So, what is 2014 the year of? If you know your Chinese Zodiac, it’s the year of the horse. My dog thinks she’s a horse, so that would explain a lot of her behavior this week.

However, the year 2014 has a number of other designations. Apparently, the United Nations designated 2014 as the International Year of Family Farming and the International Year of Crystallography, which makes perfect sense. The goal of the 2014 IYFF is “to reposition family farming at the center of agricultural, environmental and social policies in the national agendas by identifying gaps and opportunities to promote a shift towards a more equal and balanced development.” So that’s clear enough – I’ll start on that right away.

Crystallography, on the other hand, “is the science of condensed matter with emphasis on the atomic or molecular structure and its relation to physical and chemical properties”. I wonder whose job at the United Nations it is to decide what future years should be “The Year Of…?” I’m in the wrong profession, obviously, as I think I would excel at the job of “Future International Year Proclamations Thinker Upper”. In truth, it’s probably not down to one individual to decide – they probably form committees who meet for months on end to figure this out.

What else? Tom Hayden, Mayor of Flower Mound in Texas (famous of course for its proximity to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport) officially declared 2014 the Year of the Bible. Aside from “raising a few eyebrows”, unfortunately that’s already been done before by President Reagan, who by Proclamation 5018 made 1983 the Year of the Bible.

Perhaps something that will be more apposite is that 2014 will be the year of the iPhone-controlled everything. I guess I better activate mine ASAP and discard the bar of soap I’ve been using for the last 8 years.

Here’s one of my favorites. Conservation Groups in partnership with PARC (Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation) have designated 2014 as the Year of the Salamander. There are all sorts of things you can do to get involved: subscribe to a monthly newsletter, enter a photo contest, buy a calendar, even become a Partner yourself. Just e-mail to learn more about how you can participate.

And the European Brain Council pledged to make 2014 the European Year of the Brain – “Changing the way Europeans think about their brains”. Hmmm – coming from England I’m going to have to think about that one”.

Now that we’ve all chosen what to dedicate our spare time to in 2014, what else have we got to look forward to this year? Well, it’s curling of course and 457 hours of uninterrupted coverage coming from the Winter Olympics in Sochi. OK – hands on hearts everyone – how many of you profess to actually knowing where Sochi is – other than Russia (and that gets you a bronze medal)? Go on – look it up: it’s nowhere near Siberia. Unfortunately Sochi will have a lot less glamour next month due to the absence of Lindsey Vonn. This morning, Lindsey announced her withdrawal from the Games due to the injury she sustained in a speed training session on November 19th at Copper Mountain. That will just leave Shaun White, “The Flying Tomato”, to assume the mantle of having the most “celebrity wattage” according to

In June and July, all eyes (well, some in the U.S., most in the rest of the world) will be on Brazil and the 2014 FIFA World Cup. I’m talking about soccer, or as most people outside the US call it, football. The U.S. have a really tough draw, with Germany and Portugal in their group, and Ghana (who they play first on June 16th) will be no pushover either.

And finally, on September 18th, the Scottish Independence Referendum is scheduled to be held. This is, of course, of huge importance to everyone who is Scottish. Many of them want it (although not a majority according to opinion polls), the Prison Officers Association in Scotland has voted to back it – even Mel Gibson wanted it, and you know what happened to him? Right now, the “Undecideds” will swing the vote. One potential consequence, according to Mikkel Vedby Rasmussen of the University of Copenhagen, will be that “an independent Scotland would be a natural member of the Nordic Council”. And why not?  Mark your calendars for that one.

As I said, Happy New Year.


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