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IAP offers everything from chain mail to matzoh balls

Next month's Independent Activities Period (IAP) offers a wealth of non-credit options that run the gamut from the quirky to the traditional, the frivolous to the serious, the artistic to the gastronomical.

Those who long to soar with the eagles have plenty to choose from this year. They can take part in a session on managing pilot error offered by the Department of Aeronatics and Astronautics (January 13), start to earn their wings through pilot ground school (first session January 4), visit Logan Airport (TBA), view videos of the human-powered aircraft and gliders created at the Japan International Birdman Rally (January 28) or make and fly their own paper airplanes (TBA) or kites (first session January 11).

Those who are less aerodynamically inclined can keep their feet on the ground while they learn yoga (TBA), take a spin at the merengue (first session January 20) or learn figure skating or ice dancing (first sessions January 9).

The bits-and-bytes crowd can pick up some tips on which voice recognition system would work with their PC (January 6), hone their skills on Athena word-processing (many sessions scheduled) or figure out how to code in HTML (January 6).

Having trouble finding good chain mail these days? Make your own in a session led by the Society for Creative Anachronism (January 7). For other ways to visit the past, learn the ancient arts of Chinese lion dancing (January 12) or ikebana, Japanese flower arranging (January 21).

If you've already mastered Arabic (first session January 6) and simple Chinese characters (January 6), you may be ready to tackle basic Quenya from Tolkien's Lord of the Rings (first session January 5).

Want to exercise the creative half of your brain? Try leatherworking (January 12), creating a living topiary (January 20) or holography (first session January 5.)

"O Bartleby! O humanity!" If this means anything to you, you might want to check out the five films, starting January 11, of Melville's famous short story about a certain scrivener. For a more light-hearted subject, try the seventh annual tribute to Dr. Seuss (January 6).

Of course, there's all sorts of serious stuff, like CPR (January 14), news of an AIDS vaccine trial in the Fenway (January 26), ways for managing neck and back pain (January 20), studying the structure of the proton and neutron with the Bates accelerator (January 27), computational neuroscience for physicists (first session January 4) and many other topics.

But don't miss your chance to make the world's largest matzoh ball (January 19).

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on December 16, 1998.

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