Dear ___________,

I had grand(iose) intentions of sending you a traditional holiday card. I sent out 12 of them, but sadly, your name was farther down the list in my contacts, and I ran out of stamps. I also ran out of non-pithy variations of what I could write above/below the pith salutations in store-bought cards.

The next idea was to create a kind of comic book recap of the year and send out via e-mail with some personal (non-pithy) note at the top.

I am losing track of my excuse. I saw something interesting on the internet, which led me to viewing the source, then finding a cool jQuery animation library, then…

Oh well, all you get is a link to a blog post. Likely tweeted. Thus 2016.

Non-pithily yours,


Growing up with a brain being fried by overexposure of 1970’s television (the Brady Bunch theme plays softly, then damn! Mrs Brady died in 2016), the year 2000 was so far away that the Jetson’s flying cars and Rosie the Robot Maid seemed very plausible (do not try to bullshit me that a Roomba counts).

The thing is, the world of 2000 was not all that different in terms of the ways we lived, expect the hair and clothing styles had improved. Sort of.

But 2016? That year was sooooo far off, it was inconceivable to consider. And I would be like as old as my parents then.

Well… hello 2016.

And farewell, too.

I get zero sympathy for where I spent February.

I had the “hardship” of spending February on a fellowship in San Juan, Puerto Rico at Universidad del Sagrado Corazón, where the beach was a 15 minute walk away. I was co-teaching and other tech stuff with my host and friend Antonio Vantaggiato, who showed me some of the off-beaten tracks part of the island.

I walked a lot around the area surrounding the university; in a few blocks you go from modern shops and stored to bombed out buildings covered in graffiti. But there are beautiful, giant scale, mural art too, the buildings can be canvases

On the way home I spent a week at my little big sister Harriet’s newish (my first visit) home in Vero Beach, Florida. I see why they chose this place, it’s not the paved over kind of suburbanized Florida I have seen elsewhere. The beaches are not massively developed, and there are a lot of open beaches.

“If I am Too Old To Make a Sand Castle on the Beach… then dig a hole and bury me in it.”

Old photos were brought out…

Back home in Arizona in early March, I did a road trip to Tucson to visit friends Shelley and Tom, met up with Dutch colleague Laura who was at a workshop in Oracle, and on the backroad drive home, I found Christmas, Arizona

I flew to North Carolina to participate in the Indie Ed-tech meetup at Davidson College if anything to hang out with the cool Peeps like Audrey Watters, Kin Lane, Tom Woodward, Adam Croom, Ben Werdmüller, Erin Richey, Tim Owens, and this dude named Jim (he cannot escape his legacy):

In mid-March I started a long term contract with Creative Commons (it goes through September 2017) to help them develop a certification program for educators, librarians, and government employees.

I work 80% of my time, but the best part is I get to work from home in Strawberry (and go to meetings in Washington DC, New York City, and Vancouver BC).

Also in March I was there with local trail building volunteers as we assembled a bridge for the Bearfoot trail across Pine Creek

It was a lot of fun when Sandy Jensen Brown Jensen Brown and her husband Peter came for a few days visit in Strawberry on their big Southwest tour. She took a liking to my stuffed dog, Feldspar

But yes, the title of this blog post…

In early April I ventured to the Payson Humane Society and adopted Felix, a 2 year old Australian Shepherd / Catahoula Leopard dog mix.

He is a beautiful, affectionate, playful perfect companion for me. I was told his previous family left him alone in the yard, and he frequently jumped the fence and ran away (two different people I have ran across in town recognize him from running wild in their neighborhood). I was rather worried with my 4 foot fence, which he could easily jump… but he has not even tried.

I only have about 600 photos of him I even bought a new sit-on top kayak so we could go on the water together. His only issue is I can’t leave him alone; he does not destroy anything, but he barks and howls (evidence

By the way Felix is on twitter and recently he figured out a way to tweet my photos to his twitter followers.

Smart dog.

With our 3 to 4 walks per day, easing off on beer and easting on in salads, I have lost 21 pounds since mid-March. The big proof was buying a pair of jeans this month that was 2 inches smaller in the waist, a size I have nor worn since maybe I was 30.

We have done road trips to Colorado, camped up on the Rim, hiked all over Strawberry. He’s my companion for sure.

My big domestic leaps this year were investing in a Vitamix (thanks to a recommend from my new hiking buddy Eric on where to get a refurbished one) and amping up my grilled home made pizza routine (with the Vitamix, my favorite sauce is home made pesto)

You can find Harriet’s pizza dough recipe in flickr too. You can get anything you want…

To give Felix more room to run I moved the back fence to the end of the property, and have been dong massive digging up rocks, redoing walls and creating leveled areas. My neighbors always shake their head when I am put there digging, but I remind them how much fun I am having. My vegetable garden was fairly sad this year, the fruit trees had an off year, but my irises, roses, and wild flowers were stunning.

As one of my side projects, this was my second year participating in a faculty development project in Mexico at the University of Guadalajara. Participants in the UDG Agoralearn to use mobile technology, internet sites, and student centered learning to redesign parts of their courses. My part as a facilitator and technology wrangler involved a week trip to Guadalajara in June, and 8 week online program in September-October, and a final summary session last week. It’s been an amazing experience these past two years to spend time with such gracious and generous people in Central Mexico. My experience rounds counter to most of the gross and insulting generalizations in this years circus election.

I finished local web sites for THAT Brewery and the annual Fire on the Rim mountain bike race plus another for a preservation organization in Vermont. I also snagged the ultimate domain for myself

Felix and I did some Rim camping and ten more on a roadtrip the first week of September to Southwest Colorado, camping in Southwest Colorado with Pumpkiny, then in Durango to visit Mike and Sarah, than up to my friends Ken and Oogie’s Black Welsh Sheep ranch in Paonia (and of course, daily trips to Revolution Brewery).

In early October I took the overnight train from Winslow to Irvine, CA to deliver a workshop and participate in the Digital Media & Learning Conference.

I also co-presented with Paul Stacey on the Creative Commons Project at the Open Education Conference in early November in Richmond. I talked a few colleagues into wearing costumes:

Robin is a CC superhero; I am the Man Without Attribution, and David is a Photobomber.

A highlight before that was getting to return to the University of Mary Washington on Fredericksburg for a panel discussion to see old friends again, and for me, for the first time online colleague Kate Bowles from Australia. It was all a weaving of tweets, blog comments, references to a Civil War wall… and much more

This may have been my first October in a few years that I was home in Strawberry. The autumns colors were glorious; there are more red maples (in hillside drainages) then I ever saw before, and I hiked the Kachina Trail in Flagstaff at the peak of one of their best aspen color seasons ever.

I enjoyed a wonderful family Thanksgiving at Jared and Dana’s home in Gilbert and a fun Christmas party this past weekend at Travis and Brittany’s home in Scottsdale. I am quite proud to see how wonderful both Jared and Allison are as parents, and Uncle Travis & Aunt Brittany end up running some kind of mini camp with the herd of kids.

I enjoyed a wonderful family Thanksgiving at Jared and Dana’s home in Gilbert and a fun Christmas party this past weekend at Travis and Brittany’s home in Scottsdale. I am quite proud to see how wonderful both Jared and Allison are as parents, and Uncle Travis & Aunt Brittany end up running some kind of mini camp with the herd of kids.

If your travels take you anywhere in Arizona, let me know! I have accommodations to share. The porch light may not be on (I need to fix the wiring), but the welcome mat is out.

And somehow it’s the end of the year, of which I am attempting to summarizing in a way too long format.

That’s just some of the bits of 2016. You may have notice I did not mention the U.S. elections… you know that story. Or do you? It seems wrongful to wash over the implications of what 27% of the U.S. population unleashed on us I have written elsewhere my method of therapy.

I feel sitting warm and comfortable in my home in December 2016, has all the feelings of those setup scenes in post apocalyptic plot. Right before the _____________ comes and ______________ everything we know to _________.

My primary social space, Twitter, for many of my friends is now a place to avoid, or quit. People are huddling in other new spaces or just poising to exit.

I pulled the plug myself on Facebook well before the hand-wringing over fake news which is a real diversion for way your personal data is bought, and sold wholesale for the purpose of influencing elections.

My daughter-in-law shared access to a NetFlix account, and if it says anything, I deep in binge mode on Black Mirror and of all things, The Walking Dead.

In these last paragraphs, if for some reason someone has actually scrolled this far (HELLO), lik the cards, I am lost on pithy words of hope for 2017. Frankly it looks pretty fucked that we are handing control of this country to a deranged narcissistic sociopath who is opening up the store for his billionaire buddies to loot and plunge.

I am angry, but I won’t be drawn down. I won’t be made to feel hopeless or powerless. If they do that, they win.

I will spend 2017 doing my stuff, sharing code, posting daily photos on flickr (10th year coming up), blogging here even if everyone else has left theirs hanging high, making silly ds106 art.

You cannot keep this dog down. I have a coping strategy:

Top / Featured Image: The Dog Knight Rises Sketechport drawing by Ichiban Yada licensed under CC-BY

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as


  1. Well Alan it looks like you have made a good life for yourself. I just wish you had been open and honest with me. Did you ever love me or was it all a game for you. You are no longer the love of my life. Surprise! I got married yesterday to Robert! I am so happy now because you will finally be out of my life. All you wanted was my money and not me or my love. Before I came to Bronx, NY I reconciled with all my kids and hugged all my grandchildren. I could not be happier. But you will be alone the rest of your life with your dog. Maybe that is all you want. Good luck on your endeavors.

    1. I have no idea who you are, nor have I have ever communicated with you. If you think it was me, then you have been conned. Maybe you should provide some proof before you accuse me.

      If you are a victim of a scam, I am sorry, but this frequently happens when scammers create fake identities using my photos. Please see the information I have posted here

  2. I see Alan you took my comment off but everyone should know what a liar and con artist you are telling me your name was Douglas Dorsey. I am married to Robert now, a good man who would like to kick your butt all the way to Salt Lake City Utah. Yes my name is now Mrs. Patricia Bruns now. Soon you will be someone of my past totally forgotten. You will be alone with your dog for the rest of your life. I know you never loved me because you just wanted my money. So I will just say what goes around comes around. Someday you will regret what you did to me.

    1. Perhaps you might consider I was celebrating Christmas with my friends. I do not know who Douglas Dorsey is, but it is sure not me.

      I do not need anyone’s money. Again, just because someone on the internet has used my public photos to create a fake persona and has conned you, I am sorry, but it is sure not me. If you have evidence of these communications, I can easily demonstrate how fraudulent they are.

      I wish you peace, but I am not responsible for this.

  3. I feel honored to receive a card from you! What a creepy comment above. My little brother is the victim of scam artists using his photo. I looked up the person she mentioned on Facebook but didn’t see anyone using your photo. He’s probably long gone.

    1. You think my comment was creepy. I was scammed and it has taken a toll on me. Now I have decided to tell my story to other women who have been scammed. I fell in love with a man who turned out to be the biggest con artist I have ever met.

      1. I feel bad for you and any woman who is a victim of a scam. I’m glad that you’re telling your story so that other women will be aware. If you research catfishing you will see that the scammers use fake accounts with photos of other people to enhance their stories. My brother’s photos have been used in many of these scams. Why? Maybe because he has an honest and open face. Unlike the scammer, that’s the person that he is. He’ tried so hard to get fake accounts shut down on Facebook. As soon as they’re shut down, a new one appears with a different name.

        Even if he removes all of his photos from the internet, the scammers still have a bank of saved photos to use. The link he posted shows the photos used in fake accounts. He’s been contacted by many women like you and it’s very disturbing to know that people are pretending to be him.

        I’m sorry you went through such a terrible ordeal and I’m glad that you got out of it. Just be aware that other honest people can be victims too.

  4. What a rich year. It’s a pleasure to read it here, written in your grand style, photos, dogs, humor, darkness, and all.

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