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December 31 (New Year's Eve) Weekly Open Thread: Looking Back

139Today is New Year's Eve. And before we watch the crystal ball drop in Times Square and say goodbye to 2012, let's have a cup of cheer, take a few moments to look back, and make those New Year's resolutions that we oh so rarely keep.

December 31 has also been a notable date for transportation-related milestones. Ships, airplanes, and, oh yes, cars, have made some news on this date.

And some of those things that happened on past New Year's Eves include:

1862: The Union ironclad ship Monitor sank off Cape Hatteras, NC. No blockbuster movie/love story has yet been made about the event.

1879: Thomas Edison gives the first public demonstration of his incandescent lamp. He had no idea he LED the way in automotive illumination.

1896: The 25th automobile is built in the USA. It was not built by a Japanese company.

1907: For the first time, a ball drops at Times Square to signal the New Year. The ball was not dropped in 1942 and 1943 due to wartime concerns.

1921: The last San Francisco firehorses are retired. They served heroically in The Great Fire of 1906.

1938: Dr. R. N. Harger's "drunkometer," the first alcohol/breath test device, is introduced in Indiana. Later that evening, the first DUI was issued. The perp later pled not guilty, citing, "The car knew the way home."

1968: The world's first supersonic airliner, a Russian Tupolev TU-144, is flown.

1976: The Cars played their first gig. They released "Drive" in 1984.

1998: U.S. movie box office hits record $6.24 billion for year. Much of this is due to James Cameron's Titanic.

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And, taking a moment to look back at 2012...

The Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia struck a reef and (partially) sank on January 13. Thirty people died; two are still missing. The efforts to refloat the ship (It's 70 feet longer than Titanic) and tow it away for scrap will be the largest maritime salvage operation ever.

On August 6, 2012, the Mars rover Curiosity landed on Mars and began its career, looking for signs of life on the red planet.

How's this for feeling the need... the need... for speed. On October 14, Felix Baumgartner jumped out of a balloon at 24 miles up and become the first person to break the speed of sound without any aircraft propulsion. He ended his journey at Roswell, New Mexico, just as some other space creatures reportedly did in 1947. Mr. Baumgartner, thankfully, was much more successful with his landing.

Sadly, we lost automotive legend Carroll Shelby, racer Roy Salvadori, designer Sergio Pininfarina, and astronauts Sally Ride (First US woman in space) and Neil Armstrong (First human on the moon).

And despite predictions for many, many years, The World did not end on December 21, 2012.

Personally, looking ahead to 2013, I plan on getting a motorcycle, selling the old homeplace, and starting a new life somewhere. Hopefully with a very large garage.


Lamb A 2-001Do you have any New Year's resolutions or past reflections you'd like to share? This is the place!

--That Car Guy (Chuck)

December 31 Information from:

Image Credit: The New Year's Eve ball image (Look close, it's red and just above "2012") was taken by yours truly in Times Square, where the NYPD drive Prii. The 2013 image is from


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My only resolution (I rarely make any) is to resume my practice of getting rid of one item per day.

2013 may end for me with a new vehicle. I just dropped a wad on new engine mounts and this old Mustang just isn't up to all the miles I put on it doing fieldwork. I don't want to get rid of it though, and I don't have enough room to park it, so I am in a bit of a quandary.

The new Corvette makes its' debut shortly at the Detroit Auto Show. It is intriguing with so much hype. Some time back,my wife and I had a negative experience at a Chev dealer. Just recently I went to the Chev website and filled out a rather extensive questionaire. A spokesperson from GM called me after that, and we talked for some time. They said that they would get back to me. We will see what happens.

My plan is to restore my 65 Mustang convertible this coming year. Carwise I will remember the year being in line at the DMV at 12:12-12sec on 12/12/12 wishing I could have been registering a Bentley V12 at that moment and have the robot next-in-line voice start droning "121212121212" .Speaking of starting anew People...that hopelessly overused adjective, "AWESOME" is so 2012! Put it on the vernacular scrapheap next to 2004's "Not So Much" and 1997's "Yeah,Baby". Make it your 2013 Happy New Year's resolution.

If all these people would quit saying, "At the end of the day," I'll be very happy.

Yeah that's a pretty annoying one. In fact it made this list of don'ts for TV newswriters...its got some good ones

I for one wish we'd all stop singing that ridiculous "lang syne" song at the stroke of midnight (or at least stop attempting to, anyway) that no one know what really means, and doesn't make any sense... and yet people still insist on attempting to sing it anyway.

"It's tradition", one might argue. Fine. So be it. It's still a ridiculous song.

Ha. I have made it one of my life's goals to never sing Auld Lang Syne for those very reasons.

Let us also have at least a 5-year moratorium on the following phrases:

-- Referring to the Rose Bowl as "The grand-daddy of them all"
-- Describing a black hole as something "that nothing, not even light, can escape from"

You left out John Fitch as an automotive personality who passed away in 2012. Remember the Fitch Corvairs? and he raced in LeMans in the fifties, and designed the impact attenuators you see everywhere today.

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