Sunday, December 31, 2006

Playdate politics...

Calanit had a friend over today. They were getting along very well.

The challenge: how to handle Erez?

On the one hand, he felt very excluded. He wanted to be involved in their games and they, of course, weren't so keen on it. I didn't want to give the message that it was ok to say "Erez, get away!"

On the other hand, I wanted Calanit to have a good time with her friend, at her level. With Erez involved, that wasn't going to happen.

I felt really bad for him. I took him downstairs to try and read/play with him, but all he wanted to do (he heard the girls running) was participate.

Eventually, it was resolved b/c he took a nap.

New Parenting Threshold...

Crossed a new barrier today.

During a playdate, I changed the diaper of another person's child.

Initially, I was apprehensive, I'll admit it. But once I opened up the diaper, I said, "you know, I've been here before. This looks quite familiar."

And yes, it was a "poopie."

Wonder how our friend "G" of the 7 diaper standard would handle this one :-)

The Blogger's Worst Nightmare...

"What will I have to blog about tomorrow?"

The fear of not having something valuable to write/share. Fortunately, LIFE always seems to prove itself worthy in some way.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

A day to cherish...

When I'm old and gray and my kids are grown, today will be viewed as one of the highlights of my parenting years.

From 8.30am-5pm, Calanit and I had non-stop activities. We went to 2 synagogues, went to lunch, walked a lot, and just had some fantastic bonding time. On top of that, Calanit was perfect in her behavior all day. It was such a great day to be a dad (and hopefully a daughter, as well.)

Movie Review: Live and Become

The last time that Tamar and I saw a movie in a theater was Under the Tuscan Sun, which has become a bit of a joke for us. Primarily because we didn't think it was a great film and secondly, because if we had waited 3.5 years to go out again, we would have liked our last movie date to be a great one.

Well, if we wait another 3.5 years, I think we'll be better off this time. At the historic Avalon Theatre in DC, we watched "Live and Become", a fascinating tale in three languages (Hebrew, Amharic, and French w/English subtitles-since my Amharic is a bit weak!) about a non-Jewish Ethiopian boy who stealthily integrates with the Falasha Jewish community during Operation Moses in 1984 to escape disease and famine.

Over the next few years, he must continually pass himself off as a Jew (an interesting twist on other movies where Jews have to pass themselves off as non-Jews) and integrate into Israeli society.

He sees the best of Israeli society-the only time in history where Black Africans were removed from Africa by a White nation for the purpose of freedom and not slavery and the worst-many racist views on the part of "white" Israelis and doubts casted re: the authenticity of the Ethiopians' Jewishness.

And, of course, the usual love interest works its way into it as do numerous contemporary events (Gulf War, Intifada). The movie does a good job of relaying the Israeli attitude with its "in your face" attitude.

It's 2.5 hours long, but doesn't feel that way. A solid movie.

Here's the trailer.

Knowing when to celebrate...

Here's something I don't get...your team is down by a touchdown or two or three and you make an admittedly good play.

You jump up and down, thump your chest, or worst of all, taunt the other team. What gives? You are getting your butt kicked. You should be hanging your head in shame.

This was prompted by Adi Jimoh's taunt in the end of the 2nd qtr against the Giants tonight. He shouldn't be on the team next year and the Redskins are terrible.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Getting organized...

My mom is local president of the National Association of Professional Organizers.

For those of you who are organizationally-challenged (or clutter-prone, perhaps), here's an interesting article.

and if you really need help, give my mom a shout. here's her website

The mind of the 3 year old...

In the past few weeks, there have been at least 5 occasions where Calanit has contradicted herself in the immediate next sentence.

For example:
"I don't want to go outside. I want to go outside."
"I don't want mac and cheese. I want mac and cheese."

She doesn't even realize what's going on (or at least gives no indication.) I was baffled, until I read the following quote from First, Break All The Rules.

"By the time the child reaches her third birthday the number of successful connections made is colossal-up to fifteen thousand synaptic connections for each of its one hundred billion neurons.

But this is too many. She is overloaded with the volume of information
whirling around inside her head. She needs to make sesne of it all. Her sense.
So during the next ten years or so, her brain refines and focuses its network of
connections."

That made me feel a lot better :-)

More on gifting...

Some of our social customs around gifting and re-gifting confound me. Here's a good post that sheds some light.

More on the mind of the 3 year old...

Jimmy Buffet's "Margaritaville" sounds on the radio as we turn on the car this morning.

Calanit: "I like this song. It sounds like the Wiggles."

Book Review: First, Break All The Rules

In sports, it is obvious. If a guy can throw, make him a quarterback. If he can shoot, don't force him to rebound. If he can pitch for only 1 inning, make him a reliever.

Yet, somehow businesses miss this lesson and look to "round out" individuals by addressing their weaknesses. In First, Break All The Rules the authors set out to prove that better performance comes from a few key steps.
  1. Selecting for Talent (as opposed to knowledge or skills)
  2. Defining the Right Outcomes
  3. Focusing on Strengths
  4. Finding the Right Fit

And they do a very good job of it. This book is the other side of the story which one of the authors told in Now, Discover Your Strengths, a phenomenal book which I definitely recommend. It helps you figure out what you do well (in terms of talent). Here's mine (text version)

Bottom line: take advantage of what people naturally do well and let them do MORE of it. Find others who complement them. Set clear goals and let people achieve them w/o telling them HOW to do it. Invest in your best and it will pay off.

If you are a manager or want to be one, definitely read First, Break All The Rules. Any serious professional should read Now, Discover Your Strengths

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Unused toys...

The amount of commotion which runs through a household with children is astounding. When things get crazy, it is natural to ask yourself, "will I ever get a break?"

Then, a downtime period comes. Naps, playdates, whatever.

You look around at the quiet house and you see the playroom strewn with puzzle pieces, lego blocks, stuffed animals, etc. and you think..."one day, my kids won't be playing with these anymore. They'll be grown up and even out of the house and the room we'll be neat."

While the thought of a neat room may be nice, the thought of a house empty of children isn't. And you feel rejuvenated. Ready for whatever is to come next (or so you think!)

The You Tube Presidency...

I've got to hand it to John Edwards...he's taking the Internet seriously. This is slick, in the sense that it's not slick.



And what's great about this is, his message is viral. I post it on my blog. You send the link around. He gets more exposure than millions of dollars worth of ads.

At least until all of the candidates start doing it.

New Year's Day in New York...

A classic story from the archives. All I'll say is:

POLAR BEAR! POLAR BEAR! POLAR BEAR! POLAR BEAR!

Enjoy! Click here

Happy New Year.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Web 2.0-ification of Search=Better Search?

It was bound to happen...and it has.

Think about when you use Google and you get a list of search results. Some of them are relevant, some of them aren't. However, Google doesn't care if your results are relevant.

We've talked re: Web 2.0 before (here and here) where user-generated content reigns supreme.
Now, it has come-and it's almost difficult to believe that it has taken this long-to search.

Check out the Sproose home page where you can put in any search term and then immediately rate its accuracy. On a massive scale, this has tremendous implications. It's like Google meat Del.icio.us.

Disclosure: this is a sponsored post

Seeing the future...

Spent some time in the virtual world of Second Life last night. It's both exciting and very scary.

Exciting because it gives a glimpse of what a true virtual world can be.

You can assume a totally foreign personality, act on interests that you may not in the "real" world, generate creations, sell them, and interact fully.

There are businesses, leisure spots, real estate, and more. There are people earning real money (the currency in Second Life can be exchanged for US$) selling their products and services.

It's possible to see a day where some people earn a substantial portion (or their entire) income from activities in places like Second Life.

It's fascinating to walk through, see how other people choose to present themselves in dress and appearance, and immerse yourself in a "Second Life."

Which is exactly where the danger lies.

Within minutes, I found myself drawn into the world, trying to figure out how it works, where to go, what to do, and how I would "make my way." I can see how it could become a major addiction.

Beyond making a living there, it's conceivable that people could spend their whole lives there (or at least a bulk of it) to the point where what's real and what's virtual is about as different as your life at work and your life at home.

I'm not saying this is bad-necessarily. This may just be a reflection of the fact that we all live life through our own lenses and now, we've just added another layer to that.

The real winner in all of this, of course, is Linden Labs which has a fantastic business model. They have free and paid memberships. Then, they sell advertising inside of the virtual world (to real world companies). It's a cash cow in the making...

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The "Red" House

It's a longstanding family tradition to do a drive-by of the "Red House", an impressively decked out home of a local pastor. The pictures don't do it justice. I've been going there with my family as long as I can remember.

Tonight, I picked up the kids at my parents' house and on the way home, I asked if they wanted to see the "red house."
"Yes!" Calanit shouted. "Let's see the Red House!!"

Another family tradition passed along :-)

If you're interested in going, here are the

Monday, December 25, 2006

Book Review: The Will To Live On

"And so the Melting Pot is beginning to work on Jewry," writes Herman Wouk in The Will To Live On.

The book promises to be a prognostication on the likelihood of the survival of American Jewry, at least according to the jacket, and in this respect, I was a bit disappointed, because I didn't feel like I got any new insights into our chances.


What I did walk away with was a newfound appreciation for my faith, its origins, and its richness. An octogenarian writer with a vast set of experiences and an eloquence of magnificent proportions, Wouk proceeds to break down Judaism and Jewish history into its component parts and ultimately relate how it all ties together. In each part, however, he provides the basics so that the novice can understand it, but in "going back to basics" in a different way, he inspires the long-time (jaded, perhaps?) believer to rediscover some of the allure and excitement that was initially (and hopefully, continually) inspiring.

Wouk often references and hints that, in some ways, this is a sequel to This Is My God, a book I first read in Japan and was tremendously inspirational in my own journey of self-discovery.

I wouldn't call this one a page-turner, but it was a solid read. And, it's possible that in the voyage of Jewish history, he offers the possibility of long-time survival against the wave of assimilation.

Wouk basically says, "with a heritage as rich as this, there will be many who realize it foolhardy to toss it away."

Let's hope he's right.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

It's a Wonderful (Circle of) Life...


Call me a sap, but no matter how many times I see It's a Wonderful Life (just completed on TV), I get teary-eyed.

Tonight's family dinner was a double birthday celebration for my brother Barak and for Calanit (again!). With the exception of my dad and youngest sister, all were present...and then some.

You felt the weight of time in the one room.

On one side, my aging grandfather, closing in on 87. Needing a blanket and having difficulty communicating the palpable concern that his time is coming to an end. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the vanguard. My two kids and their new cousin, Dalia (4 months), illustrating the circle of life.

Somewhere in between was my brother, Barak, and his girlfriend, Rebecca and my sister, Dina, and her "special" friend, Eli.

The movement of the process of life was evident in many stages and it was bittersweet to watch, of course.

As part of the celebration, Barak had invited a few of his friends to join the festive meal. Like visiting diplomats, one of the friends (aka the advance protocol officer) had outlined the family relationship in a tree format (with notation) for another. The recipient then transcribed it and emailed it to her boyfriend.

A primer on the family like a visiting dignitary would receive. It was a nice touch.

Just because...


I promised to upload a pic of my sister and her new beau...

Friends...win some, lose some...

A friend of Tamar's met an acquaintance of ours, who said:

"We really like and get along with Tamar. Not so much with Jeremy."


There are folks who are most concerned with not offending anyone. They play it "steady-eddie."

Nothing wrong with that, but not my style.

I prefer to be true to myself and not worry about offending people. Mind you, I don't go out of my way to anger people, but I realize that my approach doesn't work for everybody. I tend to believe that 97.9% of the people will like it and there's the 2.1% who won't.

Apparently the woman who said this falls in that category.

By the way, I've posted on her before

Adam Sandler - Channukah song #3


Channukah may be over, but Sandler's classic (3rd version) lives on. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Friends...the evolution....

People have told us that during your kids' formative years, you tend to be friendly with the parents of the children who are your kids' friends. There's some truth to that.

What's interesting is that over the past 2 years, I realize that now we (or at least I am( are also choosing our friends based not only on the adults, but whether I like the kids or not.

Let me explain.

We've had 3 situations. There was one kid ...
  1. who was just too rowdy and destructive that I didn't want him in my house
  2. where I felt like the parents did a lousy job of disciplining him, he was aggressive and bossy, and I was constantly on edge when he was around my kid
  3. who was just a brat, didn't share nicely, and whined incessantly

You know what? When I'm socializing, I don't need the extra level of hassle. I have no choice but to disqualify people whose children raise my anxiety level.

We had lunch today with Mandi and David Lowenstein and to watch their kids play with our kids (and the daughter of another friend) was such a welcome relief. Their daughter held Paco's hand going down the steps and all of their kids (including the 6 month old) played nicely with Tonka and Spencer (aka Paco).

Having the full family relaxing experience...that's what I'm talking about in social situations.

Friends: know where you stand...

Here's a great way to find out where you rank on your friends' social scale.

We were invited to lunch at Mandi and David Lowenstein's today (a fabulous meal-try to score an invitation, if you can).

I called up on Thursday to discuss what we could bring. Their two kids (7 and 4) answered the phone.

"Who is it?" they asked.
"It's one of your parents' top 3 favorite friends," I replied.
"Mark?"
"Uh no...."
"Aton?"
"Uh, no....you know what, let's stop now."


Love the honesty of kids... :-)
And, don't worry, the two kids were very good sports. I don't think they were scarred for life.

Friday, December 22, 2006

The Creative Mind of the Child...

When I was watching the Backyardigans (previously mentioned here) with Calanit, I was reminded of a comment by a friend of ours, Sara, the other day.

I had picked up Calanit after a playdate with her daughter. Sara remarked how fascinating it is to see what kids think up as they play together.

The premise of the Backyardigans is five friends who gather togehter in the backyard (surprise) and imagine up adventures of all sorts, ranging from the Arctic to the Amazon to the Wild West. It's a very clever show.

What's neat is how Calanit (and her friends presumably) have the same type of vivid imagination, organizing a playroom into a "store," or going on a "trip" using only a cardboard box.

Such a beautiful thing to behold.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

PS22 Chorus sings Psalm to Shlomo Carlebach...

My grandfather had a saying "Amerika gonif," which in Yiddish means "America, you thief," but it's true meaning is something along the lines of "America, you sneaky little sly guy," and he would use to refer to a situation which could only happen in America.

This is one of those.

Here we have a public school, multi-cultural elementary school class singing a Psalm in Hebrew to a Shlomo Carlebach tune.

And then, to top it all of...there's a soloist who breaks out into a rap.

Amerika gonif :-)

The Fast Bris...

and while we're on the topic of the who's a Jew...

Take the Jew or Non-Jew Quiz

click here
how good is your Jew-dar?

Wake up calls...

Found a free service that you can program to call you with all types of information.

We get a 7.45am weather forecast call every day.

Other alerts available as well. www.telepixie.com

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Holiday cards are out...

Charitable giving is in. I first read about the trend of companies making donations instead of giving gifts or sending cards here

Next, I was the recipient of a $20 gift certificate redeemable for a charity via www.globalgiving.com

This came from a former service provider of mine from the SilentFrog days. Call out to Serge at LokiTech.

Nice job (and thoughtful!). I do like this trend. Hope more companies do it.

You are your own photo center...

I bought my first (and to date) only digital camera back in Dec. 2000, prior to our honeymoon to Spain. It's a 2.1 megapixel camera that has served us well. I've taken over 7000 pictures in that time and have spent a huge amount of time cataloging and archiving them.

One of my kids' favorite activities (and mine when I've been run ragged by them) is to show them pictures of various people in our families and activities they've done. I love how we are creating and reinforcing memories as we move along.

The other night, I spent 90 minutes with Tamar helping her family assemble a set of pictures for a collage for her brother's going away trip. I was the point person for uploading all of these pics to the Costco photo center.

I noticed something....my relatively neophyte/technophobe in-laws were snapping some fantastic looking pictures! The clarity on the newer ones are phenomenal!

On top of that, my mother-in-law has a nice photo printer and she just prints it out at home.

It was a love/hate moment. I love it that so many people now have access to making these memories in their own homes. I hate how I am now "behind the curve" with a 6 year old camera and a basic color printer that does a terrible job of printing pics.

May have to get back in the market and take my level of digital photography to the next level!

If I'm going to continue to be the outsourced technology consultant for Tamar's extended family (28 people at last count) and mine (another 10) and the 4 other people who have contacted me in the last year for tech support/question of some kind (yes, I've counted :-), I need to get a bit more cutting edge....ok, a lot more cutting edge. It's great to be a Web 2.0 expert, but most of my network doesn't care about that...how to take, store, print, archive, and upload pictures. Now, that's a universal need. And I've got to maintain my position of valued consultant.

Note: This post is sponsored by HP.

Free labels...

I get a lot of free address labels from charities as a way of compelling me to make a donation.

This doesn't work for me. I do use the labels. But if I'm going to donate to a charity, it's not going to be on the basis of who sends me return address lables.

You?

Tired of Automated Assistance on 800 numbers?

Thanks to Marci, we've got a list of what you need to do/say to get a real, live human via many different companies' 800 numbers.

Multi-cultural workforce....

Two interesting anecdotes from my workplace.

I'm on a mini-team with a woman and a man. The man is a Mormon.

The woman is our team leader. The topic of the holiday baskets being sent out to the team came up. Thing is...the holiday baskets have non-kosher wine (and the Mormon guy doesn't drink, obviously).

Leading a team in the multi-cultural era, I suppose.

Later, I was walking with the same woman and an Indian colleague of mine. We each told the story of how we met our spouse.

The Indian's was an arranged marriage. Mine was through the synagogue. Hers was through a friend.

We got engaged after three months, she after 6 years.

Just an interesting set of stories and lives that converge in the modern American workplace.

Searching for Charity...

Keren sent this search site in. It uses Yahoo's search engine, but donates the $ to charities (listed).

Neat concept.

BTW..Keren, thanks for using the Meebo widget to IM me. Nice touch! :-)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

A child's birthday party...

A life milestone was hit this morning.

Went to celebrate Calanit's birthday with her school class. And suddenly, I'm on the other side.

Big kudos to Tamar who put A LOT of effort into developing a very unique and exciting project for the kids to do.

Sure, we had cupcakes (with dreidels on top), but Tamar went the extra mile to really give the kids a great experience.

Plus, she tied the project into the Hannukah story, and each kid went home with a keepsake from the party which s/he created.

Tamar's mom (a very creative woman) did that for her kids growing up and the tradition continues.

Neat to see and be a part of and emotional to watch your child's birthday party with her cohorts for the first time.

Site rendering issues...

Something funky going on w/Blogger today. It's irritating, but nothing I can do. Site isn't displaying properly.

Aaarghh....

Asking "How Are You?"

My brother gave me an article on empathy the other day. It really struck home.

Not just because I have a VERY long way to go on this topic, but because it showed me how trite and insensitive some of our behavior is in a multi-tasking admiring world.

One is carrying on a conversation while you are emailing. It happens a lot at work and it's distracting.

Second is asking, "how are you?" Most of the time, we don't really mean it. Anything other than "fine" as a response and we don't know what to do.

I'm going to try and remove "How are you?" from my vernacular.

My goal: when I see someone, make a genuine comment that reflects my impression of that person. Maybe a comment on an article of clothing, gratitude for a funny joke or article that was forwarded, etc.

One small step to improve my empathy for others....

Where everyone knows your name...

In my neighborhood/community, there’s a sub-culture of carniphilia (don’t know if that’s a term, but I mean people who love eating meat) and within that sub-culture is one of people who love to prepare meat.

There are a few chefs who have taken it to a level of mastery. I am not one of them. Gadi Rozmaryn is.

Every Monday night during football season, he hosts a big shindig, but the epic activities are the first and last Monday Night Football games of the year. It is on those 2 nights where everyone shows up. (At least I say that since I only go on those two) and where he goes all out in terms of preparing excessive quantities.

Last night, he estimated that the roughly 20 men (only J) consumed approximately 40 lbs. of meat. There were ribs, London broil, hot dogs, chili, and latkes (not meat, but it is Hannukah).

I am not one for going out often just to “hang out,” but it is during gatherings like these where you appreciate the value of your social network and of having a place, like they said about Cheers, where “everybody knows your name.”

Good food, good friends, football. Who can ask for anything more? Wish I could play the “Da…da…da…da….” theme music here. Here’s to looking forward to next season!

Paradigm Shift...

My mom and I were talking about our Sunday evening plans (invited to a Hannukah party) and she says, "I've got to be there by 7pm so I can see 60 minutes. There's a piece on the Holocaust."

So pre-DVR era...arranging your life around a TV program.

"Mom," I said, "why don't I just record it on my Media Center? Then, I can burn you a DVD."

Time-shifting of TV is such a great accomplishment. I don't even think anymore about when shows are on. I just think about when I can watch them.

Came in handy on Sunday morning. Erez was sleeping and I wanted to do some pull-ups (on my office door). I didn't want Calanit to feel like she couldn't be with me, so I said, "hey, do you want to watch the Backyardigans in my office while I exercise?"

She sat in my office chair and watched the episode on my monitor. The convergence of TV and PC is complete in her mind.

Teaching your children...

We're playing Dreidl the other day and Calanit looks at me and says, "how do you do that?"

I stop in my tracks...how do you teach someone how to spin one?

First, I have to think myself how I do it...and then break it down to simple steps so that, as we say a business, "a 3 year old would understand it." Only this time, it's a real three year old.

Success was not achieved, but it was a good life lesson and an exciting one, too. Looking forward to 're-learning' things by having to teach my kids.

How would you teach a child? How did you?

Monday, December 18, 2006

The Pay to Blog Phenomenon....cntd.

I've written before about my involvement with www.payperpost.com which offers cash to bloggers who are interested in promoting products. For background, see here, here, here and the newest episode of the reallity show

They have a new policy which requires disclosure that a blog post is for pay. I think this is a good idea. My thinking all along has been to only post on topics that are either relevant to things I blog about normally OR in which I have total confidence.

Watching this company unfold is exciting and what's cool is that besides the documentary, the company blog gives you insight into what they are thinking and doing, so you can almost be a part of the company. What's particularly exciting is how it's really a conversation with someone, not a one-way loudspeaker, but a company (and it's not unique to them) that is trying to elicit feedback.

Plus, the videos they post are pretty funny.

Added them to my RSS feed.

Note: post sponsored by PayPerPost.com

An interesting speech debate...

Email from tenured professor to Muslim Students Association.

Should be an interersting conversation regarding what is "free" speech and what is "hate" speech.

What others know about you...

I tend to think that we think other people think about us more than they actually do.

And, what's more, we make assumptions about what they think about us.

I know that others think and talk about me. I know that I think and talk about others. But that's about it. I tend to think that people make a bigger deal out of things than they need to.

Three examples:
Spoke to one friend who met her newest boyfriend on "JDate," but didn't want people to know.

Know someone else whose girlfriend is converting to Judaism and his parents don't want people to know about it.

There's a family I know where one of the children is being hospitalized for mental illness issues and it's a big secret. They want that information kept private.

I understand there are some private things out there, but I tend to think that the stress of trying to keep things a secret, while letting some folks in on it, is a very challenging one. If you're going to tell people (outside of your spouse, I suppose), you are almost inviting them to share the information in a "I'm not supposed to tell anyone, but..." or an "I'm only telling you" scenario.

From my vantage point, people spend a LOT of time and energy trying to keep these things out of the "public domain," energy that would be better spent in other endeavors...and the ironic thing is that the reactions would be far below the "worst-case-fear-expectations" of the individuals trying to keep the secret. What's more...how many people actually, truly care? Not many.

Here's my reaction to the three above:
  1. OK, 10 years ago, maybe, I could see the JDate stigma. No longer. Get over it.
  2. I get that some observant Jewish communities may say "what is it that led a child of such a family to date someone who isn't Jewish?" but mine is: "Great, they are both going to lead a committed Jewish lifestyle.
  3. Yes, it's a tragedy and a sad thing, but it's not a referendum on the parents or the family. You're not dysfunctional. These things happen.
When we say, "yeah, but I don't want anyone to know" (as it relates to MOST things), my hunch is we're walking around with a greater sense of self-importance than may be necessary.

Am I off my rocker here?

Understanding your customers...

As marketers start using data to better understand customers and "how they think," there's a move towards "psychographic" profiling. Instead of saying that 2 customers who live in the same zip code or have the same income are the same, they try to say, "what is this person really like?"

  • Are they a technology early adopter?
  • Do they like to work with their hands?
  • Do they view themselves as a "trendsetter?"

Playing off of this, the webiste www.gifts.com is using this psychographic info to try and help sell stuff.

Instead of profiling you, they say, you know your friends...but we'll organize the products according to the different personality types.

Kind of neat to see this in action.

Hawaiian Identity Movement?

I've noticed that TV programs are starting to write "Hawai'i" and not just "Hawaii."

Wonder where this movement originated?

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Where your information comes from...


Ran into a friend of ours who told me she reads this blog. Of course, I had to ask, "how often?" (see why)

She hesitated..and then said something along the lines of "being embarrassed," "having no life," and "spending too much time" on the Blog.

I can understand why some may feel that reading another person's blog is "voyeuristic" and not a "worthwhile use of time" (not her words, btw...)

I disagree...and here's why.

The mainstream media is slowly but surely being displaced by bloggers and other, less traditional sources of information.

Our friend isn't alone, but in fact part of a major migration away from top-down, command and control media system to a distributed, network-centric, more democratic system. The chart at right demonstrates this a bit and the full report "State of the Blogosphere, October, 2006".

Best part is how the data inflates my ego as an early adopter...given the number of blogs in existence prior to March, 2003 :-)

When people visit..

One commenter on my post re: getting your attention for the blog challenged the time of day that people visit.

My analysis of weekday visitor shows that more people arrive on Wed. and the early morning hours (EST) are most popular. That's how I arrived at my conclusions.

You can visit the sitemeter data and see what time of day is most popular (and other stuff)

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Make it easy for customers to reach you...

One thing I don't understand about the websites of some companies is how difficult they make it to find a phone number.

You'd think they'd want you to call them. It gives them a chance to build a relationship with you, understand your needs, and heck, mabye even sell you something. That's the point, isn't it?
Which is one of the reasons I was intrigued by a new company that makes it easy (and cheap) for any company, no matter the size, to obtain Toll Free 800 Numbers and make them memorable. For example, I've just signed up for 1-877-4JER979.

If you have a business, it's worthwhile to see if you can find a vanity 800 number to help customers reach you. The site's got a nifty little feature to search available numbers and register quickly.

(and if you are a blogger, there's a nice little contest going on)

Disclosure: this is a sponsored post.

Moving-in day...2 years on...

Just a quick historical note. 2 years since we moved into the house. Kind of emotional to mark the years go by.

Being the connector...

One thing I enjoy is connecting people, both on a personal level (here) and a business level (here)

I spend a lot of time keeping the information about the people in my network "clean" i.e. up to date and figuring out what's important to them. Then, I try to connect them with others who may help them. I use tools like Plaxo, Outlook, and LinkedIn to facilitate theis process of introductions.

I've long said that my goal is to "get people to pay me to do what I want to do anyway.

Next step: figure out how to get paid to just connect people all the time :-)

Friday, December 15, 2006

She doesn't look Jewish...

A colleague of mine (does it make a difference if she's in an admin position) from Indonesia sees me the other day.

[Relevant background...she had met Tamar at the holiday party last weekend]

"So," I ask, "do you have holiday plans?" She explains them.

"And you celebrate Hannukah?" she asks.

"Yes, that's right."

"What about Christmas?"

"No, I don't."

"What about your wife?"

"No, she doesn't either."

"She's Jewish, too?"

"Yes."

"Really, she doesn't look Jewish."

"Hmmm..well, what does Jewish look like?"


I guess she got a bit uncomfortable at this point, thinking I was attacking her (I wasn't, just trying to figure out what she meant) and then came to her defense...
"Well, my wife does sometimes have people think she's Italian or Latina" {that has happened].
Anyway, just a strange moment...

Your Resume...2006 edition

Every 6 months or so, I update my resume. I'm very satisfied in my job now, but I like to keep it fresh.

It occurred to me, however, that the resume I'd been using (a standard Word format) is the same one that pre-dates the Internte era. Almost all text (I do have my picture there) and very static.

That's ridiculous.

A few weeks ago, I saw a TV segment on a guy who posted his video resume to YouTube (there was some controversy, but that's a different story). That got me thinking about how people interact with information...and what information they need about you to make a hiring decision.

Sidebar: about 2 months ago, I was approached for an interview by someone who found me on LinkedIn, which showed me some value in the network...finally.

Those two forces made me realize that
  1. a more interactive, Internet-era-ready resume was necessary
  2. the ability to quickly show some of my value (in terms of network strength, for example) makes a lot of sense
  3. people work their network for people (which I knew, of course, but was nice to realize)
So, I've moved my official resume to a Public Profile on LinkedIn.

Now you can see how many connections I have and read (as of last count) 27 different endorsements of my work over time from colleagues, managers, and business partners.

Plus, I can add links (it'd be nice to add pictures of myself) to relevant links (say an article I've written).

I'm working on a video resume (it's going to take some time) as well, but I'll put it there as well. (You'll also notice that I've got a LinkedIn profile badge on my sidebar-to the right-of the blog).

And here's a good article about the LinkedIn service.

Attention Economy...Career Goal

I think my career destiny is to be an attention merchant.

I work on the fundamental belief that everyone's attention is limited and therefore, highly valuable.

The person who can effectively capture--and hold--the attention of another is someone who can charge a premium.

But it goes beyond pure shock value, because that's transient.

Which is why, for me, this blog is a great social experiment. I wrote about this before (here) and it's why I spend more time than I should thinking about...
  1. how often I should blog
  2. what I should blog on
  3. how I should write a post
  4. what should the "lead story" be for those of you whose habit is to check in the AM (and since I tend to blog in the PM). My assumption is that if the "lead story" isn't good, you're less likely to stay
  5. what will generate comments

I tweak those variables (and probably some others) to figure out what is it that garners and holds the attention of readers.

If I can figure that out and then get paid for it....well, that would be the ultimate. I'm working on it.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Reaching towards the Torah goal....

A few years ago, I set out a goal for myself of reading the entire Torah during services at synagoguge over the course of my life.

Each weekly portion (there are 54 of them) are divided into 7 sections.

You can track my progress at the online Read Torah Portion Tracker

(the offline version has formulas and colors with conditional formatting, but this'll do for now).

Give credit where credit is due...

I got home from work this PM to try and log on to NetBank and pay my bill...a process which 12 hours ago inspired the "this is broken" post.

The site was still down. I couldn't even email customer support.

I scrolled through the site and found the name of a guy, "Jeff Wagner" who was listed as a contact point (I had contacted him previously about another issue which he resolved.)

No sooner than I had opened my email to send Jeff a note did I see a comment on my Blog posted by none other than...Jeff Wagner.

I thought..."there is no way that there is some random guy named Jeff Wagner reading my blog."

Sure enough, the NetBank guy is obviously trolling the blogosphere (Technorati, Jeff?) and reading/responding to blogger comments like mine. Here's what he wrote:

Jeremy: I appreciate the evaluation you have provided on NetBank's new
authentication layer. I would like to take the opportunity to address your
questions and concerns and maybe add some clarity to your 1st impressions (i.e.
you won't have to answer additional question each time you log in, thankfully).
Perhaps you could contact me via email offline? I can be reached at jwagner AT
netbank.com. I look forward to hearing from you. Jeff Wagner Director, Customer
Care NetBank, Inc.

I was impressed. It is this type of customer service that has made me appreciate NetBank.

I'll let you know how this is resolved (still can't pay my Bill), but it's a good sign of responsiveness and pro-active as well (because I was going to send him the link to the post).

This is customer service in the Blog/net era. (and the 2nd time something like this has happened-hint: see the comment)

This is broken

There's a great site called www.thisisbroken.com where people submit examples of things that were designed from a perspective other than the customer. It makes you think about how to make things as easy as possible.

I've been a Netbank customer for about 6-7 years now and it's been a great experience.

They recently instituted a "state-of-the-art security"system. You have the usual username/password, but now a series of questions/answers. You pick 5 of them and you need 1, usually, to log-on each time you want to transact with the bank.

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate security as much as the next guy, but I'm not sure this is the best way to do it.

Why? Well, if you look at the questions, you'll see a lot of them are opinions, not facts. That's for starters.

For example: what's your favorite song? Well, whatever it is now, it's not the same as it was 2 years ago (or maybe even last week)

And the facts questions....there are some problems there as well.

For example: what was the first/last name of the person you took to the senior prom?
Ok, so I took Stephanie Heideman (obviously I didn't select that question), but is it:
  • Stephanie Heideman
  • stephanie Heideman
  • Stephanie heideman
  • stephanie heideman
  • StephanieHeideman
  • stephanieHeideman
  • Stephanieheideman
  • stephanieheideman
You think in 2 months I'm going to remember which one of these I used? [I hope she doesn't google herself today :-).]

I ran into this problem today with the "which team do you like to see lose?"

Well, there are a few and I guess I forgot which one I chose (it may have been baseball season when I answered and now my frame of reference is football).

I had to call and re-set my password. Annoying

This is a comprehensive security system, but I'm not sure it is the most customer-centric way of doing it.

I've seen some other (more graphical) security systems pop up, which have some promise.

(and, to top it all off...when I try to pay my e-Bill at 2.15am...the service is down!)

More on the Sabbath Invite Strategy...

Got an invite to someone's home for a meal this weekend.

She left a message on our machine on Monday night. I heard it, but didn't have a chance to call back until Wed. night.

I don't know for sure, but I would guess that she was a bit irritated that it took that long for us to respond. This is why we plan so far in advance and why I like our strategy.

More on this topic here ;-)

Hitting the wall at 7.20pm...

There are only so many days/nights of going to bed at 12pm, getting up at least once in the middle of the night, and being awoken at 6.30am that I can take before I hit the wall.

Last night, I helped get the kids ready for bed, lay down on my bed (fully dressed) and fell asleep...at 7.20pm

Of course, that explains why I' up at 1.30am.

The pressure that I feel to get "things done" every night --and arguably many of them are not high priority, but I feel better if I've done them-like blogging :-) --compels me to stay up later than I should.

Moderation is the key. Not the extremes, but hey...

Some of the activities that I feel "must get done" every day (usually at night) for me to feel "whole" (outside of the obvious stuff) include:

  1. some sort of exercise (Tamar got a new pilates video and we're into now)
  2. preparing for the next time I read Torah in synagogue (Dec. 30th)
  3. at least one blog entry!
Am I alone in this?

Chalk one up for the Jews...

A story that circumcision can help prevent HIV transmission

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Jib Jab's Year in Review

You need to have a good sense of humor for this. If you do, enjoy. If you don't, go to the next post.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Pet Peeves

Where's the line between a "pet peeve" and a true irritant?

Had this conversation with a friend the other day and his position (I know he'll comment to clarify) is that everything that annoys you is a "pet peeve," it's just a matter of gradation.

I don't think so.

A pet peeve is something that you probably should be mature enough to deal with, but for whatever reason it gets under your skin and you have an emotional, irrational reaction.

Here are some of mine:
  1. People who stand on the left side of the escalator
  2. Punching in your telelphone number for customer service and then...what's the first question you are asked by the rep?
  3. People who are going to be late (for whatever reason) and don't call (or email). It's just disrespectful of your time
  4. Social pressure to tip when service is lousy or meets expectations
  5. People who drive all the way up the entrance merge lane during a traffic jam and squeeze in at the end (and conversely, passing all of the cars waiting to get on the highway and then butting in right before the on-ramp)

I'm sure there's more where this came from.

What are yours?

New look...

Once again I've changed the look of the blog (thanks to upgrading to the next version of Blogger).

Let me know what you think....

Also, take a look at the items on the right (send me an IM or an Audio message for kicks!). Any one of them stick out to you?

Neat idea...

I signed up for BGE e-bills.
Just got a mail from them saying "there's some stuff we can't send you online..."

I was expecting a sales pitch. Instead I got a "scratch 'n' sniff" for what natural gas smells like so I can detect a leak more easily.

Nice value add. Makes me appreciate them a bit more.

Good article on money management...

Called "Advice I'll Give My Daughter"

Copied from WSJ in its entirety (links expire).

Monday, December 11, 2006

How often you read...

When someone comments on my blog, I like to ask them, "how often do you read it?"

I can see in their faces that they are reluctant to tell me the truth (presumably for fear of hurting my feelings.)

Let me assure you...I don't take it personally if you choose to read the Blog once a month or once a year. I understand you have competing time pressures. There are a LOT of things competing for your time.

I don't take it personally. I view it as a challenge. My goal is to entertain, inform, and attract your attention to the point where you WANT to come back every day. That's the standard. If you're not reading my blog everyday, I'm the one who is embarrassed.

Not you.

Thanks for reading :-)

Football comments...

I don't blog on sports often.

Probably because I fear that it's not appealing to the blog audience. However, what I've found is that, anecdotally, each blog reader has a different set of tastes and skims to the topics of interest to him/her. I should have known this, but now I'll feel a bit more comfortable increasing the breadth of posting.

So, simply because I have the opinions, here we go. In no particular order.

  1. The Redskins are horrible. Joe Gibbs' team was 4-8 and showed no gumption in going for it on some 4th and 2 calls. Come on, you're playing for dignity
  2. BTW, the Redskins name is offensive and should be changed.
  3. The Saints are the real deal. I love Reggie Bush. The Texans have got to be kicking themselves.
  4. Love the fact that the Saints were up 35-17 and went for an onside kick against Dallas. Now that is going for the jugular.
  5. Rex Grossman is not a good enough quarterback to lead the Bears to a Super Bowl victory.
  6. Drew Brees is. Now that would be a GREAT story.
  7. I love what Vince Young is doing for the Titans.
  8. The Colts have had a rough go of it, but I still think they are the team to beat...finally.
  9. It'd be neat to see the Chargers-Saints in the Super Bowl.
  10. There's a great term Schadenfreude. I always get it when I see Dallas, New York, or Philadelphia lose.
  11. I love the idea of the NFL Network. Make more money. Go for it. I also love how they are institutionalizing "Night Football" on Thurs/Sat/Sun/Mon. Way to rake it in, guys!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

3 years and counting...

My little girl turns 3 today and we had a replay of this scene from Holy Cross Hospital (here's the full, original story), except for the fact that the girl is much bigger.

I don't know if, no matter how old your kids are, you ever get used to the idea of another year that has passed and another year since you witnessed the beginning of a life in this world.

As my mom says (and I've oft-quoted), "the days are long, but the years are short." And the days are very, very long, but poof here we are down the road.

She walked down the steps this AM and I sang Happy Birthday to her. Later, we were listening to a CD with the song "Somewhere Over the RAinbow...what a wonderful world." I turned to Tamar and said, "I'm getting emotional."

Then, I broke down. Fortunately, my little girl was there to comfort me and we held each other (one of these days she'll be doing all the holding, I suppose).

Amazing to witness this process in action.

The Jewish Control Myth...

When I lived in Asia, it was not uncommon for me to hear from Japanese and Indians (in particular) that the Jews "control the media and banks in America."

In Japan, this is widely recognized as a good thing and there are guidebooks (written for Japanese) on how the Japanese can be more like the Jews.

Here is an ad from the government of Serbia in this week's Washington Jewish Week. Initially, I couldn't figure out why this ad was placed in this particular newspaper.

Then, one answer dawned on me...it's possible that the Serbians think the same way. They must figure that "the Jews are powerful and control America, so if we advertise in their newspaper in Washington, DC and tell them how good we are and how things are getting better here, it will be good for us."

Kind of like a Borat without the movie.

A few years ago, I received a hilarious email satiring the Jewish world control idea. I've looked but can't find it anywhere. It went somethig like:

"Jane Goldberg, an accountant in Chicago, the mother of 3, and also responsible
for the Bulgarian economy said: 'it's just getting to be too much. With soccer
practice, PTA meetings, and tax season, I just don't have much time
to manage money supply in the Balkans."


There were about 6 of these, but you get the idea. Anyway, I'm open to other possible explanations for the Serbian ad.

Thoughts?

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Cool coupon site...

Heard a story from my sister the other day about her friend finding an iPod on a park bench. Fortunately, the iPod had his email address engraved on the back. As a result, the owner was quickly contacted and got his iPod back.

This came to mind because I saw an offer for "free engraving" on iPod's listed at the Apple Store on a site I discover www.couponchief.com

It's a coupon aggregator site and it seems to have some valuable stuff there. Could be a good place to save some cash on your Hannukah/X-mas shopping.

Daring to be different...

We've all seen the "I'm away from the office" emails. They are normally bland.

Check out this one I got from Andy Sernovitz, CEO of the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (Andy does it again!). I'm even talking about his Out of Office message. Brilliant!!


I will be out of the office at WOMMA's Word of Mouth Marketing Summit and
Research Symposium until Thursday. I will have limited access to email.
1. Reporters and emergencies: Please call my cell at xxx-xxx-xxxx.
2. Wife and parents: You may also call my cell.
3. Charlie (my 3-year-old): No, you
cannot pee in the sink. Yes, a dinosaur could eat a monkey.
4. Telemarketers: Please take me off your list.
5. Spammers: Please call my stock broker.

Movie Review: Napoleon Dynamite

I really wanted to like this movie. Why?

Described as an "indie favorite" and "Nominated for a Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 2004," I thought I would validate my perception of myself as someone with discerning taste if I did.

Fact is...I hated it. If I could give it 0 stars, I would. I turned it off after 20 minutes. It seemed vapid and empty. I couldn't get into it.

Is this a referendum on how "unhip" I am? Perhaps, but I can deal.

Friday, December 08, 2006

September 2011 is your next appointment...

In Blood Donor parlance, I'm known as a "Champion For Life," which means I donate at least 4 times a year.

I've been donating as regularly as possible since 1991. I think it's one of the best and most cost-effective ways to give charity. [There have been times where due to travel I was ineligible].

I read about an O negative blood shortage in the area (universal donor-anyone can take my blood) and was motivated to donate for the first time since the cancer treatment.

Got up early and rushed to the donor center....only to find out that my radioactive iodine treatment precludes me from donating for 5 years.

It was a sail-deflater, but that's life. Guess the impact of the cancer isn't quite gone yet, is it?

At least I can look on the bright side....when they took my temperature, it was 97.9

Am I working now?

I’m sitting in Starbucks now at 9.50am. I am meeting a partner at 10am for a meeting that may be more networking than pure business.  I’m wearing “casual Friday” clothes and just came from donating blood (which I couldn’t do b/c of my cancer treatments).  I’m on my work laptop and am emailing another employee at my company about something that isn't directly related to my immediate job goals.

Am I working now or am I on personal time?

The delineation between what's work and personal is evaporating.

Your Email Signature...

The text that is automatically placed at the bottom of outgoing emails is called your "signature."

Sometimes people get cute and creative with inspirational quotes, etc. That's fine with me.

What's not fine with me is....when people (at least in a business scenario) don't put their work/cell phones (and maybe event addresses) in their signatures.

If you want to facilitate interaction with others, you need to make it easy for them to find you. So much of our work lives go through email and often times, you may not put someone into your address book until s/he has crossed some sort of threshold in a relationship.

In the meantime, you want to call someone who is late for a meeting, you go to the email thread, and you find nothing...that's frustrating....very frustrating.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Cleantech: the Next Wave?

I tell people that back in '91 and '92 when I was playing around with the earliest versions of the Net and building my home page (bonus for anyone who remembers the URL), I knew one thing: it was going to be BIG.

What I didn't know was: how to commercialize and make money off of it.

What I see now when it comes to Clean Energy is a "perfect storm" of macro-events and some similar components.

  1. The Greenpeace and Neo-Con Hawk alliance based on environmental concerns and global energy security
  2. The reduction in costs (relatively) of many alternative energy technologies
  3. The improving technologies themselves
  4. Rising demand in India/China, etc.
  5. The gathering tide of Venture Capital dollars in this area

Then, what I see are a lot of alternative energy technologists who have great ideas, but limited ideas of how to market/sell their ideas. The industry is ripe for the influx of technology savvy business people.

Always keeping my ears open for new opportunities, I met with Gary Skulnik of Clean Currents who has a wealth of experience in the market as well as some legislative/lobbying wins under his belt. His company has a cool idea..check it out.

It was a great 1.5 hour conversation where we shared ideas on the future of Wind, Solar, Geo-thermal, hydrogen, fuel cells, but not nuclear (next time, Gary).

Here's one thing I will say about "the next big thing/wave" that I have learned in the software/Internet business. Things never happen as quickly as you think they will. So, the alternative energy/green wave may not hit for 2, 4, or 6 years...but I believe it has to hit.

I've written about energy before, here, here, here, here, here and...you guessed it, here

65 years since Pearl Harbor...

Take a moment to reflect....

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Challenges of a Flat World

Tom Friedman's book The World Is Flat talks about the way technology is changing almost everything we do. From help-desk to customer service to reading medical images.

A few weeks ago, I found a team in the Phillippines that did a job for me for dirt cheap rates.

I really like our accountant (I've tried to do my own taxes, but quit in frustration--that's a rant for another day), but her rates have continued to go up year over year.

I figured...hmmm...I wonder if I can outsource my tax preparation?

Started looking for companies in India that can prepare individual 1040 forms and state taxes.

Most of the firms I found are "back offices" for large accounting firms, but I found one... www.kpoexperts.com that claims they will prepare ALL of my individual taxes for $55 total.

That's a big savings over my US based CPA.

Now, however, there are a few questions.
  1. how do I know I can really trust this company in India?
  2. how do I know they will save me as much on my taxes as my US-based CPA (obviously, factoring in the price differential)

    Note: one idea I have here is to send copies to both of them and see what comes back for a compare/contrast situation
  3. Most importantly, how do I know that my sensitive personal info is secure? (I'm not concerned about the transmittal of the information, but I am concerned about some Indian clerk making $10/hr having access to all of my data, i.e. Identity Theft.

These are some of the issues that arise in a flat world.

I'll keep you posted on how this process plays out (and here's a previous post on outsourcing).

Book Review: How To Think Like Da Vinci

I often highlight books that I've enjoyed and think you should read. How To Think Like Da Vinciis not one of them.

It's a case of an article that someone said, "hey, you should write a book on this," but it would have been better remaining as an article.

Full of platitudes and fluff, I stopped listening mid-way through side 1 of tape 2 (6 tapes in all). It's rare that I quit outright, but this one went nowhere.

Save your money and your time.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Taking pride in...

Was reading a book about Word of Mouth marketing and the author pointed out that people are eager to share "word of mouth" info when it's about a topic in which they take pride.

Got me thinking: what do I take pride in?
  1. being a technology early adopter
  2. building and nurturing a large network of contacts (biz and personal)
  3. efficiency
  4. knowledge of other cultures/history/politics
  5. not taking myself too seriously

What do you take pride in? What do you like talking to others about?



And here's the book I was reading:

Holiday-Birthday conundrum...

Our cleaning lady's birthday is Dec. 26th. Tamar's birthday frequently aligns with Hannukah, as does my brother, Barak.

The question: what is the social responsibility to give 2 gifts? Can you actually give "one larger gift" to cover both?

Plus, what is the statute of limitations on days separating hoildays?

Let's say you're celebrating X-mas and your b-day is Jan 1? What about Dec. 20th? Where's the line?

How many days before/after Hannukah make it "close enough?"

Tough questions for those of us on the gift-giving side. Tougher for those who are victimized by inopportune birthdates.

Protecting your kids...

One thing that terrifies many parents about the Internet (particularly parents of teens) is that they have no idea where their kids are headed online. There are enough horror stories out there to make even the calmest people freak out.

A friend of mine in Seattle installed a key logging software package on his home machine (and told his daughter) so that he could watch everything she was doing. She was 13, but it made him feel a lot better and you know what? When she can buy her own PC, she can surf where she wants...well, maybe not even then.

I was surfing around and found a potentially good program for some folks to use. This keylogger may help you sleep better at night.

The Internet rocks...but you've got to play it safe, too.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Wasting time...not so fast

It's easy to be hard on ourselves when we "get lazy" and engage in activities that we later think may be a "waste of time."

One of those may be: watching World Wrestling Federation as a kid. I was a big fan. My dad even took my brothers and me to see Hulk Hogan in a match once.

Well, I'm glad to report that the investment was worth it.

How else would I know how to "piledrive" Calanit? Give bodyslams? Or "come off the top ropes" onto Erez?

(Granted he likes it more than she does. She prefers the famous wrestling move of a "huggy.")

I feel much better now about the decisions I've made in the past.

near death experience...of my computer

Part of the reason I know so much about how computers work (relatively to those who call asking for help) is that I've had more than my fair share of computer disasters.

Almost had one yesterday. But...I've got insurance. My data is backed up 3 ways.

Please...do yourself a favor. Get in the habit of regularly backing up your important data. 

You can thank me later.

Kids and classical music...

By complete accident, I've discovered that my kids find classical music soothing.

When we're in the car and they're getting cranky, I turn it on...silence, pensive silence.

In fact, Calanit gets upset when the "song is over."

Creation...

sent in by Tamar's cousin, Peter. Nice one!

 

God is sitting in Heaven when a scientist says to Him,
"Lord, we don't need you anymore. Science has finally
figured out a way to create life out of nothing. In other
words, we can now do what you did in the beginning."


"Oh, is that so? Tell me..." replies God.

"Well, " says the scientist, "we can take dirt and form it
into the likeness of You and breathe life into it, thus creating
man."

"Well, that's interesting. Show Me. "

So the scientist bends down to the earth and starts to
mold the soil.

"Oh no, no, no..." interrupts God,

"Get your own dirt."

Tamar's birthday...

Shout out to my wife on her b-day.

Calanit and I made a video/audio montage for her and we each picked up a card for her at CVS yesterday.

Calanit saw one that had the Disney princesses on it and selected it. She also purchased some "Dora the Explorer" stickers to help decorate.

The card Calanit chose?

Happy 4th Birthday to a Princess!

Following Web 2.0...as it happens

There was a GREAT movie a few years back called "Startup.com" that followed the rise and fall of a company called govWorks in the Internet boom and bust era. It was quite good.

Now, in a tribute to the Web 2.0 world of user-generated content and an "as it happens" approach, there's a real-time web documentary of the startup PayPerPost.com (I'm a big fan of these guys as I've written before here).

They've got YouTube videos of themselves as they progress through the stages of building their business (visiting a VC, going to a tradeshow, etc.). It's pretty cool, particularly for those of you with a fond appreciation of what goes into a start-up and remember Web 1.0 with fondness.

What I particularly like about this approach is that it's a subtle, viral, and very cost-effective way to build awareness. Think about it. They create the video (free), they post the video (free), the video gets shared (free), and people come to their site (free). They then convert people from browsers into customers (free) as either advertisers or publishers. The ROI on this baby is infinite since their not spending anything (unless you count the opportunity cost of their time).

Plus..it puts some faces and names behind the company. Now, instead of just a website, you get a feeling for the type of people who are running the show. In fact, you may even start to like them, and WANT them to succeed. That's powerful stuff.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Children's activity in the 21st century...



Calanit likes to come in my office when I'm working. I don't want to tell her to leave, so I keep a stash of paper, crayons, and stickers for her to play with.

Today, I turner her loose on my Tablet PC and showed her how to use the stylus to select different colors.

Her first digital works of art were completed this morning.

When I think about how her life will unfold and how different it will be from mine, this is just one of many examples.

Here's a girl who isn't even three, using a Tablet PC, selecting colors to draw with and it all seems so normal.

Like the phenomenon of digital pictures...the kids know when I'm taking one, they know to smile and they know to ask to see what it looks like.

Wave 3 Complete...and Statistics

We finished Wave 3 of our Sabbath Meal Invite Strategy with a bang (literally-but more on that later).

Here are the final stats:

  • Begin date: June 1
  • End Date: Dec. 2nd
  • Total family units: 32
  • Total Individuals: 120

Wave 4 kickoff is scheduled for March 3rd.

Knowing when the end will happen...

There are statements in the prayers for the High Hoildays along the lines of "no one knows the time of his birth or his death."

This came up because today I took the kids to visit my grandparents and afterwards, my aunt called me to see how my grandfather was holding up.

It's really hard to assess these things. I mean he was there in the chair, but his physical strength wasn't superb. Our conversations didn't really occur.

My aunt was trying to determine when she should come down from NYC for her next visit. I couldn't tell her, of course.

It could be tomorrow, it could be next week, it could be next year or beyond.

"Only God knows," I said. "Maybe you could check his blog..." [Yes, there's a website: http://www.godblog.com/]

All kidding aside, I was talking to a friend of my grandparents on her 87th b-day last week and I asked her if being 87 was anything like she imagined it.

"Honestly, I'd never thought about it."

For people like her and my grandparents, life is very different when you are acutely aware that the end is something that is imminent.

Obviously, when you're younger, anything could happen, but when you're older, you know your time is running out.

It's a totally different plane of existence.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

MacGyver would be proud...


So I took a piece of R-30 Fiberglass and put it in a plastic bag. Then, using aluminum tape, I secured it to the door covering the window.

Temporary stop gap, but at least I won't be losing as much heat.

Child Expense Coverage Etiquette...


You're at a friend's house and your kid breaks something that belongs to your hosts (here's the window pane on my back door that prompted this post).

The question is: what's the $ value threshold at which you:

  1. offer reimbursement
  2. insist on reimbursement
  3. demand that reimbursement be accepted

Are there mitigating factors such as:

  1. did your kid act alone?
  2. the socio-economic status of your hosts? of you?

As the father of a son who, most likely, will put me in this position, I am looking to better understand social convention and expectation.

Child rearing philosophy...

Had some good friends over today to help us close out Wave 3. They've got 4 kids...in 4 different schools.

Sounds like a hassle, but they made some very good points.

  1. Each kid is in the right school for him (yes, all boys)
  2. "We don't make education decisions five years out. We make them 1 year at a time. Kids change. Schools change."

That made a big impression on me. We've spent time thinking about our kids' schooling options and that one sentence relaxed me. Like most other things w/parenting...one step at a time.

Dental Consultant..

I neglected to mention that I am the unofficial marketing consultant to my dentist.

A few months ago, we started talking about her plan to acquire new patients. She expressed interest in doing a newsletter to people in the surrounding area.

"Terrible idea," I said. "Too expensive and too time consuming. Your best source of new revenue and new customers are from your existing customers. What's your most profitable procedure?"

"Implants."

"Ok. Why not do a seminar or something that educates your patients about when and why they need implants."

About 2 months later, I get a flyer in the mail...for a seminar on...you guessed it...Implants.

Bottom line: her total profit from the exercise is approx. $4000. Net investment was less than $1000. Not a bad Return on Investment (ROI), eh?

If my dentist can do it...anyone can!

Friday, December 01, 2006

JFK and the Magic Bullet

Hadn't heard abou the "Magic Bullet" theory of the conspiracy theorists regarding the JFK assassination until I started watching a documentary (which I had recorded in June) on History Channels "Unsolved History".

Finished watching last night...pretty solid, computer and real-world data to prove that, in fact, there was only 1 bullet. 

Actually, beyond the solid evidence was the fascinating way they went about the analysis.

Rocky VI...

There's a scene in one of the "Airplane" movies with a Rocky XXVII poster or something like that with an octogenarian Rocky in gloves/shorts.

Just saw a promo for another Rocky movie...this is crazy.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Israeli pilot flies F-15 with one wing...

http://www.whoisthemonkey.com/videos/31f15-flying-with-1-wing

Book sharing philosophy...

It's rare that I read a book and then refer back to it a few years later. There are a few, but not too often.

Don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed them, but I just don't see myself going back to them.

My new policy is one of "targeted & strategic sharing."

I look through my network of people and ask myself, for a given book:
1. who would enjoy this?
2. who is a person with whom I want to strengthen my relationship?

In other words...
1. who will find value/utility from this?
2. from whom do I expect to find value/utility in the future? (note: this need not be economic, but could be quantified in terms of the degree of closeness we feel to each other.)

So now, I am in the process of shipping books out all over the world.
Cultural differences...

an interesting series of anecdotes about Israel and Lebanon...

Choosing a dentist...

My two criteria for a new dentist 1.6 years ago were

-convenience to my house
-in my insurance network

Not everyone agreed with this approach (read: my mom and my brother-in-law), but I did a search of the provider directory.

And now, an insight into how stereotypes work....I saw Dr. Anh of Wheaton Dental Partners (301) 946-8444 in the directory and said to myself (I kid you not), "in my experience, Asians make very good doctors. They are diligent and thorough."

That's not to say that others don't, of course (I got heat from at least 2 people for not choosing a Jewish dentist, for example), but I have a lot of respect for the work ethic of Asians.

Well in the past year plus, my initial assessment has proven to be right...and then some. Not only is Dr. Anh extremely thorough, (she does the cleaning herself), but she (and everyone in the office with her) are a delight. She has created an atmosphere of warmth, friendliness, and true customer service.

Tamar-who prior to Dr. Anh hadn't been to the dentist in a long time- has become a HUGE fan...she adores the team there. I think she loves them more than she loves me...but I digress.

This morning, I walked in and when all was said and done, they handed me a card, flowers, and chocolate...because they had heard from Tamar...3 months ago!!...about my thyroid cancer and just wanted to wish me well.

Have you ever heard of a dentist who does that? Phenomenal.

I LOVE these guys.

Men are like scotch...

It's pretty well known that "girls mature faster than boys."  Thing is, I don't think the difference in rate changes over the course of life.

I've told Tamar that her expectations of me, while valid and certainly worthy of reaching, are aggressive in terms of timeframe.

Wives are like casks in whose care their husbands take time to mature, like a good scotch.

By my estimates, it'll be at least another 18 years before I'm at the maturity level she expects :-)

A distiller will tell you...you need some patience.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Marital whiteboard...

Tamar and I had a disagreement last night. It happens.

We were in my office. At an impasse. I picked up the dry erase marker and started explaining my perspective on a whiteboard.

I figured it was probably one of the first time a whiteboard has been used to resolve a marital disagreement (multi-colored as well!)

Great shopping comparison site...

Built by a friend of mine...this is one of the best I've seen:

http://www.mytriggers.com/

Understanding Search Engines...

Search...it's one of those things that...if you're online a lot...you use A LOT.

For many companies (and bloggers) out there looking to increase their visibility it's still a mystery as to how to be at the top (and let's be honest...if you're not listed as one of the top few results, no one is going to find you).

Found a solid article that breaks the question of how to increase search engine traffic into 3 easy steps. What I liked about this is that it makes it basic to understand what to do both for publishers and for those who just want to understand how the guts of the Internet work.

I think knowing how the search engines work may also make you a better searcher, so that you can more easily find what you are looking for. It's a quick read and it's got some solid points.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Book Review: Decoding the Universe

Back when I was in the hospital, Tamar bought me a copy of Decoding the Universe. Four months later, I'm done.

Whoa.

This was one thick, dense book. It wasn't dull. In fact, it stretched my mind more than any book I've read in a long time. It deal with concepts like Superposition, quantum physics, Schrodinger's Cat, black holes, and the theory of relativity.

I probably only got about 30% of the book's concepts, though I did get the last point...we're all doomed since eventually the universe will implode (but don't worry, it's not for a while.)

One particularly interesting stretch of imagination is Superposition, which says "that an object or event can be spanned across multiple realities or universes." In other words, it can be in two places at once. What's more, if you take a measurement of the object in one universe and it's pointing left, at that moment, the object in the other universe will be pointing right (for example).

The question then is...how does information travel faster than the speed of light to communicate that object 1 is left and as such object 2 should be right? I'm probably not doing the concept justice (since I don't fully get it anyway), but the other night, Tamar walked in and without my saying a word, did a full blown analysis of what I was thinking at that moment.

It was pretty impressive (not just because Tamar is not wont to often pontificate in this manner) because she was right.

It made me realize that the knowledge in my head and her head was exactly the same, despite the fact that no information (the heart of the book deals with information theory) had been exchanged between us.

In other words, it was in Superposition, but I am way off on a tangent.

Bottom line, if you're looking for a mind-expansion, this is one way to get it.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Jewtopia Part 2

So part of the shtick of Jewtopia is reinforcing the stereotype of the Jewish mother. The book has a number of "conversations with a Jewish mother" that are pretty funny.

As part of it, the back cover has the home phone numbers of each of the author's mothers. The implication is that they're willing to talk to anyone.

On Sat. night, I was cleaning up and figured, what the heck...so I called one of the mothers...and left a message.

She called me back on Sunday, got my answering machine and said, "I'll try you again later."

She did. I spoke with her for a few minutes tonight and then, in a perfect moment, my own mother called on the other line. Of course, I had to take it.

But then, I told my mom the story and told her to call Arlene Wolfson in Jacksonville (the mother of one of the authors)...and she did!

Details to follow.

And, by the way, my mom hasn't even read the book, but that won't stop Arlene and my mom from having an hour-long conversation and playing Jewish geography, I am sure.
Hanukah Candles

This guy is very funny. He's a convert to Judaism (originally Reform, then Conservative, then Orthodox).
My sister was his PR agent for a while.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Earning a helmet sticker...


College football players who make a great play earn a little sticker (usually of their school logo) to affix to their helmet.

I don't know what the equivalent is in the parenting world, but I earned one this morning.

At 4am, both kids were WIDE awake. The call I made was to let them get up and play with the hope that they would eventually crash, which they did at 7am.

Here you see them drawing at 5.15am at the kitchen table.

I call it "Drawing at the Kitchen Table at 5.15am...a study in parental sacrifice."

Getting your word out...

The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of having companies pay posters to advertise on blogs.

Since I first blogged about www.payperpost.com, I've gone back a few times. What I love about it is that I can easily find offers that make sense for the types of posts I write, see how much they're willing to pay and then quickly and easily submit my post. Best of all, I choose only those topics that I feel are consistent with the types of posts I want to make. On top of that, simply the act of looking at all of the offers available forces me to see new products and services, so the marketplace itself is like an exploration of new things. Then, if I find something, I can pass the word along.

Think about the traditional world of marketing. Normally, a large company spends A TON of money trying to "get the word out." As a marketer, I know that it's very difficult to measure the ROI on these initiatives.

Now, with no major channels (we all watch different shows, read different websites, etc.), a smart company can much more cost-effectively leverage a distributed information/publishing model to get the word out AND track the effectiveness of the spend.

That's a huge paradigmatic shift. This is just the beginning of it, too.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Change of time allocation...

One thing about parenting is how your time allocation shifts from what I would term "strategic" to more "tactical" or "maintenance."

I spend a lot of time just keeping things going...cleaning, arranging, preparing, organizing, etc.

This leaves less time for bigger projects, whether it's putting more insulation in the attic, writing that article, or any number of other "long-range" projects that appeal to me.

Just a shift along the spectrum, I suppose.

"I want to watch football..."

There's a rule in our house, "you eat in the kitchen and play in the playroom." 

There's one exception. The kids may eat in the den if we're watching football.

Thursday morning at 8.15am, Calanit comes to me and says,"I want to watch football."

"Calanit, there's no football on at 8.15am. Why do you want to watch football?"

"I want to eat in the den."