A couple of days ago, the guy who invented the cassette tape died. Lou Ottens. 

If you are reading this and are not sure what a cassette tape is you have a piece of history to learn.   

Still, I’m likely revealing my age here when I say that the mix tape was one of the most important parts of my adolescent life; all the love, joy, tragic break-ups, parent-child discord and just plain survival of the teen experience.  On behalf of my teen generation, I hope Lou was fairly compensated for this brilliant invention. I wish he knew how much I appreciated it.

That got me thinking – put me into what buzzword types like to say, a gratitude mindset so I decided to start a list of people who deserved a thank you note for their contributions to the making the ordinary parts of life a little less so. I’ll share a few. 

It’s presently March, the holy month of the Girl Scout cookie, so I will add Florence E. Neal to my list. In 1922 Miss Neil, a scout leader from the Chicago area, loaned her cookie recipe to the council’s 2,000 Girl Scouts. She estimated the approximate cost of ingredients for six- to seven-dozen cookies to be 26 to 36 cents. The cookies, she suggested, could be sold by troops for 25 or 30 cents per dozen. Florence, I’m eating some Thin Mints right now and praising your name. For 99 years, your entrepreneurial spirit has made the first sign of spring a cookie.

From my brief research, no one person invented movies. The Kinetoscope, invented by the Edison Company in 1891, was a starting place for enabling viewing of moving pictures. But the thank you note for all of those inspiring, scary, funny (and completely trouble-free) hours in the dark goes to the Lumière brothers who first presented projected moving pictures to a paying audience. 

The next time you fill a tall glass with ice and pour tea into it, give a shout to John Gorrie who invented it in 1844. Gorrie, an American physician, built a refrigerator to cool the air for his yellow fever patients. The contraption made ice which he then hung from the ceiling in a basin. Some historians think that Dr. Gorrie may have also invented the first ice cube tray since it was documented that his patients were also receiving iced drinks. This of course led to the on-the-rocks margarita, the frozen daiquiri and other miracles of chemistry. Brilliant.   

I’ve been working on a school project in Ecuador that is helping rural schools get working restrooms and handwashing facilities. Then we’ll study how this changes educational outcomes. Can you imagine spending an entire day at school without a sanitary, private restroom and trying to focus on learning?  I wish I could send a thank you note to the taxpayers that funded the beautiful school buildings that welcomed me and my fellow students through their sturdy doors and the custodians who made sure we had a clean, polished and welcoming place to learn. 

Who is on your list of Thank You notes you should have written? 

 Now, go fly.