Friday, March 31, 2006

Problem with healthcare

According to our health plan, I can get a new pair of glasses every
year. I don't really need a new pair (have 3), but it's a benefit, so
why not? Use it or lose it.

And that, in a nutshell, is a big problem with healthcare. I don't pay
anything for it (on top of what I am already paying I suppose), and it's
not something I need, but I'm spending the money, which means, in the
long run, prices for healthcare will go up.

The liberal media?

Saw a great bumper sticker today:

"The media is as liberal as the conservative businesses that own them."

Made me think.

For a while, I've been persuaded (thanks to Bernard Goldberg's book) of
the liberal bias in the mainstream media. But, the fact is, these media
companies are exactly that, companies, and they have got to look after
their own businesses, revenue being top of the list. Makes me wonder if
the "liberal bias" is a truism but that it is manufactured by the
conservative businesses because it is GOOD FOR BUSINESS.

Why not? Add some controversy. Get people riled up. This jacks up
ratings and then, presto, you have more revenue.

Customer story du jour

From someone I know who works at a bookstore....

A guy walks up to the info desk.   Ask where we have books on...."you know,
like health"

My co-worker and I ask if there is a specific book he's looking for because
the health section is sub-divided into several categories. (also, books are
never usually where the customer THINKS they are)

He says he saw a doctor on TV.   "Had a Jewish sounding name.    Something
Berg.   Youngish fellow.   Nice looking.    all about what you should eat.
  talked about the liver.   had his picture on the book.   on tv it you
could get it with a cd too but in stores it was just a book."   

Kept saying   over and over "He's a doctor.   Jewish sounding name.
  Something Berg....or maybe it was Berg Something"   

We can look things up by what TV show they were on - so my co-worker asks
him where he saw it on tv.

" IN MY LIVING ROOM!   Where did you think I saw it???????"

We explained about how we can search by television show and he said "I have
cable!   I have over 200 channels - how do you expect me to remember?   And
I fell asleep anyway."

and then:

"but he was a doctor.   With a Jewish sounding name.   Berg something - or
something Berg.........
(yes, we know that. nice looking - youngish. had   his picture on the book)

(meanwhile we had rattled off a bunch of names - Jewish sounding and not -

I don't know how we kept a straight face when he said the line about "in my
living room, where do you think I saw it" Like WE'RE the idiots....

Another guy came in for a book that had "Click" in the title.   He didn't
know the name of the book - but he KNEW IT HAD "CLICK" in the title. Turned
out it was the book "Blink"

Another woman wanted a book that was "a biography of one guy written by
another guy. " She wasn't quite sure of either guys name.   It was for he
daughters school report and the teacher hadn't been too clear.   I said
well, I can't really look it up without one of the names -and she said,
  well then, do you think another store would have it?

Getting where I am...

People often ask how I got to know so much (relative to them, of course) about computers and technology.


Well, it’s simple…I’ve invested time (and money) and had a fair number of failures.


For the past few days, I have been trying futilely to get a wireless motion detector system to work for the outside of my house. No dice. It’s frustrating the hell out of me and tonight, I gave up on it.  You’ve got to have the wipe-outs, the proverbial “agony of defeat,” in order to get the thrill of vicotory.


Thursday, March 30, 2006

On voice mails, answering machines, and phones

Doesn’t EVERYONE know by now that if you get an answering machine you should leave your name, number, and a message? Do we really need another person to tell us that?

Come on, when you get an answering machine (or voice mail), all you want to know is

  1. did you get the right person (either say your name or the number)
  2. any HIGHLY relevant info (say an office voice mail that says you will be on vacation, away, etc.)

Other than that, nothing.

My favorite style is

“Hi, you have reached 202-222-3333. Thank you for calling.”

Anything else and you are doing a disservice and wasting my time (kind of like when non-English speaking housekeepers answer the phone in this day of Caller ID, but that’s another topic).

BTW, Caller ID is one of the BEST technologies ever invented. It puts you back in control of IF you want to answer the phone.

There are some people I know who will answer the phone no matter what. I’m not one of them. If it’s convenient for you to call me, that doesn’t mean that it is convenient for me to talk to you.

And one more thing…the person leaving the message has an obligation, too.  First off, say your phone number SLOWLY. It drives me crazy (particularly for salespeople) who leave a long detailed message and then race through the number. THAT’S THE ONLY THING THAT IS IMPORTANT.

Also, say the number once at the beginning of the message and once at the end. If I want to write your number down (or check it), don’t make me listen to the WHOLE thing again.

OK, gotta go make some calls.

Money on my mind...

I spend a lot of time thinking about money or maybe I should say, worrying about money. Worrying about whether we’ll be able to meet our future financial goals. I’m less concerned with the basics and more concerned with the extra stuff that I/we do that requires the extra cash.

Is it productive to worry? Not at all. I’m better off doing something about it.

Actually, I’m better off recognizing what’s really important (and even what’s not) and taking joy in the little things that happen each day instead of letting the other things get in the way of my enjoyment.

  • When my kids smile for me
  • When I get some piece of technology working the way I want it to
  • When I get on the scale and am satisfied with the result (180lbs. or less)

It’s annoying that, though I appreciate these things, I still let the neuroses get to me. Maybe as I/we age we allow the recognition of the fact that the small things are the stuff that eternity is made of and that money is more fleeting.

There’ll be more on this topic, I am sure of that J


Think before you talk

Microsoft has two review periods during the year. The big one is at the end of the fiscal year and centers around performance. That determines things like bonus, raise, etc.


The other one is the Mid-Year Review which centers more on career development.


I’ve decided that the next step in my career development is a management position. There are a few reasons for this.


  1. I like seeing how a group of individuals can achieve a proverbial sum greater than its parts. (The George Mason basketball team being the most recent example).
  2. I’ve enjoyed the process in the past of mentoring others and helping them develop themselves
  3. I think it will increase my appreciation of the challenges of business, the skills required for execution, and my market value both in and out of Microsoft


My manager does a great job of taking this process seriously and investing the effort to help me reach my goals.


It may come as a surprise to none of you that one of the focus areas that she outlined is in Interpersonal communications. Here is part of what she wrote:


I sometimes think Jeremy is so confident in his own abilities that he misreads situations and makes remarks that can be misunderstood.  This can reflect negatively on Jeremy if individuals don’t understand his sense of humor or interpret his remarks out of context.  As a point of coaching, I would ask Jeremy to think, talk, and then gauge for understanding in group settings.


Unfortunately, the other day, I ran into a situation where I was the victim of my own inability to think before I talk.  I won’t go into all of the details, but experience has taught me that experience is the best teacher.  It was yet another painful lesson in life with some potentially negative consequences.  I definitely could have handled it better, probably by confessing that I didn’t think before I spoke, but in a moment of panic, I sort of covered my tracks. Definitely not the best.


The theory in all of the self-help books and in my manager’s feedback are great. Fortunately or unfortunately, I do best when I make a blunder that hurts me emotionally and then integrate that lesson into my emotional DNA.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Macro and Micro Consistency...

When it comes to national politics, there are a few things that I care about more than anything else. This helps shape my voting patterns.

I am extremely concerned with national security, particularly as it relates to the existential threat to Western Civilization posed by militant, fundamentalist Islam. As a corollary to that, I am concerned with weaning ourselves off of Middle Eastern oil and finding alternative energy sources. I'm tired of having us fund both sides of the war.

At home, I am concerned with these two topics as well. I spend a lot of time thinking about the safety of my kids and my home. I also spend a lot of time looking into how I can minimize our energy expenses.
From a security perspective, I am installing motion detectors for outdoor lights (all hooked up via the X10 system) and going to put some bars on the windows in the basement. We do have a security system, but maybe I'm paranoid here, I just feel like the extra layer is worth it. It's one of those ounce of prevention, pound of cure scenarios.

On the energy front, I've investigated solar (not feasible because my southern exposure is blocked by huge, beautiful trees), wind (not really a good idea for home and not cost effectives), geothermal (having a guy come over to give me an estimate on a home heating/cooling system), and reading about some others. I'm concerned about electricity and natural gas prices in the long run and want to see if I can become energy independent (or at least that's the goal.)

Feels good to be aligned from the court-side and skybox perspectives.

Caught in the middle...

The woman who takes care of Erez 2 days a week is great. She's caring and does a great job.

Unfortunately, she's involved in some kind of dispute regarding payment of parking tickets with a former roommate. Normally, I wouldn't care except for the fact that the other party in the dispute is coming to my house to track down Erez's caregiver. She's stopping by, looking for, and now I'm the guy in the middle having to say, "sorry, you need to handle this on your own time."

The other woman says, "ok, I'll call the police." I'm sure there will be more to this story, but this goes into the category of stuff you just don't need to deal with! :-)

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Email address on your biz card...

If you're going to put your email address on your business card, you'd better check your email often. It angers me when I don't get a response w/in 1-2 days. Better to leave it off

My outsourced life...

I like to tell people that I got married so I could outsource grocery shopping and cooking. I also spend at least 10 minutes a week thinking about what part of my job could be outsourced to India.

This guy has taken it to a whole new level. A great read

Sunday, March 26, 2006

George Mason...Cinderella

There's no doubt that real life is better than scripted drama. Take the amazing run of George Mason's basketball team.

I found myself getting emotional about their chances and their improbably victory. It's what makes America great. Our belief (and desire in some respect) to see the underdog win out thanks to gritty determination and desire.

So great to see a team come together and do something that no one thought was possible.

OK, maybe I thought it was possible, but I thought the odds were ridiculously high.

A great, great achievement and great encouragement to all of us, because at one time or another, each of us in the underdog.

I guess this is why movies like Cinderella Man and Seabiscuit do so well :-)

As high as a doorknob...

In one of those "mental snapshot" moments of life, I was holding Erez and watching Calanit run around the room...way too hyper for someone supposed to be going to bed.

I saw her standing next to the doorknob, her head an inch or two below and had a flash forward moment, thinking that one day, I would (hopefully) see a woman standing next to that door and in one instant, see the two pictures juxtaposed to each other.

The benefits...and dangers...of tracking

If there's one thing that I've found in life, it's that tracking performance and rankings serves as a great motivator. When I was focused on losing weight, I did this relentlessly. It worked well for me and gave me some good perspective on progress.

Out of curiosity, I've started tracking daily hits to the blog. People often tell me, "oh, I check your blog" and though I can't see who actually does, I can line up the number of people who say they do with the number of people who hit the page each day.

For kicks, and since I'm an Excel junkie, I've been tracking (and charting) those results. (It's zero for all future dates and updates automatically as I enter in the data). The black line is the moving average.

That leads me, of course, to what makes a compelling blog?

One of my more avid readers, Gadi, tells me that the components to a good blog are:
1. frequent posts
2. at least 2 good, thought provoking posts/ruminations per week

Now that I have an audience, albeit a small one, I've got the challenge of all content producers in the Tivo era...keeping people's attention.

The downside of tracking is that I know, on a daily basis, if people care to read what I write. Now, my ego inflates/deflates with the trend on the moving average :-)

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Courtside seats and skyboxes...

It seems like I am always trying to find the balance between the "big picture" stuff like spending valuable time with family and friends and the day to day stuff that is critical to just keeping the machine well oiled, like doing your job, raking the leaves, or caulking the window.

These thoughts fly through my head multiple times a day and it's interesting to think how our perspectives change during the course of the game that is my life. Sometimes, I am sitting courtside, appreciating the fine details of my life and focusing on them. Other times, I am high above, in the metaphorical skybox, and just taking it all in from that view.

The tough thing, of course, is trying to figure out when you should move up or down on the perspective ladder.

Friday, March 24, 2006

"I'm Pro-PIG!"

Yesterday went out to lunch with some of my colleagues, 90% of whom know that I do something called "kosher."

So, we're at the table and I see a salad that looks fine, save for the fact that it comes with bacon. I tell the waitress, "no bacon, please." Then she, or someone else, I don't remember, says, "what's wrong with bacon? You have something against it?"

One or two other people join in.

At first, I'm defensive. "No, of course not. I have nothing philosophically against the pig. I just don't want the bacon."

Then, it dawns on me. "Hey, wait a minute, I'm the only person at this table who won't eat pig, you guys are anti-pig. I'm the one who's pro-pig!!"

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The $500 gas bill...

Some of you may remember that last year, when we first moved into the house, I was hit with a $500 gas/heating bill that sent me into convulsions. I hired an energy consulting firm to do an audit and they found some things (most notably that my contractor's team had kicked a duct in the attic loose and thus I was efficiently heating my attic for 2 months and not my house.) In addition, some other energy saving tips. I've sinced begun downloading my bill and tracking Therms consumed (since $/therms change) to see if we're making progress.

I'm proud to report that we are. The data (in an Excel pivot chart) is presented here.

More on the loyalty question....

What if you get a call from a company or organization that is looking to buy your product/service but you vehemently disagree with their philosophy? Do you have the right to not help them? Is that being disloyal?

If you're an African-American and you get a call from the KKK or something like that...
If you're Hispanic and you get a call from the Minutemen...
If you're Israeli and you get a call from the Holy Land Foundation

They want to buy your product and you know that it could help them do something better, but you don't want to help them do anything better. What do you do?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

A future career...

in hairdressing. No questions.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Resolving the loyaly question...

Here's a proposed answer to the company loyalty question.

You are not obligated to buy any or all products that your company makes as a sign of loyalty. However, you are obligated to find the people responsible for the product you chose not to buy and to tell them why you as a consumer chose not to buy it.

That provides them the critical feedback they need to improve the product so that you will choose to buy it in the future.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

It takes a village...

Special thanks to all of the folks who helped out this weekend.
  • Aunt Kira-babysat on Thursday night for 2 hours
  • My mom/dad-spent Friday night and Saturday here pitching in
  • Michael/Marti Herskovitz-played with Calanit for most of Saturday afternoon
  • Tamar/Jeremy Lustman-invited Erez and me over for dessert and socializing
  • Sue Schwartz-took Calanit for a walk on Sunday morning
  • Marci/David Bloch-Marci came over with her kids and babysat my kids so that I could go running with David
  • Ronna Eisenberg/Steve Rabinowitz-offered up her daughter to play with Calanit during the Sunday PM homestretch before Tamar returned (even though we couldn't work out the logistics)

Censored in China...

I guess I should be honored because my brother, who is in China now, tells me that my blog is censored there!

Like the tides....

In order to parent well, I think you need to have an understanding of tidal behavior.

On the shores, the tides come in and recede every 6 hours. With parenting, the tides of intense focus and relax time happen more frequently. For us, it's 2-3 hours (a little different at night).

I put the kids down at 9pm last night and by midnight (I should have gone to bed at 10, but that's a different story), I could feel the tides coming in. Sure enough, 30 minutes later Erez was stirring. I fed him and rocked him back to sleep. Started getting ready for bed (again) and then;heard Calanit cry out. She'd had a nightmare (both have been sick as well) and I gave her some Tylenol. She wouldn't go back to sleep.

I asked if she wanted to be "snugged in Abba's bed." So, at 2.45am, Calanit is lying in my bed reading Just Like Dora as if she belongs there and that's what she should be doing.

At 3am, I tell her the party's over and I turn off the lights.

Figuring she was up so late, she might sleep late, I reconciled my late bedtime.

The next tide rolled in at 7.30 and lasted until about 10.30 with all types of shenanigans including running noses, false potty alarms, screaming, crying, eating, and much more.

The tide rolled out and now we're in a lull, but I know it's coming back soon.

Pressure to blog well...

So a friend of mine tells me that he only reads three blogs.
1. a pharma industry blog (his line of work)
2. the blog of Nobel laureate Gary Becker from the University of Chicago
3. this one

that's pretty good company. Got to keep the quality up.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

What happens when I'm in charge...

here's a sample of my son's attire while Tamar was away

5 years and counting...

Today is our 5th wedding anniversary and we are celebrating by doing...nothing.

Tamar isn't here. She's at a dance camp, but you know what? I'm fine with that. The way I look at it...the celebration of our marriage lies in the fact that I want her to leave me with the kids and go do something that she loves doing. We don't need a special day to celebrate our marriage and what we've accomplished, we do that everyday. Ok, that's a joke since some days we're either too tired, grouchy, or not in a good mood, but hey, we try everyday :-)

It is amazing to think what has happened in 5 short years. I've got a wife, a house, a mortgage, a "real" job, and 2 kids. That's about as "real life" and "when I grow up" as it gets.

After five years, there's a lot that Tamar and I know about each other. There are things that we can't stand and things that we'd rather not have to put up with, but when you add it all up, we're thrilled that we've signed up with the best life partner imaginable.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Teaching sales...

So I get a call from my neighbor asking if her 10 year old son can come over and sell me some magazine subscriptions as a school fundraiser.

He does and goes through his pitch. I buy one subscription. Then, he says, "Ok, thanks a lot."

"Not so fast. If you're going to come here and try and sell me something, you're going to get some pointers." I give him some quick basics and make him practice on me.

Of course, then I have to buy more, so I order two more magazines.

Today, I got a note from his father:

"Thanks again for your patience and kindness in helping my son. There are lots of things that we have been able to teach him, but marketing isn’t one of them. After your coaching he set off on a massive selling campaign, determined to win whatever they were offering as an incentive. He usually doesn’t get very motivated about the other school drives (selling gift wrap or candy) but I think the fact that he actually believes in the product this time has been a motivating factor. He managed to reach his immediate sales goal and seems to be looking to continue and try for whatever the grand prize is. At least it’s for a good cause, is educational, and has zero caloric content."

If a tree falls....

In the 7 months he has lived, my son has not mastered the fine art of sleeping through the night. It's very trying...and exhausting.

With Tamar gone to dance camp, I was the sole individual responsible for the care and feeding of our children.

Thursday night, I put Erez down around 9pm. Usually, he wakes up around 12pm or so. It was 12 and I didn't hear him, so I went to bed.

Next thing I know, it's 7:30am on Friday morning and the house is quiet.

"It's a miracle," I think, "he's slept through the entire night."

Then, I realize there's another possibility.

I am a notoriously heavy sleeper (I slept through an air raid drill in Israel once) and it's definitely possible that the boy woke up, cried, and I just didn't hear him.

This, of course, begs the question...if Erez wakes up in the middle of the night and nobody hears him, did he actually sleep through the night?

(Note: Friday night, my parents were here and at 1.30am, my mom heard Erez crying...from downstairs where she was sleeping, so maybe he didn't actually sleep through the night or maybe he did and Friday night, he reverted. We'll never know.)

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Home alone...with 2 kids

So it's payback time from Tamar.

She left today for a 2.5 day Israeli folk dance camp in the Catskills and I am on my own with the 2 kids. I figure that when she gets back, I have more than repaid my debt for the solo trip to Israel.

How does 1 week of my vacation equal 2.5 days for her? That's easy.

As a friend of mine said, "2.5 days for you does not equal a week for her. It equals 2 weeks for her."

It's the old "Incompetent Father" card that I like to play.

Tamar and I also have different philosophies. She plays superhero. I play victim. Tamar figures she can do it by herself. I make no pretensions whatsoever and unashamedly call in whatever reinforcements I can muster. My sister and parents are the obvious choices, but I also called my sister-in-law with a business proposition that involved high compensation. I called Calanit's pre-school and asked if, only tomorrow, I could drop her off early since "without that I'm finished."

I'll be begging friends and neighbors for assistance. No pride on this one.

Furthermore, it's obvious to anyone who knows that Tamar is far more talented at managing the 2 of them than I. I have a ton of fun with them and they enjoy it, but let's be honest here. If I asked Tamar to install software, it would be significantly more complicated for her. It's like the "degree of difficulty" scale they have in the Olympics.

If Tamar is the benchmark with a degree of difficulty of 1, then 7 days times 1 degree of difficulty equals a score of 7.

For me, the degree of difficulty, by contrast, is probably a 5.6.

Thus, 2.5 days at my level of difficulty is equal to a 14, hence the realization that when Tamar gets back, she'll owe me a week.

I'm sure she'll be thrilled.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Where is the loyalty line?

For a while I thought that any Microsoft employee who purchased an Ipod or Tivo was being disloyal. By acting contrary to the goals of the company (and your own long-term stock performance), you were being disloyal.

I may be reconsidering, though I'm not sure.

Each of us does things everyday that are short-term benefits at the expense of long-term gain (diet and exercise being the most obvious). If you want to take the long-term stock hit in return for an iPod or a Tivo, then go for it. What's more, as a believer in free markets, if the iPod is a better product, then it should win.

Still haven't resolved this, however, for people whose paychecks depend on the success of competing products.

Full disclosure: I have neither an iPod nor Tivo. Of course, Blogger is owned by Google :-)

Sleep is important...

Once upon a time, I thought that life was about doing as much as you can, figuring that you could "always sleep later."

Now, I realize that without sleep, I'm a shadow of myself. Not only do I not perform at my best, but I'm irritable and cranky. Just ask my wife...

However, old habits die hard. I'm a night owl and do my best work later. Unfortunately, my kids don't necessarily see things that way.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Catastrophe averted...

The weather has been wonderful the last few days so I opened the windows to air out the house.

Last night, I heard a "thud" and then a beep-beep from our alarm system that indicated one of the "zones" of the house was not secure. Then, nothing.

I said, "What happened?" and Calanit answered, "I closed the window!"

Thank G-d nothing serious happened, but the thought of her fingers getting smashed went through my head over and over again. I had no idea that she could even reach the window and for a few hours afterwards, I was really shaken up. There are so many ways these kids can hurt themselves, it's scary.

Later that night, around 10pm, I went into her room to check on her. She was still awake. We had a nice little chat for a few minutes and I just found myself thinking, "I know she can't, but I want her to stay this way forever."

So loving, cute, innocent, curious, and fun. People say that it only gets better and I've seen that it does, so I guess I'll just have to continue doing my best to cherish every moment as it happens.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Kid visit hierarchy...

Much like in poker where there's a pre-defined set of hands that represent a hierarchy from best to worst, I think there's one for visits with kids.

Simply put, the family with more kids gets greater influence in determining time/location/nature of the get together. In the event of a tie, the family that has traveled further gets to decide.

However, if a family with one child comes from Denver to visit NYC and they want to get together with a family of 2 children, that family gets priority. If it's one person coming to visit one person, the person who travels farther gets deference.

At least that's the way I look at it :-)

The true cost of a vacation...

When you are married, vacation has 2 types of costs. Real and nominal.

The nominal cost of my vacation to Israel was, I am proud to say, about $500. (Big factor here was frequent flyer mile redemption).

The real cost, well that's much higher.

It looks like it comes down to the following equation.
1. For the 2 weeks prior to leaving, I need to be on extra good behavior to Tamar (no sense in having her angry with me when I leave) and be extra diligent in helping with the kids
2. For the 3-4 weeks following my return, I need to deliver the same higher than usual degree of care and attentiveness.

In other words, it's a 6:1 ratio of extra care/work:vacation.

Now, the next question to figure out is: how much time needs to elapse after a week of solo vacation before I can take another one? :-)

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Best birthday present ever...

was Friday morning when my own child said "Happy Birthday!" to me for the first time.

Long wait time...

I'm calling Comcast to cancel my service (we're going to switch to FIOS and Dish, if it checks out) and I selected (naively, perhaps) the option to "Cancel or Disconnect your service".

I bet they make it REALLY REALLY LONG so that you just give up and can't cancel your service.

Makes sense to me...

If you like movies...

Great site:

Friday, March 10, 2006

Dishonest and deceitful downloads...

Adobe really got me angry the other night. I was installing the newest version of Acrobat Reader and if I hadn't read the fine print, I would have had the Yahoo! toolbar and the Adobe Picture Manager installed as well.

Nowhere did they say this would be a part of the download. That's not the way you should treat your customers.

Daily dictations...

One of my best tech purchases ever was a handheld, digital dictating machine. I bought it in 1998 for $230. Now, you can get one for $50 or so.

I wear it on my belt six days a week. It has come in handy in many ways. When I'm driving, on a subway, in a situation with no pen or paper, I can capture the information I need. Usually it's a to-do of some sort, but occasionally it's someone giving me information or making a request. The beauty of having it is that I rarely forget to follow up on something.

So, yes, sometimes it irritates Tamar when she's speaking with me in bed and I'll say "hang on" and turn to the bedstand, grab the dictating machine, and make a note, but mind is a racing machine :-)

Over the past month, I've been sick for most of it, and my head hasn't been "fully in the game."

The last few days I've finally felt better. This morning, by 11am, I had 19 notes on my machine. A good day is 8 or 9.

I think the number of dictations on my machine is an indicator of my mental acuity for the day.

From a new "FOJ"

Happy to be on the 'friends of jeremy' list.

You should think about writing a book. I have the title worked out:

Be(a)st Practices: A technologists guide to an optimized life.

I can throw in a few chapters. I finally executed this week on a long-overdue ambition of removing battery-related bottlenecks. Just bought a second mobile phone battery, blackberry battery, and laptop battery. for a few hundred dollars, i can work/play the whole way across the atlantic instead of halfway, and never run out of phone/e-mail juice. My wife thinks its crazy, so I know I might be on-to something...

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Women's haircuts...

Dating 101: look for changes in a woman's hairstyle.

Women love it when men notice new hairstyles, particularly since most men don't notice.

That's why I always look. 8 out of 10 times I'm right when I ask "did you do something with your hair?" and that's only because I am looking for it. The other 2 times...well, they take it as a compliment, so you don't lose.

I guess it's not Dating 101, it's Female Flattery 101.

Today, within 10 minutes, I saw two women at work and was right on both counts. The second one, however, was wise to my game.

"Are you married? Only married guys know to ask that question!"

So, there's my secret. Well , not really a secret, I guess, but a good skill. So guys...LOOK AT THE HAIR and just ask. You don't have to like it, of course, you just have to notice.

Incentive to use the web...

It's more cost-effective for a company to deliver service via the web than the phone. I'm wondering if E*Trade is creating a system to encourage people to use the web.

I had to make a modification to an IRA contribution for 2005. Called E*trade to see which form to use...was on hold forever. Tried to navigate the site (the help feature was terrible). Couldn't figure out which document I needed. Called back and still was on hold forever. Went back to the site and because I was so frustrated with the phone, I looked a bit harder....and found what I need.

Made me wonder if it was a deliberate attempt to make me feel frustrated so that I would give up and go back to the web.

Watching kids sleep...

is such a serene feeling.

I remember when I was single, I was visiting a friend of mine (Shu) who took me into his kids' room late at night. They were asleep.

"Aren't they beautiful?"
I nodded, but of course, didn't really get it.

The best is going in at night and adjusting the blankets, knowing you are making them warm. Having them crash in the back of the car while you are driving is a close second.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Achieving a technical black belt...

If you want to be master technologist, you have to accept that there will be many unpleasant bumps on the road. To get a black belt in Karate, you're going to have some broken legs. To win an Olympic Gold, you're going to have to sacrifice.

To understand the potential of technology, you've got to be willing to have hard disk crashes, lose data, have network outages, and all of that good stuff.

I'm committed to the path of the master. I can accept that not everyone is.

Wedding and Marriage Advice

A friend wrote me and said:

“In other news, I got engaged two weeks ago to my girlfriend. We're obviously very excited - nervous, but excited. May have to come to you for wedding and marriage advice down the road.”

My response:

Congratulations!! Very exciting. Here’s my summary advice.

Wedding: Remember that it’s not your wedding. It’s your (and your future in laws’) wedding. When your kids get married, then it will be your wedding.

Marriage: Your fiancée is at the center of your life. Everything else fits in to that. Not the other way around.

Marriage (bonus): You will be right at a ratio of approximately 1: 40 versus when she will be right. Keep track and you’ll be ok.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Glad to be home...

My brother in law told me before I had kids that "you love your wife, but you REALLY love your kids." It's different, that's for sure and there's nothing so nice as coming home to two kids who run up to you (or reach as the case may be) and say "I missed you!!"

For music fans out there...

Check out

Monday, March 06, 2006

Observations on the Israeli High Tech Market in 2006

I just returned from a week long investigation of the Israeli high-tech market. If you are interested, the 5 page report is available by request.

doing security right...

One thing that Israelis know a lot about is security. It's interesting to note some of the differences in how the systems work.

When you go to the airport, every vehicle is searched. A guard looks in the window or steps on the bus. He looks around and decides what to do.On my bus, there were 3 Canadians, 2 Germans, 1 Frenchwoman, and 2 Americans. The other American looked very dark, perhaps middle eastern.The guard asked for his ID, looked it over, and passed it back. It was profiling, pure and simple.

Once you're in the airport, your bags are screened and some more security personnel ask you questions while you are waiting to put the bags through. One of my bags was specially tagged for a hand search since I had received a gift for Calanit from someone.You go through the metal detectors (no need to remove shoes) and you're on your way.They have enough personnel there to make it relatively seamless once you're in the airport.

Just interesting, I suppose, that profiling is so obviously a tactic and one that is so derided stateside

Sunday, March 05, 2006

All Marketers Are Liars...

is the title of Seth Godin's newest book. It's a great explanation of how all of us as consumers think and lie to ourselves about what a product or service will do for us. If we believe it, then we buy it. The marketer's job is not to lie in reality, it's actually to tell the truth. S/he must share an authentic story about the product/service that gives the customer the meat to convince himself what he wants to believe.

You can get the book here

If you want to understand marketing in the post-Industrial era, you could do a LOT worse than read all of his works. (Purple Cow, Permission Marketing, Idea name a few).

I actually had a conversation with him a few years ago. Well, not really, but when I started my company, SilentFrog, I was working on the marketing plan. My mother-in-law had given me a book called "Accidental Genius" which advocates a Private Writing approach to help you uncover ideas that are locked in your brain. One of the techniques is to write a dialogue between you and someone whose opinion you respect to gain the benefits of his/her insight. I had a 4 page "discussion" with Seth that helped me clarify some of my thinking. It was great. I think I still have it somewhere.

Pretty much my entire flight (when I wasn't sleeping) from Kennedy to Tel Aviv last week was devoted to reading All Marketers Are Liars Heck, I even skipped the movies :-)

Friday, March 03, 2006

Finding a shawarma....

Along with sushi, shawarma is one of my favorite meals. Yet, I have been in country for 4 full days and have yet to consume one. Partially because we have been on the run. Sometimes because the stands aren't kosher (I found a shrimp restaurant in Haifa, however). It's killing me...facetiously of course.

Tomorrow night, before I leave back to the US, but before I do, I WILL find a shawarma!!!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Travelling in the Internet age...

Vonage, Skype, and remote desktop means that I have been in constant contact with the US and my own home computer for almost nothing. Add that to cheap cell phones in Israel and you have the makings of easy communications and staying the loop.

What's more, my sister, who lives in Tel Aviv, works from 3pm-11pm using the Internet and VoIP to do work with people in the US.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

the day that didn't end...

On the way in to the gaming networking event last night, we met two young women who were hocking Red Bull. The deal was...listen to their pitch (in Hebrew) and get a free Red Bull. Why not? It was only 7.30pm

Asher picked up a free coffee at the event and then, after dinner at our friend's home, he had two espressos, I one. Well... we got back to our sister's apartment and hung out for a bit. I went into the bedroom to read a bit of "The Coming Economic Collapse" and it was a page-turner. Next thing I know, it's 3am and my mind is racing. I try to sleep, but can't. Asher, meanwhile, has slept for an hour, but then wakes up.

We start talking. Finally, it's 6am and we know at this point we're doomed. We have a day full of meetings and there's nothing we can do to get any sleep.

We go for a walk...Forrest Gump style, and before we know it, we have walked the entire length of the Tel Aviv beach promenade and back- a distance of probably 7 miles and had two cups of coffee. It's 7.45am

We hit the road for a day full of meetings that include a drive to Haifa. At the last meeting, I have to excuse myself because I was falling asleep in the chair...which is exactly what I do when I get outside the room.

Finally, we get to out stop for the night..and sleep awaits us.


At the coffee shop this morning, we met an Israeli who had spent 3 months in England working in a shopping mall earning money. Not so unusual. What is unusual is that he plans to take that money and enroll in dental school in Romania. It’s cheaper than Israel, the language of instruction is English, and when he comes back to Israel, he just needs to take a test to be certified.


Romania is exporting dental education to Israel in English. The world is flat.