Sunday, September 30, 2007

Online Investing...

Current Average Rate of Return is 16.91%

A new referral program for Prosper (we both get cash) makes it even more appealing.

I'm not saying replace your bank, just augment your investment strategy. (Here's the earlier post on how it works)

Check it out.

Sukkot Perspectives...

When your father-in-law is the Rabbi, you are immediately placed in the middle of a huge number of community and life-cycle events.

Since the immediate family and offspring has outgrown the sleeping capacity of my in-laws' house, we accepted the generous offer of a friend of the family to stay in her vacant house (cons: not kid-friendly; pros-no waiting for bathroom, plenty of space. Net-net: a positive!)

The owner of the house is recently widowed, her 2nd husband having been crushed to death by an SUV that was mistakenly put into reverse and accelerated onto the sidewalk.

This comes on the heels of her 1st husband being killed at a NY State Thruway rest stop by a drunk truck driver going the wrong way and her father, years before, murdered by a drug addict.

How much pain can one person take?

Walking around the house (she was away), we saw just how central this woman's family is to her identity. The walls are literally covered by pictures of every conceivable member. The condolence notes lay on the dining room table, a reminder of the tragedy in which this woman is currently in the middle.

And when we got to synagogue, to warm-up the relationships that I've formed with members of the Albany Jewish community over the past 7 years, we hear of more tragedy and heartbreak.

A couple we adore and with 5 children will be getting a divorce.

Another couple is struck by an illness (which only has 100 new diagnoses per year in the US) effectively making the wife a complete and total invalid. Unable to move or to speak, she requires 24/7 care.

The husband, handling the situation with extreme dignity, said to me:

"you know those little things that really annoy you about your spouse? When she can't talk to you or do anything, it is strange, but you start to miss them."

Since any long road trip is bound to cause a bit of tension (all small stuff), this moment of openness from Stan struck a chord. Made me take a deep breath. Remembered the old adage, "don't sweat the small stuff...and it's ALL small stuff."

Sukkot is a holiday where we go outside and reacquaint ourselves with the challenges of the natural world. Despite all of our efforts to control it, nature happens, and in ways that you can't possibly foresee.

Protector General...

In Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters, the author talks about how most men, when they are boys, want to be heroes of some kind (athlete, fireman, cowboy, etc.) and that the eye-opening moment comes when you realize that you are a hero to your daughter.

Interwoven with that feeling is the idea that you are 'clan protector.'

We elected to do the overnight (9pm-3.30am) drive back from Albany and there was a stretch on the Garden State Parkway where both kids and spouse were asleep and I was alone with my thoughts (and a few other drivers, I suppose) in the middle of New Jersey.

I took a quick glance, saw the beautiful sleeping beings under my charge and had a moment of appreciation for just how wealthy I am...and the seriouis and awesome responsibility as driver, literally and figuratively (or co-driver, I guess) that I have.

12 Flowers....

One of the most fascinating things about parenting is watching these little babies develop into "real people." Parents of multiple children often remark how different each of their kids is from the other.

My kids have 16 first cousins (two on the way) and 5 aunts/uncles who aren't yet married, so the final tally (we're taking bets on the over under of 33) is likely to be considerable.

We spent the last few days in Albany for the Sukkot holiday with 12 of their first cousins, ranging from 9 to 16 months, so pretty compact.

Seeing these kids grow over the past few years and just wondering how each of them will develop into unique beings.

A blessing indeed. And a privilege to have so many different 'experiments' in the lab of life.

Road Trip Dynamics...

Anyone who has taken a family road trip has one.

There's a dynamic that takes over in the car. Someone is the "Type A" let's go person. Someone is the whiner. Someone is the "are we there yet?"

It's not all negative. There are plenty of positives. Someone likes to sing and play games, ask questions, and talk about the scenery as well.

Though we did the road trip to Albany last year, Paco was only 13 months. Now, with 2 kids who can talk, it's interesting to see how they respond to 6.5 hours in the car with their parents and what interests them. The foundation of the family road trip dynamic is being laid. I'm conscious of that and hoping to shape it best as I can....for example, "are we there yet?" and the answer of "no, it's going to be a LONG, LONG time" (underpromise, overdeliver is the mantra).

All in all, I give the kids VERY high marks.

They don't complain a lot, are willing to sing, play, and laugh (we played "Eye of the Tiger" for the last 4 miles of our trip and the two of them were going NUTS!)

It'll be interesting to see which roles they take on as we (hopefully) do more of them.

Go Around the Room....

One of my favorite blogs, tried this, and I'd like to as well.

You know a lot about me. I don't know much about you.

I know some of the people who are active readers (they send me emails, call, or discuss in person) and, of course, my beloved commenters!

But, it continually amazes me how many people take the time to read the blog. It's a great honor (and humbling...though pressure-filled since I have to figure out how to keep it interesting!)

I LOVE when I see folks who I don't know are blog-readers, but obviously are, but I wish it didn't take in the in-person.

So, I am going to ask you to introduce yourself and post a comment.
  1. where do you live?
  2. what do you do for a living?
  3. what do you like/dislike about this blog?
  4. what's your favorite breakfast cereal?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Finding Your Friends...

Heading off to Seattle next week and wanted to try and see more folks. Figured I'd try Facebook instead of my previous method (here)
The cool thing is that I can map all of my friends (at least those on Facebook) to see who lives where.
I can even hover over balloons to get details.
What I can't do is contact a bunch of people based on the data in the map all at one time.
That would be a great way to help me reach out quickly.

The Lorena Dividend...

I've finally come up with a name for it.

The time that elapses from when the cleaning lady leaves until the first big child-related mess occurs.

That's the quantifiable value of the "Lorena Dividend."

For previous efforts, see here (and more on Lorena)

Monday, September 24, 2007

Your Hard Drive Will Crash...

It's a fact. Like anything else that is mechanical, it will eventually give out.

When people ask me about how to best use their computers, I say there are three guidelines.

  1. Make sure it's secure (firewall, anti-virus)
  2. Make sure your data is clean (contact list, especially) so you can take advantage of what you know
  3. Backup, Backup, Backup

Well, the other day, one of my hard drives crashed.

Now, I have triple redundancy, so I didn't lose any data, but it got me thinking...I've had enough of buying more hard drives and setting up the backups (which didn't even always work for me). Besides, if my house burns down, it does me no good.

So, I started searching around for an offsite backup solution.

Up until now, none of the ones I had found were

  1. easy to use
  2. easy to use
  3. easy to use

Fortunately, I've found one that is. Carbonite. (Thanks to Albert for mentioning it).

I'm pretty jazzed about it (blue dots means it is backed up) and am comfortable recommending it to you. I just paid $50 for the year of service.

So, if you need this (and everyone does!), please use my referral link (we each get free months-you 1, me 3) AND you get a 14 day free trial. :-)

Pictured with my (marketing) hero

Longtime readers of this blog know that I am a HUGE fan of Seth Godin, marketing guru.

Here he is (my brother is the better looking one on the left) with me from back in Feb., when I introduced him at the Univ. of MD.

New Show...produced by a friend

Called our friend, Marc Guggenheim today (it's his bday!). He's got a new show starting mid-season. Here's the trailer. Thoughts?

Interesting promo. Not sure I'm in the target audience, however :-)

Family Routine..Canon in D

For anyone with kids, this is just BRILLIANT!

I was laughing so hard, I was crying.

Movie Review: Da Vinci Code

I've been known to watch movies in 2 or 3 settings. Last night, around 11pm, I said, "hey, let me give the Da Vinci Code an hour or so."


Like a boa constrictor around my neck, the movie grabbed me at the beginning and didn't let me go until 1.30am.

But, man, was it ever worth it!

The story was just riveting, so many twists and turns. The acting, superb and the music was one of the most complementary I've heard to a plotline in a longtime. Noticeable, not overwhelming, and just a great add, like the right wine (despite Auren's beliefs) for a good meal.

Multiple 5 stars!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Yom Kippur and Realization....

I love Yom Kippur. It's definitely my favorite holiday.

Something about the intensity and the focus of the day; the altered state you reach in mid-afternoon. The "hump" you need to get over (aka Kafka's "night journey")

Yesterday, though, I was troubled. I was reading the THE RAMBAM'S THIRTEEN PRINCIPLESOF JEWISH FAITH and I had a realization.

I am not sure I believe in all of them. Casting aside "firmly" for a moment, I can accept most of them, but #11 troubled me.

An intellectually honest friend of mine was behind me in services and I asked his opinions. He said, "not sure I accept all of them."

Of course, he then added, with a smile, "not sure now is the best time for this!"

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Minivan Recommendations...

With Baby #3, we've got to move to minivan-land. I know the obvious choices of Odyssey and Sienna, but want to approach w/an open mind.

Let me know if you have recommendations for a value buy.

Wine Snoberry...

Great post by my friend, Auren Hoffman, on wine's pretentious consumers. It's tough telling the Emperor he's got no clothes...

And another reason I love can be so authentic.

I was on a plane once with a professional wine taster on our way back from Argentina and he said the same thing. "It's what you like. There's a lot of good 'table wine' in Europe. In America, it's about marketing."

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Value of a Hug

Maybe it's the lasting impact of "Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters," but this morning when Tonka was having a tantrum over the type of spoon she had (got a whale, wanted elephant) and I was trying to explain to her, "it's not what you're saying, but how," I just had a realization.

Instead of a stern voice or threatening a punishment, I gave her a hug.

You know what? It worked.

She calmed down.

Guess the carrot sometimes has its place. 

Flying Solo for 24 Hours...

The unnamed spouse was on a business trip from mid Wed through Thurs PM. I'm happy to report. The kids are alive and well.

And fed, and dressed appropriately. And hair done (sort of).

Everything went smoothly (except I just realized I forgot to give Paco his 2nd dose of antibiotics for his ear infection today. Ugh). Should be ok, right? (any doctors out there?)

People ask me "how will you cope with 3?"

When Paco first came on the scene and I was home with the two of them, my major accomplishment was to get them out of the house for a walk around the block in a double stroller.

Now, I'm taking them to the Air and Space Museum.

You figure it out.

This certainly wasn't as difficult as previous times.

Experience counts I guess.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

How We Roll...

So, we're driving to Albany next week during the day. We figure that there is NO WAY the kids will make the entire trip in the car.

I say, "hey, maybe there is someone along the way where we can see them/hang out and give the kids an hour or two to run around?"

So, what do I do?

First, I import all of my friends home address info from Outlook into MapPoint (here's where the value of keeping your contact info up to data aka 'clean data' is critical.)

Next, I plot the driving route we will take to Albany.

Lastly, I can identify the people whose houses are near the proposed route, pull their info from the map, and ask them if they'd like to have lunch with us as we pass by.

Geeky? Yes, but a great example of how data can be turned into intelligence to make smarter decisions.

Instead of saying "hmm, who lives where?" I know and am off, looking for people to meet along the way.

Internet and Entrepreneurship

One of the things I really love about the Net (as if I need more) is how it empowers people to become entrepreneurs.

The barriers to entry are so low that people can really test out new ideas (or revamp old ideas). One of our friends, Deb, is doing that with baby clothing (some cute shirts there).

Check out her site if you get a chance (and give her some feedback on how to make it better...she's still new at this game).

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

More on Pandora Event...

Ok, so maybe I was a bit harsh in my post prior to the Pandora event, but come on, I do help companies put on events for a living, so it's a pet peeve for me.

Tim Westergren, the founder, is really an impressive guy.

A passionate musician, at one point, back in 2000, he decided that he was going to begin the Music Genome Project, to identify the characteristics (across 30 'music chromosomes') that make up each piece of music.

A trained musician listens to EVERY SINGLE recording and then scores it. That goes into the database.

What Pandora has built is a highly sophisticated interactive and learning music experience.

I love the service (the average person tells 6 people...guess I'm not average since I've told about 300!) and the story behind it (he had people working for 2 years without salaries; he went to 350 different venture capital firms to pitch his idea [#348 was the magic number])

You just have to love this American Dream story, perseverance, belief in your product.

Tim's on a "listening tour of America" just to get feedback from his biggest fans [I'm proud to be one] and it's clear that he's doing just that.

They have 8.5 million US members now and I'm sure it'll go much higher [soon, it'll be on phones and then who knows what?] And all of this with NO marketing expenditures at all.

A bit of a shaky start, but he made up for it BIG time and is truly an inspirational guy (and fortunately doesn't have an ego as big as his membership).

I've long said that music is the bellwether of the Internet and once again, we see the walls being broken down.

And to show Tim how much I love his service, I added the Pandora My Station widget to my sidebar. Check it out.

Internet Divorce and Marriage...

Funny story from Andreesen's blog.

Pandora event

So i get an invite from the ceo of pandora (no link since i am blogging from phone) to come and hear him speak at 6:30 on tuesday night.

I am a big fan of this service and i get a babysitter aka mom to cover, so i can attend

There a re a few emails before the event that show that event execution isn't their forte. Ok, no big deal.

So i am there early and there are NO signs, nothing to indicate that i am in the right place.

Tim comes out on time and says 'hey, how is parking?' and then he gets off the stage for 20 minutes

Here he has got a ton of fans and we are just sitting here waiting for something to happen.

It would have been cool if things were a bit tighter.

Ok, the event is starting. I hope it is worth it, but hate to start off in the hole

Because I can...

Independence and freedom are tough things.

Over the past few weeks, I've chatted with people born in the Soviet Union who chatted with longing and nostalgia about how "life was easier then."

Fewer decisions, less responsibility. Fewer choices, less anxiety.

In evolving from a dependent child to an independent man (?) to an interdependent spouse/father (or at least on the way), I've had to adjust how I manage my time.

I still have a long way to go.

Just because no one is going to make me go to bed at a certain time, doesn't mean I shouldn't.

Just because I can take whatever I want from the fridge, doesn't mean I should.

It's an interesting psychology. I still have a trace of thrill in doing certain things "because I can."

Difficult to explain. Maybe still a bit juvenile? :-)

But the challenge is to stop it.

I may stay up to 2am watching Casino Royale, but I also have to get up at 6 or 7 w/Paco and Tonka.

That model doesn't work long-term.

"Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose."

Monday, September 17, 2007

What a Difference a Year Makes...

So nice to spend the New Year surrounded by family and friends. Last year, I was all by myself (see Just a bit sad and lonely on Rosh Hashana...)

Certainly heightened the appreciation of the holiday.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Internet Soul Sister...

There are very few out there in Internet world who see the possibilities of technology in exactly the same vein as I do.

Jamie Rubin is one of them.

As my sister, Dina, says, "She's the West Coast version of you."

She's on [see her profile] Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter,, and everything else in between and what's more, she REALLY gets it (and she has a killer business card to prove it)

Had the privilege of dining with her on Wed. night for Rosh Hashana. We hadn't seen each other in 6 years or more, but between all of the social networking sites that we use, we felt like we were completely up to date with each other (in fact, probably more so than with some of the folks we see on a daily basis). She's a vindication, in my mind, of the power/potential of this era.

As she said so eloquently,
"some people don't see what I am excited about. I just think this is the
greatest time to be alive."

Air and Space Travel

Took the kids to the Air and Space Museum today (here they are piloting a Cessna).

All in all, it was a 4 hour excursion, with an hour at the museum itself.

Initially, I was very focused on getting them to the destination, but as we moved, it became clear to me that, for these guys, "the journey really is the destination."

Sure, the actual museum was neat, but you know what, these guys LOVED the metro, the escalator, the elevator, watching people walk on the national Mall, sitting on the carousel horses, understanding how a parking garage works, looking at train tracks, meeting people behind them, and sitting on benches eating their snacks.

Their natural, unfiltered curiosity really gives some perspective on Life and the the way we approach it.

Committee Management in the Web 2.0 Era

Any blog reader knows that I pride myself on efficiency.

Synagogue politics and committees being what they are, efficiency isn't something that usually finds a place there.

With a great team, we've managed to prove that "meetings are not a prerequisite for efficiency."

Read the article here.

Movie Review: Casino Royale

Bond. James Bond.
Vodka Martini. Shaken, not stirred.

There are some things about Bond that are eternal. Cool gadgets, tuxedoes, European luxury, far off locales, beautiful women.

Casino Royale has it all.

The only downside to this movie was when people saw that I had it on my queue, more than one said, "oh, it's the best Bond ever!" so it's hard for me to be objective now.

I felt like it had more twists and turns the usual Bond and the hi-tech elements were seamlessly integrated (as were the product placements).

As a Bond aficionado, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Book Review: The Number

I referred to The Number in this post last week, which prompted an email exchange with the author.

I finished the book this weekend and it falls into the category of "think about how you think" books that I've been reading lately (see here and here).

The message is clear...most of us are not ready for retirement (and all that means) for a variety of reasons
  1. we're afraid to talk about it
  2. we're going to live longer than we expect
  3. Social Security probably won't be there
  4. we're not in touch with how much things will actually cost

I like books and ideas that make you confront reality. This is one of them.

We're blessed to live in a time of abundance and phenomenal healthcare treatments. How do you plan accordingly?

If you followed the whole debate about my financial planner (and were interested in the issues the commenters and I raised), do yourself a favor and read this book. When you're retired, you can call me to say thanks (or just find this blog post and make a comment ;-)

Book Review: Cluetrain Manifesto

I remember the day about 8 years ago or so when my colleague, Matt van Horn, told me to read Cluetrain Manifesto.

All I can say is that I made a mistake in not listening to him then.

The knowledge imparted by this book has been in my head for a while, but it gave me a great framework for the sea-change that is taking place in front of our eyes (and on our monitors).

If you REALLY want to understand the implications of the Web on a social/business/inter-personal level, this is a MUST read.

The candid, authentic style reinforces a lot of what I've been trying to do on this blog and others.

For some, a cold dose of reality (get on the cluetrain, baby!). For others, the inspiration to tackle a whole new frontier.

New Strain of Anti-Semitism...

Some powerful and intimidating thoughts here.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Being Lazy and Sharpening the Saw...

I hosted a webcast this morning for 25 people. It was an opportunity for me to shine and I blew it.

Why? Because, for a moment, I got lazy. 

I have two PC's (well, I have more, but let's focus on the 2 I use for my work). One of them has Map Point 2006 [required for my demo] and one of them had been upgraded to the new (and pretty cool) version of Live Meeting.

So, I booted up the one with MapPoint (a great product, but a lousy home page--show some visuals, man!) about 8 minutes before the call and, of course, I had to install the Active X control and Java so I could get the new Live Meeting console.

Needless to say, it took longer (much longer) than 8 minutes.

So, I'm on the call, fumbling around, and the Live Meeting demo isn't happening. A total flop.

Embarrassing. Very.

I had figured, "hey, I've done a ton of demos, I'll be fine." When in reality, I should have [last night] double checked that everything was up and running.

I didn't.

Shame on me. Lesson learned.

The key here is, as Stephen Covey points out in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People , that no matter how old or experienced you are, you need to go back and "Sharpen the Saw." Don't forget the basics and continue to practice them.

Learn from my mistake.

9/11 remembered....

As fate would have it, I had jury duty on 9/11/01, which meant I was on the corner of 6th Ave. and Bleecker when I saw the Towers fall.

Here are my thoughts from that day.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Passing the Football Through Generations...

I don't know if football became my favorite sport in its own right or because Sundays growing up were associated with going to spend the day lounging and watching games at Nana and Poppy's apartment.

We would typically get picked up in the morning, go to Radio Shack or something, and then hang out for the bulk of the day, playing backgammon, Connect Four, gin rummy, and having special lunches. Just a special, special time.

I've been watching football now for 28 years and every season has involved, at some level, special time with my grandparents..until this one.

Last year, when we all felt that my grandparents were on their last legs, I made a point of taking the kids to their apartment a few times on Sunday to experience the joy of watching football and bonding with them.

As longtime blog readers know, there is a rule in our house that we can only eat in the den, if we are watching football.

As a result of this unique privilege, I managed to have the kids worked up into a frenzy today in preparation for the opening kickoff of the season (we don't hold by the Thursday night opener), so much so that they were in their seats, ready to eat lunch a full 10 minutes before gametime. (Calanit hasn't sat in a booster seat since last January, but wanted to for the game).

This morning, when Calanit woke up, the first thing she said (I wasn't there) was, "it's football season!" and for the bulk of the morning (we spent it delivering Rosh Hashana packages to homebound seniors), the excitement was in the air.

I was emotional on many levels.

Obviously, the void of my grandparents was present, but the joy in transmitting the hallowed time of Sunday afternoons spent lounging around, watching the games, tossing the football, tackling each other and having lunch (and dinner! as Tonka excitedly exclaimed) in the den will hopefully give my kids the fond memories with me that I have of my grandparents.

Value of Social Bookmarking

A great overview in Plain English about what Social Bookmarking is and why it's useful. 3.5 mins. I am jer979 on, btw. Go ahead and

Add me to your network

Beethoven's 9th...

This morning, as I was driving the kids around and delivering Rosh Hashana packages to homebound seniors, we were listening to the classical music station (as we always do) and we picked up the middle part of Beethoven's 9th Symphony (listen here).

I was transported back to a night about 8 years ago when my cousin Abram called me one afternoon and said, "I've got an extra ticket to the Symphony at Lincoln Center, would you like to join me?" (Similar to another mental association with German culture here)

Never one to pass up an offer like that, I took him up on the offer and am I glad I did.

Hearing the 9th performed LIVE is a powerful experience. The music is powerful. Just fantastic.

As a student of German, I sought out the words from Schiller's "An die Freude" and started just belting them out in the car.

The kids were fascinated...and then mesmerized and quiet. They really liked it and appreciated it (so much so that I put it on at home for them and they just sat there listening. A wonderful scene).

I called my cousin to thank him again.

Take a few minutes and listen for yourself.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Marking Time in the Bathroom....

For over a year now, I've been taking Tonka with me to the 7am service on Saturday mornings. In that time, she's progressed from diapers to pull-ups to underwear.

I've gone from changing her on the table in the men's bathroom, to helping her in the stall, to standing by the sink as she went into the stall alone.

A few weeks ago, she went into the women's bathroom and had another woman serve as her assistant.

Today, for the first time, she went into the women's bathroom on her own as I waited in the hallway.

Sometimes, milestones in life pass you by without realizing them. And sometimes you realize them at a bizarre moment.

If my goal as a parent is to raise an independent woman, then, at least as far as this one little (or not so little as it may be) life skill is concerned, it seems like we are on our way.

I felt strangely alone in the hall.

At one point, I pushed the door open a bit (there were no other women there that early and just called "Tonka, are you ok?)

In the mirror, I saw her at the sink, washing her hands.

"I'm ok!" she yelled.

And so, she was (and is).

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Life Expectancy, Retirement, and Your Kids...

Seth's comment on my 529 plan and financial advisor and our subsequent meet-up at the Denver FOJ led to him recommending a book to me. A few days ago, I picked up The Number.

Man, it is earth-shaking. At least to me.


Well, if you are concerned about saving for retirement (whatever that means) and figure that Social Security won't be there, this is the book for you.

What's more, it raises some very interesting issues.

For example...when Social Security began, lifespans were about 65 years, at best.

Now, if you make it to 60, you have a 30% chance of making it to 90.

What this means is that many people have woefully underestimated "the number," that is the amount of money they will need so that they don't outlive it. Plus, with improving healthcare, your odds of living longer continue to increase, but those years are increasingly expensive.

All of those boomers who figured on inheriting a huge amount of wealth as the WWII generation passes on made one miscalculation...their parents are living longer than anyone could have expected at the time of their births.

That means that boomers and people going forward will have to (or potentially have to) financially support increasingly elderly parents.

In and of itself, this is pretty significant.

But today, it dawned on me that it could mean a shift in the cost-benefit analysis of having children.

A friend was congratulating me on Baby #3 and asked me, "so, how many are you going for?"

"I take it one game at a time," I said, and then putting it all together, I added. "You know, it's a long-term ROI diversification strategy." I told him about the concepts of The Number and said, "the way I figure it, the more kids I have, the more sources of income I will have to help us as we grow old. Instead of taxing one kid, I'll be taxing at least 3."

Once upon a time (agrarian society), you had a lot of kids because you needed them as labor for the farm. In the industrial/early post-industrial era, kids became VERY expensive (and still are). I wonder, now, if the pendulum is swinging the other way because of increasing lifespans, lack of social welfare net, and most people's inability to properly save and plan for post-working years? 

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


I've got a whole new level of sympathy for the handicap.  One of the benefits of moving around on crutches.

Things you take for granted....changing trains, picking up a coin from the ground, opening a bathroom door, and so much more. Everything is just MUCH more difficult.

When I lived in NYC, I remember thinking how difficult the city is (no elevators in the subways, for example) for people who have trouble walking, but what I didn't know/think about was ALL of the other things that you need to do.

Another perspective enhancing experience.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Old Friends...

You know how there are certain friends with whom you can just pick up where you left off?

My good friends from High School fall into that category.

Had the privilege of joining some of them on a charter fishing boat expedition yesterday in Rehoboth Beach as part of the festivities of one friend's bachelor party.

I haven't laughed that hard in a long time.

In some ways, we reverted, but that's ok.

These are the people who, in many ways, are responsible for the person I have become. Checking in with them (some of whom I haven't seen in a few years) gives some great perspective on where you are, because they know where you've been.

Approaching 9/11...again

They are showing "Flight 93" on A&E tonight. We are riveted. It's been 6 years and the pain is still just as sore.

Went back and read my thoughts from that day.

I hope I never forget how I felt.

Podcast Suggestion Site Out There?

I've really gotten into Podcasts, but have a hard time knowing which ones are good and which ones aren't without testing them out.

Anyone heard of a Podcast recommendation site that (based on the votes/likes/dislikes of your network) gives you links for Podcasts to try out?

Blood Diamonds...

For those of you who have (or purchased a diamond), you are granted amnesty in my mind.

Going forward, however, I am going to have a different view of people who actively choose to buy/own a diamond (of any kind).

If you understand the laws of economics and you have an ounce of compassion, you should watch the documentary called "Blood Diamonds" from the History Channel.

Saying a diamond is "conflict-free" doesn't matter, because it is the demand for diamonds (and the monopoly of De Beers) that creates the artificially high prices, which allow groups like RUF in Sierra Leone to raise money and commit atrocities. The markets are inextricably linked.

When you buy a diamond...any diamond, you contribute indirectly to helping these conflicts fester.

Before, we could all plead ignorance. Now, unfortunately, we can't.

We need to change our perception from De Beers' cute (and highly effective) marketing slogan of "A Diamond is Forever" to something like "A Diamond is _________" [you fill in the blank].

More on Why I Love the Internet...

Call out to Shelby Rogers who sent me a link to

They've got something called the "Music Genome Project," where you can put in the name of any band (see my Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young example here) and based on that one artist, they will craft a radio station comprised of similar music.

It's an awesome tool and a fantastic way to get introduced to new artists.

You can also network w/your friends and see their custom radio stations (see my profile here) as well as on Facebook.

For a non-music aficionado, it's a great thing.

Also, makes you realize that the days of an iPod or mp3 on your PC are numbered (here's a post from Fred Wilson on the topic as well). 

Hyundai, Fitzgerald and Why Great Service Makes It Happen...

Five years ago, when I decided to buy a Hyundai Elantra, there were a LOT of skeptics.

"Korean cars aren't good."

"What are you thinking?"

Well, over the years, with the 10 year/100,000 mile warranty and the fantastic customer service, I've felt vindicated (many times) by the decision. Plus I adore my great dealer, Fitzgerald, (and their great business approach).

Well, last week, I had another opportunity to appreciate the process.

The car was at Costco and wouldn't start (turns out it was a battery issue). Within 60 minutes, the free (or should I say, included) Hyundai Roadside Assistance was there and the car was on its way to the dealer.

Less than 24 hours went by, the car was ready (plus an oil change and some nitrogen gas in the tires-supposedly you never have to check the air again-for $40, I thought it was worth the risk).

Anyway, solid service that made an unpleasant experience about as pleasant as it could be.

Shows once again that killer service makes a tremendous impression that encourages people to tell their friends.

Why the Internet Rocks...

So, last week, I post about my experience with the power outage.

Within minutes, I have feedback on how to improve the system and then a link to where I can buy them.

This is what Cluetrain talks about and why the Net is so damn revolutionary.

It's not like I am going to call you or email you and say "hey, what do you think of my Disaster Recovery plan?" but with the blog, you choose to read it (or not) and then offer your suggestions to help improve.

What's more, it's not a private 1:1 exchange. It's an open one, so that ANYONE who wants to learn and improve can benefit from our combined wisdom.

That's why I love comments. It makes the blog a conversation place where others can learn (at any time they wish).

Do we have kids?

Yes, of course we do.

But one of our challenges is that we go to bed as if we don't.

It's not unusual for one or both of us to begin exercising at 11pm or later.

We routinely go to bed after 12.

And we wonder why we are always tired? :-)

ER Visit on Labor Day

My parents took the kids to the Maryland State Fair today so I had ample time to do some yard work. And I went all out.

Well, at some point, I landed on my ankle in a weird way, but I just shook it off.

About 3 hours later, I was in a world of hurt and I couldn't even walk.

Huge call out to Dr. Ira Rabin who made a housecall and said, "go get x-rayed."

And I've go to hand it to the team at Holy Cross Hospital.

I limped into the ER (and some kind folks let me go in front of them). Within 8 minutes (I was prepared to be triaged for hours...having worked one graveyard shift at an ER before with my brother0n-law), I was in the "Express Care" room and about 20 minutes after that, on the X-ray table. The process, every part of it, was smooth and efficient.

It was actually remarkable. EVERYONE from registration to the woman who wheeled me up to the X-ray tech...just a first class job. You hear so much about healthcare problems (and there are many as I know from my thyroid cancer treatment), so it’s just great to see a team of people (on a holiday no-less) working together, getting the job done, and doing it quickly and cheerfully.

No break, fortunately, just a severe sprain...splint, crutches, and a TON of Advil (4 every 8 hours). Hopefully, it'll only be a few days, but I already have an apprecation for those who can't walk w/ease. It's not simple moving around a 3 story house or even around the kitchen.

Won a contest....

One of the blogs I read "Church of the Customer" [you'll remember them from Metamucil-gate] had a contest and I won. See here.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Va Tech, Football, and Healing...

Obviously an emotion-filled day in Blacksburg, VA yesterday for the opening day of football season, but a testament to the power of sport to help the healing process.

Very emotional to watch

Saturday, September 01, 2007

More on Facebook...My Babysitting Competitive Advantage

Last week, I was at a gathering with 8 adults and a 14 year old girl (the daughter of two of the adults.)

The conversation turned to Facebook (see previous post here) which all of the adults had heard of, but none used, save for me.

By the end of the evening, the 14 year old and I were trying to explain the value of the Facebook platform to everyone else...and I fear we were figthing a losing battle.

The girl impressed me with her knowledge, most so when asked "what is the difference between MySpace and Facebook?"

To which, she replied, "MySpace is for meeting new people, Facebook for keeping in touch with people you already know."

"You know," I said, "95% of the people at Microsoft probably couldn't explain it that well."

Eventually, I found out she's in the babysitting businesses and we "friended" each other on Facebook and, just tonight, for the first time ever, I contacted and booked a babysitter ENTIRELY via Facebook.

I also started a Babysitter's Group on Facebook. I view this as a competitive advantage over other parents.

And, in another Facebook story. I've blogged before about my friends status updates and today was no exception.

In an ironic twist, we had a friend over today for lunch, named Mike (a Michigan grad, wearing his Michigan yarmulke quite proudly).

I said, "hey, it's opening day," but then remembered that aside from Tenn-Cal, there were no BIG games. And he said, "yeah, they are playing Appalachian State, it's not even televised."

"That WOULD be embarrassing, wouldn't it be?" I commented and we left it at that.

Well, some of you know how this ends, but you don't know how. I logged on tonight and saw a Facebook status update from my cousin, Shelby, a proud Ohio State Buckeye who wrote only "Shelby is a huge Appalachain State fan!"

Hmmm....I thought. And went to ESPN [sort of sad how, in college football, your season is over on 9/1 with a loss like this, but hey, that's the breaks]. Needless to say, upset of all upsets, but how I found out is what made it for me.

The more I use Facebook (and the Net in general), the more I just realize it's so damn revolutionary. I am in the middle of the Cluetrain Manifesto (which I heard about 7 years ago and shame on me for not reading it then, but if you want to really GET why the Net is a paradigm shift of epic proportions, this is a MUST read for you)

African-American AND Jewish...

Fascinating video...