Why do we kiss at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve?

Is everybody ready to ring in 2009? New Year’s Eve is upon us… In fact, some parts of the world are getting a head start and already discovering how ridiculously awesome this next year is/will be.

You can go ahead and learn more about the traditions surrounding New Year’s Eve, or you can just read below for the WikiAnswers Wednesday entry and find out how this one got started:

How did the superstition of kissing at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve start?

It was a New Year’s Eve, a long, long time ago. It was snowing and beautiful, and my friend Barry was at a wonderfully chipper New Year’s party. As everyone counted down to bring the new year in, he looked to his right and then he looked to his left. All his friends were standing around him. Martha and Jake, Jude and Christine, Penny and Michael. Even Timmy was there with a new girlfriend named Janice.

Suddenly it struck Barry: he was the only one who didn’t have his arms around anyone else. As the counting closed in on him – “9, 8, 7, 6” – he knew he had to do something quick. He grabbed the closest head of hair he could reach and pulled her in to his arms. When the room shouted, “3, 2, 1!” he gave her a big kiss, right on the mouth.

It was then that Barry realized he must have kissed one of his good pals’ ladies! He hadn’t even noticed which one yet. He nervously looked around. There was Martha and Jake, Jude and Christine, Penny and Michael. There was Timmy and Janice. They all, oddly enough, had the same look on their faces.

Barry looked down and realized: the lady he had kissed was Lady, Jake’s giant, hairy chocolate Labrador.

And from then on, Barry’s friends never let him forget that New Year’s kiss. And to remind themselves of it every year, they all gave each other kisses as the clock struck midnight.

The end. Have a happy new year everybody!

Your own NYTimes cheat sheet, courtesy of Answers.com.

Are you one of those folks who boasts about your online membership to the New York Times in order to look smart? Yet you have no idea what half the words mean? Do you skip the crossword puzzles altogether?

Well, now’s your chance to shine: If you double-click any word in an New York Times article, you’ll see a small question mark pop up next to the word:

Click that icon and voila – you get instant information from Answers.com about the word you clicked:

Give it a try… Here’s an article to start with: Ringing In 2009 with People Power

Fun, farms and friendships: Part II.

Picking up where we left off last week: After getting to know a bit more about Jadeacres, it’s time to learn more about his partner-in-WikiCrime and that would be… ThatwouldBme (or Shell).

On her bio page, Shell says:

I can tell you that I’m an artist. The pencil/pen/paintbrush/canvas kind of artist. I don’t remember a time I didn’t draw or paint. When I talk to clients & friends, wait in airports & doctors’ offices, make plans & even keep a diary, I do it in images.

…And artist she is. Shell sometimes uses t-shirts as a billboard, or her neighbor’s eggs as a canvas, or WikiAnswers question as an open space to paint the perfect answer. With whatever she does, she displays her dedication to helping people as vividly as she does her artwork.

But more about Shell’s artwork (and James’ eggs!) next week… For now, a word (or more) with ThatwouldBme:

How did you originally hear about WikiAnswers?

My next-door neighbour came over for coffee one morning and said he’d encountered a Paganism question on the new site he was visiting. He admitted it was something a bit more than he felt qualified to answer and asked my input. After a lengthy conversation he suggested I log on and check out the site…

I did, with the intention of answering one or two questions and then just fading away. But the question was complex, and while working on it I found another question that although it had a simple enough Pagan answer, had been “bashed” by someone whose opinions differed widely from my own. I got involved with that one, then another, and another, and finally did my first dispute resolution before I even got my Super Powers.

After that, as they say, “the rest was history…”

Explain your username.

My parents are snowbirds, have been for 20+ years.  I don’t get down to Florida to visit them as often as my sisters. They have the added incentive of Canadian winters to make the trip down.  I lived 10 years in Arizona so my winters were wonderful, which translates out to… I visited them in Canada during Arizona‘s crazy hot summers.

My folks have long-standing neighbours and friends in their winter home, and they have all heard about me, but very few have ever met me.  This past winter Daddy bought himself a little sports car, claims he only wanted it because of the gas mileage, but I have my suspicions otherwise.  Bringing a car through the American/Canadian customs is not exactly a stroll in the park, and as I’d done it before, (when I returned to Canada five years ago) they asked me to come along and make sure everything went smoothly.

That put me in Florida for two weeks, and in a position to meet an awful lot of people who knew me, or at least knew of me.  Seemed every time I met someone they would say, “So you’re the artist daughter.” or “So you’re the daughter from Arizona” or “Oh, so you’re the oldest girl…” My standard answer became, “That would be me.”

It sort of stuck.

What motivates you to volunteer your time to the WikiAnswers community?

The dissemination of information is a grand ambition and a personal passion for me. I hate to admit it, but what initially drew me to this was finding a “loop hole” in a gees placed on me by my shaman when I was in my teens.

As with most teens, convinced they know it all, I was so sure of my path I spent a lot of time arguing theology with very nearly anyone I encountered.  To bring me back to practicing as opposed to preaching, he told me I was not allowed to give anyone answers unless and until they asked.

Now, I give one afternoon a week and an hour every night I can to answering what questions I can.

I grew up looking for my answers in libraries and obscure books and at the knees of wise men and women wherever I could find them.  The whole e-universe is still a wonder and a challenge for me. But now I can put my years of gathering facts and notes and bit of information to a use that transcends my little 500 book library in my small corner of the world.

What are your areas of expertise?

Being a Leo, I can honestly say I don’t do anything I don’t do well.  Now before you go considering me the most arrogant person you have ever met, you need to understand, that also means there are things I don’t do at all.  The best motto for a Leo is: “If at first you don’t succeed, destroy all evidence you ever tried.”

That said, I’m a self taught artist who learned everything the hard way (trial & error).  I have worked in construction, in one form or another, since before it had a place for women. I learned my pagan path from a Native American Shaman, and my Scottish-Celtic grandmother at a very tender age. Then put it to use first in my solitary practice and eventually with my eclectic circle in Arizona, and now I total over 50 years of accumulated learning and teaching of a spiritual way.

I love to cook, garden, read, write, tell tall tales, and if I have one thing I do better than anything else, I make a fantastic friend, because I accept everyone exactly as they are, and never try to turn them into someone else.

What is your favorite WikiAnswers feature?

The bio pages. I get a glimpse into what others want me to know about themselves.
Sometimes I get a picture to go with a name, sometimes I get an insight into the mind behind the answers.  Even a blank page tells me something. I always come away from a bio page knowing something I didn’t when I got there.

What has been your funniest question/experience on WikiAnswers?

Since I have become a Supervisor, I have been spending WikiWednesdays with my neighbour, mentor and really good friend, James of Jade Acres. He works with his head in a closet (that’s a whole other story) and I work at the dining room table on my lap top. On any given Wednesday we will usually bump into one another on the WikiAnswers page repeatedly, it has come to the point where we advise one another where we are going to be so that we don’t keep stepping on one another’s toes.

However, the funniest experience I can think of was a couple of weeks ago, James and I were so busy working on a collaborative effort at WikiAnswers that we lost track of the time.  In the door walked WikiWidow (James’ wife, Deb). She walked over to him, placed a large coffee next to him, said “Hi, Hon,” and kissed him on the top of the head, then turned around, put a large tea next to me, kissed me on the top of the head and said, “Hi, Other Hon,” and went on into the kitchen.

I swear it took James and I a full minute to realise what she’d done, and the odd thing… I was half way through typing a message on his board about it before it dawned on me I could simply speak to him, he was sitting six feet away.

Share a random fact (or two) about yourself.

I debated this one a long time, couldn’t make up my mind if I should tell you that I have been struck by two cars (once walking across the street in Ottawa and once when I was on the back of a friend’s motorcycle). Both were major accidents, both times the car actually struck me (not a vehicle I was in or on) and I survived both, more or less intact.

…Or if I should tell you I have moved diagonally across the continent of North America twice.  Once moving from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada to Apache Junction Arizona, USA and then, ten years later, back from Apache Junction, Arizona USA to Camden East, Ontario, Canada.  Both trips were done in a car, with my husband, Galad (Quicksilver11), my most prized material possessions and our cat (Foley, he was five years old on the way down and 15 on the way back). And I arrived at both destinations more or less sane. (You try five days in a moving vehicle with an unrepentant old hippie and 15 pounds of grumpy cat, and see how your sanity does!)

…But I settled on telling you that Galad and I bought the house and property we now call Snugglefoot Hollow (after Miss Snugglefoot, a pet name Galad used to call me) while we were still living in Arizona.

We did it, sight unseen, (we did get a dozen photos via e-mail) on the advice of my parents and with an electronic handshake.

Papers weren’t drawn up until the old owners had built a new house and we had moved into this one. Which goes to show you there are still some trusting and honourable people in this world.

Stay tuned for next week, when we explore the third part of the series, a tale of two neighbors.

Do you want to be interviewed for the Contributor corner? Just leave a comment below and we’ll get to work.

The long and the short of it

I like abbreviations. I think life’s too short, every second counts, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I find lots of pleasure in sesquipedalian words – you know, piecing together the Greek and Latin roots, with prefixes and suffixes and whatnot – but there’s also plenty of fun to be had in acronyms and other shorthand. BRB. OK, I’m back.

So, words like za and rents save precious time. And if you don’t know what a particular word means – well, then the timesaving element is gone but it’s kind of fun to figure out, so either way you win.

I came across this one recently in a Slate blog post about Google bonuses. (Seriously, who doesn’t love eating his heart out over how well those folks get treated?)

Finally, Gizmodo, which helped break the story, notes that this is part of a longtime tech, um, tradition, in which companies hand out their toys to their own employees to beta test them for bugs and get feedback on how to improve the next generation. The toys have been dubbed “dog food” by techies, and Gizmodo has thought up a fun  illo for Google’s latest foray into handing out the Alpo. Click here to see it.

I had no idea what an illo was, though the convenient link helped. To make sure, I Googled it, trying to ignore Google’s insistence that “perhaps I meant Ilo?” (No, like Horton the elephant, I meant what I said.) There wasn’t much out there, but I did find this blog, the Illo Watch, “dissecting the daily New York Times Op-ed illustration,” which made the point pretty clear, and also showed that illo goes back to at least 2005.

And the last thing I did was to make sure that Answers.com had an entry on illo. Because now I know.

AnswerTools shout out.

The folks at a SuckMyThumb.com forum have added an AnswerBox and AnswerTips to their forum pages. It’s amazing how easily it fits in with the rest of the forum features.

Now their users can click on any word and get an instant definition, as well as research a topic straight from the AnswerBox.

I wonder if that leads to smarter forum posts…

Have a merry, cozy, wonderful Christmas.

I don’t know about you, but I am all bundled up in a new fleece I received, drinking a steaming cup of hot cocoa and reading through all kinds of questions and answers under the Christmas category. Better catch up before the day rushes by and before you know it, we’ll all be focused on the next big thing… (our new Wii Fits and New Year’s resolutions?)

Here are some samples to get you started:

Wishing everyone happy holidays!

What are some good gift ideas for Christmas for fathers?

Uh oh! We’re coming dangerously close to running out of time for buying those last-minute gifts. Haven’t bought your dear old dad something yet? Perhaps I can help. Here are some gift ideas he might like, without you worrying about delivery time. Brought to you by WikiAnswers Wednesday.

What are some good gift ideas for Christmas for fathers?

Here goes… Let’s hope my dad’s not reading this, or it might ruin the surprise.

  • The gift of retro. Go into his closet when he’s not around. Pull out one of those 80’s print button down shirts. Wrap it up in a nice box. Tell him retro is back and you thought he’d appreciate a kick-start.
  • The gift of what you know he likes. Take a look at what he’s snacking on when he comes over tonight to celebrate. Slyly take back the rest of the bowl/tray/pan and dump it in a nice box. Wrap it up, hand it over. Make sure it’s not liquid, first.
  • The gift of what you know he lacks. Go out back to dad’s shed. Pick out an old tool he hasn’t used in a while. Dust it off, polish it up, put a ribbon around it, and tell him you were looking for it in his toolbox the other day and couldn’t find it, so you figured he needed a new one.

That’s all I got for now. You can also try this stuff with the dog, especially if it’s still a puppy. “Dad, Coco went missing this morning, but here’s a brand new chocolate lab – just like her!”

Good luck… and Merry Christmas!