Notice the Magic Before It Disappears

Dear Kid,

We live in a magical time.

Not Hogwarts magical, although I’m not ruling that out entirely.

And not David Copperfield/Criss Angel/Penn & Teller magical, although I think they give Harry/Ron/Hermione a run for their money.

I’m talking plain old 21st century magic.

Notice the everyday magic. DearKidLoveMom.comMagic like electricity and cars and cell phones and TV.

Think about it. Most of us can’t really explain how those things work except in the most general sense.

So I think that probably makes it magic.

And we don’t even notice this magic, this incredible time we’re living in, until something stops working.

When the car does something interesting enough to earn it a prime spot on Car Talk, we notice. When the lights go out, we notice. When there is Nothing To Watch on TV, the magic is gone and we notice.

Take a moment today to notice the magic when it’s being magical—before it disappears.

Love, Mom

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Facebook Thank Yous | What You Need to Know to Get It Right

Dear Kid,

There is an article on Mashable called How to use Facebook for Thank You Notes.

I found the title intriguing, so I took a look.

It will not surprise you to learn that I Have an Opinion.

The article suggested things like thanking someone for dinner by taking a photo of the meal and posting the picture with a thank you and compliments to the chef. Another idea was to thank someone for inviting you to an event by taking some pix of the event and posting those with some of the details about the event with a thank you for the invite. (Hint: include the hashtag for the event if there is one.)

Should you use Facebook to say "thank you"? DearKidLoveMom.comI think those are great ideas. They are acknowledgements of a great time together (presumably you’ve already said thank you in person) and a there’s nothing wrong with publicly acknowledging a big event or even a small dinner.

HOWEVER (you knew there was going to be a “however” didn’t you?), there are some things for which a tweet or Facebook post is not only inappropriate it can be downright rude.

When you get a gift from someone, you need to send a real thank you note—especially if the gift is sent to you and you are not able to hug the giver and say thank you in person. A FB thank you without a personalized, heartfelt thanks is just wrong and rude.

If you thank someone professionally, don’t use Twitter or Facebook. If they’ve introduced you to someone, if they’ve gone out of their way to help you, if you’ve made a sale, saying thank you on FB is weird. And unprofessional. And Wrong. Don’t do it.

If the person is not a social media junkie and/or is not part of your usual social media circle, why would you thank them in front of people they don’t know? Go personal, go private, go polished. Write a real thank you.

For a formal event you need formal thank yous. When you graduate, when you get engaged or married, when you receive a special honor, on-line thank yous don’t cut it. Formal congratulations require formal acknowledgements. Pull out the stationary and put pen to paper.

Thank you for listening.

Love, Mom

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#AmazeLing Lisa Ling and the Women’s Fund

Dear Kid,

Last week I had the great pleasure of attending A Conversation with Lisa Ling (she’s the one who’s not Lucy Liu). I didn’t tell you about it then because that was during the Days of Technical Difficulty (thank you for your patience during that time).

Last Wednesday, The Women’s Fund of the Greater Cincinnati Foundation sponsored Lisa Ling as a speaker.

The event was at Memorial Hall, so I put on my big girl pants and drove downtown.

Memorial Hall is gorgeous. Badly in need of significant renovation which it is getting this summer, but absolutely gorgeous.

The arch over the stage has words inscribed on it. The words are the Nine Virtues important to how we conduct our lives. They are Unity, wisdom, patriotism, equity, will, integrity, manliness, martyrdom, philanthropy. Wait, What? Manliness??

Well, er, yes. Back then women had to make important decisions in private and men had to be studly. I have no idea what the plans are for the manliness virtue during the renovation. I have my own ideas, but no one has asked me.

Cincinnati's Memorial Hall #AmazeLing

Lisa Ling at Cincinnati's Memorial Hall #AmazeLing DearKidLoveMom.comLisa Ling #AmazeLing was fantastic. She talked about sex trafficking in the US (more commonly called prostitution), she told stories about being in Iran as a correspondent for Channel One and how women were treated there (by men and by other women), she talked about her sister being kidnapped from China by the North Koreans and Lisa’s fight to get her sister back. She made us think about the world and our place in it.

She also talked a bit about the upcoming season of This is Life (the show she produces and hosts on CNN). It will be interesting as all get out.

Lisa Ling and Krista Ramsey at Cincinnati's Memorial Hall #AmazeLing

Great event, great evening. Kudos, cheers, and a thousand thanks to Vanessa Freytag (Exec Director of The Women’s Fund and all around extraordinary person) and everyone who worked with her.

Love, Mom

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The Germanwings Crash and Mom Thoughts on Gender

Dear Kid,

By now I’m sure you’ve heard about the crash of the Germanwings airplane in which 150 people were killed. No question, it’s a terrible tragedy and We the Public very much want the big WHY question answered.

The media has been reporting every real, hypothetical, and speculative aspect of the story. And We the Public have gobbled up every morsel of actual news and every droplet of idle speculation and commentary.

What I’ve found most interesting is that in all the reports I’ve heard when people talk about pilots in general, they talk about them as all being male.

I (sort of) get it. The majority of commercial pilots are still men. But there are plenty of women winging through the friendly skies (and you know one of them).

And yet when the media interviews a Random Traveler about their opinion (it’s not news, it’s not relevant, but it fills airtime), and Random Traveler (a woman) says, “I always want to interview my pilot. I want to know if he had a fight with his wife. I want to know if his dog died…” I find it jarring.

I know that “he” is the gender neutral in the English language, and I’m quite comfortable with that—but I’m pretty sure Random Traveler didn’t mean it that way.

I saw our friend the pilot this morning and she assures me that the piloting industry is not a particularly friendly place for women and the percentage of women pilots hasn’t changed in decades.

We’ve come a long way, but we still have a long way to go.

Sending our condolences and heartfelt sympathies to all those whose lives were touched by the crash.

Love, Mom


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Solitaire | Done and Done

Dear Kid,

Do you know where the phrase “done and done” comes from? Neither did I until I turned to My Friend the Internet to fill me in.

And I quote:

A finalization between two gentlemen’s agreement. Usually to do with a wager or bet. era:~1800s~

first man: is it a deal?  second man: done!  first man: done!  third man: done and done between two gentlemen is enough

Do you know who invented solitaire? Neither do I. Amazingly, MFTI wasn’t all that clear on the subject either (then again, I only looked at one website, so perhaps I can’t condemn the entire webisphere).

Do you know who invented solitaire? DearKidLoveMom.comI did find out that solitaire (the original kind with actual cards) may have started as a form of fortune telling.

The first known written description of solitaire is from 1783 where it was described in a German book of games as a competitive card game where people took turns or played with separate decks of cards. This flies in the face of solitaire being a solitary game. MFTI thinks the idea of playing alone came because people enjoyed practicing (alone) for competitive games more than they enjoyed playing with other people.

Which is certainly food for thought.

In the second half of the twentieth century, most modern games of solitaire (also known as “Patience” but without the melodies) were created and there are now more than 100 “distinctly individual solitaire games, with that number reaching more than 1,000 when you consider minor variations.”

Done and done.

Love, Mom


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Keeping Myself Company

Dear Kid,

A week or so ago, I was at a restaurant, eating by myself.

Society of course disapproves. Society believes people should dine en masse and singles should remain behind closed doors. Society can take a flying leap.

In this particular instance, I was on a business trip and was delighted to have some alone time. I had contemplated room service (all the better to eat barefoot), but a quick glance at the room service menu convinced me that was Not Going to Be a Good Idea.

There are advantages to dining alone. I got to remain at the table for exactly the amount of time I wanted to be there. No one tried to share my crab legs or teased me about eating them indelicately. And no one expected me to come up with sparkling conversation. I was – at the time – sparkle-less and conversationed-out.

Do not waste your time on Social Questions. What is the matter with the poor is Poverty; what is the matter with the rich is Uselessness. ~George Bernard Shaw DearKidLoveMom.comSociety frowned. I ignored Society. Especially because at that moment Society consisted of two people who had lost a considerable amount of money gambling and who were therefore drowning their losses in heaping plates of buffet food.

There are people who seem permanently in need of companionship. You know the type. They hop into a new relationship the nanosecond one ends, never taking the time to listen to themselves. They are the ones who would never consider going someplace by themselves (probably not even the restroom). They are the ones who would rather starve to death (or deal with an inadequate room service menu) than venture into a restaurant solo.

They miss a lot of life.

There is nothing wrong with friends and relationships and dinner companions. But there is also nothing wrong with keeping yourself company.

Love, Mom

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Hallelujah! And Other Great Things About March 23rd

Dear Kid,

While you were busy waking up and I was busy making coffee, March 23rd was busy celebrating its awesomeness. Because there are so many cool things about today that it takes an entire 24 hours to enjoy. There is no sleeping in for March 23rd.

Way back in 1066, Halley’s Comet made its 18th recorded appearance. Apparently, it had been appearing for a much longer time but nobody thought to make a note.

In 1490 on March 23, the first dated edition of Maimonides “Mishneh Torah” was published.

In 1743, Handel’s Messiah premiered in London. The king was so moved by the Hallelujah chorus he stood for it. That’s why we stand at performances of the Hallelujah chorus to this day.

In 1775, Patrick Henry proclaimed “Give me liberty or give me death.” He was speaking in favor of Virginian troops joining the Revolutionary War. (They did).

In 1836 Franklin Beale invented the coin press—so apparently we can thank Ol’ Frank for us having to carry pennies around.

Then on March 23, 1839, the Boston Morning Post used OK (oll correct) for the first time. And that’s OK with me.

Just a year later, Draper took the first successful photo (which was really a daguerreotype) of the moon.

In 1857, Elisha Otis (of the now famous Otis elevator) installed the first elevator.

In 1861, the first tramcars began operating in London.

In 1881, gas lamps set fire to the Nice (France) opera house. This is the first known instance of people being sung to death.

In 1903, the Wright brothers get a patent on their airplane.

In 1912, the Dixie cup was invented.

In 1922, the first airplane lands at the US capitol in WDC. Which is pretty cool considering how recently the airplane had been invented.

In 1929, the first telephone is installed in the White House. It is black. And it’s weird to think DC had the plane before the phone.

In 1994, Joey Buttafuoco is released from jail. Absolutely no one cares. Also Wayne Gretzky sets the NHL record with 802 goals scored. Lots of people care.

And it’s today. Happy today!

Love, Mom

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