Thursday, June 29, 2006

Flexibility, Internet, and Free Will

One of the things I love about my job--one that is paid on performance as opposed to time-is flexibility.

As long as I deliver quality to the organization (in terms of revenue), no one cares when or where I do my job. I can work from home, at night, in the early morning, etc.

To me, that's the benefit of the Internet revolution, we are freeing up the working man from having to do a certain task at a certain time. This reminds me of Spiderman "with great power comes great responsibility." For many people and employers, there is a hesitation to break the chains of a desk and an office. You don't see people, you don't see them working. People have to take responsibility for doing their work on their own time.

This is scary to some because it raises the bar for individual accountability, but at the same time, it's liberating.It empowers you to optimize your work effort and time.

This morning, I got to walk Calanit to school. Then, since it was such a nice day, I went for a run before going into the office at 11am.

I noticed that Montgomery County, MD (where I live) is now offering a tax incentive to companies that encourage telecommuters as a way to alleviate traffic congestion. I've long thought that this is a natural outgrowth of excessive congestion as well as a boon to personal productivity and flexibility.

Feeling whole...

The basement is about 80% of the way back, I am proud to say.

There's something in my character that prevents my mental comfort when my physical surroundings are disorderly. I have a compulsive need to put things away "where they belong," to organize them, and to tidy them up.

When I do that, my mind is at ease and I can attack the larger issues, but until that happens, I have an extra layer of tension.

Now that the basement is on the path to recovery and most importantly, the Man Cave is fully operational, I am turning my attention to the big tasks I enjoy.

OCD? Maybe. Type A? Definitely.

Why you should fill out Plaxo updates when I send them.

I got a request today from a friend as follows:


I know someone who is currently the Founder and CEO of a relatively new biotech company that is negotiating substantial funding with venture capitalists and he needs someone to look over an employment contract that the new controlling investors would be offering him.  The company is a Delaware Corp. so I would need someone familiar with Delaware law as well as NY.  We would prefer someone specializing in these kinds of agreements since as you can imagine, the situation is extremely delicate considering the blue chip VCs usually hold all the cards…


I know I know someone, I just can’t remember who it is…oh wait, I think I just did.


The value of the network and keeping your data clean and up to date.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Surgery date set...

Met with the head/neck surgeon today. Nice guy. Dr. Bruce Davidson, Chairman of the Dept. @ Georgetown University Hospital.

I'm going in on Thursday, July 27th.

The Man Cave is Operational...

We're back online, blogging from the dried out and somewhat newly refurbished Man Cave.

So far, we've triaged out 3 rugs and one mat. One rug seems to be saved. One is a maybe and one we're hopeful. They are dried out and next steps are to:
1. mop the floors (water brings in a lot of dirt)
2. carpet fresh/vacuum the rugs.

We'll see...

Japanese influenced art

Check out the site of a friend of mine from Tokyo

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

the 300 year rainfall...

During a relative lull in the rainfall today, I went outside to adjust the tarp in preparation for tonight's (hopefully last) storm.

As I sloshed around, I thought of myself as a sailor on the open sea trying to fix a sailing vessel during a storm. I'm a fan of the Discovery Channel and a few weeks ago, I saw a program on Super Vessels that are massive and are built for once in a thousand year storms or something like that.

Anyway, tonight on the news I heard that we are going through a once in 300 years quantity of rainfall.

The Man Cave is Dead....Long Live the Man Cave!!

My little corner office in the basement of the house (right next to the door to the outs
ide w/the storm drain) is known as "the Man Cave."

There were two, old, but nice Persian rugs in there. Now there is one...maybe none. I've had to deep six one of them and it's not clear if the other one is going to make it.

The main room mat under the rug is a goner and the rug is in jeopardy. It's up on chairs to increase circulation and both fans are concentrated on it. We'll see if it can be salvaged.

I guess the bright side in the destruction and decamation (and compared to some folks I've seen on the news, we got off easy) is that I now have a chance to rebuild.

Once we mop up the floor (at least if it floods again tonight we won't lose anymore rugs, of course, they won't be there to hold the water back either) and get the flood defense system in place, we'll have a chance to make it better than ever before.

FEMA Director

That's what I've felt like in my basement for the past 48 hours (feels like a week).

I've got limited resources in terms of :
Manpower-Tamar (limited due to childcare) and me
Machines -a wetvac, two dehumidifers, 1 bathroom fan, two mobile fans (1 large, 1 small)
Accessories-mops, folding chairs, various other things you might find in a basement, etc.

-clean up all water
-prevent any possible mold/mildew issues
-attempt to save all rugs from total destruction

The area of the disaster is quite vast, probably 40% of the total basement had water penetration and 70% of the area was affected in some way.

Run the dehumidifers and fans constantly while moving them around to optimize distribution of impact.

I also raised almost all of the rugs off the floor to increase the circulation under the rugs and likelihood of drying.

Current status:
I've decided to triage two rugs out. One (which had received the most limited attention) is still wet and I don't think it's going to make it. Plus, its utility to the household was most limited.

Instead, I am focusing all resources on the two most important areas and rugs (my office) and the main room, where we have a large area rug that is perfect for the kids.

I've concentrated one fan and one dehumidifier in each of the high value areas and am running them 24 hours a day. That, comibned with the heat generated causing the A/C to run more often is going to cause for a more expensive electrical bill this month.

In addition, I called in my general contractor and am dropping the nuclear bomb on the outside storm drain problem. We're going to build a structure that entirely closes it off preventing water and debris from entering and draining the excess water away from the house.

This is what happens in emergencies. You've got limited resources and you've got to make decisions about what (who) will be saved. It stinks, but if you try and save everything, you will probably save nothing.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Bush, Iraq, and the Search for WMD's

I probably could have helped Bush out a lot in terms of Iraq.

There's a WMD in the crib in the nursery upstairs. He's 10 months old and is known as 'Paco'.

Bedside manner...

I know full well that my type of cancer is, in the grand scheme of things, not that big a deal. Doctors who know this, and there are a bunch on my list (though not all), tend to say "you'll be ok."

Now, I may not need or want sympathy, but that doesn't mean I don't like it.

I've noticed that the doctors responses, directly and indirectly, have lacked a bit of the bedside manner, a skill they supposedly foster in med school.

Ranging from, "you'll be fine" to outright dismissive, it's been a bit shocking to see.

Now, maybe it's because when a layperson hears 'cancer' s/he thinks grave no matter what and doctors know that thyroid, compared to other, more serious cancers, just isn't a big deal.

Still, it'd be nice to hear a "it must be tough as a young father to confront the concept of cancer. Fortunately, thyroid is highly curable," or something like that.

A few did say that, but it's been remarkable that not all of them have.

Flood of '06

I have never been more scared for the safety of my family than I was tonight.

Tamar had the kids in her car and we all were driving home in a torrential downpour. It was incredible. Streets were flooded, you could see about 30 feet in front of you, and most everyone was drivign w/hazard lights on.

I was so nervous about their safety and so relieved to find them at home when I arrived.

Once the most important issue was addressed, I went downstairs to the basement. I had an inkling of what might happen.

Twice last summer, the drain at the basement door was so covered w/leaves and debris that it flooded my basement.

I've tried a number of tactics to prevent this from happening, but with the Armaggedon rainfaill we were experiencing, I was expecting some flooding. I had raised all of my computer equipment off the floor so it wouldn't be destroyed (the man cave is right near the basement door), but I didn't expect to see the extent of flooding. It was immense.

It's been 4 hours and thanks to David Price who has an industrial strength WetVac (otherwise I'd be here through Thursday), we're getting close to cleaning this mess up.

I've got more ideas on how to defeat Mother Nature (or at least contain her) on this particular challenge and it's obvious I'm going to have to try some of them out.

The basement is so humid and I'm walking around in only shorts, sweating profusely. I feel like I'm in the Bayou. It'll be a long time before I forget this one.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

World Cup Discipline

Normally, when I have to discipline Calanit (rare as that is), I use a hockey analogies…”Two minutes for whining. Time of the Penalty 5:06PM” and put her in the “Penalty Box.”

This month, in honor of the World Cup, I’ve started handing out Yellow Cards for infractions.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Being Present....

One of the "benefits," if you can call that, of the current medical conundrum is the mental acuity that results from a greater awareness of the fragility of life.

When I'm with my kids, in particular, but in many other more mundane situations, I am feeling a heightened sense of awareness. I am feeling much more PRESENT in the PRESENT. It's a nice feeling to not be looking back or looking forward, but just being right here now.

There's a song I've been listening to (thanks to Jeremy and Tamar Lustman...yes, they have the same names as we do!) by a group called Lev Tahor. It's called "Da'agah Minain" which is *roughly* Aramaic for 'Don't Worry."

The whole song has only a nine words (in Hebrew/Aramaic) and translates to English as:

"The past already happened, and the future has yet to come. And the present flies by like the blink of an eye, so from where do you have worries?"

Medical Ebay...

We need some sort of neutral ratings/feedback site for Doctors. Kind of like

The response to my cancer email has been great and a ton of people have offered suggestions about surgeons and endocrinologists, but after people's opinions and a few other things like bios on their websites (I'm impressed that so many of the doctors seem to have these now--nice), I don't have much to go on.

I'd like some sort of objective measure with feedback, ratings, commentary, stats, etc.

1. how many lawsuits?
2. how many surgeries?
3. how many patients?

Any other stuff that can help me make a decision about who to have cut open my neck and remove my thyroid would be great.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

The advantages of telling 1100 people you have cancer...

you get some great advice, feedback, suggestions, and support. You don't feel as lost or helpless b/c you find people who've gone through it and can serve as your thyroid cancer sherpas. It's been a big time/energy/anxiety saver.

Cost of Girls vs. Boys

Went to a baby naming this morning for a girl.

Saw a friend of ours who has a son and said to him, "You've got to get yourself a girl. They rock!"

"I don't know," he responded, "the cost of the wedding and all..."

"True, it's expensive, but factor in the costs of all of the stuff that your son is going to break over the years and I think you may come out ahead with a girl."

Giving Props...

The most prolific commenter on the blog. Got to show the love

Top Things You Can Do...

I've received a ton of very generous offers to help during this challenging time.

Here is my current/initial list of things that you can do

1. keep my wife calm

2. get a haircut for me (I know it's a tough one, but you asked)

3. donate blood

4. buy Microsoft stock or product (ok, not really, but if I'm not at work, at least I can help drive revenue, right?) Well, if you want to, I won't stop you.

5. give your kids, spouse, parent, or another loved one an extra hug and say "this one's for Jer"

6. I need some help in calculating the cost/benefit analysis of the expected treatment for my cancer vs. my future contribution to society. I need a solid, econometrically sound, ROI justification for the procedure. You know I don’t want to be a net drain on the economy! (my college roommate is an MIT PhD in Economics, so I think we've got this one covered).

more to come...

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Are you tired?

One of the symptoms of thyroid cancer is fatigue. I've been asked a few times..."are you feeling tired?"

"oh, you mean outside of the fact that I go to bed at midnight and get up at 5.30am w/my son?"

Symptom or Effect?

What's a sports fan to do?

So the NBA Finals and the Stanley Cup playoffs ended this week. The World Cup is on during the day. I don't care about baseball until playoff times and there are only so many hands of No Limit Texas Hold 'Em Poker you can watch...

How many days until football season? :-)

In my own defense, I'm working at night w/a game on in the background. Not like I'm sitting on the couch or anything.

Making light of it all...

Let me say first off that though I know I have cancer, I also know that on the scale of severity, it's, thankfully, not that severe.

Perhaps that is why I have a stoic attitude. I won't have to undergo chemo, I don't think, and the success rate is in the high 90's. I sometimes feel that people's outreach and concern, though greatly appreciated, is excessive given the type of cancer that I have.

Part of my way of dealing with the challenge is to make light of it.

To wit...of the many emails I've received offering support, one person, whose wife is an excellent Moroccan chef, offered a catered Moroccan meal (a favorite of mine).

My response: "A catered Moroccan meal. Man, this cancer thing is a pretty good deal!"

Another friend and I talk about the cost of medical care frequently. While chatting with him, I realized I would have to put together a compelling ROI analysis to justify the insurance expenditures on my treatment. What's worse, we realized, was...what happens if I can't? :-)

I do feel bad, however, because I don't feel like I am truly in a life and death struggle the way so many others, with far worse types of cancer are. I don't want to minimize their struggle in any way and perhaps I shouldn't be so cavalier about it.

Tomorrow, I'll be making calls to get the surgery set is mid-July.

Microsoft Office 2007

You should definitely take a look at the Beta of Office 2007

I wouldn't do this on your primary machine, but if you have a "play around" one, then go for it. There's some great stuff..including an 'auto-preview' of text when you scroll through the font menu and an 'auto de-dup' of lists in Excel. Very neat.

Broadcasting the bad news...

Most people have been VERY supportive when they receive my email about my thyroid cancer. Of course, what are they going to say “I hope you don’t feel better or get well?”


I guess I mean supportive in the sense that I am pro-actively reaching out with the news. Part of it stems from a desire to let people know so there are no secrets, but part of it is selfish. I feel like part of my therapy is in confronting the reality, which is hard to avoid when you email 1000 people about it and also in getting the responses. I know I asked people not to write, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel good to know that all of these people care.


Not confronting bad news publicly or sharing it is, in my mind, going to cause longer-term deleterious effects. Better to get it out there and focus on healing that to try and hide it.


More on this to come, of that I am sure!

Erez walks...

The boy took his first steps last night, only two of them, and then took about 4 this morning.

He’d been able to stand on his own for a few seconds w/out falling down, but today he took those first few tentative steps.

Walking is something that we generally don’t think about, so it’s neat to appreciate this snapshot in time when it’s so fresh and new.

Doctors must hate the Internet...

The beauty of the Net is the democratization of information. Patients can research and understand their own diseases faster and begin the healing process. The danger lies in misunderstanding and/or misdiagnosing causing conversations with doctors to go off on completely irrelevant tangents. 

Perhaps too much knowledge is a dangerous thing?

We slightly frustrated an oncologist yesterday when our line of questioning showed him that we had done some research, but had gotten confused in our understanding of the impact of Thyroid replacement hormones and their potential impact on gonadal function. 

In so many words, he said, “I’m not sure where you found that, but one has nothing to do with the other. There’s no impact on gonadal function.”

“Actually, Doctor,” I said, “isn’t it true that men on Thyroid Replacement Hormone drugs need to have more sex than other men?”

Tamar was on the line in the other room and I could feel her cringe. J


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Cancer...why not me?

I was diagnosed this morning with papillary thyroid cancer.

I don't like to be alarmist-from what I'm told it's very curable, but I don't like to be secretive either.

Quick Background
Right before Mother's Day I felt a lump in the back of my neck. It was sort of cyst-like and after a few days of it not going away, I got a bit concerned. A friend of ours who is a nephrologist was at our Mother's Day dinner. He felt it and advised me to get it checked out.

The doctor felt it and said that it was probably just a swollen lymph gland and there was nothing to worry about, but just to be on the safe side, "do you want me to examine your thyroid?"

"Sure," I responded, not even sure where the thyroid was located and certainly having no idea what the thyroid does.

She felt it and said, "the right side of your thyroid feels a bit larger than the left. I'm recommending an ultrasound."

About a week later, I had the ultrasound and they found a "complex nodule" (or at least I think that is what it is called) and recommended a biopsy. 20% of the nodes are cancerous, I was told. My initial reaction was “Why me?” but that quickly changed to “Why not me?” I figure if there are 10,000 cases diagnosed each year in the US, who’s to say that I wouldn’t be one of them? That helped me begin the process of assimilating and synthesizing the information.

A few years ago, I read a book by the Dalai Lama called “The Art of Happiness” where he suggests that you should prepare yourself for difficult situations by envisioning what you will do when you face them.

This morning, I went in for a fine needle aspiration biopsy. The doctor was very nice and she pulled out the specimen from my neck. She wanted to validate that enough of a sample was taken, so she put it on the slide and looked under the microscope. I asked to look as well.

Of course, I had no idea what I was looking at, but had a good time anyway peering through the lenses.

She turns to me and says, "do you want me to give you the diagnosis now or wait until I make the final report on Thursday to your doctor?"

"What kind of ridiculous question is that?" I asked myself. "Uh, I think I'll go with right now."

"You have papillary cancer," which caused a shiver to go down my spine, of course, “but it’s highly treatable.”

For the past month, I was preparing for those words (in between early morning wake-ups with Erez and all of the other stuff of life) and so I am just going to take it one step at a time. Not worrying about all of the “what if’s” just dealing with the facts that are in front of me and taking the best course of action at each moment.

Just wanted to share the status.

Cable saves jobs?

I've seen a bunch of ads on cable tv recently saying that "Cable provides jobs." I'm not sure what message they are trying to send...should I keep paying higher cable rates b/c of other people's employment needs? That's not a good sales message. By that measure, what about the buggy and whip manufacturers? Carriages provided employment as well.

My advice to the cable industry: Shut up and figure out how to deliver more value for less cost to the consumer Or deliver more for the same price, but don't make me think that it's a civic duty to pay higher cable bills.

Full disclosure: I took us off the VIP comcast package and now have basic cable (we hardly watch TV and when we do, we use the Media Center which has more than enough stuff recorded for us) and use Verizon FIOS for Internet

War of Attrition...

That's basically what I am facing when Erez and I are up at 2.30am. It's a game of "Last Man Standing" and the sad thing is, he's usually the winner. All I have the energy to do is watch TV and prevent him from destroying the house or killing himself.

Tired of being tired...

Paco has gotten the hang of sleeping through the night, if going to bed at 8pm and getting up at 5.30am qualifies.

Most of the time, I am his early morning entertainment. It's a grueling beginning to the day. Last week, we went for a 6am run in the jogging stroller (well, he was in the stroller at least).

Last night, I decided I was tired of being tired and got in bed at, I kid you not, 8:30pm.

Needless to say, Paco got up at 1.30am and 90 minutes later shows no signs of slowing down.

Papa Don't Bleach

My aunt sent this to me...For all you guys w/little girls running around your homes.

Papa, Don't Bleach
Fathers Discover the Unique Joys of Girls and Pink Laundry
By Tom Downey and Mark Colonna
Special to The Washington Post
Monday, June 19, 2006; C10

Let's consider laundry as a metaphor for stages of the male life.

When we were young and blissfully ignorant, our parents did the wash and we had no idea how, nor did we care.

Then we arrived at college, which is when young men are given their first hint of decision-making power. We embraced this freedom by stuffing 30 pounds of random items, mostly clothing, into a 15-pound washer and setting it on Warm.

We emerged from the experimentation of college with our new diploma-validated skills needed for adulthood, and we used these skills to master two distinct categories of laundry: whites and colors.

Then, suddenly, unexpectedly, we were married. This stage was accompanied by a brief and sadly failed attempt to get out of doing the laundry, because we "can't figure out how to do it."

Now we have finally arrived at the pinnacle of laundry knowledge: the pink laundry stage.

After years of daydreaming about guiding our sons, we find ourselves instead washing pink laundry. No, it does not mean we are so incompetent as to drop a red sock in with the whites, nor is it a metaphor for an alternative lifestyle. It means we have young daughters whose distinctive wardrobes require a separate load, the pinkness of which we never previously fathomed.

We pictured our fatherly role as teaching our boys about power tools in our wood shops (which also really only ever existed in our minds) and engaging in the age-old guy activity of taking things apart. We did not imagine that we would be putting together matching outfits for stuffed bears, an activity we don't understand but thoroughly enjoy, or that we would learn the 17 distinct shades between pink and purple.

Movies and television glorify the simplicity and significance of the father-son relationship. Don Vito and Michael Corleone, Mr. C. and Richie Cunningham, Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, Marlin and Nemo. Have you noticed that you never see dads and daughters on Jerry Springer, talking about ridiculous problems?

We have learned the advantages of having daughters. A daughter runs in the room and gives Daddy a hug and tells him she loves him. A son runs in and punches him in the stomach (and then breaks a lamp, for good measure).
Of course we realize that our precious girls will be just as able as any boy to throw a perfect spiral, memorize the lines from "Fletch" and even assemble a carburetor. It is just that at this particular time, they are in a girly-girl phase -- much to the dismay of their high-achieving mothers. That much-idealized game of catch will have to wait for the moment.

At the end of the day, we are okay with all of this. We know we are playing an important role in society, one that is underrated and underreported by the media, and that college-age guys won't even admit is possible.

We are reveling in the quiet glory of pink laundry

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Kid pajamas

There is something so cute and innocent about the pajamas that my kids wear. Erez has these little cars and trains on his pants and t-shirt and Calanit has pink ones with white polka dots (or flowers & butterflies).

They are just so funny and cute running around in them, knowing that some day they'll definitely abandon them (or at least I hope they do :-)

Also cute is letting them run around in their diapers, which I did today. Such innocence and the pure joy that the two of them have while playing with each other on the pillows of the couch is just priceless.

What I learned this Father's Day...

I've mentioned a few times about the burgeoning lacrosse players next door, but one thing I appreciate is the lesson I've learned from their father.

I'd venture to guess that of all the activites out there, my neighbor, Steve, wouldn't pick Lacrosse as the way to bond with his kids. However, what I've realized is the value of letting your kids lead and you follow, wherever they will take you.

You can use it to bond with them, learn something new, delve into a whole new world, and make it a learning experience for your children.

A nice father's day gift.

Israel at the World Cup

They didn't qualify, but they made an appearance

The next bubble...

In my humble opinion, the next big wave of investment that is coming is Alternative Energy/Clean Energy stocks. Some may know this, of course, but the action around this market has all of the trappings of 1996-97 Internet.

If you want to ride the wave, go for it, just remember to avoid getting greedy.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Insurance ROI...

I've been investigating whether we can lower our insurance premiums on our home.

Filled out all of the forms, had a few back and forths, read the policy terms, and when all is said and done, we'll save $120 per year get $20k more coverage on our Personal Property and $5k more for mold, fungus, rot, etc.

Of course, I still have to finish all of the forms, list our valuables, deal with the mortgage company, and the current insurance company I have. Switching costs are kind of high.

Question I am struggling with: is that deal worth the time/effort?

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Right Brain...

Started reading a new book called "A Whole New Mind" by Daniel Pink. His premise is that it's not just logical thinking, but conceptual/emotional thinking (led by the right brain) that will be a key driver of success in the next wave of economic development for advanced nations.

As a very logical thinker and one who has work to do on the emotional side, it's gotten me to focus....which makes for a good excuse to cuddle up next to my wife and watch "So You Think You Can Dance?"


Interesting article on digital gold currency:

A Dutchman in Nagano...

I was telling the story of my visit to the Nagano Olympics in 1998 and thought I'd briefly recount it.

Bottom line: I traveled to Nagano and decided I wanted to do something uniquely Olympian (e.g. not ice hockey) so I got tickets for Womens' 3000m speed skating.

On my way, I stopped by the Heineken Holland House (the Dutch are speed skating maniacs) and figured, "what the heck?" so I got my face painted with the Dutch flag seeing as they care more about the sport than Americans and I figured it would add to the atmosphere.

It did...until people started asking me questions in Dutch!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A conversation with a soldier...

So I'm on the subway around noon today. It's pretty empty and the few riders are minding their own business.

I look up from my laptop for a minute as another passenger moves towards my area. He looks at me. We nod to each other.

He turns to another passenger and starts talking. The guy looks at him quizzically.

"I've been on the train for a long time. Just looking for a conversation," he says. The other passenger doesn't say anything.

"What kind of conversation do you want?" I ask.

"I don't care...anything," he says.

"I'm game," I respond.

Turns out, he just got back from Iraq after 18 months in the Army. We had a really good conversation about his perceptions (he thinks the media isn't doing the US justice in terms of all of the good we're doing. He thinks we were misled re: WMD's, but has seen the torture prison and thinks that we're doing the right thing.) I thanked him for his service.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Playing "guess which hand"

It's funny what kids think is funny.

When I put Calanit to bed, I now play a game with her of "guess which hand has the wedding ring?" I move it around and she enjoys guessing it.

Last night, she took the ring, rubbed her hands together and proceeded to:
1. hold up one closed hand and one open hand

2. hold two closed hands and when I said "Ok, now say 'Guess which hand the ring is in?'" immediately lifts up the hand with the ring and says "This one!!!"

After 20 minutes or so, I got her to play the game as I intended and we had a blast, but I was cracking up as she kept telling me which hand the ring was hidden in.

Child's Pose...

There's a position in Yoga called "Child's Pose." If you know it, you might be interested to know that my kids tend to sleep in that position. I guess there's some objective basis to it all :-)

Monday, June 12, 2006

The World Cup..

I am a big fan of the World Cup. Ok, maybe not big by global standards, but by US standards, I am.

When I lived in Germany in 1996, the European championships were held in England (Germany won it all, which was cool since I got to attend the victory celebration in downtown Frankfurt).

Initially, my friends would ask me to go watch a game with them. As an American, I didn't really care, but seeing it as a chance to practice German, I figured why not?

I started to appreciate the game.

By the 2nd week or so, I was rounding people up, "hey, Portugal is playing Denmark! Let's go!!"

It's a great sport, but I hate the injury faking that is so prevalent. That drives me crazy. Some embellishment, ok, but the crying and whining, come on!!

Today I turned on Italy vs. Ghana (got to root for Ghana since I went there. Well, went to Italy too, but Ghana is more remote to my imagination). There was a guy fake one point, he opened his eyes to see if the ref was watching, kind of like my 3 year old nephew. It was too much.

They took him off the field on a stretcher.

A few minutes later he scores a goal. Too much.

Sunday, June 11, 2006


I f**king hate vandals. Some moron/jackass went on a tire slashing rampage down our street last week. They only hit cars that were parked in the street (ours were in the driveway), but what the hell, dude?

What would possess someone to do this? It's moments like this when I believe in vigilante justice. Ok, maybe not, but I am pretty ticked off.

Here Yesterday, Gone Today...

Two weeks ago today, my next door neighbor called me to ask a favor. We had always been friendly with each other, with a wave in the morning or afternoon, etc., but never really had much to do with them.

"My Hodgkins disease is acting up," he said [I didn't even know he had the disease]. "Can you take my trash cans out to the curb for me?" [for Mon AM pickup]

I did it and last week, as well, without a call.

I found out a few hours ago that he died this morning. Just like that.

For a moment this afternoon after I heard, I was taken inwardly focused after opening a higher than usual credit card bill (I keep telling myself that they are higher than usual, but when it's every month, it may be that I need to re-define 'usual.')

I took a breath and thought about Marvin, my neighbor, and got a fresh perspective.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

$3,000 a month medicine...

It takes a cold-hearted man to ask whether society should pay $36k/year for the medication of an 82 year-old woman. It takes a soul-less moron to ask that question when it relates to his own grandmother.

My grandmother has been diagnosed with Scleroderma Her medication will cost Medicare about $3k/month

Don't get me wrong here, I want my grandmother (aka Nana) to be around as long as possible. However, as a student of healthcare economics, I can't help but ask the question of the benefit to society in terms of the allocation of resources.

Let's take this away from my grandmother in particular and talk about it in theory.

Before I do that, I should say, that I am not a soul-less, unfeeling moron. What I am is someone who can both feel emotionally and still discuss a situation in the abstract w/o getting emotionally involved. I don't know if this is a strenght or weakness, it's just a fact. I've also noticed that it's not something that many I've met can do. (There are plenty things that others do at which I am not adept myself, so it all balances out).

Now back to the theory.

On the one hand, an 82 year old woman has done a lot for society and we owe it to her to give her a quality of life so that she is "not forgotten in her old age" as Jewish scripture advocates. If we can prolong her life, we should.

On the other what cost? $3k/month? $10k/month? $1 million/month? At some point, you have to ask if it's worth it. How many more years will she have? What is the trade-off because the money we spend on her isn't going somewhere else?

Should healthcare be measured in society utility?

Friday, June 09, 2006

Exercise Triple Crown...

Over the course of a week, I try to integrate three types of exercises into my routine. Actually, I don't have a routine these days, but let's just say that I make an effort to do at least one type of some sort of exercise at least 5 days a week.

Okay, that was a lot of qualification.

They are:
Aerobic (running, Nordic Track, and less frequently rowing or swimming)
Strength (12 sets of 20 pull-ups about 3 times a week)
Yoga or Pilates (1-2 times per week)

Tuesday and Wednesday were nuts for me. I had hit the Nordic Track at 10pm on Monday night and with child responsibilites and work as they were, I didn't get to exercise either day. Plus, I was exhausted.

I was determined to get some done today. If I don't, I get grouchy and irritable.

Tamar went to the dentist in the morning and somehow I managed to engage both of my kids in doing yoga with me (and also keeping them occupied with blocks) in the morning.

At 2pm, while working from home, I took a break and did some pull ups.

At 3.30, I took a 90 minute nap. Yes, you read that correctly.

At 6pm, I took the two kids out in the double jogging stroller for a 30 minute run. Calanit is a good running partner and both of them love it when I really accelerate on the downhill.

Then, as a bonus, I got to play lacrosse for 15 minutes with my neighbors.

These days are very rare for me, but I did appreciate it and certainly feel better.

Not too shabby...

Developing Lacrosse Talent...

My neighbors/lacrosse prodigy are developing nicely. They've worked on passing and throwing. Their dad has gotten them new sticks (and he got one as well) and now they are wearing my old shoulder pads (and Stu Milner's old pads as well).

They got a mini-goal and even gave me a coach's board with dry erase marker as well.

I taped the NCAA championship game for's their summer homework to watch it.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Poison Ivy?

Anyone know if one of these is Poison Ivy?

Put maps into your Outlook...

This is very cool...


Took a day trip down to Norfolk yesterday. From what I understand, there are 3.8 million people in the area, spread out over Portsmouth, Virginia Beach, Hampton Roads, and Norfolk.

There's a lot of water. It's home to the US Atlantic Fleet, but there's a very calm atmosphere. People enjoy the quality of life there.

I've always enjoyed the serenity of the water. Perhaps it has to do something with my travelling days. Maybe the relative placidity of it.

Saw a destroyer coming into port, a truly majestic sight.

As far as I know, it was my first trip there. Might enjoy going back to explore more at some point.

Playing it safe...

Along the grand continuum of risk aversion-risk tolerance, I fall more on the risk tolerance side. But the key to risk taking is calculating risk:reward ratios and quickly as possible.

The other night, I was engaged in a competitive game of team shuffleboard (a table top version).

My teammate, a more junior colleague of mine, had done a great job of positioning her pucks to score us a record number of points for the round. She had one toss to go before the end of the round.

I shouted down the table "just throw it off the side."

Her opponent encouraged her to "go for it!"

"I'm telling you...throw it off the side."

"I think I can do it," she said.

Needless to say, things didn't go as planned and she cost us 4 points, to the delight of opposition.

Don't know if it was experience or an inability to calculate risk:reward (or maybe she didn't care about winning).

Some semblance of responsibility...

Tamar and I are horrendous about going to bed early. We are both night owls and have done a poor job of modifying our behavior to accomodate the fact that our children go to bed between 8-9pm and get up between 5:30-7am.

Consequently, we are exhausted. All the time.

Combine that with the demands of our working lives and you have a recipe for burn out.

Last night, we hit the wall. Both of us.

I got up at 5:30am to fly to/from Norfolk for the day. As I was leaving, Erez woke up and began Tamar's day.

There's so much to do after the kids go to bed just to maintain the operations of the house and then we need a itsy-bitsy-teenie-weenie amount of time for ourselves that it's 12am before we crash.

Last night, we showed a smidgen of responsibility. It was 9:15pm and we decided to go to bed. We couldn't take it anymore.

That would have been a nice ending to the story except for the fact that we were so worked up from our non-stop running around that we couldn't relax. I even covered a nice portion of my body with Ben-Gay to help relax the muscles. Nothing worked. Had a nightcap. Watched some TV. Read a book....bottom line: 2am was my bedtime.

I'm worse off than when I began. Ugh.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Breaking a promise to myself...

Once upon a time, I was on the board of a synagogue of which I was a member.

Being the Type A, profit-driven person that I am, I vowed that I would never do it again. The non-profit world wasn’t for me. I am motivated by efficiency and optimization. Actually, I should say that is built into my DNA.

Well, the other night, I was approached by my current synagogue to join the board. Initially, I was honored. Then, I realized I was probably the last person on the list and the only one who hadn’t said no yet! ?

The caller persisted and assured me that the time commitment would be small. He praised me as a “clear thinker.” [no better sales tactic than to flatter the customer.]

So, I relented and now am being put forth as part of the nominating committee process…or something like that.

Tamar asked me, “is this a sure thing?”

“Well, I think there is a formal nomination committee and then a vote,” I responded, “but as far as I know it’s pretty rubber-stamp…that is, unless I can rapidly mobilize and organize a groundswell of dissent to create a critical mass of activists fiercely opposed to my presence on the Board because of my controversial stand on…uh, something.”

Better get started…

Extolling the virtues of the 24/7 digital world

I go into my office about 1 day per week.

The rest of the time, I am out seeing customers and partners or working from home.

Thanks to the Internet, laptop, and cell phones, I am free to be as productive as possible whenever I want. The flip side of this is having the flexibility to NOT work during 9-5 hours and avoid the hassle and fatigue of commutes/commuting time.

If Tamar needs to go to the dentist, I can move things around to take care of the kids. If I need/want to travel, I am free to do so.

Part of this is that I am not paid by the hour, but rather by the results of my efforts. Of course, I need to coordinate schedules w/others, but I have had conference calls with colleagues at 10pm and 11pm.

I guess I read a lot about how the 24/7 world means we're always working, but not so much about how it has opened up freedoms and flexibility in a work-life balance that were previously unimaginable.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Preparing for Death III

One of the challenges that the family faces when the death of a loved one becomes more imminent is dealing with it. Each person has his/her own way of dealing with it and because it is so fraught with emotion, it may be difficult to remember that not everyone deals with it in the same way.

Not only do you have to grasp to understand your own feelings about the passing of a loved one, but you have to work extra hard to sensitize yourself to the challenge that others are feeling.

A difficult balancing act and the whole spectrum of emotion is represented.

Preparing for Death II

My sister just sent out a 3 page outline/project plan of things that need to be done after my grandfather (aka Poppy) dies.

Now, Poppy hasn't died and we pray that it will be a long time coming. However, I think the preparation is an important part of the process.

When the day comes, the last thing I want to do is to spend time worrying about which funeral home needs to be contacted or giving people directions to the cemetery. You know these things well in advance, so by spending the energy now to address these details, you give yourself the space/time to focus on the grieving/mourning/celebration of Poppy's life process. You can spend time with your family and loved one instead of on the phone with a stranger asking about how to get a death certificate processed.

Morbid? I don't think so. I think it's responsible and ultimately beneficial. It may be uncomfortable to deal with many of these issues, but you're going to have to deal with them eventually. Better to do it when the emotions are far less intense and the time constraints less of an issue.

Preparing for Death...

We all know that death is coming. It's no secret, of course. I wonder though, when you KNOW that the time is almost at hand, how does it feel to know that everyone else also knows?

My grandfather's illness is severe. It could be days, weeks, or months, but those who love him are starting to change their behavior and schedules to spend extra time with him. He's completely lucid and so he must know what is going on.

Does the extra attention feel good? Is he appreciative that people want to make sure they spend quality time with him before he passes on?

Does it increase the sense of foreboding and fear?

I mean, not only do you know, but you know everyone else knows and perhaps you start wondering if people are treating you differently. Well, you know they ARE treating you differently, so how does that in and of itself make you feel?

Saturday, June 03, 2006

How many more?

I've been reading Dr. Laura Schlessinger's book Ten Stupid Things Men Do To Mess Up Their Lives I quote a section here that had me in tears.

"My listener David has two boys: Jonathan is five and a half, Nathan is four (July 1996). The following was inspired by a night when David, before going to bed, checked on his two sons who were aslep in their beds. Jonathan had fallen asleep on the floor, so David lifted him up and tucked him into bed, kissing him good night. Nathan, upon being relocated, awoked slightly and asked Daddy for his teddy bear:

How many....

How many nights do I have, God?
How many nights do I have to tuck each of my boys into bed with their teddy bears?

How many times do I have left, God?
How many times do I have left to lift my boys up onto my shoulders before they are too big?

How many more kisses, God?
How many more kisses do I get to give my boys after I've tucked them in at night?

How many pushes, God?
How many pushes do I get to give my boys on a swing befoer they out-grow it?

How many days, God?
How many days of hot summer do I have left to run through the sprinklers with my boys?

How many more tears, God?
How many more tears of joy will I shed at the end of each day that my boys have grown through?

How many more times, God?
How many more times will I get to lify my boys back into bed once they have fallen out?

How many more years, God?
How many more years before they come and lift me from the floor after I have fallen?

How many, God?
How many?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Looking down through time...

My grandfather had a stroke last week. The outlook isn't great.

I took Calanit to see him on Thursday in the hospital. Joining us was my mother.

I noticed that the three people in the room with my grandfather were the first-born of each generation of his direct lineage. My mother, his first-born. I am the first grandchild, and Calanit, the first great-grandchild.

Immortality eludes all of us in a physical form, but I imagine that when you are lying in a hospital bed towards the end of your life, you can feel a certain sense of eternity as you see your offspring standing at different waypoints on the road of life. And in the eyes of an 2.5 year old girl, your great-granddaughter, perhaps you feel some sense of comfort in the face of the unknown, final journey you are about to make.