Good Things of 2006 ( )

The big news of the year is the arrival of Faith Cecilia Rasmusen on March 24, 2006.
1. Picasa 2, from Google. This is a very well-designed free photo organizer that finds all the images on your computer's hard drives and lets you print or resize them conveniently.

2. Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre, Freedom at Midnight , 1975, 572 pp., a history of the British abandonment of India and Hindu-Moslem killings. Are there lessons for Iraq?

3. Marcel Proust, Time Rediscovered, 1927. I include this not for the story or for the commentary on the decline of aristocratic society life, but for what it says about the past, how it persists, and how we can recover it. Did I read all the earlier volumes of the series? No-- I skipped to the end.

4. Russell Hoban, The Mouse and His Child, the book-on-tape narrated by William Dufris. The whole family enjoyed this story of junky mechanical animals and the evil Manny Rat as we returned from Winnipeg. Dufras tells it so well that you should get the CD.

5. The Garmin StreetPilot c320 GPS mapper for a car (though it can also run on batteries, and you can add topographical maps to its street maps, at high cost. Well designed (much better than the Hertz-Magellan one) with a touchscreen and out-loud directions. $330.

6. The D-Link DI 524 wireless network router for connecting the various computers in your house. It was amazingly easy to set up-- it actually worked the first time. $48.

7. Marilyn Rasmusen, Some History of the Descendants of Hans Ulrich Graf,, 2006. You might not be interested in my ancestors, but be inspired to write about your own. Or perhaps about your own life.

8. Netflix, Pick from a vast array of movies via the Web and get and return them by mail. The selection and convenience is what's special, not the price. $18/month.

9. The IBM X60s laptop. This IBM (now named-changed to Lenovo) is better than my Acer, not in features but in feel and software, which are more important. Definitely buy an ultraportable laptop.

10. Family Tree DNA, Test for what countries your paternal DNA line most likely came from, using a mail-in testing kit and cheek scrapings. Yet another example of good design! $150.

11. Lost, 2004, a TV series about survivors of a plane crash on a mysterious tropical island with polar bears, bad-luck numbers, underground tunnels, with frequent flashbacks to the survivors' pre-crash lives. Get this on DVD, so you can watch the episodes in order. We've just started on Season 2.

12. Finale Notepad,, a free music-writing and playing program. It has so many features, I'm not sure what the pay-version adds.

Lists of good things from other years.