Hurricane Sandy Relief Effort

It was frigid today and temperatures will be hovering at the zero mark tonight across the tri-state area. My family is one of the lucky ones. We are safe and sound with a roof over our heads. We have experienced first hand the effects of Sandy because our family business has a warehouse in New Jersey that was chest deep in water and without power until a few days ago. Things are things, though, and people are what matter most so we consider ourselves extremely lucky.

We have been told that a nor’easter is headed our way to make matters worse for many of our neighbors who are still without power, heat and especially for those without home.

A post is the very least that I can do to help out and below are a few links for those looking for ways that they too can contribute to the relief effort. Also, please feel free to post as a comment any other links to volunteer organizations that you know of that are bringing blankets, water and other basic necessities to many of those struggling to keep warm and fed in the areas hit by Sandy.

You can also Google “Hurricane Sandy Relief” to find many other online resources and a comprehensive list of relief efforts in all the affected areas:

New York State Hurricane Relief Info Center (http://www.governor.ny.gov)

New Jersey State Hurricane Relief Info Center (http://www.state.nj.us/nj/home/features/spotlight/hurricane_sandy.shtml)

Connecticut State Hurricane Relief Info Center (http://www.governor.ct.gov/malloy/cwp/view.asp?a=11&q=513034)

American Red Cross (http://www.redcross.org/index.jsp)

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Century of the Child at the MoMa

My friends at Timbuktu wanted to make sure that if you happen to be in New York, there is something you don’t want to miss: Century of the Child, an ambitious exhibition at the MoMA about design for children (its theories and developments) in the XX Century – “the century of the child,” as design reformer Ellen Key called (and envisioned) it in 1900.

Toys, books, posters, objects: the exhibition is an impressive collection of all that design has done for and about children last century.

And for those of you who can’t see the show, there is a great website about the show which is essentially an online version of the exhibition and gives a pretty accurate idea of the extent of the collection.

 

And if you are planning to go see the show with your kids (you should!), here is a family activity guide to help you make the most of the visit. The exhibition is up through November 5th and you can find more information about the related events here. Let us know how you like it!

Timbuktu is the iPad magazine for you and your children. They work at the intersections of design, education and technology and help parents discover the world with their kids.

Notes from an ex-Fencing Jock.

There are three sabers that hang over the mantle at our summer home here in Italy. They are my fathers and they are fencing swords. He was a fencer in college back when ink was used on the tip to determine a “touche”. He passed on the fencing bug to me and already a big fan of Tolkien and Dumas growing up I started taking lessons at Santelli’s in Manhattan. I loved fencing. I hated the fact that I had to do tons of tedious and repetitive exercises, but then again isn’t that true of all sports when you are a kid – you just want to play. I got pretty good and even earned a trip to the Junior Olympics to which my parents categorically said no. With no fencing team or club in college my Olympic hopes were dashed forever!

I do, though, get to live vicariously through today’s athletes and in particular one of the greatest fencers ever to fence in my opinion: Valentina Vezzali. Fencing is about speed, focus, cat-like reflexes, hand/eye coordination, footwork, balance and most of all timing. Even with modern technology it is hard to follow fencing with the naked eye and, at first glance, decide who landed a point or “touche” especially given the need to establish which fencer had the “right of way” when both are simultaneously on target. As so many individual sports, fencing gives you quite an adrenaline rush. Watching a “fuoriclasse” like Vezzali is a pleasure and an honor. Watching her dominate the sport for so long winning 6 gold medals in 5 Olympics (and medaling individually in all five), not to mention World (13 golds) and European (11 golds) Championships, is epic.

I was pleased, therefore, to get a call from the New Amsterdam Fencing Academy (NAFA) recently inviting me (with a very funny reference to The Princess Bride) and my older son to a Daddy and Me lesson. They offer special classes for 2-4yo and their parents to teach them the very basics. I am really looking forward to holding a foil again after so long and hopefully having a fun day with my son (as always hoping for his full collaboration…). You can find out more about NAFA on their website http://nyfencing.com and I hope to report back about a fun experience. Who knows maybe one day I’ll see my son fence his way to the Olympics! Families of athletes get free tickets to all the events, right?

Mother’s Day a New York Perspective

(Source: The New Yorker – Cover by: Chris Ware)

Just got this issue in the mail today and I had to smile… great wit. My gift to all of you awesome mom’s out there (albeit this is more akin to ripping out some of the neighbor’s prized roses and pretending I grew them myself…). I know I’m early, but shouldn’t it be a daily recurrence? Happy Mother’s Day!

What’s a travel agency Daddy?

That’s a question I envision my sons asking me in a few years. And yet, there I was staring back at the nice old lady with my mouth in a half opened grimace searching for words. She had just asked me the simplest of questions: “Where is the nearest travel agency?”

I am so used to reacting automatically to questions for directions that my body was slightly turned and finger raised, ready to point out the North, South, East and West of it to this poor frightened lost tourist in the big bad city.

I was at a loss, thinking to myself “Aren’t they extinct?”, but quickly recovered and asked what she needed a travel agency for since there were very few still around. She wanted to visit family in D.C. and was looking to book a flight. Someone told her to look online and she frankly didn’t know where that was so she started walking around asking people.

Granted this seems an extreme case in our über-connected world, but this lady was seriously walking around looking for a travel agency. I vaguely remembered seeing a Liberty Travel somewhere in the neighborhood, but I did not want her to keep wandering aimlessly until she found the guy who said “Sure lady! My cousin has a travel agency…” This is New York after all. So out came the iPhone and I showed her that there was one fairly close by and sent her on her way.

I stared at my phone before slipping it back into my pocket and as I walked on I got to thinking that indeed technology is a wonderful thing to have at your fingertips. With a few clicks this woman would have booked her flight and printed her tickets. Then I thought how terribly helpless someone like that feels. It is not, obviously life threatening, but it is still something we take for granted and yet for some (or maybe many) is a real daily hurdle. I will even guess that with the exponential advancement of technology in the last 20 years doesn’t help either, but wasn’t that the case in prior decades? I read that the iPad is helping Alzheimer’s patients which is incredible and yet this lady was unable to do the simplest of tasks like buy a ticket. I guess it is an inevitable technological limbo that many of us will pass into as “our” technologies become outdated and we find daily amenities out of reach – good thing I’ll be able to call my kids to help me out (if cell phones and Skype still exist). I’m still getting over the fact that she was actually looking for a travel agency – me – the jaded New Yorker.