You don't have to go down to the local hatter to find out which hat to place on your head. Most of us feel like we are forced to wear them all. From parent to spouse, from child to adult, from dishwasher to CEO, so many hats to try on, force on, keep on, and trade off. It's no surprise we feel burdened by the weight of each hat on our head.
Why do we wear so many hats?
Why must we constantly change them throughout each day?
Let's take a short trip back through history to get a perspective on how hat-wearing practices have changed. First, I must comment that this is not meant to be a journey that defends previous cultural norms, merely one that takes a look at past eras' perspectives. Yes, I am leaving out those who did not fit the mold, for they were the ones who created positive change.
In the early 1900s, hats worn clearly defined "male" and "female" roles, at work, at home, and in politics. It wasn't until a few years after women fought to have the right to vote that who wore what hat began to blur.
In the 1960s, protesting for more equality meant the virtual demand for hats skyrocketed as both men and women began to wear a wider variety of hats. The 1960's also saw another hat wearing boom as gay and lesbian communities stood tall to be acknowledged and later to have the right to wear whatever hats they wanted.
The first twenty years of the 2000s has led to more hat juggle, sometimes placing more than one at a time on our heads. Politics, gender fluidity, and race equality have also thrown their hats into the ring. Some might think this has led to hats being pulled on and off of each other, both willingly and unwillingly. I let you decide that for yourself.
And now the pandemic has furthered the need for multi-tasking hats. So far we have only discussed "Task Hats." Now let's talk about one crucial hat that may have gotten lost in this modern world. A hat whose sales have plummeted, especially in 2020, as ever-growing stress levels climb to new heights. As parents, we are now taking over educating our children, keeping them safe from an invisible predator, and making them understanding why they cannot see their friends. As an adult, we must deal with isolation, stress, frustration, and anger, both our own and from those with whom we now cohabitate full time. As a co-worker, we have been relegated to setting up a home office with ever-waning WIFI signals, and turning our kitchen or dining room tables into work desks that we pray no one in the house will disturb when we step away.
The hat I speak of is the "Reset Hat." This hat is meant to be worn separately from any other hat, and its duty is to elicit play and distraction from the everyday. The Reset Hat is to give both our body and mind a fresh start. For those of us who think we don't have time to wear the Reset Hat; that's a lie. All the day to day happenings will still be there when we take off the Reset Hat. We'll just have a different perspective on how to take it all on. We were not meant to only live for tasks that need doing. We were meant to remove the Task Hats and put on the Reset Hat from time to time and explore fun and distraction.
In case anyone is wondering, I wrote this piece because I wore my Reset Hat for an entire day. Yes, I had to force myself at first. I hope you see the benefits of it. Please let me know.
Can you guess what word has gained the most practical use in 2020? It’s not COVID or pandemic, although they get high marks for making the headlines more than any other word. The answer is Virtual.
In an attempt to acclimate to our new environmental restrictions, we have created a nearly all virtual world. In 2020, civilization has made popular everything from virtual appointments to virtual zoos. If we can think of it, we can put it on a computer screen. I’m not saying this is good or bad; it’s just the reality of our new virtual society.
From A to Z, it can all be done virtually. Ordering groceries, medication, buying an automobile, or whatever we can dream of, it’s virtually at our fingertips and in real time. While each year the use of online commerce has grown, there has never been such exponential growth as we have seen in 2020. The reality of a virus in the world has now pushed us into the virtual realm to seek commerce and friendship. A virtual connection is better than solitude.
We live, whether by necessity, or desire, or sheer boredom, in a virtual world. According to Hootsuite, YouTube has approximately two billion users a month and marketers know this. 5.5 billion (in the US) will be spent on YouTube advertising in 2020. Facebook, even with all of its regulatory troubles, has 1.7 billion daily users (Oberlo).
How about virtual conferencing companies? Zoom was founded in 2011 and launched in 2013. How many of us even knew about Zoom before the pandemic, and now we ask, “Do you “Zoom?” When a noun or company name becomes a verb, they have made it to the big time.
Will we ever get back to our old reality? Perhaps, there is no going back. Maybe there is only a new reality, some type of hybrid of both the old reality and this new virtual world. As we have borne witness to, once something becomes widely accepted, like toll booths and income tax, it’s here to stay.
If we are to create a world where we can enjoy the virtual and also have the option to be face to face or walk in public safely, now we need to do whatever is necessary to accomplish this. Wear a mask, social distance, and stay home. Virtually everything as we knew it in the past is counting on us.
Links for this blog:
Movies depicting the future have often shown societies that use some variety of credit for transactions. The use of actual paper money and coin has consistently been portrayed as an ancient ritual. Has the movie world always been a few steps ahead of reality or is it the most accurate fortune teller that every lived?
In an attempt to curtail the spread of infection, the use of credit, or debit, payment for purchases has become the norm. The number on retailers going to cashless payments only has skyrocketed in the last six months. The increase in online transactions has also blasted upward, furthering the cashless transaction world.
If you were to check your wallet right now which would you have more of: plastic cards or paper bills?
Currently, we are not in a “cashless society” but we have moved to a “less cash” situation. The rise of a pandemic has pushed us closer to achieving the cashless society. It has been known for decades that paper money, by virtue of its fibrous makeup, and, along with coins, are spreaders of decease due to hand to hand passage.
What does a truly cashless society bring with it?
Like many industries that have gained a stronghold on society, it means total control. Similar to the insurance industry in the U.S. that basically decides what to cover and not to cover, the banking industry would ultimately dictate the cost of every digital dime we use. The side hustle for a few extra bucks would be gone. How would those who cannot not get credit, don’t have bank accounts or debit card survive? The small mom and pop stores that take cash and can’t afford to give a percentage of every transaction to credit card companies would have no choice.
The advent of digital payment apps like PayPal, Apple pay, and Venmo have made purchasing much more convenient, but it comes at a literal price. What does this mean? It means that every dollar we earn will have a percentage of it go towards a fee for using that dollar. For those of you are thinking that credit card companies charge only the merchant to use the card on every transaction, that is true. For now. Those fees average about 3%, currently, but with total control those fees will be a golden ladder that the banks will climb. As those fees climb so will the cost of items you digitally purchase. The yearly fee paid to have the privilege of using that credit card will be up for grabs as credit would be the only game in town. As far as competition between cards, well, look at the insurance industry.
While most of us have already started this move to a cashless society, and for the most part, we are at the “less cash” stage now, it seems that only time will tell if it is a worthwhile transition.
The movie world doesn’t portray the use of a cashless society as a good thing. Are they foreseeing the future again?
For more information on a cashless society visit:
I preface this piece with a note that what you are about to read may be a tad preachy. I tell you this out of respect for you.
Respect your elders.
Respect isn't just given out.
We have all known this word forever, and yet it's meaning, and the line it draws in the sand isn't so clear. While some feel respect is automatic, others think it has to be earned. The one thing we all agree upon is that respect is real. I believe it's a moving target that we all aim for, and sometimes we hit it and other times we miss. These are those times of totally missing.
I am angered by the general lack of respect that we have in our populous. The ever-widening gap of this lack of respect for those we know and complete strangers is a hidden pandemic. Our history of callousness towards each other and the world we live in has now borne its fruit. We took our marbles and went home, and now we're forced to stay home. Reflection is upon us.
Here are some of the ways we have a lack of respect. Common courtesy, healthcare, racism, terrorism, classism, global warming, and the list could go on. Where did we go astray, respectfully?
“I’m not concerned with your liking or disliking me… All I ask is that you respect me as a human being.”
Even now, as we are re-venturing into our world, isolation should have allowed us time to reflect on how we, humans, positioned ourselves in the world. Prior to our lockdown, we faced devastating CO2 levels and a meltdown that was going to be irreversible. A crisis arises to make us correct course, even if by happenstance, or not.
Still, we cannot see that there may be a greater force trying to help us from hurling ourselves toward our end. Not God. It's our planet. It was here long before we took our first steps on it, and it has the power to remove us at any time. Respectfully, it has been sending us warning shots, and we, collectively, have chosen to ignore them. Horrific weather, earthquakes, pandemics, why aren't we respecting the warnings? For those who think this may be a bit far-fetched, I ask for your explanation.
Let's turn now to the reflection part. As humankind, we have been forced to stay home, stay apart, and attempt to stay safe. Throughout this isolation, why haven't we taken a looked at how we got here and where we're going? It doesn't matter if you believe or don't believe in the pandemic, hundreds of thousands of our kind have died in a blink of an eye. This should give us pause to reflect.
"Civilization is a method of living, an attitude of equal respect for all."
Instead, we have chosen to dig our heels in and battle each other. From conspiracy theorists, to flat-earthers, to scientists, to the plain Joe not on the street, we need to see that divided we will fall. So, let's give each other the respect of our opinions and reflect enough to realize that we must put those differences on hold if we don't want to follow the dinosaurs' path.
"Respecting others’ opinions doesn’t mean being untrue to our own."
-P. M. Forni
If you found this preachy or disagree with this piece, I respect your difference of opinion and welcome your thoughts. I only ask that you reflect on your response and be respectful.
The power of suggestion plays a large part in our lives. Those suggestions come from every side of every fence.
I had been thinking about this for a few days when, during a card game with some family members, I was coming close to winning the hand, and I suggested that I could send them a "vibe" that would cause them to make a choice to play cards that would allow me to win. I won the hand, as predicted. I then told them that I would lose the next two hands in all fairness, which I did. At the beginning of the fourth hand, I said they needed to concentrate so that I wouldn't tell them which cards to play. When one of the other three players played a card that helped my hand, I thanked them. I won the fourth hand, and two of the players began to believe that I could telepathically influence their choices. They went one step further and told me I was cheating. I eventually explained this concept of the power of suggestion and we all laughed.
What makes the power of suggestion such a useful tool wielded by so many industries and so many people? One word: Imagination. We have the incredible ability to imagine the future and create outcomes. We hear an instruction (suggestion), either subtle or direct and our minds automatically take over and frame an outcome which produces a desire. We desire to have an outcome happen. It may not align with the instruction (suggestion) given, but now the suggestion has been placed and runs in the background. It doesn't matter if you believe in it or not.
A fascinating accompaniment to the mind game is that our physical body reacts to the suggestion shortly after the mind creates the desire. Think about eating your absolute favorite dessert. Your mind has sent an image to you. Imagine how it tastes, the sensation you get when you're eating it, and how satisfied you feel afterward. How many of you are craving that dessert right now? How many felt your mouth water or your belly tell you that would be great. All of us have experienced this a million times. It's advertising 101.
As a mystery author, I use the power of suggestion to create stories that make you want to solve the case. For some, just telling them I write mystery thrillers gets them playing detective. Taking it one step further, imagine if your favorite book didn't have the ending written and you were left guessing. How many of you are feeling the stress of this just at the mere suggestion of it?
I do not wish to delve into the psychology or spiritual realms in this piece. Still, I would like to point out that both fields have been cashing in on the power of suggestion for many decades, anywhere from understanding it to using it to your advantage.
Perhaps one of the largest and most lucrative industries to arise using the power of suggestion is the Social Influencer arena. I would be remiss if I didn't admit that I have contacted some social influencers to promote my upcoming book. I guess I believe in their abilities. After all, I find myself under the control of the power of suggestion many times. I don't think this is necessarily a "bad" thing. It just is. I try to stay aware of the situation, but alas, my body returns the signals to my mind that I really want that favorite desert.
Again, a reminder, I am not for or against the power of suggestion, I am merely pointing out its existence.
The power of suggestion lives all around us in every corner of the world, filling every facet, both private and public. From friends to politics, subconsciously to consciously, the power of suggestion is present. How will you use or be used by the power of suggestion?
Inspired by a conversation with my mother
As we move forward in all the uncertainty, there is a great fear among the masses. Perhaps, it’s the middle to senior aged, since they can remember walking into a store to purchase an item. The younger generations have grown up in the online age and don’t need to acclimate.
“I’m too old to order something without trying it on first.”
Rest assured that as online access grows and the brick and mortar shopping experience dwindles, there is a connective tissue that ties this online shopping transition to the past. Like an old friend who shows up on your doorstep with a new haircut. The discomfort of not knowing is eased by a familiarity that exists, it just has to be sought out and brought into the light.
In 1872, Aaron Montgomery Ward produced the first mail order catalog geared to the general public. This was followed by other large names such as Hammacher Schlemmer and eventually, what might be the most famous one of all time, the Sears & Roebuck catalog. From JC Penney to Victoria Secret, long before home computing and the internet, mail order catalogs flourished. Companies like car parts giant JC Whitney made its mark on the world from between the pages of mail order catalogs.
Why did this surge in mail order catalogs grow into a multi-million-dollar business? Simple economics of supply and demand. People wanted to shop and most of them didn’t have cars. Getting down town or to a major city, to the brick and mortars, was too difficult or too time consuming. The telephone at that time made it simple to order items directly from the catalogs.
The world then saw the advent of the home computer and it was a game changer. In 1995, Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s guru, opened for business. He may have been the first to see the potential online scalability of the mail order catalog. Today Jeff has taken the internet catalog well beyond its mail order predecessor, threatening the mere existence of some brick and mortar establishments.
Let’s move forward to 2020. We are all now quarantined at home and travel to the brick and mortars is not an option. The online catalog industry already has its foothold. Demand for home delivery has found its worth in a new way. Yes, there is the option to order online and drive to a store to pick up the item, but fear has gone viral. We’re in lock down and the only way to shop safely is via the internet catalog. The term “internet catalog” does not sound common, but a look at the myriad of shopping websites where you can buy just about anything looks a great deal like a digital version of a Sears and Roebuck catalog. Everything you could ever want is in one place.
“I never thought I would have to do this in my lifetime.”
For all who are fighting the online catalog shopping reality, it might sit on your pallet a bit easier if you make the correlation that as child you may have watched your parents or grandparents place orders from mail order catalogs. If you’re old enough, you may have placed a phone order from a mail order catalog yourself. A feeling of nostalgia could replace the angst you feel about having to shop online. Truth is that making purchases via an online catalog, takes less effort than the mail order catalogs ever did. One more fact that might help take the edge off of online catalog shopping is that while mail order catalog items took weeks to show up, today most online orders are on your doorstep in seven days or less.
As the new world might bring many fears with it, shopping doesn’t have to be one of them. This time looking to the past can ease the transition to the future. It’s like riding a bicycle. You never forget, you just need to practice a bit in the beginning. By the way, you can buy a bicycle online too.
For more on the history of mail order catalogs visit
3. History of Amazon https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/amazon-opens-for-business
I usually write blogs that share a conglomeration of information on a topic I come across, but this is more of an op-ed observation mixed with some insight.
As the number of COVID-19 articles begins to decrease, the reading of what’s left continues to decline at about 29%, with readers spending 40 seconds, on average, reading the article. Fatigue is the leading analytical explanation ( ChartBeat ).
There has been an uptick in the number of searches for words like empathy and hope. I would venture that this is a patterned movement towards healing and towards looking forward.
Perhaps a new compassion is setting in upon us. I have noticed that while people are keeping their distance (for the most part), there is a unified mood of kindness towards each other. This is the reaction we often see portrayed in movies where large populations are forced to live in unbearable conditions and then emerge to find a new world. Logan’s Run comes to mind. If you’re too young to remember it, you may want to watch it. I purposely picked an old movie to show that the reaction is not a new one, but more of one that we have forgotten for generations.
Human interaction beyond the immediate family is now at a different level. Why is this?
Neighbors are more willing to stand on the sidewalk or in the street, to engage in a conversation. Strangers are more courteous to one another. People are generally thinking more kindly. Yes, there are still the outliers for whom there has been an adverse reaction, but in general, there has been this trend toward empathy.
It is human nature to want to be social and want to be part of a larger something. We have all been deprived of this because of a microscopic enemy, and this brings us to the point of commonality. For the first time in generations, we have been bound together by a common foe. We can all relate to this as we have all been impacted. Do not under estimate the power of common ground. But what is next? This is perhaps the most crucial question humankind can ask. We have been given a chance to regain our humanity, though at great expense. We are unmistakably linked together now. There is no denying this.
Stores will reopen, schools will go back into sessions, people will return to work, how will we act?
Putting aside all the precautionary measures and the fear, what will we do with this second chance?
These are the questions that we must answer. We were a world torn apart by fear and mistrust of one another, and then we were forced (are forced) to fight a common enemy, one that seeks to attack indiscriminately.
Has this experience increased our resolve for a more empathetic humanity, or will we go back to the before and wait for the next rage?
I choose us. I choose to stand in the street or on the sidewalk to converse with neighbors. I choose empathy. What do you choose?
Let me know your thoughts, please.
Many things affect our day as we move through it, but, I found that "Joe" plays such an important role for so many of us. So, let's take a moment and find out why. Maybe we'll learn something and have some fun along the way.
The discovery of coffee and how it made its way around the world is exciting. If it were not for the keen observation of Kaldi, an Ethiopian goat herder, many of the coffee drinkers of the world would still be drinking tea. Or as it were back then, the choice of morning drink, beer or wine.
Let's get on with the story. In the ninth century, Kaldi found that when his goats ate the berries from a particular species of plant (Coffea), they became energized and did not sleep at night. He took the beans to the local abbot and reported his findings. The abbot created a mixture of water and the berries. He found that when he drank the liquid, he could stay alert during the long evening prayers. The abbot shared his discovery with the monks of other monasteries.
The word of this elixir spread east to the Arabian Peninsula. The new drink made its way to Arabia through the Port of Mocha, and thus the name Mocha become synonymous with coffee and is still used today to describe a type of coffee. Qahveh khaneh was the name given to the popular public meeting spots where one could enjoy music, news, exchange views, and of course, drink coffee. These were the first coffee houses. By the fifteenth century, the coffee plant was being grown in the Yemeni district of Arabia. By the sixteenth century, coffee had become popular in Egypt, Persia, Turkey, and Syria.
“The first cup is for the guest, the second for enjoyment, the third for the sword.” — Old Arabic Saying
As many visitors came to Mecca in the seventh century, coffee, or as it was commonly called “the wine of Araby,” spread to Europe. When it first arrived in Europe, coffee was thought to be the work of the devil and gained the dubious name “the bitter invention of Satan.”
Even with all the fear over coffee, Europe could not resist it. “Penny Universities” were popping up everywhere. This was the name coined for the coffee houses that totted a cup of coffee for just a penny. They quickly became places to exchange intellectual thought. Since coffee was replacing beer and wine as the morning drink, patrons began to find themselves more alert and stimulated to think and while they worked.
Nancy Astor, Britain's first MP: "If I were your wife I would poison in your coffee.
Winston Churchill: "Nancy, if I were your husband I would drink it."
Coffee reached the new world through New Amsterdam. We now call it New York (by the way, it was renamed by the British). Coffee houses rapidly sprang to life, but it wasn’t until 1773 and the uprising concerning high tea taxes (The Boston Tea Party) that America made coffee its drink of choice.
"Coffee - the favorite drink of the civilized world."
- Thomas Jefferson
Today coffee is the second largest commodity in the world. Oil still sits atop the throne. For a more in-depth look at the history of coffee, please follow the links to the websites I used to create this story. I assure you the details are a good read.
Coffee has become such an essential part of our world; it’s funny how goats first found this little berry (processed into a bean). So, the next time you see a goat, tip the to-go cup of "Joe" in your hand and say thank you.
I apologize for sneaking in some literature in the form of coffee quotes. After all, I am an author.
“Do Lipton employees take coffee breaks?”
— Steven Wright
Today is more of an op-ed than anything else. And it isn't a piece on COVD-19. As we are sequestered in our homes riding out the storm, we are destined to find thing to keep ourselves busy. Binge-watching all our favorite shows and turning to new ones out of boredom, we all have our phones, iPad, or laptops in our hands as we continue the search the internet battling against the urge to leave our home. I look at this as an opportunity for all of us who use social media platforms to make contacts, push our wares, and introduce ourselves to the world as this new something or someone.
According to Statica.com, as of February 2020, 4.54 billion people use the internet worldwide. That's fifty-nine percent of the world's population. Now factor in that was before people were obligated to stay home. There are no post-pandemic numbers at this time. I'll bet that the numbers have gone up drastically.
Oberlo reports that each internet user spends six hours, thirty minutes a day on the internet. 81% of US adults go on the internet daily. Lastly, $4.2 trillion will be spent on e-commerce in 2020. It should be noted that these last set of numbers were also pre-pandemic.
Why tell you all this? Because as an author, influencer, or any social media entrepreneur, the need to understand that people are at home and searching the internet for anything to keep their minds busy is pure gold.
If you are trying to build a social media presence, now is your fifteen minutes of fame (Andy Warhol). If you are promoting a new book, a course, or a podcast - Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin, Twitter, YouTube, and whatever other platforms you can think of should have your full attention.
The success of our internet campaigns is not tied to the pandemic, but to the time and effort we are willing to put in. It is my theory that internet use is at a peak and making use of this peak is an opportunity.
Stay in your lane and at a distance. Be safe in these times. If you must share yourself with others do it safely, do it through the internet.
Have you ever heard the term Pechakucha (Pe-chuk-a-cha)? Pechakucha is Japanese, meaning "chit chat" and the best way to understand it is on the Pechakucha website. It is "show and tell" for adults - with a twist.
So why am I blogging about a Pechakucha?
Because I live and thrive in the world of storytelling. And not knowing about Pechakucha presentations is like missing an arm or leg, or at least a few digits. Have I piqued your interest yet?
A bit of history is necessary before we dive into why doing a Pechakucha presentation. In 2003, architects Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham of Tokyo's Klein Dytham Architecture invented the Pechakucha presentation. Their goal was to create a way to maximize the exchange of ideas while keeping the audience's attention by streamlining long design presentations. Basically, twenty PowerPoint slides, created by the presenter, are flashed onto a screen for twenty seconds each. The slides automatically advance, giving the presenter a total of 6 minutes and 40 seconds to make presentation. The Pechakucha method is currently being implemented in schools, business, and at what is known as Pechakucha Nights (PKN). There are one thousand cities worldwide that have PKNs. Klein and Dytham held their first PKN in Tokyo at the SuperDeluxe.
Who and where are PKNs held?
The general format for PKN events is the same, but some hosts add their own twist to the event. A few years ago, I attended a Pechakucha event called Spark Exchange, hosted by Pire Associates Architects in New Haven, CT. At this event there were a handful of wonderfully creative, invited presenters. Then host Laura Pirie challenged the audience members to participate. A random slide flashed onto the screen and an audience member had twenty seconds to tell the story of that slide. The entire night was a success.
Recently I attended a PKN where a presenter spoke about her fear of heights while hiking in Peru to Machu Picchu. Another explained how he created a community-building concept called Dinner Stories to bring ten housemates closer. I left the event totally inspired and have signed up to present at the June New Haven PKN.
Why is the Pechakucha important?
We all have stories to tell about our life's experiences. The Pechakucha provides an avenue to share our tales, inspire people, and develop interest in something we are doing. Remember that Klein and Dytham first created the Pechakucha presentation format as a business tool. PKN is a way to share what inspires you, an experience you had, or promote what you love to do. As an author, I can see the potential of sharing my work with groups of people and grow my reader list at the same time. Klein and Dytham were onto something. Google Pechakucha with your local city's name to see if there is one near you. If not, start one yourself by going on the Pechakucha website to register.
I recommend going to a local PKN first. You won't be disappointed. What's most astonishing is the diversity of presenters and topics. From aliens to zookeepers, inspirational to comical, you never know what's going to be coming your way. The presentations are always informative and if you're not interested, it's okay; there will be a new one along in just under seven minutes.
If you're wondering, speaking this blog takes about 5min 34sec. Add in a few deep breaths, perhaps a long dramatic pause, and you're at the 6min 40sec Pechakucha presentation limit.
Don't wait; be a Pechakucha presenter today!
"Writing is the flow of life through words on a page. We all have this talent to share." Luca DiMatteo