Thursday, November 30, 2006

Israeli pilot flies F-15 with one wing...

Book sharing philosophy...

It's rare that I read a book and then refer back to it a few years later. There are a few, but not too often.

Don't get me wrong, I've enjoyed them, but I just don't see myself going back to them.

My new policy is one of "targeted & strategic sharing."

I look through my network of people and ask myself, for a given book:
1. who would enjoy this?
2. who is a person with whom I want to strengthen my relationship?

In other words...
1. who will find value/utility from this?
2. from whom do I expect to find value/utility in the future? (note: this need not be economic, but could be quantified in terms of the degree of closeness we feel to each other.)

So now, I am in the process of shipping books out all over the world.
Cultural differences...

an interesting series of anecdotes about Israel and Lebanon...

Choosing a dentist...

My two criteria for a new dentist 1.6 years ago were

-convenience to my house
-in my insurance network

Not everyone agreed with this approach (read: my mom and my brother-in-law), but I did a search of the provider directory.

And now, an insight into how stereotypes work....I saw Dr. Anh of Wheaton Dental Partners (301) 946-8444 in the directory and said to myself (I kid you not), "in my experience, Asians make very good doctors. They are diligent and thorough."

That's not to say that others don't, of course (I got heat from at least 2 people for not choosing a Jewish dentist, for example), but I have a lot of respect for the work ethic of Asians.

Well in the past year plus, my initial assessment has proven to be right...and then some. Not only is Dr. Anh extremely thorough, (she does the cleaning herself), but she (and everyone in the office with her) are a delight. She has created an atmosphere of warmth, friendliness, and true customer service.

Tamar-who prior to Dr. Anh hadn't been to the dentist in a long time- has become a HUGE fan...she adores the team there. I think she loves them more than she loves me...but I digress.

This morning, I walked in and when all was said and done, they handed me a card, flowers, and chocolate...because they had heard from Tamar...3 months ago!!...about my thyroid cancer and just wanted to wish me well.

Have you ever heard of a dentist who does that? Phenomenal.

I LOVE these guys.

Men are like scotch...

It's pretty well known that "girls mature faster than boys."  Thing is, I don't think the difference in rate changes over the course of life.

I've told Tamar that her expectations of me, while valid and certainly worthy of reaching, are aggressive in terms of timeframe.

Wives are like casks in whose care their husbands take time to mature, like a good scotch.

By my estimates, it'll be at least another 18 years before I'm at the maturity level she expects :-)

A distiller will tell need some patience.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Marital whiteboard...

Tamar and I had a disagreement last night. It happens.

We were in my office. At an impasse. I picked up the dry erase marker and started explaining my perspective on a whiteboard.

I figured it was probably one of the first time a whiteboard has been used to resolve a marital disagreement (multi-colored as well!)

Great shopping comparison site...

Built by a friend of mine...this is one of the best I've seen:

Understanding Search Engines...'s one of those things that...if you're online a use A LOT.

For many companies (and bloggers) out there looking to increase their visibility it's still a mystery as to how to be at the top (and let's be honest...if you're not listed as one of the top few results, no one is going to find you).

Found a solid article that breaks the question of how to increase search engine traffic into 3 easy steps. What I liked about this is that it makes it basic to understand what to do both for publishers and for those who just want to understand how the guts of the Internet work.

I think knowing how the search engines work may also make you a better searcher, so that you can more easily find what you are looking for. It's a quick read and it's got some solid points.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Book Review: Decoding the Universe

Back when I was in the hospital, Tamar bought me a copy of Decoding the Universe. Four months later, I'm done.


This was one thick, dense book. It wasn't dull. In fact, it stretched my mind more than any book I've read in a long time. It deal with concepts like Superposition, quantum physics, Schrodinger's Cat, black holes, and the theory of relativity.

I probably only got about 30% of the book's concepts, though I did get the last point...we're all doomed since eventually the universe will implode (but don't worry, it's not for a while.)

One particularly interesting stretch of imagination is Superposition, which says "that an object or event can be spanned across multiple realities or universes." In other words, it can be in two places at once. What's more, if you take a measurement of the object in one universe and it's pointing left, at that moment, the object in the other universe will be pointing right (for example).

The question then does information travel faster than the speed of light to communicate that object 1 is left and as such object 2 should be right? I'm probably not doing the concept justice (since I don't fully get it anyway), but the other night, Tamar walked in and without my saying a word, did a full blown analysis of what I was thinking at that moment.

It was pretty impressive (not just because Tamar is not wont to often pontificate in this manner) because she was right.

It made me realize that the knowledge in my head and her head was exactly the same, despite the fact that no information (the heart of the book deals with information theory) had been exchanged between us.

In other words, it was in Superposition, but I am way off on a tangent.

Bottom line, if you're looking for a mind-expansion, this is one way to get it.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Jewtopia Part 2

So part of the shtick of Jewtopia is reinforcing the stereotype of the Jewish mother. The book has a number of "conversations with a Jewish mother" that are pretty funny.

As part of it, the back cover has the home phone numbers of each of the author's mothers. The implication is that they're willing to talk to anyone.

On Sat. night, I was cleaning up and figured, what the I called one of the mothers...and left a message.

She called me back on Sunday, got my answering machine and said, "I'll try you again later."

She did. I spoke with her for a few minutes tonight and then, in a perfect moment, my own mother called on the other line. Of course, I had to take it.

But then, I told my mom the story and told her to call Arlene Wolfson in Jacksonville (the mother of one of the authors)...and she did!

Details to follow.

And, by the way, my mom hasn't even read the book, but that won't stop Arlene and my mom from having an hour-long conversation and playing Jewish geography, I am sure.
Hanukah Candles

This guy is very funny. He's a convert to Judaism (originally Reform, then Conservative, then Orthodox).
My sister was his PR agent for a while.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Earning a helmet sticker...

College football players who make a great play earn a little sticker (usually of their school logo) to affix to their helmet.

I don't know what the equivalent is in the parenting world, but I earned one this morning.

At 4am, both kids were WIDE awake. The call I made was to let them get up and play with the hope that they would eventually crash, which they did at 7am.

Here you see them drawing at 5.15am at the kitchen table.

I call it "Drawing at the Kitchen Table at 5.15am...a study in parental sacrifice."

Getting your word out...

The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of having companies pay posters to advertise on blogs.

Since I first blogged about, I've gone back a few times. What I love about it is that I can easily find offers that make sense for the types of posts I write, see how much they're willing to pay and then quickly and easily submit my post. Best of all, I choose only those topics that I feel are consistent with the types of posts I want to make. On top of that, simply the act of looking at all of the offers available forces me to see new products and services, so the marketplace itself is like an exploration of new things. Then, if I find something, I can pass the word along.

Think about the traditional world of marketing. Normally, a large company spends A TON of money trying to "get the word out." As a marketer, I know that it's very difficult to measure the ROI on these initiatives.

Now, with no major channels (we all watch different shows, read different websites, etc.), a smart company can much more cost-effectively leverage a distributed information/publishing model to get the word out AND track the effectiveness of the spend.

That's a huge paradigmatic shift. This is just the beginning of it, too.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Change of time allocation...

One thing about parenting is how your time allocation shifts from what I would term "strategic" to more "tactical" or "maintenance."

I spend a lot of time just keeping things, arranging, preparing, organizing, etc.

This leaves less time for bigger projects, whether it's putting more insulation in the attic, writing that article, or any number of other "long-range" projects that appeal to me.

Just a shift along the spectrum, I suppose.

"I want to watch football..."

There's a rule in our house, "you eat in the kitchen and play in the playroom." 

There's one exception. The kids may eat in the den if we're watching football.

Thursday morning at 8.15am, Calanit comes to me and says,"I want to watch football."

"Calanit, there's no football on at 8.15am. Why do you want to watch football?"

"I want to eat in the den."

Google's next acquisition...

Here's an idea...Google buys (if that's even possible), but talk about the ability to offer highly targeted, relevant ads. Man...

Friday, November 24, 2006

Mobile email...

Here's an interesting service that I came across today. claims that they can give you all of the "Blackberry type" functionality (aka PUSH) for free. I downloaded the software, but haven't fully checked it out yet. I am going to, since it'll be a VERY cool addition if we can make it work.

For about 2 years now, I've had mobile email from work, but not from home and I'll tell we become more and more email centric, having that "anywhere, anytime" email access is becoming more critical.

I've had meetings cancelled or updated with a change of address that--were it not for my mobile email--I would have missed them. Tamar's been in the same boat, but without an ability to check the email (and frankly w/2 kids she doesn't have much time to sit down at the PC), she misses it--and when you think about it she ALWAYS has her phone with her, so it's a natural fit for her. In fact, I'm going to get and test it out for her, first.

In a few years, it’s going to be a no-brainer to have this email functionality on your phone, but this is a great step (at a price you can’t be) to try and overcome that hurdle. I’ll be wondering, as a technologist, if this type of service gets built right into the service contracts with some phone companies (or maybe even ISP’s).
Since it is free, I am a bit concerned that there's some sort of catch, so I'll follow up on it, but it's a nice thing to get w/o having to upgrade the phone.

Let me know if you download it and try it out…and what kind of experience you are having with the software. I’m always interested in feedback.

Friendship criteria...

Von Clausewitz once said, "no plan survives the first encounter with the enemy."

While not as drastic, it is clear that elements of our Sabbath Invite strategy need some modification. T'here are some consequences as well.

The biggest challenge is that of "planned spontanaeity." For example, I had originally set aside Feb as the month where we would completely "play it by ear" and, as I joked, "affirmative action for non-planners."

However, we've created a structure where, for better or for worse, people understand that our dates are booked well in advance. As a result, we received invitations for dates in Jan, Feb, and March.

Jan and March filled up (we are blessed with so many wonderful friends!) and initially, I held steadfast on Feb as "blackout dates."

Eventually, when a few more invites came in, I realized that this was just rude (yes, I have a threshold :-). Was I suppose to tell someone "no" who had the foresight (ie: courage) to invite us so far in advance in deference to potential someones who might invite us?

That seemed a bit much (yes, I know there are those of you who think this whole thing is a 'bit much')

So, I broke down and began planning dates for the "Planned Spontanaeity" period. Which means that "Planned Spontanaeity"doesn't really exist anymore.

That also means that "affirmative action for non-planners" is a dead concept. Which means that, for the time being, we have set a criteria for the people with whom we socialize to be: an ability to plan and execute for social gatherings anywhere from 1-6 months in the future.

While certainly not our only criteria, it's one I had never thought of previously.

At another time in our lives (before or after now), it may be different, but for now, this is one of them. Odd.

The Turkey Bowl...

The godfather of our annual Thanksgiving Day football game is Ned Stutman. He died last year from cancer.

The game, at least in my mind, has been renamed 'the Ned Bowl.'

He was from Philly and a man who appreciated "old school football." Tough players who played both offense and defense, outdoor stadiums, and guy who weren't afraid of getting dirty.

Yesterday's game was the worst weather in the 20 some odd year history of the game. It was cold, rainy, and VERY muddy. But the hard-core Ned Bowlers were out in force.

I daresay he would have been pleased.

Movie Review:March of the Penguins

A must see!

What a tremendous story of love, self-sacrifice, survival of the fittest, and nature. Only 80 minutes. The photography/filomgraphy is absolutely phenomenal.

Tamar (I think she needs a web-worthy nickname-Tamar979 doesn't jive, but I digress) watched it and were engaged intellectually and emotionally.

Spectacular. Really.

Make each step special...

When you think about events, you need to think about "what is the experience I want my customers/guests to have? How can I make each step stand out?"

At Sunday's wedding, the placecards were CD's with music compiled by the groom and bride that had label stickers on them.

A nice, personal, differentiating touch for an otherwise common experience.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Age is a state of mind...

I out-aged the other players on the court by a minimum of 11 years. I only knew one of the players on the team, but that didn't stop me from suiting up for the annual Alumni game at my old high school.

With 17 alumni, the recipe for mayhem was clear. I pulled rank and immediately created 3 teams, each subbing in for 4 minutes.

I am not as out of shape as I thought, nor am I in as great shape as I would like to be, but we put on a good show. At halftime, we had only 9 points and were down by 18. I left in the middle of the 3rd quarter (I'd had enough) and the word is, we made it respectable at the end, but still lost.

While the game was fun, what really struck me (and what I focused on) was the gap between the other alums and me. Not so much from the age perspective (you're only as old as you allow yourself to feel), but from a life experience perspective.

I was the only guy on the team with children, let alone 2. The only one married. Heck, the only one with a full-time job and not in college. And probably the only one with a mortgage.

I thought about the past 15 years since I graduated from high school. The things I have seen, the people I've met, and the emotions I've felt. That's what struck me the most.

When I was in high school, the alumni game was a HUGE event, the Saturday night after Thanksgiving. Somewhere along the line, it got changed to Wed. night (which I think hurt attendance) and frankly, the school has grown a ton (probably doubled or more since I was there). This affects the intimacy of the event and the fact that I used to know everyone.

Now, the high school is in a new building and I knew no one, really. My class picture is on the wall, but I found myself yearning for a bygone era.

I'd heard people say, "I have t-shirts older than you," and while that wasn't the case, the sneakers I was wearing were about 10 years old. What's more, I calculated that the seniors on the varsity (against whom we played), were Calanit's age (3), when I graduated from high school.

Still, it felt good to get out there on the court, look at the banner from my senior year championship team and take one moment to recollect. Strange as it was. I imagine I'll have more of those as the journey continues.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

On being a guest...

I've gotten a lot of feedback on our policy regarding having guests.

Here's the first document in the series. Our policy on being a guest. I kid you not.

An emotional goodbye...

There are significant moments in your life when you just know that the path ahead is very, very different than the path behind.

On a macro level, you look at things like 9/11, the Kennedy assassination, and the A-bomb in Hiroshima.

On a personal level, it could be marriage, birth of a child, or buying a home.

Tamar's brother and sister-in-law are moving to Israel in December with their three children.

We saw them for the last time before their trip this past Sunday. It was in the background of the wedding the entire time, but we didn't have to confront it until Tamar and I had to leave.

As I hugged my brother-in-law and we savored the embrace, I said, "I really don't know what to say at a time like this."

Like sportscasters who know that during a special moment of a game, the best way for the fans to appreciate it is to keep silent, so did we...for a bit, but it was enough.

We know the road is going to be very different, but we wish them the best of luck and success in their journey (and yes, we were both emotional-look closely!)

How my wife and I complement each other...

Was sitting in synagogue last week and listening to the Torah being read. One sentence jumped out at me.

Genesis 24:27 And he [Eliezer] said: 'Blessed be the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who hath not forsaken His mercy and His truth toward my master; as for me, the LORD hath led me in the way to the house of my master's brethren

The commentary made a point of saying that you need to have both kindness and truth. If you are only kind to people without telling them the truth, you do them no favors. If you are only truthful, you risk upsetting them to the point where the message isn't heard.

It got me to thinking. Tamar is the kindness side. I am the truth side. Our marriage is about bringing those two together to the right balance.

An interesting sign...

I've been to a number of Kosher weddings, but none advertised as straightforward as this one.

Keeping everyone happy...

If we had to change the flags of the world

The FOJ system works...

Not everyone likes the idea of a systematize approach to maintaining contact with friends. That's fine. But you can't argue with results.

In each of the past three days, I have an opportunity to reconnect with people I hadn't seen in a while.

At the wedding on Sunday, there were a number of folks who said, "oh, I've read your blog."

Monday night, we had David and Belinda visit us from Hong Kong. Prior to that, we saw them 4 years ago in Boston. Before that, 4 years prior in Tokyo.

And yesterday, a nice phone conversation with a friend from New York I haven't seen in 8 years.

The conversations were more fruitful and less awkward because of the system. They felt like they had some connection to me and it allowed us to get into deeper chats more quickly than we would otherwise.

If I hadn't bothered to keep in touch with David/Belinda over the 8 years, there's no way they would have called me out of the blue.

As Adam said yesterday, "in many ways, we are the sum total of the friends we have." I agree with that, which is why I invest so much time and energy in staying in touch with people whose opinions and personality I appreciate.

And, without it, you don't get to see things like Naomi (David/Belinda's daughter) jumping around the playroom and drawing with Calanit...seeing the friendship continue into the next generation.

Friends...certainly one of the things for which I am thankful during Thanksgiving.

Book Review: Small Is the New Big

Any long time reader of this blog will know that I am a huge fan of the marketer, Seth Godin. I have read pretty much all of his books and I love the way he thinks.

I just finished his new book Small Is the New Big which I liked, but didn't love. It's a collection of a few years worth of his Blog postings in what we would now call a "Blook". Don't get me wrong, there's a lot of good stuff in there, but I felt like something was missing compared to his previous works like All Marketers Are Liars you know, the "Big Idea."

It was sitting on my desk when I got an email from a friend asking me to review his website. I looked at it and my mind was transported to a section in Godin's book about websites. Did a search, found the PDF (here) and sent it to him. It's exactly what he needs.

Made me do a double take and reconsider the value of the book. Wanted to be a jaded cynic, I guess, but failed at it.

American Citizen for President

This is the brother of a friend of ours. I think he's got a good to use the power of the Internet (outside of the way that the current parties are using it) to generate change. It's a matter of time before a true grassroots movement takes hold via YouTube,, or or something else takes off.

That being said, I think our friend needs a bit of work in his pitch.

Here's why...
His ideas are good, but his presentation needs work. YouTube (and most everything that we do) is about people's attention and entertainment. This video is nice, but it doesn't really grab you right off the bat. As a result, you start tuning him out.

I'm posting this because I think he's on to something, but it's more than the message, it's the presentation of the message.

Next, there's no viral component. WHY would I forward this to someone else? That's the key component of a web-based anything. Get the word out, make it interesting, and compel people to forward it, post it to their blog, or ACT on it.

Brian-I like your thinking and I think it's on the cusp, but the true YouTube candidate is going to appeal to our emotions as well as our logic (plus we need to improve the video quality :-)

How smart are you?

Take the Mensa quiz

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The Week of Thanksgiving...

It was 4 years ago this week that I joined Microsoft.

2 years ago this week, we bought our first house.

It's a good time for reflection and appreciating what we have (and there is much).

Monday, November 20, 2006

Getting paid to blog...

I've written before about Web 2.0 and how the power of communication is shifting away from the major corporations to the individuals (like me!) creating user-generated content. Based on that content, people (like you) may make a buying decision.

A great example of that was posted by Dan Pink on his blog:

Minute Clinics are a big idea in health care. (Also, as if we needed it, it's further confirmation of how the Internet can turbocharge word-of-mouth-marketing. What's more convincing -- a TV ad or this post?)

CVS MINUTE CLINICFrom: XXXXXX On a recent Sunday, following a
suggestion posted on anotherneighborhood listserve, I went to the CVS Minute
Clinic at7809 Wisconsin Avenue in Bethesda. After a wait of only afew minutes I
saw a pleasant and competent nurse-practitioner,Olanda Hathaway, who diagnosed
my ongoing problem as asinus infection, wrote me a prescription for an
antibiotic, andprinted out a sheet of instructions for treatment of my
symptoms.Because I have a Medicare card the visit cost me nothing.Yesterday I
received a get-well card from Ms. Hathaway.What service--better than any

I understand that a Minute Clinic is coming soon to the CVSin Tenleytown.
This is a wonderful idea, and I hope it willalso be implemented at CVS stores in other Northwestneighborhoods.

I was reading Smart Money the other day (paper version, since the website is way too cluttered) and they mentioned a company that compensates bloggers to make mentions of products. It's called PayPerPost and to date, I've earned $14. Neat.

Obviously, I've got to remain authentic, but if I can honestly relate a story about a product and get paid for it, why not?

Wedding Etiquette Part 2

I saw the groom and bride taking pictures and he yelled across the room to me, "hey Jeremy, we've pushed back the start time to 5pm!"

Well, they didn't, and since they took my advice, Tamar and I, for one couple, had a FANTASTIC time.

We left at 7pm after 6 hours of non-stop excitement, dancing, energy, food (and more food) and then hit the road. We were home by 11 and a bit tired (but not entirely exhausted.)

Exactly as I would want it and I daresay, I wasn't alone :-)

Dealing with an emotional moment...

The father of the bride at yesterday's wedding passed away a few years ago. Obviously, that was on everyone's mind as we celebrated the wedding.

The mother of the bride got up to speak and (paraphrasing) said:

We're all thinking about Ron at a time like this. This is the 2nd wedding I've done without him. There's a lot of emotion, of course, but you should all thank him. After all, he's paying for the wedding!"

I just thought it was a great way to alleviate the emotional cloud. My impression was that the crowd loved it.

FOJ Update Deal..

Reacquainted myself with some old friends at the wedding yesterday. Followed up today via email and said,

Would like to keep in touch. Here's what I am offering (at a minimum):

  1. a quarterly update via email
  2. a link to my blog:  (which you can check as frequently as you want)
  3. a call at least once per year (on your birthday)

There may be other times to call and email, but at least you know what you get when you sign up. Not sure this is for everyone, but it's certainly the basic service level! :-)

Email updates...

Something I don't understand...rant to follow.

If you change your email address, why don't you just let everyone you know know about it?

I use as an effective way to keep track of people, but all I'm saying is if you change from or whatever to or, just send out an "hey, I've changed my email address" so that I don't get an error message.

Otherwise, it sends the message of "I don't care enough about you to tell you what my new email address is" or "I don't want to hear from you anymore."

Both of those are possibilities, of course, but just be a man (or woman) about it and break up with me directly. Don't make me guess when I get a bounced email.

Express lane option..

There are points along the New Jersey Turnpike where a driver has the option of taking the EZ Pass express lane at 55mph or going through the toll booths at 10mph.

At times of low traffic (like we saw on Sat. night and Sun. evening), what I couldn't figure out was...why would anyone choose the EZ Pass toll booths?

Just had a hard time figuring that one out.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Wedding Scheduling Etiquette...

We're going to the wedding of one of Tamar's closest friends on Sunday.

Note: please don't read further if your wedding was after 2pm on a non-holiday weekend and you are easily offended.

When we heard the couple was engaged, we called to offer our congratulations. I immediately said, "if you are going to get married on a non-holiday weekend and you don't want your guests to be angry with you, please don't start the wedding after 1pm." [Note: Jewish weddings almost always occur on Sunday]


It's a major pain for people coming from out of town (and even those in town) to attend one of those weddings.

  1. If you get home that night, it's going to be really late and you'll be exhausted at work the next day. Not so fun.
  2. If you can't make it home, you're stuck for a night in a hotel. Not so cheap.

I know there are people who want evening weddings, but it sends the wrong message...that you aren't thinking about your guests.

The wedding on Sunday...1pm. Thanks to me, I'm told.

While I'm on the subject, my sister wants me to blog on the topic of how many wedding related activities (shower, parties, wedding, etc.) one person is responsible/obligated to attend and is there a formula for calculating an upper limit to the total expense?

A blog topic for another day.


It finally dawned on me that Blogging is my hobby. Don't know why it took so long, but I certainly invest enough time in it. I like to write, obviously, and figure out how to add widgets to the nav bar.

At least now I have an answer to questionnaires... :-)

Getting the best credit card deal...

I tend to move credit cards looking for the best offer. I'm not so worried about the hit to my credit report, fortunately it's pretty good. I also pay for almost everything with a credit card...easier to track, you know.

What I've found though is that if you shop around, you can get a pretty good deal for your needs at that time. When I was younger, I was all about know, feeding the travel bug. Now, I'm all about cash back (with 2 kids, have got to be!).

I was thinking about this because I found a cool site that seems to bring it all together in terms of looking for the right Credit Cards. It's about time the Net provided something like this.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

High Point, Low Point...

Growing up, a Friday night custom for our family was to go around the table and have everyone share A high point and A low point of the week. It gave us a chance to be involved in each other's lives and to talk about something meaningful.

It didn't have to be THE high or THE low, just something...whatever you wanted.

Now that we are all out of the house, we tend to share these (most weeks) via email. For those of you who have been to Tamar/my house, you know we invite our guests to share their highs/lows as well. We've had some doozies and some lame ones :-)

I figured, why not...I'll post the highs/lows I send around on a weekly basis (if I remember).

Here's this week:


  1. resolving the caregiver issue
  2. still fitting into my wedding tux and planning to wear it on Sunday for the Goldstein/Heller wedding
  3. a great presentation at work
  4. learned some new technologies
  5. Not freaking out about flooding during the MASSIVE storm today, thanks to the
  6. house that Juan built.


  1. pink-eye
  2. not being able to find vigamox medicine when we need it

A conversation with Calanit...

Tamar and I are not big pet people. We're not small pet people, but we know kids like animals.

After Paco went to Petco to see the animals, we were talking about it dinner. I said to Calanit...

"Are we ever going to get a dog?"


"What about a cat?"


"What about a hamster?"


"What about a bunny rabbit?"

"Maybe someday."

Wasting time...

I pride myself on being organized, so it doubly infuriates me when I misplace things. It's just so frustrating because tonight, instead of spending time with the kids, I was looking all over for the Vigamox to treat Paco's and my Pink Eye.

I never found it, have to get a new one tomorrow and meanwhile the poor guy was crying. Some motrin helped, but...

Since these things happen to me so rarely, it was all the more frustrating.

When you're spending time looking for things, you're not focused on your priorities.

The Jer979 seal....

Had a good time making my own personal seal. You can, too. Here.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Don't know where the confusion is coming from...

but three people commented that they are happy we are expecting #3.

Thing is, we aren't.

Hmmm...not sure where the confusion is. Anyway, just wanted to clear things up.

A little initiative...

Big kudos to my wife.

Between the two of us, I am certainly the more aggressive one. It may be the salesman/marketer in me, the testosterone, or just character, but I'm always tracking down leads, rarely afraid to make phone calls that could be unpleasant, and love meeting strangers.

My wife complements me nicely.

However, in this case, she showed that a little influence has rubbed off on her.

Someone at Calanit's school mentioned to Tamar that word on the street was we were looking for a caregiver for the kids.

Tamar pursued it, met the woman, interviewed her, approved her, and she's slated to start Dec. 11th.

Nice work Mrs. Epstein!

Jer979's 'Disclosure Policy...

As part of my travels around the Internet, I found a site that enables you to create a Disclosure Policy. For I try and make money off of my readers?

The answer: yes.

Why? Why not. Basically, I like to see how affiliate programs and advertising works, so I put ads and links on my site, not so much because I'm looking to take money from you, but because I want to see how it all works. I took the most liberal approach to the Disclosure Policy, giving myself some flexibility :-)

We'll see how this goes...

This policy is valid from 17 November 2006

This blog is a personal blog written and edited by me. This blog accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation.

The compensation received may influence the advertising content, topics or posts made in this blog. That content, advertising space or post may not always be identified as paid or sponsored content.

The owner(s) of this blog is compensated to provide opinion on products, services, websites and various other topics. Even though the owner(s) of this blog receives compensation for our posts or advertisements, we always give our honest opinions, findings, beliefs, or experiences on those topics or products. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the bloggers' own. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question.

This blog does not contain any content which might present a conflict of interest.

To get your own policy, go to

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Movie Review: Rounders

Really enjoyed this movie. I'm a big Matt Damon fan, but thought the characters were very well developed. The storyline was nice and wove the high-stakes world of poker (which I admit I'm a fan of watching, but not playing!) throughout the plot very well.

You don't have to like poker to like this movie, it just gives the movie a great deal of color.

I hope they know how much we love them...

Sunday was a long day for me in terms of child care. Just draining. I was moving non-stop to keep the kids occupied.

As the day came to a close, I turned to Tamar and said, "I hope that when the kids are older and are critical of our parenting skills, they just know how much we love them."

I told my mom the same yesterday.

Pink Eye..

If there was one malady I had associated with childhood, it would be "Pink Eye."

Both kids had it w/in the past 2 weeks and now, lucky me, so do I.

It's quite unpleasant, I must say and I am hard to look at (yes, even more difficult than usual).

What is Web 2.0?

There's been a lot of talk recently about Web 2.0, the 2nd coming of the Internet, as it were. On the one hand, it's hype and bubble mania, but on the other hand, it represents legitimate excitement for the extreme potential of the Internet technologies.

So, what is Web 2.0 really? Well, there are a LOT of opinions out there (see wikipedia for a good overview)

I'm loving the ideas of:

  1. using software as a service and user-generated content. If you look at the right nav bar of this blog, you'll see a lot of little applications that are just copied and pasted from other sites. The data and the programming sits on another site and all I'm doing is saying, "hey, I need you."

    For example...the list of links I select via or the updated articles from When I add a book to my Amazon Store it just shows up. I also love my my personal Google Search Engine and am playing around more with a personal Flickr page for sharing pics.
  2. the power of networks and groups to make wise decisions. is one effort to help you connect with other people. I played around with which allows you to see (in real-time) where your friends are surfing on the Net (and to meet people who are visiting the same site as you). Rapleaf is trying to create a network of trust (a la eBay) but independent of any their own.

Where this goes is anyone's guess but it could definitely change whole industries.

Think about a mutual fund that is made up of the recommendations of your smartest investor friends and easily manageable (and transparent) online....(Note: got this idea after a conversation with Dion Hinchcliffe who edits the Web 2.0 Journal)

I love the idea of personal Amazon Wishlist or Froogle Wishlist. Want to get me something? Don't even think about it...I've already told you (this isn't a solicitation).

I'm sure I'll riff on this more later...but suffice it to say, it's pretty exciting stuff.

Worst Burglar Ever

This is too funny to be real, but truth is stranger than fiction.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Lying eyes...

There are a few people I see socially who I think just don't like me. They don't hate me, but whenever I see them, their eyes tell me that their smiles are fake. (Here's a good test to see how effective you are at telling.)

I wish it didn't bug me, but it does. Part of me wants to go up to them and just say, "hey, what's the deal?" Part of me says, forget about it.

It's just irritating when I have a suspicion that can't be confirmed.

The history of the Middle East...

in 90 seconds

When your team is terrible...

I was thinking about how bad the Redskins are this year. As a fan, it's painful.

But, I took a step back and thought about fans in places like San Diego or New Orleans, or Atlanta where (in the NFL at least), they've never won the Super Bowl.

My NFL team, baseball team (Orioles), college b-ball team (Terps) have all been to the proverbial mountain top.

Do I want them to get there again? Sure. But the hunger isn't as great. I kind of feel lucky (and it helps reduce the sting of bad years) because I know that there are some fans who, in their entire lives will never see their teams reach the pinnacle.

I feel content knowing that I'll die having felt the emotion and excitement of the ultimate success of "my teams." If it doesn't happen again, I'll be fine.

Just feel bad for those fans in Arizona. Ouch.

A coin by any other name...

 Every Friday, before the Sabbath, Calanit takes a few coins to school to put in the  tzedaka box for charity. She's begun walking around the house with a purse of coins saying, "here's my tzedaka."

What's funny is that now, every time she sees a coin, she calls it "tzedaka."

As in the coins on the nightstand next to my bed, "Abba, why do you have Tzedaka next to your bed?"

At least she's learning the right values.

The role of the father...

Took the kids to a (packed) indoor playground yesterday since it was raining.

As usual, Paco was off and about. He found himself between two 7 year olds in a play car.

One of them came to me and said, "he's cute. Where's his mother?"

"She's at work," I replied.

"Oh," she said, "are you babysitting?"

Just struck me as odd that it wouldn't occur to her that the kid's father was there.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Catching Bees With Honey...

This philosophy isn't usually associated with my parenting style. I seem to resonate more with Captain von Trapp. A colleague at work used this phrase the other day and it stuck (pun intended).

This AM, it was obvious that Calanit was still tired (so was I, but that's secondary). I put her into her bed at 9.30am. She cried and cried, saying "I don't want to take a nap."

I put Erez down at 9.45am and then went to her room. She was reading/playing. A nap wasn't in the cards.

"Tonka, Erez is taking a nap. I am about to take a nap also. Do you want to take a nap in Abba/Ima's bed?"

She nodded.

The boy slept for 3 hours, I slept for 2. Calanit seemed to be in a good mood (she said she had napped.)

Nevertheless, lesson learned.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Political Commentary...

Took a lot of heat both online and offline for some of my political comments after the election. Fair enough. Let me get in on the record that-for now-here are the issues about which I feel MOST strongly. These are #1 and #2 by a long, long distance.

  1. Foreign policy-primarily because I believe that Radical Islam poses an existential threat to Western Civilization and the US. The Right seems to "get" this a lot more than others. Strategy/execution can be debated, but they certainly see that this is a problem.
  2. Economic policy-I have FAR more confidence in the private sector to create wealth/jobs than in the public sector. I think people do a better job with their own money than the government. Free trade is better than protectionism. Subsidies are a bad thing. Walmart is good for the economy, so is China.

Once you see this, you'll see why I lean towards the GOP. On many social issues, I lean towards the Dems, but I just don't prioritize them as highly.

Foreign Terror Alert Warnings

Thanks to Gil for sending this in...

The British are feeling the pinch in relation to recent bombings and Security threats and have raised their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved." Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross."

Londoners have not been "A Bit Cross" since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies all but ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from "Tiresome" to a "Bloody Nuisance." The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was during the great fire of 1666.

Also, the French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from "Run" to "Hide." The only two higher levels in France are "Surrender" and "Collaborate." The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France 's white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country's military capability.

It's not only the English and French that are on a heightened level of alert. Italy has increased the alert level from "Shout Loudly and Excitedly" to "Elaborate Military Posturing." Two more levels remain: "Ineffective Combat Operations" and "Change Sides."

The Germans also increased their alert state from "Disdainful Arrogance" to "Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs." They also have two higher levels: "Invade a Neighbor" and "Lose."

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual, and the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels.

The Epstein Sabbath Meal Invite Strategy and Operations Guide

Many people have asked about why we extend invitations for Sabbath meals so far in advance. The purpose of this document is to explain the rationale behind the strategy as well as provide the interested reader with the capability to execute upon the same strategy, should s/he desire.

Before beginning, there are a number of built-in family rules which need to be understood.

Built-in Family Rules

  1. In any given month, it is a requirement that one full Sabbath (both meals) be only the nuclear Epstein family (Tamar, Jeremy, Calanit, and Erez)
  2. On any one Sabbath, we will never be with other people for both meals. We will dine with others for only one of the two meals.
  3. In a given month, we prefer to host two meals and leave one Sabbath open to receive an invitation, should it be forthcoming.


We maintain a list consisting of people we wish to invite to our home for a Sabbath meal. This list contains two types of families.

These are:

  • families who have been kind enough to invite us to share a meal with them
  • families we wish to have over because we either like them or wish to get to know them better.

The list is prioritized according to a number of criteria.

Every six months, Tamar and I sit down with the entire list. We look at a few variables.

  1. which people do we want to make sure we have over for a meal in the ensuing “wave” ? (note: each wave represent approximately 6 months of time. Wave 1 involved 34 families and 110 individuals. Wave 2 had 29 families and 98 individuals. Wave 3 stats are here. You can use that information for benchmarking purposes.)
  1. the number of people in each family (including children who require seats) as this is a key factor since our table capacity is a non-variable. (Of course, we could add additional table capacity by bringing up another table from the basement, but that's more work for Jeremy and it also decreases the heimish coefficient.)
  1. the likelihood that a given family will enjoy the company of another given family. Much like one creates matches for a potential mate, we endeavor to ensure that our guests will have a good time not just with us (not always a guarantee of course) but with the other invited guests as well. Key issues here may include, but not always, political outlook, religious leanings, personality types, and age of children.

The next step in the process is to create Sabbath meal groups (SMG's) which align to the aforementioned variables. After each group is selected, the placement process begins.

  1. each group is labeled as “A” “B” or “C” etc. This is not a priority necessarily, just a means for group identification.
  1. we identify the Sabbaths in a given month on which we would like to NOT host people (e.g. we're traveling out of town or we know we're having out of town guests, etc.)
  1. we also take into account the likelihood that people will be around (e.g. Thanksgiving weekend or 4th of July are frequent travel dates for many people).
  1. we then place each SMG onto an available Sabbath.
  1. using a pre-written invitation template via email and mail merge via Word, Excel, and Outlook, we extend invitations to family representatives. The note includes the 4 page terms and conditions sheet, aka “Coming to the Epstein's for a Meal-Preparation Document.”
  1. since we're inviting people so far in advance, we have a very high success rate in terms of securing commitments for meals. Clearly, if people know they are unavailable, we will mix and match as necessary.


There are a number of time-saving and operational benefits to this approach.

  1. We save time on a weekly basis. Instead of sitting down every Sunday night or Monday night and trying to figure out whom to invite, then extending invitations and playing phone tag for 2 days, we know exactly what is happening on a given Sabbath.
  1. Shopping is made easier. For a given month, Tamar knows that she will need to purchase and prepare a meal on specific dates. Knowing this allows her to more effectively coordinate her activities to accomplish this goal and minimize on last minute hassles that are stressful and time drainers.
  1. We get who we want. Rarely do we find out that people are not available 3 months in advance. We've secured their participation. Furthermore, since we look at the meal invitation process holistically, we tend to invite more people who may otherwise fall out of our “comfort zone.” This allows us to extend and expand our sphere of friends.
  1. We stay focused on the important objective of hosting our friends, new friends, and family. It's easy on a given week to feel that it is stressful and prefer to “lay low.” With kids, every week is like that. Instead of giving in to the natural tendency towards lethargy, our previous commitments compel us to host our guests. This ALWAYS works in our favor.

(Earlier today I was teaching Calanit a part of the Torah portion we read. There was a great piece on the value of having guests. It's in the image in this post. Click to enlarge and read.)

The documentation of this strategy is dedicated to Aviva Janus. She stated such an admiration for the system that she wanted a "how-to" guidebook. Secondary dedication to Talia/Yoni Engelhart for their intellectual curiosity.

An assist to my cousin Ben for editing.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

An unusual gift...

Within five minutes of meeting her, I had convinced her to break up with her boyfriend of 1 year.

This is a unique skill I possess.

When I entered the Greater Washington Board of Trade Networking event tonight, my goal was simple. Meet five new people, learn about them, and leave. I had a one hour window before returning home to relieve Tamar.

It felt good to be "back out there"and networking. It's where I'm at home. :-)

Rebecca was #5 and after I mentioned my wife and kids, I asked her if she was married. After probing a bit, it became obvious that her boyfriend was not right for her.

Now, I have a track record of helping women caught up in relationships that are bad for them gain the courage to do what they know they have to do anyway.

Feeling a bit bad on the way home that I had turned this woman's night into a direction she hadn't anticipated, I called one of my previous "victims" to validate my work.

She thanked me and said, "if there are people in the situation I was in, they need to hear from you. I am glad you said what you said to me."

Granted, not the most useful skill (well, it depends on who you are, I suppose), but a unique one, nonetheless.

I don't care who you go out with, but I know that most people are afraid of being alone more than they are of being with the wrong person. As such, they delay the obvious and inevitable. All I do is make them see that pushing it off is actually far worse.

Placing a price tag on an afternoon...

There are some days (0k, most) when I think about how I'd like to make more money.

Life is about trade-offs, however, and today I realized one of them.

It's been cold and rainy the past few days, but today it's about 70 degrees (F). My afternoon was filled with projects, but no meetings.

Around 2.45pm, I took a break, went upstairs and decided to take Paco for a run in the jogging stroller.

We went through the park, looked at the leaves, and trees, and just enjoyed the day.

I could probably find a job that paid more, but I'm not sure I'd have the flexibility I have right now.

Besides, which is worth more?


Went to hear a presentation by the authors of Jewtopia, a funny, irrverent, satirical look at Jewish culture (in America, at least). It's a "if you can't laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at?"

It's illustrated with games like:

  • figure out what's wrong with each table in the restaurant
  • match the dish with its yiddish name

and sections like:

  • how to eat like a jew
  • how to freeze food like a jew
  • Jewish conspiracy theories

...and a lot more. There were so many things there that just had me shaking my head and say, "oh yeah, that's my people."

If you've known a lot of Jews in your day, you'll get a kick out of this as well.

If you're in the Tribe, you'll love it...even the section on Jewish sexual positions (like the Challah.)

Obsession...the movie

Got this from Gadi:

The similarities between radical Islam and Nazi Germany are astonishing. I just hope the world figures it out before its too late.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

A visit to the library...

this morning tells me that I'm back in the swing of the things. Got two books on tape (How to Think Like Da Vinci and Bram Stoker's Dracula).

For the past few weeks, I've been listening to the radio, which I don't enjoy that much and consider a waste of time.

Coming around to where I need to be. Feels good.b

Discounts on Microsoft products...

Folks...I get great discounts on MS products (software, hardware, apparel, etc.)

Here's the deal.

  1. post a comment here w/ your name (first, last initial) of what you want (the sky's the limit...well, not really)
  2. i will contact you w/the price (this may take a few weeks as I will do all of these at once after they come in)
  3. You will send me a check, if you agree (incl. s/h)
  4. I will have the product shipped to you directly.
  5. Offer limited to people I truly consider friends. Random folks--you'd better have a good reason :-)

Please note: software MAY ONLY be used for non-commercial/personal purposes.

The morning after....

Turned on AirAmerica Radio this morning and heard some gloating. At first, I was annoyed, but then I realized...hey, they deserve it. They won fair and square (hopefully).

I'm looking for the lessons learned in this election.

  1. Don't take power for granted and don't blow an opportunity to do something positive on a big scale. I think the GOP missed this one. The Dems now have the problem of actually leading.
  2. Radical Islam scored big. The perceived carnage in Iraq, IMHO, is flamed by forces seeking to get the US out of Iraq. Much like the Madrid train bombing, their objective is to make us run. I am concerned that they have achieved their goal.
  3. Empathy: If this is how my left-leaning (or fully tilted) friends have felt during the GOP's power run, I am a bit more sympathetic to their emotions. I wouldn't say I'm in mourning, but definitely not optimistic in the short-term about the country's direction. (Key issues: war on Radical Islam, free trade, tax rates, fair immigration policy)
  4. Now that MD has a Dem governor and legislature, I will need to investigate opportunities in states where people like to earn money and keep it (Florida, Texas) state income tax.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Opportunities for Fraud...

Montgomery County Maryland's voter validation system is a total JOKE. All you need to do is state your name, your address, and your date of birth.

No ID, no voter card, nothing.

I could have voted as any number of people. You all know I know your birthdays and addresses. It's crazy. Really upsetting.

In fact, Paco went to the polls twice. Once with me and once with Tamar. What more proof do you need?

Seriously, in this day and age, you need multiple layers of proof to get on an airplane, access your bank account, and a hundred other things....why is voting so ripe for abuse?

Reflections 50 years down the road...

My dad graduated from Harvard 50 years ago. He wrote a great piece for his 50th reunion journal. Some of you may enjoy it.

See maps in 3-D

Look on the left side and install Virtual Earth in 3D.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The day you don't want to end...

Ever had a day that was just SO perfect that you didn't want it to end? You just wanted to hold onto that feeling (whatever it is) for as long as possible?

Yesterday with Paco, was one of those days. We played around in the morning, went for a run, made a "guy's trip" to Home Depot, watched the first part of the Redskins game at one friend's house, saw the 2nd half and the incredible ending with my grandparents, and then joined most of my family for dinner.

Hectic, but very meaningful.

After putting them to bed, I just sat on the couch, watching some TV, but my mind was elsewhere and I was savoring the feeling of "leaving it all out on the field."

I knew this was a "mental snapshot" day and I took it, savoring its last few scents and tastes as I had to move into work mode. I didn't want it to end...ever...even though I knew it had to.

Note: this is my 979th post on the blog! Why this is exciting is here

The dying flame...

Have you ever watched a candle burn out?

I'm talking about those last few moments where there is nothing but wick left and the flame is only blue. There's no longer a steady stream of light, but fits and bursts, as the flame reaches upwards and struggles for life.

Friday night, after the kids were asleep and the house was quiet, I found myself mesmerized watching the last few minutes of the flame of one of the Sabbath candles.

I found the metaphor for life to be apt. Each of us has a fire within and as we get close to the end (however big our candles are or long our wicks may be), we struggle to the end, not wanting the flame to go out.

It was meditative, calming, transcendental, and spiritual. Try it sometime.

An inspiring story...

Special call out to my cousin Lisa in NYC. She trained for (and completed) the NYC marathon in just over 6 hours. In the process, she lost 60 lbs!!!

Love the heart!!!

I have a special bond w/Lisa. She was my roommate during the Avon 3 day Breast Cancer 60 mile walk a few years back. Looks like she lost 1 lb. for every mile we walked that weekend.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Football nostalgia...

Growing up, Sundays during the Fall meant one thing...Football. My brothers and I were rabid Redskins fan. We figuratively lived and died with the fortunes of our team. The highlight of those days was lying on the bed in my grandparents' apartment and just being in their presence.

Over the years, we grew up, our priorities changed,got jaded a bit perhaps and we realized that, unfortunately, football was not the be-all and end-all of our lives. We traveled to different cities and countries, missed games, or even skipped them. With time, the players were different and the stadium where we had spent so much time sits alone on Sundays, replaced by a modern 91,000 seat megaplex.

Today, however, we had a taste of the old times, but with a new generation. The bright, crisp day started off with promise. The home team was playing its hated rival, the Dallas Cowboys, and like old times, I found myself (this time with my own son in tow) back at my grandparents' apartment.

Though much has change over the years, we could still share the joy in the team's incredible victory-one of the most bizarre endings I've ever seen. Experiencing the multi-generational emotion of the game and of being together made me realize that it's not football that's important, it's what watching the game together can do that is important. The shared experience of a moment in time with people you love....that's the be-all, end-all.

And it doesn't hurt that our team won, too. :-)

Sunday Afternoon Advertising...

Gotta wonder how worthwhile it is for companies to hire people to stand on street corners wearing signs. Saw a lot of them out and about during my driving around today.

It must pay off, otherwise they wouldn't do it, I guess, but how do you measure the return on your investment? Do you ask people...are you here because of the sign on the street corner? Do you measure your traffic during hours when the signs are out vs. not?

If you can't, why are you doing it?


It amazes me that we have to encourage people to vote. I've been fortunate to travel a lot and I've visited many countries where the citizens would have a hard time envisioning the types of freedoms that we have here.

Of course, I have a strong opinion about who should win, but I have a stronger opinion that we all should participate.

The fact that Arizona is providing an incentive to vote by offering people a lottery ticket is something I can't quite understand. It's a shame that our participation rates are as low as they are.

Lance Armstrong once said, apparently, that "if it weren't so fatal, everyone should have cancer."

Well, the right to live in a free country falls in the same category of sorts. If it weren't so painful, all of us should live in a dictatorship/non-free country.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Loving fatherhood...

There are times (like 4am) when fatherhood is rough, no question, but there was something transformative about this weekend that made me realize just how wonderful and humbling an experience it is. It's difficult to explain, but I feel like I've reached a new plane of appreciation.

Thanks to Tamar, the food was prepared, the clothes were laid out, so all I had to do was execute on the plan (part of which involved going to bed at 8.20pm last night :-))

Consequently, I could really focus on just spending quality time with the kids, watching them, appreciating them, and developing along with them.

Fatherhood: the toughest job I'll ever love.

Watching a flower grow..

With Tamar out of town, I had plenty of 1:1 and 1:2 time with the kids this weekend. While it was often hectic, there were times when I found myself just sitting and watching them play.

It's kind of like a gardener admiring his plants. At any given moment, you know it is growing, but, of course, it's a miniscule change at that time.

As Calanit played with her blocks and Paco sat quietly (for once!) and watched a DVD, I just thought, "wow, my kids are growing here. They are in the process of developing into the people they will become."

It was a beautiful feeling.

The Blog Does Its Thing...

I feel great when the Blog investment pays off.

A week ago, a friend calls me from Israel (on Vonage) and says, "hey, read about your issues finding childcare..." and proceeds to offer some suggestions and a lead.

Went to Mosh's house for lunch today. He'd obviously read up on the Blog this week. He said, "Ok, now I know what's on your mind..." and we were off and running with a conversation about some of the topics. He had a chance to form an opinion and we had, I believe, a more exciting conversation b/c of it, since we were both working off the same premise.

These are just some of the reasons why I Blog.

Thanks guys, for making my work pay off.

Friday, November 03, 2006


The top 5 candidates on the ballot in MD from the Republicans.

Two women, one African American, two white males.

Guess the GOP is not just a good ol' boys club.

I know this is going to anger some folks...but hey, why not?

Nice house...

Took a stroll a few weeks back and saw this house on Connecticut Ave. Took the pic w/my phone. The car was actually moving by. Just thought it looked kind of majestic and unique.


we have this hanging on our fridge... click on the image to read

4.22AM...and counting

With Tamar away at her dance camp since 3pm yesterday, the ship's been running pretty smoothly, thus far. Meals were prepped and clothes were laid out. 

With Paco sick, he's been waking up at 4am (as his Motrin wears off) and crying. All I needed to do was get up, give him some more, and get back in bed. Well, had to rock him back to sleep.

Of course, as I sat there in the rocking chair, my mind started racing...and you know how this will end, I've been up since. At least I got 30 minutes on the rowing machine at 5:15.

The reinforcements have been called in. My sister is here now and Calanit is having her first sleepover at her aunt's house tomorrow night. I told Tamar that our job as parents is to raise independent human beings. This is one step in the process.

So far, so good. We'll make it. Time for another cup of coffee.

New Blog Look....

Special call out to Gadi who helped me migrate the Blog to a new look. Your opinion matters.

EZ Pass to the World to Come (Olam Ha Ba)

Black cats, mirrors, and ladders don't play much of a role in the life of the religiously observant Jew. That doesn’t mean there isn’t any room for superstition, however.

Many are familiar with situations where we don’t want to incur the wrath of the “evil eye” (Ayin Ha Ra) or the superstition of throwing salt over your shoulder if you spill it. Another presupposes that if a single man or woman drinks from the wine glass during a Sheva Brachos (the week of festivities following a wedding) that s/he will find a mate. Ashkenazi (of Eastern European descent) Jews do to not name a child after a living relative. A simple web search reveals a plethora of articles on Jewish superstition including here and here.

One curious and apocryphal statement is that “the person who is responsible for 3 shidduchs (introductions that result in a Jewish marriage) immediately earns a place in Olam Ha Ba (the world to come).”

In other words, you are fast tracked, you get the EZ Pass to Heaven. You are set.

Mind you, this isn't the only way to get there, it's just the shortcut.

You don’t have to wait in the toll lanes, make change, or talk with an attendant in your post-life journey. For those of us who are interested in avoiding the more banal, common roads of kindness, thoughtfulness, and good deeds (or perhaps you are just struggling with them), it’s your best bet. Mind you, I’m not necessarily suggesting you get a free pass if you’ve lived a life of total sin. After all, even though you have EZ Pass, you still can’t ignore the speed limit entirely, right?

Of all of the sayings out there, I'm a fan of this one since there are 3 couples who are married because of me...and they will confirm it. You might think this would be cause for celebration and you'd be right, but it does raise a few questions.

Many people are interested in joining me in Olam Ha Ba (henceforth OHB), have asked about my shidduch formula, and are interested in picking up the necessary credits. After all, wouldn’t you rather know earlier than later that you are OHB-bound? Consequently, I've spent a lot of time (probably too much) pondering the following question:

What constitutes “credit” for a shidduch?

On the surface, the answer is obvious: a marriage. Start peeling the topic back, however, and you find that things aren't so simple. (Thank G-d for the Jewish legal and rabbinical mind.)

How involved do you need to be in facilitating the introduction in order to receive credit?

After careful research and analysis (read: I've come up with a solution that makes sense to me), I've decided that credit can only be awarded by the “shidduched”couple themselves. They must confirm that “were it not for Person X, we would not be together.”

Sometimes, you win and sometimes, you lose. About 2 years ago, my wife called two friends in LA and suggested they meet each other. They both resisted citing various reasons. You know how this is going to end.

They met on their own 5 months after that and are getting married in November. My wife had the vision, but the execution fell short, so she's out of luck.

Is more than 1 person eligible to receive “full credit” for a given shidduch or does credit get shared?

Yes, teams are eligible for OHB credit accumulation. If a team is responsible for both the vision and the execution of the shidduch, then each team member receives credit. It’s as if you're a swimmer on the fastest relay team. You still get a Gold Medal even if you didn't swim the fastest lap. To be considered a member of the team, you need to have made some contribution (no matter how small) to the shidduch. Again, the shidduched couple is the final arbiter.

Of course, you don’t want to count your OHB chicks before they’ve hatched. The last thing you need is to have an accounting discrepancy between you and G-d regarding your OHB account balance. My money’s on G-d to win that argument.

Here's an example of a good team shidduch story....When planning our wedding, my wife stated one of her objectives: “I want another marriage to come out of our wedding.”

A list of all of the singles coming to our wedding was compiled in Microsoft Excel. We added categories of Gender, Age, Location, and Frumkeit (our assessment of their religious observance level-rated from 1-10). We sorted the list based on these criteria and based our seating chart from it.

Fifteen months later, a couple whose names appeared directly next to each other in our 42 person list of singles (and consequently were at the same table) were married. They are expecting child #2. As a gift, we gave them a framed copy of the spreadsheet (and a DVD showing their first dance which our videographer captured by complete coincidence).

For this effort, by my self-defined calculations, both my wife and I earned a full OHB credit.

Marriage has its challenges, but one of the upsides is that that married couples are automatically a shidduch 'team.' Married couples are considered “Basar Echad” (lit. 'one flesh'), and any OHB credit earned by one member of the marriage is automatically earned by the other member.

There is no 'grandfather' clause, however. The shidduch itself must take place during the period of the couple's marriage. My wife doesn't get any credit for the two couples I introduced to one another before we were married.

I have 3 OHB credits. My wife has only 1. As it stands, there's a chance I'll be in OHB without her (but we're working all of the angles). Fortunately, this hasn't caused any marital friction. Yes, this is a bit of a downer, but you can't play around with OHB.

What if the couple gets divorced? Can credit be lost?

My father set up two people who were married for 22 years before getting divorced. Clearly, the marriage had some staying power, but we've struggled with the question of my father’s OHB credit status. Unfortunately, we've determined that he, too, is out of luck.

The consensus (at least among those patient enough to listen to my complex and lengthy analysis and then offer their opinion) seems to be that a couple must get and stay married for to earn OHB credit. (Natural death of one of the spouses is considered “staying married,” as in ‘til death to us part.)

There is a positive side-effect of this requirement. Setting up a couple is kind of like an investment. You can’t just make it and forget about it. If you’re interested in securing the OHB credit, you need to stay on top of it. The meddling of your shidduch-maker in your marriage might be helpful and might be annoying, but hey, you’re the meal ticket to OHB, so it’s understandable.

Bottom line: if a shidduched couple for which you are responsible is married at the time when your entrance to OHB is being considered, you are in good shape. If not, your OHB credit report takes a hit.

The chance of a divorce is also an argument for individuals with 3 OHB credits to get that 4th (or insurance) credit…just in case.

The 'quickie divorce' era could potentially create perverse incentives. One might be encouraged to strongly advocate marriage between two ill-suited people for the selfish desire to obtain OHB credits. This is a risky course of action. In Judaism, we are judged by whether our actions are “L'shaym Shamayim,” for the sake of Heaven, i.e. of noble/honorable pursuits.

My hunch is that if you are encouraging two people to get married who aren't right for each other (or just telling them to get married and have a quickie divorce so you can get the credit), you're probably not earning the points.

What if I don’t earn 3 OHB credits? Does that count for anything?

Absolutely! It’s kind of like brownie points, extra credit on a test, or being nice to a police officer when you’re pulled over. It may just make the difference. Imagine you’re in front of G-d making your case for OHB and the verdict is being considered. “Well, you did pick up 2 OHB credits…ok, you’re in.”

What’s more, there are extra credit opportunities…like in Olympic diving, there are degrees of difficulty. Setting up the Harvard-educated, supermodel, lawyer is just easier than some of your other friends. Effort certainly shows up in the final accounting.

See You in Olam Ha Ba!

Now that you know which shidduchs make you eligible for OHB credit, I encourage you to get started. Many people have written about the merits of introducing Jews to one another to build lives together and the feeling you get from seeing other people's joy. Sure, that's great and all, but think of the true joy you'll feel at a wedding when you get to sit back and think, “I'm one step closer to the World to Come!”

Thursday, November 02, 2006

First initials...

I get that some people don't like the names they received from their parents. Makes total sense to me.

What I don't understand is, if you don't like your first name, why do some people choose to announce to the world that they don't like it?

I got an email today from "D. Todd xxxx"

There's a guy in my office who goes by "G. Andrew."

Aren't you just begging people to say "hey what does the D stand for?" Then, you have to explain (again!) why you made the decision to be "D. Todd." Why not just "Todd" and be done with it?

Unless, you're doing some sort of branding thing and you think that "D. Todd" is better than just "Todd"? Or maybe D is for David/Dan and you think those are too generic.

I don't have a middle name, so I'm kind of stuck.

Being the Fraier...

There's a great word in Hebrew, "fraier" [seems to be of Romanian origin] which basically means "a sucker," someone who gets taken.

The steps to our basement are not covered in carpet...and need to be. We've had a few injuries from the floor.

I saw an ad in one of those circulars and called a guy. He came by and offered me a remnant install, plus labor for $500.

If there's one thing I've learned from my medical trials, it's that people mark up...A LOT. :-)

He called me yesterday and asked if I wanted the work done. I said, "you know, I was thinking that 500 is a lot, what about 350?"

"OK!" he almost shouted.

Hmmm....if he's accepting that quickly, I guess I'm the fraier since he didn't even hesitate. I kind of feel right now that I don't want him to do the job.

(I know what the free marketeers will say...and they're right, of course, but I still want to get the best deal possible.)

Dangerous spyware...

This really ticks me off...and it should be a warning to you.

I got a pop-up that says "your system has traces of adult material on it, do you want to install drivecleaner?"

This malicious company attempts to scare you into using their software, which...(after I did some research) doesn't help you at all, but is really a cover for spyware and malware on your machine.

I am SURE that A LOT of people will fall for this (I know I almost did). The good news, at least, is that in the next version of Windows (Vista), it'll be A LOT tougher to make this happen.

Bottomline: DO NOT INSTALL DRIVECLEANER on your machine.

Ok, Mac/Linux people...go ahead now.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Continuously adding value...

I've been a Vonage customer for over 3 years... Competition is heating up for them in the VOIP phone space.

I was surprised/intrigued to see their latest effort to differentiate themselves. Nice touch. Got to keep improving.


Vonage is now offering US weather service information at no additional charge to all Vonage customers, powered by You can call 1-700-WEATHER through your Vonage phone and get current and 5-day forecasts as well as severe weather warnings.


We’ve just launched another great new feature – 511. From Alaska to Alabama, we’ve got your traffic covered. Just dial 511 from your Vonage phone and you’ll get all your local traffic information – at no extra cost!