Sunday, April 30, 2006

Inbox frequency...

Saw a friend of mine today at the Darfur rally and told him that I missed his quarterly updates. He responded that when he sat down to write it he felt very self-centered.

I told him..."look, I need these updates on a semi-frequent basis otherwise, we lose touch. If you're out of my inbox, you're out of my mind."

The digital age version of "out of sight, out of mind."


In about an hour, I'm taking the kids to a rally on the National Mall to raise awareness and demand action that the US government do something to stop the genocide in Darfur, Sudan.

What's particularly striking, at least to me, is how much attention the atrocities there have gotten within the Jewish world, across all of the denominations. There seems to be a tremendous desire to live the Holocaust mantra of "Never Again" and do our part to help the lesson be learned.

There are a few things that I haven't seen yet and I am curious if it will change after the rally.

In Darfur, the atrocities are being committed by Arab Muslims against Black Muslims. I haven't heard anything about the Arab-American or Muslim-American communities reacting and demanding a cessation.

I also am struck by the irony that the Jews (who I am confident will be overrepresented at the rally today) are going out to protest the slaughter of Muslims by other Muslims. I wonder if the Muslim community would feel this strongly if Jews (or anyone else for that matter) were perpetrating the slaughter of Jews. I think we know the answer there.

I also haven't heard much from the African-American community and will be looking for signs of awareness/participation there. This is a racial genocide on a massive scale.

Regardless, having spent 1 year living in Germany and studying the Holocaust, I am proud of the fact that my family (extended as well) and I have made this a priority for today.

Friday, April 28, 2006


When Tamar and I drove cross country, we stopped at Walmart in Cody, Wyoming. It was the first one we had ever visited. Land is cheap in Wyoming and the place was GI-NORMOUS!!

We bought a ton-for not a lot of money. I got a pair $19 hiking boots which I still have and are great.

There aren't any Walmart's in my area, really, but the past two days, I've been to two of them due to the location of some of my customers.

I know that Walmart takes a lot of heat for a lot of things, but man, it is impressive and frankly, I'm in favor of it. They drive prices down and that translates into value for the average consumer. Of course there are many side effects, but as a believer in the market, you've got to give some credence to the fact that so many people buy so much there every single day.

I controlled myself and only got $30 worth of things, which would have cost at least 1.5 to 2 times that at the regular stores. I'm happy with that.

Pay more to commute less...

Tokyo is notorious for ridiculously long commute times.

When I lived there, I didn't have a lot of extra cash and rents are ridiculously expensive. Nonetheless, my philosophy was to pay for a higher quality of life and avoid the daily grind of long commutes.

That came to mind today as I came back to Silver Spring from Frederick, MD and saw the miles upon miles of cars at a standstill, sitting in traffic on a gorgeous Spring day.

I was thankful that we were in a position to live where we do and avoid a VERY long commute (at least in our minds.)

Calanit knows how to spell her own name...

Tonight, we sat down in front of a keyboard and as we spelled it, she looked for and found (without any prompting) the correct letters. The original essay (copied from Notepad) is below [unabridged and unedited]

callllllaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa nnnnnniiiiiiiiiiiittttttttttttt


Thursday, April 27, 2006

First tricycle...

Thanks to, Calanit got her first tri-cycle. It's a used, plastic one, but it does the job. We cleaned it up. I gave her a lecture about wearing a helmet (when outside) and then let her loose on the carpet in the basement.

Another milestone in parenting passed.

Home erosion...

I spend a fair amount of time trying to keep the house in top operational efficiency shape.

It's kind of like keeping a ship seaworthy so that you can complete the voyage around Cape of Good Hope.

Running up and down the stairs this morning, chasing Calanit, and holding Erez in one hand, I opened one door which bumped, ever so slightly into the open closet door behind it. Normally, nothing to think about, but for some reason, I thought about that same bump 100 or 1000 times down the road. It's one of those battles, like erosion, that is hard to win.

There's a Chinese proverb: It isn't the mountains ahead that wear you out, it's the grain of sand in your shoe.

Each of those bumps is kind of like a grain of sand. Ok, maybe not, but I heard that proverb on the radio the other day and really liked it and now am jamming it into the blog post for today :-)

Hey, I've been up since 2.45am, completely wired, for reasons that I don't understand and it's now 8.36am. I was supposed to go to the dentist at 7.10am, but I gave that slot up to Tamar so she could have it and now I am on double child care duty.

Maybe the fatigue is the sand in my shoe and the bumping of one door against another is the erosion that wears down parts of the house.

My basic point matter how much effort I put into upkeep, I will NEVER be on top of it all.

speaking of batteries...

My friend Shira Stutman astutely asks: why is it that almost every childrens toy these days comes with a battery?

Its true, even some of Calanits books have battery requirements.

Dora the Explorer...

One of Calanit's favorite programs is "Dora the Explorer," which is generally described as "the adventures of a 7 year old Latina girl and her friend Boots, the monkey."


It's a very educational show and Calanit has learned a lot from it. It's also quite profitable as we have most products within the Dora merchandising pantheon (pillow, shoes, blanket, toothbrush, backback, cup, plate, books,, that's a lot of dineros).


They make a big point in the show of stressing safety. When they get in a car, they say “Seatbelts!! So we can be safe.” Same idea for boats, etc.


This is great.


Then, the premise on the show fully dawned on me.


Here is a 7 year old girl, running around with a friend that is a monkey by herself, jumping over cliffs, going across lakes, avoiding crocodiles, trolls, and other unsavory characters such as Swiper the Fox, and who relies on her other friends, a squirrel, a bull, and an iguana.


What message are we sending to Calanit?


Sure, it’s ok to run around by yourself (as long as you have your trusty backpack, of course), rely on your map reading skills to get you wherever you are going, and associate with semi-domesticated animals, but gosh darn it, you’d better wear a seatbelt!


Where are the "A" and "B" batteries?

We have AA and AAA and C and D. I'm sure if we look around the Net,
we'll find the answer, but I am curious.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

my current investment philosophy....

I’m breaking my investment efforts into three “big bet” areas. We’ll see if it pans out.


  1. Index funds.
    Following the Random Walk on Wall Street theory of “it’s difficult to beat the market so let it ride on the Index funds.” 


  1. The Asher Epstein Big Three.
    My brother, Asher, is an evangelist for three companies in particular. Echelon Networks (ELON), CheckFree (CKFR), and Wind River (WIND). If you know my brother, you’ll know he studies these things like very few people (he knows the CEO of CKFR and the leadership team and participates in quarterly con calls with Wall St. analysts as well having deep relationships with the Investor Relations folks at all of them).


There are a few others in here (, for example) but the Big Three is all you need.


  1. The Energy Doomsday Scenario. Oil goes at least to $100/barrel and maybe higher.
    Read a book called “The Coming Economic Collapse” which helped to quantify and flush out main of the ideas that I’d had in my head. These were around
    1. Rising oil prices due to increased Chinese/Indian/world demand
    2. Vulnerability of supply due to oil’s location in volatile regions (Middle East, Russia, Venezuela)
    3. Lack of truly viable alternatives (yet)
    4. America’s addiction to oil
    5. And, the biggie, militant Islam’s focus on castrating the West through disruptions of supply


The play here is in, to varying degrees, energy companies, Gold, inflation protected assets, real estate (maybe), China/India (maybe).

Confronting mortality...

My grandmother and I were talking the other day. She was lamenting her physical state due to her illness and the stress she is feeling due to my grandfather's illness.

She said, "if the Doctor I see tomorrow can't tell me what's wrong, I'm going to take a gun to my head. I don't want to live like this. I'm used to being active."

I paused for a moment and remembered a conversation I had with Tamar's now deceased paternal grandmother.

We were sitting in the den and Tamar's grandmother says, "you know, I think my time is up."

Tamar got very quiet, not knowing how to respond.

I figured, "she's just as scared as we are. It's not like she's ever been here before either," so I say to her grandmother:

"How do you know? Is there some internal alarm clock that is going off?"

It opened us all up to a very good conversation and relieved some of the tension.

So this past Sunday night, I took the same approach.

"Nana, I'm not going to argue with you that living like that would be easy, but you've got to reconsider the gun. I mean, first of all, it's so messy. It's also a lot of've got to get a permit, background check in some cases, it just seems like a lot of work. Maybe you could do something cleaner?"

"What do you suggest?" she asked.

"I don't know, I'll leave that up to you, but I just think the gun is not the best way to go."

She laughed a hearty, solid laugh and the conversation moved on.

I guess my approach on these things is to think about how I would respond to someone who didn't think s/he was going to die any day or at least some time in the very near future and respond accordingly. That's living, when you treat the person as if s/he's fine and not as if s/he's already in the grave.

Bomb Iran...

I've come to the conclusion that we need to bomb the Iranian nuclear facilities. The risks are too great to see a diplomatic initiative run its course and ultimately fail.

Monday, April 24, 2006

A Tale of Two Cities...

Spent part of Passover in DC with my family and part of it in Albany with Tamar's family.

My family has 2 grandchildren, both mine. The result is that all of my siblings devote a nice chunk of their time to entertaining my kids. I was on vacation for 3 days.

Tamar's parents have 14 (going on 15) grandchildren.

In Albany, we had 12 adults and 12 kids 7 and under. Not only was I watching my kids, I was watching other people's kids. It was pandemonium...all the time, or as I said to one friend, "this is what I think a British soccer riot must be like."

Of course, there's a beauty in the madness and seeing the pure joy of my kids' faces as they played with their cousins made it all worthwhile.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Dealing with death...

The Dalai Lama wrote in his book "The Art of Happiness" that you are supposed to envision unpleasant scenarios and how you will deal with them should they occur. This, he states, makes it easier to handle them if/when they do arrive.

I just returned from a memorial service for the 58 year old mother of one of my longest-standing friends (since Kindergarten). She died of cancer and the tributes were truly beautiful. It's sad to see these types of things happen.

Last week, I was shocked to hear that one of my classmates from Japan, of whom I was quite fond, had died in an auto accident, leaving a widow and a 6 year old daughter.

And now I am faced with the illnesses of my beloved grandparents. One has cancer, the other lung-related issues.

Intellectually I know they (no one) lives forever. I just wonder if the Dalai Lama is right about this one.

Saturday, April 22, 2006


Went for a run with Erez today. He's been a bit cranky lately and was crying a lot. Tamar and Calanit were sleeping so I figured I'd get him out of the house.

We picked up a jogging stroller, which I love, and combined with my new running shoes, I've had opportunities to take the kids out with me. It's nice bonding time....except for when your son is screaming his head off the whole time.

I had tried holding, feeding, and playing with him. Nothing worked.

All that was left was to make like Forrest Gump and just run. It became a contest of stamina and willpower. Who would outlast whom?

All I can say is that my son has an impressive set of lungs and has great stamina.

I started measuring the time of my run in terms of how long Erez was screaming. No watch and no objective other than have him cry it out.

It was a fresh perspective on measurement.

This made me think about the time I was spending with him (and had spent with him over the course of the day). We had really bonded the night before. It was 11pm and Calanit and Tamar were asleep (no, that's not all they do :-) and Erez and I were playing. I was teaching him colors, explaining women to him-well just explaining that women can't be understood--just kidding, sort of-and wrestling.

There's a saying in Pirkei Avot-Ethics of the Fathers: "Who is rich? He who is satisfied with his portion." I started thinking that I am rich because of the quality time I have with my kids and the fact that I am getting better and better at making them the priority. I still have moments of self-centeredness, but they are less frequent than before.

Measuring time in cries and wealth in time....I guess by the distributive property (I think) that means that wealth is measured by cries, which could be true. If I'm around to hear my kids cry (and hopefully make them feel better) perhaps I am richer than I realized (and this coming from a guy who is chock full of money neuroses).

Friday, April 21, 2006

What's in a name?

As a welcome gesture to my brother's new girlfriend, my two sisters and I thought it would be funny to post a list of 50 potential nicknames on the front door for her to consider.

We warned her that the final decision rested with us though we would take her opinion into consideration.

The subsequent brainstorming, ranking, and judging process led to a long debate about the characteristics of a nickname.

Some background: When I lived in Japan, I led a team of American students responsible for educating local Japanese citizens about America.

Students from other countries (Malaysia, Phillipines, Indonesia, etc.) took a fairly straightforward approach to their seminars, relying on maps, information, and history to tell their stories.

I figured that most Japanese could locate the US on a map (the reverse of course may not be true) and that they knew some of the basics. It was their perceptions that I needed to address.

Our seminar began, as baseball games do, with the Star-Spangled banner. We had a session on individuality, using Dennis Rodman as our case study, Blues and Jazz, with live guitar and dancing, and a session on nicknames.

We defaulted to using common suffixes like, -rino, and -ator, etc. and made name tags for the Japanese to wear proudly all day. We did have some creative ones and our guests enjoyed the looks on their friends' faces as they walked around proudly wearing tags such as "Yujinator,"
"Megumarino," and the like. We did make it clear that there were other ways of evolving nicknames.

When I married Tamar, I was introduced to her family's system of adding the letter "I" to pretty much every one's name. Tamar is either "Tamari" or "Mari." Akiva is "Kivi."

Coming from a family where my nickname is "Mirsky," I have one brother who is "Snead," a sister who is "Dunam" and one who is "Nerd" and a cousin named "Wefke," I didn't hold this art form of nicknames in high regard.

I've come to the conclusion that there are names of endearment and then there nicknames.

A name of endearment includes the original name. In other words, if you hear the name of endearment (NOE) you'd have a pretty reasonable chance of guessing the person's actual name.

A nickname, however, could have its origin in an NOE or be a character trait that is associated with the individual, e.g. "Slim", but when put to the reverse engineering test, it would be close to impossible to figure out the original name. There's an evolutionary process that can take you from an NOE to an actual nickname as well as a good story.

A good example of this is: Magic Johnson. There is no way to figure out from "Magic" that his real name is "Earvin."

When reviewing our list of 50 potential nicknames, we realized that many of them, though quite clever, witty and funny, were not actually nicknames, rather NOE's.

Using the new criteria we've settled on two candidates for the long term. Market forces will determine the winner and there's a good likelihood that they will further evolve so it's hard to say how it will end. In fact, it's an organism all its own.

The candidates are: Taco and Gatsby.

Her name is Rebecca.

How you expect things to turn out...

I'm in the middle of a good book now called "The Outside World" by Tova Mirvis. The basic plot involves a young Jewish boy who becomes extremely religious and his parents have to confront the challenge of their son not growing up as they had imagined.

It's made me think about my own expectations for my kids and at the same time made me think about what, if any, expectations I should have.

I wonder if, instead of creating a fantasized path they will follow, I should focus more on the type of character traits I want them to have. Then, they can use those traits on a path they choose. Clearly, some paths they choose would be more painful to me than others and hopefully, they will see merit in some of the paths I value more highly than others, but in the end, I can't control them. Seeking to control them defeats the end goal of my role as a father. It's almost contradictory.

On the one hand, give them the traits, education, and goals that you value, but at the same time, be prepared for them to interpret everything differently.

Airport security...

Got caught going through security with a Swiss Army knife. It was unintentional, the result of a series of unintended steps. Nevertheless, had a choice to face.

Either give up the knife or go back and figure out how to check it through and risk missing the flight.

I had received the knife as a bar mitzvah gift from my Dad. The thought of leaving it at the security gate of BWI was not the glamorous end I would have envisioned, so I took option 2.

The whole episode fomented the anger in me that I feel for the Arab terrorists who have changed the way we live.

On top of that, I was upset that all knife owners are viewed in the same light, when profiling-the way the Israelis do it-just seems to overlay some intelligence and analysis on top of otherwise banal facts.

Resistance is Futile...

There have been two times to date where I have had to forcibly hold Calanit down in order to compel her to sleep. I know that I am going to win the battle in terms of strength. I also know that I am doing what is best for her. It's still tough.

I don't want her to view me as someone who is holding her back, literally or figuratively. It's painful when she says, "Abba, don't snuggle me," which I suppose is about the nicest way you could say "get the hell off of me" that I can imagine.

Nevertheless, it's another one of those uncomfortable positions as a parent where your child doesn't necessarily understand or appreciate why you are doing what you are doing and there may be relationship damage as a result, but you still have to do it.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Unsecured wireless networks...

It's great to be able to get along thanks to other people leaving their
digital doors wide open :-)

The Green Revolution

One of the favorite rants of the left wing is that the rich have too
much money and it doesn't do anybody else any good. I don't agree with
that philosophy.

Today's Washington Post business section has a cover story about Bill
Gates and Steve Case (AOL), among others, who are using their fortunes
to invest in alternative energy business opportunities.

With oil hitting $70 a barrel, the private sector is going to try and
accomplish what the Green movement (and government as a notable failure)
have not been able to pull off. Using their wealth, they are going to
invest in potential technologies that will benefit all of us in a number
of ways

-cheaper fuel that protects us from funding terrorists
-sustainable, renewable energy to protect the environment

It's a neat alliance between the Greens and the Capitalists, but let's
remember that the capitalists with their money are the ones driving the

Monday, April 17, 2006

Immigration issues

Haven't really blogged on this topic, but it is an area of concern.
Partially from a national security perspective, but mostly because I
think countries have the right to decide who should and should not be a

There's no doubt that the illegal immigrant population does work that
Americans won't do. I'm not swayed that they are "taking away jobs from
low-income Americans."

What does bother me is:
-the possibility of amnesty or even a path to citizenship rewards
illegal behavior. What's more, it cheapens and causes resentment (as it
should) among those who play by the rules

-the entitlements that go to people who have broken the law. You need to
pay in to get a payout. It sends the wrong message.

Just some initial thoughts. More to come on this topic.


A Mormon colleague was telling me about his pursuit of a young woman. He
described a recent conversation but said, "we didn't have a DTR or

DTR=Define the Relationship

When you mutually agree on the appropriate stage of your dating

I thought the acronym was a good one

Sunday, April 16, 2006

It's a small world...

I have a good friend from my days in Japan. He's Japanese and has, for
the time being, relocated to the DC area to work within the World Bank

Today, went to visit him with Calanit. After parking the car, saw a guy
I know from J2J Networking days, who happens to be his next door

Just thought it was pretty random that two people I know from opposite
ends of the earth happen to end up living right next to each other.

There's something happening here...

The Buffalo Springfield song "For What It's Worth" was penned as an
anti-Vietnam message, I believe. Regardless, when things get confusing,
I tend to think of the line "there's something happening here, what it
is ain't exactly clear," when I feel surrounded by change.

We don't get any newspapers at home (well any major ones at least) since
I am a firm believer in the Internet and frankly, just don't have the

With the Passover holiday and a slew of family members around to help
with the kids, I was able to enjoy the Wall St. Journal and Washington
Post, reading almost every section.

There was something refreshing about it and I did come across articles I
probably would not have stopped to read online.

Something struck me. There's an undercurrent that is playing across many
of the stories in these papers. It's Globalization. We've talked about
it and now it's playing itself out.

-the student riots in France
-rising energy prices
-Iranian nuclear ambitions
-the immigration issue (both in the US and Europe)
-the problems at General Motors
-rise of China/US-China summit
-the number of foreign players in the NBA

It's definitely a force that not one of us can control individually.
What's more, I think we are powerless, pretty much as a whole, to stop
it. That leaves a Darwinian choice of monumental proportions. Adapt or

Hate to put it in those terms, but I think that is what it is coming
down to. You need to study Globalization and think about it may/may not
impact you and just do what you can to make sure you are damn ready,
because it is here.

Monday, April 10, 2006

What's God got to do with it?

Is there a term that explains the propensity to question/blame God when things don't go well/our way and to just assume that "it is as it should be" when things do go our way?

There are definitely moments when things are going well when I pause and thank God for all that I have. No question.

I guess I just find that it's disproportionate to my God-centric thinking when things may not be going as I want them to go. I wonder "what is it that I did to deserve this?" Of course, when I think about my behavior and remove the justification lens that I use for everything, there are probably things that I have done to deserve this.

I'm not saying that God acts in this way at all. What's more, I don't think He does. It's just my instinct to think this way.

The Germans probably have a 20 letter word for this phenomenon.

3am clean up duty

It’s easy to get rattled at 3am when you hear your daughter vomiting in the other room. It’s easy to get thrown off as you realize your entire day is thrown for a loop. The nanny can’t come, you and your wife can’t go to work, and your kids are screaming. Plus there’s a ton of laundry to do and a bathroom to clean up.


But somewhere between moving a mattress into your kid’s room and scrubbing the floor with a Clorox wipe, you realize you wouldn’t trade this for anything.

60-Second Seder


For those who haven’t already seen, it’s the entire seder in 60 seconds, somewhere between techno and anime. It’s all Hebrew, but rock out and enjoy – and watch out for those Flash movie-induced seizures…


Sunday, April 09, 2006

Breakfast order...

My wife and I have different philosophies about how we should enable our children to experience the world.

I like to put Tabasco sauce on my food.

Calanit saw me do it and kept asking for some. We told her she wouldn't like it, but she persisted.

Finally, I said, "fine."

Now, when she sees it, she says, "I don't want that."

Yesterday morning, I asked her what she wanted for breakfast.

"Challah, cereal....and coffee." Completely seriously.

So I made her some. Well, it was really coffee flavored milk, but she liked it.

Of course, she put it down after two sips claiming not to want any more. :-)

Wearing a bib and Calanit's logical mind...

Calanit and I spent a lot of time running around in the backyard yesterday afternoon.

Normally, we have dinner, then she gets a bath before going to sleep. With all of the dirt, however, I gave her a bath first (and had to explain that no, she wasn't going to sleep).

So she sits down at dinner in her pajamas. She had made a big deal about wearing the purple pajamas, particularly the shirt.

Tamar says, "Calanit, if you want to wear your purple shirt, you should probably wear a bib..."
"No! I don't want a bib."

We try to put it on and Calanit resists aggressively.

"I think a bib makes a lot of sense."
"No bib!!"

We try again. To no avail.

Tamar looks at me...

"Calanit, given your desire to wear the purple sheet while you sleep tonight, it may be a wise decision to consider the deployment of a protective device for your shirt. This would ensure that any consumable which is supposed to reach your mouth but may not make it to the desired destination will not render your garmet unsuitable for sleeping.

While you have made significant strides in the past few months, there are moments when your execution is less than perfect. Given this, there is a higher probability that a shirt change will be necessary prior to going to sleep. Consequently, it is in your best interest, and I'd like to recommend, that you wear a bib."


...and she let me put it on her!

You can't make this stuff up.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Dancing Douhboy...

Dancing Doughboy

You can also build your own dance…


Hitting the mark...for the most part

Calanit is very excited about the possibility of wearing underwear. She's been promoted from diapers to Dora the Explorer pull ups.

We've explained and shown her that once she recognizes that she has made a "poopie" it can be disposed of in the toilet.

In her exuberance to get the job done (a trait she receives from me), she has taken it upon herself to start doing this. Unfortunately, she didn't get the memo that she can do this by herself but it would be great if Tamar or I were present.

This morning, Idiscovered a dirty Dora the Explorer pull-up in the toilet (very impressed that she managed to do this) and my naked (and as of yet unsanitized) daughter sitting on the floor.

A for effort
B for results.

We'll get there.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Comments on the Blog...

Why, after all of the thought that I put into my Blog entries, is the one that gets the most comments about a potentially unique sequence of dates/time?

I’m sure there is a reason. I just don’t get it J


It is interesting though.

The sporting life

On Fox Sports Radio on Tuesday morning via XM Satellite on AirTran, the
radio personality was talking about the implied agreement of being a
sports fan. He was referring back to the rather boring Men's NCAA
Championship game and said:

"Look, when you are a sports fan, you make a deal. You agree to sit
through hours of really bad games so that you can have those few just
downright spectacular games. That's the life we have chosen!"

I chuckled, knowing full well what he meant.

Having gotten up at 4.30 am on 4 hours of sleep, I was pretty wiped out
that night. I got back to my room and saw the 1st half o the Maryland
Women's game in the championship game against Duke. They were completely
outplayed and down by 10 at halftime.

I was exhausted. I am now a "responsible" adult and have a duty to my
family and company to be well-rested for the "important" things.

I went to bed.

You know how this story ends...

Got up at 6.30am and went to the exercise room to hit the stairmaster.
ESPN was on TV and though I couldn't hear it, I saw that Maryland Overtime....and got there because of a 3 pointer over a 6 foot
7 inch opposing player with 6 seconds left.

I'm getting conservative, choosing to play it safe, and look what

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

jacke and tie...

XM Radio...

I don’t have it and have only been in a car that has it once before, but having it on the plane is truly enjoyable.

There’s something very interesting about the concept and capabilities of choosing from so many stations. It’s a continuation of what the Internet has begun, allowing people to find the narrow band of interest that they enjoy and tune in to it (notice metaphor ?)

This is both good and bad.

On the one hand, you get what you want (and advertisers get the audience they want.)
On the other, it continues to divide us because we share less and less of a common cultural bond.

What's more, you have the option of avoiding alternative thinking.

For example, channel 166 is Wall St. Journal radio. That's my style and I started listening to it.

Channel 167 is Air America, which I was pretty sure was not my style. I had to force myself to say "you know, I'd like to expand my mind and listen, really listen, to the opinions of people with whom I know I disagree. But it wasn't easy...

A tale of two customer service experiences

Somehow I missed payment of our March credit card bill. There are a ton of possible reasons for this, but suffice it to say, it doesn't happen all that often.

I call Chase and tell them what happened. The payment is on the way, I tell them. Can you waive the late fee ($39)? I'm a good customer.

The rep says to me: "It doesn't matter if you are a good customer. That's the policy. You can call back after we receive the payment and ask for a credit."

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  How about "I understand, Mr. Epstein. As soon as we get the payment, we will immediately credit your late fee. Thanks for your business."

I'm on the plane to Atlanta now, flying AirTran and have to say, I'm impressed.  The seats are bigger (more legroom) and there is free XM Radio on the plane (and they don't sell headsets either...just hand them out.).  What's more, I got an email yesterday saying, "click here to print your boarding pass" which I did and saved me a few minutes during check-in.

Just nice and further proof that the little things make a big difference (at least for me.)

Monday, April 03, 2006

At the tone the time will be....

On Wednesday, at two minutes and three seconds after 1:00
in the morning, the time and date will be
01:02:03 04/05/06.
This will never happen again! (well at least for another 1000 years)

Daylight Savings Time

Sometimes I wonder if all of the time we “save” with daylight savings time is lost in changing the clocks in our lives back and forth.


Sunday, April 02, 2006

Mental Snapshots...

One phrase that Tamar and I use frequently is that of taking "mental snapshots." This is a deliberate effot to savor a moment in time, knowing that it will be fleeting and we should cherish it.

We particularly try to do this during times when we might otherwise be stressed. The other night, I was putting Erez to sleep and after rocking him and rocking him, I put him down, when of course, he would wake up again. As I stood there, stroking his head, I took a mental snapshot and really focused on the way his hair felt, on his breathing, and on my breathing, and everything else that was going on, saying to myself, "one day, I will be old and gray, my children will be grown, and when I look back on my life, this is one of the memories I am going to have."

The same thing happened on Friday when I met Tamar and the kids at the shopping center. I parked at the opposite end from where they were and when Calanit saw me, she began a sprint (or a 2 year old version of a spring saying "Abba!!!" with a huge grin on her face.) It's hard to beat that.

Mental snapshot...take one right now.

Daddy's Helper...

I've decided that instead of doing specific activities for the kids, I will do the activities that need to be done and make them kid-friendly.

This morning while Erez was sleeping, Calanit and I went outside. It was a GORGEOUS day. I had her help me caulk some cracks along the side of the house, clean up leaves, put sticks in the trash, and clean our ladder. At each stage, I made a point of explaining WHY we were doing what we doing and how the investment would pay off.

Of course, we did interject the work with some hide and go seek around the tree and some chasing in the backyard (and later w/Erez we went to the park), but I was fortunate to have a GREAT helper for some of the more mundane tasks, which made it all the more fun.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Champions for Life...

The American Red Cross frequent donor program is called "Champions for Life." I think you become a member if you donate 4 times a year or every 9 weeks or something like that.

There are perks in the program. The most notable being that whenever you show up at a donation center, you jump to the front of the line, no matter how many people are already waiting.

Clearly, this irritates some people and I'm told that some people get up and leave when they see this (shame on the ARC for not pro-actively telling people that this is a benefit and only doing so once people are already upset.)

Be that as it may, the question I was trying to deal with as I spoke with the phlebotomists on Friday was: is it worth it?

Of the people who donate on a weekly basis, how many are Champions for Life? How many people who leave in disgust would have otherwise become Champions for Life?

As a business, you want to treat your best customers best, to keep them coming back, but it's interesting to think what the law of unintended consequences does for those who are put off by preferential treatment for those who have earned it.

Wireless networks...

Ok, I've outgeeked myself. We now have 3 wireless networks (access points, I should say) in the house. One on each floor. :-)

Why? We don't really need it, but because we CAN!