The Snoozeletter @

It just turned 2006 in Hungary! And here's a countdown (designed by Alan) which should work in all time zones!! Boldog Új Évet!!!
Before your first kiss of 2006, wait a second: Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, one.

Revellers will have to wait an extra second to ring in the new year because a "leap second" is being added to the last minute of the last hour of 2005.

Yep, 2006 will be slightly delayed. Enjoy the extra length of this year!
Wikitmallem Tahmuwhae (Singing the Birds): We're eagerly looking forward to attending today's first annual Bird Song and Dance Festival, hosted by the local Native American cultural museum.

Update: the dancing was captivating and the chanting was hypnotic. We'll definitely attend next year's performance.
Report card. The University of California just sent me the anonymous feedback that 6 of my 19 students provided on the recent Blogging 101 course. I've added a few comments in [brackets]:

A. Please check how you felt about each item (Overall, Instructor, Content):

B. Please elaborate on your responses:
1. It went a bit over my head.
2. I hope he'll teach other classes too! [I love this student, whoever s/he is.]
3. Alan is very knowledgeable and I learned a lot. [This one, too.]
4. His voice was so soft - even when miked. [I'm a notorious mumbler.]
5. Difficult to give course without computers for each student.

C. What suggestions would you make to improve this course?
1. Having computers/lab would improve course.
2. I actually learned about blogging! Never thought I would. [I love him/her even more.]
3. Could probably be done as a 3-week course. [The course lasted 6 weeks.]
4. Need outline (hard copy) of steps required to set up a blog.

D. What did you enjoy the most about this course?
1. Good discourse with students.
2. That man can teach! Also, doesn't put you down! [OK, OK - the check's in the mail!]
3. He helped me create a blog.

E. Would you recommend this course to a friend?
Yes-3. No-2.
The Last Resort. We spend our lives kicking and scratching our way up the corporate ladder. After twenty or thirty years, if not sooner, we become defined by our jobs. Strangers ask: "What do you do?" Not: "What do you like to do?"

We hate going to work on Monday, but we're never completely satisfied with what we've done on the weekend, either. We dream of the day when we can stop working, jump off the 9-to-5 treadmill, and finally fill our lives with exactly the activities we choose.

But when we get to retirement age, and spend six months finishing up the projects we've delayed for a lifetime, our day-to-day existence starts to seem hollow. We begin to pester our wives to let us drive down to the market to pick up a carton of milk, even if the fridge already contains three gallons. We structure our days with hobbies that are chosen mainly for their ability to fill guaranteed intervals of time.

We watch in shocked silence as our friends pass away, one by one, in their comfortable air-conditioned bedrooms. And then we begin to worry. Will there be enough money, if we live to the ripe old age of eighty, or ninety, or--god forbid--one hundred? Who will take care of us when our bodies start to fail?

To distract ourselves from the anxiety, we turn to golf, or bridge, or pointless "enrichment" classes, one after another. Because we ARE active adults, fifty-five or better, no? We'll do anything to avoid facing the fact that we're living in the midst of a huge warehouse of people who are simply marking time, waiting to die.

Then we buy little plastic boxes designed to remind us exactly when to take our daily regimen of thirty-seven pills. We learn to see with one eye. We figure out how to change our catheters, our oxygen, our intravenous drips. We remain stubbornly self-sufficient for as long as we possibly can. Longer.

We swell with pride when someone describes us as "spry octogenarians." We cling tenaciously to life, because it's the only task we can still accomplish with any expectation of success.
If you like Ernest Hemingway, then you'll *love*: Global Network of Dreams. [They also suggest music and movies.]
No lumps of coal this year. Anikó just aced a tax-prep course with H&R Block (final score: 98.3/100), so they offered her a job. Christmas season is lookin' gooooooood, if I can shake this nasty cold...