Saturday, September 30, 2006


My cousin turns 21 today and her dad rented her a limo to take her and a few friends bar-hopping.

I called her up as she was waiting for the limo and said, "I only have one piece of advice."
"What's that?"
"Stay away from the Tequila."
"No problem...everyone has had a bad tequila experience."

I wonder why that is.

Last week, joined the Licht family for dinner and somehow the conversation turned to tequila and bad experiences. Which, of course, prompted us (well, some of us at least) to determine that that moment was the right time to do some tequila shots.

Of course, we're older and wiser now so things did not get out of control at all and there were no "bad experiences" (except for having a bit of a fitful night of sleeping for that I'm so old, eh).

Today, they were over for lunch and adhered to our relatively extreme gift-bringing policy and brought a bottle of Jose Cuervo (is there any other brand, really?) [Steeley Dan had a song where they talked about The Cuervo Gold, but I digress.]

No, it wasn't a re-gift or partially opened bottle, though either would have been fine. And, what's more, they provided me with a unique set of guidelines, since they know my Type A personality, of the "7 Habits of Highly Effective Tequila Drinkers."

And they are:
1. Don’t drink the worm
2. Always drink with a friend
3. Only do shots. Tequila isn’t meant for mixed drinks.
4. Fresh Lime=no lime juice
5. Pace yourself
6. Drink plenty of water
7.Use a good salt shaker (preferably non-iodized salt)


Why the social unacceptability of "re-gifting?"

You get something and you don't particularly like it. Or maybe you don't need it.

Why does that necessarily mean that it may not be a PERFECT fit for someone else? Sure, there are items that you just want to "unload" and there may be those for whom you feel obligated to get a gift but since they are not A or B list friends you feel like..."ok, I'll just throw this one over the fence to meet this ridiculous social obligation," but there may be cases where what's not right for you, is right for another.

Went out to dinner last week. Got there and said, "I brought you a few things."
As expected, they said, "oh, you shouldn't have..."
I said, "don't worry, everything I brought is a re-gift."

What's ironic is that all of the items I brought were genuinely a good fit for these people and they told me so (fortunately, we have the type of relationship where the candor I proferred by volunteering the re-gift information was ok and where they would tell me if it wasn't a good fit), yet somehow, the fact that it was a re-gift lessened the value of the gift in the eyes of all involved.

Maybe because I didn't spend any time actually going somewhere or spending more money, I don't know. But we all know that re-gifts are of lesser value than non re-gifts. Seems like if the person likes it (regardless of whether it's a re-gift of not) would be the key determining factor, not how much time or money the giver devotes to identifying the gift.



I'm allergic to nuts and sesame seeds. Peanuts, however, aren't nuts. They are legumes. Nevertheless, a lot of people have peanut allergies. Here's an interesting article (subscription required) from WSJ on the topic.

Yom Kippur for Holocaust Survivors...

an interesting article by a friend of our family...

Friday, September 29, 2006

On appreciation...

Got this fwd from my mom...

I dreamt that I went to Heaven and an angel was showing me around. We walked side-by-side inside a large workroom filled with angels.

My angel guide stopped in front of the first section and said, "This is the Receiving Section. Here, all petitions to G-d said in prayer are received."

I looked around in this area, and it was terribly busy with so many angels sorting out petitions written on voluminous paper sheets and scraps from people all over the world. Then we moved on down a long corridor until we reached the second section.

The angel then said to me, "This is the Packaging and Delivery Section. Here, the graces and blessings the people asked for are processed and delivered to the living persons who asked for them."

I noticed again how busy it was there. There were many angels working hard at that station, since so many blessings had been requested and were being packaged for delivery to Earth.

Finally at the farthest end of the long corridor we stopped at the door of a very small station. To my great surprise, only one angel was seated there, idly doing nothing. "This is the Acknowledgment Section," my angel friend quietly admitted to me. He seemed embarrassed. "How is it that? There's no work going on here?" I asked.

"So sad," the angel sighed. "After people receive the blessings that they asked for, very few send back acknowledgments.

"How does one acknowledge G-d's blessings?" I asked.

"Simple," the angel answered. "Just say, "Thank you, G-d."

"What blessings should they acknowledge?" I asked.

"If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof overhead and a place to sleep ... you are richer than 75% of this world.
"If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish, you are among the top 8% of the world's wealthy.

"And if you get this on your own computer, you are part of the 1% in the world who has that opportunity."

Also .....

"If you woke up this morning with more health than illness ...... you are more blessed than the many who will not even survive this day.

"If you have never experienced the fear in battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation ... you are ahead of 700 million people in the world.

"If you can attend a shul meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture or death ... you are envied by, and more blessed than, three billion people in the world.

If you can hold your head up and smile, you are not the norm, you are unique to all those in doubt and despair."

Ok, what now? How can I start?

If you can read this message, you just received a double blessing in that someone was thinking of you as very special and you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world who cannot read at all.

Have a good day, count your blessings, and if you want, pass this along to remind everyone else how blessed we all are.

Attn: Acknowledge Dept.: Thank You G-d!
"Thank you G-d, for giving me the ability to share this message and for giving me so many wonderful people to share it with."

Monsters...A play in 1 Act

"Monsters! Monsters!"
Calanit comes running into our room at 4.20am. I turn, give her a hug, and she crawls into bed with us. I get up, go to the bathroom and when I return, I say, "ok, you can't stay in our bed. There are no monsters. Let's go back to your bed."

I take her there. "I'll snuggle with you for a few minutes." She's calmed and when I get up to leave, offers no objections.

I return to bed.
Tamar: "Thanks for taking care of that, sweetest."

Me: "There were monsters. She's not going to go to YOU for that. When Calanit wants a can of 'whoop-ass' opened on monsters, there's only one choice for the right parent to get invovled.

What were you going to do? Crochet them to death?

Let's just say that I made the monsters an offer they couldn't refuse."

I'm on a roll now....

"and I'll tell you something else. Johnny Fontaine will have the part and their horse won't be running in any races anytime soon."

I didn't get the memo that once your kids sleep through the night, they don't actually sleep through the night.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The people surrounding you...

If you are a positive person, can you stay positive when you are surrounded by pessimists?

How much does the “culture” of your surroundings affect your outlook? Will you gravitate towards the prevailing attitude?

I had a conversation the other day where someone challenged me in not being discriminating enough in my circle of friends and colleagues. He suggested that I consciously avoid those who offer negative opinions first. By listening to them, I give them credence and it seeps-like osmosis-into my subconscious and drains my positive energy.

Subway conversation...

Is it possible to talk about suicide without appearing to be suicidal?

Ran into a friend on the subway the other day. She’d told me that there were times in her life when she had seriously contemplated suicide.

She had mentioned throwing herself into a river as an option, but if you’re serious about it, I’m wondering if that’s the best way? Seems like there is a lot of chance for failure. Plus your survival instinct would probably kick in.

As an intellectual exercise, it’s probably worth debating the merits of the alternatives. There’s got to be a website that gives the pros and cons of the various methods. I know some joker is going to find it and post it as a comment. Brownie points if it is you.

I mean…if you fail…you have to live with the knowledge (and possible depression—and I’m not belittling the fact that people are driven to this point—though I do think it’s pretty damn selfish) that you tried and couldn’t accomplish the goal.

On a related point, would your FICO score drop? I mean, if you’re trying to commit suicide, are you a good credit risk? My hunch is no. Another unintended consequence, perhaps?

Remember the video of the guy who played chicken with the train? (here)…that could be an effective way to do it.

Just one of those random thoughts that seemed blog-worthy. Whether it is or not is another question.

First chill of fall...

Felt it today...that first, subtle, hint of a chill in the air.

It was tiny, but perceptible.  Summer's over, another season is gone. Fall is here and WINTER is on its way.

Like the sands of an hourglass, so are the Days of Our Lives...

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Don't cry for Evita...

One of the things I found in the last box was a few tapes of various, seemingly random combinations. These included...Piano Concertos of Grieg, the Police, and the music of Evita.

I decided that as a final hurrah, before I got rid of these tapes (I have all that we could want on the PC and/or CD) that I would listen to them one time throughout in my car...the last vestige of a place where all I have is a tape player, believe it or not.

Today, I chose Evita.

It brought me back to the trip I took in 2003 with my family to Buenos Aires. We visited her grave in the Recoleta cemetery.

Kind of cool how things from one part of your life pop up in unexpected places down the road.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Creative Destruction...

Joseph Schumpeter coined this term and I find that it applies to my technology implementation as well.

As is pretty clear to most of you, I do my best to keep solid tabs on data, particularly contacts and calendars.

For about 2 years, I've been using a service called Plaxo to synchronize the data in my Outlook between my work laptop and my home machine. That way, if I make a change of a phone number in one place, I have it in the other. (My work PC also synchronizes with the server and with my phone.) I've found it critical to keeping my data clean. It was a good service, was free, and had the added benefit of giving others the opportunity to update the data themselves.

For some reason, however, it's not working with Office 2007, which I now have. I was on the live chat w/tech support and they said, "we're having technical difficulties."

Well, this gave me the opportunity to find another way to synchronize my data. For a few dollars, it seems like I've found the solution (ShareO) which does what I need it to do. Granted, I've just installed it, but so far, so good.

One company's misfortune is another one's fortune, I suppose.

Mellow nice...

Do you know people who are so nice that it's annoying? It's amazing how some can be that nice that it's almost suffocating. They have so much energy in their niceness that you have no choice but to sit back in awe.

On the other hand, there are the people who are just plain "mellow nice." They're nice, but not in your face and don't make you feel inadequate for your lack of niceness intensity.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Transmitting Ritual...

One of the most meaningful components of fatherhood is watching your children begin to appreciate the religious rituals you hold dear.

Tonight, Calanit and I began preparing for the holiday of Sukkot which follows Yom Kippur.

Together-really together--we began to assemble the temporary dwelling (the Sukkah).

Calanit was extremely excited to both help and to watch the structure take shape.

She picked up rods and passed them to me. Went up and down steps without complaint and kept saying....'AND THEN WE GET TO DECORATE IT!!!"

Such a great feeling to share in the experience with her and see her participate in the preparation for the holiday.

I get the feeling that we're doing a good job of transmitting the ritual and the values and that her excitement has set her on a path with momentum that will last her.

At least, I hope it will.

The "Last Box"

When we moved into the house, we had a ton of boxes. Most of them were unpacked and processed quickly. A few remained.

Over time, it became clear that there were just some items that we really didn't need and stayed in their boxes in our basement.

When I told people of this predicament, it became obvious that we weren't alone. Many others have boxes left.

I was determined to avoid this fate.

Well, I'm proud to say that tonight, the "last box" from our move-in 2 years ago was processed and completed.  I guess we really live here now, right?


When I was in college, I met a JHU alum named "Neil." It's a bizarre story of how I met him, but he invited me over for dinner one night.

He had graduated in '68 and was a bachelor.

I thought of him this weekend.

When the kids/Tamar were gone, I spent a lot of time organizing things. I was cleaning up toys, matching socks, etc. Stuff that kept my mind off of them not being here.

When all was said and done, the house looked pretty good. Neil's place was immaculate. I'm a neat freak, so I really appreciated it.

Everything in life is a trade-off. Yes, I could have an always immaculate home or I could have the constant frenzy of my children.

No brainer.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Just a bit sad and lonely on Rosh Hashana...

I'm no longer a radioactive danger to anyone except pregnant women and infants.

Which describes (at least the latter), my niece Dalia Rose.

For that reason, we decided that it made more sense for Tamar and the kids to spend the holiday with my parents and all of the extended family and for me to stay in the house...alone.

For a while, I was fine, figuring I'd get a ton of sleep (and I will). This, too, shall pass, I know, but the thought of Dalia's first Rosh Hashana, my aging grandparents, all of my siblings...and not me and what's more, not being with my beautiful wife and kids has brought me down.

Perhaps that's a good way to start the holiday and the 10 days of introspection that follow between it and Yom Kippur. Not sure, but I know, I miss them already...and they just drove off.

Shana Tova Umetuka...may you have a sweet New Year.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

How to stand out...without making a lot of noise...

You know I love great marketing when I see it.

Here's a guy who has been hired by my neighbor, but...instead of doing a good job and waiting for my neighbor to tell everyone, he's pro-actively reaching out and advertising...but in a friendly, thoughtful, and sensitive way.

If he's this thoughtful when I'm the neighbor of his customer, what's he going to do for me when I'm actually paying him?

A fantastic idea to build trust and differentiate yourself.

Medication makes a difference...

Until these past few months, I had NO appreciation for what external medications (aside from painkillers) can do to your body.

Now that I'm off the Cytomel and on the Synthroid (maybe it's all psychosomatic-sp?) I'm feeling like, well, me.

It's great. My energy is back. My testosterone level is...shall we say, where I want it to be, and I just feel much better.

Tamar said to me...are you sure the Synthroid isn't really "Steroid?" (note: that comment had nothing to do with the testosterone reference above!)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

John the Barber...

Stopped at my old barber's shop. When I say "old," I mean the place where I went when I was 13 or so. It's on the way home from work and I figured...what the heck.

When I went there, it was owned by Orlando. Now John does.

I usually have to work to get the hair stylists talking (typically women from South America at the Hair Cuttery). That wasn't the case with John.

He's an outright American success story.

Came to the US as a 22 year old from Greece in 1968. Married, had 1 kid. Worked as a busboy from 6am-3pm and then as a waiter from 4pm-11pm. 7 days a week for 7 years. Not one day off!

Now, he's got a house that's gone up by 6 times in value. He's paid for both of his kids through school. He owns an apartment complex in Greece, and a vineyard and olive orchard as well.

His son owns the Tel Aviv cafe in Bethesda and he takes 5 weeks of vacation a year.

Remember, this guy is a barber. If you've ever read The Millionaire Next Door, this guy is a perfect example.

And he's humble about it, but not shy. It's hard work, focus, and determination.

He's happy what he's doing and comfortable with who he is.

Going to the brink...

There are a number of downsides of my ego telling me that I have to be a technology early adopter. One of them is that I know that...roughly every 6-8 months...I'm going to have a "going to the brink of disaster" type of day.

On these days, the entire technology paradigm in which I am invested heavily is challenged. Data loss is a distinct possibility and it's going to take at least 1-2 days to come back to reality.

Today was one of those days.

I woke up at 4am (thanks to my son) and when I couldn't fall asleep, figured I'd do some work...until I couldn't log on to my new Windows Vista machine. At all. Nothing.

When I got to the office, it took me 3 hours to get everything right...and I'm still not there, but I am on the other side. Finally.

There were moments during the day when total data loss (and yes, I do backup, but still...) appeared to be a distinct possibility. But we made it....

I guess I think part of my credibility as a technologist is that it's important to go to the brink at times...come back allive...and be better off because of it.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Giant Go-Cart...

Our local grocery store chain is called "Giant."

Last night, Tamar asked me to go get some milk-which I happily did, of course!

As I was walking in, an elderly gentleman was sitting in a mechanized cart that Giant gives out for disabled/elderly people to do their shopping. He stopped me.

"Can you take this inside for me? It's too far for me to walk."

"Sure," I said, and I plopped into the driver's seat...and proceeded to do my entire shopping.

Like having a big bandage on your neck, you get a lot of deference when driving around in a cart. It had a great turning radius.

Of course, when I pulled through the check-out, the cashier said, "I saw you walking outside, what's up?"

"I just thought it would be fun to give it a test drive."

Given the Green light...

Spent another 3 hours getting scanned today.

No other "hot spots" showed up. So, I'm cleared.

We'll monitor the situation to make sure that the thyroid cells die off in the next 3-6 months, but for now, I'm good.

Out of isolation (with the exception of kids under 2 and pregnant woman). Poor contact.

At least now, I can start helping out around the house and getting back to work full-time. Feels good to be back on my feet.

It's a bit scary to get back to "real life." Somehow, putting everything else on the back burner and focusing so much on the medical was a mini-vacation.

Got to get back into my groove now.

Monday, September 18, 2006


There's a tower right at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean in Portugal that is the gateway to Lisbon harbor.

It was one of the most sought-after visions of the Portuguese navigators during the "Age of Discovery" and it sent the undeniable have made it home.

I have been taking some long walks over the past few days to rehabilitate myself. Today, I figured I'd go for a run. Pushing myself, I soon realized that things are a lot farther on foot than in the car.

Irresponsibly, I didn't have food, water, or money. After 75 minutes of running and being quite a ways from home, I started to walk.

I borrowed a one guy's cell phone to tell Tamar that I wasn't dead. I went into a 7-11 and got some ice. (It was actually a 6-12-yes, that was the name!)

As I made my way along University Blvd., I eventually rounded a corner and saw the University personal Belem, telling me that after 3 hours and close to 10 miles, I was almost home.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Home at last...

The joy: coming home.

The sadness: seeing my kids, but not being able to hug them. Erez stood up in his crib and walked over to me, asking for hug. Nothing I could do. Poor guy, doesn't understand.

On reaching out...

It's natural to want to call someone who is facing a difficult time and express your sympathies. Instead, use that as a catalyst to share something positive about your life.

For those on the receiving end, it's a wonderful feeling to know that people care so much about you.

There's another side...which is that the expressions of sympathy can become a burden. You feel obligated to respond to every phone call and every email. It can become overwhelming and tiring...when you have to have the same conversation repeatedly.

I received this from a friend a few weeks ago (excerpted):


A few weeks ago, I had an incredibly vivid dream about my mother. She was still alive and we were at a party for the grandchild of one of her closest cousins. My mother seemed to be still battling her cancer and we were seated at this party discussing in the most prosaic way the details of our party. The conversation was striking in how normal and typical it was, a discussion I easily imagine that would have taken place if it were not in a dream and my mother was still living.

....While it is a natural impulse to read these words and hit the reply button with words of comfort 24-72 hours after you get around to reading this, I WOULD BEG PEOPLE NOT TO DO SO JUST YET. I am fortunate to have people who care, but the inevitable flood of good intentions immediately after a message like this offers little balm.  

...But the sorrow and pain return, uninvited, unexpected  and without a moment's warning, and it would be far more helpful if those who mean well refrain from responding in the coming days and find a way to flag this e-mail, put it on their calendar, outlook, whatever, so that 2, 4, 6 months, 3, 5, 7 weeks from now, whenever, you take those initial words of comfort and send me a message, UNSOLICITED, and say "I'm thinking about you, how are you? I did so and so this month, so and so in going on in my life, did I tell you about XYZ? Hey, we should find time in 2008 to get together since that is probably the first time we are both free…"

This would be a 100 times more helpful than getting 30 reply e-mails this week. 

Thanks for your love and support and may we meet and correspond for only joyous events in the future.

My friend makes a great point here, I think.

When we hear of bad news, let's take a moment to use that as an excuse to write an uplifting message about what's going on. That will help others overcome their challenges.


Sometimes within the maelstrom of medical advances and whirlwind of activity, my sense of awe gets shifted from where it should be.

I've found that the entire experience has given me a deeper appreciation for G-d's role in my life and in the world.

In various periods of my life, I've had stronger or weaker relationships with G-d. Thanks to the "miracles" of modern medicine, I'm feeling a lot closer.

Saturday Night Live...

Once upon a time, watching Saturday Night Live, was a symbol of adolescence. It was raw and borderline. There was nothing else on at that time of the week,

Last night, I came upon the show, and, how things have changed. Both TV and I.

Don't take it for granted...

I've been fortunate to travel to many countries where the citizens don't enjoy the freedoms we do.

It's easy, sometimes, to take what you've got for granted.

Took this shot of the school across the street from our house last week during the primary.

Yes, there's a lot of work that can be done to improve our country, but there aren't too many places where you see this...and it really means something.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Perception vs. Reality...

Have you ever been to Home Depot?

In my experience, the prices are low and they have pretty much everything you want, but it is next to impossible to find what you want in an acceptable amount of time. On top of that, it's almost equally impossible to find someone who is knowledgeable to help you get what you need.

I don't necessarily have a problem with this. The business model they have chosen is to go cheap and cut costs in order to pass it along to customers via volume savings.

Fine, no big deal.

But, when I see Home Depot commercials on TV, the images just don't resonate. They are bright lit stores (the ones I've visited are dingy), the employees are helping you find/build things, and you're getting expert advice.

Usually, there is the 1 person in the store who is the resident expert, but you've got to find him.

My point here'd better make sure that the image you are trying to present aligns with what is actually happening. If not, figure out why.

This is true outside of business as your appearance, in how you deal with others, etc.

When they don't customers feel that things are out of alignment. They may not be able to put their hands on it, but they know something is amiss.

That's why I start to feel, "you know, maybe next time I'll go to Lowe's to check them out."

Friday, September 15, 2006

Movie Review: Ushpizin

Anyone will enjoy it, but those with an understanding of Jewish rituals and customs and Israeli culture will really enjoy it.

I'm not sure what the directors/writers major message was, but my interpretation is that:

You can't escape your past and who you once were, but you can learn from it and use it to help you reach greater heights.

there's one telling line in a movie that resonated with me (paraphrased):

Man thinks that when he has worked hard, he has earned a rest. The fact is, when he has worked hard, he has just earned a much larger test. There is no rest.

Here's the review at Netflix

Movie Review: Like Water for Chocolate

People sometimes tell me that the Internet lacks serendipity. You aren't going to find the random, but interesting stuff you do in a newspaper, when you go directly to the one web page you want to read.

The way I came across Like Water for Chocolate disproves this. Because I had watched Frida thanks to Netflix, I was recommended this film. And I'm glad I watched it.

I thought the story was well done, the cinematography was moving, and the characters compelling. I watched it in Spanish w/English subtitles.

Musician longevity

Is it me or do musicians tend to stay around longer now than they once did? 

I'm not sure if it's because I'm getting older and gravitate towards the same places where these folks-who were bigger when I was a kid-are found (b/c my demographic is there anyway) or is it something else?

I saw Bob Seger on Leno last night. In Boston, the party Microsoft had featured Belinda Carlisle. I know they are not the hottest of the hot anymore, but they do have staying power or...are we all getting old together?

Windows Vista...

Just installed Release Candidate 1 (RC1) of Windows Vista and I have to say, I'm impressed.

First of all, it installed easily. I didn't have to backup my data, all of my programs are working, and I had no glitches (save 1 small one).

The interface is SIGNIFICANTLY better. I'm getting the message that the folks back in Redmond took usability to heart as a key issue for both Vista and Office.

Everything is just a lot smoother. I think it's easier to find things and the "feel" is quite improved.

I've only had it up for about 2 hours, but so far, so good.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

5 minutes from best to worst...

What's so amazing about the American medical system is how within a few minute span, you can experience the highest and lowest forms of technical innovation.

In 1 minute, a nuclear medicine treatment to "ablate" (word of the day) thyroid cells or an MRI machine that investigates every angle of your body from the inside out.

In the are asked, for the 15th time, "what's your insurance?" "who is your emergency contact person?" and it's entered-again-into some computer system or even better written down on a scrap of paper.

Don't get me wrong, I am fortunate to live in a country where the medical procedures are the best in the world. There's just some cognitive dissonance in the extremes.

Of Geiger Counters and Lemon Drops...

The human body normally gives off .75 microrads of radiations. There are 1000 micrograds in a milligrad.

Within 4 minutes of consuming the radioactive iodine pill (it looked like an extra strength Tylenol, except for the fact that it came in a 1 foot high lead box with the yellow/black nuclear symbol on the side), the Geiger counter 1 meter away from me picked up a reading of 18.3 millirads of gamma ray radiation.

It's not everyday that your movements are determined by US Nuclear Regulatory Commission guidelines. As long as I was above 7 milligrams, I had to stay put.

I was in one of 4 special rooms in the hospital. The floor was covered with paper. The phone, TV remote, handles, and faucets were covered with plastic or latex surgical gloves.

I was alone...beginning at 6pm.

In order to flush out the radiation, I had a few instructions.

Suck on sour candies, drink a lot, shower often, and go to the bathroom.

Now, I've long been a fan of sour candies, but when you've been eating them non-stop for a few hours and your alarm clock goes off at 3am and the first thing you do is pop a sour worm in your mouth to stimulate your salivary glands so they don't get start losing your fascination with them.

By 7am, I was literally stick to my stomach of the sour taste. It was all I had consumed for about 10 hours, I was sick [a cold I had picked up] and exhausted. Probably only had 3-4 hours of sleep as well.

I did get 2 visits from a nurse (a grand total of 4 minutes and one time, one of them was wearing a heavy lead vest). They would occasionally check in on me via the intercom, but if I was up, they would open the door, hand me a tray or whatever, and then scurry off. 

As they in the vernacular of the radition world, I was "hot."

I read a lot, watched a lot of TV...the best movies are always on at 2.30am, aren't they? And a big thanks to those of you who called (and call waiting at the hospital which I know impacted some people).

Dave, the radiation technologist with the Geiger counter, came in, pulled out his tape measure and gave me my reading. 6.8 I was cleared to go.

I had to leave everything in the room. The clothes I wore, the books I was reading, the food I had brought...they were all "hot."

My mom picked me up...where I'll be isolation (relatively) for the next few days. Have my own bathroom, eating off of plastic/paper, and continuing to drink A LOT.

Went to bed immediately, got 5 hours of sleep (well, not immediately...had to, uh, deal with some stomach problems!--one of the side effects, I'm told).

Now, back on my feet. had a nice, iodine-rich diet, and am feeling better. A few more days so that the radiation levels go down a bit more and I can safely be near the kids.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Call me at the hospital...please

My number is: 202 877 4831

Unit 3NE/Room 1

Please call...otherwise I might go crazy in here!

After waiting for 6.5 hours! in the admission area (they have to specially prepare my room), I'm finally about to get my dose.

Once I do...I'm in isolation until tomorrow.

Thing is...I brought A TON of reading material (all of which I have to leave at the hospital) but with that much waiting, I've gone through most of it. hour is bad, I have to get up every 90 minutes to drink/go to the bathroom.

I can only watch so much TV.

Bottom if you're interested in getting my undivided attention --something that Tamar doesn't always get :-)

And yes, I convinced the nurses to let me blog from the nurses' station before getting my dose!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


You're lying flat on your back with your head strapped down to the board behind you. You've got a plastic "Silence of the Lambs"-esque grill across your face.

Then, you get inserted into a round teleport chamber like you're the filling being put into a Twinkie...and then you can't move at all, like you're

In fact, they tell you to limit your swallowing.

You've got earplugs in because the sound is like a constant, l0w-tone, dull jackhammering going off on all sides of your head.

You are most alone...except for the occasional HAL-like voice that is the technician telling you what is happening next.

This goes on for 30 minutes. You're definitely not comfortable, but the technology is incredible.

Fortunately, the one unusual "hot" area was determined to not be anything severe and admission is on schedule for tomorrow.

Still have to finish packing...but we're getting there.

Here's the gameplan

"We'll just pluck it out...

The endocrinologist comes in and tells me that the reason we're doing the MRI is because there's one area of the scan that looks like it may be out of the "thyroid bed." It might be in a lymphnode, but if it is, "we'll just pluck it out."

I look at him....

"Yep, you'll have another surgery and then do the radioactive iodine..."

Just pluck it out...easy enough for the guy not being plucked.

As it turns out, we're good to go for tomorrow. 

Language matters, huh?

Next time you feel depressed...

Take a field trip to a hospital.

It's a quick, easy, and inexpensive way to knock some perspective into yourself.

Free Latte Giveaway...

Went to Starbucks yesterday. The Barista made an error for my colleague...a warm Latte instead of an ice Latte. She was about to dump it out, when I said..."hang on!"

I looked around...I wanted to find someone who was a coffee drinker, but who wasn't about to buy a coffee (didn't want to punish Starbucks w/lost revenue by taking a customer away).

It took 2 tries, but I managed to convince a total stranger that the coffee was ok (I was standing in front of Starbucks after all).

Felt good to do a random act of kindness.

Preparing for the New Year...

the Rosh HaShana Rap

Surreal morning...

You know how you occasionally have a dream that wakes you up and makes you think...or even scares you?

Had one this morning...which is why it's 5:15am and I've been up since 3.40.

I dreamt that the "it's nothing" was in fact something. My mind started racing about the implications of a more severe discovery. I couldn't sleep.

Once I realized I couldn't sleep, my mind raced even more...ok, what am I going to do now?

I resolved to workout on the Nordic Track and so some pull-ups. I started thinking about other projects.

I've been working on being less impulsive so I figured, ok...I'll sit at the kitchen table, make a plan and then execute on the plan.

At 4.40am, I heard a whimper from Paco. Taking a pre-emptive strike approach, I prepared a bottle, went to his crib (where I found him sitting up), took him out of the crib and said:

"Paco, here's the situation. It's too early for you to get up. I want to work out and your Ima [mother] is sleeping. I'm going to change your diaper, give you a bottle, and then you're going back to bed."

He made one sound, drank his bottle as I rocked him in the rocking chair and I put him back in the crib. Not a sound.

Went back downstairs to finish my list. I was on the verge of heading to the "man cave" when I heard the pitter-patter of little feet. I sprang into action and like an F-16 intercepting an enemy aircraft, I reached up through the staircase banister from the mid-point landing and stopped Calanit...determined to "snuggle with Ima."

I turned her around, snuggled with her, and got her settled. I was back downstairs at 5:05am.

Wow, I thought, 2 potential catastrophes averted (where both Tamar and I are awake at 5am). Not being able to sleep has actually paid off.

Then, I got emotional....what if the "it's nothing" was in fact something? And what if this morning was a strange, twisted way of truly being present in my kids' lives in a unique way that only a parent could love?

But I can't live like that because then I'm living on fear and "what if's" when that doesn't do me any good. We'll get the test done and we will cross whatever bridge necessary when we come to it.

Optimistic Doctors...

I'm getting the feeling that doctors don't like to give bad news. Or maybe they don't want to cause a panic.Not sure.

Yesterday, the endocrinologist covering my case (my guy is in Italy for a conference) says, "there was some large uptake in one area. We want to do an MRI. It's nothing."

If it's 'nothing,' why are we doing an MRI?

When the lump in my thyroid was first discovered, my primary care physician said, "it's probably nothing. 80% of the time these things are benign."

Doesn't that mean that 20% of the time, they aren't?

You don't want people freaking out, I realize, but if you say "it's nothing" and you do an MRI and then it's something...are you really doing the person a favor?

The most versatile word in the English language...

Tamar registers her serious objection to this post.

Do NOT click here if you are offended by vulgar language. I don't want people clicking it and then telling me how shocked or irritated you are.

You are warned.
For the rest of you...enjoy and click here

Monday, September 11, 2006

What you can do....

The outreach and sympathy we've received during this medical challenge is incredible. We are extremely grateful. It's so wonderful to feel so loved and cared for.

I've learned one thing, however, about helping people during challenging times...and I offer this not because I am asking for something, but because I want my perspective to help others.

The natural response when hearing about a life challenge such as a medical illness that requires a lot of attention is to say...

"Let me know what I can do."

It's reflexive, though I believe that people genuinely want to help. When the shoe is on the other foot, I want to help. Life is challenging enough without all of the extra burden of illness, caring for a sick parent, whatever...

My take on it is this...

It's highly unlikely that a person in need is going to flat out ask for assistance. It's uncomfortable to call up someone and say..."you know, it would really relieve my burden right now if you could pick up my dry cleaning."

Better....tell the person, "I'm going to the {library, dry cleaner, grocery, Costco, mall, etc.]. I'll be by on Wednesday evening to pick up the [grocery list, dry cleaning, etc.]"

If you're not local, it's not as easy, of course, but you get the point.

Again, I am not asking for ANYTHING. Nor am I ungrateful for all of the outpouring of love, emotion, and support we've received.

I've just learned a valuable lesson about how I will respond when I hear about challenging situations from my friends. And since you are genuinely concerned about helping your friends and family, I thought this would be helpful to you.

Just how much time do you spend blogging?

Get this question a lot...

Answer: anywhere from 10-40 minutes per day.

Plan for the overnight...

Looks like the hospital stay isn't going to be so restful.

Apparently, I need to make sure that my salivary glands and bladder don't get radiated as well as the thyroid cells.

I need to drink/go to the bathroom every 90 minutes. I've got an ample supply of sour candies to stimulate my salivary glands. Think lemon drops and sour patch kids (hey, did your salivary glands start acting up just at the thought of that?)

I'm bringing the alarm clock.  The risk is...if those glands/bladder don't get flushed regularly, the radioactivity will sit there and radiate them. Not a good situation.

Fortunately, I'll be picked up on Thurs AM and will go straight to bed.

Primary voting...

NPR tells me that there are 1 million people in Maryland who won't be able to vote in the primaries tomorrow. They are not registered...aka Independents. In MD, you have to be a party member to vote in that party's primary.

Apparently, there are some states where Independents can vote in a party primary.

My question: Why?

It seems to me you need to be part of the group to have a say in how the group operates. Synagogues don't let non-Jews vote for board members. Churches don't let atheists vote.

What's up with the idea?


Just added them to this blog. Thanks to Seth Godin's blog for showing me how to do it on Blogger.

What's a trackback? Feel free to use, if you want.

While you're at it, take a look at some of the functionality I've added to the sidebar.

Change of plans...

JUST got a I'm going in on Wed. AM instead of tomorrow.

Apparently, I have to get an MRI to make sure that one area of bigger than expected iodine "uptake" is not a lymphnode.

This must be how it feels when the Astronauts are sitting in the space shuttle and the launch is cancelled because of bad weather.

Remembering 9/11

Like many others, I am thinking about that fateful morning. I was living in NYC and had jury duty. As a result, I saw the 2nd tower fall from the corner of 6th and Bleecker.

Here's the email I sent out on day after.

BTW, this another reason to don't lose emails when your hard drive crashes. Thanks to my mom for printing this out so I could scan it in.

"Why are you here?"

Showed up at 2pm today for my Thyrogen injection. Signed in...and waited...and waited...and waited.

Finally, the nurse calls me up.

"Why are you here today?"

"Uh, I thought you'd know that."

Anyway, it was 30 minutes before they figured it all out.  Turns out that one nurse was off and the other one didn't know.

Why this isn't in a chart somewhere is beyond me?

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Efficient entertainment

For you football fans out there....

How's this for a 2 minute break on Sunday? I was working and said, "hey, let's see what's happening in the NFL," promising myself it would be a short one (yeah, right).

I turned on the Jaguars-Cowboys the middle of a Coach's Challenge. The call was overturned. The next play was an interception. Then, a sack. Then, a nice catch and run by Terrell Owens.

A lot of action, very quickly. I turned it off. My football fix addressed.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Senator Epstein

Was reminded of a funny story (at least I think it is) today at lunch and it's worth re-telling.

About 2 years ago, we were invited to a wedding in Toronto. I went online to make the reservations. When I did, I saw that the drop-down menu for the titles was longer and more extensive than normal (that old British commonwealth thing, I suppose). I figured, "what they heck, I'll choose Senator." So I did.

About 2 weeks later, I realized I hadn't asked for a crib, so I emailed the hotel.

Later, Tamar said to me, "you know, the hotel in Toronto called. I have never been treated so nicely in my life. They said the crib would not be a problem and that when we get there, we should stop by and meet the Hotel Manager."

I was impressed, "wow, those Canadians are friendly," I thought.

About 2 days after that, I said, "Hmmmm....I wonder if their attitude has anything to do with the fact that I selected Senator in the drop-down menu?"

Tamar was aghast. I said..."hey, I just thought I'd have a label in some database in Canada. Besides, they're Canadian! :-) What's the big deal?"

We got the crib, got a nice room, a few extra fruit plates...and have a great story to tell.

Lying still...

For how long can you lie perfectly still? I mean...not even moving a muscle? It's not easy.

You're lying on a plastic slab with a flat white panel that is literally 1 inch on top of your nose. The only thing on the panel is a small black cross. You stare at it, but your nose is in the way, so your eyes start playing tricks on you and you're seeing double. You close one eye, then open it and close the other. Just where, exactly, is this black cross actually located?

There's a constant, low, 2001 A Space Odyssey-type humming sounds that accompanies your every thought. It's hypnotic. The lab technicians are silent. You've brought a CD, but after a while, the Microsoft Drive Time piece on the upcoming benefits of Office System 2007 fades into the background.

Time has no meaning. You are just part of the machine. You may be sleeping. You may not be. You're not really sure. It's a semi-conscious, semi-comatose state. You're almost vegetative because no muscle in your body has moved. It's not allowed to-first by the technicians, then your mind takes over. You itch, but you can't/don't scratch. There's nothing to do, but just lie there.

Relaxing, yes, but strangely disquieting at the same time.

Then, it's done. You get up from the machine and you're not sure what is going on.

The I-123 scan required 3 sessions (22 mins, 22 mins, and 45 mins) during which I could not move. The scan seems to indicate that the tumor has not spread to any other part of my body.

Please vote...

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Terminal thoughts...

I was making my way through the basement of the Washington Hospital Center to the Nuclear Medicine department, thinking about how following this preliminary scan, we would know if the cancer had spread beyond the thyroid (bad) to other parts of the body.

For a moment, I had one of those 'awareness of your mortality' jolts that occurs from time to time and I thought about death.

I guess, until now, when I thought about death (at least for the presumed elderly), I kind of took the attitude....'well, you know it's coming, might as well accept it."

Easy and cavalier for a young (relatively) man to say.

As I thought about the possibility that I wouldn't see my kids enter elementary school, a different perspective on death dawned on me.

I realized it's not so much that I fear death, it's more that I'm upset by death.

Life, I guess, is like a season of "24" or any good serial drama. You just want to know what's going to happen next...and there's always something that's going to happen next. If you're invested in a show and it gets canceled, you're irritated. You want to know what happened to the characters.

Life is like that. Death is when the show gets canceled. I guess you just never want the show canceled, no matter how long you've been watching.

Medical inconsistency...

One thing that is irritating me through this process is the lack of process.

It seems like you ask 2 doctors and you get 3 opinions. The guidelines are just plain inconsistent.

The good news...for that it doesn't look like I'll have to be in quarantine away from Tamar/kids for 2 weeks. Here's the new game plan.

  1. admission on Tues AM
  2. discharge on Wed, go to my parents basement
  3. sleep A TON (more on that in a different post)
  4. stay there through Sun AM
  5. return home
  6. maintain limited contact with kids and wife for 1 week ("you can hold your kids for 5 or 10 minutes, but don't sleep in the same bed with them and don't watch Gone With the Wind with them sitting on your lap."

Just wish we could get firm directives one time and have it consistent. I know that's unreasonable, but in terms of "bedside manner," it would go a long way.

When you blog your life...

You can acquire a spokesman.

Today, we entertained 3 families for lunch. The husband of one of them is aka as this blog's most prolific reader/commenter.

It's almost a little scary how many facts he remembers from the stuff I post. In fact, it is scary. I've forgotten them and he's quoting them. However, it does come in handy.

During lunch, the conversation included such tidbits as:

Guest 1: So, Jeremy, often do you post on the blog?

Jeremy: Gadi?

Gadi: Anywhere from 1-5 times a day

Guest 1: How did you meet your wife?

Jeremy: Gadi?

You get the picture. I probably used the "Gadi?" line about 6 times...and each time he got it right! Thanks to the Blog and Gadi, I've achieved a new level of efficiency :-)

An impressive span...

Found out today that my great-grandmother's first cousin died. She lived 97 years and 9 days. I couldn't help but notice this time span. Here's why

As my mom said, "it is the end of a generation."

She married only in her later years (40's or so) and then her husband died very shortly thereafter (within a year).

Lived alone the rest of her life in downtown Chicago. She was a fine lady and my family made a point of visiting with her whenever we were in town.

I remember when I was 8 or 9, my dad had a trial in Chicago and brought me along. Minna took me around town for the entire day. I still remember looking down on Michigan Avenue from her apartment. Amazing how some childhood memories stick with you.

I had just written her a note, congratulating her on reaching her 97th birthday (aside from some loss of hearing, she had ALL of her faculties). She reached that milestone on August 31st.

You just never know when the exact time is going to come.

The value of networking...

For about 18 months, I was leading a networking meeting for Jewish professionals. It was the Washington chapter of the J2J Network.

Eventually, we stopped it because our attendance didn't warrant it. There are hundreds of reasons why this is possible. One interpretation I had was that people felt they weren't getting immediate value out of the experience in terms of closed dollars for their business.

I had stressed that networking is a long-term investment. You've got to see people month over month and eventually, maybe, something will happen. No guarantees.

Anyway, got an email the other day:

I have a client sponsoring a health fair who is looking for someone to do chair massages. I remember in our J2JDC group there was someone who did it, but don’t remember his name. Do you have his name and contact info by chance? Thanks, Adam

I put him in touch with Doron Stadlan who gives one hell of a massage.

Now that's value.

Fueling the War on the West...

Solid article--oil prices, OPEC, anti-Americanism.

Friday, September 08, 2006

The "Man Cave"

Got a request to post some pictures of the "Man Cave". Here you go...

if you're a designer, your opinion is welcome!

Office 2007...

So the next version of Microsoft Office is coming out in January.

Initially, I'll admit, I took the skeptic's view. There's a lot of good stuff out there, but I'm doing fine with what I've got.

Then, I started to play around with it.

  • What you can do with Excel in terms of quickly making sense out of large quantities of numbers using Conditional Formatting is just amazing!!
  • PowerPoint--I've seen so many presentations butchered by bad graphics. The Smart Art feature is just a wicked simple way to make a good impression without wasting time.
  • Word-good ol' Word. Not only can you post directly to a Blog (nice, eh), but the fact that you can see the font changes as they occur so you don't have to keep going back and picking one is just fantastic.

I'm loving the ribbon. Even though I use a lot of keyboard shortcuts, I'm discovering new ways of doing things and doing old things faster.

I've really come around on this product and am VERY excited about what it's doing for my personal productivity.


And I didn't even talk about Outlook...

I was concerned that people would feel Office is a commodity and choose something like Open Office or Star Office. I've used both those products as well and I've got to say...from a usability perspective alone, Microsoft has raised the game significantly with this release. Very, very cool.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

What makes a house a home...

I'm not very sentimental. At least not now. If I can't scan it or put it in a nicely organized scrapbook, I pretty much throw it away. I'm relentless.

I figure, you can't take it with you, so why bother holding on to something where its utility has passed?

There was one night, when I was 23, after I had gotten back from Germany and before I was embarking on a 2 year trip to Japan, when I cleaned out (entirely) the room in my parents house where I had grown up.

I remember crying on the floor at 2am or so. Not so much because I was throwing things out, but because it represented, somehow, losing the comfort of the nest and the need for self-reliance (until that is, I had kids, and now I need my parents again!!).

When I lived in Europe and Asia, I was living out of 2 duffle bags and in Japan, in particular, I didn't have much room to spare.

Consequently, I didn't "bring what I couldn't carry" [still my travel motto] and was very Spartan in my outlook.

Also, I'd been in way too many houses that were filled with years of accumulated junk.

It's better now, but once upon a time, if you went into the garage of my parents' house, you'd see boxes and boxes of my dad's legal files...from 1961. He claimed that we might be interested in them one day. I claimed we'd be interested in burning them.

I resolved myself to doing my kids a favor. Before I die, I'll have cleaned out the useless stuff they won't care about (or the stuff I don't think they'll care about) and basically leave them a nicely organized paper scrapbook (now also digital, of course) so they won't spend time sorting through it.

Why do I say all of this?

I think it has to do with one simple act the other morning that injected a hint of sentimentality in me.

Calanit is a pretty serious artist. She loves to paint and draw. I’d keep one out of every 10 (put it in a scrapbook) and throw the others way…figuring we didn’t need the clutter (it upsets my OCD mind).

We made 2 paintings together and she was particularly proud of them (so was I!). Since our basement is wood paneling-no paint will be peeled off-I dedicated a corner (probably will turn into the whole room) as Calanit’s art gallery.

High enough for her to see but still be out of Paco’s reach, I stood there looking at these drawings and thought…

This is what makes a house a home.

If you love....raise your hands!!

We've established that "the boy" is a big walker. What we've come to realize in the past few weeks is that he's really starting to understand things.

Shonka (aka Calanit) and I used to have this game and now we play it with Paco.

It's basically this...

If you love....(fill in whomever/whatever you want), raise your hands!!

Age gap...

People considering having a 2nd child ask our opinion about the 20 month separation between Calanit and Erez.

Certainly having 2 kids in diapers isn't the easiest, but there are some benefits.

Calanit, we think, doesn't remember life before Erez.

And now, they are getting to the point where they play nicely together as I wrote about here.

The Night Watchman...

One of my three favorite paintings of all time is Rembrandt's Die Nachtwache (aka The Night Watch).

Maybe that's why I love the feeling every night of making the final rounds of the house, closing the windows (love the cool, fresh air of late summer evenings), turning off the lights (with one push-thank you X-10 system), and setting the alarm system.

It feeds my sense of family protector/defender and keeping "the women and children" safe.

BTW, the other 2 favorite paintings are:

These are the only three paintings (er, prints) I have ever purchased. The last two hang now on mounted poster board in the "man cave." The first one was hanging on the wall in my apartment in New York (while I was single) and I bequeathed it to the guys who were living there (wish I hadn't. Ugh. Oh well.)

All of this because my mom told me to take Art History (her major) when I was a junior. Listen to your mother!

I should add that I bought my prints while I lived in Europe at the museums where they are housed...The Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam), Kunsthistorisches Museum (Vienna), and Hamburger Kunsthalle (Hamburg) respectively, so they all have an additional sentimental value to me.

Bonus points for anyone who figures out the 1 sentence idea of why I love each one of these and what they represent. Here's the degree of difficulty:

  • Night Watch-Hard
  • Hunters in the Snow-Medium
  • Wanderer-Easy

Medical Travels...

I've had to travel to the Washington Hospital Center every day this week...and I'm getting tired of it. It's 30-40 minute drive from my house (25 mins from the office). Here are some interesting facts

  1. average drive time/commute (round trip) 68 minutes.
  2. average wait time 23 minutes
  3. average time actually doing something 4 minutes

No, I'm not kidding.

Tomorrow, will change that as I will be scanned for approx. 2.5 hours (better to get the data up there while I still have a case for complaining and self-pity, right?!)

Advertisement: Kosher DC Survey

An FOJ (Friend of Jer) is determined to improve the quality of kosher food in America (and then world domination!!!)

He's got surveys running for kosher establishments in DC, Philly, and Boston.

Let your voice be heard. Here's the DC link.

For other cities, contact: neil AT

(leave the @ sign out to avoid email harvesting for spammers!)

An auspicious sign...

If you are familiar with the story of 9.79, you will appreciate the excitement of today's date (at least in the US. July 9th is better in Europe). Now, here's the kicker, got an email this morning from Washington Gas:

Your new Washington Gas bill, for account number XXXX.591038, with balance $19.79 and due date of September 28, 2006, is now available online for viewing and payment. Please visit the to make your online bill payment at any time. Please make sure to schedule the effective date of your payment before the due date shown on your bill.

Can't beat that! Should be a good day.

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Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Poor Judgment...

You know how you feel when you are doing something that you just know is really stupid, but you do it anyway?

I run into this problem in 2 primary areas, eating and going to bed. Not always, but there are spells.

Last night, I stopped "futzing" (got to look that one up in Wikipedia) with the Blog (check out some of the new widgets on the side--need to have MJ work on some colors for me, but I digress) around 11.15.

Figured, at that point, I needed to relax a bit since tending to my Blog (it's like the relationship a gardener has with his garden, I think) isn't relaxing...though fun.

I started watching Project Runway. Then, I got lured into watching my recording of "7 days to save your marriage." It was a good episode...I can always use ways to improve my communication. Needless to say, at 1.30, I knew I was in trouble.

I knew I was in trouble the whole time, actually, but that didn't stop me. I knew Tamar was leaving early for work. I knew I'd be on point for the kids. I knew I had a deadline for work that had to be done before I go in for the radioactive treatment (had 2nd shot today, btw), but none of that stopped me....

...and of course, had to watch the MSNBC investigation of the child sex trade in Cambodia. You want some sick assholes (pardon my French), it's REVOLTING. As a father, I couldn't understand how someone-no matter how poor-could sell his own daughter into prostitution (some as young as 5!!!). And as a human being, I just wanted to go out and castrate these American/German/Australian pedophiles.

In another post, I'll talk about the night I had in Bangkok where I saw these types preying on young women (girls actually.) It made me sick and change some of my attitudes forever.

When all was said and done, I got into bed at 2am...and woke up at 6. Not smart. Not good judgment.

What makes a blogger?

Don't know if I'm a Blog Snob (a Blob?) but, in my mind, you've got to show a few things before you can call yourself "a blogger."

These are, at a minimum, consistency and frequency. That's in addition to being entertaining/informative/relatively brief.

Met a woman the other day who told me she had just returned from a Bloggers convention. It was actually called "BlogHer" for women bloggers. She then said, "I'm a blogger."

"Really? How many posts have you made?"


I don't want to say I scoffed because I didn't. I love blogging and encourage people to do it. If you've done 10 posts, you either put 5 posts up a day for 2 days in a row or did 1 a week for 2.5 months. Just doesn't meet my criteria.

I read a bunch of blogs and am loyal to those that meet my criteria. Of course, who says I'm the authoritative source on what makes a blogger anyway?

Guest Blogger Program...abolished.

The people have spoken...and the Guest Blogger program is not a success. For some, it was fun, and it wasn't for lack of effort or quality on the part of the content creators. The word basically was....I didn't come to your blog to hear someone else's opinion.

Fair enough. Thanks to all of you who made a go of it.

My motto. Try fast, fail fast, learn fast, fix fast.

On the tennis court...

After dinner tonight, took the kids out to the tennis court by the local school. Figured I'd run them ragged and they crash.

Met some kids playing soccer (futbol). Calanit was shy and sat by the side of the court watching. Erez launched himself into the middle of the game with Alex (9), Jorge (8) and Pablo (7). They had a great time playing with him and he was full energy.

Eventually I got Calanit up and running and had her running windsprints across the court.

Mission accomplished and a little multi-cultural flavor to boot.

Where are this guy's priorities?

This came across a listserv I'm on:

This kills me to do this, but I have a wedding on November 5th and it happens to be during the Redskins vs. Cowboys Game at Fed Ex Field.

Would anyone out there, before I put them on E-Bay or StubHub, like to buy my 3 tickets to the game. The seats are in section 410 row 18.

Immediately at the top of the only escalator to the upper deck. And right
above the kosher stand. Legitimate offers only please. Thanks.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

A guy jumps in front of a rapidly approaching train

about as dumb as you can get...

Oh, by the way...

Got my first Thyrogen injection today. As I was leaving, I said, "are there any side effects to the shot?"

"I'm glad you asked," replied the nurse.

"You may feel very fatigued. You could feel quite nauseous. And you may have severe headaches."

Uh, would have been nice to have been told that before I was walking out the door, no?

Hair Gel....

When my hair gets long in between hair cuts, I use a bit of hair gel just to keep things orderly until I can get to the barber. I asked Tamar to buy some for me the other.

"I've never bought hair gel for you. What kind?"

"Doesn't matter. Any kind will do."

She came back with a product called Luster's Scurl-Wave Jel Activator. The description on the back reads:

S-CURL WAVE JEL & ACTIVATOR is a light Jel that will activate your curls and waves without a trace of grease. S-CURL WAVE JEL & ACTIVATOR actually eliminates the "Shrinkage Factor" that results from shampooing your curly perm. So now your curls and waves will be healthy looking, soft, and never frizzy or sticky.

It also has a logo of a woman that says "The Proud Lady" 100% Black Owned.

Somehow I don't think I'm the target market for this product.

Movie Review: The Producers

When I was travelling in Europe and Asia, I remember meeting other backpackers (or regular tourists) who would say, "have you been to Ko Phan Ngan?" or "have you been to Angkor Wat?"

They would then proceed to hype it to such an extreme that by the time I got there, my expectations were so high that I was disappointed. In fact, in all of my travels, there are only a few places where, in my humble opinion, the reality has exceeded the enormous hype. They are:
1. the Sistine Chapel
2. the Great Wall of China
3. Petra
4. Macchu Picchu

For me, the movie the producers falls into the category of reality not living up to the hype. That's unfortunate, because it really is a pretty good movie. The actors do a tremendous job. Uma Thurman and Will Ferrell (as always!) are magnificent in their supporting roles. Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick are very, very entertaining and the whole plot and the over-the-top way in which it is executed is quite funny.

For my time, the first part of the movie dragged a bit, but picked up steam towards the end.

Had all of the hype not come along with it, I probably could have sat back and enjoyed the flick. It's worth a view. I'm just doing my part to keep you from being suffering any type of mild let down. I wouldn't buy it, but do the NetFlix thing if you can.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Air in the tires...

Read somewhere that under-inflated tires can cause a drop of 8% in fuel efficiency.

Love the feeling of riding on newly inflated tires. Strange how those little feelings give me such a lift.

Drawing in my office...

There's a little corner of my "man cave" which I have set aside for Calanit. There are markers, stickers, and scratch paper.

She's great about coming in, sitting down, and keeping herself occupied while I'm at the computer. She's very low maintenance.

Came back tonight and had to clean up a bit of her mess (haven't mastered that part yet) and instead of thinking..."what a mess," I got a bit choked up and thought, "how many more days do I have left to clean up my little girl's art projects?"

Tomorrow is her first day of school.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Public-Private Spectrum

"You've got no unpublished thought!"

"Is there anything you WON'T put on your blog?"

"I'm a bit uncomfortable knowing what I know about you from your blog."

It's clear that there is a spectrum of emotions on for each of us and somewhere along that continuum, we draw a line demarcating things we will or will not share with other people.  Based on an unscientific poll, it seems I'm less private (read: more public) than most.  Let's assume this is true for a moment.

I've struggled (given my outlook) with understanding why something that I am comfortable sharing in public is a very private matter for someone else.  I've discussed with other the idea of: Embarrassment and since it seems to be quite subjective, that could be the reason why I am puzzled about others who are embarrassed when I am not and vice versa.

Some examples:

A woman is pregnant and subsequently has a miscarriage. She asks that her immediate friends not share the information with others. She feels embarrassed.

[My thinking: While I would not go out of my way to broadcast this fact, if it came up in conversation...say comforting another woman, I don't see any harm. What's more, as it is a natural occurrence and beyond the control of the woman, why feel embarrassed about it?]

A different woman is pregnant. She finds out that a child may have some type of birth defect. She asks that the information not be shared. She would feel embarrassed.

[Again, this is not because of something that someone has done. It is an act of nature and there's no reason for someone to feel that others would judge them b/c of it.]

A family has a son who is put into a mental hospital. They don't want it discussed.

[It's unfortunate, yes, but the cause for social embarrassment? Maybe, I guess.]

A woman goes out with a run in her stocking and discovers it upon her return home.

[Ideal? No. Shit happens. Clearly few people intentionally go out with a run in their stocking, a hole in their sock, or a stain on a shirt. People make mistakes. You've done it. So have I...many times. You see the run and you say, "ok, she probably didn't notice it when she got dressed or it happened on her way here...what's she going to do? Let's move on.]

Once I finish this post, I'm sure I'll think of a number of others....

My underlying assumption is that people don't spend nearly as much time thinking about you (or me) as we think they do. They're caught up in their own little worlds.

We spend so much time worrying about what others will think when they just don't give a damn.

I guess the argument will come back that the feelings of the person who says that s/he will be embarrassed are genuine and I can't discount them. Perhaps that's true, but am I doing someone a disservice by helping them live a lie?

Harsh, I know, but stuff that goes through my head.

Of course, when I feel embarrassment, it's TOTALLY LEGITIMATE!! :-)

And yes, there are things I keep private and don't publish. I'll tell you what they are in a later post.

Calanit the Caregiver...

Following our team run this AM, we were on a tight schedule. Calanit was invited to a birthday party that began at 10am. The three of us walked through the door at 9.40am.

On the way, I had laid out the plan.

  1. Get Calanit into her dress-appropriate party attire
  2. Put Erez in his crib so that I could shower.
  3. Get out the door.

I knew Erez wouldn't be happy about the crib situation, so I said to Calanit..."can you please keep him company and play with him while I take a shower?"

She agreed. I put Erez in his crib...and he started crying. I ran to the shower.

I got out of the shower and didn't hear him at all. At first, I was worried. I walked towards his room.

I heard her "reading"/singing the book that Tamar or I read to him pretty much every night, Five Little Ducks.

She was sitting on a little stool and showing him the pictures.

Would a Blog by any other name smell as sweet?

I've been struggling with the concept of the "Guest Blogger." My brother forwarded me the article (here) from the Wall St. Journal. I don't have that kind of issue, but I the Blog a 1 man show?

I will admit that I track Blog readership. I think it's a sad commentary on the type of ego I have :-). My self-worth (ok that's a bit strong) is tied, in some respects, to the number of readers I have on a daily basis.

My goal is to get as many of my "Friends of Jer" (currently at 850) to read the Blog as often as possible. Why? Not sure. Perhaps it's the marketer in me trying to figure out what it'll take to get people's attention in the "attention economy."

Perhaps its the digital age equivalent of feeling "wanted." If you take the time to read, you must care, so I feel good. Again, not sure.

There definitely is a compulsion that feeds upon itself. Not sure it's healthy. I feel challenged-and pressured-daily to find something that is "blog-worthy." When something inspires comment (online is preferred but via email is good too) I feel like I have done a good job. When not, I wonder if I am losing touch.

You can ask Tamar....I'll tell her a story and then say, "oh yeah, that's good Blog stuff." It's almost like I'm in the entertainment business. Maybe I am....Hmmm.

I'd say the Guest Blogger program has been mixed. Of the7 people I've invited, 3 have never posted once. 1 has posted once and the other 2 have done-in my estimation- a fine job. Maybe my expectations were wrong. Maybe others don't waste time the way I do on the Blog post effort. Who knows?

I do try and figure out how often people read. I know the hard-core daily folks (love you guys!) and I frequently hear the (I was reading your blog, etc.) but I don't know what that means (see poll below).

Anyway, this is enough of a rant...probably lost its entertainment value a while back. Ok, in a funk.

We never actually took the poll...

Free polls from
Who was the best Guest Blogger?
Gadi Tina Tjada

Blog consultant...

I had the honor of my first Blogging consulting gig last week.

The new headmaster at the local Hebrew Academy was interested in starting one. I was approached by a fundraiser from the school for my opinion on what makes a successful blog (hey, is this an in-kind contribution that's tax deductible?)

Here's what I wrote:

Blogging, I’ll say, requires dedication and commitment. It’s got to be frequent
intervals and the voice has to be authentic, not edited.

If he wants to do it, he should probably test it out for 2-3 weeks to get in the
habit. Then, if that works, you can publicize it

About a week later, I got some "test" submissions. Then I added:

I like it. I think it's got the makings of a good blog.A few comments.

Paragraphs should be a bit shorter. Overall length is ok though. Frequency is

As is marketing. He's got to tell people that the blog is out there and
advocate that they read it.

Joshua Levisohn's Blog is here. Let's see if he follows my advice (hope it's the right advice.)

Saturday, September 02, 2006


came and went. The House that Juan built performed admirably.

Advice I'll Give to My Daughter



Jonathan Clements also writes the "Getting Going" column that appears Wednesdays in The Wall Street Journal. Write to him at: jonathan.clements@wsj.com1.

December 10, 2006

In 1985, I graduated from college. This past August, I dropped off my daughter Hannah for her freshman year.

Despite the two decades in between, I can still vividly recall the financial struggles of early adulthood, including grappling with credit-card debt, scrambling to come up with a house down payment and watching as one of my stocks plunged 80% in a few short months.

Hannah, of course, will have her own financial struggles, and those will teach her far more about money than I ever could. Still, there are nine key financial insights I'm hoping to pass along -- and most have precious little to do with picking stocks and buying mutual funds.

1 More isn't always better.

Money may not make you happy. But it could make you desperately unhappy. Lots of folks stagger through life, buffeted by credit-card debt, unpaid bills and gnawing fears about their financial future.

Sure, these worries are more likely to hit those with lower incomes. But don't kid yourself: Collecting a handsome salary won't necessarily save you from financial stress. How you handle money is far more important than how much you earn.

2 Forget appearances.

That brings us to the family down the road, living in the McMansion with the pristine lawn and his and her European sedans gracing the driveway.

You can't be sure the family has a boatload of money. But you can be absolutely certain they've spent a boatload. In fact, the cars may be leased, the house may be fully mortgaged and the couple may spend their evenings huddled over the kitchen table, sweating over how they will pay the bills.

3 Save yourself.

All of this is a reminder that the secret to financial success isn't much of a secret: You've got to spend less than you earn.

And, no, you won't be missing out. You may get a brief thrill from the new sofa or the faster car. But, as everybody eventually learns, the thrill doesn't last and soon enough you are lusting after something else.

Indeed, it is one of those basic life choices: You can spend your days chasing after material goods that will always ultimately disappoint -- or you can step off this treadmill, reduce your financial stress and instead devote your energies to far surer roads to happiness, such as seeing friends, pursuing hobbies and helping others.

4 Buy right.

I am not suggesting that you constantly defer gratification and that you always pinch pennies. This isn't just an unpleasant way to lead your life. It can also be shortsighted, especially when it comes to possibly the biggest financial decision you will ever make: buying a home.

If you are purchasing a house in an area where you foresee staying for a long time, consider stretching to buy the home you really want, even if it is a little more expensive than you can truly afford. The fact is, trading up is enormously expensive, so your best bet is to buy the right house the first time around.

5 Valuable lesson.

If you can develop some financial competence, you will save yourself a lifetime of heartache and a heap of money. Suppose that, over the course of your adult life, you have an average portfolio balance of $250,000.

If you use a broker or financial planner, you might pay the adviser 1% of that sum each year, or $2,500. That is $2,500 you would save if you learn to manage your own money.

Maybe more important, by learning to build your own portfolio and pick your own mutual funds, you will have that comforting sense of control that comes with fully understanding your finances.

6 Give it time.

As soon as you enter the work force, start saving and investing. Initially, your financial progress will seem agonizingly slow and the sacrifice involved will hardly seem worth it.

But if you sock away 10% or 15% of your salary every year for 10 or 15 years, you should hit critical mass -- and suddenly your portfolio will start growing by leaps and bounds.

7 Buy yourself options.

This burgeoning wealth could come at just the right time.

At age 22, your career may fill you with excitement. At age 42, the excitement will likely have faded and you may be hankering for a change. If you have money, you have options.

What if you have little or no savings? Put it this way: It's pretty depressing to be in your 40s, stuck in a job you hate -- and knowing it will be decades before you can escape.

8 Sit quietly.

We all tend to think we're better-than-average drivers, pretty good looking and smarter than most. This overconfidence spills over into our investing and fuels our headstrong pursuit of market-beating returns.

Yet this is almost always self-defeating. Trying to beat the market typically involves a heap of investment costs, and those costs mean our efforts to beat the market usually fail miserably. Indeed, you will probably fare far better by sitting quietly with a handful of low-cost mutual funds, preferably market-tracking index funds.

But it isn't just that efforts to beat the market are usually self-defeating. They are also unnecessary. Want to retire rich? All it takes is time and regular savings.

9 Know yourself.

Overconfident investors misjudge not only the markets, but also themselves.

It is easy to talk tough and act brave when the market is going up. It's a completely different story when prices are headed the other way.

The reality is, until you have been through a brutal bear market, with your portfolio deeply underwater and everyone around you filled with doom and gloom, you won't truly know how much risk you can tolerate.

Self-confident, decisive action may serve you well in the work world. But in the financial markets, it will leave you with a fistful of disappointing stocks and a longer road to retirement. My advice? Try humility.

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Friday, September 01, 2006

Blog Hobby

Addiction is perhaps too strong a word, but I've been spending a bit too much time lately playing with the Blog.

You may have noticed on the right that I've added a bunch of new links. I'm curious what people will find valuable and what they won't.

Beyond that, though, is that these links (aka 'widgets' which are going to become more and more common) are ways to integrate tons of different functionality from various sources without having to do it yourself.

It's not so much that I want to make money from my friends (but hey, if you can't make money from your friends who can you make money from?) I'm just intrigued by the whole concept of increasing interactivity and value through utlizing other sites'/services' capabilities.

There's so much cool stuff out there. I LOVE it.

Waiting for Ernesto...

Looks like we'll get a test of the "House that Juan built" as Tropical Storm Ernesto rolls through our area this afternoon and evening.

It's been rainy and windy already. The foreboding is in the air.

I'm both nervous...that it won't work and excited...that it will.

Project Runway

I have become a big fan of Project Runway. I enjoy watching the creative process. It's a part of my Right Brain development strategy as encouraged by the book, "A Whole New Mind," which I wrote about here and here.

My prediction is that either Ulli or Michael will win.