Take a Holiday Break and Pay It Forward

Google Santa Tracker village

I'll be taking a break from Serendipity35 until 2017 as the university closes up for the holidays. The kids all finished their exams and are tucking in for a winter nap until the new semester starts in January. Though that semester is called "spring," it will be quite cold when we return to educating here in New Jersey.

In the meantime, you can use the Google Santa Tracker or the old reliable NORAD Tracks Santa websites to play and follow Mr. Claus on his global travels. Pay it forward is an expression for describing the act that when you are the beneficiary of a good deed, you repay it to others (forward) rather than back to the person who did you the good deed. A lot of people learned about it via the book or the movie with that title, but the concept is much old, and owes something to Lily Hardy Hammond's book In the Garden of Delight.

Here are some charities I can recommend if this reminds you at year's end about those with greater needs than our own and less resources to deal with those needs. 

Smile Train is an organization whose site can break your heart with photos of kids with cleft lip and palate issues in developing countries. They cannot eat or speak properly, won't be allowed to attend school or hold a job and face very difficult lives. A donation of any amount is appreciated and $250 provides for the 45 minute medical procedure that will change a child's life.

One year I chose providing clean water as my focus. It's something we really take for granted in the U.S. More than 1 in 6 people in the world don't have access to safe drinking water and 1 out of every 4 deaths under the age of 5 worldwide is due to a water-related disease. There are a number of organizations that work to provide clean water for people and can even fund a well for an entire village. Here are 3 groups that you can consider: http://www.charitywater.org , http://watercharity.org/ and http://thewaterproject.org

Another year I decided to support charities that help our service members and their families.

Get Involved with Joining Forces

OurMilitary.mil: Community Support for our Military

United We Serve

National Resource Directory   

My wife selected the Michael J. Fox Foundation several years ago when two friends of ours were diagnosed with Parkinson's disease. This foundation has an aggressively funded research agenda for ensuring the development of improved therapies for those living with Parkinson's today.

From myself and Brother Tim at Serendipity35, we wish you a very happy and healthy launch into your dance around the Sun in 2017!

The Future Is Farther Away Than Expected

This is the time when I tire of seeing end of the year wrap-ups and best-of-the-year lists. I particularly find predictions about the year(s) to come annoying. I'm tired of hearing people ask "Where are the things I saw on The Jetsons and in movies about the future?"

Another popular year-end news story is to look back on some past prediction about our present and see if they got anything correct. For example, Brian Williams did a 2-minute story on NBC way back in 2007 about the futuristic year 2017. Watching it, I thought that even when they got things right, the results just feel wrong. Not wrong as in "incorrect" but in the sense of illicit or reprehensible.

They got some predictions correct, but their focus is a kind of technological, biometric nightmare of ubiquitous facial recognition, microchip ID implants (more common on pets than people in 2016), that build upon iris scans and fingerprint ID (as on your phone) that were becoming viable in 2007.

Like most predictions, the writers almost always think change will happen faster than it really does occur.

Have you found really easy hospital patient identification to be a reality? My doctor is still trying to scan my old records as PDF files. Are you free of needing your wallet and keys? Yes, some (not the majority) people use their phones to pay and have a car without a key, but change comes slower than we expect. That is not so much because we can't create the new technology. It is about adoption.

The smartphone is a good example of a technology that had a rapid adoption rate. It was accepted and purchased much faster than other technologies.

Are you still thinking that a drone will deliver your pizza and Amazon order in 2017? When will the roads be filled my almost all driverless cars?

Relax, you have plenty of time.

(This post also appeared on my One-Page Schoolhouse website)