Friday, January 18, 2019

How DonorsChoose Brought a Smile to my Face

A few months ago, I shared a story of how I got a DonorsChoose card as a speaker's gift.

I thought it was great and decided to fund a Holocaust awareness project at a school in California.

Recently, I received a bunch of thank you notes from the students and a short report.

I have to say, it felt great on many levels.


Tuesday, January 15, 2019

What's great about snow days

I think there's something magical about snow days. For me, it's having that fleeting feeling of being a kid again.
I went sledding with Paco and Nadia.
Plus, Nadia and I got into a bit of a snowball fight.
Maybe it's the purity of the white snow that brings back the innocence?


Thursday, December 27, 2018

Completing the DC Metro Marathon

Yesterday, the kids and I spent nearly 10 hours completing the DC Metro Marathon.


What is the DC Metro Marathon?

It is accomplished when you have been to all 91 Metro stations in one day.

We didn't do the "Ironman" -- visiting all of the stations without departing the system for bathroom or food breaks.

We also didn't do a "Perfect" marathon, which is riding the entire system with no breaks and then getting off exactly one stop away from your originating station.

Still, we did pull it off with (roughly) the following data points.
  • time in system: 8 hours and 55 minutes
  • total time elapsed from beginning to end of marathon: 10 hours and 10 minutes
  • door to door: 11 hours 5 minutes
We changed trains 20 times. 

Our most visited station was L'Enfant Plaza.

The longest we had to wait for a train was 11 minutes.

The kids had a great attitude and particularly loved when they had the entire car to themselves, allowing them to engage in some Israeli dancing and relaxing.

This wasn't my first effort at this feat. I did a Metro Marathon by myself 30 years ago when there were fewer stations in the summer before 9th grade.

Anyway, I am sure our route could have been more optimized, but here's what we did. Map below. 
  • Glenmont->Fort Totten
  • Fort Totten->Greenbelt
  • Greenbelt->L'Enfant Plaza
  • L'Enfant Plaza->New Carrollton
  • New Carrollton->Stadium-Armory
  • Stadium Armory->Largo Town Center
  • Largo Town Center->L'Enfant Plaza
  • L'Enfant Plaza->Branch Ave
  • Branch Ave->Foggy Bottom
  • Exit of system with late lunch at Char Bar
  • Foggy Bottom->Vienna
  • Vienna->East Falls Church
  • East Falls Church->Wiehle/Reston East
  • Wiehle/Reston East-> Rosslyn
  • Rosslyn-> Franconia-Springfield
  • Franconia-Springfield->King St.
  • King St.->Huntington
  • Huntington->Gallery Place
  • Gallery Place->Brookland-CUA
  • Brookland-CUA->Shady Grove
  • Shady Grove->Twinbrook
We got picked up at Twinbrook by the NFO.

We had a great time, read a lot, used our various devices, and explored the DMV to the fullest.  It's not for the faint of heart, but it is fun.





Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The most undervalued play in basketball?

I love the concepts behind Moneyball and all of the stats behind sports.

Recently, I was thinking about the idea of taking a charge in basketball.

If you are a basketball fan, you might like this. If not, skip over.

It occurred to me that it might be one of the most undervalued skills in the game, particularly if the charge:block ratio is high.

Think about it..when a defensive player takes a charge, the following happens:

  • the other team doesn't score
  • the other player gets a foul
  • the other team has a foul added to their tally
  • your team gets the ball
  • and depending on the situation, it can be a huge momentum changer and adrenaline kick

Friday, December 14, 2018

What's your (pass)word of the year?

I was talking to someone on her birthday the other day and she said that every year, on her birthday (in December), she comes up with a word for the following year.

Well, she doesn't invent it, more like "this is the word that I am going to focus on for the year."

Say "gratitude" or "compassion."

I told her I kind of do the same thing and then update many of my passwords with that word.

So, you could do something like:

2019=Gratitude:-)

That would be a relatively strong password and allow you to refocus on it whenever you log in.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

What kind of person do you want to be?

I'm listening to a really interesting book on Audible now called  Atomic Habits: Tiny Changes, Remarkable Results.

My friend, Derek Coburn, founder of CADRE brought it to my attention.

It's a really practical guide for how to identify the bad habits in your life and change them and implement good ones.

The idea is that the more you "automate" your choices, the more likely you are to achieve your desired outcome in whatever categories you want. Health, relationships, career, tc.

The first step is to identify the habits you already have, many of which are unconscious.

Then, you need to ask yourself, "what kind of person do I want to be?"

Then, ask yourself, "what kind of habits would that person have?"

Go from there.

It's a tough question though, "what kind of person do I REALLY want to be?"

Would love thoughts on how to figure that one out.


Thursday, November 29, 2018

Bringing Israeli tech to Africa to improve lives....

Just wanted to highlight this great video from Innovation Africa.

They are a wonderful non-profit that helps bring Israeli technology to Africa and improve things there.

Our good friends, the Lustmans, were recently in Uganda as part of their son's Bar Mitzvah project and they brought solar panels to a rural village that had never, ever had electricity.   The celebrations were amazing.



The Israeli heart and mind just transformed the lives of 1 million Africans forever from Innovation: Africa on Vimeo.

Friday, November 23, 2018

Movie: Bohemian Rhapsody

Took Paco (13) and Nadia (10) to see the new movie about Queen, Bohemian Rhapsody.

What was so remarkable was that all 3 of us thought it was a fantastic story. The ebbs and flows of the actual movie are analogous to the ebbs and flow of the titular song.

I thought Rami Malek was just just magnificent as Freddie Mercury.

One of Queen's albums was one of the first I ever owned and "Another One Bites the Dust" was one of the earliest songs I remember listening to on the radio.

There were so many twists and turns. Emotional highs, lows, and so many different narratives.

It's rare that all 3 of us like a movie and this is one of them.

Monday, November 19, 2018

AirBNB is anti-Israel...and only anti-Israel

The following is a letter that my dad sent to AirBNB about their newly instituted anti-Israel practices.


Your one-sided decision to refuse to list locations in Israel located in Judea and Samaria (or the West Bank settlements as you reference them) is one-sided and unprincipled.
Japan seeks the return of Sakhalin Islands/Kuril Islands occupied by Russia since World War II. 
x


Is Airbnb going to be in the political arena of deciding disputed claims for territory?



If so, then you should consider closing down operations in many of the following areas of the world. 

If you have not already, then you should consider delisting Russian occupied areas of Crimea, Ukraine, and the Republic of Georgia.

Also, Romania has territory containing 2 million Hungarians that the victors in World War I gave to Romania.

Russia took part of Poland, and Poland took part of Germany in the arrangements after World War II.

Mexico claims a substantial part of the U.S. taken in the Mexican War in 1846, a grievance that remains fresh today among Mexicans.

Bolivia has claims against against territory wrested by Chile, dating back to 1904, which the current Bolivian President seeks to reverse by going to the International Court. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-latin-america-22287222

The Argentines claim the British-held Falkland Islands and even initiated a war to reclaim it in the 1980’s.

Iraq claims Kuwait and waged a war, where the United States and other countries in the early 1990’s sent troops to repel Iraq.

Forty-five per cent of Scots voted in 2014 to separate from the United Kingdom, as Scotland was conquered three centuries ago by the British. 

Northern Ireland has a population that seeks to opt out of the UK because it was conquered militarily by the UK by Oliver Cromwell and then settlers were introduced from England and Scotland. 

Finland has claims against Russian occupation of what was Finland until World War II.   

Some in Corsica want out of France, as do some in Brittany and Normandy. 

Just below a majority of those who live in the now Canadian province of Quebec wanted out of Canada in our time.  The British, centuries earlier, defeated the French and took control of Quebec. 


Does Airbnb operate in Tibet, where the Chinese have complete control and the Dalai Lama has devoted his life to secure independence for Tibet.

What do you plan to do with Aboriginal claims to Australia or Maori to New Zealand as well as territorial disputes in South America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia. 

Will you post sites located in Kashmir, controlled by India where Pakistan has maintained claims for 70 years? 

Oh, I forgot to mention Hawaii, where the Hawaiian of Polynesian origin make territorial and national claims.   

In fact, the Palestinians never had a country.  The Palestinian claim is for every inch of what is now Israel and Israel’s destruction. 

Airbnb is getting into a thicket where it is choosing sides based on a faulty political understanding or bias.

Reverse your decision.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

How to Give a Great Bar Mitzvah Gift

Paco got some wonderful, generous gifts for his Bar-Mitzvah, but the one from the Lichts take the cake.

Not so much because of the gift itself (which was fantastic), but because it came with self-addressed fill-in-the-blank thank you note template.

As any Bar/Bat Mitzvah will tell you...the thank you note writing part is one of the least cherished tasks.

Which leads me to conclude that the Lichts are on to something here. The best Bar Mitzvah gifts include the thank you note!



Thursday, November 01, 2018

Hockey Night in Canada...

I would not say I am the biggest hockey fan in the world, but I certainly appreciate the game. Definitely during playoff time.  I usually make it to one (at most two) Capitals games per year.

Like any sport, hockey aficionados are passionate, knowledgeable, and appreciate the  nuances of the game.

There is probably no country in the world that has as many fans per capita as Canada.

Now, I've watched a hockey game with Canadians before...in fact, it was the Women's Gold Medal Game from the 2018 Olympics against the US.  The US won (I had to slink out of the room) and it was great. You learn a lot about a sport by watching with serious fans.

Tonight, however, I had an amazing privilege to attend a Vancouver Canucks game in Vancouver and, not only that, we had front row seats against the glass. It was crazy good. Here's a video that Google auto-made for me and some pics are below. I feel exceedingly grateful for this opportunity.

The Rogers Arena was a great venue and I was impressed by how many staff people were on hand to help...those Canadians, so nice!

Another cool thing was to see how multi-cultural the crowd was (Vancouver is that way as a city), but it seems to me that hockey has a melting pot-like effect on Canadians.

And, this may sound crazy, but since I know all the words to O, Canada! (how I became an honorary Canadian), I actually sang the entire song and got a wee bit emotional as I did.

One of my "bucket list" items was to watch a live hockey game in Canada. Mission accomplished.

Plus...the Canucks won 4-2 and now I know who "Johnny Canuck" is.












Friday, October 12, 2018

Appreciating the Nightwatch by Rembrandt

Long one of my favorite paintings, this video helps you really appreciate the mastery of Rembrandt's work.

HT: Barak Epstein for sending to me.


Wednesday, October 03, 2018

A touch of class as a speaker's gift

I was recently a speaker at the MarTech event in Boston.  It's a great event and, when I arrived, they handed me a gift card in an envelope.

It's not uncommon for hosts to do that for speakers and I was grateful.

Later, however, when I got back to my room, I saw that it was actually a DonorsChoose.org gift card for $100. 

With that card, I was able to put $50 towards two classes that were seeking to improve their level of Holocaust awareness. (There were many things to fund. I just chose those).  Here they are.

Making History Come Alive: Bus to the Museum of Tolerance
Maus: A Survivor’s Tale


I just thought that was a wonderful idea and a much more meaningful gift than a standard Amazon gift card.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Thoughts on the Kavanaugh hearings

I have really mixed feelings about the Kavanaugh hearings.

On the one hand, I'm fairly confident that the Democrats are just using this as a "Hail Mary" pass to win the "Kavanaugh Confirmation Bowl" (and, at the moment, looks like it will work).

On the other hand, I am starting to think that, perhaps, the true Supreme Court of America (namely, the American citizens) are actually using this United States v. Kavanaugh case in a Roe v. Wade or Brown v. Board type situation...one that shakes the very foundation of American society forever.

In the People of the United States v. Kavanaugh, what is on trial here (like abortion or 'separate but equal' before) is the culture of white, male hegemony.

It will, like segregation and illegal abortions, get defeated.

Ultimately, this is a good thing. It forces a reckoning on the part of the group that was previously in a position of power. That reckoning is "I am also vulnerable."

That new awakened sense of "oh man, I'm vulnerable" is going to, ultimately and with some pushback, result in a greater sense of empathy for the victims (physical, emotional, psychological, etc.) of various types of oppression.

That increased empathy will inform a different set of actions that help us all get along just a little bit (hopefully a lot) better ... that's a good thing.

So, while I am sure there are plenty of empowered white men who are feeling pretty nervous that they could be exposed for something they have said or done in the past, I think the newfound vulnerability will make many, many men think quite differently (and be open to thinking differently) about the way they interact with women (physically, emotionally, etc.)

The only thing that jeopardizes this is if the #MeToo movement basically becomes the male equivalent to the Salem Witch Trials, in which the mere accusation is enough to convict you.

If too many men see that, they will logically choose to get extremely defensive. At that point, survival instincts kick in.

A danger from there is that the extremes create large numbers of exceedingly angry, highly aggressive, physically strong men -- that is not something that a society really wants to deal with.

If this doesn't elicit comments, nothing will.