Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Our friend, Gadi, sent us an Outlook meeting request for the date and time of the proposed meal. WE accepted it, he got confirmation, and it's on our calendars.
Our Nanny is from
For whatever reason, the cost of a wig in
The Nanny was telling me this and I said, “I can’t believe you can’t find a cheaper one on eBay.”
Well, apparently you can and eBay isn’t so popular in
So, I purchased 4 wigs (after a few back and forths with the Nanny’s daughter) for a grand total of $125 (incl. s/h) for the daughter.
I offered to purchase more and sell them for a profit (for all I know the Nanny’s daughter is going to do that anyway), but that seemed too much of an effort.
Now that I think about it, I’ll push it.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Here, in a nutshell, is the difference so far.
Calanit builds with the blocks, Erez destroys whatever Calanit builds.
Calanit finds a dangerous object and hands it to us, Erez finds it and seeks to hurt himself.
Calanit never puts something in her mouth that doesn't belong there; Erez never finds something that doesn't go into his mouth.
...there's more, but that's the basics. :-)
Monday, May 29, 2006
Today, we took the kids to the pool for the first time. There are special swim diapers that kids have to wear underneath their bathing suits. We had some left over from last year and today, my boy had to wear "The Little Mermaid" underneath his trunks.
My mother has devoted much of her time to taking him to doctors and appointments. Last night, my sister spent the night in the hospital in his room.
For some reason, Erez, who had begun to master (Finally!) the art of sleeping through the night got up at 12pm and was WIDE awake until 3 am. I kept him company as he, in the dark, sought to destroy everything in his path. It was exhausting work and made for a rough end to a 21 hour day. Fortunately it is a national holiday.
I called my sister this morning to get a report on my grandfather's progress. It had been a rough night for her...waking up hourly to escort him to the bathroom and administer to his needs of all sorts.
Her night sounded a bit like mine and it made me appreciate how "what goes around comes around." One day the time will come when my kids have to stay up all night for me.
Or maybe they won't, but that's in part up to me. I've got to give them the type of relationship where they will want to. Or maybe it's is a child's duty? Good question....I mean, does a child who is abused have to care for an aging parent?
Anyway, the point is I felt like my mom/sister and I were in parallel universes on the opposite sides of life's cycle.
Sunday, May 28, 2006
Well, I'm not so sure.
Thursday night at a wedding, I ran into someone who had a Sabbath meal with us about 5 years ago.
He asked me if we still go around the table and ask people to share something that was good and not so good of the previous week (a kind of week in review.) We do.
He told me that 5 years later, he still remembers how he felt that it was a great idea and something that was special and unique. It was clear he was left with a positive vibe.
Made me feel good and made me realize that any little thing can indeed make a big impression. Who am I to know what people will or will not appreciate? If you want them to feel a certain way, you do need to pay attention to those little details.
I think the same thing applies in your work life (and probably home life). Work is a pressure-filled situation and it is easy to think about what happens if you don't perform...no raise, get fired, etc.
Thinking about these things is really useless...but difficult to avoid. I mean, every ounce of energy you devote to the negative/undesired "what if..." scenarios is energy you are not devoting to making the positive/desired "what if..." scenarios a reality.
Now...how do you go about "keeping YOUR head in the game?"
Thursday night, Tamar and I were at a wedding. As is common at many Jewish weddings, there was a fair amount of talking (or at least there's talking around me since I'm usually involved in it!). At one point, I pulled out my cell phone and started checking my email.
I turned to the guy next to me..."do you think it is rude to check email during a wedding?"
"Are you getting email from Bill Gates?"he asked.
"No, that was last week,"I replied [see post below].
He smiled. "Right, you and 5,000 other people."
"No, just me," I replied...and then told him the story...and contributed more to the buzz of talking in the background.
Friday, May 26, 2006
About 6 years ago, I went to a panel presentation with one of the bigwigs in the Internet industry. We’re talking, pretty big here.
At the end of the session, a friend of mine and I approached her and asked her if she’d be willing to have breakfast with two young, aspiring entrepreneurs.
3 months later, we met and had a good chat. Towards the end, she instructed me to “keep me posted with quarterly updates.”
For 6 years, I’ve been doing that. Not once did I get a response from her, but I kept doing it nonetheless.
A few weeks ago, I read an RSS feed about a new energy company. The concept seemed very interesting, they are located in DC, and I thought it would be interesting to meet with the CEO. I clicked on the link to the CNN article about the company. In the bottom paragraph, I saw that this same woman, the bigwig, is on the board of the company.
I emailed her and asked for an introduction to the CEO.
I met a woman the other day who was stressed out about her upcoming nuptials.
“It’s such a big wedding, I don’t know what to do.”
“How big is the wedding?” I asked.
“Yeah, I can relate. We had 750.”
I love when that happens J
It’s a blessing and a curse. You can work wherever and whenever you want. You can be productive when inspiration hits you, but you can easily lose the balance and perspective.
Erez woke me up at 3am the other night. After settling him in, I got in bed and my mind was racing. I had the urge to do some work/other things…RIGHT THEN, so I did.
Next thing I know, it’s 5am and I am exhausted for the next 2 days.
On the other hand, I had 2 hours of focused time that were of very high quality.
A friend of ours tells me that “now I don’t need to find bathroom reading. I just take my Treo in with me and read your Blog. It’s good stuff.”
Love hearing how people read and respond to the Blog. Keep ‘em coming!
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Over the past few weeks, my 10 and 8 year old neighbors have taken an interest in lacrosse. As a Hopkins alum, this happens to be a sport I have a passion for and I've enjoyed teaching them some rudimentary skills. We've played a few times.
Tonight, I reached a milestone in attempting to hit the high bar my grandfather has set in many realms of life.
The 10 year old knocks on the door and asks me, lacrosse stick in hand, if I can come out to play with them.
I called my grandparents to tell them I had a "Can Stanley come out and play?" moment.
Back in the SilentFrog start-up days, Asher and I felt the pressure. Then, one late night, we saw an interview with Harrison Ford on "Inside the Actors Studio." He related how he had been a carpenter while trying to get his acting career off the ground and then, it still took him 15 years to achieve the fame/fortune level that he has.
I can't remember if it was Ford or the host who said, "15 years to an overnight success."
It's the little things and the constant pushing that is going to "make it happen" for most of us.
Seth Godin's blog post prompted this one.
Monday, May 22, 2006
There are many who I have met once, some in random places, and some I will probably never see again. However, I keep them on the list. The exchange below explains my rationale.
EMAIL I RECEIVED
Jeremy - We're fine, thanks.... but I think you can take us off your email list. Don't know when we'll ever get to see you again, and tat will make your list just a little shorter.
Your kids look adorable!!
Ok, you’re off.
Part of the reason I keep people like you on my list is precisely b/c I don’t know when I’ll see you again, but I do know this.
I enjoyed meeting you and wouldn’t mind seeing you again.
If you’re off my list, there’s no way I’d feel comfortable reaching out to you after 10-15 years or whatever it is. If you’re on it, at least we’ve maintained some type of contact.
Nevertheless, I understand that you have a different perspective. Good luck!
Sunday, May 21, 2006
Anyway, I was thinking that by that time, he will hopefully have raised and assisted his own family's development and perhaps see his great-grandchildren.
That made me think about our roles as parents and our responsibility to carry the tradition, the genes, or whatever it is to the next generation. And here I am, literally carrying my son, off to sleep and thinking that one day he, too, will carry it forward to his children.
Friday, May 19, 2006
One of Tamar's students from Hebrew school answered the essay of question of "A person who is repairing the world" by writing a two-page essay on Gates and his foundation's work. I scanned it in and forwarded it to him. Here's the thread.
From: Bill Gates
Sent: Fri 5/19/2006 3:26 PM
To: Jeremy Epstein
Subject: RE: Shaping the Bill Gates legacy....
Thanks for passing it along.
From: Jeremy Epstein
Sent: Friday, May 19, 2006 10:20 AM
To: Bill Gates
Subject: Shaping the Bill Gates legacy....
You may appreciate the attached essay from a 9th grader in my wife's Hebrew School class.
"Repairing the World" or "Tikkun Olam" is one of Judaism's highest and most noble pursuits. Good luck and thank you for your efforts.
P.S. Enjoyed the BI piece.
I just came back from a set of errands (barber, post office, and shoe repair) all done by bike with the help of a backpack.
Good exercise, easier mobility, fun, not a big time loss, and at $3 a gallon, more fuel efficient.
I'm a member of LinkedIn which is a business networking tool. The concept is neat even though I haven't gotten a ton of value out of it.
Yesterday, I got a request from one member of my network asking me to forward on a request on behalf of his friend for a job interview to another member of my network.
The email from my friend's friend was full of typos and grammatical errors.
I refused to pass on the request. I wrote in response:
"The email to XXX has many typos and grammatical errors. I am not going to forward something along that makes him question my judgment."
Got to protect the brand...
Let's say, for example, that my grandfather is right and that the three biggest decisions in a person's life are:
1. whom to marry
2. when to have your 1st child
3. when to buy your first house
Some people do all of this within 1 year others never do all of them.
In going through the normal trials and tribulations of life the other day, I was just struck by the fact that just over 5 years ago, I had made none of these decisions. Now, I've made all of them.
Thursday, May 18, 2006
Anyway, he YELLS, "PUT THAT STICK DOWN!"
Then, he runs up on the playground contraption and grabs the younger boy, jerking him wildly by the arm and demanding that he put his shoes on.
Both boys at this point are crying. The man yells, "Do you want me to take off my belt?" as he reaches for his belt.
The boys are hysterical. I'm in shock.
It's not like I've never raised my voice at my kids during a stressful moment and I have had to physically exert myself (say in taking a crying kid up to a bath), but this was just violent.
My mouth must have been hanging open as I stared and tried to figure out what I should do, if anything. Part of me wanted to say, "Man, what the HELL are you doing?"
It's not always easy to intervene. People want to avoid confrontation. I've noticed that line jumpers at airports rely on this fact and most people are content to let them slide in. I'm not. It's uncomfortable, yes, but it's the right thing to do.
As I watched the man drag the boys off, he looked at me and kind of nodded, saying "good afternoon" as if everything was ok.
It was surreal.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
As a homeowner, I feel like I'm in a continual battle vs. the elements and vs. time/the house. Somehow, when I find a hole or something that can be reinforced, I like to pull out my trusty caulk gun (maybe it's a gunslinger thing) and patch it up.
In my effort to drive efficiency, I feel like I've won a small battle :-)
Driving to a meeting today, I was wondering...where is the price point at which people really start to change their behavior?
And what does that mean for American society as we know it?
More telecommuting? Fewer big cities?
My brother Asher writes:
Last week I saw Ted Leonsis [owner of Washington Capitals hockey team and former AOL exec] speak.
He said he has been studying happiness for a year and it boils down to three things.
1) be an active member of multiple communities
2) show gratitude
3) give back
Monday, May 15, 2006
In the effort to potty-train Calanit, one of the tell-tale signs of readiness is when your kid tells you s/he is going.
For the first time, Calanit told me, "Abba, I'm making a poopie" (and she was, I checked :-)....
Ah the little milestones of parenting...
The other day I was saying to Tamar, "you know, it'd be great to get a double jogging stroller." Well, sure enough on Freecycle, I saw one offered and snatched it up.
Today, since Tamar is away for the bris (ritual circumcision) of our newest nephew, I had both kids and was able to take them out for a 30 minute run thanks to the new stroller. (It's not new, it's used, but new to us).
Nowadays, it's simple pleasures like these that I relish. A double stroller...who would have thought?
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Now, we think about emails (Microsoft vs. DOJ; the Frank Quattrone trial, and thousands of others) and we think about the fact that potential employers, investors, mates, and others will be checking us out online before they even meet us. There's so much room for pre-conceived notions to form and for misinterpretation.
What if you are feeling depressed at some point and you post about it as a way of self-therapy? Will someone reach the conclusion you are mentally unstable?
What if you are having marital problems? Will a potential employer shy away from someone whose homelife is shaky?
What if you have a period of suicidal thoughts because of some traumatic event? Does that mean you don't have it together?
For me, the blog and the emails that preceded them have been about authenticity and genuine communication with my circle of friends. It's upsetting to think that I have to be guarded in these efforts because of the possibility that there is a potential that somewhere, someone, somehow will use my words against me.
The age of Internet innocence was lost long ago (relatively speaking). I'm just blogging on it now. Maybe someone will think that I take too long to identify trends :-)
One of Tamar's best friends growing up in Albany was a girl (now woman) named Ariella. I'd met her a few years ago.
As things are, the two of them lost touch...until a few weeks ago.
For some reason, Ariella decided to attempt to find Tamar and "googled" the two of us. She came upon this blog. After reading it, she apparently felt excited about the events of the family, felt closer to Tamar, and has since re-established connection.
I'd always thought of the Blog as a forum for
1. giving myself a place to just "vent" and capture my thoughts for posterity
2. give friends a place to go, if they want, to see what we're doing/I'm up to/thinking
Now it has become a vehicle to bring old friends back into the fold. That feels good.
Friday, May 12, 2006
I'm curious if it is gender differences or just personality differences.
I may get out for a run or some exercise, but those are more because I feel like I have to, rather than I want to. Perhaps this is a trade-off for these years when your kids are young because when they are old, who knows...maybe you have all the time you need at that point? (assuming you make it, of course)
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Just finished a great book on the history of Sotheby's, the auction house.
If you're going to spend a lot of time in the car, fill your brain w/something that you can control and from which you'll learn something...or at least enjoy.
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
One day, his brother died, and the paper in Stockholm, Sweden made an error and thought it was Alfred who had passed away. This gave Alfred the unique opportunity to read his own obituary before he died.
What dismayed him is that the newspaper gave him credit for making it more efficient and cost-effective to kill people through his invention. This prompted him to do something good with his money and hence, the Nobel Prizes.
I don't know what got me started on this train of the thought the other day, but I was thinking about my own funeral. About 6 months ago, I attended the funeral of one of our family's closest friends and there were hundreds of people there. Many of them, well beyond his immediate/nuclear family, were in tears. This was a man who obviously had touched many, many lives.
I fast-forwarded the movie of my life and started wondering...who would make the effort to attend my funeral? Would people outside of my inner circle cry for my departure?
Thinking about this metric as a guideline for my behavior on a daily basis is transformative.
Some of the conclusions I reached, however, dismayed me. I'm probably not at the people crying per capita ratio that I might like.
On the other hand, you could argue that this may not be a worthwhile standard to measure your contribution. Certainly a subject for debate.
Sunday, May 07, 2006
Two examples today...
About 3 years ago, a friend of mine from New York did a virtual introduction with a friend of hers who was moving to DC. We traded emails, but never got together. Put him on the FOJ list, which was probably a debatable move, but I did.
Last week, got an invite from him for his new son's bris (ritual circumcision) and since it was a Sunday morning, I figured there was no harm in going. It did feel awkward since I had NEVER met him and didn't even know what he looked like, yet here I was going to his house for his son's bris.
Bottom line, the kids and I had a really nice time. We met him and it turns out we have a number of friends in common. It was worth the effort and overcoming the initial awkwardness that I was feeling.
There is one guy on my list, Alex, who I bought a chair from 5 years ago. Since then I haven't seen him or even spoken with him, but in an era where I put pretty much everyone I met on the default FOJ list until they opted out, he responded to a request for his birthday. Today is his birthday, so I called him. He wasn't home.
I did hesitate to call. What would I say? What's the reason? Well, a birthday for one, but after that? Then I figured-why not? What to lose?
I guess what I've realized is that in these situations you are better off making the effort even though it may seem odd because most times, people will appreciate it, and you really don't have that much to lose.
The most obvious example for me is my bedtime. I have a tendency to always try to do "one last thing" that may or may not be critical, but makes me feel good-like changing a light bulb. It can wait, of course, but I sometimes think that if I don't do it now, it won't get done. And, of course, it'll never be the highest priority item, but the consequence is I don't get enough sleep. And when that happens, I make dumb decisions and I am not on top of my game for the important things-family responsibilities, sensitivity to my wife, and my work.
The worst part is that even though I know it's critical, I don't always do it. That's the part of my psychology (and others-diet, exercise, smoking, etc.) that I would love to understand.
Saturday, May 06, 2006
I noticed over the past few weeks that for the particular service I attend, the synagogue itself has been sponsoring the reception, which means that no one congregant has made the offer.
That fact, combined with the fact that I hadn't done it in a LONG time, led me to offer to sponsor the reception this week.
I was asked, "what is the occasion?"
Now, I didn't really have one in mind, so I thought long and hard about it.
I figured I could have fun with it, so I said it was "in honor of the upcoming launch of Microsoft Windows Vista." What the hell, right? It would be a topic of conversation. Some people would appreciate it. My geeky friends would love it and it probably would anger some people that I've crossed the line. Just the type of controversy I enjoy.
Then, I saw another benefit. When you make a donation to a non-profit and you get something in-kind or food, it's not tax deductible. However, now that I am making this a commercial effort, it seems like this could be a tax deduction as a "non-reimbursed business expense." I'll have to look into this, but I may have opened up an entirely new category of philanthropy :-)
Friday, May 05, 2006
On the one hand, you get to forge a path. On the other, you don't really have a good measure for how you are doing, since NO ONE HAS done it before! That's troubling sometimes. Of course, the anxiety makes things worse since you start making stupid decisions.
The challenge is to have the confidence of someone who has been there before and the awareness that no one has.
I bought my car at a dealer called Fitzgerald Auto Mall. Occasionally, you'll see ads with Jack Fitzgerald talking about the "Fitzgerald Way" and how he got where he did--customer service, blah, blah, blah.
Actually, I am extremely pleased with the car and the level of service I have received there. It really is superior.
Anyway, yesterday I had to pick up my car (cracked windshield) and I was waiting out front for the service guys to bring it around. I saw a woman escorting a man into his car and noticed her name tag "Dottie Fitzgerald."
I figured it was Jack's wife, but didn't think anything more of it.
For some reason, the process of getting my car to me took much longer than usual (normally very quick.) Maybe 8 minutes later, Dottie comes back and sees me.
"Are you waiting for your car, sir?" I nod.
She turns to someone and says, "this gentleman has been waiting a long time for his car. Please find out what is going on."
I was very impressed. This woman and her husband have built an auto retailing empire, but the little stuff still doesn't escape her.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
"Jeremy, I don't think I've ever seen you in anything but a suit."
What has become of me?
I've come around to the idea that, yes, impressions do matter and when you meet a customer, going with a suit and tie can't really hurt the cause that much. It didn't hurt that I picked up a bunch of suits for free of course.
I remember when I lived in Frankfurt, I told someone that I never wanted to wear a tie to work. A friend there told me, "you'll come around" and while I don't wear one everyday, I suppose I'm a conformist now, aren't I?
Monday, May 01, 2006
"All this talk about penalizing oil companies and giving Americans $100 rebates for gas is ridiculous.
Thought you’d enjoy this quick chart I made comparing profit margins at several companies where Americans spend their hard-earned dollars.
2005 Net Income 2005 Revenue NI as % of Rev
Microsoft 12,254,000 39,788,000 31%
google 1,465,397 6,138,560 24%
Ebay 1,082,043 4,552,401 24%
cisco 4,401,000 22,045,000 20%
exxon 36,130,000 370,680,000 10%
Apple 1,335,000 13,931,000 10%
Chevron 14,099,000 198,200,000 7%
Ford 2,024,000 177,089,000 1%
As you know, I have no interest in penalizing highly profitable companies (or those with low profits), so I don’t get the focus on the oil companies’ profits. In the scheme of things, they’re not such a profitable industry (see above). When you make a 7-10% margin on lots of revenue, your net income will be a large number, but at the end of the day, your margins are still only 7-10%.
You’ve studied some economics, right? When demand for a product declines, a new equilibrium between supply and demand occurs at a lower price. Shouldn’t we be focusing on reducing our demand for oil instead of penalizing the companies that are supplying it? We could also focus on increasing supply, but there’s not much that an average American can do about that. We can, however, reduce the amount of oil we consume.
I didn’t realize it until after I’d run my numbers, but Krauthammer’s op-ed today is along similar lines. It’s such a pity when economics makes politicians look dumb.
Between Licht and Krauthammer, the argument was summed up quite well. Thanks, team!