, more new release round-ups, a new project to highlight fanzines and sites eligible for the Hugo and much more.