Saturday, March 31, 2007

More on Making/Saving Money Online...

Jeremy Lustman is not a dumb guy.

When he told me that he didn't understand my explanation of how to make money using Prosper, I figured...don't blame the reader, blame the writer. So, I'll try again.

Let's say you are paying off a high interest (29%) credit card loan of $5,000. You go onto Prosper, put in your financial info, and the site conducts a credit history check on you.

Then, you explain why you would like to borrow money and offer up reasons why you are likely to repay.

This is published on the website where individuals like me can offer to lend you money at, say, 15%. I may lend you $100, but if 50 other people do the same, then, bang, you've got your $5,000 at half the interest rate.

Meanwhile, instead of leaving that cash in the bank at 5%, I've tripled my rate of return.

Everybody wins...except the credit card company.

Of course, there's no guarantee that you get your money back (people default), but that's the risk you take for the higher rate. Plus, you can allocate monies across multiple loans to diversify your risk.

Hope this helps....

Join my group on Prosper, people-to-people lending

Friday, March 30, 2007

Haiti and the Labor of Love...

Spoke to a friend from the old Snickelways days. Pascal Antoine was, I think, the first Haitian I ever met. And he was proud of it. He set up a portal back in 1999 for Haitian-Americans.

Since then, he's worked at it relentlessly, in an effort to build it up.

And, in proof that you can take a long time to become an overnight success, his site has grown to 6,000 visitors a day!

It's All-Haiti, all the time, and he's hoping that in 18 months, he'll be able to do it full-time.

He's also hoping-I think it's ok to post this-that as a result of the merger of his company, he'll get a fat severance package that allows him to do it sooner. In addition to being the first Haitian, he's the first person to whom I ever said "I hope you get fired.

Love to see what focus and commitment can yield.

Rabbi Silton Goes to Washington...

My father-in-law gave the opening prayer to the House of Representatives on Wed. March 28th.

He was introduced by Rep. Mike McNulty (D-NY), who inserted a more detailed account of the Rabbi's credentials into the Congressional Record.

...and it is my first entry into the CR! Thanks, Rabbi

Netflix in a 2.0 world....

So the CEO of NetFlix just joined the board of Microsoft. I'm a big fan of the service (see why here)

Sent him this email the other day:

First off, welcome to the MS board! I’m a big fan/user of Netflix and had a few ideas (read your WSJ article today)….

  1. Why not a friend get friend referral program?
    I just hyped your service on my blog (
    see here). It’d be neat if there were an Amazon affiliates model where I can get a piece of the action for referring you business.
  2. A blog widget…it’d be great to show on my blog a list of
  • Recent Rentals
  • Recent Reviews I’ve Posted (it may encourage me to post more)
  • What’s in My Queue….

You know, take the conversation outside of NetFlix and let people make suggestions (Fred Wilson would agree, I think)….I post a lot of movie reviews on my blog (cross-posting would be nice too), all from NetFlix…but it’d be neat if they could make recommendations…via my blog…for items to add to my NetFlix queue…

It’s kind of like your collaborative filtering system plus what my friends are thinking about.

New Email Etiquette...Proposed

If it's a 1 word response, don't send it.

No more "ok" or "thanks".

I guess "yes" and "no" may be the exceptions.

Loyalty and Financial Advice

It seems like the Financial Advisor saga won't go away.

A few updates.

  1. Ameriprise has been hit by a class action lawsuit for not disclosing how the brokers were compensated and thus "encouraged" investors (like me) to go one way when it may not have been in my best interest. (And look what happens when customers get angry in the digital age)
  2. Solid article in SmartMoney about the whole "financial advisor" industry
  3. Great comment on my work blog re: the same

I used to think I was savvy re: financial matters. I hate feeling like a fraier

The Rudy bandwagon picks up some steam....

About a month ago, I said that Rudy was the only GOP candidate who could win it all.

Today, the bandwagon picked up some steam (subscription required:WSJ) from Steve Forbes.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

A missed opportunity...

So my wife forwards me an email that has all of the markings of a hoax. It reads (in part):

  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, February 8, 2007
  Cancer-causing Chemical Found in Children's Bath Products
  Women's Shampoos and Body Wash also Contaminated

I'm skeptical, so I go to my first stop for these

Thing is...there's nothing there saying it's either true or false.

I do a general websearch...there are a bunch of sites quoting this same press release.

Our kids use the Johnson & Johnson No Tears (one of the products mentioned) so I figure..."I'll go to their site, they must have a comment on it one way or another."

I get there...and nothing. It's a static site. I can't find a mention of this issue anywhere.

If I'm J&J, I'm saying either "it's true and we've changed the formula," or "it's a hoax" or anything to address this issue.

A chance to build loyalty with customers...gone.

Things are being said about you all the time..personally and professionally. Best to confront them head-on and let your voice be heard.

The Music Album Re-emerges...

Of all the industries that are being turned upside down by the Internet revolution (heads up on cell phones), none is more fascinating to me than music.

Read another good article today about the changes it is facing and then called an old friend, Andy Bonime, who is in the movie/music industry out in Southern California.

What he described is going on in his world as a music producer is precisely what Chris Anderson describes in The Long a "T"

So, what is it?

Well, there are a growing number of artists who are not mega-stars, but who are making a decent living ($100k-$150k per year), making their own music, selling downloads via MySpace, pressing their own CD's, and performing in live venues. You don't need the major labels anymore...the micro-markets are facilitated by a huge group of people in a niche (and looking to fill that niche.) All of this is enabled by technology.

Now, I'm not a huge music all, but a few years ago, I was riding in a car with Rob Hirschmann (who is) and he talked about the "Art of the Album."

I don't remember where, but a few weeks ago, I read about how the Beatles were the last great Album Artists, in that they deliberately laid out the songs in an Album to create a type of Musical Mosaic that had meaning from start to finish.

Then, the labels took over, created a few mega-hits and would just throw fluff songs on record/tape/CD and sell it as an "Album."

So, Andy's new project is part-music, part-Art.  His site isn't up yet (too bad), but his working concept is a compilation of specific artists with specific songs/tunes in the Album as art form. 

What does it all mean?

It means that in times of disruptive technological change, the value doesn't evaporate, it moves...and you have to find it.

The value in music isn't in finding the talent, marketing it through mass distribution channels, or in creating the media (CD, tape, etc.), it's in the experience (album or concert).

There are those who say that the music will be free and that concerts, etc. is how you will make the money in music.

Interestingly enough, I was thinking about this as my kids and I watched Sesame Street this AM. Here's core content being given away...for free...and how do they make money? Not off the licensing of products (see my kids' diapers!) and sales of DVD's, etc.

If you want some more deep thoughts on music/technology, you should read Fred Wilson.

And here's a good piece by Mark Cuban (owner of the Dallas Mavericks and founder of


Work, flexibility, and the digital age

When I talk to people about the flexibility I have in my job, particularly in terms of working from home, they are taken aback (especially government workers).

It's not for everyone, but in a results-oriented culture (post-industrial), as opposed to time-oriented (industrial), it makes sense.

Along those lines, check out NetFlix's vacation'll rock your world!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Stages of Adulthood...

You know you've moved onto a new stage of adulthood when you are asked by someone to:
  1. be the guardian of their children in the event of untimely death
  2. serve as the executor of their will

Windows is Most Secure?

It may be hard to believe, but don't take it from me, take it from Symantec: Link to Report Says Windows Gets The Fastest Repairs

Money vs. Flexibility...

You can't have both.

Over the past few weeks, I've gotten together with some folks who make, by my standards, A LOT of money.

Don't get me wrong...they deserve it and work their butts off for it. Good for them.

But it comes at a price.

The price is flexibility.

It's like we said back in the SilentFrog days...we're trying to match up people who have time with those who are willing to pay for it. That's why we called them "TimeBuyers."

In one conversation, I think, I was sitting there saying, "wow, she really makes a lot of money" and she was sitting there thinking, "I can't believe how flexible his (my) work schedule is."

How You Make Them Feel...

Maya Angelou said:

People will forget what you said
People will forget what you did
But people will never forget how you made them feel.

The Rabbi at my Nana's funeral quoted this in terms of how she made people feel.

I have some things to learn...

Unfortunately, 3 times within the past week, I've been told that, because of something I said, I made people feel less than stellar.

Awareness is the first step...

Weight Update...

Either the weight doesn't come off as quickly as it did or I don't have the discipline needed.

Today's weigh-in: 189.


Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Making Money Online...

Last May, I heard about a fascinating person-person lending site called Prosper. The basic idea is that, by going around the banks as middlemen, lenders can get higher interest rates and borrowers lower ones.

Of course, the lenders pay for that risk with a higher chance that your loan won't be repaid.

I figured I'd give it a whirl, with a grand total of $150.  So far, so good. My average rate of return on loans is 16.27%

I started a group for friends/colleagues/acquaintances.

The benefit is that you have a bit of a trusted network to start guarantees, of course.

Take a look, join my group, and start making...or saving some money.

Join my group on Prosper, people-to-people lending


There's also a good article in SmartMoney that highlights the pros...and cons (literally!) of the site. This isn't for everyone, but could be of interest to some.



Movie Review: Invincible

One of the things I love about Netflix is that I will get a movie recommendation from someone at some point, put it on my queue and then, 4 months later, actually watch it.

Of course, by then, I've forgotten who recommended it to me, so, if you are the one who told me about Invincible...thanks.

It's a familiar story...guy, down on his luck, shoots for the stars...and achieves beyond all possible dreams.

30 year old bartender, Vince Papale, goes to an open tryout for the Philadelphia Eagles in 1976. Improbably, he makes the team, despite never having played college football, becomes a hero to his hometown, and plays for 3 seasons...and the best's a true story.

While Rudy may be the greatest emotional sports movie of all time, this was a solid flick and I enjoyed Mark Wahlberg's acting. The scenery and looks were very 70s. I love football, of course, but in general, a solid 3 star movie. 

Monday, March 26, 2007


For whatever reason, the Lichts have a kumquat-fetish. They dropped some off.
An acquired taste, for sure.

Giving Presentations Online...

You know how I feel re: PowerPoint, but here's some info on giving an effective Webinar...


if you use Microsoft Office Live Meeting (free 14 day demo) :-)

The Comcast Dip...

Thanks to a free offer by Seth Godin and some quick typing by yours truly, I received a copy of Seth's soon-to-be published next book, The Dip.

The basic's ok (even great) to quit. You just have to know when it's strategic quitting and when it's not.

His argument, your time is your most valuable resource and you need to apply it to the area where you can be "the best in the world." Otherwise, you are wasting your time and burning cycles.

It was a quick read (under an hour) and my wife is now in the middle of it. Best off, I consciously applied "the dip" to a situation I faced over the weekend.

Comcast had sent me a free digital converter box (they want me on the platform-paranoid of Verizon FIOS). I'm fairly technical. Set it up, called the activation number, was told to wait 45 minutes and I'd be good.

Went to bed. Next picture.

That evening, I tried again. Called tech support 3 times. No good.

Finally, I said, I've spent 59 minutes too long on this. I'm quitting. The tech is coming by to pick it up tomorrow.

Bottom line...I'm not that big of a TV watcher, a few extra channels won't do much for me. It wasn't as easy as it should be (nice to see that Microsoft isn't the only one with this problem), so I quit. My time is better spent on other pursuits (like blogging!) then messing around with TV.

The concept that Seth describes is not rocket science, but as usual, he frames it in a digestible way...and my favorite part, get his most rabid fans (those who read his blog) to be his evangelists to encourage others to buy.

The Supreme Court...

Showing the love to ueber-loyal Blog Reader, Stewart Wolf.

Just admitted to the US Supreme Court Bar!!

Most excellent.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

On Blog Sharing and Thyroid Cancer..

I've been asked a lot about why I feel like it's important or worthwhile to post some of my personal experiences on the blog.

My basic answer is that: I feel like many of us are going through similar experiences. I just want to pull out the common parts of mine, share them, and get your feedback.

Now, obviously, not every experience falls into that category...

Not to be self-validating, but to be self-validating, I share the following anecdote.

An acquaintance approached me and told me that she had been diagnosed with
thyroid cancer. She thanked me for all of my posts on the blog (which she had
read) and felt like she was better prepared for the upcoming process.

I guess I feel like in the challenge that is life, if I can help you think about something in a different way (and vice versa) because of the blog (or in the case of the cancer patient, be better prepared), then the blog has served its purpose.

Temper Tantrum...

Calanit was screaming and crying for a good 15 minutes yesterday as I tried to get her out of synagogue.

I ignored her.

As I stoically walked my way through the foyer, I much of our embarrassment in a given situation stems directly from how you perceive others think?

A lot, of course.

I removed my concern about others perception of the situation. Instead saying to myself, "those with kids know that kids throw tantrums and of those who don't, some know and some don't. It happens. Nothing to worry about."

Once I did that, the pressure was off and I felt much more at peace.

Taking It...

Working for Microsoft is like being a magnet for criticism and unsolicited feedback.

There's one guy I know socially who, in particular, loves to find anything he doesn't like about Microsoft...a product, the way an event was held, a website, a commercial...and tell me what he thinks.

I don't love hearing it....but then again, I do.

You have to search out the criticism, make people feel comfortable telling you about it, because if you do, you've got the dialogue started and you're one step closer to a better product or service.

It's great if all you hear is good news, but then again, it's a delusion. Get the angry folks to talk with you. Whatever it takes.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Avian Orchestra...

I go to the 7am service on Saturday mornings.

As I walked this morning, the sound of cars was absent, and in the trees above, I was serenaded by the sound of an Avian orchestra.

Birds of all sizes were chirping and singing.

I'm not a bird expert, but the more I focused on it, the more I could appreciate it.

There was a deep bass of a hooting owl, small swallows a chirping. There were different sections, much like strings, horns, etc.

It took me a few minutes to realize what was happening as I was walking, but once I did...well, just one of those moments.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Puzzling puzzle...

If Tjada doesn't comment on this, I don't know what it'll take. It's thanks to her raising my awareness to racial issues that I even noticed this....

Here's a puzzle that my kids have. The missing athlete(swimmer) is also white.
Just struck me as odd.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Microsoft's Cool Hand Luke"Problem...

Anyone who has seen Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke, can recite the movie's key tagline. You're probably thinking it right now...

"What we've got here is failure to communicate."

A few years back, Microsoft's mission was simple...."A PC on every desk and in every home." For all intents and purposes...that vision has been met. This is a concrete goal. The question: now what?

I just finished Chip and Dean Heath's book "Made to Stick" about ideas that stay with you vs. those that don't. Microsoft's problem now...we don't have an idea about what we're doing that "sticks."

While I get emotional about the "Your Potential. Our Passion" ads and since I've drunk the Microsoft Kool Aid :-), the idea of "Software for the People-Ready Business" makes sense to me...but I think they are way too ephemeral. They're too hard for customers and partners to grasp as to what's in it for them.

And what's worse....Microsoft has a GREAT story to just needs to be crystal clear in terms of mission and what it means to customers.

Let me tell you a story about my recent upgrade to my home computer network.

The center of my universe at home was an XPSP2 Media Center Edition PC in my home office (aka the "man cave"). Upstairs in the living room was an XBOX which allowed me to play all of the recorded content from the Media Center. This way, my kids could Backyardigans and Dora the Explorer and we could all watch all of our family pics and listen to music. Not too shabby.

Here's what it looked like...

And if I wanted to work from home....I'd just open my TabletPC (work laptop) to do that.

What it took to upgrade...

Of course, as a good MS employee, I decided I should upgrade the "center of my universe PC" to Windows Vista. Now, I'm not stupid, so I did a dual-boot scenario....keeping my XP install intact...just in case.

But I didn't need it...I was impressed, Vista installed in 30 minutes. Office 2007 is sweet and the new interface works for me really well. Every day, I find something new that I use...and like in both the OS and the apps..

There were two problems (details here).

  1. my Lexmark printer/copier/scanner didn't work (Lexmark isn't going to release a Vista compatible driver)
  2. only the Xbox 360 works with Vista as a 'media center extender,' not the original Xbox

I couldn't blame MS for the Lexmark issue (it is a 4 year old printer). And I'll bite the bullet on the Xbox 360.

So, I figure..."ok, I'll upgrade to the Xbox 360 as well" and sell my old Xbox on eBay. And I do have to say, it's A LOT better than the original Xbox.

Then, I took it to the next level...

I set up a direct connection (for the geeks, using RPC/HTTP) from my home machine to my work server (Exchange 2007).

What that means...I can read all of my email on my home machine and don't need to open my work laptop to check my email at home. It all synchs. (BTW, I also synch all of my files between my work laptop and home PC using FolderShare)

And, to finish it all off, I bought a T-mobile Dash Smartphone with Windows Mobile 5 and Direct Push (a la Blackberry) and my previous Smartphone-Audiovox SMT5600 is up for sale as well.

It took a few days and, yes, there were a few frustrating glitches at each stage, but when I stepped back and looked at the network and what I accomplished, here's what I found....

No matter what device I am on, be it my

  • T-mobile Dash SmartPhone
  • Tablet PC [work]
  • Vista Ultimate Media Center [home]
  • any browser [incl. Firefox!] via OWA

I have secure access to synchronized and updated

Now, here's what it looks like...

Net cost to me, about $400, thanks to some employee discounts, and probably about 15-20 hours or so of work.

Not inconsequential at all and not easy for everyone (granted, I am more technical than most), but here's what I realized....

What I've got as a result

As a knowledge/information worker...this is what I need more than anything. It's about my network and access to information at any time, from any place...on any device...and keeping everything in harmony. I've got that....and more. And I think many, many people would like this as well.

Is it perfect? No. Could it be easier? Absolutely! Is every Microsoft piece of this puzzle the absolute best of breed? Definitely not.

But you know what?

They all work together...(and heck, the Dash synchs beautifully with Vista/Windows Media Player 11, so I have synchronized music playlists on my PC and phone as well) and, compared to what it would take if I wasn't using Microsoft, well, I daresay it'd be a lot more difficult (and more expensive)...

So what?

And here's the does Microsoft explain the value of all of this software that really is "better together" in a way that doesn't require someone to be super-technical or go through the lengthy explanation you just read?

What's the one concrete sentence that explains why this is so great? I don't know, but I think this is Microsoft's "Cool Hand Luke" Problem.

I'm open to ideas....

And I wonder if the guys over at WebWorkerDaily will appreciate a generally pro-Microsoft post :-)

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Sense of Ownership...

Last week, I got into a bit of a "flame war" with some folks in Microsoft who hadn't bothered to upgrade their PC's to Vista yet.

They are a distinct minority, but they basically felt that the time it would require (a few hours, granted) would take them away from the more serious work of "fixing bugs" and "testing" etc. They wanted to be convinced, as a customer would, that it was "worth their time."

I disagreed vehemently...hence the flame war.

My point an employee (and an owner through stock), you've got to make that understand what the product does to 1. make it better and 2. help sell it.

I may have a different attitude than most...I co-founded a company...and remember distinctly the feeling of ownership.

Today, I spend Microsoft's money the same way I spent my company's money...the same way I spend my own money. For the time being, I am an owner of Microsoft and, as a result, have certain responsibilities and obligations.

Some of these folks, it seems to me, were along for the ride.

I'm not here to beat on them, what I'm here to ask is:

how do you foster a sense of ownership in anything?

How do you do it in a 70,000 person organization?

How do you do it in a synagogue or church?

Or a civic organization?

When you feel like an owner, you behave differently (better, I think), than someone collecting a paycheck or just taking advantages of services.

On Blogging and the Internet...

 A great post on what it all means...

Link to gapingvoid: "cartoons drawn on the back of business cards": edelman talk

Enough reading for the next few months...

Capturing Attention and Imagination..

Here's a great story about a recruitment campaign...but the idea works for any time you are trying to motivate people to do something.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A website for me...


Great PowerPoint...

I blogged before about what makes a great presenation and there's been a lot of discussion about it.

Now, a web-wide contest for the best PowerPoint.

Judge for yourself.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Book Review: Made to Stick

It's rare that I will review a book before I've finished reading it. It's also rare that I will decide to read a book again immediately after I finish reading it.

Made to Stick is that type of book.

The authors tackle the idea of what "sticks" in our minds and what doesn't. They argue that there is a process you can use to help craft ideas that will stay with your intended audience. This has huge implications not only in business, but in politics, non-profits...and beyond.

It's more than a business book, it's truly a how-to guide for securing a place in someone's memory.

They break down the criteria into 6 components using the acronym SUCCESs

S- Simple-what is the core of your idea?

U- Unexpected-people pay attention when something defies their expectations

C- Concrete-solid images and real data make your idea more believable

C- Credible-who is telling the story is important.

E- Emotional-let's not kid ourselves. We are emotional beings at our core

S- Story-People love stories and pay more attention when they want to find out "what happens at the end."

I am so excited about this book that, as I said, I am going to read it again...I have to, because I want to make sure I get all of the ideas in it so I can USE them!


So I just got a T-mobile Dash phone and  it is SWEET.

It's got Windows Mobile 5 on it, direct email (a la Blackberry) with a full keyboard, ability to see Word, Excel, Powerpoint, camera, video, music, etc. Heck, you can even watch recorded TV shows.  

It's got built in Wi-fi, so I can surf the Net from the phone using any wireless connection (like the one in my house...or Starbucks...or your house).


But here's where it gets AWESOME.

I downloaded and installed Skype for Windows Mobile.

I signed into Skype...and using the wireless connection, made a Skype call on my phone.

Now, I can call anyone, anywhere in the world (who has Skype) from my mobile phone...with no extra charges (I have an unlimited $19.99/month data plan).

TREMENDOUS! I live for this stuff ;-)

Need Pictures?

Try Google Image Ripper v.0.2.0.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Reflecting on 6 years...

While the kids were drawing with chalk on the driveway and running around the frontyard, I was reminiscing about where I was 6 years ago my wedding.

I knew I'd like to have a family, of course, but there was no way I could possibly picture what my children would actually look like.

And, like hitting skip on a DVD (which we did tonight as we re-lived the wedding by watching the video), here I am...husband-which I became 6 years ago today...and now father of 2.

I don't want to say that life has passed me by, rather that life passes by.

On the video, we saw that the 4 remaining grandparents who were at our wedding are now, as of a few weeks ago, no longer with us.

We see how friendships have changed.

We see how we have changed.

Another mile marker on life's road.

Post-Material Anniversary...

Doing Pilates together on the eve of our 6th wedding anniversary, I asked/said, "I hope you didn't get me a gift or anything."


"No card or anything?"

"Right...though I may have one from last year."

"Good, I didn't get you anything either. You can use the one from last year, but no net new purchases."

"Works for me...this week was crazy. Besides," [violins start playing] "you show me how much you love me everyday."

"I like that...we'll say we're having a post-material anniversary."

"Thanks for marrying me 6 years ago."

"Yep, you too. Man, these Pilates are tough."

When are you online?

Read a great post by Mark Cuban on his blog (he's the founder of and the owner of the Dallas Mavericks.)

According to him, most people watch online videos during work hours...not at home.

Just got my stats for last week's blog readership...roughly parallel. Interesting...are we working less or doing more work during non-traditional work hours?

Maybe it's we move to a society that is not paid by the hour, but paid by the result?

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Financial Hurricanes..

It seems like every few months or so, I get a simultaneous wave of big expenses.

This month it is:

  • taxes
  • 2007 estimated taxes...a new one for me
  • new stove
  • new faucet in kitchen sink

Like the actual 'canes, these are somewhat predictable, but you never know how rough it's going to be until it's over.

Like the "Engagement Tsunami" weather once again serves as a useful metaphor for some of life's challenges.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Technology Upgrade Cycle...

Every 2 years or so, roughly, I make (relatively) big upgrade investments in my technology infrastructure. The investment is in both time and money. I'm almost at the end of this cycle which began with the Vista install process, which part of the reason I'm selling my Xbox on ebay (listing here)

Overall, I think I'm/we're better off.

I've got a much better PC experience (Vista/office 2007) and TV (Xbox 360). My wife has my old scanner/copier/printer so she's got more potential (the one hole is I will need to replace that), and I've repurposed my DVD recorder/player to another TV which didn't have it before.

Over the years, I've done a number of these and each time, I find a way to maximize the return on my investment. Greater productivity, flexibility, and capability.

Now, how to make everyone see the world my way? :-)

Birthday wishes...

How long after a person's birthday can you call and still offer wishes (even belated)?

My answer: 2 days...3 if the birthday was on a weekend.

However, you must know the actual birthday.

This morning, my brother in law, Akiva, called and said, "Happy Birthday! Sorry, I'm late. I meant to call you on Wednesday."

"Uh, my birthday was last Saturday. Sorry, man, you don't get credit :-)"

The Real March Madness

See how all 65 teams in this year's NCAA Tournament rank according to how much they've spent lobbying Congress in recent years. (Hint: a humble #13 seed is #1 nationally in this list!)

Check out  for the details

From the Wall St.Journal

March is the season that Members typically receive courtside or sky box seats for NCAA games across the country -- for free. Public universities offer these as thank you gifts for lucrative earmarks.

Perhaps you recall that Congress is promising a lobbying reform that will bar Members from receiving gifts from lobbyists. Make that from some lobbyists.

Public universities, local governments and Indian tribes would be conveniently exempt from that gift ban -- for the largely political and bizarre reason that the Members seem to think that only "private" purposes are corrupting.

Parenting's Greatest Hits...

Nothing feels so good as going into a child's room late at night and covering them up with all of the blankets they have kicked off.

You feel like a protector and a guardian. Worth all of the crying and tantrums...almost ;-)


Do you have a bathroom scale? You know, the one that you avoid stepping on...

This week has been about getting my "house back in order." Workwise, tax-wise, and yes, weight-wise.

I tend to snack when I'm stressed or sometimes for no reason at all. And while I can stll do 12 sets of 22 pullups or go on the Nordic Track at an intense pace for 30 minutes, I can't avoid simple math.

If you eat more calories than you burn, you will put on weight.

So the Fatherhood 15 and the Shiva Seven(teen) have taken their toll.

I'm 10 pounds above my average and 15 above my ideal.

A few years back, I was at my all-time worst, 207.

I spent a weekend in Seattle with Jon Jacobson. I saw a picture of him a few years prior...the guy had lost 40 some odd pounds. He motivated me and I dropped 30.

Well, Jon, bring out the picture again, because I'm back in the saddle...and this time, for extra accountability, I am blogging it.

Can't let the blog readers down, can I?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Movie Review: When Harry Met Sally

A few weeks ago, Jacob Licht invited me to a hockey game.

Soon thereafter, he dropped off the "When Harry Met Sally" DVD.

During the game, our conversations wove in and out of the action on the ice and would continue uninterrupted after a good play.

He was reminded of the scene when Harry and his friend were at the Giants game talking about serious relationship stuff and the conversation was interrupted by the Wave.

So, I got to watch the movie again...for the first time in 15 years or so...and though Meg Ryan sort of impressed me (the diner scene is a classic, of course), Billy Crystal's performance was really magnificent...and the dialogue very, very witty. Worth going back to.

And, as Jacob pointed out, quite nicely, I might add.

In light of recent events it sounds like your grandparents would have been a wonderful addition to the vignettes at the beginning of the movie where couples talk about how they met and fell in love.

Tracking every dollar…

There's a balance between partner satisfaction and smart marketing.

A partner approached me to be a sponsor at an upcoming open house. They are tincupping to multiple vendors and claim they will have a few hundred people at the event. No problem with that.

They have already made reservations for the Microsoft RV, so MS will have a pretty good presence there.

They've asked me for $1500.

I'm leaning towards no, despite the fact that it will make them "feel good." And trust me, I value relationships…but it has to be of mutual value.

Here's why…

  1. I've extended them 4 event offers, 3 were recalled because of failure to execute
  2. For the one other event, I bent over backwards to get them a presenter. They assured me they'd have 25 customers. They had 9.
  3. They refuse to use click to attend for registration (or even a bulk upload)-which every other partner does and won't use it for the upcoming event. This is critical to visibility and joint sales efforts.


The average cost of a breadth event is about $350. We've done 75 of them, generated $2mm in pipeline and are tracking 1000 activities w/partners.

This partner is asking for 5 times that number and offering me NOTHING except for "presence" in front of their customers…which I feel like we'll have addressed with the RV.

I once read a great book called The End of Marketing As We Know It by Sergio Zyman, the former CMO of Coca Cola. He said…if you don't know where your money is going or what it is going to do for you, don't spend it.

So, I'll say this… If I can't track our marketing $, I don't want to spend them.

One more cool thing in Vista...

Another nifty little feature: Instant Search

Beware the Ides of March...

When I was in 7th grade, my mom made me take Latin. I wanted to take Spanish.

"It'll help you on your SAT's." It did...I knew what pulchritude meant.

"It'll also help you learn other Romance languages."

Really came in handy as I lived in Israel, Germany and Japan ;-)

Ok, so I could converse with the Pope, but you know where it came in handy?

In landing my wife...

On one of our first dates, we found out that both of us had taken Latin.

"You know," I said with the male ego, puffing out the chest, "I got a silver medal on the National Latin Exam in 7th grade."

She smiled quietly..."I got a gold."

Ouch. This despite the fact that I am smarter than my wife.

But it wasn't so much the language as the culture and history for Ancient Rome...which is critical, I believe to understanding part of the modern world (like how the attack from nihilistic forces today resembles that of the Goths, Vandals, and Huns of yesteryear; and the similarities in terms of internal cultural rot, but I digress.)

And one thing, I've always remembered is that the 15th of March are the "Ides of March" and we should be wary of it.

I thought of that as I sat down to write out the check for our 2006 tax bill.

Hope your day is going smoothly :-)

Intrusive, Unwanted, and Unappreciated Interruptions...

I just got a phone call and when I picked it up, the automated voice said

"We're sorry. This message was intended only for an answering machine. Goodbye."

Are you kidding me?

I did a *69 to call the number back: 866 849 3243

I then managed, I think, to unsubscribe from their phone list.

Next, I searched for the company just putting the phone number in...and found them.

Some hired gun telemarketing agency called Xpedite that obviously doesn't give a damn about my time or respect it.

I just wish I knew on whose behalf they were calling.

Old school marketing...spam everyone...a few people will say yes, who cares about the others...

That approach will come back to hurt you in the long run. 

Respect your customers' and prospects' time....please.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Dealing with Challenges

I've got to learn to go with the flow a bit more. Not let things get to me.

Last night, I was on the Nordic Track (which I love) and a bolt broke, crashing me to the floor.

This morning, one of the cars wouldn't start.

Little things...but one on top of the other, gets to me.

What do you do when these mini-avalanches hit?

Vista Install Part 2...

Here's the good news on the next step in the Vista install process.

The Xbox360 is a phenomenal add-on to Vista. It's a blazing fast machine, the graphics are INCREDIBLE, it's much more intuitive to watch our family videos, listen to all of our music, and watch recorded TV (in the living room, whereas my PC is in the basement).

While set-up was about 1000% easier than with XP Media Center and the original Xbox, I did have 2 hiccups that made me say, "damn, this has got to be easier."

  1. something happened that forced me to reset my router. Not a huge deal, but annoying
  2. when programming the universal remote, there was something counterintuitive about how to use TV alone vs. TV w/Xbox. 

I've got it working, but wish it was easier. Also, called the Support line and, frankly, it wasn't impressed.

That being said, it went A LOT smoother than I expected and the experience is very nice.

It's the best way I know of to have all or your media files in multiple places.

Manic Depression...delivered by the US Postal Service

My tax bill arrived yesterday (see history here). From the CPA :-)

Yes, it's more than I wanted to spend (both on the CPA and on the taxes), but the removal of hassle (CPA, not taxes) was worth it.

Tax bill is never easy. Too big. I went into a bit of a funk. (though I do need to give props to Nancy, my CPA. She made it, if I could just get her to use e-file)

Then, I opened the door and saw that my new Xbox360 had arrived (see earlier Vista issues).

I felt that giddiness I feel every time I get a new toy, er gadget.

Xbox was also a bit more than I wanted to spend, but since my Poppy was such a gadget guy, I've justified it by calling it the "Stanley J. Robinson Memorail Xbox360." I think he'd be proud.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

What's wrong with this picture?

I took Tonka out at 8am today to draw w/chalk on the driveway. We started off with rainbows, houses, and frogs.

Then, I got a brainstorm...and while Calanit continued with her designs, I began an outline of a project I'm working on.

Good news: I took my kid out for a father-daughter bonding moment.

Not so good news: I outlined some of my work in chalk.'s the digital really can work anywhere.

Nice sign...

About 1 minute earlier, I was behind a telephone pole and the last “7” was obscured. Oh well.
For more on 979

On the beaten path...

You know Robert Frost's poem, "The Road Less Traveled." Plus, all of the self-help gurus, etc. who say "dare to take the unbeaten path"?

Yesterday, I took Paco for a run and towards the end, I got him out of the stroller to let him stretch his legs.

We were in the park near our house.

The asphalt path was clean, but on either side was mud, grass, dirt, and who knows what else.

I didn't need him to get filthy or get hurt.

Sometimes, the beaten path may be the better one.

Am I getting conservative in my old age?

Movie Review: Van Helsing

The lesson learned here. Stay away from 2nd derivative movies.

I read Bram Stoker's Dracula and loved it. Then, I watched the Coppola version of the movie, it was OK.

A main character in Dracula was Dr. Van Helsing. I fast forwarded through the movie. It was too much. Like a 19th century James Bond meets a bit of the Matrix. No good, not worth it.

I'm in the middle of a fabulous book called Made to Stick (more later when I'm done) and they talk about how curiosity motivates us. They call it the "knowledge gap." When you don't know what the end of a movie, book, or ball game, there's something inside you that stimulates you to find out.

Even though I knew 10 mins into the movie that it wasn't going to be for me, I wanted to see how it turned out, but at least I had the guts to skip through.

Learn from my experience. Not worth your time.

New Feedback System...

Some of you like to comment, others don't.

I'm still interested in your feedback.

You'll notice below each post, there is a rating bar. You can register your thoughts on the quality of each post (anonymously).

I aim to please. Let me know what you think.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Dual Obituaries--Karlyn and Stanley Robinson

Another obituary...a little bit different

Link to Karlyn and Stanley Robinson, devoted couple, die five weeks apart

A noble quest...

I have a friend named Deron. His goal...have a drink in every single Bar in Manhattan.

He's up to 1300.

I told him...this is a blog, but nothing yet. Impressive nonetheless.

March Madness...

Join my Bracket picking league (no money, just bragging rights).

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Happydent White Commercial

From India...very clever.

Very cool commercial

About 1 minute long, but excellent!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Birthday Celebrations when you have 2 kids...

Remember that song by Joan Osbourne, "What if God Was One of Us?"

Updated for the digital era: What if God is a Blog Reader?

I think He must be.

Tom Siegman wrote a nice birthday email.

Hope that your new year is just interesting enough to provide compelling blogging without being so interesting that it's not fun to live through.

Tom set down the criteria and God delivered.

Friday night, we were trying to put Calanit to sleep and she was giving us a really hard time.  It was one of the most difficult nights we have faced. I mean, uncontrollable. Combination of fatigue and a sugar high/low, but still quite ugly.

It was actually the first time I'd consciously thought to myself, "remember, becoming a grandparent is the reward you get for not having killed your own kids." [I was frustrated, but not to a point of a homicidal nature, of course]. Eventually, the payoff arrives.

We did all we could to bathe her, had to hold her down to get her pajamas on, and then move her into her room.

By the time our guests arrived to help celebrate the birthday, I said to them (none of whom have kids yet)...

"If you had been here 30 minutes ago, I think you could have been convinced to never have children."

The dinner went off kids crying, none waking up. A great meal with some great people. Josh Halpern asks me, "so, what do you want for your birthday?"

"At my stage, I'd be happy with a nap."

Call it foreshadowing...

We went to bed.

At 5.30am, we hear Erez screaming.

I get into his room and discover him standing up in his "sleepy" pajamas (you know, the kind with the feet coverings...)

Why is he standing?

Well, let's just say his dirty diaper came unhinged inside the pajamas and he was covered in, uh, shall we say, human excrement.

Out of nowhere, Calanit appears. Erez is shrieking...I'm exhausted.

I grab Erez out of the crib, take him into the bathroom and strip him...doing my best to avoid any unnecessary contact, if you get my drift.

Calanit follows us into the bathroom. By this point, there is another adult in the bathroom (can't use her name, however, see here) and I'm yelling

"Code Red! Code Red!"

I take Erez and put him down in the tub. He starts SHRIEKING!

It's only then that I realized that because of the challenges in putting Calanit to bed the night before, we had inadvertently forgotten to drain the tub, so the poor guy is sitting in ICE COLD WATER!

Eventually, the situation stabilizes and three of the people in the house go back to sleep.

I am not among them.

For a variety of reasons, it's not until 1.30pm that I can finally slow down and after getting some beautiful cards from my wife and kids, I finally get my nap.

I wake up at 5.30pm...yes 4 hours!

So, a little pilates tonight with see here, a little blogging, and there you have it...a start to the year that I think meets Tom's criteria.

New Member of the Gift Hall of Fame...

I love it when people call my bluff.

Kudos to Aaron and Elaine Stopak. They did a thorough reading of the Coming to the Epstein's For A Meal-Preparation Document... and when they walked through the door, they brought a huge trashcan. Love it!

In fact, it was a double bonus, because tonight, when I was gathering up the garbage, I could just put all the bags directly in. Big timesaver!

Of course, it's not an official Epstein trash can until it is painted with the official crest of the town (and countdom?) of Eppstein.

We had a great time with them and Justin/Emily Damelin, Dan/Maia Magder (shout out for the Drano!), and Josh/Meliha Halpern.

They all helped celebrate my birthday with an "adults-only, let's not worry about the kids" meal focused [almost entirely, but not wholly since Maia is pregnant] on non-kid issue.

From Diapers to Diapers...

I had to explain to Calanit this morning that, given our timecrunch, there was no way she was able to walk to our destination so that we'd make it in time.

She didn't like that and said, "I can walk as fast as you."

"No, you can't, but one day, you will be able to."

Then I realized that one day, not only will she walk as fast, she'll walk faster.

One day (hopefully), this will be the person who cares for me in many of the same ways that I care for her.

This lifecycle thing is humbling, very humbling. Reminds me of the Riddle of the Sphinx.

You start off in diapers...and in many cases, that's where you end up.

It's just a different set of people who are helping you.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Law of Unintended Consequences...

Here's an interesting factoid from Greg Mankiw's blog about Black Students in the Ivy League.

Apparently, the goal of getting Black students into Harvard has done that, but it's getting recent Black immigrants into the school, not Black students born in America.

So there are African-Americans, but they are coming from Africa.

Just an interesting analysis.

Out of the Groove...

The analogy of a brain to a computer provides some context for what's been going on the past few weeks.

When life's big events hit you, they affect you, even when you are not thinking about them. Death, sickness,'s like your brain's processor is working "in the background" which means you have a hard time addressing the tasks on the screen in front of you...say cooking dinner or replacing your stove.

It's easy to get upset with yourself and say "what's wrong with me?"

 But, I think, we need to recognize that our processors are maxed out...let the background processes run their course and not keep clicking the mouse expecting something to happen.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Poppy's Obituary...

From the WashingtonPost

What Old School Means...

We moved Calanit to a different nursery school for this academic year.

Yesterday, I picked her up, and since it was the middle of the day, there were no other cars in the parking lot, so I backed up (against the one-way lane) in order to save a lot of time and not have to go around the block.

"That was some old-school illegal driving there," I said.

"Yeah!" she shouted. "We're going to my old school."

The Shiva Seven...

Adding to the Freshman 15 and the Fatherhood 15, is the Shiva Seven(teen).

Multiple nights of noshing can really do some damage to your waistline.

Last night, the final night of Shiva for Poppy, one of our former baby sitters, Alex Zapruder (yes, history buffs, it was her grandfather), made a great comment:

During my dad's shiva, I told someone, 'I think Shiva means fat.'

The Secret Life of My Wife...

To say that this blog is a marital sticking point would be a slight understatement.

Withthis post last week, I've been informed that my wife's name may no longer appear in the Blog in any substantive way. So, it won't.

As a compulsive blogger, however, I feel the need to document things, so we've come up with a compromise.

I can blog about my wife, but I can't publically publish anything until after her death (hey, death's on our minds). Call it a Blogogy, instead of a eulogy perhaps?

This satisfies my need to blog and my wife's need for privacy.

Plus, it gives me an incentive to live a healthy lifestyle.

Anyway, the blog on Tamar is located here.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Don't forget to thank the help...

The unsung heroes of Poppy's and Nana's shiva are the friends of our family who have generously offered to make meals and "work the kitchen" during the high tide hours, making sure there's food on the table, cups, ice, etc.

I remember this type of help well from the thyroid cancer treatment days.

The people who step up to take care of the little things are the biggest heroes.

When your friends face challenges, make a specific offer to assist with a mundane task. My unsolicited advice.

Rules of Thumb

This is a great wiki of Business Rules of Thumb. Really like it.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Private Talks...

My sister-in-law Aviva says it's not the "terrible twos," it's the "terrible threes."

Calanit is generally a very, very well behaved girl, but the last two weeks or so, it's clear that she's testing us. Giving us a much harder time about bedtime, getting ready for school, etc. A bit of defiance.

Tonight, as we tried for the umpteenth time to get her in bed, I offered to 'snug' with her...then I asked her about her day.

We chatted for a few minutes about her day...and I had a revelation.


That's what (I think) she is craving.

With a ton of our daily energy focused on Erez, she probably feels like she doesn't have QT with her parents.

When I was young, my mom would spend a few minutes with each of the 5 of us in a "private talk" about whatever.

The tradition is continued beginning tonight.

Daylight Savings Time is Coming...

A video from DC NBC 4 with my boss about what you (and your company) should do re: Daylight Savings Time this year.

Drafts and Energy Efficiency...

There is a draft in our kitchen near the sink that sends cool air into the house.

It's driving me crazy as I've tried everything I can think of to plug it...with mixed success.

When it comes to energy efficiency, I'm a bit compulsive. In fact, following my $500 gas bill 2 years ago, I contracted with a firm to do an energy efficiency assessment of the house.

Here are the findings. Many of them are of general relevance.

I've completed most of them.

Avoiding "Save Uh-Oh's"

Sometimes you hit "save" and you don't mean to...[better than not hitting save when you mean to, I"ll grant you that)

No worries. Go to "Previous Versions" and just hit restore.

The picture is here

You're old copy comes back and you're up and running.

I actually used it today when I accidentally saved an edited picture.

Every day I find one of these in Vista...Neat.

Verizon and Ethical Dilemmas...

My dad would often invite our dinner guests to share an "ethical dilemma" to discuss and share opinions.

Here's mine...

I found a post from a former Verizon Sales Rep about how to game Verizon and save money.

Now, some of them are fine, but a few of them are outright deception.

I can't support that.

My ethical dilemma: am I doing a disservice to society by sharing this information which encourages people to lie?

Or, should I rely on people's best judgment to take the advice that is ethical and ignore the unethical ones?

I really struggled with this one.

2 months...

Poppy was, for many years, the family's photographer. With the advent of the digital age, I've assumed that role.

My mom emailed this AM:

I need pictures for the obituaries in the paper before noon today. Please send one of Poppy alone and one of the two of them. I want current photos only not WWII photos.

I flipped through pictures going back to 2001 and began to cry, seeing all of the Thanksgiving, Hannukahs, Father's Day, and more in which Nana and Poppy were pictured.

I came upon this one.

As usual, Nana was managing the process of carving and serving the Thanksgiving turkey.

2 months the day, she died.

Every Day Is A Bonus Day...Appreciating the Moment

Too often, I hear of stories where people feel regret about not having "spent more time" or said "I love you," yada, yada, yada.

My sister, Dina, spoke beautifully tonight at the Shiva and mentioned how fortunate we were to know our grandparents into adulthood and how every moment was special with them.

About 11 years ago, Dina came to visit me when I lived in Germany.

For some reason, we ended up talking about the idea of Nana and Poppy dying. It was 3am and we were bawling.

But that night changed us both.

We never took a meal or a conversation with them for granted. We were prepared-at any moment-for a call, the call...that would tell us that one of our grandparents had died.

I read a great book a few years ago called The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama. He suggests thinking about the events you don't want or are afraid of. Imagine how you will react at that moment. Then, if/when it comes, you won't be panicked. You'll be at east.

Frankfurt, 1996 did that for me (and perhaps my sister).

Is it sad that they are dead? Of course. 

Do I have any regrets or any feelings that I didn't appreciate them while they were here? Absolutely not.

Monday, March 05, 2007

One thing I love about Office 2007

For you technology folks, here's a post from my work blog

Misleading in the Internet era...

Growing up, my dad would say "Behave as if everything you are doing is going to be on the front page of the New York Times." It was his way of saying: be ethical and upright.

In the pre-Internet era, most things wouldn't make it. Now, everything does.

Here's a story of how Best Buy seems to have a "special Intranet site" for in-store customers that shows different prices than the real them the ability to deny you a discount/rebate if the web is lower than the price in the store.

These kind of shenanigans catch up with you...even more so today. Resist the tempation.


Obviously, this is a subject on my mind.

Here's my working draft for my epitaph...

"I should have listened to my wife."

Kind of a double entendre, eh?

I'm counting on you to make sure it happens (when the time comes, of course).

My colleague told me about another one:

"I told you I was sick."

It's a big question...when a random person walks  by your grave, what do you want him to think?

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Making a Meal Memorable...

How's that for alliteration?

Growing up, in addition to asking people for their week's "high" and "low" points, my dad would often read a section of a book or otherwise pose a question for his guests to answer, discuss, and debate.

A throwback to the Salon era? Perhaps.

But, in continuing on the "high" and "low" points as part of our weekly Sabbath meal, I've learned something valuable.

Giving people some substance to really dig their teeth into at the meal (pun intended) raises the event from shared meal to shared experience.

And in an Internet-era twist, those guests who come having read this Blog in the past few weeks are already armed with opinions on topics I've proposed.

It's a conversation stimulant as many of us share the background (the blog post) and we launch into a more meaningful conversation.

Yesterday's marathon (in a good way) lunch session with the Lowenstein's and the "we're not going on the Blog, are we?" family was a great case in point. A tip of the hat to them for inspiring this post.

The Apprentice...and Skits

I wrote an Apprentice spoof for the synagogue Purim spiel (sarcastic and comedic observations on community idiosyncrasies.)

Here's what I'll say if you are going to have a role in a skit you did not author.

  1. Stick to the script
    Five minutes before showtime when you are seeing it for the first time and others have been working on it for weeks is not the time to make edits.
  2. Resist the urge to ad-lib
    If you are going to do it, you'd better be damn sure you are going to be funny. Most likely, you are not going to be. See #1.

All in all, I think it went well considering we had 2 weeks notice (I know, Purim is unpredictable in the Xmas and 4th of July).

Friday, March 02, 2007

A Funeral and a Reunion...

64 years ago today, Nana and Poppy were married. It was fitting then and with a romantic twist lost on no one that Poppy was put into the grave next to his lifelong love.

The whole day was a really a celebration of both of their lives. Clearly the deja vu feeling was thick, but I think there was a common belief that, as Poppy would say, "Gam Zu L'Tova."-This, too, is for the best.

It is better that the two of them died in such close proximity. And the speakers, all of them, did such tremendous justice to their legacy, because though they were each individuals, they were very much a pair. (BTW, I stand corrected on my previous post regarding the speakers.)

Our hero left us today, but as my aunt Susan's friend, Carole, said, "he didn't want to celebrate his anniversary without his girl."

And a hero, he was.

Many of the speakers touched on his service in the WWII Flying Tigers, so it was a touch of patriotic irony that as his coffin touched bottom, we looked up and saw Air Force One taking off from Andrews Air Force Base, as if the Commander in Chief himself were paying his respect to one of the mightiest of the "Greatest Generation."

At the cemetery, we attempted to replicate the efforts of Nana's burial and complete the process of filling in the dirt, but the heavy rains of the past few days made that near impossible, so we relegated the completion of the task to the backhoe.

In typical Epstein fashion-be prepared for any eventuality-my brother, my father and I (each independent of the other) had brought workboots to help with the digging (having learned from Nana's funeral and calculated on the rain's impact.)

What we did not anticipate was the splattering that the mud would make as it hit the top of the casket, sending "collateral damage" pieces of mud and dirt onto me and some others nearby.

As I remarked to my cousin Lee, "I think Poppy would be proud. This is truly an 'All-Madden' funeral. I left it all on the field."

As I drove home after the funeral, cemetery, and visit to the shiva house, I looked at my phone. A reminder popped up on my screen (as it does every Friday thanks to recurring reminders).

"Call Nana and Poppy to wish them a Good Shabbos"

I choked up momentarily and thought about the passing of this generation, but in the next instant, I thought of my little niece, Dalia, who for a short time has to wear a corrective helmet. On it, her mother, Julie, had inscribed Poppy's mantra, one he repeated every day since he returned from the war.

"Every Day Is A Bonus Day."

And so was this one.

Unified Swimming...

"Calanit, you aren't going to school today. We're going to Poppy's funeral."

"And Nana's funeral?"

"No, we went to her funeral already. Today is Poppy's funeral. He died."

"Both Nana AND Poppy died?"


"Well, maybe they are at the swimming pool together so they won't be sad."

And the tears well up...

Life goes on...

Trite, perhaps, but the day after Poppy died, I attended the Purim show at Calanit's nursery school.

Nothing like seeing 3 and 4 year old sing their hearts out to remind you that...this is the way of the world.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Backup your hard drive...

If there's one thing that people should do, but don't when it comes to their computers, it's regular backups.

I had an external hard drive crash this week. Frustrating, but not catastrophic. Everything was backed up.

Found a good program that's pretty easy to use which seems to do the job. File Hamster. And it's free.

I use the Windows Backup (Vista version) for the big, big stuff, and this for incremental stuff. Seems to work.

And every week or so, I take a USB drive to my mom and dad's house and leave it there...has the most critical case our house burns down.

When do I get a break?

Tamar asked.

With two funerals, a sick child, some travel for her husband, 3 days of work per week, preparing Mishloach Manot for Purim, and cooking for guests this weekend, she's running at 100% capacity.

Death and funerals have a way of both slowing you down and speeding you up.

You take a day off for the funeral and some time for the shiva, but you spend the day before that getting everything in order.

The answer: probably never. Well, until you die.

There's always something...that's just the way it is, I think.

IE7 on Vista...

When it works, I really like the browsing experience, but for whatever reason, IE7 on Vista is crashing on me...a lot.

Not acceptable.

And yes, Firefox works fine.


Travel Map...

I mentioned that I've got 6 states to go...Here's the visual on the planet.

I consider myself very fortunate.