15 Sep 2011, 7:45am
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Facebook, Revisited

Facebook®, Revisited
I’ve spent a lot of time cruising my Facebook® . I did figure out how to jump from Heading to Heading (tap the H key) ;and go from graphic to graphic (tap the G key); and how to leave a comment (tap “enter” when the leave a comment was high-lighted).
That’s when I became uneasy. To whom would my comment go to or by whom would it be read? I guess I’m too private a person to just send anything into the ether for everyone and anyone to read. Folks have told me that my message only goes to the recipient’s friends. Well, who are they? Do I also know them?
There is a “share” feature with each post. Maybe someone decides to share my post with their friends, which connects to their friend, and then, on to their friends…ad infinitum.
You could make up a list of specific friends and just post to them. I wondered why I never read posts from my adult children. I wasn’t on their private list. As a matter of fact, I invited my eldest son, who lives on the West coast, to be my “friend” and he declined, saying, I didn’t need to know what he was doing.
I enjoyed reading the posts in my box. It was fun to know this friend was traveling to pick up her family, cleaning out the barn to make room for her son-in-law’s boat, and news of her grandchildren. Another friend from high school is into equestrian issues and posted up-dates on shows and her new 2nd home in the mountains. Another high school buddy posted the progress of his dog Wheezy having 9 puppies and following their progress until all of them were adopted. A former science teacher posted interesting news items that could be linked on to read the whole article.
Most of the posts were “…has added 42 photos to their album” or “…has commented on her own album” or “…likes so-and-so’s status”.
The photos were the most frustrating. Usually, if there was a description of the pictures, it was very cryptic: Labor Day picnic, Where Am I?, clouds, sunset, baby fix. These comments did not provide useful information, so I’d click on “read all comments”.
Again, the comments were rather cryptic: Wow, Go Girl, I’ll bring the wine tonight”.
Then, several friends (I only knew one of them.) began to confuse texting on her phone with commenting on Facebook®.
Sometimes I could get the gist of the thread, but not enough to feel like I were in a conversation. I began to feel like a voyeur.
When Hurricane Irene hit PA, news of someone’s missing 22 horses was very quickly disseminated. I doubt the horses panic led them as far north as I am from the situation, but when the news needed to be out there in a hurry, the social networks were in hot pursuit. Except, of course, for those whose power was out and their computers down.
The long and short of it is that I’ve suspended my Facebook® account. I have other things I’d like to do with my time. I’d prefer to e-mail one person at a time and make it a meaningful missive. I had a lot of Facebook® friends when I disengaged and I hope my true friends will understand by e-mailing me.

15 Sep 2011, 6:40am
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Modern Magi

Gifts of the Modern Magi
By Kate Chamberlin

I have been given the gifts of modern Magi.
The first came to me as I waited in a chair-lined hallway at Johns Hopkins University Hospital, Baltimore, Maryland.
I’d been referred there by my opthamologist for a confirmation of my rare eye disease.
I didn’t relish the thought of going or being blind and felt miserable. I stared at my hands clenched in my lap when the tip of a long, white cane and smart shoes entered my limited line of vision from the right. I looked up.
A well-coffered woman dressed in a fine tailored suit was being guided into her doctor’s appointment by a nurse.
The woman held her head up, her back straight and carried her cane gracefully in front of her. She had placed her hand lightly on the nurse’s elbow.
I didn’t realize it then, but the stranger had given me the gift of dignity.
I’ve often thought of her when I was in an embarrassing or demeaning situation. I’d stand tall and do what needed to be done with grace and dignity.
Several months after that brief encounter, I met another woman, Catherine Carnes, who became my role-model, friend and mentor.
The first time we met, she took me on a tour of her apartment building and a walk around the park. She used a guide dog. I had a lot of trouble keeping up with this octiginarian’s fast pace.
Catherine met each challenge in her life as a legally blind child with a sense of determination and humor.
Her motto seems to be: You can sit and feel life go by or you can join it.
She has a habit of giving a chuckle before sharing her story. She earned a degree from the Eastman School of Music, even though people told her she couldn’t do it; or maybe that’s why she did it! For many years after earning her degree she gave voice lessons and played the piano.
Catherine gave me the gift of humor the has gotten me through most of my trials and tribulations.
The third Magi to give me his gift was James Pritchard, Cannon to the Ordinaire of the Episcopal Church.
He’d come on an official Diocesan visit. As we shook hands in the receiving line, I wanted to say something comforting about his battle with cancer. I didn’t know what to say, so, I just thanked him for coming.
As I tapped my long, white cane away from him, his voice caught my ear. I wasn’t sure he was talking to me, but I turned back to look at him.
I was still close enough to see him.
His compassionate eyes embraced me conveying that he knew I saw past his smile. He knew I understood what he was going through as no one else here could possibly understand. Life has an “on-stage” and an “off-stage”. It’s okay to keep pain and suffering “off-stage”.
Those who were with him when he died said he was at peace and smiled to the end.
Jim’s gift to me was courage.
I know why I don’t feel the need to rage, “Why me? Why did I have to go blind?”
It’s because I’ve been given the modern gifts of the Magi: dignity, humor and courage.
What gifts have the Magi given you?
NOTE: published March 26, 1997, Wayne County STAR Newspaper