All About ATMs

Dear Kid,

Possibly the world's coolest ATM DearKidLoveMom.comQuick, guess when the first ATM (automatic teller machine) went into business. Wrong (probably). September 2, 1969, was the day the first ATM debuted (at Chemical Bank in Rockville Center, NY). According to the bank’s advertisement: “On Sept. 2 our bank will open at 9:00 and never close again.”

The first ATM was called Docuteller, invented by Don Wetzel at Docutel (Docutel also figured out how to automate baggage handling).

“But wait!” you say, “I have never heard of Chemical Bank—they must have closed.” Wrong again, young padawan. Chemical bought Chase and chose to take the Chase name. But this is about ATMs and not about Chemical or Chase.

At first ATMs were less than widely successful, mostly because they were less than widely available, mostly because they were less than widely cheap. However, the cost went down and acceptance went up and by the 1980s there were more ATMs than butterflies. There is even an ATM at McMurdo Station in Antarctica. The penguins find this very helpful when they leave home without enough pebbles in their pockets.

Eventually (and by “eventually” I mean in the greedy 1990s), banks figured out that they could charge people to use ATMs. Customers loved this added benefit (and by “loved” I mean would have started a revolution if social media had been invented then).

Today, a new ATM is born every 5 minutes. There are rumors that we won’t need ATMs in the future because we have cell phones and clever college students have figured out how to do 90% of their banking through their phones (including check deposit and getting mom to transfer money). What the clever college students haven’t yet figured out is how to get their phones to dispense cash. Once they figure that out, well. I can think of several things that will change in the universe.

Yes, I transferred the money we talked about.

Love, Mom

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The History of Labor Day and Why It’s Important

Happy Labor Day DearKidLoveMom.comDear Kid,

Once upon a time, there was no such thing as Labor Day. Then the first baby was born and bam! every day became a potential Labor day.

Wait, wrong labor.

Once upon a time, there was no such thing as Labor Day. Then the first baby was born and mom started being a mom (by which I mean “working”) and every day became a day of labor.

You might think that Mrs. Joe Neanderthal, hard worker that she was, had something to do with labor day, but you’d be incorrect. Mrs. J. N. was too busy working to think about creating a holiday celebrating said work.

Over the years, people began working harder and harder. And by “harder and harder” I mean longer and longer hours in worse and worse conditions. By the late 1800s, the average American worker worked 12-hour days, 7 days a week before going home and doing all the family work that needed to be done to take care of a family. For these long hours in rotten conditions, workers were often able to feed and clothe their families. But not always. Children as young as 5 years old frequently worked in factories and mines.

Someone (there’s an argument about who that I don’t find sufficiently interesting to write about) decided that all this working was such a great thing it should be celebrated and invented Labor Day.

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882. The first state to recognize Labor Day was Oregon in 1887 (don’t ask why it took so long, I have no clue).

In 1894, Congress finally got in the game and made the first Monday in September a legal holiday.

Labor Day is important for several reasons:

  • Without Labor Day we wouldn’t know when to stop wearing white.
  • Labor Day is one of the Official Days of Backyard Grilling.
  • Labor Day is the end of Summer. You can tell because the pools close then.
  • In the past (back when I was a wee thing), school started after Labor Day. These days school starts in the middle of the summer, so it’s one less job for Labor Day to take care of.

Happy Labor Day!

Love, Mom

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Do Not Snuggle the Fossa

Dear Kid,

If you were to meander over to Madagascar, and if you were to venture into the forest, you might meet a fossa.

Fossas live only in the forests of Madagascar, where they choose to chomp on lemurs and other small furry critters which doesn’t make them popular among Zaboomafoo fans.

Fossa live in Madagascar DearKidLoveMom.comFossas look more or less catlike with a dog muzzle. But don’t try cuddling them; they’ll rip your face off. For the record, they are related to the mongoose (I would have said “they are related to mongooses” but then I wasn’t sure if the plural is “mongooses” or “mongeese” or “mongoosi”).

Fossas grows up long to 6 feet from nose to tail tip, which is a silly way to measure them, because they are mostly tail (they only weigh 26 pounds at the max end). They use their long tails to help balance while they scoot through the trees where they spend a great deal of time. They are surprisingly speedy (surprising to their dinner of choice and to scientists who try to study them).

The fossa does not moo. Or mu. Or moue. Or μ.

(Get it? Moo-fossa? Oh, never mind.)

A Moue is a pouting expression usually used to convey annoyance or distaste.

You have seen many a moue whether or not you knew to label them as such.

You may have even made a moue. Certainly when you were little, you knew how to moo.

Deja Moo. The feeling you’ve heard this bull before.

There is no recorded evidence of a fossa making a “moo” sound or a moue face. The scientists who study fossa, however, are a different matter.

Love, Mom

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Practice Makes…

Dear Kid,

There’s a story of a young man in New York City who had gotten slightly directionally challenged (this was before GPS was invented). Not knowing which way to go, he stopped a somewhat older gentleman and politely asked, “How can I get to Carnegie Hall?” The somewhat older gentleman smiled and said, “Practice, practice, practice.”

Old story.

But the point—practice, practice, practice—is not just for musicians.

Think back (waaaay back) to when you were learning multiplication tables. Ms. Schuh didn’t go over the math facts once and move on, she had the class practice. Again and again and again.

Even folks who are tops in their fields practice. Musicians practice. Athletes practice. Executives practice. Sages practice. In order to get better—in order to stay even—we all need to practice.

As a student, you practice. You call it studying.

Why is practice important? As many people say, “Practice makes perfect.” As one of Pi’s long-time coaches said, “Practice makes permanent.”

And as I am happy to add, “Practice makes professional.”

Keep practicing studying.

Love, Mom

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Cucumber Coolness | What You Don’t Know About Cucumbers

Cucumbers--solving most of the world's problems DearKidLoveMom.comDear Kid,

Do you know where the phrase “cool as a cucumber” came from? Neither did I but I decided to find out.

My first stop was our garden. After crawling through the sunflowers (that’s another story), I found the cucumbers. The cucumbers weren’t nearly as warm as I’d expected (the sunflowers provide a LOT of shade), but they weren’t exactly icy (the 90 degree heat may have had something to do with it).

“What makes you guys so cool?” I asked. One cucumber pushed back his sunglasses, but overall they said nothing. I turned to the sunflowers. “Are cucumbers really the coolest vegetable in the garden?” The sunflowers gave me a look that said “Duh. Not even The Fonz is that cool.”

According to My Friend the Internet, “cool as a cucumber” refers to cucumbers’ ability to cool the temperature of the blood. Also, when you put slices of cucumber on your eyes, the cukes really do cool the blood (and lessen swelling). Very cool.

What’s even cooler is that if you have stinky breath, you can take a slice of cucumber, press it to the roof of your mouth for 30 seconds (hold it there with your tongue), and voila! lovely breath. Seriously cool.

On the warmer side of cool, if you’re stressed (what? A college kid stressed out? Say it isn’t so) the steam released from boiling cucumbers in water creates a soothing aroma.

Need some energy? Forget the energy drinks (seriously, for-get the energy drinks—they are seriously bad for you). Cucumbers are loaded with vitamin B, carbs, and fairy dust—the perfect energy source.

Not that a college student would ever drink too much, but on the off chance that you ever meet a college student who imbibes a bit too much, hand him a cuke or two. Cucumbers contain sugars, the aforementioned B vits, electrolytes, and fairy dust all of which replenish all the parts of your body that had to move aside when the beer came in. Much better than waking up with a royal hangover.

Best of all, cucumbers are delicious!

Stay cool, baby.

Love, Mom

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National Dog Day | Puppy Has His Say

Dear Kid,

Being Adorable is Exhausting DearKidLoveMom.comLast night the puppy climbed into my lap, put is paws on my chest, and stared at me with huge eyes.

Puppy: You blew it.
Me: Undoubtedly. What are we talking about?
Puppy: National Dog Day
Me: Yes
Puppy: On August 26th
Me: Yes
Puppy: You didn’t write about it
Me: True
Puppy: You. Blew. It.
Me: I’m sorry
Puppy: Do you know that dogs are important?
Me: Of course
Puppy: There are working dogs and cuddling dogs and dogs that work at cuddling, and you FORGOT to write about their day!
Me: I didn’t forget. Not exactly
Puppy: There are LOTS of dogs that need to be rescued
Me: You’re a rescue puppy
Puppy: And adorable
Me: And adorable
Puppy: And in charge of security
Me: And adorable
Puppy: And you missed our Day.
Me: Wait a minute. I’ve written about dogs that work for Guiding Eyes for the Blind and Diabetes Dogs and K-9 Dogs and International Dog Assistance Week and Rescue Dogs. And I write about you.
Puppy: You do?
Me: I do. Besides, isn’t pretty much every day National Dog Day?
Puppy: Not bath day
Me: Not even when the bath is over?
Puppy: Every day is Dog Day?
Me: Especially at the end of summer
Puppy: Huh?
Me: Never mind
Puppy: So, if every day is National Dog Day…
Me: Yes?
Puppy: I should get a treat
Me: You should, huh?
Puppy: Yes
Me: I thought you might say something like that. Come on!

Happy National Dog Day August 26th and Every Day

Love, Mom (and Booker)

For more puppy conversations see Puppy Conversations and Food Observations, Spring Puppy Conversations, New Puppy Conversations, Winter WonderPuppy | Baby It’s Cold Outside, Puppy Conversations Translated for the College Kid, Puppy Conversations and FIFA World Cup Soccer, Puppy Conversations and the Joy of Quirkiness, Puppy Conversations| In the Beginning, Puppy Conversations | What’s In a Name?, Puppy Conversations | Puppy Plans a Party, Puppy Speaks Foreign Languages…Sort Of, and Summer Puppy Conversations | Speaking of Hope

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Finishing Summer Homework and That French Singer

Dear Kid,

Happy Back to School-- DearKidLoveMom.comThe completion of Pi’s summer homework last night went something like this.

Pi: What was the name of that singer?
Me: What singer?
Puppy: I know!
Pi: The French one
Puppy: I know! I know!
Me: What French one?
Pi: And she died
Me: Recently?
Pi: No
Puppy: I know! I know! I know!
Me: You do not know
Puppy: Of course not, I’m a dog
Pi: And she sang
Me: Singers tend to do that
Pi: What was her name?!
Me: No clue
Puppy: Can I have a treat?
Pi and Me (simultaneously): No
Puppy: (sigh)
Me: What kind of music?
Pi: Opera. What was her Name???? I really want to write about her
Me: Why don’t you Google it?
Pi: Google what? I don’t know her NAME!
Puppy: I want a google
Me: French opera singer
Pi: That’s ridiculous. See? How could—hey! Edith Piaf! I knew that!
Puppy: I knew that too. But no one asked me
Me: Of course you did. You’re brilliant
Puppy: Now can I have a treat?
Pi and Me (simultaneously): No
Puppy: Can I have a google?
Me: You may have a tummy rub
Pi: What?
Me: Not you
Puppy: Yay!


Happy First Day of School, Pi!


Love, Mom


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