Last Week’s Good Things

I have had a really nice week. It was one of those week’s that I have thought more than once what a lucky person I am. On Saturday, I got to talk to both kids who both sound really happy. Just that could make a week. As it was, there were a number of other things too. These are five of them:

1. Lift Every Voice – There has been much in the media this week about the celebration around the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington and Dr. King’s Dream Speech. One morning this week, something that I was watching had a clip of a performance of Lift Every Voice and Sing – the African American National Anthem. The words of the song were originally a poem written to celebrate Lincoln’s birthday and introduce Booker T. Washington. Hearing the song made me immediately recall the many elementary school programs where Sam and Ali and their classmates would sing this song. Those of us in the audience would be welcomed to sing along. Sadly, I don’t have a video of one of those performances, but I found one on Youtube that has the same spirit – complete with the hand motions that made every song better!

2. Thank You is an on-line mechanism for teachers to seek funding for the things they need for their classrooms and students. If you know a teacher, you know that they spend a good piece of their own money to buy things that help them do their job and take care of their students. I know that almost every weekend, Ali is running an errand to get something that she needs for the week ahead. Last year, Ali did a DonorsChoose campaign to get her classroom some very basic supplies: bathroom passes, bins, an electric pencil sharpener, pouches for supplies, and a laminator. Just with these items, she was able to organize her classroom better and create more learning opportunities. This week we got thank you letters from her class. They are all quite precious, but this is one of my favorites! I can’t wait to see what Ms. Ryan’s class has on its wish list this year! If you have a chance, go to the site. I’m sure you will find someplace to put that extra $10 you had this week.halls-1

3. My Job – There are some weeks when I am writing this blog post up, one of my motivations is bringing to mind the good things so I don’t dwell on the not so good things. Admittedly, my job can fall into that latter category at times. But it is never because I don’t like my job. I really do love what I do, and I have been so lucky to be given the chance to do things that I find exciting and challenging. There are times that my job is very stressful and the things that I have to do are not fun.This week, however, I had little to grouse about and much to enjoy. I got to have some really great conversations with people that created new energy and enthusiasm. I saw people step up to new challenges with excitement and energy. I heard about new work that is being done that can potentially lead to better outcomes for the children that we take care of. Every week will not be as good as this week, but that some weeks are as good as this past one, makes me grateful.

4. Paris of the Plains Cocktail Festival – Last year was the first official year for the Paris of the Plains Cocktail Festival in Kansas City. The resurgence of spirits over the past few years has made events such as this more common across the US. The model is the iconic Tales of the Cocktail held each year in New Orleans. Founded by Ryan Maybee, Doug Frost, and Brandon Cummins, this 5 day event is a good thing in my book. Last year we went to one seminar; this year we made it to two. On Friday, we went to a discussion among Ryan, Jim Meehan (who runs PDT in NYC which is perhaps the coolest bar I have ever been in) and Angus WInchester (an “Ambassador” for Tanqueray Gin). They spent two hours giving advice on opening your own bar. Listening to such personable people, who have obvious passion for what they do, was fun and informative. They made it moreso by serving a Meehan and a Maybee inspired cocktail during the presentation. Saturday we attended the seminar on new innovators of American whiskey. Fittingly, the event was held in famous Prohibition era boss, Tom Pendergast’s office space. F Paul Pacult and Sean Ludford provided a fascinating historical retrospective of American whiskey making. We then tasted ten different craft spirits that are now being produced in the United State. Some day I will write more about this topic, but I will leave it by saying that this was a very good thing. Both events were $15 a ticket and were executed well with fabulous volunteers. Hats off to everyone and I can’t wait until next year.Screen Shot 2013-08-25 at 10.13.54 AM

5. New Yorker Cartoons – A few years ago, I got a form letter form Bob Mankoff that charmed the socks off of me. He was looking for people to buy a book of New Yorker cartoons that he was editing. He sold me with charm and humor that seemed to speak directly to me. This week, I came across a posting of Bob Mankoff’s favorite New Yorker cartoons and a link to his TED talk on the anatomy of a New Yorker cartoon. I thank Mr. Mankoff for going through those 1000 ideas every week to choose the fifteen cartoons that will end up in the magazine and more often than not, make me happy.


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