Wednesday, January 28, 2015
Today was one of them.
All three of the kids went to bed near midnight last night and they were, well, exhausted this morning and in the afternoon.
I implemented a Draconian evening program and made them all get in bed by 7.45.
The resistance was strong-willed and determined. I was called names. I was villified. It was less than pleasant.
I took comfort in my newfound paternal strategy of "I'm not here to make you happy" which I borrowed from Louis CK (here's the video)
Still, it's not easy being told that you're "mean," "not fair," and more. My dad ranking were lower than Obama's.
But, hey, it's a part of the ride, I suppose.
Monday, January 05, 2015
The first was Den of Thieves about Milken, Boesky, and the "greed is good" era of insider trading in the 80s on Wall St. A strong narrative, well written that reinforces the dark view that when there are rules and there is money to be made, there will be smart people who either find a way around the rules or don't care about them and take on the risk.
Almost a treatise on a part of human nature.
Balancing that was Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption which is an incredible and inspiring story that defies imagination. Even though I had lived in Japan, I wasn't aware of the extent of Japanese atrocities against allied POWs. Shame on me (well, bigger shame on them).
How Louie Zamperini was able to survive the war, a plane wreck, a POW camp and more... at the level of abuse that he did...well, it puts all other problems in perspective and helps you realize how strong the will to live and survive is.
My brother told me that he walked out of the movie because it was so slow to develop (I can't comment on that personally). The book was powered by the force of the story. I found the prose to be rather straightforward and written at a lower level. That could have been the author's intention because you don't need to work up a story that is beyond belief to begin with.
But I don't want to focus on the shortcomings. The life of Louie Zamperini is one of an epic for all time and deserves to be studied and lauded.
So there you have it... winter 2014...an investigation into the soul of Man.
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Not only was the lesson in physics and engineering informative, but the larger lesson...that failure can be a step on the road to success...was imparted (at least I hope it was).
Sunday, December 28, 2014
En route, we spent a day in Norfolk, VA and we certainly made the most of it.
I had been to Norfolk once about 6 years ago, though I didn't have much of a chance to explore the city. I have to say, it really is a pleasant town.
As you make your way around, you can't help but notice that the "Chrysler" name is attached to many of the city's philanthropic institutions, the most obvious being the art museum.
I was intrigued by this as I normally associate Chrysler with Detroit, but according to Wikipedia, the wife of the son of the original Chrysler hailed from Norfolk, so it all made sense.
We started off at the Glass Studio where we saw an hour long demonstration of what is admittedly a beautiful art that has an impressive amount of science contained within it. Our presenter, I thought, was excellent--informative and with a sense of humor.
Afterwards, we walked across the street to the actual museum itself. We were excited to see an exhibition celebrating 70 years of Smokey the Bear. The artist's various works (and the evolution of the tag line) were really interesting to watch and we learned that, in 1964, the US Postal Service assigned Smokey his own zip code. Today, you can tweet him...which I did.
The museum was also great for kids as they had a scavenger hunt, which enabled us to walk through most of the museum without the kids complaining...and instead were excited about doing it.
For our last stop, we visited the Nauticus museum which is adjacent to the retired battleship, USS Wisconsin. It is packed with all kinds of information about why Norfolk is so important from a nautical perspective (it has the deepest water of any eastern US port) and historical (the US Navy's Atlantic Fleet is based here) and it was from here that Teddy Roosevelt launched the "Great White Fleet".
The museum was extremely kid-friendly and ours didn't really want to leave. They enjoyed the exhibits and had a great time exploring the immense battleship. Even better, I think they walked away with a deep appreciation of what a battleship does (and what life on one might be like) as well as an understanding to some extent of the importance of ship transport.
Perhaps the most fun part of the day was how, prior to each stop, our kids would say "ugh, do we have to go there?" and then, during the visit, they would say "this place is great!"
I asked them afterwards..."so, how many times will we need to tell you that you are going to like a place and you will take our word for it and not complain before we go?"
Of course, I realize the answer...it's never going to happen. ;-)
Friday, December 26, 2014
The economics are broken in a big way. And, I'm not sure that (on the whole), the education delivered is preparing people for the workforce or citizenry.
Combine that with new models of education delivery (e.g. Khan Academy, MOOCs) and you have an industry that is ripe.
There is still value to the college experience...bringing people of diverse backgrounds together for intense co-existing experiences. However, in my view, there will be far better and more cost-effective ways of doing that.
I'm certainly not the only one who has recognized this. There are many working on this including University of the People.
Today, I just read about another one...heck, I might go do this at some point.
Sunday, December 14, 2014
But one moment stands out in particular.
After having been in the Eastern bloc (Soviet Union, Poland, and East Germany), we arrived in West Berlin and went to the Checkpoint Charlie museum. From there, we could see the famous sign "you are now leaving the American Sector" and I remember thinking, for the first time, how lucky I was to have been born in a free society and be an American.
It's something that I never take for granted and it's one of the reasons why I have little patience for people who don't keep that perspective in mind when criticizing America vis a vis the rest of the world. Not saying everything is perfect, of course, but we have to keep the broader picture in mind.
All of this came rushing back today as I took Tikkanen to the Newseum. She had been there before but never had and I was just blown away by the quality and quantity of exhibits...the first of which is a section of the Berlin Wall, where I had the opportunity to frame for her why freedom is important and not to take it for granted.
The six floor are full of history and I found myself thinking "how the heck will I ever teach my kids even a portion of what's in here?" (and there was plenty I didn't know, of course.)
We sat for a long time in the 9/11 retrospective area, which has the antenna from the top of the WTC and I got chills, as I do often when I think of that day (as do many of us) and being in NYC.
We talked about the Scopes Monkey Trial, the Civil Rights Movement, Tiannamen Square, and much more.
The museum is really well done. Very interactive, digital/social savvy and has a ton of great kids activities.
Definitely not my last visit.
But, a museum that allows me to instill a trans-generational value...that's worth the price of admission (which wasn't cheap ;-)
Tuesday, December 02, 2014
40 acts of kindness..by each of us.
The four of us have been tracking dilligently and, at times, asking the NFO for approval of whether our act did indeed count towards the goal.
I am proud to say that both Tikkanen and Jokinen have reached the milestone. With 2 days left, I have 5 to go...and Nadia, well..she made a strong effort.
But more impressive than all of that was the inspiring effort put forth by "Aunt" Helene Reisler who, like many others, said she would celebrate the "40 for 40" effort and make her own list.
And she did!
Herewith...her list of accomplishments. Kudos!!
Sunday, November 16, 2014
I had a bit of a stomach bug overnight and spent a bit of time throwing up. It wasn't pretty.
This morning, I checked my email and found a note from my 6 year old.
Wednesday, November 05, 2014
Or perhaps it was because the NFO needed to be out for most of the day and into the early part of the evening.
Still, tonight, I was on point and solo for making sure the kids were fed and completed their homework before bedtime.
Lesson 1 was a deep appreciation for how much the NFO does either by herself (due to my travel schedule) or as the lead parent for this part of the day.
But there was a moment, when I was sitting at the dining room table helping both Tikkanen and Lakkanen with their respective homework assignments that time stood still.
We call it a "mental snapshot" and I realized that this was just "one of those school nights" when the kids would think many years hence that they had eaten dinner and done homework. Just a part of the routine of life.
And as I thought that, I recognize, like the old John Lennon adage, that this WAS LIFE. I realized that, never again, would they be that age, at that time, doing that exact thing. It was both mundane and profound all at the same time.
I cherished it. As my friend Josh would say, I "sucked out the marrow of Life" in that moment and just savored it for what it was. A dad, helping his daughters with their homework.
It was both fleeting and eternal.
Monday, October 06, 2014
Thursday, October 02, 2014
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
I am in Switzerland now and I got a temporary SIM card. Once I logged on, I received this (which would go to any account). Just a great way to protect yourself from phone theft.
Sunday, September 28, 2014
That notwithstanding, her 40th birthday is coming up in a few months and the kids and I have embarked on an appropriate activity to celebrate it.
We're calling in the "40 for 40 Campaign for Kindness."
Each of us are committing to 40 separate, unique acts of kindness towards others.
Each day, we will document our initiative to make the world a slightly better place.
Those of you who know the NFO understand why this makes sense.
Let us know if you'd like to join us.
You can report back or not report back. Up to you.
We'll have a counting/celebration around the time of her birthday (December).
I'll admit that I'm much more of a coffee drinker than a tea drinker. Though I do like tea and I find it much more calming than coffee, I just don't tend that way too often.
Still, when my friend Efrat asked me to sample some of her new tea line, Ceremonie Tea, I took a look at the website and jumped at the chance.
My reputation is important to me so I didn't promise a false, ringing endorsement, but the website hinted at a level of class that I hadn't seen too often in tea, with a few exceptions.
I believe the essence of great marketing is great storytelling and I think Ceremonie Tea has taken that to heart. They are clear about the extremely high quality origins of their product and they extend that to every element of the experience. The packaging is truly inspired. The colors representing different flavors and moods as well as different regions.
I tried many of them and while, try as I might, I can't seem to ever like Earl Grey, the Moroccan Mint and the various Green Teas were sublime. Mellow.
There have been studies about how packaging or price can actually enhance people's perception of the taste of wine and I would be willing to bet that if you gave your guests/friends some of this tea with its unique, pyramid-shaped bags, they would enjoy it even more. I know I did.
If I had two critiques, it would be that I wish that all of the bags had a string on them instead of requiring a spoon to remove the bag (but that could be a personal preference) and that they would use a bit less plastic on some of the boxes.
Still, the tea is definitely not your normal Lipton/Bigelo and better than the Celestial Seasonings variety. It moves into gourmet land and, even for a non-tea lover/drinker, was a notable experience.
It's also a great lesson in marketing, so for me, it was a double win.
Two books I just finished that I wanted to recommend.
Particularly relevant for anyone who has to lead a group or an organization.
The first is written by the CEO/Founder of LinkedIn, Reid Hoffman. It’s called The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age and highlights how managing people has changed since the era of lifetime employment has come to an end.
They reframe a job as a “tour of duty” in which the company makes clear to the employee what s/he will get out of the next assignment while at the same time, the employee promises s/he will stick with the job until the end of the tour. They stay because reputational risk is too great to leave it.
It’s a quick read and a solid framework for thinking about developing talent in today’s networked age.
Meanwhile, you can always look to the military for inspiring stories of courage, bravery, and leadership. In Pegasus Bridge, the acclaimed historian Stephen E. Ambrose details the first invasion effort of D-Day and the strategic imperative of a group of British airborne troops of taking a canal bridge deep behind enemy lines.
This is a book about planning, preparation, team building, leadership, strategy, execution, and more.
You’ll appreciate the “Greatest Generation” more and hopefully you’ll never be in a life/death situation like this with the fate of the free world hanging in the balance.
However you will be in a position where you need to lead a group of people on a mission. Learn from the best.
Thursday, September 04, 2014
It's like Saving Private Ryan, but more people.
I walked away with an understanding of "The Greatest Generation" and how they built America post-war, given what happened during the war in the Pacific.
My background in Japan added some color, but this series was just so informative and told the story so well that, literally, I was crying at the end of it.
It made me think of my own Poppy who served in the Army Air Corps in China. Not quite the same, but so appreciative of his and others' sacrifice..and of the immense numbers who didn't make it.
Next time you are in DC, go to the WWII Memorial as well. The names of remote Pacific islands will have newfound meaning for you.
Monday, September 01, 2014
In addition, he correctly predicted SEA over DEN in the Super Bowl at the beginning of last season.
As we move towards an economy of anytime/anywhere access and accountability/outcome versus time/input, it just seems like something that doesn't make sense.
I don't get paid by the hour. Many of you don't either.
If I have a deadline, I have to hit it. It is my responsibility to get it done on time. Whether I choose to work on Labor Day or not is up to me.
In a factory where you stand there and get paid for an hour's worth of work and you can't get it done unless the factory is open, something like Labor Day might make sense.
But in an information economy where your laptop/tablet and wi-fi are all you need, a "day off" is up to you, not to some mandated time period.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
Our objectives were simple and two-fold.
- Ride the Maid of the Mist
- Go to Canada
It’s what you learn along the way that makes the family trips so much fun.
And it’s the little moments (both good and bad) that you create the memories that stick with all of us for the rest of our lives.
What’s going on in Canada?
As part of our ‘get in the Canada frame of mind” effort, we pulled up the Canadian anthem on YouTube and played it over the car speakers.
It was around that time that we learned that Paco thought the lyrics were:
“we stand on God for thee” instead of “we stand on guard for thee.”
Needless to say, we had some fun with this. Canadians being so dedicated to their country that they will trample God for it.
Also, he thought that it was “Bob keep our land, glorious and free” instead of “God keep our land.”
This led to a lot of speculation as to who exactly Bob is. Perhaps Canada’s gardener?
The Unexpected Twists
Nadia has had a bit of a string of bad luck recently. She had strep, then a viral infection of her chest. We had taken her to a few places (Right Time Clinic being one of them where we had a horrific experience) and it seemed like we were doing all the right things.
Still, she was obviously sick and wheezing a bit.
We had a nebulizer and were using it.
However, the first night in the hotel was just brutal. Nadia was coughing violently, having a hard time breathing, and it was keeping the NFO and me up.
I was up from 2-5.30, but that’s nothing compared to the NFO who decided at 5am to take Nadia to the Williamsville hospital ER.
All’s well that ends well, but it was one of those nights where you think “great, I’m on vacation with the family, I’ll get to bed at a reasonable time, and be somewhat well rested” and instead turns into an all-nighter.
The kids ended up having a great attitude, making lemonade out of lemons (and that’s a life skill, isn’t it?) and we went to the pool in the morning.
We didn’t get to Niagara Falls until about 12.30pm, but it all worked.
Simple Expectations and Bonusville
My philosophy of travel with the family is very simple. Have ONE objective per day. Everything after that is bonus.
Monday was “Maid of the Mist” and then whatever.
Once we did that (and we all had a blast, getting soaked), we were in bonus land.
I had brought passports, so we walked across the Rainbow Bridge (kids enjoyed straddling the border) to Canada.
It gave us a chance to talk about different currencies, why Queen Elizabeth is on the money, kilometers vs. miles and immigration policy.
The approach is a major stress reliever for me. You don’t need to rush. You just do your thing and then can allow the rest of the day to unfold. I find it helps with keeping other people from whining too much as well.
And The Icing on the Cake
When we’re at home, we’re all not staying in the same room or same car for the same length of time. The intensity comes from the proximity and you see how we all work together to solve disagreements or partner.
You see how the kids take care of each other as they get to explore the hotel or go downstairs for the breakfast buffet.
You get to see that, for some reason, they think the show “Full House” is one of the funniest things they’ve ever seen. They laugh at the show and the NFO and I just laugh at their reactions.
You get to inhale the innocence of childhood through them, knowing that you don’t have it forever, but that it’s glorious while it’s here.
And you get to talk about “that time we went to Niagara Falls and Canada.”
Even if we had 14 hours of driving and a trip to the ER while we were there.
It’s all worth it.
Monday, August 11, 2014
Thursday, August 07, 2014
Thursday, July 31, 2014
Prosperity, security, education, acceptance into society. We wondered if the genration knew how good we had it (granted, it was a US centric view of things), we wondered if this generation had the strength to deal with things if that situation changed, and we wondered when they would end.
Call it paranoia (though history is a pretty good guide) I suppose.
When I look around at the vitriol online at Israel and Jews (no difference for most), I just wonder if we're at an inflection point.
Not just because what it means for Jews, but what it means for the world.
Sunday, July 27, 2014
Heard a few things from various people that I wanted to document, if only for my own posterity.
One speculation is that Iran egged on Hamas to intensify things.
Why? To pull attention away from them and the fact that they blew by another deadline on the nuclear thing.
More Balanced Reporting?
While I would certainly not say that the media is full on pro-Israel, there have been some more reports that are critical of Hamas. One hypothesis goes to the mentality of the reporters who are stationed in Israel.
For years, they could be in Jerusalem or Tel Aviv, claim they were “war reporters” by going to West Bank or Gaza for the day and then return to their 5 star hotels and 1st world lives without trouble. Not like being in Syria or Iraq or wherever. Now, however, they, too have to go into bunkers and hear sirens, so maybe they are thinking “hmmm..the Israelis may have a point here.”
Europe and the Jews
It’s just really, really bad.
I had a thought today about the fact that we’re seeing the rise of another type of totalitarianism. Then, I read Shmuel Herzfeld’s article. He said it, so I don’t have to.
And people are targeting Jews for violence in France, chanting “death to the Jews” in the city of the International Court of Justice, the Hague, and opening up charter schools in Norway that advocate beheading for people who don’t fast during Ramadan.
Friday, July 18, 2014
I have to admit that there is a streak of naivete within me.
Every time that Hamas attacks Israel, true to its charter of destruction of the Jewish state, I think to myself “ah, maybe this time the world will see that there is no moral relativism.”
We all know that Israel isn’t perfect. No secret there, but we all don’t seem to get the core issue…denial of Israel’s right to exist.
I think it’s just so difficult for the Western mind to comprehend that one side doesn’t want the other side to even exist.
So, it’s difficult to believe that there isn’t some “path to peace” since it’s just a huge misunderstanding.
But, like every time before, I am reminded about the reality that moral relativism does exist.
And it makes me anxious about the world in which my children will grow up.
Tuesday, July 08, 2014
He crouched down to the floor. Not on it, just soft of squatting.
When I asked him why, he said, “there’s more room down here.”
And I guess he’s right. Feet/legs take up less space than torsos and waists