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Archive for December, 2013

1993 A farm in PA

1993 A farm in PA

When I first joined Facebook, I thought it was a bunch of solipsistic nonsense, and I said so, all the while encouraging my friends to join. Why? Because for me, the youngest of 6 children to be raised as an only child, it seemed prudent. My foster mother didn’t know how to drive and she was old enough to be my grandmother – which in those days was really old! I was marooned, on top of a hill in Victory Gardens after the war, and to top it off I was sent to Catholic school.

Facebook was a way for me to reconnect; to see all the new baby cousins, to catch up with old friends, to stay in touch with our French summer student. Plus, it could interface with my blog!

Yet something was amiss. My friends noticed it too. And it’s not just people accounting for every minute of their day, or all the targeted ads popping up. It was all this preening in front of a camera, young people changing their profile pictures like you would change your clothes. The nuns would not have approved. And yet, here we are at the end of 2013, and President Obama is taking a “selfie” with David Cameron and Denmark’s Prime Minister, Helle Thorning Schmidt: http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/2013/12/10/250027162/to-thy-own-selfie-be-true-but-not-in-all-places-at-all-times

Now who am I to say where one should take a selfie? After all, even our Person of the Year, the dear Pope Francis himself, allowed his selfie to be taken with a trio of Italian teenagers. He said he wanted to meet with them “…for selfish reasons … because you have in your heart a promise of hope.You are bearers of hope. You, in fact, live in the present, but are looking at the future. You are the protagonists of the future, artisans of the future,” the pope told the pilgrims.

“Make the future with beauty, with goodness and truth…Have courage. Go forward. Make noise.”

Well I certainly think it takes courage to attempt to take a selfie and post it anywhere on social media! Once I learned to actually push that little circular button to turn the lens around in my iPhone, I had to practice . Before, I might have snapped a picture in a mirror. Now I must hold the phone at arm’s length and attempt to push the button with the same hand – all the while getting into the “right” light and avoiding a double chin! Still a nearly impossible task.

As we are about to close 2013 and perhaps leave the word “selfie” on the scrap heap of history, I hope we can all laugh at my family selfies – a tasteful tutorial from the kids, and my feeble attempts at last weekend’s hospital party. OH, and at the top of this post is the latest profile picture for Facebook, which brings us into the 1990s with my Pretty Woman polka dot dress.

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There was a wonderful South African musician at the TEDx conference we attended recently. He talked about “Ubuntu” (pronounced “oo-boon-too”) and then he played a song about it; about how it is hard to translate from the Swahili, that it means much more than kindness. It encompasses reconciliation, forgiveness, and compassion. And when I think about it, it is something akin to that indescribable something that makes someone go out of their way for another, to treat a stranger like a family member. Unlike some people who are all about themselves – their needs and desires – a person with the spirit of Ubuntu is connected to humanity, writ large.

On this day when South Africa buries one its greatest leaders, Nelson Mandela who is the personification of Ubuntu, it seems only right to pause and think (or write) about it:

Lately, Bob has had to take my 4-wheel drive CRV to the hospital because of the snow and “wintry mix” weather we’re experiencing. Feeling a bit forlorn encased in ice on our hill,  I was lucky to catch the tail-end of a Morning Joe interview with the daughter of our Secretary of State, Dr Vanessa Kerry. Here is a woman from MA who also practices her life with the Ubuntu spirit.

A practicing physician and new mother, Dr Kerry managed to create a bold new system with the Peace Corps to make physician/provider training in developing countries sustainable. She started Seed Global Health – “..an innovative public-private partnership to place nurses, physicians and other health professionals as adjunct faculty in medical or nursing schools overseas in March 2012.” http://seedglobalhealth.org

Instead of joining a 2 week mission to treat patients in Uganda for instance in your specialty, something she called a “band-aid” in the scheme of things, young doctors can pledge a year of their time training another doctor, who will go on to train 10 more doctors, etc. And the caveat is that her non-profit will help defray the student loans most physicians have accumulated. Absolutely an ingenious idea! Health care in 57 countries suffers from a crucial shortage of approximately 2.4 million doctors , nurses and midwives.

We have a governmental agency in this country that is similar to Seed called the National Health Service Corps (NHSC). Instead of training other doctors, these practitioners provide direct care to over 9 million underserved patients in America. I had heard of young physicians working in disadvantaged areas in order to have their debt relieved – mostly primary care practitioners in Native American territories. But their website lists rural clinics in MA, MN and HI as well! https://nhsc.hrsa.gov/index.html

May the spirit of Ubuntu bless us all this holiday season. Let’s not quibble over greetings like Merry Christmas or Happy Hanukkah or Happy Holidays, or worry about who’s stealing what celebration from whom. We are all God’s children. And even if you don’t believe in God, just smile and say “Same to You!” My card this year says “Merry Everything” and I mean it.

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And thank you Shutterfly, you rule!

 

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Over my morning cup of Keurig, I was trying to download an App. Redlaser “Shop Save Relax” is one of those barcode scanners for your smart phone, except instead of telling you how many calories or Weight Watcher points are in a serving of yogurt, this App will scan just about anything you want to buy and instantly compare prices!

Remember the days when you’d actually lift up a heavy/attached/to/the/wall phone and call a store to check if they had something in stock? Then you might timidly ask what the price is, only to be told they can’t tell you “over the phone” you’d have to get in your car and come on down to said store and find out?! Now you can see exactly who has the best price for whatever you scan, instore or online, and if that store happens to price-match, just call the manager over and voila. Instant discount.

My iPhone is now telling me that I succeeded in downloading Redlaser! It took awhile because everybody else watching Savannah Guthrie get schooled in Apps wanted this free marvel too. Why are these things free anyway? Somebody must be getting something out of this don’t you think – like my location, my likes and dislikes, my soul? But back to Thanksgiving week.

Pepe de Havana

Pepe de Havana

At one point I looked around and realized the younger generation was sharing their favorite Apps with us, and we were mixing it up too.

The Rocker and Ms Cait had us all playing Head’s Up! It’s kind of like Charades and Password; Ellen DeGeneres has been marketing it recently and she must be getting a cut because you have to pay for this one. It was pretty hysterical. Then I told Al about Hipstamatic, and before you knew it, we were all deeply downloading together!

In our younger days on Holden Beach we played the Mud Bowl, a touch football game that was usually played after a downpour for its comic relief. We played Pictionary and Trivial Pursuits. Sometimes, we’d all bring a favorite song to play and collectively try to guess who had picked it out; my Joni Mitchell songs were dead giveaways. I miss the music. We didn’t have any guitars on this trip so Sweet Judy Blue Eyes took a back seat to honky-tonks on Duval Street. But I’d sing my heart out to the Love Bug, IMG_2260and the Groom’s iPhone played Spotify for us.

The big tech news is that iPhones will be coming to China. http://www.knowyourmobile.com/apple/china-mobile/21528/apple-joins-worlds-biggest-network  It’s almost like Nixon! Billions of new App users. Last night via Netflix I watched the end of the first season of House of Cards on my Apple TV. I am seriously hooked on this political drama. A character was speaking Chinese into his smart phone in the middle of the night. Apparently, as much as the Pope would like us to shun capitalism, we want our color TVs Application Software.

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We were not leisurely shopping on Cyber Monday. Oh no, we were desperately trying to make our way home via Key West airport. For some inexplicable reason, Southwest decided to cancel their flights out of our tiny island. One couple managed to score a Delta flight, while the Love Bug and her Mama hitched a ride to Miami with another Big Chill couple. The Groom left us a little early to start his ICU rotation. Only US Air delivered us on time back to the Blue Ridge.

I thought I would share some Tuesday morning quarterbacking memories with you. First of all, there was the butterfly. Or I should say thousands of butterflies http://www.keywestbutterfly.com

Right in the middle of Duval Street – a veritable hub of humanity with every imaginable language you could think of – we strolled into a magic garden; “50 to 60 butterfly species from around the world, along with over 20 exotic bird species, all under a climate- controlled, glass enclosed habitat.” The Bug was enchanted. The moving sea of fluttering colors caught all of us off guard, it was as if we were a part of a living and breathing terrarium. I turned to Bob and said, “This exceeded my expectations,” and it did!

Then there were the chickens. IMG_2235We spotted a rooster when we first got out of the car on our little lane, and every day after that the search for chickens continued. Our 15 month old toddler loved to find hens with their chicks and red-combed roosters lingering nearby. These gypsy chickens are free-roaming on every street and nest in the trees at night. It seems the combination of outlawing cock fighting in the 70s and buying chicken in neatly wrapped packages at a grocery store led to this laissez faire attitude toward poultry. They are so tame, they will eat out of your hand and let you pet their chicks!

We hopped on the Conch Train for the 90 minute tour of Key West. Keeping the Bug occupied and safe meant I only heard pieces of the island’s colorful history but we enjoyed the ride and the ice cream stop especially. Later, the Bride stayed home with the baby and we took in a drag show at 801 Boubon. Our MC was Desiree, and she was a grandfather! Instant connection, I have to admit, since we are both redheads. Hysterical night, including the part where Cait and I did a little back-up singing! http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/09/travel/09hours.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

What more can I say? There was La Creperie and croissants galore. Salsa dancing and delicious Cuban food. Art galleries on every corner, and Serbian rickshaw drivers. Key West is a melange of Vegas, New Orleans, and Miami and I didn’t want to click my heels together.

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