Monday, June 27, 2005

Friends and what they mean...

Calanit endured 5 hours in the car on Sunday so that I could extend the friendship with one of my dearest, oldest friends to the next generation.

It was a bittersweet visit for the simple reason that he and his family are moving to Atlanta from Charlottesville, VA and we won't be able to visit them so often. Not that we did that much, what with kids, house, and all, but we knew we could...and we did on occasion.

I realized, again, how valuable old, true friends are, as we seemed to pick up right where we left off and rapidly discussed many topics, with a common foundation which need not be revisited. It was wonderful to see how his kids and Calanit could play and share in common watching Elmo.

It was also a bit emotional as I realized how great the friends from childhood are and how time, distance, and circumstances can make the visits less and less frequent and feeling that is only intensified by the power of the connection during the visit.

However, that is life and these are the roads we travel.

I am glad I took her and that we all have this milestone in our collective memories to look back upon as we go down the path.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Movie Review: Hotel Rwanda

Hotel Rwanda

Saw the movie last night. Don't know where to begin.

Maybe because it's the story of a different genocide (other than the Holocaust) and one that I'm not used to, I found myself reacting quite emotionally, viscerally, and in tears.

As I age and appreciate the inherent beauty of life even more, it becomes more and more difficult for me to comprehend this type of human behavior.

And as Tamar pointed out, "it's going on now in Darfur."

My brother, Barak, is organizing to raise awareness, but somehow, it's so easy for us to, as they say in the movie "see it on TV, say 'isn't that terrible,' and then go back to eating their dinner.'

We've seen what happens when the US gets involved, like we did in Somalia and from a removed, strategic perspective, it's easy to explain why the US/West doesn't/can't get involved. But, there is a human level here and something has to be done. That is the lesson of the Holocaust.

Many writers have commented on the uniqueness of Al-Qaeda as a supra-national network that is organized for militant evil.

What if there were a supra-national network organized for good?

It's clear, to me at least, that in cases like Rwanda and Darfur, we're not going to be able to negotiate the end of the massacre.

Wouldn't it be cool and almost super-hero-esque to have a group of people who were dedicated to the idea of protecting the innocent from massacre, without thinking about geo-political consequences (and not even being part of a state for that matter) but who had the weaponry and firepower to go and just kill the perpetrators of the Darfur massacre. That would send a message.

I bet there would be people willing to finance it, too.

I'm still shaken by this movie.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

No matter what, you need to wake up and start running

I just finished Tom Friedman's book "The Lexus and the Olive Tree" about Globalization. It was fantastic and aided my understanding of many of the trends that I've seen.

Perhaps I'm paranoid (or just a student of Andy Grove), but I do ask myself on a weekly basis "what part of my job could be done in India?"

He relates a great story about the challenges of the age of Globalization.

In Africa, every night the lion goes to sleep knowing that in the morning, he must run faster than the slowest gazelle if he's going to eat. The gazelle goes to sleep knowing that he must run faster than the fastest lion if he's going to live.

The one thing they both know is that when they wake up, they had better both start running!

Now, the kicker do you run at full speed, but watch everything go by in slow motion so you can make those tremendous insights based on observation?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

One thing I've come to appreciate is people who can seriously seek the underlying concepts to what would otherwise appear to be ridiculous topics...while at the same time recognizing the inherent sarcasm in the intellectual pursuit in which they are engaged.

Thursday, June 09, 2005

"I want to say something worthy of being put on your Blog."
-Gadi Rozmaryn, June 9, 2005

That's worthy enough for me.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Father-Daughter Travel

When I look back at my life’s activities and experiences, I have no doubt that yesterday; Sunday, June 5, 2004 will be remembered as one of the greatest I’ve had.

Growing up, I was fortunate to have many 1:1 travel experiences with my father. Not only did it bring me closer, but it empowered me as a self-reliant individual and gave me a thirst for knowledge and experience.

A few weeks ago, I received an invitation to what was essentially the 3rd birthday party of our godson, Nadiv Lev Rose, whose parents are very dear friends of mine and who will be moving to St. Louis later this summer from Long Island. I hadn’t seen them in a long time and realized that a trip to the Midwest was not imminent. The game plan involved a day trip up and back to Long Island for the festivities and then to parlay that event into a rendezvous with some college/high-school friends whom I had not seen in a while.

Initially, I was going to drive, but then the idea hit me that with Sunday being a day when Tamar works and I’m responsible for Calanit, I would bring her along. That necessitated a flight from BWI to Long Island (I seriously contemplated 6 hours in the car each way, but came to my senses…eventually).

Calanit and I woke at 5.30am and were at the airport by 7am. We rented a car with a car seat for her and were in Old Westbury by 9:50am. Then, Roslyn Heights at 12.30pm, Great Neck at 2:40pm and Locust Valley at 4.30 and back to the airport by 6pm. The weather was beautiful, 90 degrees, and Calanit was AMAZING.

At each stop, she was more engaging and entertaining than the previous one. She was a tremendous trooper, behaved quite well on the plane, didn’t mind having her diaper changed in strange places like a car, the men’s bathroom, or other people’s homes. She was even great when sitting in her stroller while I was standing at the urinal!

What a traveler this kid was. At the birthday party, she played with kids and balloons (ate like a champ also). At one house, for one minute she had a fit because her bathing suit was too tight and she didn’t want to go in the pool, but other than that, played ball with two boys, played peek-a-boo with an expectant father, and engaged with a 7 month old infant. And she did all of this with two 20 minute naps.

I couldn’t believe my good fortune. We played and laughed with each other while in the car as I explained why some of the names on Long Island had native American origins and the economics as they related to New York City.

I was thrilled to show her the importance and value that I place on maintaining relationships with people who have influenced you and been a good friend to you over the course of your life.

All day, it was as if my heart was expanding in love for my daughter. I was so proud to continue what I consider to be an Epstein family tradition of father-child travel.

Our planning and execution were flawless (well one minor one, but who’s counting?)

We got to the airport at 6pm for our 7.40 flight…only to be told that it was delayed until 9! Then 10:30!
“Ugh, what am I going to do to keep her entertained for 3 hours?”

Well, Calanit was up to the task. She ran around the terminal, found 2 friends and chased them in an out of the railings and chairs. She was laughing and playing the whole time.

Finally, at 11pm, we got on the flight to Baltimore and 25 minutes later, with a few whimpers, she crashed hard on the seat, out cold. I jostled her briefly into her stroller, then into the car, and then into the crib (12.45am), but she wasn’t bothered.

Initially, I was thinking that my luck had to turn, but then I realized that this experience was good for her. I had explained earlier in the day that travel can be made easier by good planning and we demonstrated that.

Then, there is the part of travel (as in life) that is outside of your control. The weather in Chicago (the origin of our plane) falls in that category and sometimes you just have to deal. I thought that as an initiation to travel, it was an added bonus that she saw that not everything always goes as planned.

It didn’t faze her at all.

I just felt so fortunate to have taken this time to take my daughter on a trip where we really “lived” and made the most of the day, a Carpe Diem type of day; where she met some friends of mine and made friends of her own, and where the two of us had a chance to bond.

Hopefully, this is the first of many.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Blogging Hits the Mainstream

I remember back during the Internet boom days that there were two instances that told me that the Internet hype was out of control. One was on the New York City subway where I heard two old ladies talking about Lycos and another, on the Long Island Rail Road, where two people were talking about their investments in some remote website (I'd heard of it, because that was my industry, but it was certainly not something that I thought the average person needed to know about).

Anyway, I'm not saying that Blogging has hit the same mania, but two recent pieces of evidence suggest that it's become mainstream.

First, my brother in law, who is a periodontist (and don't get me wrong, I love him dearly) tells me that the way he is going to fight back against credit card payment processors is by starting a blog for other dentists/small business owners.

Then, my 10th grade English teacher (whom I saw at a school alumni event) tells me that she has just returned from Israel. I say "hey, I'd love to see your write up of your experiences, can you email it to me?"
"Oh, I haven't done that yet, though it would make sense since I am an English teacher," she replies, "but I was thinking of starting a blog."