Saturday, September 11, 2004

Parry's children's story, a tribute to the bravery of search and rescue dogs on September 11th- Servous The Rescue Dog, By Parry Aftab

WiredKids, Online Safety For Kids and Teens! - Servous The Rescue Dog, By Parry Aftab and September 11

Internet Safety, Help and Education: WiredPatrol, Special Programs - September 11Our online safety group was transformed for months to help the families and the world heal. The Ground Zero Christmas Tree angels was one of our projects. Take a moment to read the tributes and pray for liberty and peace.

we remember all lost on September 11th

I am sitting here before my television watching the families of the victims of September 11th read their names. I am crying and remembering.

On September 11th I was going to be on the Rosie O'Donnell Show when the second plane hit. I was driving into the city when the first plane hit and thought (as most others did) that it was a drunk or misguided pilot. I didn't believe it when we heard the second plane had hit and we were under attack. But when they evacuated Rockefeller Center, it was obvioys that something horrible had really happened.

I had both of my children where working in NY, and I spent a hour tracking them down. I brought my daughter to my law offices and together, while I was e-mailing the Whitehouse, the FBI and my hackers, we watched the buildings collapse. It took us seven hours ot drive out of manhattan that day, a drive that usually takes 20 minutes. We watched people trudging across the 59th street Bridge covered with dust, blood and faces filled with shock and pain. Old women with canes, young men carrying babies, people walking barefoot in some cases with ripped clothing and blank stares.

The cars and trucks stopped to give them rides, and we had a case of Evian water in our trunk we passed out.

While is an online safety group, we immediately went to work providing help to the families of victims. One of our teen volunteers lost her father at the World Trade centers. We enlisted our volunteers to provide teams of help to the families of the victims. We posted their posters, helped them get through day-to-day and provided a place where generous people from across the world could send help, and items needed by the families, to them. We teamed our volunteers into gruop for our family match program, where three volunteers were paired with each family of the victims to provide warmth, caring and support 24/7.

Within three days I was at teh Whitehouse helping create programs to keep the children from hating others and from living with fear. The program was called E-Mail America, and allowed children from around the world to send messages to others in NY, President Bush and even a search and rescue dog we found, named Servous. I wrote a children's story about this brave dog, and the new puppy named by the children to take over when Servous died from the injuries he sustained at Ground Zero.

We provided the ornament angels for the Ground Zero Christmas tree with a group of generous people from around the United States, thousands of angels decorated by the old, the sick, the caring and children. I was honored ot be the one who turned on the lights and will never forget the construction workers in the dust lights, crying as they hung these fragile paper angels on the tree using Verizon's cherrypicker cable trucks.

The stories of our work and the works of others will be part of history. But none of this would have been possible without the Internet. It allowed us to reach out when phones didn't work in New York. It allowed people from around the world to volunteer their time and caring to help the victims directly, it allowed people making paper angels to reach me and have them hung at Ground Zero.

I know we should be hopeful on this day. But I am just sitting here grieving with the families, knowing we are all together in this today as we were three years ago.

The enormity of this is beyond comprehension.

but watching other mothers and fathers and children read the names and leave messages for the lost family members makes it about each one. As the names are read we are reminded that everyone is represented among the lost. Arabs, Persians, Europeans, Asians, South and Central Americans, Australians and New Zealanders, Africans and Americans, all together in our loses.

All together on something that should never happen again and should never have happened. The world grieves.
and so do I.
may God be with us all.

Monday, September 06, 2004

Get a Life!!!

Get a Life!

I have no life. And if you find yourself reading my columns late at night or on weekends, or more than once, I suspect you don’t either. There is something special about people who work with information technology. There are fewer structures in what we do, when we do and from where. We work from home, on the road, from our Blackberries and Palm Pilots. We use wireless connections in the airport lounges, at StarBucks and in hotel lobbies. We are always “on” and never fully “off.”

My best friends are virtual. Many of my relationships started that way too. I shop online, browse online and sell my leftover stuff online. I share my thoughts in blogs and am even writing that long promised cyber-suspense novel online in a blog ( I make dinner arrangements with my children, share driving directions with my long lost relatives and book restaurant reservations and confirm the other guests all…you’ve got it…online too!

So, when I decided that I had no life and wanted to get one, where did I turn? To the Internet, of course. I started the way I always do, using my Google toolbar. I put in “fun + things to do + New Jersey.” Not much came up, so I thought I’d drill down a bit. I’ve always wanted to learn to kayak. (Although the thought of an Eskimo-roll makes my stomach ache.) So, I searched for “Kayak + New Jersey.” But the locations were too far from home. Then I thought – “Swingdancing!” (I wasn’t exactly sure what that entailed, but that and salsa dancing sounded like fun.) But I ended up with several Fred Astaire studios. (Not quite what I had in mind.)

I went down the list of things I wanted to do “someday” using my Frankin Covey Plan Plus (for Outlook). That included pottery lessons, whitewater raft trips and floats, health spas with ginger scrubs, anyplace with a waterfall, cruises on the Windstar and exotic vacations (preferably with spas and ginger scrubs, waterfalls, pottery lessons and whitewater kayaking).

I don’t ask for much. I found a website where the person prides himself in helping others have fun. I e-mailed him and he took pity on me, and sent me some jokes. This wasn’t exactly my idea of getting a life either. I sat on for hours on end, clicking on one exotic luxury vacation auction after another. But between my speaking engagements, my friend’s wedding, and consulting obligations I couldn’t figure out how to actually take the exotic vacations I couldn’t afford anyway. I found a fake excel spreadsheet designed as a screen saver to fool your boss into thinking you are working. But since I work from home, and my kids don’t really care if I have an excel spreadsheet on my screen, that wasn’t as much fun as I thought it might be.

I surfed Amazon for awhile, and checked out everything in my gold treasure chest, passing (as always) on everything. Then using my eBay toolbar (which I couple with my Google one) I searched for arbors, fencing and a firepit. I was sure that what was missing in my life was a big backyard oasis with friends sitting around toasting marshmallows for s’mores. (You can’t get the Girl Scout out of the girl, I guess.) Instead I bought a hot tub at a great price delivered. Now for sure I couldn’t afford the exotic trips I was eyeing at LuxuryLink but invisioned lots of friends coming over and toasting each other with cold champagne in the hot bubbling water and laughing. (I had to have them toasting with champagne since marshmallows were now out of the question because I couldn’t afford the fire pit anymore.)

The hot tub looks very inviting as I sit at my computer in my home office every night. And I fully intend to strip off my Internet-umbilical cord and everything else to sit in it sometime. My only reservations are that I don’t drink, my kids would freak out if they knew I ever used the hot tub sans bathing suit and most of my friends are in England, or New Zealand, or Canada, or San Francisco or Hong Kong or Bulgaria or India. And the commute, even for a terrific hot tub experience with me is a bit long. And they wouldn’t have any idea what a s’more was, and even if they did, wouldn’t be caught dead eating one. And they don’t swing dance or salsa, although my virtual friends from Seattle do kayak!

I won’t give up though. I found a website today called, and have my eye on a hot air ballooning trip and a float down the Delaware. I can picture myself coming home afterwards and sitting in my hot tub talking about the day with my friends, over a glass of cold champagne. Or maybe rowing out to my overwater bura in Fiji or flying in on a sea-plane to that wilderness lodge in western Canada. As long as they have wireless water-proof connections so I can stay in touch with my friends and check my e-mail.

I’ll record it all in my new Palm T3, and save the urls on my Blackberry and keep the list up-to-date in my PlanPlus interface (which I synchronize with my desktop, laptop and my T3). Because someday, I’m going to get a life and I need to be prepared.