Saturday, December 31, 2005

Great minds....

Let's begin with the assumption that everyone thinks his mind is above average. Fine.

We can even work on the assumption that great, average, and small minds is wholly a matter of personal perception. Fine.

I guess my new year's resolution, based on some experiences I've had lately, is to ensure that when my family and I spend time with other people, it is with those whom we consider to be "great minds."

"Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people. "
Eleanor Roosevelt

Life's too short to do otherwise and I'm tired and frustrated by what happens when we do.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Sympathy for the infirmed...

I've had a minor glimpse of what it's like to not be able to take care of yourself since my surgery on Tuesday. This is really the first time I've been in a condition like this since high school, when obviously your perspective on life is a bit different.

Not only is it physically trying, but it is emotionally trying. To have to rely on someone else to help you with things you are so used to doing alone is demoralizing. It's the antithesis of being independent, self-sufficient, an adult.

And I don't even have it that bad (I mean, I'm blogging after all, right?) and it's still not so much fun. There are those who have it far worse and I can only wonder how they must feel.


It's amazing how attitudes change in 20 years. We stayed up last night until 1am and watched Philadelphia with Tom Hanks and Denzel Washington. The movie, as you probably know, does a fantastic job of capturing many of the sentiments in the mid/late 80's regarding HIV/AIDS. Looking back at that, it's hard to believe that's how it was, given how it is now, at least from my perspective.

I would imagine that is true with many, many things and this is only the first of many of these observations as I age. In order to have perspective of time, you need to be older, right?

Sense of smell

Somewhere along the line I've heard that your sense of smell affects taste. I'm thinking about this now because my nose is packed following the surgery and I can't breathe through it or smell anything.

Foods that I normally really enjoy taste bland to me and I've been gravitating towards very sweet (not that I don't gravitate to them normally :-) and salty.

I can only wonder if the inverse is true. When the packing is out of my nose, will foods taste better? Hmmm....something to consider and possibly anticipate!

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Adversity makes me appreciate my mate...

I wish I could be a romantic and say that every single day that I've been married to my wife I appreciate her more and more and cherish her the way that she deserves it.

Unfortunately, that is not the case. Got to be honest here. There are definitely days when the stresses of life get to me and on which I get very nitpicky about the things about her which irritate me (yes, there are a few-of course, nothing compared to the number she has against me.)

Anyway, it seems that during times of adversity is when I really see her for the caring, loving, thoughtful, beautiful woman that she is and when I am proud that she is the mother of my children.

I had surgery yesterday and though I haven't been totally out of it, it's been rough. Achy, nauseous, and tired, I haven't really been able to do anything to help her with the kids. What's more the Tylenol with codine made me throw up and guess who got to clean it up? On top of that, she's always thinking about ways to make me more comfortable. I am blessed beyond all comprehension.

Now, I just need to work on remembering that when I am not relying on her to do something for me.

Post-Op Instructions...

Got up at 5am yesterday morning in the pre-dawn darkness to go the surgery center of Maryland (a pretty impressive business operation, but that's another story) to have a nasal septoplasty procedure.

It's basically a roto-rootering of your nasal passages so that you can breathe more effectively. Those I know who have had it, swear by it. I had my nose broken in a basketball game in 11th grade (had to walk around w/a cast on my nose for 2 weeks or so) and while I had the bone repaired, the interior blockage of the septum and tissue meant I could only breathe out of one nostril.

So, the procedure is done and I'm recovering from the general anesthesia. Tamar comes to pick me up (special call out to Kira, my sister, aka die WuenderTante "wonder aunt" who watched the kids at home) and the nurse is reviewing the post-Op instructions. Do this, don't do that. I wasn't fully paying attention :-) but at the end, she says, 'ok, I think that does it. Let me see, did I leave anything off this sheet?"

I turn to her, putting my hand on the side of my mouth facing Tamar and say, with a grin, "yes, sex. Daily for 3 years. I think that's crucial to recovery."

It didn't make the 'official' post-op instruction list.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Tone Deaf...

So on the topic of effective communication, I think I may have come to the conclusion that I'm partially (not wholly) tone deaf. My dad always felt that Epsteins couldn't sing-that's not my problem. What is, I believe, is that the content of my communication gets lost in the delivery, which is oftentimes uniform, regardless of the audience. I don't think or take into account the tone or manner.

Here's hoping that awareness and admission is the first step on the road to recovery.

So true...

The best sale of my life happened a few weeks ago as I convinced Tamar to let me go for one week with my brother, Asher, to Israel. The purpose is to meet with movers and shakers in the high-tech industry and identify promising technologies.

Some insight to Israeli culture:
As the El Al plane settled down at Ben Gurion airport, the voice of the captain came on: "Please remain seated with your seat belts fastened until this plane is at a complete standstill and the seat belt signs havebeen turned off. We also wish to remind you that using cell phones on board this aircraft is strictly prohibited. To those who are seated, we wish you a Merry Christmas, and hope that you enjoy your stay. And to thoseof you standing in the aisles and talking on your cell phones, we wish you a Happy Chanukah, and welcome back home."

Communication is a discipline...

sometimes I communicate very, very well. Sometimes, I am horrendous. Either I just sit back and write/speak from the heart or I get too impulsive or overthink things.

I've been sending emails since '91 and I'm going to put in a new rule effective immediately. When I get an email that riles me up, I'm going to implement a 30 minute rule. I won't even begin drafting a response until then. For emails I need to send, and I mean relatively important ones here, I'm going to draft it and save it for one day. It's so damn easy to hit Send.

I've got to get this write (pun intended).

Monday, December 26, 2005

Bringing your "A" game...

For a while, I thought it wasn't possible to always "bring your 'A' game" to life. Now, I think it is, though with the caveat that you can't bring your 'A' game to every aspect of your life at every time, it's knowing which aspects of your life should be the recipient of the 'A' game that is the key and working smart to maximize the return on your effort.

This past weekend, I went to two concerts, staying out way past my bedtime (and Calanit's) to do it, but these were once in a very, very long time opportunities.

Today is the day after Xmas and I am sitting in my office. There is NO ONE here, but I'm craking away. No reason not to. Brought my "A" game to leisure time over the weekend and bringing it to work today.

Only in America...

would you find a room full of (mostly) non-Jewish people cheering on a Lubavitch Hasidic reggae/rapper, Matisyahu, singing his lyrics-most of which have to do with VERY Jewish themes and concepts and cheering wildly for the lighting of the first Hannukah candle (on Christmas day, no less) in a music club in the center of black, urban Washington, DC.

The guy in front of us (Kira, my sister and I went together) was a fairly typical, WASPy looking guy, wearing a Notre Dame Fighting Irish hat jumping wildly and singing lyrics such as "we want mashiach now and it's time to start revealing..." and "Yibaneh hamikdash bimheira b'yameinu" (rebuild the Temple speedily in our days) and other words taken from Jewish liturgy and religious tradition.

I kept looking around and saying to Kira, "I've lived in 3 countries and traveled to another 50 or so and THIS is the most unique cultural experience I've ever had."

Matisyahu gave a mini sermon on the signifiance of the word "Nefesh" (soul in Hebrew) and how it related to the Hannukah lights and with each word and beat of his very, very impressive performance, the place was nodding their heads in time and dancing. It was remarkable.

I'm told that my father's father, who emigrated to the US from Lithuania, would use the Yiddish term "Amerika goniff", literally meaning "America steals," but essentially refers to things that could only happen in America, as if to say with a wink and a nod, "you crazy America!"

Tonight was one of those moments.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Calanit's first concert...

Took Calanit, who like her mother, loves to dance to a concert tonight-Soul Farm. She was the youngest kid there-by far-and when all was said and done, she didn't get to bed until 1am. My daughter, the party animal.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

A 3 nap Sabbath...

The Jewish sabbath extends for 25 hours, from sundown on Friday night to sundown on Saturday night. It is a time for family and resting. Usually, people try to get in a "shabbat nap" in the afternoon of the Saturday as a way of really resting and catching up on sleep. Generally, one nap is considered a successful day. There are challenges, of course, when you have children and your sleep schedule is not entirely under your control.

This past week, I had a career day. The Sabbath began at 4.30pm on Friday. I was beat and took a nap from then until 6pm (my kids were napping as well). We all got up and had dinner around 6. Went to bed around 11.

On Saturday morning, I have a choice of synagogue services to attend and since Erez did a great job of waking me up at 5.30am, I was able to attend the earliest, but also most time-efficient service which begins at 7am and ends at 8.45am. By contrast, the main service starts at 8.45am and ends around 11.15.

So, I was home from services by 9.20am (had a bit of food and some conversation after services). Erez wasn't feeling so well, so Tamar took Calanit to the main services and Erez and I took a nap from 9.45am to 11.45am. Nap #2. I was feeling greatness at this point and saw potential for a new Olympic record for sabbath naps, as the sabbath didn't end until 5.30pm.

We then went to lunch at some friends of ours, where I told them of my pending record. By 3.40pm, lunch was coming to a close and I knew we had to move. Fortunately, we live around the corner and by 4.4opm, Erez and I were once again in bed, napping, for a record setting performance!!!

It's going to be near impossible to beat this one....

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Losing time thanks to technology...

Of course, there's the other side of the coin. Being the "cutting edge" guy that I think I am, I do spend an inordinate amount of time trying to make new things work "better."

Today, I downloaded some audiobooks and tried for 20 mins to burn them to a CD in a proper format.

I also wanted to figure out how to stream video from the server in my basement more effectively (check out the videos of the kids)

And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

I guess it cuts both ways. When all is said and done, I'm even (I hope!!)

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Freeing up time thanks to technology

Sometimes people wonder why I rely on technology so much.

There's a great chart that I've seen that says that 65% of the money that companies spend on IT/technology goes to maintenance and 35% goes to new, innovative solutions that help the business prosper.

The same is true at home, I suspect. It's easy to get overwhelmed by the maintenance aspects of life...paying bills, managing your social calendar, answering repetitive questions. What this does is prevent you from doing the things that you really want to do.

My philosophy is different. I'm willing to make a large upfront time investment in say, setting up online bill payment or writing up very detailed directions to my house so that over time, I spend less time doing the maintenance and more time on things I want to do.

When people say, "how do I get to your house?" I don't have to spend anytime explaining anything, I just send the 2 page document with detailed directions and maps, and we're off. Multiply that by many tasks and you start saving considerable time.

But, the upfront investment is key.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The word of the day is...


Took Calanit to her 2 year appointment on Thursday and the only test they had to do was test her hemoglobin.

From that moment on, I've got a little routine with Calanit.

"globin," she answers.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Seamless transition between roles...

...and all of a sudden I'm picking up Calanit at pre-school. Then, I'm sitting in the director's office and she says into the phone, "I've got a parent in my office."

Next, I'm introduced to Calanit's teacher, "this is Calanit's father."

It's not like one of those things you think about when you get married or even when you decide to have kids, it's just one of those moments that sneaks up on you and WHAM, there you are, changing your schedule so you can pick your kid up at school, read her report card, and help her leave with her backpack.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Family nicknames and a conversation

"What's your name?"
"And what's your nickname?"

"Good. What's your baby brother's name?"
"And what is his nickname?"
"Well done."

Saturday, December 10, 2005

A new appreciation of the word "Birthday"

Calanit turned 2 today and the term "birthday" took on a whole new meaning. This year, she could go around saying, "I'm 2," and "my birthday" (as opposed to last) and here I was thinking, "yes, it is her birthday and I was there the day and minute she was born." What's more, I'm partially responsible for it.

That's pretty cool when the person you've helped to create is old enough to say, "my birthday." I may not be expressing it fully, but I guess it's just elevates the idea of a birthday from celebration to a day of cosmic and potentially eternal significance.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Get your name off of credit card solicitation lists

I just opted Tamar and me out for life...

Getting away with it...

I was talking to a guy the other day and the topic of TV came up. He said, "I think we have cable."

"What exactly does that mean?"
"Well, we've never seen a bill, but we get all of the channels."

I pondered this thought and didn't judge him, because I have to admit there are things in my life where if put under the microscope, it's possible that I'm trying to "get away with it."

I asked him, "you know, we would never tell our kids that doing this is ok, but why do we think it's ok for us to do it?"
He didn't really have an answer.

I'm not sure I do either, though I suppose that we are masters of rationalization, yet we know there is an absolute truth and perhaps we hope that our kids will turn out better than we did. On the other hand, actions speak louder than words, don't they?

Just something to ponder....continuously.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Grocery Store Curling

Some of you may know curling, the Olympic sport (and I think national sport of Canada) where players hurl a 22 lb. or so stone down a patch of ice and try to land it in a circle, competing against others. There's a great movie about curling, the name of which escapes me now, as well, that gives some insight into Canadian culture (whatever that is, but that's another topic :-).

Anyway, Calanit (and sometimes Erez) and I now play Grocery Store Curling.

The two of them are in the cart (Calanit in the seat) and Erez in his car seat in the main section and we find an empty aisle. I toss them down the aisle and run down after them, seeing how far they will travel and all the while yelling "Heeeeyyyyy, wait!!!!" Calanit loves it. Needless to say, Tamar isn't in the store with us.

I think we might see it in Beijing in 2008.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Starting school...

Calanit started school today. Well, not entirely, but she went to visit her new class. She's technically not allowed to start until she's 2 (this Sat.), but Tamar took her to visit and from what I heard, she had a great time.

My mother said about kids, "the days are long, but the years are short." Our eldest child enters school. Another milestone on the road of life.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Life's adventures

Sitting in a tea shop waiting for a tow truck-dead battery

Friday, December 02, 2005

Accepting imperfections..

When we first moved into the house, I wanted everything to be perfect.


In the last year, I’ve realized things will never be perfect. What’s more, we’re at the point where we are comfortable living with the imperfections because they just aren’t that big a deal or it’s not worth it to fix them.


One of our stove burners doesn’t work.

Our kitchen sink drips unless you angle the faucet just the right way.


But hey, that’s what makes a house a home, right?