A video chat from NYC to Singapore reminds me what an amazing time it is to be alive. A double amputee war veteran becomes a police officer, and it’s beautiful. And “Sesame Street” welcomes a first: A new character with autism

And a Happy Friday to all of you out there in Internet-land.

Lots of good stuff coming across my radar these days, and I think sometime next week I’m going to have to blog about “Billions,” on Showtime, because it has become SO freaking great this season, even better than it was last year.

I’m also temporarily obsessed with tennis again (well I usually am but rarely in late March) because Roger Federer is playing awesome and winning everything and Nick Kyrgios is maddening and frustrating and I want to love him for pulling off shots like this but then he acts like such a spoiled, obnoxious brat on the court and I get confused on whether I hate him or love him.

Sorry, where was I? Oh yes, Good News Friday. On with the show.

So my father and stepmother are on one of those “once in a lifetime” vacations right now. They’re spending a month in Asia, going to Hong Kong, Thailand, Vietnam, China, all the usual places people go when they decide to go to Asia and do it right (they were originally going to do a shorter trip, but my father, quite rationally I feel, thought “if we’re going to do this once in our lives, might as well go all out. I’m 73 years old, it’s not like I’ll be going BACK to Asia.”)

Tuesday night they were in Singapore, and my Dad called me on WhatsApp video chat from their hotel. I was sitting in my apartment in New York City, he’s in a hotel in Singapore, roughly 10,000 miles away.

We spoke for about 10 minutes, and then I brought the phone into my 2-year-old son’s bedroom while he was sleeping, and showed my Dad his grandson. My father remarked that one of the stuffed animals who sleeps in the crib was in a strange position.

Then we hung up, and he went back inside his room and I sat down and just thought: How amazing it is to be alive in 2017, that I can do that?

With just a small device in each of our hands, and an app we download for free, we can have a crystal-clear call where I see him and he sees me as if we’re in the same room.

It’s incredible when you stop and think about it, and we never do, which is why I’m writing about it now. Alexander Graham Bell invented the phone in 1876, and here are 141 years later, and we’ve come so far.

We take this stuff for granted, but can you imagine if our grandparents, during World War 2, could’ve done this? Talked to their husbands or wives or children, live and seeing their face, on a call from Detroit to Okinawa, or Topeka to Normandy. Or how about if this technology existed during the Civil War, with families and towns torn apart. To think a soldier in a tent somewhere fighting for the Union could call his parents and let them know he was OK, and see his face.

I know, I know, I’m coming off like one of those cliched NYC tourists who gawk at tall buildings. But we are so, so fortunate to be alive in 2017, for so many reasons.

And that I could see my father’s face from 10,000 miles away, and he could see his grandson, is one of them. (oh, and he was right: Winnie the Pooh was in a weird position in the crib.)


**Next up today, a quickie Steve Hartman “CBS Sunday Morning” story that I loved, and that took place in the county where I grew up on Long Island. It’s about a man named Matias Ferreira, who looked like he’d lost everything in war by losing his legs, but still managed to live out his dream of becoming a police officer.

Nothing is impossible. Don’t ever let anyone tell you you can’t achieve your dreams.

**Finally today, this is a very cool story. As autism awareness has grown over the last 20 years, with so many more children diagnosed with it, television and movies have slowly begun incorporating characters with autism into its scripts.

Now, “Sesame Street,” the absolute first-stop for many parents with toddlers, has brought onto the show an autistic character. Named Julia, she’s got red hair, bright green eyes, and lots of new friends like Big Bird and Elmo.

Such a small thing for “Sesame Street” to do. But such a big thing, too. So pleased to see them trying to reach every child they can.

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