This is the last day in which I might think of 2004 as the current year. It'skind of arbitrary, I know, but so it goes. This has been an eventful week.Nicole and I took an incredibly quick trip to DC, to take care of somepassport paperwork and other things. It was fun -- we got a nice hotel fornot much money, and ate in a nice Indian restaurant. We also did some funshopping (I didn't buy much -- scraping as much money together as possible forEurope). Yesterday we went snowboarding, if you can call what I didsnowboarding :) Everyone's terrible when they start, and while N says that Ilearn quickly, I still didn't make it down any hills without falling a fewtimes. Still, it's enjoyable, and I only took a few falls that really hurt.Some of the falls I actually turned into flips, touching the ground minimallyor not at all, which is fun but exhausting. Needless to say, I'm sore all over,especially in the lower arms and wrists, but that's not so bad. The primarything I seem to be doing wrong is having difficulty turning a full-on motioninto one of the two guard positions. As a result, I go down the mountainswitching from left almost-full-on to right almost-full-on, using a front guardbetween. I know I'm not using the normal snowboarding terms, but I don't care.Anyhow, that's what I need to work on -- once I have the full-on transitionsdown, I might be a decent snowboarder. All the falls happened because theguard positions, while great for slowing down, are difficult to keep for anylength of time, because once the face wedges under any snow, the boardflips. Boarding in Sankt Moritz is going to be fun. I might ski one day whilethere, just for laughs.
N bought a number of neat sciency books while we were in DC, among themEmotions Revealed, a book by an author who also wrote a number of other booksI like.
The end of the year also brought a disaster of enormous scale. Like everyoneelse liberal in the states, I noticed independently that the damage fromthis is far greater than September 11th. As of right now, at least 120 thousandpeople are dead, many more are injured, and huge numbers of homes are gone.I was somewhat happy to see that american media covered the event, given the"rest of the world doesn't exist/matter" mentality I've seen in the past.Still, it's frontpage news in most papers, albeit sometimes with a subtext ofhow many Americans died. Amazon.com has managed to raise animpressive amount of donations -- a little over 8.4 million dollars from 120thousand people, roughly the number of people who died. Strange coincidence..It appears that the British government is taking the lead in providing aid,having put about 100 million in so far (compare to 20 million from the U.S.),something N attributes to their strong historical involvement in the region.It's amazing how many lives have been ended or damaged by this. It's hard for menot to become very depressed by this -- it's overwhelming.
Amazon tells us what their most wished-for things are.Some selected categories:
- Apple iPod
- Canon Powershot SD110 3MP digital camera
- Phillips DVP642 DVD player
- Another flavour of iPod
- Yet another flavour of iPod
- iPod dock kit
- iPod earphones
- iPod FM transmitter
- Canon Powershot A95 5MP digital camera
- Altec Lansing Inmotion mobile iPod speaker system
- Jon Stewart Presents America (I almost bought this)
- Chrichton's State of Fear - stupid book
- Mitch Albom's The Five People you meet in Heaven - sounds amusing
- Dan Brown's The DaVinci code - Probably stupid. Some people take it seriously
- Lynne Truss's Eats, Shoots, and Leaves - Good book.