Here's a Wild Site

* If you've ever wondered what an African game reserve is like, check out "WildCam Africa" on the National Geographic Society's Web site. A camera is focused around the clock on a pond in Botswana's Mashatu reserve.

Crocodiles, wildebeests and jackals are among the dozens of animal species that could show up for a drink while you're watching via satellite. A handy checklist helps keep tabs on what you've seen. And there are links to more information on the animals, including what they sound like.

The site is www9.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/wildcamafrica.

It Takes a Sun

* A solar village is rising on the Mall, and you're invited to visit.

Teams from 18 colleges are taking part in the 2005 Solar Decathlon, which broke ground yesterday. The students are competing in 10 areas to see who can build the best solar-powered home. The homes must collect enough solar (sun) power to run lots of appliances and juice up an electric car.

The winners will be announced Oct. 14. The village, on the Mall between Seventh and 14th streets, is open until Oct. 16. To learn more: www.solardecathlon.org.

You Santas Better Be

Good, for Goodness' Sake

* Attention, Santas: You better watch out, you better not pout -- and you better clean up your act.

A British company that trains hundreds of Santas each year to fill in for the jolly old man (who can't be everywhere, after all) now has a code of conduct for its stand-ins.

The code also says how roly-poly Santas should be, what they should wear and how their beards should look (white, no more than six inches long).

"Santa is a magical and cuddly man, not a fat, smelly slob," said the company's owner.