Thursday, September 29, 2005

Real Life...

For so long, we are conditioned to think that we are "preparing for 'real life'". Go to college to prepare for it, get your first job, etc.

It dawned on me today that with a wife, 2 kids, a house/mortgage and a job, this is about as "Real Life" as it gets. I'm here, wherever here is.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Health insurance and the impact on worker mobility...

I'm very fortunate at this stage in my life to work for a company that has tremendous health care benefits. I know that many do not.

But there's a downside. As I get older and perhaps become more risk averse-primarily due to my increased responsibilities as a father, I am weighed down by these "golden handcuffs." What that means is that should a better opportunity come along (however that is defined) from a societal perspective, I may not choose to take it because of the dangers associated with exposing my family on the health care side.

Makes me think more about portable health care as opposed to employer sponsored health care.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Direct, Honest, and Harsh...

Though I am seeking to recognize that the "one size fits all" approach is not the best when communicating with people, I also recognize that my natural style of being direct, honest, and harsh (in my honesty that is), can also yield results.

Today, my cousin was married. He is 40 years old.

Last night, at the rehearsal dinner, he made a point of recalling a conversation I had with him 2-3 years ago in which I basically said: "So, you want to get married? What are you DOING about it?"

He says that he was taken aback at the time, but that in hindsight, it gave him some of the clarity he needed to pursue his objective and lead him to his wedding day.

Feeling vindicated....

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

The Plumber and the Tablet PC...

Anyway, the plumber, yes the plumber, shows up at my house. When he’s finished, he brings out his ruggedized Tablet PC for me to digitally sign to obtain my receipt. Naturally, this gets me VERY excited and I ask him about it. In short, HE LOVES IT!!!

He loves how it has simplified his life and reduced the paperwork and time he has to spend doing administrative stuff. Now, he gets to more appointments, faster.

He’s got a docking station in the car with a keyboard and a printer. Using the Verizon Wi-max, he’s got GPS-like capabilities and he can optimize the routes he takes to customers and send the data back to HQ. Best of all, he’s NEVER had a problem with the software.

THIS is what I love about the potential of technology and Microsoft software for businesses and consumers.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

I hope my kids know...

how much I love them.

Tamar goes out three nights a week (Mon-a class; Tues-teaching; Thurs-dancing) and it's 1 on 2 for me. It's been a long day, I'm tired and invariably, both of them are crying. Trying to manage, it's easy to default to the TV as babysitter or something else to keep them occupied. Plus, there are the mechanics of Life to deal with, like cleaning up the kitchen.

Tonight, for some reason-maybe the funeral I attended yesterday-I took a pause and we had quiet time. I was feeding Erez and I actually had a conversation with Calanit about what she had done that day. It was quite remarkable as she answered my questions.

Then, I told Erez about some of the challenges I am facing at work and he did a great job of listening.

Everyone who is older tells you "it goes by so quickly," but when I say to my friends, "you'll be at your son's wedding before you know it," they laugh. I am well past the point of thinking that I have more perspective on life than anyone else, but perhaps a different perspective? Who knows?

Anyway, I took a deep breath and a mental snapshot of the scene, appreciating the crying and everything for all it's worth and as I put Calanit to bed, found myself getting very emotional, thinking about how time does fly by and before I know it, she'll be out of the house.

Yes, the days are long and the years are short, as my mother says.

I just hope that on those days when I am very tired and I encourage Calanit to watch SportsCenter with me as a way of not having to actively engage with them, that she recognizes that I'm human and I do love her and Erez very much.

I know that I should be fully engaged 100% with the lives of my kids and I am starting to appreciate just how difficult that is.

Perhaps tonight is the first step.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Slow motion day....

Knowing that I was going to a funeral this morning somehow made the day go by in slow motion.  I appreciated the little things more…like breaking the eggs for my omelet, the tug on the rowing machine, the feel of the carpet beneath my bare feet.

Our friend’s death, as sad as it is (and it is VERY sad), made me stop and pause, cherish the life that I have and realize that things don’t always (or ever) work out as you plan.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Appreciating my wife more each day....

It is absolutely amazing to me how much my wife puts up with on a daily basis, how much energy and stamina she possesses, and the boundless love and dedication she has for our kids.

After one 8 hour stint with the two of them, I am beat. Far more than anything I do at work---and she does this every day!! A true super woman. I would say that I stand in awe, but I'm too tired. I sit, lie down actually, in awe, amazement and appreciation.

Playing Zone....

A number of people have enjoyed commeting on the difference between 1 kid (double-teaming), 2 kids (man to man) and 3 kids (playing zone).

As of last week, Tamar is back to work on Sundays, so I'm playing zone with the two of them. Is it tough? You bet it is! I have realized, however, that I need to keep my goals modest, to plan well, and to execute relentlessly.

Need to think ahead at every moment...what are we going to need on this outing? Which crying kid should I handle first? Then, just do it and refuse to get distracted.

Things worked pretty smoothly today, but poor Erez had a lot of gas today and that waylaid many of plans as I had to comfort him the bulk of the time.

Anyway, next week, I'll have a chance to work on my zone defense!

Saturday, September 17, 2005

A reader shares a comment on travels...


Hi…hope all is well with you and Tamar and family. I just wanted to tell you something interesting and how you changed my life. Well…not really “changed” my life, but added something to it anyhow.

I read your trip-log when you and Tamar did that trip all around the US and you inspired me to do the same. While I have not had a chance to go all around the US, for the past couple of summers, I have taken a couple weeks and made big circles around potions of the US. Last year was the Southwest and this year was around Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, & South Dakota). On both of these trips I stopped at interesting cities/towns and national/state parks along the way.

On this most recent trip, I flew in-to and out-of Salt Lake City. I remembered what you had wrote about the Mormons and taking their tour and all and it being very interesting. So, I spent a couple days in SLC and one of those days I spent with the Mormons, on their tour, at their visitors center, etc, talking with them and finding out all about their religion and pilgrimage West.

So, thank you for the inspiration to see this great country of ours and for making such an impression on me about the Mormons, in particular.


Friday, September 16, 2005

Predator and Governor

Don't know if you ever saw the movie "Predator." It's a '80's flick that is a classic shoot 'em up violence movie.

I saw it for a few minutes last night and remember seeing it about 15 years ago or so. Who would have thought at that time that this movie would feature two future state governors? (Schwarzenegger and Jesse Ventura)!!

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Life doesn't necessarily work out as you plan...

When you're young, you think you're going to live forever. When you have kids, you just assume that you'll live until you see your grandchildren, at least.

It doesn't always work out that way, does it? And even though we know it intellectually, it seems like we think that it is something that will happen to someone else.

And for a time, it does.

We have a friend who is in his 50's, one of the funniest, nicest, most caring people we know. The picture of energy and youth.

He's been struggling with lymphoma for a few years now and has had some ups and downs, but recently, more downs than ups. The prognosis isn't good from what I hear.

There's really not much to say, I guess. The cliche's seem just that...cliche. Live each day to the fullest. Appreciate the moment. Carpe Diem. Whatever, I suppose. It doesn't help our friend and I wonder if it changes us?

Tefillin and the sign of the cross....

Just wondering if the custom of kissing the boxes of tefillin (phylacteries) [first the forehead and then the arm] is the forebearer or somehow related to making the sign of the cross? Very, very similar.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Shit vs. Exhaustion...

People who don't have kids get squeamish sometimes at the thought of changing diapers, getting peed on, or having a kid throw up on you.

I'll just say this...I will change diapers all day long (you get used to it) if I didn't have to be in a constant state of fatigue.

Last night, after Monday Night Football and some other misc activities, I went to bed at 12.30 (ok, my fault you say, but I would like to have some modicum of a life outside of my kids-maybe that's my first false assumption). Erez woke up at 5am and I took him (Tamar had been up most of the night feeding and burping the guy) and well, I've been up since then (it's now 8am) and have a long day ahead of me.

And the worst part....though there is an end at some point, it's not in sight since we have NO idea when it arrive.

Shit vs. Exhaustion. I'll take the shit any day.

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Passion of Technologists...

HDTV is really something.
I had the privilege of joining some friends for a football game tonight and watch it in HD. During halftime, the host showed us a Discovery channel program about the Space Shuttle-in Hi Def. It was remarkable.

During the program itself, a story about driving a probe into a comet moving really, really fast.

When it was successful, one of the scientists was moved to tears. He was that excited about this work! How often do you see that on a daily basis?

One of the things I love about technolgists is that they share that same passion-ok, maybe not that same passion, but pretty close.

These are people who work all day on technology and then come home and play with technology. Of course, some parts of work are frustrating, but at the end of the day, they are passionate about it. There may be some, but I don't know how many lawyers go home and keep studying law. (My financial advisor is probably the exception-that guy loves figuring out tax-optimization financial vehicles).

Anyway, it's great to have a cadre of guys (mostly) with whom I can share the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat when it comes to technical endeavors and I don't mind being on the other end of hearing their stories.

Friday, September 09, 2005

The gift that wasn't....

Someone sent us some great gifts for our kids. Only thing is, we don't know who. They were from and we know the price of them, but we have no idea who sent them. What's more, I spent 15 minutes on the site and there's no way (no phone number either) for me to figure it out.

I'll try again, but if it was you...thanks!!

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Sick with two kids...

Yesterday was probably the most difficult day for me in terms of leaving Tamar at home with two kids. During morning prayers, I was on the verge of crying thinking about her being sick and having to cope with them. If there were ever a justification for why I'd like to have a lot of money, it’s so that on days like today, I can stay home and let her sleep!

I love my wife so much and I was sorry that she was feeling well. I know that we will get into a nice groove with the two of them but I know we’re not there yet and it’s going to take some time.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

2nd child-short shrift...

I can see why 2nd (and later) children get the short end of the stick...

First of all, for the most part, we've seen a lot of this before, so the hours upon hours we used to spend staring into Calanit's face, well we just don't do that anymore.

Second, Calanit requires a lot of attention and is highly interactive. She's talking while Erez is nursing, sleeping, crying, and pooping. Who would you hang out with? :-)

Obviously, we love them the same, it's just interesting to see how we have changed our behavior this time around.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Me Shot

The "time out" concept...

Anyone who has kids has heard of the idea of a "time out." When your kid misbehaves, instead of a "punishment," you give the kid time to reflect on his actions by insisting that he stand to the side or the corner of a room for a specified period of time.

Well, we have finally implemented this with Calanit as she's approaching 2 and we know she's capable of better behavior, but with a twist.

As a sports fan and perhaps a bit old school re: discipline (Captain von Trapp is my role model), I've instituted the "penalty box."

This way, I get to say, "That's an excessive whining penalty on Calanit. Two minutes in the penalty box. Time of the penalty, 7:05pm"

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Existing on two levels....

The events of this past week in New Orleans help remind us of what is most precious in life. It's easy to take from a tragedy like this that we should spend the bulk of our time on earth focusing on the most important things there, health, etc. and ignore the seemingly mundane things, like doing the laundry.

For whatever reason, I can't do that, at least not all of the time. I guess I feel like paying attention to those little details like organizing your desk makes it easier for me to have the peace of mind to focus on the larger stuff, the more important thoughts. I'm not sure why, but I know that it is the case.

Of course, there's danger in swinging the pendulum all the way to that side as well.

Damn, there it is again, balance as the key. :-)

Saturday, September 03, 2005

Playing politics with Katrina...

It took me a while, but I realized what it was that I didn't like about the Katrina coverage. The networks and many politicians were using the tragedy to play politics. Unlike 9/11 where people really came together, many saw this as an opportunity to attack the Bush administration (where one could argue that the state had more culpability).

It's unfortunate, but not all that surprising, I suppose.

More on the politics of Katrina
little known facts re: what Bush can and can't do w/the National Guard

Friday, September 02, 2005

Is criticism the human condition?

Clearly, what is happening on the Gulf Coast is a tragedy of epic proportions. Let's not minimize that at all.

Beyond that story, in my mind, a few questions come up.

1. Given the size and fury of the storm, what is a reasonable expectation for relief? It's easy to complain that things don't happen fast enough after the fact.

2. Isn't there some accountability for people not listening to the evacuation notices? I realize some of the poor had no money nor place to go, but it seems like you can't ignore notices and then be upset that things don't work the way you want them to.

3. It's easy to say "hey, how come the levees were only built to survive category 3 hurricanes, why not category 5?" but when those come only once in 100 years and the cost is probably huge, wouldn't the same people before the fact say "why are we wasting tax payer dollars on something that only would happen once in 100 years?"

4. Given the size and scale of this disaster, why is it so difficult to believe that agencies weren't prepared. Before 9/11 no one could foresee a terrorist disaster like that, so why would they be ready? They may have been ready for a 7 out of 10, thinking that is all that would happen (hey, the people who stayed behind made the same assumption) so when a 10 out of 10 hits, it's to be expected. Many of us would have reacted the same's difficult to foresee and prepare for the absolute worst case scenario.

Look, I know things are abominable and it's tragic, I just can't stand the negativity that I'm hearing that the Feds, State, etc. are incompetents because they didn't prepare adequately. I'm sure there is some truth to that, but no one seems to be talking about the context. It's just much easier to join the pile on.