Heiser Christmas Letter 2006

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Choice Choices

Stumbling on Happiness, a fascinating and hilarious book by Harvard psychology superstar Daniel Gilbert, says we're awful at imagining what will make us happy. Instead, we should ask other people for advice, but we won't! Trust me, you'll love it.

Jimmy Carter explains that everywhere in the world except America people can talk about the plight of the Palestinians without being called anti-Semitic. I'm looking forward to reading Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.

You and Your Research is the text of a memorable talk given by Richard Hamming. Dick's friend Henry Shin also discovered it, online and free.

Wikipedia is an amazing user-written encyclopedia. It's much more complete than a 20-volume printed encyclopedia, and has articles on current news topics.

You might enjoy the choreographic innovations of the treadmill dance on YouTube. Lots of action!

The LA Times weekly photo highlights online are stunning. The reader photos have been selected for beauty, too.

Dick finally got to stay at the Asilomar Conference Center this summer. It's elegant, beautiful and economical, without phones and TV. A perfect place for a retreat. We're going back!

Political Content

We voted on touch-screen machines in November; this time there was a voter-verifiable paper trail. Good job! In Sarasota, Florida 15,000 missing votes can't be recovered because they don't have a paper trail there.

This fall, Californians passed proposition 83 by a huge margin. It's enough to give ballot propositions a bad name. Like three strikes, it punishes people for their criminal history. It will force thousands of former sex offenders to wear lifetime GPS tracking devices and to live at least 2,000 feet from a school or park. There simply aren't any places in Los Angeles that aren't excluded. No evidence shows that this will protect children from harm. Iowa found their similar law caused ex-cons to abscond.

Dick has been participating in weekly antiwar vigils, the Arlington West war memorial at Santa Monica pier and demonstrations against military recruiting ("an army of none"). He eagerly attends the 7 am Friday meetings of ICUJP, our local topnotch peace coalition. 1.8 million refugees have fled Iraq. Let's bring the troops home! George McGovern gives a good plan in Harper's Magazine.


Dick is hooked on carrot juice. He's running faster and farther than last year, but was worried about overdosing on vitamin A. It turns out that vegetable sources of vitamin A actually contain beta carotene instead, which is harmless. Beta carotene pills work too, but carrot juice (and spinach!) provide the best boost.

Dick has been wearing a DexCom continuous glucose monitor. It helps him reduce the frequency of low blood sugar episodes, and shorten high sugar ones, improving moods and preventing complications. It's upsetting to see the enormous high-sugar excursions after eating, but he's learning about his response to foods and hopes to improve his lab scores even more. It's a shame that DexCom is trying to force users to replace the $35 sensors after only three days; Dick was able to wear one for three weeks.

Our email account has been sold again, from Media One to AT&T to Comcast to Time Warner. Permanent forwarding isn't being bothered with, so please update your address book with a stable email address: dick.heiser@gmail.com

Loretta says:

After my step-grandmother's and my Mom's ripple stitch afghans wore out I decided to make one, and look what happened! On a visit to my sister in Washington, DC, we water-colored together and I have been painting ever since. There is just not enough time for creating, but I did compile a book of poems with watercolors, composed some music and, if another round of physical therapy helps my shoulder, I may play the cello more often.

We wish you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

Dick and Loretta