föstudagur, desember 31, 2004

new year's eve

Just got home from work and there was a cop car out front. "Oh boy," I thought, "They're gonna bust me for..." When you live in a foreign land, suddenly cops are scarier. Maybe there was something amiss with my residence permit. Maybe they found out about the fireworks I had been hiding in my hallway. Or maybe they were gonna make me pay the dreaded TV tax.

One cop (lögga) came towards me as I walked down the sidewalk. "Góðan daginn," I said and he grunted a response. Despite the reputation of Icelandic cops for being something like MIT's CPs (cheerful; helpful; Mom-like) this one wasn't. But they were in here talking to the downstairs neighbors about something. Maybe citing them for pumping 2 metric tons of chimney ash through my floorboards last month. I can only hope.

Anyway the cops are not allowed to carry guns here, so that makes me feel a little better. A little more on an even footing than with trigger-happy, rubber-bullet-spraying Boston cops, anyway.

It's 2:30 pm on New Year's Eve and already the fireworks are getting, well, fired-up outside. People are testing them out, I guess. Loud bangs from the house down the street right now. Apparently, Reykjavík is awash with fireworks for about 5 hours tonight, from 11 pm until 4 am or so. Most families spend an in-"ordnate" amount on these things, something like $200 per every man, woman, and child in Iceland. The fireworks are only legal around this time of year, but there is no organized display tonight, just pandemonium as each backyard lights off its share of Roman candles. I will be down by the seaside at my friend's house, matches at the ready.

I went to one of the fireworks shanties at the edge of town today to pick up my company's Christmas gift. It's bigger than a cubic foot in size, and basically solid gunpowder, with a little paper thrown in to keep it all together. It weighs 21 lbs, it has over 70 tubes, and apparently "playing time" is well over a minute. I saw the price label on the shelf: 6900 krónur for this bad boy, which given today's 3rd-world USD rates, works out to $112. Jesu Christo! That's a lot of valuable gunpowder. On the side it has a cartoon of a Nicolayesque Viking and it says "NJÁLL á Bergþórshvoli" in sinister capitals. That means Njáll from Bergþórshvoli, hero of Njáls saga, but I think later tonight ole Njáll and his brethren are gonna be doing some high-altitude reconaissance. BOOM!

Gleðilegt nýtt ár! Happy new year!


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