Heiser Christmas Letter 1996

Loretta's Mom passed away in the Spring, but her Dad seems to be adjusting. Loretta will miss the close bond she and her Mother shared in music. We had a nice visit from Loretta's Aunt Rachael and Uncle Russell from Pennsylvania. We took them to a free Friday night jazz concert at the LA County Art Museum. Along with listening to Garrison Keilor on radio, Saturday nights, attending these concerts is becoming our habit.

Last Summer, Loretta and I enjoyed a bicycle tour in Holland. It was our first Elderhostel experience, and we enjoyed it very much. We biked an average of 35 miles a day and visited seven of the nine provinces in ten days. We had a nice 5-day stay in Amsterdam before the bike tour, revisiting places I got to know on teaching trips.

My computer lab at school is being connected to the Internet and upgraded with more memory. I'm developing a unit about surfing the Internet, and expect my students to teach others. Students can also research information using the Internet for the benefit of other students, teachers, family, and later for paying customers. In the Spring, maybe we'll design some web pages.

I was pretty upset when a student stole the mouse from one of the school lab computers. I talked to all my classes and asked whoever took it to bring it back. Three days later, after school, I turned around and there it was. It took a lot of courage to return it at the risk of getting caught. It made me so happy that I gave every student 30 bonus points, to emphasize that when anybody does the right thing we all benefit.

Yevgeniy Katsnelson, who was my right-hand man for three years, graduated from Fairfax this year. Now he's putting himself through Cal State Northridge by maintaining the computer labs at Melrose Elementary and Fairfax Adult School. He's so talented that he'll never run out of work.

Allan Cameron, an artist who was the coordinator of my school before retiring, has been giving us art lessons in exchange for computer help. This is timely as Loretta is taking oil painting classes.

In spite of criticism, teachers are doing lots of good. I'm predicting teachers' status will improve soon. New teachers include ex-junk-bond-salesman Michael Milken who is teaching part-time at a middle school, and Apple Computer co-founder Steve Wozniak who is teaching elementary school.

The United Nations will be considering a convention to ban land mines. That sounds good to me. When I was in the Army National Guard, I became a simulated land mine casualty during a training exercise at Twentynine Palms. It was instantly clear how easily this could have happened for real had I gone to Vietnam. Of course, mines are as harmful to civilians as to soldiers. The US is slow in supporting the U N convention. John Walker, founder of Autodesk, proposes using robots to clear the millions of mines already in the ground.

Best wishes for a happy holiday and prosperous new year!

—Dick and Loretta