AS we ponder events of the year gone by and the one looming ahead, let's spare a thought for those scientists and tourists stuck on that Russian icebreaker down in the Antarctic.
Talk about a cool way to see in 2014.
Nearly as frosty as the reception I got over last week's column about using a phone at a concert to take notes for a review. But more of that later.
Chillin', is what those aboard the MV Akademik Shokalskiy have been doing since Christmas Eve, approximately 1500 nautical miles south of Tassie.
No choice really, it being minus how many degrees and them being stranded who knows how long.
"Chilling", too, perhaps, the prospect of a winch to rescue aboard a Chinese chopper, which was the plan as this went to press. But hopefully "thrilling" as they start the long journey home.
By amazing coincidence, we happen to know one of the party.
A friend of our family, a teacher who shall remain nameless at the request of her hubby, had been supposed to spend Christmas with us on a joint family holiday up the coast.
But in early November one of her students won a visual arts competition and the prize was the student's teacher (our friend) got to go on the Spirit of Mawson expedition - a privately-funded research expedition to celebrate the 100th anniversary of an Antarctic journey led by famous Australian explorer Douglas Mawson.
Competition rules prohibited the student from going, which seemed a little stiff, but what a fantastic opportunity for our friend, even if it meant missing our beach holiday.
Her husband seemed rather pleased as he contemplated six weeks of man supremacy around the house. But who could have foreseen what would happen?
The first indication things weren't going to plan was a two-day phone silence leading up to Christmas. That was strange, her hubby and daughter proclaimed. (Our friend loves a chat.)
Contact was made on Christmas Day: She was OK, but the boat was stuck and plans were in the air, or ice as the case may be.
It was surreal hearing her voice over speaker phone sending her love all the way across the ice to sunny Australia.
Missing her family, trying to stay occupied, hoping to get back to New Zealand in time to make connecting flights home etc. Like all the other people.
Little did they know.
Assurances were given that everything was OK and requests made to try and keep it out of the press. Amusing in retrospect, as the rescue attempts became a sea saga paralleling the Sydney to Hobart.
Sure enough, next day, the news broke.
Ships were on their way to attempt a rescue. Wild Oats was on track for a record-equalling seventh victory. But icebreaker rescue efforts were off track. Coffee was running out but the bar was well stocked.
Grainy photos and social media streams started appearing. We started trying to spot our friend in screen grabs. Sure enough, on Monday a week later, there she was on ABC letting us know spirits remained high and that they were making the most of their unexpected extended stay down south playing scrabble, watching movies, counting penguins.
At that stage it didn't seem like she'd got the latest rescue update which we'd received from her husband via a group email to friends.
Basically it went along the lines of "we're hoping she gets back before school resumes". Oh dear.
It was and will remain quite a strain on all the family until she returns.
Just like the families and friends of everyone else down there.
And our thoughts are with everyone.
Conditions were clearing as this went to press and a helicopter rescue was looming.
In the spirit of Mawson, I'm sure our intrepid adventurers will prevail with a few tales to tell. Certainly makes for a memorable New Year's though.
SPEAKING of ice-cold, "arrogant", "rude", "pompous" and "stick it in your earhole" were some of the more complimentary online comments in response to last week's column.
It was a bit of blow as the intended point of the article had been to ponder the right and wrong ways to let someone know you're annoying them. Particularly if you don't realise you're annoying them. At a concert, or anywhere else.
Not suggest self-entitlement, assert self-importance or demand genuflection.
Readers certainly let me know my article annoyed them.
I should have known the moment I suggested "concert", "mobile phone", "review" and "it wasn't that bad", I was doomed. (Check out the vitriol at theherald.com.au under "Biggest Reader Backlashes of 2013".)
Not exactly what I was aiming for, being a dedicated music fan who would never knowingly disturb anyone's enjoyment of a concert.
Still, no point trying to defend the indefensible.
(I did consider it before figuring I'd only get stuck further in the pack ice of condemnation.)
In the spirit of this column, That's Life I suppose.
Moving forward in an effort to salvage relations, let's chill, like the icebreaker people, and leave that discussion on ice.