We’re being alliterative this week with Christmas cards, Christmas
cookies, “Chicken Soup” for Christmas and Christmas carols. But we also
have some interesting and funky non-holiday sites for those of you who
have heard “Good King Wenceslas” once too often this month.

Greetings And Salutations. E-greetings have a bunch of
advantages: They’re free, they don’t require postage, you can send a
different card to each person on your list, you don’t get writer’s cramp
signing them and you can find clever “cards” that are animated and come
complete with music.

Some places where you can find interesting e-cards:

Converting Your Message. Should you want to send
e-greetings to someone in another country in his or her native language,
and you don’t understand Spanish, French, Italian, German or Portuguese,
there’s help. At T-Mail, you can get a
machine translation of any of those languages into English or English
into any of those languages by sending T-Mail your (non-business)
message to be automatically translated. Admittedly, machine translation
isn’t the same as a skilled translator, but this is free and helpful.

C Is For Cookie. And it’s for Christmas, too. At CookieRecipe.com, you can get
recipes for bar cookies, molded cookies, drop cookies, refrigerator
cookies — really, recipes for just about any kind of cookie you can
imagine. Or browse the cookie of the day or the week’s top 10 cookies.
If you’re trying to find a long-lost cookie recipe, post your request on
the bulletin board at Christmas-Cookies.com.

Constructing A Cookie House. Ever since I lived in Germany,
where making gingerbread houses is an art form, I’ve admired the Hansel
and Gretel creations. Not that I can imagine my being patient enough —
or having enough spare time during December — to actually build one.
But if I ever did, I found the one I’d want to copy at Good Housekeeping.
It’s a professionally designed Tudor cottage that conjures up images of
Merry Olde England and Shakespeare and comes with step-by-step

RSVP ASAP. Holidays are probably second only to weddings in
presenting etiquette questions — from whether is it OK to respond to an
invitation by e-mail to the proper way to eat an artichoke to where a
cocktail fork goes when you’re setting the table. You can ask etiquette
guru Peggy Post at Home Arts or access
dozens of etiquette-related websites at the Ultimate
Etiquette and Manners Resource Page
, which is useful despite some
broken links.

Fa La La La La. I think it probably goes back to singing in
choirs as I was growing up, but I love just about any and all Christmas
music. If you’d like your computer to belt out “Adeste Fideles” or
something more contemporary, try Santa’s Christmas Music, the
Sarawak Music Society’s Christmas
Carols on the Net
, Brian’s
Christmas World
(which has music-box-style renditions that I
particularly like), and Tim’s Christmas
, which points you to other sites if you haven’t been able to
find what you’re looking for.

Counting The Days. On to a different kind of music: The
Counting Crows tour is sold out around the country, but you can have a
front-row seat at your computer screen should you be “Hanginaround” the
Web on Wednesday, Dec. 15, at 5 p.m. PST (8 p.m. EST) when
RollingStone.com presents a live webcast,
interview and contest.

Whose Holiday Is It? In interfaith families, Christmas and
Hanukkah celebrations can raise all kinds of questions and dilemmas. InterfaithFamily.com, a Jewish
site, has forums, discussions, articles, features and a nice resource
section to help answer these questions in the most appropriate manner
for each family.

Chicken Soup For Christmas. If you’re a fan of the “Chicken
Soup” books, the books’ website has three free stories for
you and your family to read this month. The
Last Straw
is the first.

Who Blinks First? You could say these are totally useless
sites, but they exert a strange fascination nonetheless. Among the Web’s
more offbeat pages are three that offer staring contests. The Madhouse’s
Staring Contest
, Stare Down
and WTI’s Virtual
Staring Contest
. Good for wasting a few minutes when you’re trying
to avoid doing some work.

A Moooving Experience. Now, even those in major metropolitan
areas can experience the “joys” of virtual cow tipping. You’ll meet
Cud-Elvis, a cool cow who wears shades at The Art of Cow
, a burning cow at Mars Attacks and do
cow tipping the VRML
as well as Virtual Cow

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